A new partnership between two of the most respected names in cruising intends to help passengers push the boundaries of travel as they know it
When PONANT’s Le Laperouse departs Broome next June, kick starting the Australia’s Iconic Kimberley itinerary, there will be around 184 thrilled passengers on board the luxury yacht. And although the region’s remote yet imposing landscapes aren’t new to her, no one will be more excited to set sail than photographer Michaela Skovranova.
The 11-day voyage, which hugs the unforgettably wild coastline between Broome and Darwin, is one of the highly anticipated cruises created as part of a new partnership between PONANT and National Geographic Expeditions. And Skovranova is part of the guest experience. In fact, each journey under the joint initiative will be bolstered by a National Geographic photographer, who will engage with guests to help create a truly immersive experience.
Skovranova is the perfect choice for the Kimberley itinerary. The Slovakian-born, Australia-based photographer specialises in nature and underwater photography and has spent much of her career capturing extreme environments. As well as her camera equipment, Skovranova will be armed with a wealth of knowledge and expert advice, which will help passengers see this remarkable destination through a different lens.
Skovranova will be joined on board by a National Geographic expert, another hallmark of the new partnership. The pool of experts includes writers, archaeologists, adventurers, anthropologists and field researches.
Departing on June 7, the Australia’s Iconic Kimberley expedition will take in some of the country’s most spectacular sights, including King Georges River, the dramatic Twin Falls and Collier Bay with its Montgomery Reef. Ancient rock art will be complemented by stories of the dreamtime for a deeply Australian experience.
While the billion-of-years-old Australian landscape leaves you in awe, the limited-capacity Le Laperouse is sure to have a similar effect. With just 92 elegant staterooms and suites, the vessel delivers on PONANT’s trademark refined intimacy. Launched last year, Le Laperouse was the first of PONANT’s Explorer-class ships. Like all of the French cruise line’s ships in this class, it is built for exploration and features a reinforced hull for polar exploration and a fleet of inflatable Zodiac dinghies for outings and shore visits.
As one might expect, the ship is also awash with French flair across its sleek public spaces, which include a state-of-the-art underwater lounge, two restaurants, an outdoor heated pool and a spa and fitness centre.
There is also a theatre for lectures and information sessions hosted by naturalist guides and covering the full gamut of wildlife, history, geopolitics, the great explorers and conservation.
Australia’s Iconic Kimberley is one of 130 expeditions to take place across the next four years under the PONANT/National Geographic partnership. Another is Emblematic Antarctica, an 11-day polar expedition cruise that will leave passengers delightfully stunned.
In announcing the partnership last year, PONANT described the co-branded cruise catalogue as “unique encounters [that go] far beyond the boundaries of mainstream travel” and Emblematic Antarctica is case in point.
Departing and returning to Ushuaia, Argentina, Le Boréal will venture to the heart of the Antarctic Peninsula and the Weddell Sea, via the mythical Drake Passage, before reaching the White Continent.
This otherworldly destination, which was unexplored until the 19th century, presents wildlife encounters most people will only ever dream of. Humpback whales, seals, seabirds, and gentoo, Adelie and chinstrap penguins are likely sightings while emperor penguins could very well make a guest appearance.
Just as inspiring as the fauna, the Antarctic landscapes will leave you breathless with icebergs, ice floe, snow-covered mountains and ancient glaciers simply part of the furniture.
Le Boréal features 132 staterooms and suites, providing for a capacity of 264 passengers. With a 136-strong crew, service is part of the luxury on board this and any ship bearing the famous PONANT name.
Prepare yourself for the journey of a lifetime with a pre-cruise night in Buenos Aires, Argentina’s charismatic capital.
Emblematic Antarctica’s debut, departing 26 February 2020 whilst other departure dates are 25 January and 20 February, 2021.
For more information, visit natgeoexpeditions.com.au/expeditions/ocean-cruise-expeditions