The company is one of the more interesting in maritime circles, as it is led by Lebanese-born entrepreneur Jacques Saade and is the successor company to France’s Compagnie Générale Maritime and the old French Lines, also known as Compagnie Generale Transatlantique.
With a Zaha Hadid-designed headquarters, it’s all a bit James Bond. Unlike other lines, they have paid attention to the various brands merged into the company, using each separate brand as a market niche, all within the CMA CGM family.
Most fascinating is that the company is one of the remaining cargo lines that emphasizes cruise/passenger service, with their Tapis Rouge luxury travel brand and a serious attempt to sell their berths on cargo ships.
They have other great brands as part of the empire:
- CMA CGM purchased the remnants of the reconstituted United States Lines, though it doesn’t run any United States Lines cruises, which are no more. (We here there is an old ship in Philly, if they want it.)
- London based shipper Mac Andrews, founded in 1770.
- Delmas, founded in 1867, originally took goods from France to its African colonies.
The most James Bond aspect of the brand is that the line’s cruise ship was seized April 4 2008 in the Gulf of Aden by Somali pirates. Le Ponant was seized while en route from the Seychelles to the Mediterranean. Following the release, French helicopters tracked the pirates from the Djibouti military base to a small town Jariban. French commandos from the Jean Bart and the Jeanne d’Arc moved in when the pirates attempted to flee.