First it was helicopters, then submersibles.  Now it is the Blue Eye – the world’s first multi-sensory underwater lounge.

Luxury French line Ponant unveiled this latest breakthrough in ship design for its four expedition ships, currently under construction.

One – Le Laperouse – will be sailing in Southeast Asia and Australia in 2019, including routes from Singapore to Bali and Colombo and Indonesia and Melanesia.

The underwater lounge – similar in concept to Jules Verne’s Nautilus – has been designed to heighten the experience of the ocean, which allows passengers to see, hear and virtually feel the passing marine life of the deep seas.

All this while sitting down comfortably on a lounge sofa and sipping a glass of French bubbles.

The world’s first multisensory lounge will debut on new build, Le Laperouse next year.

The Blue Eye lounge will be located within the hull beneath the waterline. It will have two giant porthole windows, shaped like an eye, looking out into the deep sea. There will also be digital screens projecting live images filmed by three underwater cameras.

Guests can also listen to the sounds of the marine life which will be transmitted by hydrophones which capture noises up to five kilometres away. The immersive sound experience can be felt through the body by sitting on the sofa which vibrate in unison.  

Unlike submersibles and helicopters which are confined to a few guests at a time, the Blue Eye lounge is complimentary to all 180 guests on board, Sarina Bratton, Ponant’s chairman for Asia Pacific told a media briefing this week.

“It allows all guests to indulge in the subaquatic world, not just a few passengers in a submarine or a helicopter,’’ she said.

Expedition leader Mick Fogg described the sound effects as a “phenomenal symphony” to hear whales singing, dolphins playing and fish chomping on coral.

“With over five kilometres of noise, you’re going to want to turn that volume down,’’ he said.

After Le Laperouse, the Blue Eye Lounge will be fitted in Le Champlain later next year, then Le Bougainville and Le Dumount-d’Urville in 2019.

“People now expect luxury on an expedition cruise. Luxury expedition is no longer an oxymoron,’’ Bratton said.

Le Laperouse will cruise the Kimberley, Indonesia, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and the Subantarctic Islands in 2019. She would also visit Singapore, Bali and Colombo.

Next year, the two new expedition ships will cruise to the Arctic, Northern Europe, Mediterranean and Caribbean.

The line’s 2018 itineraries are now on sale. See