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Luxury French expedition line Ponant announced over night that it will be building four new ships, doubling its existing fleet. The first ship is expected to launch in 2018.

At 128 metres in length and with just 92 staterooms, the new ships continue Ponant’s philosophy of intimate, small-capacity vessels. Their size allows them to reach destinations that larger ships cannot, and all will be Ice Class ranked and equipped with the latest technologies, including environmental protection technology.

The interiors will be designed by Jean-Philippe Nuel, who also designed the line’s existing ships. The style brief is for an “ethnic chic universe” and the design will utilise driftwood, natural materials and colours.

The line has also announced new journey concepts to debut onboard the new ships. Moving on from the traditional White Expeditions (visiting the polar regions), these ships will sail on Blue and Green Expeditions. Blue Expeditions will explore Oceania while Green Expeditions will focus on South and Central America, Papua New Guinea and the Indian Ocean. Ponant is aiming to produce a host of unusual itineraries that get as close as possible to local cultures.