Ponant expedition ships to feature 'underwater lounge'

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A still from a promotional video showing the design of Ponant's underwater lounge.
A still from a promotional video showing the design of Ponant's underwater lounge.

NEW YORK —The four expedition ships that Ponant ordered last month will feature the first “underwater lounge,” a bar with windows looking into the water, according to Navin Sawhney, the French small-ship line’s CEO for the Americas. 

Speaking at the Explorers Club here, Sawhney said that all 92 cabins on each vessel would have balconies, and that the ships would have an infinity pool. 

The back of the vessels will have a “modular marina” that operates as a sundeck while the ship is sailing, a disembarkation level for zodiacs, and a launch deck for water sports such as kayaking and water skiing.

The first of the Ponant expedition ships is due for delivery in 2018.

Sawhney said there is increasing interest from travel agents for Ponant, citing commissions that start at about $1,500 per cabin for a seven-night cruise. 

“Our commission is often the price of other cruises,” he said. 

He acknowledged that it takes time to become educated about Ponant’s product and to then find and qualify the right clients. But once that happens, he said, agents will find “huge equity” in it. 

“Ninety-seven percent of Ponant guests recommend the experience to a friend,” he said. “So, of course, they will send their friends to their trusted adviser.”

About 30% of Ponant’s passengers come from North America, Sawhney said, many of whom sail under ship charters with brands like Abercrombie & Kent and Tauck.

He said Ponant has not experienced any dip in Europe demand in recent months, and attributed that in part to catering to more experienced travelers. Sawhney himself will be cruising in Europe next week, on a voyage from Venice to Athens.

“I see no reason not to,” he said.

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