Australia’s ‘First Lady’ of cruising, Sarina Bratton AM, has been appointed Senior Strategic Advisor and Honorary Chairwoman of the region by Ponant global CEO Hervé Gastinel.

As Ponant Senior Strategic Advisor, Bratton will work closely with the global CEO on strategic worldwide opportunities.

This includes mergers and acquisitions, market intelligence and market development.

Gastinel said of the appointment: “The growth of Asia Pacific has had a profound effect on the accelerated growth of the company, since the acquisition by Artémis in 2015. In working closely with Sarina, I have the utmost respect for her as a person and as a professional. She leads by example, listens intently, acts with integrity and puts a strong emphasis on supporting everyone around her.”

Bratton started with Ponant a decade ago, establishing the business entity and structure in Australia. The primary focus at the time was Australasia, with the extension then through Asia Pacific.

At the time, the company had four ships and APAC revenue was less than 1 per cent. Under Bratton’s strategy and leadership, the business now has 13 ships, with a 14th in development. APAC revenue represents 20 per cent. She later became Executive Chair of Ponant Asia Pacific

“My long-term commitment to the small, luxury, expedition sector was from the outset a natural fit with PONANT. It has been personally rewarding to see the company grow, our people grow, and the meaningful contribution our operation brings to Australia and Australians,” Bratton said.

Ponant is the market leader in luxury exploration and expedition cruises. They have the largest, newest, most technical, and environmentally sustainable fleet of small ships in the world.

The fleet includes Ponant’s iconic three-masted sailing yacht Le Ponant. As well as the company’s newest vessel, the world’s only luxury icebreaker, Le Commandant Charcot

Sarina Bratton’s achievements

Bratton has drawn on her passion for discovery to redefine the concept of small ship luxury cruising. Her reputation, knowledge and expertise has played a major role in the development of the Australian cruise industry. From the early days of Cunard’s famous QE2 visiting Australia, to being the first woman in the world to create a cruise line, then the market-leading five-star Orion Expedition Cruises.  

Bratton became a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in the 2014 Australia Day Honours for her significant service to tourism, particularly the cruise ship industry. She has held several senior board directorships within Australian state and federal governments. Her business acumen has been recognised with as NSW Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2008; Business Woman of the Year Award 2006; the inaugural Australian Travel Innovators Award 2006; the Commonwealth Government’s Centenary Medal 2003 and in 2000 she was entered into the Business Woman’s Hall of Fame.