Ponant’s new zero emission ship to command premium pricing

EXCLUSIVE: LATTE chats with Mathieu Petiteau about the Swap2Zero concept

Solid Sail technology. | Render: Stirling Design International/PONANT)

This week, PONANT disclosed further details of its vision to operate zero greenhouse gas emission ships in the future. The French-flagged luxury cruise operator’s 14th ship is envisioned to operate with a sail-propulsion system that will generate approximately 50 percent of running power from the wind.

Renders of the flagged ‘Swap2Zero’ vessel show two differing styles of solid masts are being analysed for the project, designed by Solid Sail (pictured above) and Ayro Oceanwings (below).

Communicating on the project exclusively in Australia with LATTE, Mathieu Petiteau, PONANT Newbuilding and R&D Director, said work is continuing to determine the design differences.

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“Studies are ongoing to better measure and compare the performances of each system and find the best hull and appendices configuration with each of them. Preliminary results show quite similar performances,” he said.

Mathieu Petiteau, Newbuilding & R&D Director, PONANT

“The main differences are about weights, impact on the stability and operable wind forces, cost, footprint, and interferences with safety zones.”

Petiteau explained that the Solid Sails mast is around 70 metres in length, and can be tilted to reduce the air draft, while Oceanwings’ mast remains permanently upright “but keeping the vessel air draft below the limit to pass under strategic bridges”.

Both of the designs have folding sails.

He confirmed that the new ship design will only operate in warmer water destinations, ruling out polar destinations. But would not specify where the vessel is likely to operate.

The Mediterranean over summer seems to be a reasonably safe bet.

“A major design criteria is the energy efficiency and so the vessel will not be designed to sail in Arctic waters that require reinforced hull and increased power.

“Itineraries are under construction, using anticipated weather routing analysis to define the best location where the wind statistics are the most profitable.”

The new design will be slightly smaller in guest capacity compared to PONANT’s sisterships – Le Boreal, L’Austral, Le Soleal and Le Lyrial, which accommodate between 122-132 staterooms and suites.

Petiteau said “The vessel has been designed for the same capacity as the sisterships, but we made the choice to reduce the number of passenger cabins (95) to increase the cabin’s surface and public areas for better passenger comfort.”

Ayro Oceanwings® technology | Render: Stirling Design International/PONANT)

Quizzed about the price point for the new concept, Petiteau says discussions are ongoing, telling LATTE “the standard of this vessel will be same as Le Commandant Charcot.” That ice-breaking expedition ship commands premium pricing among the Ponant fleet.

The new sailship design will also embrace the ‘slow-cruise’ concept, largely due to its dependence on wind for navigation and more time at port calls.

“The vessel is designed for one month of autonomy with 50% of wind assistance at a ship speed of 10 knots,” Petiteau added.

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