By Anne Kalosh.
The global order book for ocean-going cruise ships has just passed 100 for the first time, a stunning number! This is historic. Even more exciting for small-ship fans is the fact that a quarter of those newbuilds are Quirky-Cruise small—that is, they carry fewer than 300 passengers.
Just days ago French cruise line Ponant helped push the number above 100 by announcing two additional Explorer-class ships. This will bring the yacht-like Explorers series to six, and make Ponant’s fleet 12 strong by 2021.
All the Explorers are named after—you guessed it—famous explorers. (Add bonus points if you correctly figured they’re French explorers!)
The newly ordered fifth and sixth ships are called LE BELLOT and LE SURVILLE.
With their sleek design and cutting-edge technology, these ice-class expedition cruise vessels will measure approximately 10,000 gross tons, with a length of 131 meters/430 feet and a beam of 18 meters/59 feet. Each can accommodate 180 passengers in 92 balcony cabins and four suites with bay windows and terraces.
All six Explorers have exciting features like an infinity swimming pool and a “Blue Eye” multi-sensorial underwater lounge. This has non-intrusive underwater lighting and hydrophones integrated into the keel that transmit deep-water sounds, as well as body listening sofas that discreetly vibrate in unison with the streaming aquatic acoustics.
Coming in 2020, LE BELLOT and LE SURVILLE follow 2018’s LE LAPEROUSE and LE CHAMPLAIN, and 2019’s LE BOUGAINVILLE and LE DUMONT d’URVILLE.
All six are being built by Vard, a subsidiary of Italy’s Fincantieri, the world’s leading cruise shipbuilder. The hulls will be built at Vard Tulcea in Romania, with the rest of the work to be done at Vard Søviknes in Norway.
In addition, Vard will deliver Ponant’s luxury icebreaker in 2021. It is the first electric hybrid cruise icebreaker powered by LNG and dual fuel propulsion.
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