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Ponant Expedition’s three-masted sailing yacht is visiting the Kimberley in 2023

A newly announced Ponant Kimberley Expedition Cruise for 2023 is set to take small, luxury expedition sailings to the next level.

The prestigious French cruise provider has announced that Le Ponant will be arriving in Australian waters next season. Guests will be able to experience the company’s extraordinary three-masted sailing yacht on one of the new bespoke Ponant Kimberley itineraries.

Commencing in April 2023, each journey onboard the 32-passenger luxury yacht will showcase the immense beauty of the Kimberley region. On these sailings, Ponant is also collaborating with renowned Australian pearling company, The Paspaley Group. The latest itineraries will take guests on a unique, exclusive exploration through the remote and ancient landscapes of Northwest Australia.

Ponant expands Kimberley sailings to three ships

Le Ponant will join two of the luxury cruise liner’s other small ships – Le Lapérouse and Le Soléal. Both are currently sailing in the region on itineraries between the Australia and The Pacific. Over the course of 10 or 14 nights, they will take in some of the regions most remote reaches. Guests will revel in the quiet and have the chance to glimpse at landscapes few others get to see.

Meanwhile, Ponant’s new itinerary will include shore landings via state-of-the-art Zodiac boats and private access to Paspaley’s pearl operations. Located in Kuri Bay, passengers will be given the opportunity to take a scenic flight onboard a vintage Grumman Mallard Flying Boat to reach the pearl farms, as well as to or from their embarkation point.

To mark this exciting new launch, early-booking customers can take advantage of the highest Ponant Bonus, saving up to 30%*

Why a Ponant expedition is the best way to explore The Kimberley

The raw and ravishing Kimberley spans some 420,000 square kilometres across Western Australia’s top corner. It’s a destination where nature is at its most extreme. Think thundering waterfalls, record-breaking tides and sheer limestone cliffs that appear to cleave straight off the edge of the earth.

There are vast stretches of nothingness. No towns, no cars, no streetlights…and no people. Just striations of red and dusty green stretching to the horizon. A piercing palette, only occasionally broken by a gash of gorge or wend of a river.

Explore the phenomenon that is the Horizontal Waterfalls on a PONANT expedition
Explore the phenomenon that is the Horizontal Waterfalls on a Ponant expedition, watch as the seawater builds up faster on one side of the gaps than the other, creating a waterfall up to 4m high on a King tide. © PONANT Nick Rains.

“Australia is blessed with an amazing array of wilderness, wildlife and cultural encounters that are not available anywhere else,” Mick Fogg, Ponant Expedition Manager Asia Pacific and Kimberley expert said.

“Yet for most Australians, they tend to feel they have to go overseas for a unique experience.”

If there was ever a destination to make you feel like you’ve escaped the ordinary, the Kimberley is it. But the vastness and lack of roads can make it difficult to explore by land. Luckily, cruising along the Kimberley’s wild coastline doesn’t have the same problems. Which is why a luxury Ponant expedition really is the ultimate way to enjoy this remote setting in 2023.

Explore the Kimberley with these Ponant itineraries

These Kimberley itineraries give an idea of the dramatic landscapes, spectacular wildlife and jaw-dropping beauty spots you’ll encounter on your voyage.

Northern Kimberley Sailing Expedition
Kuri Bay to Wyndham & Kuri Bay to Darwin
12 departures in 2023
9 or 10 night packages
From $17,470 per person in a Mistral Stateroom*

Southern Kimberley Sailing Expedition
Broome to Kuri Bay
12 departures in 2023
9 or 10 night packages
From $16,860 per person in a Mistral Stateroom*

Rowley Shoals Sailing Expedition
Broome to Broome
Departs 8 & 16 September 2023
8 nights
From $14,170 per person in a Mistral Stateroom*

Perhaps you’ll stop at mirror-like Hunter River. Here, you can spot saltwater crocodiles in dense mangroves and a menagerie of birds overhead. Next, you might marvel at the King George River. Or watch as its record-breaking Twin Falls drop from an ancient escarpment. Meanwhile, at the breathtaking Montgomery Reef, watch the tidal shift reveal vast lagoons and coral reefs, where turtles and manta rays play.

Rowley Shoals Marine Park
Explore the astounding sea life in untouched Rowley Shoals Marine Park. ©Tourism Western Australia.

You might also visit Talbot Bay – seeing the raging Horizontal Falls is a highlight for many Ponant guests. And that’s not forgetting a trip to the 30,000-year-old rock painting galleries of Dreamtime Gwion Gwion masterpieces.

The new 2023 sailings onboard Le Ponant will have at least one unique itinerary item that sets them apart. This is, of course, the exclusive trip to the family-owned Paspaley Pearls mentioned earlier. Known as the rarest and most beautiful pearls in the world, Ponant guests can enjoy a private scenic flight onboard one of Paspaley’s vintage Grumman Mallard flying boats to reach the pearl farms in Kuri Bay.

​© Paspaley

Luxury living onboard Le Ponant

Luxury French cruise line Ponant has one of the world’s best luxurious fleets of small ships. But perhaps the most majestic of all, and the jewel in the PONANT crown, is Le Ponant – the iconic, 88-metre long, three-masted sailing yacht.

Freshly refitted, the Le Ponant offers 16 staterooms and suites, with one crew member for every guest. Alongside a dedicated chef cooking up daily gastronomic delights at the Le Diamant panoramic restaurant, there’s also a sun lounge and exterior bar – ideal for watching the sunset with a cocktail or glass of champagne in-hand. A second indoor bar, spa and gym, as well as a range of equipment – including glass-bottomed kayaks, stand up paddleboards, scuba diving equipment and bicycles – are available for the pleasure of Le Ponant’s passengers.

​©PONANT Studio Jean-Philippe NUEL

Guests will also love the little luxuries from Ponant’s French partners – think Hermès, Ladurée, Lenôtre, Charles Heidsieck and Sothys.

When you explore the Kimberley region with Ponant, there are no hidden extras. Inclusions range from small touches – such as unlimited onboard Wi-Fi – to all Zodiac landings. Some voyages also include shore excursions, led by a team of top industry expert guides with in-depth knowledge of your destination.

When back on your small and intimate ship, you don’t need to worry about opening your wallet to wine and dine. All meals and an open bar are part of Ponant’s inclusions.

​New guests save $800* on their first voyage, plus book early and save them up to 25%* Contact your preferred travel agent or PONANT on: 1300 737 178 (AU) | 0800 767 018 (NZ) | |

​*Welcome Offer: AUD$800 discount is per stateroom based on double occupancy in Australian Dollars (AUD). Offer valid for guests travelling with PONANT for the first time. More terms and conditions apply. 30% discount is based on the Ponant Bonus offer. Ponant Bonus is yield managed and may change at any time without notice. ABN: 35 166 676 517. Photographs : © PONANT Studio Jean-Philippe Nuel, Nathalie Michel, Nick Rains / Paspaley.

This article on Ponant Kimberley cruises Australia was produced with content supplied by Ponant and is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter here.