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Meet ‘Le Ponant,’ a 288-Foot Cruise Ship With Big Superyacht Energy

Meet ‘Le Ponant,’ a 288-Foot Cruise Ship With Big Superyacht Energy

Meet ‘Le Ponant,’ a 288-Foot Cruise Ship With Big Superyacht Energy

In a game of who owns the biggest superyacht in the bay of Saint Tropez one afternoon in early May, there’s a pair of strong contenders: Egyptian billionaire Mohamed Mansour with his 214-foot Benetti Zazou and Lebanese billionaire Taha Mikati’s 262-foot Chopi Chopi, the largest superyacht ever delivered by Italy’s CRN shipyard.

But there’s no need to get out a measuring tape to calculate the winner. François Pinault clearly takes the top spot with his 288-foot Le Ponant, a three-mast motorsailer and the flagship vessel in French cruise line Ponant’s fleet.

Eighty-seven-year-old Pinault, one of France’s richest people, is the founder of Kering, the luxury group that owns Gucci, St Laurent, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, and Alexander McQueen, among others. Currently worth an estimated $25 billion, he started out in the timber business in the 1960s. Artemis Group, the family’s investment arm, purchased Ponant in 2015 for a reputed $589 million, adding it to a portfolio of investments that includes sports brand Puma and auction house Christie’s. “When the possibility of acquiring Ponant presented itself, I did not hesitate for a moment,” Pinault has said about the acquisition.

Yet, even though it looks every inch like one, Le Ponant is not a private vessel, and while it’s available for whole-ship charter, guests can also rent cabins. That’s because this is a cruise ship that thinks of itself as a charter yacht, as I learned during my three nights onboard on the Côte d’Azur, just before the vessel set sail for the Eastern Mediterranean.

Here are 11 fascinating facts about the sailing cruise ship/superyacht Le Ponant.



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