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. 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.