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Published in: Cruise News

“Our focus now is to optimize 2019 and to hit the trail with summer 2020,” said Navin Sawhney, CEO of Ponant Americas. “The market is looking to book 18-plus months out.”

One of the market leaders in the expedition category, Ponant has a lion’s share of the Antarctica market and is now branching out to other destinations, including the tropics.

The company is at the start of a new ship expansion program, having christened the 180-guest Le Lapérouse in Iceland in July, with five sister ships and an ice breaker set to follow by 2021.

“The ship itself is simply spectacular,” Sawhney said. “I’ve seen a lot of ships, both river and ocean, and this particular ship is really special.”

His personal highlights include the Blue Eye underwater lounge, as well as the ship’s main lounge, which is appointed with numerous large windows to welcome in natural light.

“The general feel of the ship is very individualistic,” he continued. “Similar to each of the Boreal-class ships”

Sawhney is leading Ponant’s charge in North America; the company has expanded, welcoming more sales managers as its fleet and destination mix expand.

“The other part of it beyond taking it to market is educating our partners on how our product is expanding,” Sawhney explained.

New destinations in Ponant’s deployment are of a tropical variety, including the Seychelles and the Solomon Islands.

“There is a lot more variety to our portfolio with the expansion of the fleet,” he added.

Ponant’s guest is intellectually curious, and both returning passengers and new-to-Ponant guests have embraced the tropical deployment opportunities.

Operating expeditions for over two decades, Ponant has a solid expedition team and a deep roster of marine staff to oversee the company’s expansion.

Sawhney said he wasn’t worried about supply growth in the sector.

“I’m not worried about it,” he explained. “I am concerned about certain aspects of it, however. One of them is that you can’t take on expeditions lightly. You have to be very mindful of the sensitive environments you go into.”

The company is an active member of IAATO and AECO.

“The whole idea behind the expedition expansion is to help tomorrow’s traveler experience the world differently with a sense of meaning and purpose and come back from it transformed and changed without changing the environment.”

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