“You’ll assume that the surroundings can be boring and all the time the identical, however it’s all the time completely different, all the time altering,” Jansen tells Travelweek. “We have been doing 11 knots and we had two metres of ice. With Charcot being the world’s solely luxurious icebreaker, the ice cabinets come into fixed contact with the ship, creating small hills, which was very fascinating. The facility of the ship breaking the ice was actually wonderful, and but all people onboard stated the journey was easy and vibration-free.”
On the voyage’s ultimate day, Jansen noticed 10 polar bears and, extremely, a blue whale, to not point out extra seals than he might rely. Days have been spent finalizing actions each on and off the ship, together with lectures led by consultants and naturalists, kayaking and snowshoeing, and in addition sampling unimaginable world fare designed by PONANT’s longstanding associate, 21 Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse. All this was performed in preparation for Le Commandant Charcot’s inaugural voyage to the North Pole, which was efficiently held in July 2022, marking the primary time passengers onboard a luxurious passenger vessel had reached essentially the most northern level of the earth’s axis of rotation. PONANT will now offer 4 North Pole voyages onboard Le Commandant Charcot each summer time.
“Every little thing concerning the voyage was particular, from the wildlife and excursions, to the landscapes and the meals onboard. And the colors – you can not think about the colors you’ll see up there. The ship is inbuilt such a approach that there are a variety of open home windows, permitting you to see this stunning and wild panorama proper exterior,” provides Jansen.
North Pole voyages are only a fraction of latest choices for PONANT. In fact, the luxurious line, says Jansen, makes it some extent to all the time supply one thing new, whether or not it’s model new itineraries, new ports or thrilling new actions. New for 2023, for instance, is an in a single day Polar Trek on East Greenland itineraries for 8-10 visitors, which for an added price, features a particular Inuit village go to.
“We attempt to have new itineraries and new merchandise on a regular basis. We all the time attempt to discover new locations to amaze you, and to expertise them in new methods,” says Jansen.
To assist unfold the phrase concerning the PONANT model and its unimaginable product lineup, Jansen is in Canada this week for a multi-city street present with stops in Toronto and Montreal. He admits that PONANT isn’t as well-known in Canada as different luxurious cruise traces, however he’s hoping that may change now that Canada’s borders have reopened, luxurious journey is shortly rebounding, and an increasing number of Canadians want to indulge and discover.
“The concept now’s to develop sure markets all over the world, particularly the Americas together with Canada and the U.S., as a result of we are likely to have an rising variety of visitors actually excited about our product,” says Jansen. “We even have three gross sales reps in Canada now. Canadians have the funds to journey, they need to journey, and so they understand that life goes by actually quick. So I feel we’re right here within the Canadian market on the proper time, and we’ve got the appropriate product to entice Canadians.”
A part of Canada’s large advertising and marketing push is a particular journey advisor supply for the whole month of November. Each time an advisor deposits a brand new reserving, they’ll earn a present card of as much as $500 per stateroom, plus their consumer will obtain a 5% low cost.
In a sit-down with Travelweek previous to his Toronto go to, Jansen talked concerning the distinctive promoting factors of PONANT, how winter bookings are shaping up and the way the cruise line is redefining the time period luxurious.
For individuals who are unfamiliar with the model, what makes PONANT so particular?
“I labored for varied cruise traces, together with ones with large ships, previous to becoming a member of PONANT as a cruise director. And I need to say, PONANT was a product that amazed me due to the environment onboard. It’s luxurious however not uptight. You don’t must put on a tuxedo or a tie for gala evenings. Nevertheless it’s nonetheless very a lot a luxurious expertise since you see the officers fairly often, visitors by no means really feel like they’re only a quantity onboard, and we go to locations few cruise traces go. That’s luxurious to me, to be the place no person else has been earlier than, just like the North Pole.
“However what additionally units us aside is the worldwide environment onboard. Every little thing onboard is finished in French and English. A number of years in the past, I’d say nearly all of our visitors have been French-speaking, however that has shifted to greater than 50% being non-French talking. This makes for a really good worldwide group onboard, which makes the journey that rather more fascinating. And that is additionally mirrored within the delicacies onboard – in fact, there may be wonderful French delicacies however there’s additionally a give attention to worldwide fare to cater to all tastes.
“And lastly, I must level out the scale of our ships. We by no means exceed 240 visitors, which permits us to do belongings you simply can’t do on greater ships. We at present have 12 ships, together with Le Ponant, which has a most 32 visitors, and our six Explorer ships that carry 184 most visitors, and our 4 sister ships with a most 220 visitors, although we restrict that to 200 in Antarctica. And at last Le Commandant Charcot, which might go as much as 240 however we additionally are likely to restrict it to 200 visitors onboard.”
How would you describe the PONANT onboard expertise?
“When you’re booked on an expedition, whether or not polar or tropical, all of the outings are included. Plus, you’ve bought limitless Wi-Fi, an open bar so you’ll be able to take pleasure in champagne 24 hours a day, you’ll be able to order breakfast in your stateroom – all of it’s included. Mainly, should you don’t go to the spa or boutique onboard, your invoice can be zero on the finish of the cruise.
Additionally, for the second, we’ve got scientists crusing on simply Le Commandant Charcot to offer perception into native landscapes to our visitors. However we plan on introducing this program on all our ships beginning in 2023.”
The place do you sail?
“We sail all all over the world. We have now 25% of our itineraries in Europe, together with the Med, Northern Europe, Nice Britain and Scotland. We go to the Arctic, to Antarctica and naturally the North Pole now due to our icebreaker, Le Commandant Charcot. We have now different itineraries in Australia, the Seychelles, within the Caribbean in fact. In North America, we do the Nice Lakes, we go to Central and South America as effectively. We’re seeing a variety of success within the Canadian market with Europe, with the Mediterranean, but in addition the Seychelles, Central and South America, and the Poles as effectively. And an increasing number of visitors from Canada are actually Le Commandant Charcot for wonderful itineraries each within the Arctic and Antarctica.”
How are winter 2022-23 bookings thus far? Are bookings again to pre-pandemic ranges?
“We’re exceeding ranges in some circumstances, however this additionally has to do with the actual fact we’ve got seven new ships now: two new ships in 2019, two new ships in 2020, and three new ships in 2021. The corporate has grown actually quick. All our Explorer ships and the Charcot are model new, and we have to fill them. However we’re doing very well with 80%-85% occupancy. And 2022-23 is wanting good as effectively. In 2019, visitors would sometimes guide one and a half years prematurely, however now it’s extra 9 months to a yr prematurely. With PONANT, the sooner you guide, the higher it’s. You don’t get last-minute offers. You get 30% once we open gross sales, often one and a half years earlier than the cruise begins. After which it goes from 30% bonus to 25%-20% because the ship is stuffed.”
Is there one vacation spot that you simply don’t at present sail to however wish to?
“We have now been making an attempt to go to the Galapagos for years and years and years, however it’s a little bit of a geopolitical state of affairs. However at PONANT, we by no means cease making an attempt or believing. There may be all the time hope – with out hope, there isn’t a life!”
What’s your message to journey brokers? What would you like them to find out about PONANT?
“I might merely say, come onboard. We attempt to have as many fam journeys as doable, we’ve got so many departures at 50% off so please contact your gross sales consultant.
“However essentially the most fundamental message can be our small ships supply all of the comforts onboard, coupled with our wonderful locations. It’s a luxurious expertise by way of and thru. Our captains will wake you up in the midst of the night time for the Northern Lights. They’ll do all the things they will to provide visitors the absolute best expertise. And we go to locations the place we all know the wildlife can be there, the place native populations are going to welcome you with open arms. Simply strive PONANT, and you will notice the distinction.”
To be taught extra about PONANT’s 2023 North Pole voyages, click on right here.
To observe a video of PONANT’s first voyage to the North Pole, click on right here.
PONANT is represented in English-speaking Canada by Cruise Methods. For extra info contact Olga Sebestova, Supervisor, Model Advertising and marketing, at [email protected]