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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We had been previously on a cruise across this Indonesian region last year that was disappointing with Silversea Expedition. This year Ponant cruise was exceptional, thanks to the outstanding expedition team lead by Mick Fogg and the ... Read More
We had been previously on a cruise across this Indonesian region last year that was disappointing with Silversea Expedition. This year Ponant cruise was exceptional, thanks to the outstanding expedition team lead by Mick Fogg and the captain; they chose superb location for all stops and we had both landing unique experiences visiting remote villages and extremely isolated locations in all islands of Western Papua, Spice Islands and South Philippines. the captain chose 5 unique locations where no ship had ever been before. They also selected almost every day beautiful remote top quality beach and snorkelling experience. Food with a dominant French style was magnificent as well as the European style service, as usual on Ponant ships. We usually prefer the full service downstairs, but there is everyday also the buffet style next to the swimming pool. Entertainment was high quality, in particular with excellent classical music pianist, singers and a team of 4 dancers. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose this cruise because we were so pleased with our last year cruise to Antartica. But, our cruise from Ushuaia to Valparaiso was disappointing; The beginning started well with a good excursion at the Cap Horn, but over the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were so pleased with our last year cruise to Antartica. But, our cruise from Ushuaia to Valparaiso was disappointing; The beginning started well with a good excursion at the Cap Horn, but over the following 11 days we had few excursions (we expected 1/day or at least 1/two days): only 3 ! Conferences on board were few & not up to the standard we experienced before. On top of that, the Boreal had some issues: - a lift not working - the GPS Map not working - my wife & other female passengers got a virus through the air conditioning system, that obviously was not cleaned; she was prescribed antibiotics after the cruise & needed 4 weeks to recover from a deep lung infection. - The internet/wifi did not work, though we paid Usd180 for connections ! - Dining was fine, but not as refined as what we had before with Ponant, the quality is going down - Our Cabin had a bath stub, but we expected a shower Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
I chose this cruise from Sydney to Cairns as it was calling at smaller islands off the East Coast of Australia . Somewhere along the line this ship was just missing a beat if it wants to be considered 5 star. The food was excellent with ... Read More
I chose this cruise from Sydney to Cairns as it was calling at smaller islands off the East Coast of Australia . Somewhere along the line this ship was just missing a beat if it wants to be considered 5 star. The food was excellent with lots of French specialities. Same could not be said about the wine considering it was a French ship this was a great dissapoinment.Service was superb in the restaurant and bars but it was the next level of management where it fell down. It's a very small ship which I knew but when we have sea days it's nice to be able to walk around the decks but there was no deck to do that. The pool deck area was very small. Embarkation and disembarkation was very smoothly handled. The cabins were small but well laid out and lots of storage space. I think the ship needs a refurb. Some of the furniture in the main lounge was a bit well worn . Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
While preparing for this cruise I found it very difficult to get any real information about Ponant cruises and our itinerary. I wrote some notes once I was on board and they are below. Before that though I need to say one thing, and it ... Read More
While preparing for this cruise I found it very difficult to get any real information about Ponant cruises and our itinerary. I wrote some notes once I was on board and they are below. Before that though I need to say one thing, and it mimics what some others have experienced, is that the French speaking passengers get much better service in the dining venues than anyone else. We were 2/3 English speaking on our cruise but many of the French staff either ignored us completely or made us feel like second class citizens. Other staff on board like the bar, room and service desk personnel were quite friendly. The on-board naturalists where always smiling and always had a friendly word no matter who you were. Ponant needs to deal with this issue. Now my notes: Ponant L'Astral Great Barrier Reef March 6, 2018 Pre-Cruise We found the Ponant site very confusing and it had very limited information. There was no-where to book excursions or any on board items. The site claims documents will arrive electronically 30+ days before departure. Ours were emailed to us 26 days before departure. We were already travelling so we were unable to make specific preparations based on this information. Embarkation We arrived at the White Bay Cruise Terminal in Sydney at about 2:00pm. Our bags were taken and we proceeded into the terminal. There were already about 20 people there. We were advised boarding would start at 4:00pm. There was plenty of seating (along 2 sides of the room), washrooms, free bottled water, but no wifi. There was a snack bar but it was not open. There was a vending machine where you could get pop and candies. About half an hour prior to boarding, one of the ships staff started to hand out embarkation numbered tickets. These would be used to determine the order for embarkation. He had about 25-30 of each number starting at 1. He started to hand these out at one side of the room, from the front closest to the checkin counters, then after completing the row went to the top of the other side moving toward the checkin counters. Most of the early arrivals were given tickets about half way through, so arriving early did not necessarily mean you would board early. We just happened to be in the right spot to get a number 1 ticket. if you want to get on early watch for this process to start and go up to the man and get your teickets. The staff also handed out a medical questionaire which need to be completed. The only items of concern were if you had a fever prior to boarding. Checkin was quick, they checked our passport pictures to us then handed us our keys. We then proceeded through a quick security screening then on to the ship. On entry to the ship we had our photo taken for the ship security system (we have always had this done prior to boarding on other cruise lines), our sea passes were scanned and we were escorted to our rooms. Our bags were not yet in the staterooms. Drinks and snacks were available in the main lounge on deck 3. The snacks did not last long. Cabin 326 Cabin seems very workable, no better or worse than other cruise lines we have been on. Other reviews have pointed out that the toilet is in a separate room from the sink and shower. We did not see this as an issue. The sink had 2 drawers below it, side by side with plenty of room to store toiletries. My bottle of mouth wash was able to stand up so it is quite tall. Aircon worked well. Two wide air ducts sat along the top of the length of the room providing good coverage and air flow. There is a seperate temperature control in the room. Fairly large flat screen TV which showed on demand movies and tv shows. Also has access to the front camera. Daily activities are also listed. One thing that is not available is your stateroom account. For this you have to see reception. There seemed no way to change the TV input but I was able to connect my iPad to the TV using an HDMI adapter and cable and play videos. Only issue was I was unable to change the volume. There is a long flat surface along the wall that has space for your things. On it is a telephone, a table lamp, and a clock with iPod connector and speekers (will not fit a lightning device). Under this surface at one end are 2x2 drawers, about 18 inches tall by 36 inches wide. And a ottoman. On the wall above this surface are 2 power plugs. One has a single European 220V plug, and the 2nd has both a European 220V and an American 110V plug. Storage is plentiful. Bed allows for multiple suitcases to be store underneath. I mentioned the 4 drawers previously. There is are 2 full height doors for wardrobe. One side has a couple of shelves and the safe. There are 4 drawers below that for storage, the top one has the hair dryer in it. The lefthand side is your typical wardrobe with hangers. There is a small round table with a single chair. Not sure how 2 people have in-room dining in the cabin though. On each side of the bed there are shelves, open underneath. You also have reading lights. The king size bed (which can be made into 2 twins) is comfortable and you get 4 pillows to start with. There is a page in the room binder showing other pillows you can order. We got 2 ergonomic pillows but our cabin steward didn't want to take away any of the existing ones. We also found the duvet to be quite hot so our steward added a sheet to the bed so we could throw off the duvet if we wanted. The cabins on deck 3 all have balconies but the railing wall is sold metal, unlike the cabins on higher floors. This means you cannot sit on the balcony and see anything. Wasn't a huge deal for us. There were 2 wicker chairs and a small table. Note, because you are quite low on the ship our balconies were often wet and had salt spray. Parts of our trip were quite rough so this happened often. Bathroom has a makeup mirror and a power plug for raisers. 2 small shelves, maybe 4" by 12" on the left beside the sink for toiletries. On the wall between the bathroom and bedroom there is a sliding door which opens a glass wall looking into half of the bathroom. Presumably for light and to make the room look bigger. Wasted space in my mind. Shower is a good size, rectangular and a good shower head streaming lots of water. No problem getting hot water. WiFi They offer 3 plans: 100 minutes for 30E, 240 minutes for 60E, and 1,000 minutes for 180E. I opted for the 240 minute plan. You can log only one device in at a time and must log off that device to let your roommate log in. We used a router which allowed us to run multiple devices at the same time. Worked well for us. For quick logins to check email, weather, etc the 240 minute plan worked for us. I think we had maybe 7 minutes left on it at the end of the cruise. You must remember to log off though. Internet is satellite based so slow but I was able to use a virtual desktop and response was bearable. Outlook IMAP syncing was slow so I used my iPhone for email most of the time. Everything I tried worked. It did not seem like they blocked any sites. Captains Gala Guests from deck 3&4 met with the captain at 7:00 on deck 6. Guests on deck 5&6 met at 7:15. The doors to the MDR were to open when this event completed. The event started late and the speeches ran long. Doors opened just before 8:00. Dress was more upscale, no shorts etc. Most men did not wear ties or jackets but some did. All were in long pants and at least a shirt with collar. Dinner was a fixed 6 course menu, 2 choices, regular or vegetarian. You could switch mains or appetizers but hot for hot or cold for cold. So limited choices. It was all very good but with an 8:00 start we left at 9:30 before dessert was served. The deck 6 (buffet) menu was more extensive and included roasted turkey which we were told was very good. Muster Drill This was a 2-stage process. First we were all required to attend an introduction in the theatre where the staff was introduced and a welcome message from the Captain. We then had a life on board presentation. This lasted about 1 hour. Next everyone went back to their rooms and got their life jackets, put them on with the help of staff, and we returned to the theatre. Each person was checked off a list so that all guests were accounted for. This was followed by a talk on the process in the event of an evacuation. There are 2 lifeboats, one for each side of the theatre. Drink Plan The cruise is drink inclusive, which means there is always a white, rose & red wine available. These are supposed to change daily but our experience was they changed maybe 3 times during the cruise. Some were better than others. Also included are a couple of types of beer, Heineken and bud light if memory serves, and many cocktails; none top shelf. For top shelf you pay full price. A grey goose martini set me back 9 euros for a shot and a bit. For the most part it was free flowing and the included stuff you could order from anyone. The lounge often had a couple of different reds and whites on offer. Medical A number in our group required the services of the doctor due to chest problems. The doctor and nurse were friendly and for a short visit and some small drugs cost about 70 euros per person. Longer term treatments would be more. Tendering On our first day to stop we had a dry landing so they used the tenders. On one of the sea days prior they gave a presentation on the activities available. There was an included 4 hour excursion and a few optionals. Some of the optionals would only run in the morning or afternoon because of tides so we were asked to sign up for the optionals by noon the following sea day. Once they had this info they placed each cabin into one of 4 colors, red, yellow, blue and green. These would be our colors going forward. That afternoon we collected our snorkel gear by cabin numbers. At that time they gave us a color sticker for our sea pass. That evening we had a briefing about the next days excursions at which they identified which colors would go out at which time. The actual process of getting on the tender and returning was a breeze. Dining General The Main Dining Room on deck 2 is full table service. Doors open at 7:30 (or per daily plan) but you can come any time after that (except on gala nights where everyone is served at the same time). There are usually 2 soup and 2 salad choices, and 3-4 appetizer, main and dessert choices. There are also 3-4 always available mains such as a hamburger or rib-eye steak, and a couple of always available desserts such as Creme Brule. Dining is leisurely, especially if you are not french speaking, and you will likely take a good 90 minutes for dinner. Longer on gala nights. The more casual dining room on deck 6 is always a buffet with a main carvery that changes daily. Reservations are required as it cannot hold all of the guests but we never seemed to have a problem getting one. Dining here can be as fast or as slow as you want but we always felt rushed to finish. The staff did not do anything to speed us along, it is just the buffet style seemed to foster a much faster meal. We took almost all of our meals in the MDR but then a couple in our group did the opposite so it is really a personal choice. All in all the food was quite good in both venues although my wife had difficulty finding a main she wanted in the MDR. One night they had 3 fish selections out of 5 choices. That's all I have for now. If you have specific questions feel free to ask. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Joined L'Austral in Fremantle for the 26 day cruise of Northern Australia in the Wet Season. Boarding the ship in Fremantle was smooth and although we arrived early our bags were taken from us and we went for a walk around ... Read More
Joined L'Austral in Fremantle for the 26 day cruise of Northern Australia in the Wet Season. Boarding the ship in Fremantle was smooth and although we arrived early our bags were taken from us and we went for a walk around Fremantle. Returning at noon we were sent along the wharf to the ship and directed to the level 6 for lunch. After lunch we spent and hour in the lounge on level 3 before being directed to our cabin where our luggage had already been delivered. We sailed after life boat drill. Our ports of call up the Western Australian coast were Geraldton, Turquoise Bay, Broome, Talbot Bay, Wyndam. Darwin and Yirrkala in the Northern Territory. Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. Cape York Peninsular, Lizard Island, Cooktown, Port Douglas, Hamilton Island and Fraser Island in Queensland returning to Sydney. A previous writer has described the passage extremely well and I could not better her descriptions. The Naturalists on board were an extremely friendly group full of knowledge of the Kimberley area and the zodiac drivers knew how to handle their craft and we had no problems with wet water or dry landings. Entertainment on board was good and the ships crew put on an excellent show. 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
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
I have been on this ship once before to Macquarie Island and the New Zealand subantartic islands. This ship takes you to places where the others don’t go. Unbelievable experiences and excellent on board, with quality food beautifully ... Read More
I have been on this ship once before to Macquarie Island and the New Zealand subantartic islands. This ship takes you to places where the others don’t go. Unbelievable experiences and excellent on board, with quality food beautifully cooked, interesting fellow passengers and a relaxed style. Magnifique as only the French can do. The all inclusive fare includes your shore excursions in zodiacs (if on an expedition cruise) drinks, premium coffee etc which at the end of the day makes a cruise with this line much more competitive in price than it might seem at first blush when simply comparing ticket prices. Ponant ships are new, well equipped serve some of the best food I have ever experienced on a cruise ship and provide great service. All announcements are in French and English and there is a very welcoming atmosphere on board. The expedition cruises are great fun and the expedition crew are amazing. Je t’aime L’Austral Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We had done an Antarctic Cruise with Ponant before and wanted to revisit St Georgia and break new ground on Tristan and open sea cruising. The ship was well decked out and comfortable even in rough weather. Food was disappointing at ... Read More
We had done an Antarctic Cruise with Ponant before and wanted to revisit St Georgia and break new ground on Tristan and open sea cruising. The ship was well decked out and comfortable even in rough weather. Food was disappointing at times but understand that there was no real replenishment available. The passenger list were mainly French (to be expected) and at times we (Australian) felt a bit left out on activities and service. The butler service was ordinary - previous trips had better butlers. Land expeditions were very good to excellent especially St Georgia and Tristan. Weather at times made life a bit difficult but at all times we felt safe and secure during transfers with the one exception at Tristan. Staff in general were courteous but not particularly friendly. The expedition leaders were good and had good knowledge on their subjects with a couple of exceptions. Our previous trip to St Georgia was a A&K cruise and we felt they had better leaders. All in all a very good trip Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Ponant people were at the airport the plane to ushuaia and there for all of us on the tour to antarctica it was very easy to get where i was going not being with a group as i was a single person on the tour. Once we got on the ship the ... Read More
Ponant people were at the airport the plane to ushuaia and there for all of us on the tour to antarctica it was very easy to get where i was going not being with a group as i was a single person on the tour. Once we got on the ship the cabin was great with a balcony which was great i saw many whales seals and dolphins of of my balcony . the on shore tours were great and i had a great time meeting new people and having meals in the great dining rooms on the ship.the service on the ship especially the dining rooms were excellent . The lectures were also excellent as they were given by people who were passionately and excited about telling us about what we were about to see . the drake passage was a little rough but the ships crew did a great job of keeping it to a minimum . ALL IN ALL EXCELLENT Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
We wanted a more luxurious cruise than a standard converted ice breaker could offer and we were not disappointed. We were also attracted to the follow on cruise offered by Ponant from Ushuaia to Cape Town via the Falkland Islands, South ... Read More
We wanted a more luxurious cruise than a standard converted ice breaker could offer and we were not disappointed. We were also attracted to the follow on cruise offered by Ponant from Ushuaia to Cape Town via the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Tristan da Cunha archipelago. To say it in a few short words, just outstanding! One factor on our cruise needs a special mention that has contributed a great deal to this outstanding success: our Capt Etienne Garcia. Being in charge of both Cruises he showed an enthusiastism and eagerness to inform us about wildlife sightings which was electrifying to the entire ship and crew. The policy of an open bridge for all in times of simple cruising created an atmosphere of one happy group of lucky people being able and privileged to experience such a unique landscape first hand. Well done and a big thank you to all Crew and expedition members for an excellent job done in a professional and caring manner. 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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2018
this cruise was part of an APT tour to Antartica. A trip of a lifetime. Having read some of the reviews of Le Lyrial I feel the need to set the record straight. The ship is fantastic its Captain Erwan La Rouzic and Crew were extremely ... Read More
this cruise was part of an APT tour to Antartica. A trip of a lifetime. Having read some of the reviews of Le Lyrial I feel the need to set the record straight. The ship is fantastic its Captain Erwan La Rouzic and Crew were extremely professional and certainly helped make the voyage a wonderful experience. The design of the ship made crossing the renowned Drake passage a much more comfortable experience than I thought it would be. The cabins were very well designed and the housekeeping staff did a very good job. The Expedition crew went above and beyond to grab every opportunity for the passengers to experience the real Antartica. Their knowledge and pure excitement when we found whales and seals and penguins certainly made for a great time.The zodiac and shore excursions were fantastic. The dining experience on board could not of been better being a bit of a foodie I am pretty fussy but the food did not disappoint and the wines served with every meal were more than acceptable. We had never heard of the Ponant Line before but it will not be the last time we travel with them. Not being a fan of large cruise ships the size is a great advantage, and they go to places a lot of other cruise ships don't go. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
What a privilege it was to experience Antarctica. The Antarctic peninsula we explored was so magical and beautiful. Ponant offered and provided an experience of a lifetime. Everything was well organised from picking us up at our BA ... Read More
What a privilege it was to experience Antarctica. The Antarctic peninsula we explored was so magical and beautiful. Ponant offered and provided an experience of a lifetime. Everything was well organised from picking us up at our BA hotel, and on check in at Buenos Aires airport to our arrival in Ushuaia and embarkation to our ship. From our Captain of Le Boreal, Christophe Colaris and his crew, and to the expedition leader, Klemens Putz and his team, you all made it wonderful for us. From the lectures/talks given by the expedition team to the zodicac outings as well as land expeditions, all were enormously enjoyable. Safety being a priority on all these expeditions. The Le Boreal crew all looked after us extremely well. Our cabin steward was friendly and efficient; the bar and restaurant staff attentive to our requirements and the food, très bon. This is our second expedition cruise with Ponant. Once again safety, comfort and attention to detail are requirements for us and Ponant do these well. The champagne bar on an ice floe capped off an incredible cruise expedition. We have been more than enthusiastic in recommending Ponant and especially this area of the world to our friends. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this cruise because of the lines reputation and the size of the ship.I fel that the naturalists were optimistic in their rating of some of the excursions. They tend to forget that we were all quite a lot older than them and what ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the lines reputation and the size of the ship.I fel that the naturalists were optimistic in their rating of some of the excursions. They tend to forget that we were all quite a lot older than them and what is easy to mild to them is not to people over 55. But Antarctica was wonderful and hard to describe to people just how magnificent it is. The size of the ship helped in that everywhere we went was acessable. Embarkation and disembarkation was well organised as were the excursions. In particular I would give special praise to the restaurant staff. They were exceptional with their service, especially Teddy, Yogi and Baptiste. Food was exceptional and after 15-16 days it was still as fresh as when we started. With regards to the entertainment, maybe a little less electronic backing music and just the singers themselves, as they all had good voices without having to rely on electronic backing. William was an excellent entertainment officer and his piano playing was terrific, also his knowledge of the different music genres. I would recommend Ponant to anyone who will listen. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Beyond the polar circle expedition trip of 16 nights with Ponant Soleal including the Falkland and South Georgia Islands will always remain in our memories for life. Landscapes still intact and wild life of birds, penguins, seals, ... Read More
Beyond the polar circle expedition trip of 16 nights with Ponant Soleal including the Falkland and South Georgia Islands will always remain in our memories for life. Landscapes still intact and wild life of birds, penguins, seals, whales, and icebergs, sea ice, and mountains of Antarctica were no where found and still very much untouched by humans makes this expedition very unique of its kind. Ponant staff overall were very friendly and very service oriented deserve to be appreciated. Naturalists were young, multilingual, motivated, and , very knowledgeable and did a fantastic job with landings and preparing the land itineraries with poles and presence everywhere if you needed them. We had the cabin 603 deluxe suite and it was comfortable although the toilet we a bit small. Internet connection was not the best although it had to be purchased separately but we were warned about the connection. Overall, I would rate this expedition trip with Ponant high, 4.5 on a scale of 5. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We were very, very happy with our cruise. Our travel agent had recommended Ponant, in US we don't hear a lot about it. At least with the multiple brochures we receive I had not gotten anything from this amazing cruise line. Going to ... Read More
We were very, very happy with our cruise. Our travel agent had recommended Ponant, in US we don't hear a lot about it. At least with the multiple brochures we receive I had not gotten anything from this amazing cruise line. Going to the Antartica was my dream. Going first to South Georgia and Falklands was a very important part of the trip. The ship was lovely. Never a worry about being bored, hungry or thirsty. And just when I thought I was being spoiled as can be, the staff provided a new surprise like champagne and French macaroons served on an iceberg. This a cruise like no other. As the captain (who was wonderful) reminded passengers, the show is outside. You come for the penguins and fall in love with the ice. So if you like penguins, whales, seals, sea birds and ice and the most breathtaking scenery ever. this is the ultimate destination. I feel it was like another world. However, all good Antartica cruises will see what nature offers. I feel Ponant created the perfect cruise to let it happen. So if you like excellent food (too much for me), perfect service, nice entertainment and a comfortable ship Ponant has it all. We had a basic cabin and it was very functional. Small, but that comes with being an expedition ship. The zodiacs were very well run and I felt very safe. The naturalists were excellent. They went out of their way to be helpful. Each seemed to have their own niche. Also, impressed with the fact most of them were able to communicate in both French (French, first, it is a French line) and English. My only criticism is I would have liked availability of field guides for birds and mammals. I hadn't brought any because I assumed they would be available on the ship. As a bonus, we met very lovely people from Australia, England and US. What I would do different--bring less stuff and upgrade flight between B.A. and Ursula to Economy plus (ship provides basic economy). When I say bring less stuff, I am glad I included some nice dinner outfits because Europeans tend to dress nicely. My husband was happy that there was no "formal" night however. Be sure to buy the CD. The photographers were great. It's hard to take a bad penguin picture but the professional video is a great memory. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This was the third cruise we have had on le Boreal and L'Austral. All have been excellent, This cruise was to the Sub antarcic Islands from Dunedin via the sounds and ending in Wellington NZ. As the ship was being repositioned from ... Read More
This was the third cruise we have had on le Boreal and L'Austral. All have been excellent, This cruise was to the Sub antarcic Islands from Dunedin via the sounds and ending in Wellington NZ. As the ship was being repositioned from Wellington to Sydney we were offered a free cruise to Sydney. The expedition could not be faulted as the weather and the seas allowed us to land on all the Islands where it is permitted. This we were told was exceptional. Even the cruise across the Tasman was akin to a Manly Ferry trip. We actually landed on both days as per the itinerary at Macquarie Island. Many of the expedition guides visited many times and had never achieved both landings. Some years were impossible to land at all. We also landed on Campbell Is and Enderby Is which were amazing. The entire operation was exceptionally managed and organised and minor tweaks were necessary to avoid some bad weather ahead of us. The Itinerary was completed with only one Zodiac outing cancelled due to unsafe waters over the loading deck at the Antipodese Is. Landing was not allowed there by NZNP's anyhow and it was a Zodiac inspection anyhow. The ship spent some time circumnavigating the islands so we could see the abundant bird life but missed the close up experience penguins and seals which we seen everywhere else. We had seen so many of these previously we didn't really miss much. All in all the entire expedition was amazing.Bio security was adhered to so nothing was conveyed to the Islands that would affect the ecology. Even no fresh food was allowed ashore. Things changed at Wellinton where many passengers left the ship to be replaced by people taking the 4 day cruise to Sydney. Is was to be a no frills cruise but developed into a big swill cruise with many of the new passengers overindulging in the open bar. They were not typical of the many passengers we have met and enjoyed on previous cruises who are mainly interested in the theme of the cruise - expeditions not boozing to excess. The cabins were comfortable and well serviced. As we were repeat passengers laundry was included. Dining was excellent at all meals. We preferred the more casual dining on Deck 6 which is buffet. The staff there were so accomodating and friendly where we found the dining in the formal dining room more formal and patronised by the more affluent wishing to be waited upon. The food is identical. Service is also more formal. There are no set dining periods or allocated seating. It is as you wish during the opening hours. On deck 6 bookings are often required due to popularity particularly if weather permits and as out-door dining is possible it is often extended to poolside. Each day there was a specially prepared dish available on deck 6 prepared by an exceptional chef (Jerome). Roast suckling pig,roast beef and lamb as well as a steak tartar to die for as well as prawns and scallops and many others. These meals are prepared for both lunch and dinner. Soups are always amazing.Wines are provided, red,white and rose at lunch and dinner which are reasonable but the more exclusive wines which are also available are expensive. Entertainment is restricted to 4 females and a male dancer and their performance is excellent.and if weather permits is performed on the pool deck. Otherwise it's in the theatre. For the more physical active a small gym is available to work off the extra weight that is so easy to put on.. Spa and massages are available. The lounges are comfortable and have singers or pianists playing at set times which are always advised in the daily schedule. Lectures are provided most days by one or other of the on-board guides, naturalists and scientists and are always most interesting and appropriate according to the areas being visited. Briefings and weather forecasts (if appropriate) are held before dinner regarding the next day's activities. In the sub-Antarctic they were were more than interesting and always gave us an appreciation of what we may expect be it good or bad. We have always found the cruise/expedition more than good value for money. The fact passenger size is limited to according to the size of the expedition and guides. Generally around 200 plus or minus a few depending upon how many people are permitted ashore which is dictated by the authorities managing the sites. Zodiac transfers are a breeze and access to/from the ship excellently achieved with ships crew amazing. Announcents are in French and English as there are usually more than a few French passengers on board (and they rule). It is after all a French owned ship. We have Been there and done that now three times and we will not travel with any other company based on ship size and passenger service. Many of the passengers and expedition staff formerly travelled or worked on the Orion which has now left Australian shores. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Everything on this cruise was very well organised and went smoothly. The excursions were well executed and going on the zodiac I felt very safe. All land excursions were well organised with lots of expedition staff to help and answer ... Read More
Everything on this cruise was very well organised and went smoothly. The excursions were well executed and going on the zodiac I felt very safe. All land excursions were well organised with lots of expedition staff to help and answer questions. The room was like a 5 star hotel room. Air con was individual which made a difference to individual room comfort. The staff were so friendly and helpful. The service in all areas of the ship was excellent. Food was very good and the bread, pastries and cheeses were excellent. There was a good selection of drinks and service at the bars was great. The cruise guests were American, French and Australians. I am glad there were about 30 Australians aboard as socially it would be different without that friendly Australian manner and there also was the language barrier. Each night there was music entertainment which was ok. The main lounge was a good place to gather for the entertainment and to also sit and have a chat. I would highly recommend this company for cruising although I would enquire about the guests nationalities. A range of different nationalities is the best. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
My wife and I went to Alaska in 2016 with Ponant. We were so impressed with the experience that we began immediately to look into another Ponant cruise. The expedition director in Alaska convinced us to look at the Antarctic. Our ... Read More
My wife and I went to Alaska in 2016 with Ponant. We were so impressed with the experience that we began immediately to look into another Ponant cruise. The expedition director in Alaska convinced us to look at the Antarctic. Our experience in the Antarctic exceeded our expectations. The expedition people were superb and always ready to answer our questions. The crew from captain to room steward was courteous, helpful and enthusiastic. The dining, as we discovered in Alaska, was first class. The highlights of the trip were seeing Nature at its purest. Walking among the penguins and seals was a thrill. At one point, when the ice prevented us from going ashore, the crew set up a table of champagne glasses on an ice flow - how perfectly French. It reminded us of our experience after a balloon ride in Africa where the passengers were treated to a champagne breakfast in the style of the original French balloonists. The 2 days across the Drake Passage were relatively smooth and the captain took us ti see Cape Horn. Ponant is concerned about every detail of the cruise and about your pleasure and comfort from checking in to checking out, from transportation to and from the airports and from ensuring that you are prepared for the expedition. 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We originally choose this Cruise because of the destination, which was on our bucket list, and thankfully because a friend introduced us to Ponant. The cruise was exceptional in every experience, the ship, the cabin, the Captain and ... Read More
We originally choose this Cruise because of the destination, which was on our bucket list, and thankfully because a friend introduced us to Ponant. The cruise was exceptional in every experience, the ship, the cabin, the Captain and crew, the food and beverage, the naturalists and the understated but excellent entertainment. From the time we me some of our fellow travellers at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Buenos Aires until our departure we were continually impressed by the staff management of activities and the friendly co-operation of all guests. All communication was bi-lingual, but very clear and precise. We benefitted by excellent weather which allowed us to pass the Artic/Polar Circle and land and climb Cape Horn which were added bonuses to our planned itinerary. The attention to detail in every aspect safety, service, customer satisfaction was superb. The cruise was everything we hoped for and more with the excersion experiences remaining life memories. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise line and ship for it's supposed 5 star rating and it's small number of passengers. We had previously been on two cruises on the Paul Gauguin out of Tahiti which were fantastic so we expected a similar ... Read More
We chose this cruise line and ship for it's supposed 5 star rating and it's small number of passengers. We had previously been on two cruises on the Paul Gauguin out of Tahiti which were fantastic so we expected a similar experience as the two ships are of similar size and capacity. We booked to travel from Noumea to New Zealand over 14 days spending Christmas and New Year on board expecting something quite special. It only took a couple of days to realise that there was a shortage of staff in the lounge/bar/entertainment area on deck 3. The lounge was nice and comfortable but could not accommodate a lot of guests and when there were quite a few there we found it could take up to an hour to get a drink. There was often only one waiter and one barman who just couldn't cope with all the orders. Sometimes the bar manager was in attendance however he did not arrange more staff and seemed more interested in talking with the French guests. We are English speakers only and it appeared that the French would receive more attention. There is a nice piano bar on deck 6 which we liked to attend however there were a few instances when the piano player was performing and the bar was closed. When the bar was open Alex, the barman, was excellent with his service and did his best for all. The a la carte restaurant on deck 2 was very nice but also short staffed when busy. The quality and range of the food was only average and the wine selection very limited. They had one particular white, red and rose house wine available each day which were very average. They had 3 chardonnays and one chablis the whole trip which were included in the open bar. If you wanted a sav blanc you had to pay 8 euros a glass. The rest of the open bar drinks were quite extensive so the cocktails, spirits and beers were plentiful. The buffet restaurant on deck 6 was always crowded which seemed to be a poor reflection on the a la carte one. The food was also average with some uncomfortable push and shove around the serveries. The cabin was very nice with sufficient storage. The cabin cleaner, Putu, was excellent and could not do enough for us. As we had visited New Zealand previously we did not do any shore excursions. We would just get off the ship for a few hours and explore the current port which was enjoyable. We spoke to quite a few other guests who had been on previous Ponant cruises who stated that they had really enjoyed their previous trips however were similarly disappointed with this one. It seems that the Ponant is great for expeditions but not so good for just cruising. We both picked up a 24/48 hour stomach bug at different times during the cruise and later discovered that this happened to several other guests also. We can only assume that this might have had something to to with the full offload of the ships stores in Auckland to be replaced by New Zealand produce which took all day at great cost. The official line was that this was a requirement of the New Zealand authorities. For 3 days there was a terrible smell on our deck which seemed to be vomit on the carpets however we were told a few days later that a sewer pipe had burst beneath the floor. This was not explained by the crew at any time. We would not go on another Ponant cruise after this trip. If asked we would recommend the Paul Gauguin over the Ponant. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Aside from major customer service issues... number one complaint was the food. Many passengers complained about the food. It was truly shockingly bad. Food was under cooked, over cooked, generally inedible. They served leftover tuna ... Read More
Aside from major customer service issues... number one complaint was the food. Many passengers complained about the food. It was truly shockingly bad. Food was under cooked, over cooked, generally inedible. They served leftover tuna steaks that were shriveled and tough. They served undercooked halibut that was slimy. IT WAS BAD. Couldn't even drink the coffee. It was bitter or burnt - they could not make a proper latte - only tried that a couple times. Truly for the price which was about 43K - this company should be ashamed of themselves. Ashamed. Don't spend so much money and go on a boat that has decent food! We suffered through this for 17 days, as did our fellow passengers. Every single meal and bar conversation had a gripe and complainer about the food. This is inexcusable. I have had better meals in hospitals and airports and from street vendors. This is no exaggeration. Stay away from this boat. The captain was great. One of the naturalists was great. The waiters great. Housekeeping great. The landings were good. One in particular even exceptional. But none of it made up for the food. Would not recommend this boat at all. Read Less
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