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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2018
This cruise visited Wallis and Futuna which I could not get with another cruise line. Since this was also a 30 anniversary cruise lots of specials were in store, such as reception in Wallis; native entertainment on board and on shore and ... Read More
This cruise visited Wallis and Futuna which I could not get with another cruise line. Since this was also a 30 anniversary cruise lots of specials were in store, such as reception in Wallis; native entertainment on board and on shore and the fireworks on the last night. The hula performances were a highlight. those dancers could surely move. The shore excursions were well organized allowing me to see the beauty of the various islands, especially from a high overlook on Moorea where the different shades of the waters really stood out. Even the dolphins cooperated (showed up) on an offshore boat trip. My balcony cabin located amidship, reduced the affects of the ocean and was always kept in good shape. The ships personnel was always friendly and eager to help. The food was plentiful and of good quality, too bad, gained a few pounds even though I was using the walking machine in the exercise room. 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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Having cruised before on larger ships we liked the concept of small ship cruising. Everything about the ship was exceptional. The staff were helpful and friendly and the dining room Cuisine was to die for. The itinerary took us to ... Read More
Having cruised before on larger ships we liked the concept of small ship cruising. Everything about the ship was exceptional. The staff were helpful and friendly and the dining room Cuisine was to die for. The itinerary took us to places we had not visited before and we appreciated the easy access that smaller ships enjoy which made transfers so easy . The ports we visited all had unique histories with interesting places to visit and enjoy the culture, food and people.We travelled in the peak season so naturally tourists were everywhere . That made us appreciate the serenity of our ship and surroundings when we returned on board. We did not participate in the nightly entertainment (To tired after long days) but feedback from other passengers was very positive. Once you have had a great experience like this you never forget. We will certainly sail again with Ponant when the next opportunity arises. We recommend you do a cruise with Ponant. You won't regret it !!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, ... Read More
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, luxurious and attentively crewed. Dining choices included the full service restaurant as well as a more casual grill. Live entertainment in the theatre was relaxing and fun and the same venue held briefings and information sessions during the day. Zodiak excursions were well planned and superbly executed by highly trained staff. The spectacular coastal scenery was complemented by lots of sea-ice and great icebergs, as well as penguins, orcas and humpback whales up close and personal. We appreciated the great care taken to preserve the pristine environment when shore excursions occurred, and the opportunity to visit a shore based research station occupied throughout the year. I feel every person on board disembarked both entertained and better informed about one of the world's great wilderness areas. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this cruise as a total getaway from caregiving and because we really needed a break. We wanted a small ship with no casino, no children, no loud cruise director, and a small number of passengers. We flew to Boston from Tampa and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a total getaway from caregiving and because we really needed a break. We wanted a small ship with no casino, no children, no loud cruise director, and a small number of passengers. We flew to Boston from Tampa and boarded with 35 other passengers - the ship holds about 200 total. As this was a repositioning cruise, the cost was very affordable and we were prepared for 8 days of total relaxation. The crew did a great job of refurbishing one area after another - new carpets, drapes, etc. while keeping enough public space open that we hardly noticed. The catering was less elaborate than ususl, we were told, but the array and quality of the food was superb. We like the occasional gourmet dinner but we also like an option for simple grilled salmon or more country food, which was always an option. This was our first Ponant cruise - we had already booked one next Spring from Martinique to Lisbon (another ocean cruise) - and took the opportunity for a short cruise in advance. We are so glad we did. We met every single other passenger - even the French, who comprised about half of the passengers. As I speak a bit of French, I had no trouble, but neither did those who spoke only English. The passengers were fun and friendly. Only ten of us disembarked in Panama and the rest were joined by others as they went on to Lima over the following week or so. The crew was excellent - only the reception staff were a bit uninterested in being responsive. The Butler, West, attended to all our needs. We had a suite - essentially two staterooms together. Beware, European sizes are small for us Americans, but there was plenty of room. For the most part, we hardly stayed in the stateroom. The public rooms are gorgeous, well cared-for and comfortable. We are going again and we actually booked a Tahiti - Honolulu - Japan trip in 2019. This is a wonderful line and perfect for adults and friends. The entertainment was just fine and much more than we expected given a repositioning cruise. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Sailed aboard the Lyrical The ship epitomizes its French origins - go for show, worry about substance another time. The boat is modern, sleek, and almost well designed. The cabins are nice. The food itself is mediocre. I have had ... Read More
Sailed aboard the Lyrical The ship epitomizes its French origins - go for show, worry about substance another time. The boat is modern, sleek, and almost well designed. The cabins are nice. The food itself is mediocre. I have had better on other cruise lines. They make a great show of presentation,when serving the food but calling a hot dog a tube steak does not change the fact that it is still a hot dog. The first meal after embarkation was 35 - 45 minutes late. No explanation. A few things which would have improved my experience on board. When they say it is a small ship, they are telling the truth. You get one washroom. That is it. There may be other washroom facilities on board the ship but the only other one I saw, besides the one in my cabin, was kept locked. If you are at one end of the ship and need the washroom, you have to move quickly, and hope your roommate is not using it. The bulk of the serving staff were French, and they let you know it. If you were not French,well they condescended to serve you. You were expected to be impressed, and pay for some of their fantastic wines. Internet charges are reasonable, I think. They started at 30 Euros, and went up from there. I don't know how good the wifi service was on board because I never used it.. Of course when I got off the boat there are lots of places which provided wifi for free. The staff claims to understand English, but only to their advantage. When I put the gratuity for the staff on my credit card at the end of the trip, I expressed the amount in dollars. When I asked for a receipt, the staff member would not give me one, but assured me it was correct. Except it was not. They got the amount right. But they put it through in Euros, not in dollars. Sailing on Le Lyrial was an interesting learning experience for me. I don't think I will sail with them again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2016
Seeing the antarctica was definitely a bucket list item for us , I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years , and was surprised when friends told us they were planning to do this cruise with Ponant in 8 months time in November ... Read More
Seeing the antarctica was definitely a bucket list item for us , I have wanted to do this cruise for the last 5 years , and was surprised when friends told us they were planning to do this cruise with Ponant in 8 months time in November and why not join them . the all inclusive price for the accommodation, flights , special clothing ( gum boots and thermal coat issued on the boat) all drinks on board made this cruise great value for money . Everything was 5 star and we were treated as 5 star guests by all the crew and staff . There is no doubt the small ship of 200 passengers and 150 crew and staff made this trip beyond all expectations for us. Of all the expedition trips on offer , this has to be the most amazing cruise for seeing the wildlife close up and having experienced naturalists to explain and guide you on shore. 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This Ponant cruise greatly exceeded our expectations! We're first time cruisers and read many reviews before choosing this cruise line. We were looking for a smaller ship that would provide a more personal experience which could get ... Read More
This Ponant cruise greatly exceeded our expectations! We're first time cruisers and read many reviews before choosing this cruise line. We were looking for a smaller ship that would provide a more personal experience which could get into some of the tighter ports and avoid the crush of hundreds of other travelers with the same agenda. Embarkation was smooth. Once we cleared security at the terminal, it wasn't long before we were escorted on-board, being greeted by a smiling ship's captain and senior officers as we embarked. The Cruise Director, Kamel, and entire on-board staff we interacted with were professional, friendly, helpful and smiling. This made for a very enjoyable upbeat cruise. The ship was clean and had a very elegant feel. Each of the public areas were spacious and kept immaculate. The dining was exceptional. Whether we chose the more casual dining experience on Deck 6 or the more formal service on Level 2, the smiling staff were attentive and helpful. The food was fresh, inventive, beautifully plated and offered a variety to satisfy all tastes.We especially enjoyed the fresh fish of the day. Ponant truly delivered on its promise of 'gastonomie francaise!' There was a good choice of excursions at each port of call. Our ability to enjoy these excursions was enhanced by the on-board guest lecturers that discussed the history, geology, flora & fauna of Alaska. The zodiac excursion to the face of the Dawes Glacier and Endicott Arm was a clear trip highlight. Although this was a smaller ship with 120 staterooms, we were delighted with the quality of the nightly entertainment and hourly activities one could participate in, whether it be games for the kids, yoga, stretching, zoomba and a fitness room for the healthy-minded on-board or cozy spots in their library to curl up with a good book. Ponant also offered pre- and post-cruise travel options, which we did not participate in. We would not hesitate to travel with this company again. We're already planning our next cruise with them! Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
There is much to praise and little to dislike about this ship. The crew are very proficient in all departments and go out of their way to provide a friendly helpful service. Generally speaking, they are also happy to strike up a ... Read More
There is much to praise and little to dislike about this ship. The crew are very proficient in all departments and go out of their way to provide a friendly helpful service. Generally speaking, they are also happy to strike up a conversation. The barman quickly learnt our coffee preferences and never forgot them. Our air-conditioned cabin on Level 3 was well-designed, with a separate toilet to the bathroom and good storage facilities including under-bed space for the suitcases, a wardrobe and many drawers. There were lots of electrical sockets although these of course all use the European design. The food is provided mainly in a formal Level 2 restaurant with quality French-oriented cuisine and a more relaxed buffet on level 6 which is so popular one has to book for dinner each night. Level 6 has an outdoor area and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) taken here are the epitome of indulgence and relaxation, with a wide variety of items on display. Drinks are included. We also found ourselves at home in the Level 3 lounge which serves coffee, tea and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. These are free except for speciality items. A lot goes on in the way of entertainment and talks on the ship. There is an excellent theatre but the lounge and observation bar are also used for entertainment. There are many shore excursions available for a price – we used some of them but also explored some ports independently. Our favourite tour was the one to the Krka National Park with its lovely waterfalls. The one thing that everyone complained about is the Wi-Fi, which is satellite-based. Reception and download speeds vary considerably depending on location and the number of users. It’s also expensive – ninety euros for four hours. The ship is English and French bi-lingual as a matter of routine but some staff speak other languages too. Overall, Le Lyrial is a floating palace. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was the second cruise on Le Soleal. I would NOT have returned if the second was not already paid for. My experiences.... The management and upper staff onboard were unable /unwilling to address issues such as NO internet for 4 ... Read More
This was the second cruise on Le Soleal. I would NOT have returned if the second was not already paid for. My experiences.... The management and upper staff onboard were unable /unwilling to address issues such as NO internet for 4 days. NO news or current affairs TV for the whole journey. NO wine came aboard in Hong Kong so the included wine was very slim pickings indeed. Food was ok. But French speaking staff preferred the French speaking guests who received priority treatment. The manager claimed that any complaints " were the first time he had had a complaint" NO!! many English speaking guests complained in person about inadequacies and inefficiencies. The first time on Le Soleal was around New Zealand, and was inadequate and not to the standard I expect from "luxury" whatever that may mean. I sent 2 emails at that time about my disappointments before I received a reply. The second trip Hong Kong to Japan was 6 weeks later and had different inadequacies. I sent 2 emails and a text before I received an telephone response from the management in Sydney. Summary for both trips ...amateurish and expensive. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2016
The voyage started in Sydney and called the various islands and anchorages a ship of only this size is capable of , with the Zodiacs on board ferrying passengers across to remote places in the region if tender service not an option , this ... Read More
The voyage started in Sydney and called the various islands and anchorages a ship of only this size is capable of , with the Zodiacs on board ferrying passengers across to remote places in the region if tender service not an option , this worked quite wel We found the staff very capable and instructions both in French and English well presented and all explained in detail in most cases the day before , the Australian expedition leaders knowledgeable and a bit of Aussie humour to flavour the experience !it was the vessels and Ponant's first experience exploring the Barrier Reef. Passengers mostly from France , My guess 60 percent and the remainder Aussies , some Anericans and other Europeans , actually a great mixture and it seemed they all enjoyed each other's company. The Ship is fairly new and cabins and beautifully appointed , comfortable beds , a flat screen TVs with all the English channels , a mini bar well stocked and replenished daily at no cost and included in the open bar policy , however be mindful of the suites , they might have a fold out couch serving as a king size bed , best to check this out if you prefer 2 singles The cabins on deck 5 very quiet and no noise from other passenger cabins nearby . The vessel boasts 2 restaurants , all open sitting , the on deck 6 more casual and booking for dinner is essential due to the limited space , the one on deck 2 very nicely appointed and seats all if required , the senior officers and Master occupy their own table apart from Welcome and Farewell dinners , The vessel has an open bar policy that includes most drinks, cocktails , wines , fancy a gin and tonic or a Martini , a Brandy after dinner , not a problem ! We experienced 2 Wine tastings , one in French and one in English , very knowledgable and presented , the stock of top wines is also on display and available from the restaurant in deck 2 . Numerous activities during the day , what ever you fancy from Quizes to Can Can shows at night in the theatre and with the amount of passengers not a busy excercise , the ship also has an open bridge policy most of the time if you fancy a look where all the action is . Food , plenty , not silver service though , not sure if that still excists nowadays , there is a Butler service if you want to dine in private , the French tone is prevellent of course and if you like this style , these sort of cruises won't disappoint , The Master and Officers are French , the crew in general a mixture of Fillipino and Indonesian , and all English speaking . Embarkation / Disembarkation not a problem , yes 4 o'clock for a 6 pm departure , what's the fuss? Your luggage tagged and delivered to your cabin and vice versa when going off . The staterooms on deck 3 don't have an totally open veranda as on the top,decks , there is a reason for that as you are closer to the water line, just a safety thing, and so are the doors towards your veranda not full length , same thing . Overall a beautiful ship , no pokies , no casino,no rowdy teenagers ! 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
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, ... Read More
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, although the toilet was separate which was good. The lounge areas were uninspiring. Afternoons entertainment violinist and a jazz singer, piano player. They were quite good for afternoon entertainment. Night there was sometimes a dance show, but nothing in the main lounge area. No music, no dancing, zero atmosphere. If you wanted to sit in there it was quite boring. Ponant have to lift their game if they want to come into the Australian market. Food just average, we expected better for the price we paid. Staff very good, no complaints there. Restaurant staff very helpful. Front desk staff not greatly friendly. Ship always clean and neat. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
What a greeting we got the window to board was one hour we had come from Tokyo by bullet then a Taxi that did not know were the port was then we got out of the Taxi two crew took our bags and lead us to the gangway very nice touch, on ... Read More
What a greeting we got the window to board was one hour we had come from Tokyo by bullet then a Taxi that did not know were the port was then we got out of the Taxi two crew took our bags and lead us to the gangway very nice touch, on entering the Ship 23 min early we were treated to you are early sit there till your cabin is ready , our party was made up of a 86 year old a 70 & a 60 year old the attitude shown was rude abrupt discourteous and not a credit to the French people it followed on with the reception counter staff also French The cabin was great but no list is given on what is included in you package and what is paid for the most of the cabin crew & restaurant staff are great not French the off handed French restaurant manger falling over the French customers but keeping away from the Australians Food quality could not be described a fine dining it had its moment but over all was not up to P&O at half the cost P&O , Carnival Line & Princess Line are able to handle 2500 passengers boarding in four hours this boat could not handle 200 Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2013
We left Istanbul end of the day and the ship looked small compared to the Costa and the Xelebrity. The Austral is the second after Boral and before the new Solal. Human size Yachts of only 264 passengers, with only very nice outside ... Read More
We left Istanbul end of the day and the ship looked small compared to the Costa and the Xelebrity. The Austral is the second after Boral and before the new Solal. Human size Yachts of only 264 passengers, with only very nice outside rooms. But the first impressions were very positive regarding the casual and friendly style of this company. On a lot of ships you see the captain at a drink or a special event. Here Captain Jean-Philippe Lemaire and his staff were very close to the passengers. I reminded the experience of 2008 on the Windstar! Passengers are invited to visit the bridge (of course outside the maneuvers or when there is a pilot on board) Himself and his officers give you plenty of information and you are invited to ask question. And if you want to go back in the evening, no problem. A very nice different and impressive experience. There are two restaurants: the main one downstairs with full service (only in the evening) and the self-service upward with possibilities of eating outside. Good selected wines, beer and drinks are included during the meals. There are facilities such as a pool (not very large view the ship size) there is a wellness center, there is conference and theater and several bars. With regard to drinks you have the choice for paying (on your account) per consumption (prices in Euro but reasonable) or an all-inclusive forfeit of 30 per person per day. Tip: is only interesting if you stay most of the time on board and you drink quite a lot! After passing the mount Athos island the captain decided to approach Greek coast and drop the anchor and open the marina facilities. Swimming in the sea in a rather wide limited area of course with safety facilities of the crew with zodiacs. Destinations we did: Limnos (was no so good, all closed on Saturday) The mount Athos visit cruising (not allowed to go on land) was nice and impressive. At Volos we took the chip excursion of a full day to the mtoras with the impressive monasteries (we visited 2 of the 4 or 5 still in use) Worthwhile! Patmos was quite nice. Kusadasi you have the choice to go to Ephesus (what we did on a previous cruise) so we went with own means to Priene,Milat and Didyme with famous Greek / Roman constructions and in Diikilli we used the ships excursion to Pergame and Asclpion. The languages used are of course French but also English. We had mixed nationalities of passengers roughly half French of course, but also Belgians, Suisse, British some Americans, Aussies and New Zealanders and even a Japanese. There were some younger children, mostly adolescents, on board. A ship of this size is not a big fun ship of course, but the staff arranged a lot things with them participation for example in show and in spectacle with the artists. I can say that they really were proud, enjoyed themselves a lot! The company can really be recommended !!!   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2011
I have to confess that I am not easy to please so when I read some of the previous reviews of the L'Austral to the Dalmatian Coast, I was nervous. I have been across the Atlantic many times, including the SS France, and on one cruise ... Read More
I have to confess that I am not easy to please so when I read some of the previous reviews of the L'Austral to the Dalmatian Coast, I was nervous. I have been across the Atlantic many times, including the SS France, and on one cruise line and have to say this was as good as it gets for this size ship/crew. The service was perfect, the food excellent and the attention to detail (eg not waking everybody on the ship to announce the daily tours at 8:00 am) help with whatever you needed and including moving your table the next night from very loud neighbors. There was a Tauk group on the ship but we never even noticed that it was there except we were told...certainly no preferential treatment. This cruise was perfect for US...we weren't looking for night life etc. The cabins are small but extremely efficient and we didn't even use all our drawer space. On the negative side, the internet is ridiculously expensive and for me a bit difficult to navigate. On the whole, our ship mates ages were from late 40's to 70's. A well dressed, sophisticated group of travelers, primarily in the 60's group. Many French, many Australians. I hesitate to even write this review as I think the reviews are catching on and it will be more and more difficult to book on this and other Ponant cruises for Americans as word gets out across the ocean. We're already working on another. Hope this reassure those of you have already booked. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2010
The biggest decision to make in regard to going to Antarctica on an 'expedition' ship is how much time you wish to spend 'off the boat', and what style you want to experience while on-board. Le Boreal is still probably ... Read More
The biggest decision to make in regard to going to Antarctica on an 'expedition' ship is how much time you wish to spend 'off the boat', and what style you want to experience while on-board. Le Boreal is still probably the most stylish way to explore the peninsula, but because it carries 200 passengers, you will spend less time roaming about in the zodiacs than on a smaller ship with less than 100 passengers (by regulation, only 100 individuals are allowed onshore at one time). Le Boreal does have it's failings though (as other reviewers have indicated), and when it comes up against all the other ships sailing other parts of the world, it would have some issues matching up. But in Antarctica, it will not be wanting for passengers... as only a small number of ships tour there, and more and more people are visiting each year. The staff will get better at being more professional, and the ship will work on eliminating some of the shakedown style problems. Bottom line, if you want to visit in style, and being restricted to only 3-4 hours a day off the ship is not an issue, than you will probably not do better than going on the Le Boreal... other parts of the world are another matter. Read Less
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