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First Look at Ponant’s New Le Lapérouse



French cruise line Ponant has unveiled the first ship in its new Explorers class. this week in Iceland.

The 184-passenger Le Lapérouse, which was shown this week in Iceland, has the sleek, super-yacht look of Ponant’s existing fleet, but is slightly smaller and sports a unique feature: the Blue Eye, a multi-sensory underwater lounge.

In this exceptional space are two portholes shaped like a cetacean’s eyes. Integrated digital screens project the live images captured by three underwater cameras, and hydrophones pipe in the natural symphony of the sea. This can also be felt through the “body listening” sofas that vibrate softly to the sounds.

“It’s a very intimate vessel,” said Navin Sawhney, CEO, the Americas, for Ponant. “Its design is very beautiful, crafted to bring the light in from the outside and showcase the destinations. The most breathtaking aspect of Le Lapérouse is the Blue Eye lounge. It envelops you and makes a modern-day explorer out of you,” he said.

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Le Lapérouse is named for the French explorer Jean-François de Galaup, count of Lapérouse, whose expedition mysteriously vanished in the South Pacific in 1788. This is a luxurious expedition ship, with elegant appointments, delicious French cuisine, and an infinity pool. A marina platform has three positions, for use as a sun deck, as a launch pad for kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling and other water sports, and as the embarkation point for a flotilla of 10 Zodiacs. An ice-class rating allows the ship to operate in polar regions.

The single, open-seating restaurant also offers tables on an outdoor terrace. Large windows open the Grand Salon and the observation lounge to sweeping sea views, and a 188-seat theater serves as the spot for enrichment lectures, movies and evening entertainment such as classical singers.

The top deck spa has a Scandinavian feel, with light woods and an ocean-view sauna and treatment rooms. A small fitness area is stocked with treadmills and cycles.

In fact, the contemporary interiors throughout Le Lapérouse, by the French designer Jean-Philippe Nuel, have a Scandinavian flair. Light, neutral colors are accented with nautical blues, and natural forms, reminiscent of the sea, characterize the art pieces and the lighting. For example, the large lights in the reception area resemble ethereal jellyfish.

All the staterooms have balconies, and the four spacious suites facing aft sport giant terraces. The owner’s suite is equipped with an outdoor hot tub.

Le Lapérouse is served by a fully bilingual (French and English) crew of 110.

Five more ships are being built, with Le Champlain to follow this autumn. Ponant is also building a one-of-a-kind luxury icebreaker.

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