Luxury small ship line Ponant today revealed its view of the future of cruising – and it’s all about sustainability.

The line has created “green corridors” so passengers can put into practice the idea of carbon neutral holidays. You might, for instance, be driven to the airport in a Tesla to board a flight that has been fully carbon offset, then stay in a carbon neutral hotel before boarding your Ponant cruise aboard a ship that is also carbon neutral.

These are not dreams. According to global Ponant chief Hervé Gastinel, Air France and Emirates are already signed up for carbon offset flights.

And such is the line’s commitment to sustainability that it has already ordered that its 14th ship will be powered by sail with fuel cells for auxiliary power. The 180 metre vessel will be completely carbon neutral and launched in 2027.

The revolutionary vessel may sail in our region. The line’s newest destination is French Polynesia, where Ponant purchased the Paul Gauguin in 2019, and Mr Gastinel told a trade publication in 2022 that the carbon-neutral ship would carry 100 to 200 guests and sail to “the extremes” of French Polynesia and Easter Island.

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Sarina Bratton with Le Ponant in the background

Ponant believes that sustainability will capture the next wave of interest in cruising, and is putting a lot of energy into leading the charge.

Small ships and a love of adventure has already stood Ponant in good stead, building a strong following in Australia, where it is led by veteran adventure cruise leader Sarina Bratton.

Mr Gastinel announced the biggest booking period for the first quarter of this year in the company’s 35 year history – 80 per cent higher than the equivalent in 2019 – with the Australasian region creating 20 per cent of that.

Ponant, owned by the $60bn French luxury group Artemis group, which also has iconic brands like Gucci, Saint Laurent and Christies in its stable, is creating advertising around the slogan “Nature is our Guide”.

It has created a $1.5 million Ponant Foundation fund for 14 projects, including projects in New Caledonia, the Macquarie Islands and work to give indigenous people’s a voice.

The company has a $3.26 million fund for scientific research aboard its vessels, with 29 projects underway – the world’s first hybrid icebreaker Commandant Charcot is leading this work.

Among new offerings in 2024/25 is the chance to sleep on the ice at the St Lawrence River, Greenland and the Baffin Regions.

Ponant has a big presence in Australia and this year brought the refurbished three-masted sailing ship Le Ponant to Kimberley in a stunning partnership with Broome pearls b rand Paspaley and its two vintage sea planes.

Mr Gastinel said Ponant intended to move further into the luxury space, become the leader in purposeful sea voyages and accelerate the company’s bid to become an international brand.

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