CHARTING NEW TERRITORY
Mathieu Petiteau knows cruise vessels inside out: he spent the first part of his career as engine officer on a series of cruise vessels before moving into ship construction. Today, he is heading the construction of the world's first icebreaker cruise vessel as Director Newbuilding at PONANT:
“The PONANT icebreaker is the culmination of our polar expedition concept. Thanks to our 20-plus years of experience in polar regions, we’ve been able to develop an offer that is completely unique.”
Mathieu expresses clear pride in the luxury operator’s new expedition vessel, to be built by VARD to BV class. It is not hard to see why. Not only will the 140m ship be the first passenger vessel to reach the geographic North Pole when it sets sail in 2021: it is also the first LNG-powered electric hybrid polar passenger vessel.
“Every day at PONANT, we work to preserve the environments in which we navigate. Our aim is to not just reach, but go beyond current environmental standards, and raise the bar for the cruise industry as a whole.”
The major innovation that will enable the vessel to take 270 cruise passengers to previously inaccessible areas in the Arctic and Antarctic such as Charcot Island and the Ross Sea, is her icebreaking capacity. It combines forward sailing modes through compact ice and reverse sailing in extreme ice conditions.
“We have more and more passengers keen to travel on small vessels to discover unfamiliar and exceptional destinations that larger ships simply cannot reach. Zodiac trips with naturalists enable them to get close to nature: experts give talks onboard. It’s the ultimate travel experience.”
The vessel will carry Bureau Veritas class notations Icebreaker 3, POLAR CLASS 2 and POLAR CAT-A, as well as Safe Return to Port.
For Mathieu, Bureau Veritas is a natural choice to class such an innovative ship: “We first worked with Bureau Veritas 20 years ago, on Le Levant. Since then, Bureau Veritas has supported and advised PONANT on all our innovative projects, from the initial design stages, with in-depth review of our plans.“
“The PONANT icebreaker project is so innovative that it’s taking Bureau Veritas into new territory. And given the number of new features, we are also working with TECNITAS, Bureau Veritas’ engineering and expertise services company. They provided us with valuable support in another recent groundbreaking project: the Blue Eye underwater lounge onboard our new PONANT Explorer series.”
Mathieu values Bureau Veritas’ involvement: “They have always listened to us and we appreciate the quality of their work. They provide real guidance, helping us develop projects that meet international standards and launch tender offers with yards.”
Photo Credit: PONANT