Ponant was founded in April 1988 by Philippe Videau, Jean-Emmanuel Sauvé, and other officers of the French Merchant Navy. These founding individuals, passionate about ships, built the company's first ship, Le Ponant, a sailing ship with three masts and just 64 guests, which still operates for the company today. Furthermore Jean-Emmanuel Sauvé is also still with the company, continuing the very personal hands-on style we have experienced over a number of years.
If you are wondering about the name, 'ponant' refers to the 'setting sun', (or the West), as opposed to the second ship in the fleet, a sleek motor yacht named Levant (the rising sun, or the East - same word as our own). Nearly ten years ago, new external investment set the company on the path for expansion, and Ponant built four new sister ships, Boréal, Austral, Soléal and Lyrial, super cool minimalist gems, carrying just 264 guests apiece, sailing to the four corners of the earth with polar capabilities and high tech green credentials.
In 2015 the company was acquired by French holding company Artemis, whose portfolio includes the fine arts auction house Christie's, winery Château Latour, Le Point, Stade Rennais F.C., and Théâtre Marigny, as well as being the controlling shareholder of the luxury goods conglomerate Kering, which includes the brands Gucci, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney, Bottega Veneta and Balenciaga. Under these new owners an order was placed for a new series of four ships, the Ponant Explorers, to be delivered in 2018 and 2019, and named Le Lapérouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville and Le Kerguelen.
For us, Ponant's range of themed cruises is particularly attractive, as they create unique programmes that you simply cannot replicate on other ships. One such is the fascinating Christie's cruise scheduled for October 2018, when the lovely Soléal departs Vancouver on 2nd October en route for San Diego. This attractive Pacific Northwest itinerary includes beautiful Victoria, an opportunity to sail under San Francisco's Golden Gate bridge for a full day exploring this lovely city, a morning in Monterey and a visit to Los Angeles.
Along the way, expect to spot whales in the Pacific Ocean, and more importantly, enjoy a unique programme of cultural and artistic lectures from key experts from Christie's auction house, for a stimulating once in a lifetime cruise. Speakers are expected to include the charismatic company Chairman, Stephen Lash; Jennifer Wright (Old Masters); Noah May (Collectable Wine Expert); and Ellanor Notides of Christie's San Francisco.
In Victoria, expect a talk on the influence of Gardens in Art, and impressionist art in particular. During two leisurely sea days enjoy wine expert Noah's insights into collectable wines, and a talk on contemporary art in California by Ellanor. San Francisco highlights include a visit to the Modern Art museum before it opens, followed by a private visit to a vineyard.
And in Monterey you will view a private collector's art or vintage car collection. The Los Angeles call features a private visit to the Getty museum or LA County museum lead by Jennifer Wright. For more information, call us on 020 7399 7670.
Find out more: Request a Ponant brochure