Godmother Maryvonne Pinault
Godmother Maryvonne Pinault, wife of the French billionaire François Pinault—whose Artemis Group owns Ponant—snipped a red, white and blue ribbon that sent the bubbly smashing on the bow.
The Bagad de Lann-Bihoué from Brittany, wearing French sailors' caps topped with red pom-poms, piped pierside, while French and Icelandic flags flapped in the wind. A singer performed 'Bro Gozh ma Zadoù' (Old Land of my Fathers), the anthem of Brittany.
The Brittany aspects saluted the heritage of Ponant CEO Jean Emmanuel Sauvée, who co-founded the company 30 years ago in Nantes.
Art and culture at sea
'Ponant makes art and culture shine at sea,' Sauvée said. He noted that by 2021, the company will field a dozen ships, including a luxury icebreaker.
Sauvée thanked the Pinaults, shipbuilder Vard and its parent company, Fincantieri, which constructed Le Boréal eight years ago, and three subsequent sister ships. He also acknowledged US travel partners Tauck, Abercrombie & Kent and Gohagan.
Taking the stage with Maryvonne Pinault were Kyle Clarkson, son of Roy Reite, president & CEO of Vard, and Léa Petiteau, daughter of Mathieu Petiteau, Ponant's director of newbuilding. Léa bore a pillow with the scissors to snip the ribbon that released the Champagne, while Kyle carried a huge bouquet of flowers for the godmother.
Special surprise in the Blue Eye underwater lounge
Following the naming festivities, guests embarked Le Lapérouse and Capt. Jean-Philippe Lemaire—who has been with Ponant since its founding—took the ship on a spin off the coast. It was accompanied by Ponant's Le Soléal, which unfurled a 'Bienvenue Le Lapérouse' banner, and sailors set off red flares from the bow.
Guests sipped Veuve Clicquot at a reception before a christening lunch, tours of Le Lapérouse and a special surprise in Blue Eye, the ship's multi-sensory underwater lounge, when the world-champion free diver Aurore Asso swam up to a window.
For more images from the festivities, follow @SeatradeInsider, and for more about the ship, go to 'A look inside Ponant's first Explorer-class ship, Le Lapérouse'