Paspaley Pearl by PONANT to open up greater Kimberley access

New-to-brand expedition yacht to unlock five-fold number of destinations

Sarina Bratton, Senior Strategic Advisor and Honorary Chairwoman for PONANT was this week zealous about the introduction of Paspaley Pearl by PONANT 30-guest vessel that Paspaley acquired earlier in the year. Hosting a media event in Sydney, Bratton said the boutique size of the ship will open up around five times as many destinations in the Kimberley compared to the 10 or so locations accessed by the expedition line’s bigger, 200-guest ships.

“I’m very excited about the product. It enables us to do something different that hasn’t been done before,” Bratton remarked. One such unique experience in partnership with Paspaley will be pearling experiences – typically limited to only Paspaley’s VIPs – providing access to pearl farms during the harvest and seeding seasons.

“To actually get to see, feel and understand what goes behind making the world’s most beautiful pearls, in our country, is very moving.”

M/Y Paspaley Pearl by PONANT

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Bratton explained, that beyond the Kimberley, the size of Paspaley Pearl by PONANT will allow the company to spend three days up the Sepik River in New Guinea or five days in the Indonesian archipelago of Raja Ampat Islands, “considered probably the most biodiverse region in the world – a 2,500 square kilometre marine park. It’s extraordinary,” she said. That marine park is teeming with different types of experiences  – hikes for the birds of paradise, snorkelling, scuba diving, cultural experiences and more.

“The big ships – and I’m talking about 200 passenger ships – that can’t get to [the same region].

“This is another element of what we’re going to be able to deliver to our guests, in addition to our already very very successful portfolio. That’s why I get pretty excited about it all,” Bratton added.

Bratton was also transparent about the Paspaley Pearl‘s introduction, indicating the delivery schedule was not yet set in stone as the parties looked to bed down the location, cost and timeline for the overhaul of the vessel. Last month PONANT flagged a likely June 2024 launch date for the refurbished ship.

PONANT Senior Strategic Advisor Sarina Bratton speaking at a media lunch in Sydney this week

“We’ve all experienced over many, many years, the delays of ships being delivered. We want to make sure that we are not in a position where we’re going to disappoint or disrupt our guests. So whatever the date it, when we get the website up and brochure delivered, we’re going to be very confident that we’ll be starting then.”

“We want to err on the side of caution, rather than being bullish about,” Bratton said.

LATTE understands that when the enhanced Paspaley Pearl launches it will not offer Zodiac but instead small watercraft vessels of a similar size.

Paspaley Pearl by PONANT will also enable the French cruise line to chase the lucrative MICE market for the first time in the region, targeting corporate retreats for business VIPs, as well as luxury fishing expeditions in the Kimberley and beyond.

Also in Sydney and Australia this past week for the first time since joining PONANT in June was Belinda Hindmarsh, Group Deputy CEO of Global Business. Hindmarsh’s role sees her head up brand, product strategy, guest experience, sales, marketing and communications for PONANT on a global front.

The Kiwi native has been living in Europe for the past few decades. Her entire career has been in travel, working with the likes of Aer Lingus, Expedia (for 14 years) and CWT where she led the direction of CWT’s global hotel distribution division, RoomIt, and the business operations in China.

Twelve months ago she’d never even heard of PONANT and hadn’t been on a cruise of any type, she told LATTE. But it’s her travel tech nouse and expertise in operations and marketing that she is being called on to deliver a door-to-door experience for PONANT’s guests.

“There’s an opportunity to do more in terms of combining the entire journey, such as door-to-door service, pick up at home. [There is] lots to come in the product space,” she hinted.

Hindmarsh said she was blown away by PONANT and what the brand is doing in terms of creating expedition voyages for “people looking to do something different”. And the companies ability to continue to develop itineraries to new destinations.

PONANT's Sarina Bratton, Senior Strategic Advisor and Honorary Chairwoman, and Belinda Hindmarsh, Group Deputy CEO, Global Business

“But I now have a really long new bucket list of places I want to see and I feel like my geographic map of the world got a lot bigger,” she quipped.

Hindmarsh added that PONANT was focused on innovation and “leading from the front” on all topics of sustainability as pioneers, and that was emphasised with the new product and carbon-neutral sailing ship 14, that was revealed in July.

At the event in Sydney, Hindmarsh revealed PONANT has selected the Syroco EfficientShip platform to support the design and digital modelling of the innovative Swap2Zero project. A digital twin based on physics and artificial intelligence will make it possible to simulate the behaviour of the different components of the ship to evaluate her energy consumption and minimise her emissions.

Swap2Zero is the first transoceanic ship concept that aims for carbon neutrality when sailing, maneuvering, in port or at anchor. Her carbon footprint will be reduced throughout her life cycle. This sailing ship, which will be ready by 2030, will combine renewable energy provided by wind and sun, fuel cells and carbon capture devices. It will be a catalyst for new energy solutions with a high replicability potential.

'Solid Sails' are under evaluation | Render: Stirling Design International/PONANT)

Mathieu Petiteau, Newbuilding and R&D Director at PONANT, explained: “During our studies around the design of our future ship, Syroco EfficientShip helps us define the best possible technical configuration. This platform also enables us to precisely model the behaviour of our future ship and her energy efficiency in different configurations, depending on routes sailed and weather conditions encountered. The digital twin technology is clearly part of our strategy to accelerate the decarbonisation of the maritime industry.”

“We are proud to be at the forefront of maritime innovation by implementing industry-leading technology and to pave the way to a decarbonised maritime transportation future,” Hindmarsh said.

“We are proud to work with PONANT, a company at the forefront of maritime innovation and committed to decarbonised navigation. Only through the deployment of cutting-edge technological solutions will the maritime industry be able to accelerate its energy transition,” added Alex Caizergues, CEO and Co-founder of Syroco.

Lead image: Deb Corbett, General Manager, Sales & Marketing, APAC; Sarina Bratton, Senior Strategic Advisor and Chairwoman; Belinda Hindmarsh, Group Deputy CEO, Global Business; and Charles Boutet, Director of Marketing & Communications, APAC.

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