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Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions Vice President Of Australasia  Monique Ponfoort Speaks Out On What The Ponant Brand Has To Offer To Australians.


With Four Of The World’s Most Luxurious Ships Visiting  Sydney yesterday, and as Two Berth At The Same Terminal For The First Time.

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Sydney enjoyed an extra touch of class with four of the world’s most luxurious ships, from four of the worlds most luxurious cruise lines berthed in the city’s stunning harbour.

Sydney celebrated in style, with a sophisticated cruising Saturday.

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Australian Cruising was On Board Ponants'  Le Soleal to capture all the action, and sat down with the Vice President of Australasia for Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions, Monique Ponfoort.

We asked the questions to Monique about what Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions has to offer to Australians.

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1. What does Ponant want to achieve in the Australian and New Zealand cruise market, do you see Australian and New Zealand passengers being the bread and butter of Ponant's business in the future due to the boon in the cruise industry here in Australia and New Zealand ??

PONANT has a very strong international business and underpinning charter business from numerous markets around the world.  Undoubtable Aust/NZ have become very important in the success for the company. 

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2. Australian's are more of a relaxed bunch of cruise passengers , how does Ponant plan to market them selves to that kind of passenger/s ??

Ponant’s modern ships are stylish and chic in both design and appearance however the French way of life fits comfortably with our Australian laid back style - in fact feedback from staff onboard indicates Australian’s feel at ease immediately they board. Internationally and in Australia/NZ, the Ponant brand attracts well-travelled passengers who are familiar with, and enjoy, European culture - like-minded people who seek a level of luxury and comfort balanced with the stimulation of visiting exciting and often hard to reach places. Interested in expanding their minds, as well as enjoying indulgent comforts, Ponant fits easily into their expectations. 

Savoir-faire. Explore fascinating destinations by day and sip Champagne at night - a great way to meet new friends. Whether you are Australian, French, German, English or North American a commonality of attitude and expectation creates an easy atmosphere onboard. We market to Australians and New Zealanders by showing the ships, exampling onboard ambiance (especially the food and wine) - a relaxed yet chic environment. 

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3. What are Ponants' key strenghts in adapting to the Australian's and New Zealander's cruise market ??

Not everyone wants to sail on very large vessels and travel thousands of people. Our ships, the most modern fleet in the world, are compact - small by comparison to the mega-liners - carrying just 240 or so guests. This creates an intimate private yacht experience sought by many; more personal and involving. Ultimately, we think, more enjoyable and satisfying. The ships size belie their facilities - 95% of all suites and staterooms have a private balcony, there is a Sothys Spa, boutique, a heated swimming pool (perfect for the polar regions), well equipped gym, choice of dining venues and, of course, on expedition cruises, our 12 Zodiacs allow our guest to get up close and personal with remote areas and magnificent wildlife.


Many of the voyages in this part of the world will be designated ‘expeditions’ which means we will have an Australian expedition team onboard to supplement the French and other crew nationalities. The ship’s crew are bilingual.

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4. What percentage of Australian's and New Zealander's cruise with Ponant ??

 This varies by destination and voyage.  Needless to say some destinations closer to Australia we will be the dominant nationality onboard whilst in Europe Europeans will be the dominant nationality.  
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5. With Silversea and others beginning to bring their expedition ships here in Australia, does Ponant see a move to wanting to base one of it's ships here on a more permanent basis ??

 We have already announced that we are bringing L’Austral to the Kimberley in 2017 for seven voyages.   Given the huge demand from Australians it is likely we will increase our presence. 
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6. What makes Ponant so special separating them selves from everyone else, and what are the main things that Australian's and New Zealander's can expect from stepping on board a Ponant yacht cruises & expedition's ship ??

The French Touch is immediately apparent. This is a theme that runs throughout the company. From the welcome onboard by the Captain and staff, to the ship’s boutique, hotel style interiors designed by French interior architect - designer Jean-Philippe Nuel,  to the fashion labels on sale in the boutique and inclusive wines and spirits, this attention to detail is paramount to Ponant’s philosophy. 

Certainly the officers and senior crew are predominantly French - but not to the exclusion of other nationalities. For example, in these waters, we have an Australian expedition team onboard as they have more expertise in local destinations. Invariably there are Australian and New Zealand wines onboard (as well as wines from South America and North America), and while the meals have French basis (and why not?), our chefs incorporate local produce and flavours into the menu to reflect the regionality. 


As Ponant's four sister ships are virtually identical it means that our guests can select a voyage anywhere in the world and the ship they travel on will be a virtual identikit of the other ships. This means consistency of hardware no one else can offer. Additionally, for traditional sailors, we offer a classic three masted yacht experience as well. Perfect for the Caribbean, or circumnavigation of the islands of the Mediterranean.   A strong feature of our ships is that they can morph between a luxury expedition operator to remote destinations like the Artic and Antarctica to luxury yacht cruise operator in the destinations such as the Mediterranean and Japan.  

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  7. Ponant has the First lady of cruising from Australia Sarina Bratton  in there corner , how significant and how big of an influence has she been in bringing Ponant to Australia and branding of the company ??

Sarina established the entity and engaged the senior management for PONANT in Australia.  She is special adviser to the executive management on internationalising the business and the product.  Having established luxury expedition cruising in Australia Sarina brings a depth of experience and understanding as to what Australians are looking for in this top end luxury and expedition market and she has a strong following. 

Her influence is already reflected in an expansion of Ponant voyages to this part of the world and an increase in the number of expedition voyages in addition to those designated luxury voyages.   

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8. With the unique product that Ponant yacht cruises & expeditions has to offer, where does Ponant see them selves in five years time ??

The most highly successful and leading luxury and expedition operator in the world.
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Information supplied by: Australian Cruising The HOME Of Australian Cruising!
Photos credit : Brian Gaskin of Australian Cruising


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