(11:45 a.m. AEST) -- National Geographic Expeditions and Ponant have today announced a new range of co-branded, luxury expedition cruises on small ships with a common vision for responsible travel and unique experiences.
The 130 itineraries, to be offered over the next four years, cover all seven continents. Core destinations are the Arctic and Antarctic, complemented by a range of expeditions in northern Australia, the South Pacific, Alaska, the Seychelles and the Caribbean. Unusual options to some of the world’s most remote locations include Antarctica to Africa (Ushuaia to Cape Town) and Fiji to Guam via Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and Micronesia. A 10-night 'Top End' cruise sails from Darwin to Cairns stopping at several Aboriginal communities.
The new strategic partnership specifically targets travellers in Australia, New Zealand and Asia Pacific and does not impact National Geographic’s partnership with Lindblad Expeditions in the Americas.
Expeditions will be conducted on Ponant’s ‘clean ships’, which are designed to respect the environment and marine life, with capacity for 180 to 240 passengers as well as National Geographic photographers and other relevant experts onboard. Ponant is committed to recycling and reuse programs, reduced exhaust emissions and sustainable purchasing practices. Some of the latest ships will also have the line’s new multi-sensory underwater lounge (pictured above).
Tim Jones, Vice President Travel Asia Pacific, National Geographic Partners commented: “Today marks a milestone in growing our National Geographic Expeditions business in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia Pacific region. In Ponant, we have a luxury and ethically minded partner with European flair, experience in travelling to ambitious locations, along with an expansive travel agent network. We will be working together to offer premium expedition experiences, creating unique itineraries that speak to the explorer in all of us.”
Sarina Bratton AM, Ponant’s Chairman Asia Pacific, added: “This partnership brings together two highly respected global organisations with shared values and a common goal to inspire guests to live curiously, explore our planet and become ambassadors for sustainability.
Available to book now, the new cruises are priced from AU$4,730 per person. A portion of all proceeds is returned to the non-profit National Geographic Society.
--By Louise Goldsbury, Australia Editor