Building on her reputation, knowledge and expertise, in November 2013 the luxury yacht and expedition French cruise line, Compagnie du Ponant flagged its serious intent to expand into the Australasia region when it announced the appointment of Mrs Bratton as Chairman Australasia and Special Advisor to the company’s Marseilles-headquartered executive board.
Considered Australia’s “First Lady” of cruising, Mrs Bratton pioneered luxury expedition cruising in the Asia Pacific region when she founded market-leading five-star Orion Expedition Cruises in 2004.
Mrs Bratton served as Managing Director of the company until early 2013 when she sold her remaining shares in the company.
The high point of a career that has taken her from nationally ranked sportswoman in three fields to the first female founder of a shipping line was her achievement in creating Australasia’s only world-class, five-star expedition cruise line rated as a world leader in sustainability and environmental conscience.
In her new Sydney-based role, Mrs Bratton spearheads Compagnie du Ponant’s international development, with a specific focus on the Asia Pacific region, as both key destinations and source markets.
Future plans for the company include the positioning of a new expedition ship in and around Australia from late 2015 for a program of itineraries featuring Australia, Asia and the Pacific islands.
The company will also heavily promote accessibility to other unique global expedition destinations with its existing expedition sister ships L’Austral, Le Boreal and Le Soleal and its spectacular sailing ship Le Ponant.
Orion was Mrs Bratton’s second start-up in the cruise industry. She founded her first, Norwegian Capricorn Line, in 1997, in a joint venture between Australian interests and Miami-based Norwegian Cruise Line. The company was acquired by Star Cruises in 2000.
Mrs Bratton’s cruise experience also includes 14 years with Cunard Line, ultimately as Vice President and General Manager Asia Pacific. She was responsible for growing the business from a small-revenue sales agency to a significant operation with 33 staff.