Posted on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 by Shawn Dake
Continuing Shawn J. Dake’s
Cruise Ships 2011, The Year In Review: Compagnie du Ponant
Compagnie du Ponant an offshoot of the giant French container company CMA-CGM Group, inaugurated their newest ship L’AUSTRAL on April 26th in Marseilles, headquarters for the line. The 10,700 gross ton ship was joined by it’s sister, the 264-passenger LE BOREAL and the much smaller 90-passengers LE LEVANT for the gala ceremony which included music and fireworks at sea. As noted by company co-founder Jean-Emanuelle Sauvee, “It has been decades since a French company counted five cruise ships in its fleet.” Although the vessels are all relatively small, the company hopes to carry 20,000 passengers annually. A third new sister ship will join the line in 2013. On the other hand, the company will soon downsize as in December it sold both of its older ships. The 8,282 gross ton LE DIAMANT (ex BEGONIA, EXPLORER STARSHIP, SONG OF FLOWER) was built in 1974 as a Ro-Ro ship and rebuilt as a cruise ship in 1986 before joining the current fleet in 2004. It will be renamed OCEAN DIAMOND in November, 2012 sailing for Quark Expeditions. Also sold was the 1998-built, 3,504 gross ton LE LEVANT which went to Paul Gauguin Cruises, to be renamed MOANA, also in November, 2012.