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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Having never heard of Ponant, we chose this cruise because it did a circumnavigation of Iceland which is what we wanted. The ship was extremely clean, comfortable, and well laid-out. Embarkation from a small port outside of Reykjavik was ... Read More
Having never heard of Ponant, we chose this cruise because it did a circumnavigation of Iceland which is what we wanted. The ship was extremely clean, comfortable, and well laid-out. Embarkation from a small port outside of Reykjavik was a breeze (as was disembarkation). Captain Etienne Garcia was terrific - his enthusiasm for the immense beauty of Iceland came through in every message from him and he made sure no one on board missed a whale sighting or any other special event. Food service was in one of two rooms - on Deck 6 was a buffet-at-all-meals room that opened on to the deck which had additional seating. Weather during our cruise was wonderful so we could often eat on the deck which was delightful. Food was good and daily choices varied enough to keep us interested. The drinks-included selections were excellent and the pouring wine was very good. Other food option was a white-tablecloth dining room on Deck 2 with no outdoor access. We learned that it served the same food but with dinner served (not buffet). We did not choose that option. Excursions were very good and organization of everything on the ship was perfect. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My friend actually chose this Ponant cruise because of its interesting title: "In the Wake of the Vikings", and because of historical interest and curiosity about lands I had never before visited I decided it was a grand idea to ... Read More
My friend actually chose this Ponant cruise because of its interesting title: "In the Wake of the Vikings", and because of historical interest and curiosity about lands I had never before visited I decided it was a grand idea to see parts of Iceland and Scotland and finish in Norway where great adventurers had set out from to explore initially unknown lands. This cruise did not disappoint - the ship was absolutely perfect in its size and outlay. As there are only a small number of passengers the dining seating allowed us to meet many different people or we could be seated by ourselves if required.The meals were always beautifully cooked and served (5courses if you wanted with superb choices for each). This may sound over indulgent but portion size enabled us to taste such a wonderful assemblage of offerings! From the moment we stepped on board (to be greeted by the captain is a special delight) we were spoiled - our cabin (we had a stateroom on level 5 with its own balcony) was very well equipped and serviced(at several times throughout the day). All our needs were met immediately because of the small size so crew did not have to go far. A special bonus was access to the bridge when appropriate. The entertainment was varied and interesting - from the captain's welcome dinner to lectures about various lands and explorers; musical and film - all different! We had a variety of shore excursions to choose from - the "Chasing Waterfalls" walk from Seyisfiordur (Eastern Iceland) was particularly interesting and beautiful. The tours from Kirkwall (Orkney Islands), Lewrick (Shetland Islands) and Isle of Skye were always on time and exceeded expectation after we had sailed into these ports through beautiful scenery. Again because of the small ship there was absolutely no waiting for any shore excursion or to board a tender - it was instant.Consequently embarkation and disembarkation proceeded very smoothly (even in Bergen at the end of our cruise on a cold rainy day I think my face was more wet from tears of leaving such a wonderful trip and departing from newly found friends, than from the rain) - the crew were there with large umbrellas for the short walk from ship to terminal. Would I go again - you bet - in a flash - I have absolutely no question in my mind! In fact I would be loathe to embark on a "large liner" - I have been on 2 previous cruises with passenger numbers over 2000 and adamantly would NOT go with that type of cruise again! I'm staying with Ponant and hope to travel on a Kimberly cruise when their ships are in that area - or perhaps an Antarctic Expedition on their new custom designed icebreaker small ship.( Dreaming of visiting new sights again!) Ponant Cruising is ........(of numerous words to use which one?).....EXCEPTIONAL. Ponant Cruises will not disappoint. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My cruise with Ponant was definitely a memorable experience! We were in the Reykjavik to Bergen cruise onboard Le Laperouse, the newest ship in the fleet. The ship was modern and luxurious - perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but I really ... Read More
My cruise with Ponant was definitely a memorable experience! We were in the Reykjavik to Bergen cruise onboard Le Laperouse, the newest ship in the fleet. The ship was modern and luxurious - perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but I really liked it! However, the two things that stood out the most for me were the staff’s excellent and friendly service and the sumptuous food. The restaurant staff knew our preferences after the 2nd day, so they’d always have our favorite drinks delivered to our table even before they take our order. My husband and I love French food, so it was a gastronomic delight for us. As dinners were served in the formal restaurant, we normally went to the grill for lunch. It was our first time to go on a cruise trip, and it really set the bar high. We’ll definitely take Ponant again when we go for our next cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
We booked this cruise because we have always wanted to see icebergs and the Disko bay. My husband only speaks french and we wanted to enjoy beautiful scenery, interesting conferences, and an all inclusive drink and food cruise. ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we have always wanted to see icebergs and the Disko bay. My husband only speaks french and we wanted to enjoy beautiful scenery, interesting conferences, and an all inclusive drink and food cruise. • Travel To Port of Embarkation We live in France and made our own way to Reykjavik Iceland to join the ship.We arrived the day before and stayed at the Storm Hotel, which was walking distance to town center. It's a simple and very clean modern hotel, rooms are small, no closet, but a clothes rack with a few hangers. It's okay for a night or 2. • Boarding was very easy, there are many people waiting to carry our bags on board and the captain and staff are there to welcome us. Stateroom • Our prestige stateroom was on the 5th floor, with a balcony. The rooms are beautiful, clean, and there are a lot of storage room. Double wardrobe with drawers and enough hangers, and opposite the bed there are 3 big drawers with a coffee machine and electric kettle on top . There is also a safe and small fridge. Note that you cannot store suitcases under the bed, we laid them flat in the wardrobe. • Shower room is small but very nice. It's a walk-in shower and there's a clothes line in it to hang your washing. Don't forget to bring a few clothes pins! Dining There are 2 dining rooms, one on the 6th floor which is a buffet, and another one on the 2nd floor which is a more formal dining room. Food is fabulous french cuisine, drinks and wine are included.You can also enjoy more expensive wines , but we found them very expensive, around 100€ a bottle. • Entertainment Don't expect entertainment like on Costa or other huge cruises! On the 6th floor there is a observatory bar with a musician who plays classical music and on the 3rd floor in the evening there's a singer and musician who are more lively and you can dance to disco, rock & roll or other music. • Port & Shore Excursions There are excursions organized in Reykjavit before leaving port, a few small towns, in the capital Nuuk, Illulisat, and bay of Disko. Most of the excursions are not free and you have to sign up for them. They are not cheap either! Considering that Ponant sells luxury cruises, they could have included these excursions in their price. • Disembarkation Disembarkation was at Kangerlussuaq which is an old american military base and we left the ship at 5:30AM, with a bus. Return flight to Paris was a chartered flight with Iberia. 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
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Our long awaited and much anticipated Northwest Passage trip has ended and will long be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Inputing required information into Ponant’s website before the trip was frustratingly difficult and ... Read More
Our long awaited and much anticipated Northwest Passage trip has ended and will long be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Inputing required information into Ponant’s website before the trip was frustratingly difficult and generally only remedied by Sydney’s staff. Thank you to all who assisted. The required medical information was widely regarded by GPs and fellow travellers as an invasion of privacy. Our travels to Antarctica onboard MV Orion in 2007 and a previous 42-day Arctic expedition cruise aboard MV Silver Explorer in 2013 did not require such detailed information, simply evidence of travel insurance that included repatriation from remote areas. And then there were the charter flights. Check-in at Charles de Gaulle airport was an absolute shambles. Many, if not most, passengers had arrived long before the Ponant representative and located a Ponant banner near gates 50-51. Nobody was aware that there were two charter flights, the other check-in being on the opposite side of the terminal at gates 1-2. Much cross-terminal activity ensued as people realised they were in the wrong queues! My partner and I were allocated the Trade Air flight that used a Fokker 100 aircraft. The aircraft was not designed to carry a full economy-class passenger load with everyone having hold-stowed baggage, and consequently some baggage was loaded into some of the toilets at the captain’s suggestion. That carrier has been cited on previous occasions for regulatory breaches, according to internet entries, and this was possibly another. Being a charter flight we parked remotely from the terminal in Copenhagen and much of the baggage was offloaded into open baggage-carts in a downpour. Some passengers reported their baggage was sodden upon retrieval. Transferring to the Air Greenland commercial flight was another exercise involving a very long walk with little guidance. A couple of quick-thinking passengers were able to pay for a business-class upgrade, while most of us continued to languish in economy. Upon arrival in Kangerlussuaq we were directed to board coaches for the transfer to the ship. Nobody bothered to inform us, until asked, about what was to happen to our luggage....it was collected in bulk and transferred (successfully) to the ship. The reception on boarding the ship, was adequate but not exceptional, particularly as it was close to midnight when we boarded. Our cabin, 528, was tiny with no under-bed storage for luggage and was apparently designed as the sitting-room to the adjoining cabin 526, to which it had a connecting door for use when both cabins were sold as one suite. It was a similar story for other cabins on deck 5, some with under-bed storage, others without. Within the cabin, the bathroom and toilet doors opened outwards into the entrance passageway, as did the wardrobe doors. Open one door but beware opening another as they clashed with one another. Inexplicably, the shower door opened inwards to the stall and if anyone fell while in the shower and could not pick themselves up, access for assistants would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, without demolishing the screens. Compactness was also a feature of both restaurants, with tables very close together hampering access for both passengers and waiters. Both restaurants were badly under-staffed, with waiters having too many tables to look after and also doubling as wine waiters. Under these very trying circumstances, the waiters did the best they could, but lengthy delays were normal. The bars were also understaffed. Some food items and beverages ran very low, with some items completely exhausted within 10 days of the start of a 23 day cruise! Somebody needs to answer for that. The much-hyped French cuisine was disappointing, with a preponderance of fish on the dinner menu. The cruise proceeded much as advertised until it was announced that we would be unable to transit the Northwest Passage because of the ice conditions in Bellot Strait and further west. That decision was based on ice charts and forecasts available before we had even set sail from Kangerlussuaq on the cruise, and that changed little as the cruise progressed. We were initially offered early disembarkation (at Pond Inlet, Canada), an option that a number of us selected, and two other options, each less appealing than the other. Eventually it was decided an early disembarkation would unnecessarily delay the ship sailing north in Baffin Bay on a random itinerary taking us towards the very north of Greenland towards another channel blocked by sea ice, before turning south and returning to Kangerlussuaq by the 18th September, the date we were originally due to disembark in Nome. Mutterings were heard that we’d paid the ransom before we’d been kidnapped! Communications from staff members was poor on many occasions, with the constant changing from French to English difficult to follow. And once the revised itinerary got underway, we were only told on a daily basis what to expect the next day, with nobody sure when we would be back in Kangerlussuaq (17th or 18th, morning or afternoon etc). Eventually we found ourselves back in Kangerlussuaq and the charter flight shambles started all over again. Europeans won the lottery with a short flight back to Paris. The rest of us had to endure a long, uncomfortable economy-class flight all the way to Seattle with a refuelling stop in Buffalo. And finally liberation! We could never, in good conscience, recommend Ponant. As a luxury expedition/cruise line it barely rates a 3, based on this experience. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
This was our fourth cruise with Ponant and we are big fans of this French cruiseline. We love the small ship experience, Ponant's first class service, food and crew. We were excited to experience their newest ship, Le Laperouse on ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with Ponant and we are big fans of this French cruiseline. We love the small ship experience, Ponant's first class service, food and crew. We were excited to experience their newest ship, Le Laperouse on it's maiden voyage (actually it's second week sailing around Iceland). The ship is beautiful, obviously everything was brand new. The capitan was great and very imformative. Iceland was fantastic. We took a Ponant excursion in every port and they were all fantastic. Some local guides were better than others (which is always the case) but all seemed to know their stuff and were very enthusiastic to show us and tell us about their country. Given that this was a new ship on only it's second voyage, we should have realized that the most of the crew would also be new. Many were and appeared to be unexperienced. This was most obvious in the food service and kitchen areas. Many of the waiters appeared to have no idea how to provide first class service. Many guests experienced very slow service and cold food. Waiters rarely ever return to your table after delivering your food. You had to ask (if you could find your waiter) to get more water or coffee. For most meals, only the dinning room (not the grill) was open which they said was due to the weather but it meant that only a buffet was open for breakfast. The grill was completely outside which is dfferent from the other Ponant ships that we have been on. I I think that this was a design faux. Outide dinning is great in warm weather climates but not in Iceland. The food on the buffet was not to the Ponant standard. The eggs were unsually cold and there was no cooked to order eggs available (on other Ponant ships they cook eggs to order in the grill). After a few days, we started ordering our breakfast through room service and the service and food was great but we missed dinning with the other guests. It did appear that things in the kitchen and diningroom were improving slightly towards the end of the week and hopefully service and food quality will be up to the Ponant standard on future voyages. We will be back. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We were taken with the promotional video of the animals to be found in Siberia, Russia and Kuril Islands and booked three back to back cruises. L'Austral was the perfect ship to perform all requirements having 10 or more Zodiacs ... Read More
We were taken with the promotional video of the animals to be found in Siberia, Russia and Kuril Islands and booked three back to back cruises. L'Austral was the perfect ship to perform all requirements having 10 or more Zodiacs along with 11 Naturalists who were experts in various fields - whales, orcas, lichen, bears, etc. The ship was small enough to enter shallow waters and in some instances, entered areas never before visited by Ponant. The pre and post lectures were exceptionally good and were conducted in both French and English. Other groups including Chinese and Russian had their own interpreters who filled their groups in after the main lectures. The Captain was amazing. He avoided adverse weather conditions where and whenever possible whilst keeping all passengers fully appraised of all situations including tides, northern lights, winds and typhoons. Although I could not enter our specific departure port of Nome in the section provided, I believe the ship did begin the Arctic cruise in Iceland. With only 180 passengers on board out of a total capacity of 250, rarely was there a wait of more than 15 minutes to board Zodiacs to enjoy all activities provided. All staff were exceptional from the Hotel Manager and Maitre 'D down to wait and cabin staff. 10 out of 10 for service in all areas. If there was a criticism it would be in the beverage department. For a French ship the daily wines were very basic and if a person wanted a better quality, you paid through the nose. Basic items such as a milkshake cost E10 as did the daily cocktail. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Chosen specifically for the Iceland, Greenland and Northwest Artic passage to Alaska. Excellent itinerary with great shore excursions and expedition excursions. Many great features such as the ship design, 24/7 access to bridge, zodiacs, ... Read More
Chosen specifically for the Iceland, Greenland and Northwest Artic passage to Alaska. Excellent itinerary with great shore excursions and expedition excursions. Many great features such as the ship design, 24/7 access to bridge, zodiacs, etc. Had a suite which was great, but a regular cabin was not of sufficient size. The dining, menu, food preparation was very bad, not at all up to standard, let alone luxury! Dining room service was poor. Room service was excellent and the selected acceptable food items were good. Cabin service was outstanding. Went for the specific itinerary and expeditionary cruise which was excellent, HOWEVER would never ever take or recommend Ponant to anyone unless the specific itinerary was unique and special. There are now other much better expeditionary modern cruise ships which are ice rated. The expedition team was mixed, some very good and some very very poor. Very few English speaking passengers, at a significant disadvantage unless French! Captain, ship officers and receptionists were excellent. Organization of the charter flight from Nome was horrible. Some information from home sales group was significantly wrong. Lectures were badly organized with bad time management. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
Le Boreal is a very attractive ship with an elegant, sophisticated interior, comfortable public spaces, and smallish but comfortable cabins. We had a Deluxe Suite which had an extra dressing space and a longer balcony, and we found that ... Read More
Le Boreal is a very attractive ship with an elegant, sophisticated interior, comfortable public spaces, and smallish but comfortable cabins. We had a Deluxe Suite which had an extra dressing space and a longer balcony, and we found that there was plenty of space to store our items for a seven-day Iceland cruise. The mix of passengers is roughly half American (with some British) and half French. I enjoyed the mix as I am always looking for ways to improve my intermediate-level French and found a few French guests that were willing to tolerate my struggles at speaking their language. One could observe the standard American/French differences that may be uncomfortable for some Americans. French service tends to be formal and inflexible, and if you expect that at the outset you will be fine. My problem was not with the French and Swiss staff, or with the Filipino personnel, but rather with the many French-speaking waiters from francophone islands. They were, without exception, exceedingly unfriendly and seemed, at times, to be downright angry. The problem is that you encounter them at every breakfast, lunch, and dinner and at the lounges (they serve as bartenders). It actually became laughable towards the end. However, this factor alone would lead me to choose another company for an upcoming trip to Antarctica. While National Geographic/Lindblad is more expensive, I will happily pay the extra for professional, respectful service. The food was a great source of discussion on our trip. We all expected great food on a French trip. At times, the food did border on wonderful. Usually, however it was mediocre or less. A final note. The captain is an attractive, youngish French man. He was also one of the most affected people I have ever witnessed. His announcements were so unintentionally comical with his affect that our group found great amusement when he made them and we all enjoyed mimicking him. Read Less
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