Tell me about Ponant’s recent growth.
Ponant Cruises has grown tremendously since the brand’s birth 31 years ago. We just took delivery of our ninth ship, and our brand will be at 12 ships by May 2021. We have evolved from a fully French experience to a more traditional international standard of luxury for today’s more casual luxury consumer. I’m proud to say that currently 40 percent of our guests are coming from North America. These numbers have really catapulted in the last 18 months [since Rodriguez joined Ponant]. We also just announced that Ponant will purchase Paul Gauguin Cruises. PG will certainly grow under Ponant’s ownership.
What three things are you most excited about this year for Ponant?
- We have just taken delivery of our ninth luxury expedition yacht, designed and built entirely for warm weather exploration. This class of vessel has many unique features, including the world’s first undersea lounge with full glass windows. Called the Blue Eye Lounge, it is a totally immersive experience for the guest, giving them the ability to see and hear undersea life whether we’re traveling during the day or at night. It also features an infinity pool and a three-tiered marina where guests have easy access to all of our water sports and Zodiac and deep sea fishing adventures. These vessels are all fully ADA compliant, too.
- We’ve also started booking the world’s first luxury icebreaker expedition ship to the North Pole, which will launch in April 2021. Like all of our ships, this ship is eco-friendly beyond standard international regulations and will use liquified natural gas [an environmentally friendlier fuel] as one of our many commitments to the environment.
- Our excellent Corporate Social Responsibility policies. We strive to be “clean and green” around the world, in all the destinations and seas we travel through.
What is Ponant’s approach to working with travel advisors?
We truly love travel advisors at Ponant. We recognize that it is a partnership, and we need one another for the guest’s sake and for each of our own needs. I’m proud to say that as a result of that ethos, the majority of our bookings come through travel advisors. We have many programs to assist them. They can start by registering with us as a travel advisor if they haven’t already. They will have easy access to all of the information and marketing collateral that they need. They can reach out to their local director of sales for further one-to-one assistance. If they don’t know who that is, they can email me, and I will direct them to the right person. I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where are your favorite places to travel?
I own a home in Tuscany and love all things Italian. My favorite once-in-a-lifetime spots are Antarctica, the Taj Mahal, Angkor Wat, and Rio de Janeiro on New Year’s Eve. And then there are the cities I never tire of: New York City, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, London, Istanbul, and Paris.