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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This might be a lengthy review, but I feel it needs to be because when booking with Ponant, I found little to no reviews on this company, especially for people who were bringing children. We traveled with our kids 8 and 10 and just got ... Read More
This might be a lengthy review, but I feel it needs to be because when booking with Ponant, I found little to no reviews on this company, especially for people who were bringing children. We traveled with our kids 8 and 10 and just got home from an 8 night Mediterranean cruise onboard the Le Lyrial. We LOVED this ship. The staff were amazing, there was a kids club that I couldn't pull my kids from (more on that), and we were very pleased with the food. Cabins: Cabins are adequate in size. We have been on Royal Caribbean and Disney boats and the Deluxe Balcony stateroom was just as big, with a decent sized balcony. We had cabins 323 and 325, both rooms were perfect for 2 ppl per cabin with plenty of storage. They took out the balcony divider between out staterooms so we could come and go between the cabins. These staterooms do not connect from the inside. Kids Club: There was a kids club on this cruise, which I don't think is offered on all the itineraries. If there's a kids club, it will be listed. My kids loved kids club. The activities they provided for the children were entertaining. No there is not a basketball court, or all the other kids stuff you find on the Disney and RC boats, but my kids never complained about not having that. In fact, they told us this was the best kids club they've been too. Port stops: Because this is a smaller boat, you port in smaller ports and getting off the boat is so much less stressful. Ponant organizes everything to a "T" and we were very impressed with the tours they provided. We generally do not book cruise ship tours, but these tours never had any more than 20 ppl in a group, again a BONUS being on a smaller boat. Food and Dining: Food was great! There are 2 restaurants and we never had a problem getting seating at either of them. I do wish they had a couple more options for the included house wines. With this being a french boat, I was looking forward to tasting some good french wines. They do have them, but they come at a cost. Pool Deck: Never crowed. On a Mediterranean cruise one would have thought you would have problems finding a chair. We never did. Also, ppl do not reserve chairs with towels, which was nice! There were 122 people onboard our ship. Amazing! I can't imagine we will ever be able to go back to a bigger boat after being on the Le Lyrial. I would also like to add that our tour manager, Nina was phenomenal. She organized all our excursions, and they went above and beyond to make sure we had the best experience possible. For example, we booked an excursion that was not offered as an inclusion to the US passengers, and was given only in French. My husband and I knew this going into it. We fully expected that we were going on a French speaking excursion and were OK with that. To our surprise, Nina had organized an English speaking guide to accommodate us that day. It was like we had our on personal guide. We did not expect this at all! But again, this is Ponant, and Nina was just exceptional. All in all we will book again with Ponant. Not having to deal with the crowds on embarking and disembarking is so worth the extra cost! Plus the attention you get on the cruise is priceless. Sail Date: July 2019 Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
My wife and I recently went on the Le Soliel expedition cruise entitled The Saga of Erick the Red from July 17—29. The trip started in Iceland and spent most of the time combing the Greenland coast up to Kangerlussuaq. We were both ... Read More
My wife and I recently went on the Le Soliel expedition cruise entitled The Saga of Erick the Red from July 17—29. The trip started in Iceland and spent most of the time combing the Greenland coast up to Kangerlussuaq. We were both impressed with the level of service on the ship. The housekeeping as immaculate, the meals were wonderful, and the entertainment was enjoyable, and the ship staff was friendly and helpful. We are looking forward to spending another cruise with Ponant. Unfortunately, one serious drawback to the trip was the quality of the expedition staff (known as naturalist guides). The expedition leader, Florence, was over-matched in her role, and appeared to provide little actual leadership to her guide staff. While all the naturalist guides seemed to be good people, essentially they provided little real guiding. We were usually dumped onto land and were on our own to “use our imagination” as the expedition leader would say. The naturalist guides would simply spread out and watch as passengers walked around, often aimlessly and confused. Here are some examples to illustrate my point: • There was no emphasis on wilderness ethics. The Arctic growing season is short and plant life is precious, yet the expedition leader, Florence, and her staff made very little effort to educate the visitors on how to behave in these wild places and how to best preserve them. Passengers would be wearing big rubber boots designed specifically for mud and muck, yet would trample over delicate flora to avoid wet areas on the trails. • Naturalists were frequently unable to answer the most basic questions about the flora, fauna, geology, or history of a landing site. A naturalist guide should have at least a general knowledge of the natural and human history of an area to be visited, and should have a guidebook to help them answer questions, yet frequently, we got the “I don’t know” response or an outright mis-identification. • One hike we went on was a disaster. My wife and I were one of the first off the ship but we waited over an hour until the all passengers unloaded before the hike started. When it did, nearly 200 passengers all crammed along the same narrow trail, and received no guiding input on the hike. Instead of one enormous group, why not divide the passengers up among the guides and go on more manageable smaller group hikes? • The Viking sites were special but the expedition leader and her naturalist guides were not located at the actual ruins where they could identify the ruins and give historical background. In fact, the first Viking site we landed at, many passengers had no idea where the ruins were located and when we finally saw the 1,000 year-old ruins we had no idea what we were looking at. Passengers even found they had wandered right over one of the Viking long houses, not realizing where the ruin was. • Frequently, naturalist guides were taking pictures as their own personal hobby instead of helping passengers. • The naturalist guides’ PowerPoint presentations on the landing sites were of marginal use. Some of the information presented on the Vikings was superficial and incomplete. We talked to passengers who were on other Ponant expeditions and they said their previous experiences with the naturalists guides was must better. Perhaps we just hit a dud on this expedition. With that said, despite the poor guiding, we enjoyed the rest of the experience enough that we will try another Ponant cruise in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose this cruise for its luxurious small ship experience. The ship was all the better for the French influence on the food and wine which were superb. The ship was fabulous with wonderful caring staff from Captain David Marionneau to ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its luxurious small ship experience. The ship was all the better for the French influence on the food and wine which were superb. The ship was fabulous with wonderful caring staff from Captain David Marionneau to the cabin stewards, wait staff, bar staff, housekeeping staff, reception and entertainment staff. What a trip! We boarded in Fremantle a couple of weeks into the 40 night Circumnavigation of Australia cruise which departed Sydney on 25th January and Fremantle on 8th February. Lovely cabin (315). Nice balcony, comfortable bed and adequate toilet and bathroom facilities (separate) serviced at least twice a day or on demand. Complimentary mini bar replenished daily (no wine though). If we wanted wine we needed to get it from room service. No problem. Plenty of beer, spirits and mixers along with water and soft drinks. Leaving Fremantle we sailed north to Geraldton, then on to Exmouth (glass bottomed boat experience). On to Broome, Talbot Bay for the horizontal falls. Astounding! Waterfalls everywhere- naturalists on board had not seen anything like it, nor the flows from the King George Falls. Aboriginal settlement at Yirrkala was amazing, artworks beautiful, and a performance that was exciting. On we travelled our 26 nights reducing rapidly. So many experiences - so much to see and great weather. Had no problems with the zodiacs and many people older than my 65 years managed them easily with the care and attention of the crew. Boy did we see parts of Australia I never knew existed. Other passengers were also overwhelmed by the beauty and colours of the Kimberley. This was all complimented by food (lots of high quality French inspired food but interspersed with some special lunches of Italian, Moroccan, Baltic inspired. Our bar, lounge and waiting staff knew us all by name after 24 hours, and they knew our drink preferences. Other stops at Darwin, cape york, Thursday Island, Hamilton Island and Fraser Island before heading back to Sydney where our “on board family” of 240 passengers said goodbye. A very sad time. This certainly an unforgettable cruise. So much, wonderful people, sights, eats and drinks, memories after memories, friend after friends. Thoroughly recommend the ship, it’s very professional but friendly and very happy crew and amazing entertainers. Just go, we are so glad we did. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We were incredibly impressed on the quality of our cruise aboard Le Ponant. The ship had been built as a luxury yacht vs. a cruise ship. The cabins had just recently been updated and service was fantastic. However, the best part of our ... Read More
We were incredibly impressed on the quality of our cruise aboard Le Ponant. The ship had been built as a luxury yacht vs. a cruise ship. The cabins had just recently been updated and service was fantastic. However, the best part of our cruise was by far the food! The food was a 5 course meal for almost every meal! There was a full time French pasty chef, which means it was extremely hard to come home. We were waited on constantly. I can't say thank you enough to our spectacular captain and crew! The crew to passenger ration for us was about 1:1 which meant that we had a fantastic relationship with all crew members. All evening events were extremely well thought out and the ship was prepared for everything. One day at sea we had 8-10ft swells however due to the ships sailing hull design, the ride was extremely comfortable as sailing ships have very little roll. Another fantastic attribute about Le Ponant is that its a massive sailing yacht. During one of our day's at sea, we were able to relax under her massive sails and enjoy the tropical sun without any engine power. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
The highlight was the Zodiac cruises to places very rarely visited. More people climb Everest each year than visit the islands we saw. We were privileged to get close to literally thousands of birds and seals (many classified as rare and ... Read More
The highlight was the Zodiac cruises to places very rarely visited. More people climb Everest each year than visit the islands we saw. We were privileged to get close to literally thousands of birds and seals (many classified as rare and endangered). What a joy to find seals and penguins who were as interested in checking out the red penguins (humans in their Ponant supplied red parkas) as we were in looking at them! The outstanding range of colourful flora on all the islands (except the Bounty group which only support some grasses) was a joy to the eye and the megaherbs a reminder that it doesn't need to be a tropical plant to be fascinating and strange. The L'Austral is a superb cruise ship and Ponant a first class company. Food, service, cabin -- all top quality. The French touch was important. Activities were divided into those for French speakers and English speakers. I joined the French speakers with my French wife. This meant we were a group of about 40 while the other group was closer to 150. Thanks to that we had a more personal expedition and got to know our guides and fellow passengers. The cruise is very dependent on the weather. We were very lucky to have the best weather ever experienced by the ship's captain and the expedition team. Two days of all day sunshine (the Snares and the Bounty Islands). The other days were mixed (think of a typical English summer in the north such as the Lake District). The Southern Ocean was unusually calm so we suffered very little from sea-sickness and soon had our sea-legs. There are 2 restaurants. Deck 2 has a better menu and tables. Deck 6 is on the "First Class" passenger level but more like a snack bar with buffet service. We dined almost every time on Deck 2 and quickly befriended our servers. Their personal service gave us a First Class experience even though we had the economy cabins on Deck 3. Value for money was on Deck 3. Every deck higher was a couple of thousand $/EUR higher without any tangible benefit. Satellite based internet was expensive (30 EUR for 1 hour) and so slow it was essentially unusable. Perhaps because I was trying to get to a NZ based server and the satellite service was tuned to Europe (my wife and I live 6 months in NZ and 6 months in France)? Deck 3 gave us quick access to the central services of the boat - the 24 h staffed reception and the grand salon with its bar and outside deck looking over the stern. The outside deck was always a delight to get the feel of the sea and sky. All food and drink is included. This means a mini-bar with beer, spirits, juice, water (but no wine) and 2 other bars with wine, cocktails, beer (only Heineken to my dismay) and spirits. The restaurant service also provided unlimited access to the same array of drinks. Nibbles are provided (even without asking) in the bar areas. The range of food was good - always with a French touch. The standard did not really come up to the rest of our experiences on the ship. The food was never bad but was only occasionally exceptional. The breads and cheeses were well up to the high standard of French cuisine. The captain (le commandant) is soft spoken in French (his native tongue) and English (with an English accent). We looked forward to his daily bulletins with eagerness and pleasure at his insightful commentary and confidence inspiring information. The cruise director was French but communicated clearly in English. As a French speaking Englishman I found the bilingual announcements to have sometimes quite different interpretations but never really misleading. The main fault I found was the poor port service in Dunedin and Wellington. Not a fault of the cruise company. Both these cities are known for their wet and windy weather. There is no shelter for passengers or baggage during embarkation or disembarkation which can mean being at the mercy of the elements for 20 - 30 minutes at each end of the trip. Congratulations to Ponant, the ship's crew and the Expedition team for making this one of the top adventures in my life (along with running the Grand Canyon with just 2 inflatable rafts and 4 people over 3 weeks). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
These islands are possibly the least visited and unspoilt islands in the world with unique flora and fauna. They cruise visits these island positioned halfway between Australia and New Zealand and Antarctica. In the great southern ocean ... Read More
These islands are possibly the least visited and unspoilt islands in the world with unique flora and fauna. They cruise visits these island positioned halfway between Australia and New Zealand and Antarctica. In the great southern ocean The islands contain the greatest variety of penguins and the opportunity to sit on the beach and have these highly curios birds come and investigate the stranger in their midst On Macquarie hugh breeding colonies of up to 500,000 pairs can be observed plus smaller breading colonies Colony’s of elephant seal, New Zealand fur seals, New Zealand sea lions can be observed while wali g on the islands Bird life is abundant and breading colonies of various breeds of Albatros can be observed whilst on land and also from zodiacs while investigating the shore line and inlets and cliffs of the various islands. Apart from. Penguins, seals, and a great diversity of bird life the islands have their own unique forms of vegetation This all takes place with a team of highly experienced specialised experts who daily give lecture on what we can expect to see on the next days excursions ashore or from the zodiacs Ponant take you to these far away places in the luxury of their ship with fine food,fine wine and great service that makes the trip even more enjoyable Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
It's not until you stand in front of a elephant seal or surrounded by penguins that you realise how extraordinary is the experience on this ship. Then you return to the ship to superb luxury, warmth and friendly service. The ... Read More
It's not until you stand in front of a elephant seal or surrounded by penguins that you realise how extraordinary is the experience on this ship. Then you return to the ship to superb luxury, warmth and friendly service. The captain literally took the ship to places where no Ponant ship had been before. We stood on an iceflow and drank champagne with the ship's bow above us. We navigated through icebergs and ice flows at night and we steamed past Cape Horn itself. Simply a beautiful ship, superbly run and a real expedition. The theme of the cruise was Antarctic and expedition and we did both. I wonder if the floor show was needed (although they were very good) and if more lectures could be given on the area itself. Onboard activities were well run. The whisky tasting was a hit (well with me anyway). The cuisine was amazing and the portion sizes just right. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This was a College Charter run by Gohagen & Co. booked through UCLA Alumni. Our ratings: UCLA Alumni Travel: 5/5 Gohagen & Co.: 5/5 Ponant: 5/5 Le Soleal: 5/5 Antarctica: 10/5 The booking process went very ... Read More
This was a College Charter run by Gohagen & Co. booked through UCLA Alumni. Our ratings: UCLA Alumni Travel: 5/5 Gohagen & Co.: 5/5 Ponant: 5/5 Le Soleal: 5/5 Antarctica: 10/5 The booking process went very smoothly as was the follow-up to the numerous questions we had prior to the trip. Documentation was equally easy. We left from Houston IAH where we met the Gohagen staff who escorted us to Buenos Aires for two nights. We then flew to Ushuaia to board Le Soleal. We had read several poor reviews of this ship on CC so we were quite surprised when the Captain himself greeted us by name (without a prompt) as we boarded. We had never experienced anything like this on our previous 40 cruises on various lines. Most of the staff knew ours and everyone else's name by the third day. With very few exceptions, each crew member was gracious, informative and helpful. The ship was comfortable (having a suite is a big plus) and it met most of our needs. Food was good, service superb and selection was fine. The visit to Antarctica was unbelieveable. The on-board naturalists and scientists were very informative, interesting and well trained. Getting on and off the ship via Zodiacs was a challenge for us older folks, but the crew made it work well. When you tour the Polar areas everything depends on the local weather so you don't know from hour to hour what stops you will be making. The Captain did a great job of finding great stops and keeping us informed. You will not believe what you see ashore. It reminded me of my visit to the Grand Canyon: You can't really describe it with words nor can you really photograph it. In summary: A life altering experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2016
i worked 40 y ago as a motorman on a ship. so for me this trip was a good review of the feeling on sea. this region "kamtschatka" was a dream a long time ago and that was the oportunity. Excellent ship ... Read More
i worked 40 y ago as a motorman on a ship. so for me this trip was a good review of the feeling on sea. this region "kamtschatka" was a dream a long time ago and that was the oportunity. Excellent ship "L'Austral". excellent service and genious guides. Very special was the viewing of the aurora borialis right the first night on board. We saw orkas, humpbukwhales, seals and many many birds as the stellersche eagle. sorry not to see the bear a step closer than 400m. securitiy reason. Also the encounter with the tuschtschuken at tymlat was very emotionaly. We appriciate this trip very much. We have bukt for the next trip to the french polinesiens island. next Oktobre 2017. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Cruise report – Le Lyrial 2nd to 16th August 2016 Greek islands by John Lombard Commandant Rémi Genevaz is an old hand who practically built Le Lyrial as he was involved in the planning right from the beginning. He is a big ... Read More
Cruise report – Le Lyrial 2nd to 16th August 2016 Greek islands by John Lombard Commandant Rémi Genevaz is an old hand who practically built Le Lyrial as he was involved in the planning right from the beginning. He is a big advocate for this newest of the Ponant cruise ships (launched May 2015) which has all the latest technology and wins environmental prizes for being the least polluting etc. Dep Dubrovnik Tues 2nd August - Tonight, we docked in the Dubrovnik harbour not far from the old town after slipping away from Gruz at about 6.30pm. The evening started with the usual introduction by the Commandant followed by Tin, our Hong Kong born French/English speaking cruise director, taking us through all the staff and then the whole ship got involved in the compulsory safety procedure. Dinner in the 2nd deck à la carte restaurant with its usual magnificent food, small but tasty serves, and pleasant wines, followed by a show that had five modern ballet dancers. It was excellent, in fact much better than either of us had expected. But we still felt the need to adjourn to the 6th deck bar for a nightcap whiskey… Wed 3rd August – Early 7.30am start for an excursion, a 4 ½ hour boat trip around the Dubrovnik Riviera including a swim in a cove, and visits to beaches, caves and little islands but there was very little historical interest in the tour and there wasn’t much explanation. A bit disappointing. After a splendid lunch on board (note: discipline is needed but it’s hard…), we sailed at 1pm. Then, for two hours we visited the magnificent gulf of Kotor bay. It reminded me a bit of the fjords of Norway of last year. Only a ship the small size of Le Lyrial could get into it and it was spectacular. At 7pm the Commandant’s welcome cocktail party followed by a gala dinner with caviar, shrimps, dorade, fillet of beef, chocolate mousse, plus their usual array of wine. What’s not to like? The cocktail was in the open air at the back of Deck 6 with copious quantities of Veuve Cliquot (I kid you not…). Thursday 4th August - When we woke, we were at anchor just off Paxos, part of the smallest group of Ionian islands. Paxos is an island of endless olive groves, and the neighbouring Anti-Paxos island is virtually one large vineyard. Lazy morning on board till lunch (fresh Paxos oysters and mussels) followed by a four-hour excursion circumnavigating Paxos visiting caves, including one where Poseidon, God of the sea, hid his mistress Amfitriti, daughter of King Aheron. Excellent Greek guide filled us in on the history. Stopped at tiny village of Lakka for a snack of olives, fresh bread, tomatoes, potato salad and a glass of wine or beer. Just what we needed before a slap-up dinner on board. Friday 5th August - We woke as we were dropping anchor just off the very attractive island of Zakynthos. An early rise at 6.30am to catch a 7.45am tender to the port where we had a four-hour bus ride with three stops around the island. The first inhabitants arrived here about 6,000 BC. Our bus tour included the top of the island for a precarious above-view of the famous Navagio Beach which has a reputation of being the most beautiful beach in the whole of Greece. It is only accessible by sea but cruise ships are now barred for environmental reasons. There is also a wreck on the beach that was supposedly a smuggler’s boat carrying illegal cigarettes that was shipwrecked in a storm. Lunch on board included local fresh prawns as we sailed. At about 10pm, we entered the Corinth Canal that cuts through mainland Greece. There are no locks, it is 6.4 kilometres in length and only 21.4 metres wide at its base, making it impassable for most modern ships. It was completed in 1893 and going through at night is awesome because it is so narrow and it’s dark. We had two pilots, fore and aft, and we crept along at a snail’s pace. The Commandant decided it was such a significant crossing we were all served Veuve Cliquot champagne or Ouzo on deck while we passed through. It was quite an experience. Saturday 6th August - At 8am we dropped anchor just off the port of Hydra (derived from the Greek word for water). It is a glorious sight from the ship, it is a tiny island separated from the Peloponnese by a thin strip of water and there are no motor vehicles allowed. Donkeys, pedal bikes, and water taxies are the main form of transport or else by foot. We booked for a 2 ½ hour walking tour that started at 9am while it was still cool-ish… we had our English-speaking Greek woman guide from yesterday who is a walking encyclopaedia of information. It is a classic example of one of the small Greek islands that are barred to the big cruise ships. At 4pm to 6pm, we were invited to swim in the crystal-clear waters off the back of Le Lyrial… this was sensational. Three Zodiacs roped off an area about 50m x 50m. Dozens of people took advantage and it was great fun. Again, to me the most remarkable thing about swimming in the Aegean Sea is how easy it is to float. The salt levels are very high so it is dead easy just to lie back in the water in a very buoyant way. Sunday 7th August - we had to get up early for a 7am breakfast as our tender taking us to Delos left at 8am. This uninhabited island was one of the many highlights. According to Greek mythology, Delos was the birth place of Apollo and his twin sister Artemis. But in its heyday, Delos was the greatest commercial centre in the whole world! It has been called the Wall Street of the ancient world. It was a free port from 2nd century BC to 2nd century AD. Rich merchants, bankers and ship owners from around the world settled here attracting many builders, artists and craftspeople who built luxurious houses with rich frescoes and marble floors. Today, it is an archaeological gold mine and researchers are still working away finding all sorts of evidence of life in a former age. The streets are laid out beautifully and it is not hard to imagine the houses, the markets, the shops and bustling crowds all around. We enjoyed a three hour walk around with Ioanna, our English-speaking Greek guide, who makes history interesting. We could have spent much longer here. But the program meant we had to go to nearby Mykonos which, thanks to Tom Hanks and other celebrities buying property here, has become a tourist mecca. It is very beautiful but not at all well maintained. The result: massive crowds, exorbitant prices, and a lot of junk in the shops. Monday 8th August - We pulled up at 7am at the northern island of Lesbos which had been much in the news over the past year as a destination for thousands of Syrian refugees, many of whom drowned at sea. But the policeman at the harbor of Petra said the flow had stopped now. The main source of income on the island is olive oil which is of very high quality and sardines that they export all over the world. Our excursion took in panoramic views from Molyvos castle above the town of Petra. But the highlight of our tour was a visit to the historic Limonos Monastery which dates to the 16th century founded by a local St Ignatius. It has a significant collection of manuscripts dating back to the 9th century. The main church in the inner courtyard is a magnificent building but women are absolutely forbidden to enter! The ban is causing some heartache at the EU headquarters in Brussels where such discrimination against women is not allowed. But nobody is making any effort at the monastery to do anything about it! At 7pm, the Commandant hosted a farewell cocktail around the deck 6 swimming pool. More bloody Veuve Cliquot, naturally, followed by another gala dinner! Hard to believe we’ll be starting our second week-long cruise on board tomorrow night… Tuesday 9th August – We arrived in Piraeus early for the change-over day for a lot of people, most leaving, a few like us staying, and new arrivals this afternoon. We hired a taxi for four hours to take us to the Acropolis, then to the Museum where we had a very welcome beer and a sandwich and back at the port. The Acropolis defies description, it was absolutely stunning. It was hot, there were millions of tourists, but the sheer beauty and enormity of the whole enterprise just had us gob-smacked. We walked to the top and even the bloody tourists, their guides, and their cameras couldn’t dampen the experience. The museum is relatively new and contains an amazing collection of statues and memorabilia from the Acropolis. A great trip. We sailed overnight back to Lesbos. Wednesday 9th August - Beautiful morning – again - back in Petra where at a civilised hour of about 9am we were taken ashore to do a long bus ride for a special tour to the petrified forest museum which was spectacular. This is a unique geological phenomenon: about 20-million years ago the region was covered with dense sub-tropical vegetation with trees that reached incredible heights like the Sequoia trees in the US as well as conifers, pines, oaks and cinnamon trees. Today, they are all petrified because of the presence of sediments from a volcano. We visited the museum built in 1994 to study, collate, research, conserve and protect the petrified forest which is a Greek national heritage. The only downside is that it is such a long way from Petra although the drive through the hills is spectacular. Another Commandant’s cocktail party tonight followed by another gala dinner… sigh… Thursday 11th August - We arrived in the port of Syros island early in the morning. This is an amazing town, utterly beautiful white-washed houses snuggling in a bay. Syros is the administrative centre for the whole Cyclades islands group. In the 5th century BC, the Phoenicians occupied Syros and it was a major commercial sea port. In 1770, the Russians won the island in a battle with the Turks and took just about everything of value. But it fell back into the hands of the Turks after three years. When the Greek revolution started in 1821, Syros was under French protection because more than 50% of the population were Roman Catholic. Syros is so far the most stunningly beautiful place we have visited, today it is a thriving town that sees huge ferry boats come in several times a day. But it is the streets and town centre that are of major interest. We had a walking tour with Ioanna, our guide, which took us first to the local archaeological museum which had a couple of new discoveries the director was very excited about. Then we walked up the hill to the Greek Orthodox church of St Nicholas, the patron and protector of the island’s seafarers, followed by the Catholic church which is almost exactly like any Greek Orthodox church with its masses of icons. But what is interesting here is an icon by Domenicos Theotokopolous better known to the world as El Greco which showed for the first time that the lad had started his career as an icon painter. After lunch, we went back into town alone and unescorted and walked to the top of a nearby hill to another church. It was a gruelling climb over hundreds of steps. We favoured the most direct route which is also the toughest. Some of the old women and a couple of old men watching us go past were amazed we were tackling the steps when they kept pointing out a perfectly good cobbled roadway which of course was extremely twisty and therefore twice as long. No matter, we got to the top in good condition considering the heat. One of the significant aspects of these Cycladic islands is the amount of marble about the place. Syros has marble footpaths and marble streets. There is marble everywhere you look. One of the guides said the local joke is that marble is cheaper than wood. There is certainly a lot more of it than wood. Friday 12th August - We sailed from Syros at 4am arriving in Paros at 7am; another beautifully sun-drenched port of white-washed houses. This is a very popular island among the Athenian wealthy who have weekend homes whereas Mykonos is home to the international wealthy. By 8.30am we were being loaded into tenders for a four-hour walking and bus tour of the island. We went by bus first to a beautiful mountain village of Lefkes, stopping on the way to admire the massive trunks of 1000-year-old olive trees that are still producing fruit. We wandered around the tiny narrow streets of the village. Next we arrived at the fishing village of Naoussa with dozens of boats. We walked again to see the Byzantine church of Ekatontapyliani, the lady of the hundred doors, one of the greatest of early Christian monuments in Greece built in the 6th century. Saturday 13th August - Another very short sail to the nearby island of Amorgos. We left Paros at 4am and arrived at Amorgos at 6am. It is another of the Cycladic group first inhabited around 3300BC. The island is stunning. The capital in the hills is Chora, a winding labyrinth of whitewashed houses, shops, and bars with windmills alongside. But the real purpose was to visit the spectacular Byzantine Monastery Moni Panagias Chozoviotissas which looks as if it has been stuck on the side of a cliff face. It is a huge fortress built into the rock and you wonder how on earth they built little paths to get up there let alone the monastery itself. And you wonder why on earth you would even consider this as a suitable position. The monastery houses a so-called miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary in a tiny chapel. The building itself is reached by climbing a very steep 269 steps up 300-m and you don’t want to suffer from vertigo – or claustrophobia when you get into the monastery. There are eight floors but the rooms are no more than 5-m in width although we saw only two. There are very strict rules about men and women having to cover up their knees, shoulders and arms. There are only three resident monks but in the daytime an army of guards keeps us well-dressed! Sunday 14th August - We sailed at 10pm last night and reached the remote tiny island of Symi which stands between Rhodes and Turkey. It is a rocky barren island that owes its early success to its sponge diving fleet and boat building industry which once launched 500 ships a year. There was no excursion planned, so we did our own. This is now the most beautiful island we’ve seen! The port is bustling, a myriad of houses of subtle colours that blend easily into the steep hills around it. We decided to explore the upper part of the town and that meant climbing 500 steps in the heat. We then decided to take a mini-bus to the other side of the island to see a 6th century monastery – that didn’t involve any climbing. The bus ride took about 40 mins and was nail-biting in parts because the roads over the high mountains with stunning views were very narrow and there was a lot of traffic which involved several times reversing quite a distance to allow other vehicles and bikes to pass. But once there, the village was very beautiful. Almost nobody about, just a couple of cafes and a tavern where we adjourned for lunch. We went to the monastery which is spectacular, intricate woodwork surrounding a mass of icons, wonderful wall and ceiling paintings. We head out tonight for our last full day at Patmos. Monday 15th August - We sailed last night at 10pm for our last port of call Patmos in the eastern Aegean, a mountainous small rocky island in the Dodecanese group with lots of pretty coves. It is a Christian mecca because of the St John monastery. It is here that allegedly St John the evangelist wrote the book of Revelations, the last chapter of the new Testament which was, according to legend, revealed to John and he instructed a colleague to write it all down in Greek. There are only about 15 monks still living and working there and the one who kept an eye on us was very strict about men and women taking off their hats as well as insisting everybody’s knees, shoulders and arms were properly covered up. After wandering around there for about an hour, we were taken to the Apocalypse cave which is where St John had his revelation. This afternoon is basically packing up, getting debriefed about disembarkment tomorrow, the captain’s farewell cocktail party tonight (back on the Veuve Cliquot) and the gala dinner. We are asked to have our bags ready for pick up at 8am tomorrow as we will be off the boat by 9am! Then it’s going to be Athens for two nights before back to Geneva. Comments: Le Lyrial was a very happy ship, all the staff and crew seem to enjoy their work. Nothing is ever too much trouble or everything seems possible. The passengers are about 70% francophone but all the announcements, excursions, and protocols are in both English and French. Everybody on board is bi-lingual. Not speaking or understanding French is not a disadvantage. The age group depends on the tour. Our cruise to the Norwegian fjords last year were mostly our age, no children. The Greek islands tours had more families (August holidays) and the ship had a kids’ club with staff to look after the little darlings. They didn’t inhibit our enjoyment at any stage. It is a significant Ponant advantage that they operate an open bar system which means all drinks at all meals and in all bars are included in your ticket. The only exceptions are if you order a premium drink (a Johnny Walker Blue label whiskey, for example), you pay. But everything else is on the house. This means not having to worry about a bar tab at the end of the trip, nor having to shout a drink for your new best friend. The cabins are all external and most have a small balcony. Unless you take a suite, the cabins are what I would call compact, they’re certainly not spacious but we found them all right; the beds are very comfortable and the showers excellent. There is a free mini-bar and an ice bucket that can be filled up in the bar. They provide you with a whole range of free toiletries. There are three bars, one on the third floor that’s open 24/7, one on the 6th bar that’s only open at certain times of the day, and an open air one on the 7th deck again only open at certain hours and not at all in cold weather. There’s also a fully-equipped theatre that they use for lectures, classical piano recitals, movies etc. The food is excellent and enticing. Being French, there are two full-time pastry chefs. In fact, there is an army of chefs. And they will basically cook anything you want. There is room service at all times although we have never used it. There are two restaurants on all Ponant ships: the 6th deck buffet for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the 2nd deck à la carte restaurant that serves a buffet breakfast and lunch but a menu dinner where they prefer you don’t wear shorts or thongs! On our cruise, the 6th deck was very popular for dinner because you could eat under the stars and bookings were essential. If you didn’t book by breakfast, you didn’t get a table. The excursions are an extra, but they’re not compulsory and they are very varied but always interesting. Some require a degree of fitness and/or agility. But staying on board can be just as relaxing. Our view of the excursion is that they are bucket-list excuses and you/we are never likely to get another chance. There is an excellent library on the 6th deck. There is no casino and no flashing lights disco although on the 7th deck open air bar there was nightly music which people could dance to. That certainly didn’t operate in the Arctic Circle last year… The reception desk is open 24/7 and there is a fulltime doctor and nurse who usually take it in turns to accompany the excursions. Ponant runs an excellent loyalty scheme and although these back-to-back cruises were only our second and third trips, we were upgraded because we had made reservations for our fourth cruise next year which qualifies us for Admiral status. This gave us free laundry throughout (invaluable on a hot weather cruise), four hours each of us for each week (ie a total of 16 hours) free WiFi use, plus we got 400 Euros worth of discounts on our excursions. We met other passengers who were on their 12th and 15th cruises which qualified them for Grand Admiral status! Not sure what they get for that but it would be considerable. Maybe Veuve Cliquot on tap… We’re very much looking forward to our next cruise, a 17-day cruise in August 2017 under the title of Ultima Thule, the Horizontal Everest, which goes from Kangerluassaq in Greenland all through the Baffin sea around the east coast of Canada to Straeling island, the northernmost point reached by the Vikings. Only a year to wait… and we are eagerly anticipating the announcement of cruises for 2018 when we will have a certain significant celebration. Finally, the secret to Ponant cruises in our experience is to book early to get the full discount of 30%... and the best cabins. And this is the link to a blog with photographs written about the cruise by my wife Jean Lombard: http://taxidotle.blogspot.com/ Read Less
Sail Date: July 2016
Love the Expedition Cruises! The locations visited are amazing and without hords of tourist. The Expedition Crew are so knowledgeable on the locations; People, flora, fauna and wildlife found there. We love the small ship size: The ... Read More
Love the Expedition Cruises! The locations visited are amazing and without hords of tourist. The Expedition Crew are so knowledgeable on the locations; People, flora, fauna and wildlife found there. We love the small ship size: The entire Crew is friendly from the waiters, bartenders, bus boys & housekeeping personnel to the Bridge crew and the Captain himself. The food is 5 star across the board taste, choices and presentation. Accomodations are graciously made for allergies. The Piano and Cabaret are very nice. A few fun activities are provided on sea days. The children on board ages 7 and up, seem to enjoy the various activities provided by the AMAZING cruise director, Note:These Expeditions are not really suitable for children under the age of 6. This is not your typical big boat cruise. This is a Luxary Mega Yacht with Mega Amazing prople on board who treat you like a Royal Family. The Gym & Spa on board were a nice feature for sea days. See you again soon. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
The cruise was booked by a travel agent for a group of about 125. The travel agent handled all excursions and several cultural and historical presentations during the cruise so I can't comment on how the ship would have handled them. ... Read More
The cruise was booked by a travel agent for a group of about 125. The travel agent handled all excursions and several cultural and historical presentations during the cruise so I can't comment on how the ship would have handled them. I can comment about the ship, the cabin, dining and other activities on the ship. On arrival, we were warmly greeted by ships crew and escorted to our room where our luggage waited. Our room on the 6th deck near the buffet restaurant was ship-small but had drawers and closets to handle clothing and gear. The bed was high enough to stow empty luggage. The split bath has a toilet in one room and a sink and shower in the other so a visit to one meant a visit to the other. A sink in the toilet room would have been useful but there was not room . A small desk between the bed and the bath wall would have been useful as a dressing table if there had been a large mirror over it. Instead, the large mirror was on the wall of drawers at the foot of the bed making a "pinch-point" in the room - if one spouse was trying to apply make-up or fix hair while the other needed to get in the drawers or to the other side of the room. The veranda was nice with a table and 2 chairs. There are two dining options for most meals - the 6th floor buffet and the 2nd floor restaurant. We prefer the 6th floor for choice, speed, and the option of eating on the back deck. The buffet staff are beyond helpful. They knew our food/drink/location preferences after the first day and were quick to take our plate and seat us. The set up of the buffet requires a bit of wandering around. A hot food station to the left of the door has meat/fish (or eggs/bacon/sausage at breakfast) and starch and vegetable dishes. To the right of the door is a salad and cold meat station. At the back is a carving station and a soup station (porridge at breakfast). To the left of that is a bread and cheese station. Desserts included a variety of small french pastries, cookies, sauces, ice cream and puddings. A core of offerings was the same daily but with new items at each meal for variety. The 2nd floor restaurant is the more elegant space however the tables are packed tightly. If you are on the outside by a window, you are there for the duration.The wait staff is gracious, quickly refilling water and wine. Service is European slow - an hour and a half for dinner is typical and sometimes after a day of excursions, we just wanted to relax with our feet up. The menu has 2-4 nightly options for each course that are all ordered at the beginning. These are more gourmet than the buffet. There were not a lot of daily activities since our group had excursions each port day. There is a library with a small offering of books even a few in English and some computer stations if you have purchased wi-fi. We did not so I cannot comment on the speed. The cruise director, Maria, offered daily Spanish, Italian and French language lessons that were well attended. There were also a few team trivia sessions that were great fun. The entertainment included classical piano each evening, a lounge singer with a sound-track backup, a couple of guitarists, and a dance group that was making its debut. The dancers seemed to mostly change costumes and fling their bodies around with sultry looks on their faces, but possibly this is very European? This is our second cruise on a Ponant ship and we would definitely cruise again if the itinerary fit our needs. We like the smaller ship atmosphere. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2016
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a ... Read More
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a part of the world that I had long wanted to visit. Le Soleal and Ponant exceeded expectations. The accommodations, crew, amenities, excursions, and food were all first class. We spent a day in Sydney before flying on to Darwin to meet the ship. Sydney was great fun, exactly what we expected from prior reading, surfing and recommendations. Darwin is just a place to meet the ship. Embarkation involved a long, boring wait in a typical but uncrowded, unadorned, unsupported boarding room. Disembarkation was fine. The ship has all the amenties I consider important. No casino but not much time for one. We upgraded to a suite which was a first-time, outstanding luxury to which we may become addicted. The French cuisine was outstanding, despite our various dietary restrictions. The combined MIT and ship's lectures were excellent. Service was impeccable. The shore excursions were interesting, educational, and fun. SCUBA would have been a plus but wasn't offered. However, the snorkeling sites were great. Yes, I would go again. In fact, we did, five months later on the same ship, in the same cabin, to Western Alaska and Siberia. Another great trip, albeit with somewhat lesser excursion quality. Great wildlife photo ops, though. But that's another story... Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We went to the Kimberleys, having embarked in Broome. We spent a few days in Broome and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. The Cabin was well appointed but somewhat small, however not really a problem The naturalists and experts on ... Read More
We went to the Kimberleys, having embarked in Broome. We spent a few days in Broome and thoroughly enjoyed our time there. The Cabin was well appointed but somewhat small, however not really a problem The naturalists and experts on the cruise were really fantastic. They were knowledgeable and friendly, and always willing to speak to passengers about their specialities The excursions ashore were really interesting, educational, extremely well organised and most enjoyable. Most of the on board lectures were very informative and interesting. The food was Ok , not so fantastic, but the crew, and stewards were excellent and professional. For coffee afficionados there is definite room for improvement. Entertainment was usually scheduled a little too late, and we would have to wait around too long after dinner. However the on board entertainers were of a high standard and we enjoyed the shows that we attended Our departure from the ship was very well organised and all went very smoothly for our group. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This cruise was chosen as a celebratory event for a 50th wedding anniversary and was chosen because it had an art theme. It also had an interesting itinery and the cruise dates fitted in with the dates to visit family in Sweden during ... Read More
This cruise was chosen as a celebratory event for a 50th wedding anniversary and was chosen because it had an art theme. It also had an interesting itinery and the cruise dates fitted in with the dates to visit family in Sweden during their summer holidays. The features included special excursions to coincide with the Venice Biennale with open tickets to the evnts whilst in Venice. The cruise had attendance of some art specialists from the international firm of Christies and this provided interesting insights into the bsuiness world of collectable art assets. The food was well balanced with some specialties such as fresh oysters and calamari at selected ports. The excursions were led by very competant guides and with the exception of being placed in a french speaking group (an issue that was rectified at the first rerst stop) the information and content was very interesting. In Dubrovnik we were treated to some excellent singing in the Rector's palace by a local group of male acapella singers known as the Klapa Subrenum singers. The Adriatic was at peace during the whole trip and the ship was very quiet being electrically propelled. Passing though the Corinth canal was a treat and worth a special mention in case the choice of ship size is important. The small ship format was importnant to us as we had only cruised twice previously ( on the Orion under Australian waters and SS Catherine on the Rhone river cruise with Uniworld) and so prefered the more intimate and casual style which we were happy with. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Above all DON'T DRINK the WINE! On day one I tried the ship's wine, it was awful (to be kind.) On the second day I ordered a bottle of French Bordeaux Margaux for 125 Euros thinking I've never had a bad Margaux. I was ... Read More
Above all DON'T DRINK the WINE! On day one I tried the ship's wine, it was awful (to be kind.) On the second day I ordered a bottle of French Bordeaux Margaux for 125 Euros thinking I've never had a bad Margaux. I was wrong this was as bad as the ship's selection. For a French line this is a sin. There were higher priced wines available but based on this experience I abstained for the rest of the voyage. This cruise was part of a Tauck tour through Australia and NZ. What I was told of Tauck being a luxury tour group was wrong. It was average in reality but priced like a luxury tour. The food in the 2nd floor dining room was generally poor with limited menu items. The buffet on the 5th deck was a little better because you could pick and choose you poison. Overall for a ship "hand picked" by Tauck for luxury this was a mistake. Like others on this trip I paid dearly for this tour and I do not believe that I got what I paid for. As this was a smaller ship I did not expect many choices with entertainment and activities. This was as expected. The ship's staff were accommodating and friendly especially the ship's Master and Doctor. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
The small ship experience was the most important factor in my choice but the so called luxury experience left a lot to be desired. Service was varied and inconsistent, the food was not of the suggested standard and sometimes quite bad. I ... Read More
The small ship experience was the most important factor in my choice but the so called luxury experience left a lot to be desired. Service was varied and inconsistent, the food was not of the suggested standard and sometimes quite bad. I returned a number of meals to be replaced. Expedition activities were very good. Meals varied but meat that was of an inferior quality is not acceptable and the attitude of staff to issues of poor quality were indifferent. The Expedition staff were very good and the general style was as one would expect of a luxury ship. Cabins do have a balcony but mold in the shower is not acceptable and staff rectification of housekeeping issues is poor. The room staff were indifferent to individual needs and often had to be asked for simple services more than once. The age of the ship is beginning to show and more attention to refurbishment and ongoing maintenance is needed. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Chosen because of itinerary - shore excursions featured in promotional materials. Ponant completed mismanaged all shore activities from arrival at airport through nearly all shore excursions. Ponant rep could not find driver and bus at ... Read More
Chosen because of itinerary - shore excursions featured in promotional materials. Ponant completed mismanaged all shore activities from arrival at airport through nearly all shore excursions. Ponant rep could not find driver and bus at Narita airport keeping us waiting more than an hour causing us to arrive at destination after dark so that we could not see the first featured garden. Most local guides spoke with such thick accents that they could not be understood. In addition, since there was no continuity of guides, many repeated information that had been given to us previously. On one day we waited more than two hours to be processed by Japanese customs because Ponant had not prepared properly for the customs agents. Further Ponant representatives made no attempt to ensure that the queue was maintained in an orderly fashion, allowing cutting in to the line. On that day we were delayed so long that we were too late to enter the Hiroshima peace memorial (another highlight of the trip missed). Further, the PA announcements could not be heard in cabins, it was necessary to open the cabin door to hear the announcements through the corridor PA systems. In addition the details of when and where it was necessary to congregate were often changed at the last minute. On a more positive note, our cabin (a suite) was excellent, although the standard veranda cabins appeared to be too small compared with either Seabourn or Crystal's similar cabins. On board service was excellent. Dining - breakfasts were outstanding, luncheon buffets generally good except for the hot entrees. Dinners suffered from poor quality of the main entrees (tenderloin anything but tender) fish seemed not to be fresh. Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line ... Read More
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line Le Ponant, is the the worst run cruise ship I have ever seen. Paying for Le Soleal is like throwing your money away. The problems go to the policies (which means the company is horrible as well) as well as the clueless staff (which could be the company’s fault, the fault of the ship’s manager, or both). I hate when people criticize without specifics, so I’m happy to give them. Here we go. 1. This is advertised as an all-inclusive ship and advertises fine wines and spirits as included in the price. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 1 or 2 wines available are cheap and unheard of. There is no single malt scotch. There is no Bourbon. The only Brandy is too cheap to drink. 2. Even when you go to the list available for pay, the prices are jacked up terribly. Usually a ship that is all-inclusive gives you decent prices for upgrading as you get sort of a credit. Not here. Not only is the list overpriced, it features only one American Red and one American White – both from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection line which, while it sounds good and probably fooled the incompetents running this Line, is a low line wine. A comment here: For many of the wines for sale the list has a Parker score. Many are 90 or above, but the Mondavi Chardonnay is 84. Can you imagine having one American wine on the list and bragging about an 84? Stupid. There are others in the mid 80’s. Why have them there at all? 3. This ship has only about 200 passengers and a crew ration of 1:2, which is too low in the first place for a so-called luxury ship. More importantly, most crew members have no idea about anything outside their particular job, and often not then. a. The first afternoon neither the reception desk nor the staff in the 6th floor lounge had any idea if there was shipboard music being played later in the evening. And the poorly put together daily notice said nothing about it. Turned out there were entertainers in both the 6th floor and 3rd floor lounges. b. At the lunch buffet shrimp was offered. We asked the servers about sauce, and none knew what was available and had to go find out. c. Upon check in, we were put in the lounge on the 3rd deck, being told rooms were not ready. About 30 minutes later as friends of ours told us they were in their room I went to the front desk and was told by the hotel manager they would come get us when they started taking people to rooms. As he is telling me this, those boarding were indeed being taken to their cabins right in front of my face. So we just went to ours on our own. It was ready, but no luggage at 4:00 in the afternoon on a ship with only about 100 cabins. I went and found the luggage and brought it in. d. On the night of the captain’s reception they ship’s newsletter said a Gala dinner would begin after the reception and they would not serve until all were seated. There was no indication of what time that would be. The front desk told me I could actually dine at any time after 6. She was shocked when I told her it was now 6:25 and the restaurant was not open yet. She called and told me it would open at 6:45. It actually opened at 6:37. e. Here is a clueless hotel manager story that will make you smile. When we complained that we were told there were fine wine and spirits aboard the ship, he asked us, with a quizzical look on his face, where we heard or read that. He said he only offers wine and spirits. They may not be so fine. Dumb? 4. At dinner on the 3rd night we ordered the lamb on the menu. After about 10 minutes the waiter told us they were out. We had ordered a bottle of wine to go with the lamb, but the staff wasn’t trained well enough to understand any problem with this. So we ordered steak skewers and as we were finishing, out came lamb for the table next to us who ordered well after we did. We asked a captain what happened and he said they did not know they had more lamb and it took the chef 20 minutes to find out. We told him we thought that was incompetent and he sent a higher up who first said the other table ordered first, which was not true, and had so been confirmed by the captain. Caught in a lie, he attempted to say it took 25 minutes to thaw the lamb. No one understood that all they had to say to us was wait a few minutes while they check things out. They are simply incompetent on the ship. IMPORTANTLY, this was the second time this happened. They ran out of baked salmon at lunch and told everyone they had no more only 20 minutes into a 90 minute restaurant opening. As we left, there sat the dish. The host of that room said they convinced the chef to make more. Shouldn’t have run out in the first place. 5. With regard to the ship’s entertainers/musicians, the newsletter never tells you who is entertaining where. So we know nothing about them or where they might be at any given time. This is unfair to the passengers and entertainers, and shows a total lack of understanding on the part of the crew. Every other cruise line gives you this information. 6. The group we were with had many people (over 25) in the 6th floor lounge one evening. We were actually playing the piano, and all were singing. At midnight the bartenders closed down and left. Never seen that on a ship. 7. At the so-called Gala dinner, the server put my salad fork back for me to use again when I finished the salad. I had him get me a new one. Then, someone was not thinking on the mussels curry dish as we had to use our hands to open the mussels. What a mess. The chargers on which this dish sat were naturally covered with shells and liquid from the broth. Were they removed? No. At least not until we requested it. 8. Unbelievably, in both dining rooms there is a table for the ship’s officers, who sit by themselves and ignore all their passengers. I cannot remember such rudeness and obvious lack of thought on any other ship. 9. The ship scheduled a mandatory safety meeting followed by a mandatory life jacket drill at 5:45 and 6:00 respectively the first day. Obviously, people took their life jackets with them. Some of the crew allowed them in the room during the lecture and some made us take them back to our cabin saying we could not bring them until 6:00, of course meaning we all had to leave the lecture, go to the room, get the life jackets, and come right back. You would think this is a comedy, but the people on this ship are just this disconnected. Also, the drill was help at a time we were in port and people were not required to be on board for another 8 hours. Finally, even tho the drill was designed to show us how to put on the life jackets, the notice sent out asked us to come with them already on. 10. They are so cheap on this ship. We have already written about the spirits and wine that fall into this category, and the fact that the bartenders close shop at 12 even when passengers are out. In the morning they advertise fresh squeezes orange, grapefruit, and tomato juice. Think they have this during the day at the two cocktail bars? Nope. Too cheap, as we say. Cruise another line - really. Read Less
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