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A French cruise ship operator. It was founded in April 1988 by Philippe Videau, Jean-Emmanuel Sauvé, and other officers of the French Merchant Navy and launched the first French cruise ship. The company operates four ships, all of which operate under the French flag.

Compagnie du Ponant originally started out with one ship, Le Ponant, a three masted Barque built in 1991. Le Ponant still operates with the company today. Eight years later in 1999, the company acquired Le Levant, a yacht. After 13 years in service with Compagnie du Ponant, Le Levant was purchased by Paul Gauguin Cruises in 2012 and becameTere Moana. In 2004, Compagnie du Ponant purchased Le Diamant, a luxury liner. Le Diamant transferred to Quark Expeditions in 2012 to becoome Ocean Diamond.

Later, in 2010, Compagnie du Ponant put into service the first of a series of four identical luxury sister ships, Le Boreal. A year later, the company began operating the second ship of the class, L'Austral and in 2013 the third ship of the class was added to the fleet, Le Soléal. The fourth ship of the class will be delivered in 2015.

Initially based in Nantes for 18 years, in 2006 the company headquarters was moved to Marseille following its acquisition by CMA CGM. In 2012, CMA CGM sold Compagnie du Ponant to Bridgepoint Capital.

On April 4 2008, Le Ponant was seized by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden while en route from the Seychelles to the Mediterranean. The ship carried no passengers at the time of its capture, but all 30 crew members were taken hostage. The hostages were released without incident on April 12. Following the release, French helicopters tracked the pirates to the village of Jariban. French commando marine and GIGN operating from the frigate Jean Bart and the Jeanne d'Arc moved in when the pirates attempted to flee in the desert. A sniper disabled the get-away vehicle, and the commandos were able to capture six men. Local officials claimed that three people died in the raid, with a further eight wounded, but France denied this. Troops also recovered some of the ransom money paid by the owner of the yacht for the release of its crew. The six captured pirates have since been flown to Paris, where they shall face trial.

In 2013, one of Ponant's ships, Le Soleal, became the first French commercial shipping vessel to traverse the Northwest Passage. The vessel left Kangerlussuaq in Greenland on August 26 2013 and arrived in Anadyr, in Russia on September 16 2013.

Compagnie du Ponant Cruises offers all-season cruises, in places inaccessible to larger cruise liners. The company offers cruises to the following destinations:

Northern Europe and Greenland, Scandinavia, Baltic and Iceland
Adriatic and Mediterranean: Corsica, Italy, Croatia, Aegean and Black Sea
Iberian Peninsula
Red Sea and Persian Gulf
Indian Ocean: Maldives
South and Central America
Canada/New England

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