Ponant has revealed the return of two of its fleet of small luxury expedition ships, Le Lapérouse and Le Soléal, to Australian waters in 2021, with a collection of eight new immersive itineraries along the coastline of Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales and Queensland.
The new itineraries – each offering back-to-back voyage opportunities – showcase the fascinating and multifaceted diversity of wilderness, wildlife, heritage and cultural encounters, many unique, found along Australia’s coastline.
Last week the luxury cruise line was forced to shelve its New Zealand program in February and March due to issues with obtaining visas for the majority of the crew of Le Lapérouse. However these newly announced departure dates are scheduled to operate between September and December 2021.
Each voyage captures the heartbeat of Australia. From early maritime encounters along the west coast, aptly exampled by visits to Dirk Hartog Island, Shark Bay and the Abrolhos Islands, to ancient cultures stretching back much further in time, some 40,000 years or more, the petroglyphs of Murujuga (Dampier archipelago) the largest, densest and most diverse collections of rock art in the world, these luxury expeditions reveal multiple facets of the Australian continent that will surprise.
Whether photographing rare Australian sea lion colonies, experiencing the emotive National ANZAC Centre in Albany, exploring the penal colony at Maria Island or viewing Australia’s highest sea cliffs at Cape Huay, this range of 7-to 15-night itineraries, created by Ponant’s highly regarded Australian expedition leader and marine biologist Mick Fogg, showcases the coastline of his homeland.
“Most people don’t realise that 45% of our birds, 83% of our mammals and more than 90% of our amphibians, reptiles and fish are only found in Australia, that makes us pretty unique. Add to that the age of the landscape, diversity of habitats and the world’s oldest continuing culture and you have the perfect recipe for creating remarkable immersive experiences as encapsulated in this collection of voyages,” said Fogg.
Deb Corbett, PONANT’s General Manager Sales & Marketing Asia Pacific, offers a further dimension, “Visits to Port Lincoln, regarded as Australia’s seafood capital, famed for its abalone, tuna, lobsters and oysters, exploring the acclaimed wineries of McLaren Vale, or enjoying the award-winning wines and cheeses of Tasmania’s Tamar Valley will complement the fine world-class cuisine and inclusive wines that showcase PONANT’s relaxed yet luxurious French ambiance on board.”
Corbett encourages interested parties to act promptly to secure space.
“We have already received an extraordinary response from people earlier registering expressions of interest for ‘at home’ voyages. Acting promptly”, urges Corbett, “will secure access to the widest range of available accommodation on each of the eight differing itineraries as well as the highest Ponant Bonus advance purchase incentive – currently as much as 30% savings.”
New Australian program overview
Jewels of the West Coast: Broome to Fremantle | 22 September 2021 | 10 nights | Le Soléal
Highlights include Rowley Shoals, Montebello Islands, Ningaloo and Shark Bay.
From $8,430 per person in a Deluxe Stateroom.
Highlights of South Western Australia: Fremantle roundtrip | 2 October 2021 | 8 nights | Le Soléal
Highlights include Albany, Esperance, the Recherche Archipelago and Busselton.
From $6,630 per person in a Deluxe Stateroom.
Australia’s West Coast: Fremantle roundtrip | 10 October 2021 | 7 nights | Le Soléal
Highlights include Shark Bay, Dirk Hartog Island, Abrolhos Islands and Jurien Bay.
From $5,800 per person in a Deluxe Stateroom.
Along Australia’s South Coast: Fremantle – Hobart | 17 October 2021 | 13 nights | Le Soléal
Highlights include Esperance, Recherche Archipelago, King Island and Port Lincoln.
From $10,780 per person in a Deluxe Stateroom.
Tasmania Circumnavigation: Hobart roundtrip | 30 October 2021 and 8 November 2021 | 9 nights | Le Soléal
Highlights include Port Davey, Maria Island, Tamar Valley and Albatross Island.
From $7,480 per person in a Deluxe Stateroom.
Queensland’s Islands & Reefs: Cairns – Brisbane | 8 December 2021 | 7 nights | Le Lapérouse
Highlights include Willis Island, Percy islands, Hardy Reef and Lady Musgrave Island.
From $4,670 per person in a Deluxe Stateroom.
Highlights of Australia’s East Coast: Brisbane – Hobart | 15 December 2021 | 15 nights | Le Lapérouse
Highlights include Hawkesbury River, Eden, Maria Island and Fortescue Bay.
From $5,330 per person in a Deluxe Stateroom.
Food, Wine & Yacht Race in Tasmania: Hobart roundtrip | 23 December 2021 | 10 nights | Le Lapérouse
Highlights include Maria Island, Ile des Phoques, the Tamar Valley, King Island and Hobart (Sydney to Hobart Race arrival + NYE celebrations).
From $8,290 per person in a Deluxe Stateroom.
Many of the all-new itineraries visit World Heritage-listed areas and Marine Parks including coastlines and reef areas that large ships simply cannot manage yet perfectly suited to Le Lapérouse and Le Soléal, their compact dimensions and manoeuvrability allowing access to the tightest places. For example, the Hawkesbury River, as well as some of Australia’s world-famous tropical reef areas including Rowley Shoals and Ningaloo, and parts of Queensland’s 3,000 coral reefs and 2000 or so islands.
View the full collection here.
Lead image: Port Lincoln, South Australia | Credit: Robert Lang