PONANT: Celebrating 35 Years of Environmental Awareness and Sustainability

For 35 years, Ponant has been a pioneer in the world of luxury expedition cruises. As the company has grown and evolved, it has consistently placed a strong emphasis on environmental awareness and sustainability, becoming a beacon of responsible tourism in the cruise industry.


From the start, PONANT has never ceased to innovate in an ongoing quest to offer exceptional voyages and promote the better environmental practices. In 1988 PONANT’s founders had a vision of innovative, more responsible exploration under the French flag. In 1989 they opted for an unprecedented financing mechanism by launching a public offering to build their first ship.

Committed to more responsible tourism from the start, the company promoted sail power by inaugurating Le Ponant, a three-masted sailing yacht with 32 cabins, in 1991. In 2004 work began to design the “ideal cruise ship”, a 132-stateroom yacht with cutting-edge technology to minimise the environmental footprint and optimise wastewater treatment with waste heat recovery boilers. This led to the launch of four sisterships starting in 2010 with Le Boréal, followed by L’Austral in 2011, Le Soléal in 2012 and Le Lyrial in 2015.

True to its spirit of exploration, in 2015 PONANT announced its order for the PONANT EXPLORER series, six yachts with 92 staterooms and suites specially designed for expeditions. They all have catalytic converters that allow a fourfold reduction in Nox polluting emissions.

In 2018 the PONANT Foundation was established with a remit to protect the oceans, the polar regions and the cultural exchanges between indigenous peoples. And in 2019 heavy fuel oil was replaced by Low Sulphur Marine Gas Oil across the fleet to reduce SOx air pollution. The following year saw a switch to on-board sorting and recovery of recyclable waste and local recycling channels ashore being established.

In 2021 Le Commandant Charcot, the world’s only luxury icebreaking vessel, a hybrid-electric ship powered by Liquefied Natural Gas, was launched. Followed in 2022 by the renovation of the sailing yacht Le Ponant and the installation of drinking water treatment and bottling equipment on all ships to eliminate single-use plastics.

For the coming years reducing emissions remains a major challenge, with a target of having 100% of the ships being equipped with shore power by 2026.

Contact us for more details on PONANT and its luxury experiences.

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