Le Dumont d'Urville
Below, Le Dumont d'Urville is shown at the Passenger terminal in Amsterdam after her maiden visit to the Dutch capital during her second journey. The date is the 28th of august in 2019.
The French company Ponant was formed in 1988 by several French businessmen under the name of Compagnie des Iles du Ponant. They created a company that was sailing with small oceanships to places that were hardly reachable for standard cruiseships. The first ships were very small yaught-like sailingships, but in 2004 they aquired the Song Of Flower, a very luxury 8000-ton vessel that was then part of the fleet of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. For Cie. des Iles du Ponant, she was renamed Le Diamant and she introduced the company to bigger small ships. Around the same time, in 2006, the large French company CMA-CGM (the former Compagnie Generale Transatlantique) bought CDIP and with their financials, the first class of newly built cruiseships could be ordered. This way, Ponant (as the company was renamed for convenience) could expand into the more luxury and modern market. This first class were four splendid 10.500-ton cruiseliners that perfectioned the style Ponant wanted to achieve. They were of course the Boreal-class, named after the first ship that entered service in 2010, Le Boreal. With the introduction of theses ships, Ponant was able to sail globally and strenghten their name as one of the leading cruisecompanies in small-ship cruising. The success of the Boreal-class lead eventuallt to another class of four ships that was ordered from VARD at the 15th of march of 2016. Initially, the ships were named Le Laperouse, Le Champlain, Le Bougainville and Le Kerguelen, all named after French explorers so the class was dubbed the Explorer-class. The success of the first ships eventually lead to the expansion of the class with two more ships, Le Bellot and Le Surville. Still before the fourth ship was introduced, her name was changed to Le Dumont d'Urville, for introduction in 2019.
Construction and general statistics
Just below 10.000 tons, measured at 9.900 the Explorer-class is just a little smaller then the Boreal-class of ships. Le Dumont d'Urville and her sisters measure some 127 meters in lenght, they are 18 meters wide and their draft reaches just 4,4 meters. Especially this shallow draft can get the ships into smaller bays and ports that are unaccesible for larger ships. The ship has six decks and can sail at a modest 18 knots. Aboard, there is space for 184 passengers and 110 crewmembers, showing the kind of luxury the company tries to achieve. She flies the French flag and has Mata Utu in Wallis and Fortuna as its homeport. The ship was built at the VARD shipyards in Tulcea, Romania and then towed to Norway where she was completed at the VARD yards at Alesund. She was delivered to Ponant at june the 14th in 2019.
Design and features
The most distinctive space aboard Le Dumont d'Urville is of course the Blue Eye Lounge, a space located under the waterline that gives splendid views of the underwater world through two large eye-shaped windows. Also, three underwater camera's provide extra sight and their images are projected on digital screens within the lounge. Beneath the ships' keel, hydrophones also capture the sounds of the underwater world enhancing the experience for the passengers in the lounge. These sounds can be picked up by the hydrophones from a distance up to 5 miles. Even the sofa's are designed to vibrate on these sounds, creating a very interactive feeling.
Another cool feature is the aft infinity pool, that gives the swimmers a perfect view from underwater over the lower aft decks and give the passengers on these lower aft decks a perfect view of the passangers who are swimming in the pool.
As a French ship, there are of course two French restaurants, one of which is the Main Restaurant and this space can seat all passengers in one seating. So there is no searching or waiting for a table on board this ship. Of course there is also a main lounge, a boutique, spa and fitness facilities and a 188-seat theater, mainly used for luctures and small entertainment. In the tradition of expedition-style cruising, the focus lies on knowledge instead of entertainment. That said, the ship is designed with a strenghtened hull to sail safely through the Polar regions, as well as a retractable aft marina that can be used in tropical regions. Zodiacs, kayaks and paddleboards as well as snorkling gear is of course available. Next to the strong hull, the ship is also equipped with a long-range 3D sonar which is installed in the ships bow. This sonar is used to spot icebergs or shallow reefs in advance so safe navigation is made a lot easier.
The ship's superstructure was designed by the French company Stirling Design International and her interiour spaces were designed by Jean-Phillipe Nuel. The ship is mostly done in very light shades, cream and white. The two-deck atrium is topped with a Swarovski crystal chandelier offering a splendid entry.
At the 7th of august in 2019, Le Dumont d'Urville departed for her Mainde Voyage in the Baltic Sea from Bergen in Norway up to St. Petersburg. Afterwards, the ship set sail for a trip to her home-country France on which she also visited Amsterdam where the pictures on this page were taken.