The Ponant Story
Discover the treasures of the land by sea on board luxurious yachts that are built on an intimate, human scale. French crew, expertise, attentive service, gastronomy: set sail in a five-star environment and enjoy a travel experience that is simultaneously authentic and sophisticated.
The Ponant Story
1986 – The call of the open sea…
In 1986, Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée, a young French Merchant Navy officer and travel enthusiast, decided to fulfil his dream by creating an innovative concept: showcasing the art of travelling at sea in the finest French tradition, then called “The French Way of Sea”.
1988 – The start of a great adventure
In 1988, La Compagnie des îles du Ponant was created. Fourteen shareholders, recent graduates of the French Merchant Navy aged between 23 and 29, thus set off on the adventure of a lifetime. The name “Ponant” means the West in Latin but was also one of the first itineraries planned: a cruise in the Ponant Isles.
1989 – An emblematic three-masted yacht
The Le Ponant project began in 1989. The company’s mythical yacht saw the light of day two years later in the shipbuilding yards of Villeneuve-La-Garenne. In May 1991, Le Ponant cast off and made its maiden cruise. It was a voyage that followed in the wake of Christopher Columbus into the heart of the exotic Caribbean archipelago.
1998 – The development of the fleet
La Compagnie des îles du Ponant expanded its fleet with the acquisition of Le Levant, in November 1998, and Le Diamant, five years later. In 2004, the CMA-CGM Group, one of the global leaders in maritime container transport, became the Compagnie’s major shareholder. The company set up its offices in Marseille and changed its name to La Compagnie du Ponant.
2007 – A latest-generation ship
In 2007, under the influence of the CMA-CGM Group, La Compagnie du Ponant set out in a new direction and started to design a cruise ship that would perfectly combine cutting-edge technology, intimate size and top-of-the-range amenities. Le Boréal was constructed in 2009 at the Italian shipyard Fincantieri. In 2010, this magnificent 132-cabin yacht won the “Best Newcomer of the Year – GOLD” prize awarded by the European Cruiser Association (EUCRAS).
2011 – A series of four sisterships
The construction of Le Boréal was followed by the arrival of L'Austral in 2011. Two years later, La Compagnie du Ponant took delivery of Le Soléal, the third sistership. In 2014, the company was renamed PONANT, after its first ship, the company’s founding element. In April 2015, Le Lyrial would complete this superb series of exceptional yachts sailing under the French flag.
2015 – A promising future
In autumn 2015, PONANT joined the ARTÉMIS Group, a Pinault family holding. This buyout will enable the company to sustain its internationalisation, consolidate its positions in France, Switzerland and Belgium, and thus enter a new phase in its development. Almost 30 years after its creation, PONANT is pursuing the same strategy of innovation and excellence that has enabled its fleet to embody the French touch.