REYKJAVIK, Iceland -- The 184-passenger Le Laperouse was christened here on a chilly summer day, the first of six similar ships that by 2020 will double the size of French luxury expedition line Ponant.

The ceremony featured the singing of a patriotic hymn from Brittany -- home to Ponant CEO Jean Emmanuel Sauvee -- along with a brief address in French by the first lady of Iceland, and music from the Bigad de Lann Bihoue, a Breton pipe band that is the only remaining professional band in the French military.

When it was time for the christening, Maryvonne Pinault, wife of the chairman of Ponant's parent company, Artemis Group, snipped a blue, white and red ribbon that sent a bottle of Veuve Clicquot champagne to crash on the steel hull of the 430-foot ship.

Le Laperouse, named for French explorer Jean Francois de Galaup Laperouse, will set sail on a circumnavigation of Iceland on its inaugural voyage, which is a full ship charter to Tauck.

Ponant CEO Jean Emmanuel Sauvee at the christening of Le Laperouse in Reykjavik.
Ponant CEO Jean Emmanuel Sauvee at the christening of Le Laperouse in Reykjavik. Photo Credit: Tom Stieghorst

Ponant's 184-guest Explorer-class ships have bigger cabins than the previous class, which carry 264 passengers at double occupancy. They have an expansive watersports deck and marina at the aft, and an underwater lounge called the Blue Eye, which captures audio from the ocean and converts it into vibrations in the furniture.

In translated remarks at the ceremony, Sauvee praised his team for "the exceptional realization of the Blue Eye."

"Le Laperouse is a very important step in the achievement of our business product," Sauvee said.

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