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Ponant is close to being sold as US and Australia markets boost results

Ponant is close to being sold as US and Australia markets boost results
Marseille-based Ponant reports a postive year with growth expected to be over 20%, a turnover exceeding €145m and a 23% passengers increase. As earlier reported, Ponant is in talks with the holding company of French billionaire François Pinault, who is seeking to acquire the luxury cruise operator from the private equity firm Bridgepoint. Seatrade Cruise News understands the deal is imminent, so watch this space.

'At mid-September, we were already ahead of our 2015 targets and have already booked 80% of our 2016 budget,' underlines Hervé Bellaiche, commercial and marketing deputy general manager.

Whilst the company's French clientele is increasing rapidly a couple of other source markets are also expanding, he noted.

'Since the acquisition last year of New-York based Travel Dynamics, considered as a leader for cultural cruises in the North American market, we have great

expectations and ambitions for this division now operating under the Ponant name and offering special packages for English-speaking passengers,' comments Bellaiche.

'Our company has a French origin, sails under French flag and promotes French culture, but we have an international dimension,' he added.

Both French and English are used on-board our ships and all films are subtitled,  excursions are conducted for both languages, even if there is only one English-speaking passenger.

Ponant, which operates a fleet of five luxury ships, has increased its staffing levels in the US to 30, 'increasing five-fold our strike force there', Bellaiche remarks.

Australia is the other source market on the rise: 'it has a very strong potential and we will intensify our sphere of activity there.'