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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We undertook our first ever cruise this month. It was with Ponant and the ship was L'Austral. We chose this cruise as the expedition to the Kimberleys appealed to us also the small number of passengers of around 230 people was ... Read More
We undertook our first ever cruise this month. It was with Ponant and the ship was L'Austral. We chose this cruise as the expedition to the Kimberleys appealed to us also the small number of passengers of around 230 people was perfect. It was Darwin to Darwin. The cruise was 10 nights 11 days. Being our first ever cruise we had no idea of what to expect but we were more than pleased with every part of this experience. We were on deck 4, cabin 431, which was perfectly located to access all other decks easily by the stairs or lifts if needed. Our cabin had a queen bed and separate toilet to the bathroom. We also had a balcony which had plenty of room. Our cabin steward was lovely and very efficient. Our cabin was always cleaned and tidied morning and night. The restaurants were on Deck 2, table service and deck 6, buffet. Both served great food with a French influence. The service in the restaurants was high quality. The French wines were more than enjoyable. Room service was also available and was quick and beautifully presented. The on board entertainment was entertaining. In the main theatre, there was always a recap of the expedition of that day and a run down of the next day's expedition. The expeditions were great experiences. We went out in zodiacs most days to explore the breathtaking beauty of the Kimberley coast. There were always expedition team members on the zodiacs who were very knowledgeable and informative in their fields which ranged from geology, birds, sea animals and naturalists, to name a few. Overall this expedition cruise was amazing and would highly recommend this Kimberley expedition. Brilliant. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Always wanted to see the Kimberly coast by ship, to view the horizontal waterfalls. King George gorge scenery, and Rock Art proof of extra-terrestial visitors from long ago. The trip met expectations, but wine was not uniformly of expected ... Read More
Always wanted to see the Kimberly coast by ship, to view the horizontal waterfalls. King George gorge scenery, and Rock Art proof of extra-terrestial visitors from long ago. The trip met expectations, but wine was not uniformly of expected standard for french wine and should have been at next level up for non-selected (types- champagne,rose were 0K) Service on back outside deck was exceptionally good ,as was upstairs bar. Food variety (except for fish) was interesting and well presented and prepared - especially the omelettes!! The visit to the bridge was particularly informative and interesting and we appreciated the time and operations detailed by the om-duty officer. The medical officer ,trained at Toulouse. was efficient and seemed to understand my partners' (attempted) French. The bottom rung of the in-pool ladder should be fitted with a non slip sleved surface (this caused deep lacerations to my partners shin)., Well put together and executed schedule of visitations. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
I did back-to back cruises on L'Austral with the first being 10 days in Australia's Kimberly. It was excellent in every way -- itinerary, activities, cabin, food, and especially the expedition team. They worked together ... Read More
I did back-to back cruises on L'Austral with the first being 10 days in Australia's Kimberly. It was excellent in every way -- itinerary, activities, cabin, food, and especially the expedition team. They worked together beautifully., gave wonderful presentations and were always available for questions. The passenger makeup was mostly Australians, though about 20 French-speaking. I continued on the next cruise - Darwin to Bali - and the atmosphere changed a bit - now it was half English-speaking and half French-speaking. This was more of a cultural cruise as we made several stops in a few little-visited eastern islands of Indonesia. The island tours were well-organized. It was still active as we had several snorkeling opportunities. It is important to know that these were expedition-style cruises, and agility and balance are needed to board the zodiacs. It is active, with snorkeling and hiking opportunities. Everything is described in advance and passengers can self-select if they want to participate in the excursion. Ponant thinks of everything. For those of us continuing on, they provided a very nice half-day tour of Darwin with a good guide and a comfortable bus. I chose L'Austral for its reputation. I like the atmosphere and size of the ship.The fact that it is a fairly new ship (only 6 years old), and has continental food and service is a plus also. The back-to-back cruises were an excellent combination - with the first being all nature with a few visits to Aboriginal rock art; and the second more cultural. With such long flights to this part of the world, it made sense to do a back-to-back. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Fulfilled a long term ambition to visit Darwin and cruise the Kimberleys in WA. While there were quite a few issues on the vessel which were not the best, my overall rating is quite high just for the fact of my experiences within the ... Read More
Fulfilled a long term ambition to visit Darwin and cruise the Kimberleys in WA. While there were quite a few issues on the vessel which were not the best, my overall rating is quite high just for the fact of my experiences within the Kimberleys. The L'Austral was quite good although I believe it mostly catered for French tastes which is understandable with a French ship & mostly french crew. I went to see the Kimberleys and get up close travelling the waterways in Zodiacs & was not disappointed. I thought the onboard laundry & ironing charges were very expensive. Cabin service was outstanding though. All staff friendly & helpful. I can recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to see the Kimberleys as the access to amazing scenery & onshore visits would generally not be accessible other then by water or air. Naturalists on board were first rate and very informative. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We visited the Kimberley region 20 years ago on a small cruise boat with less than 20 passengers and always wished to return. The Ponant Expedition Cruise with very experienced Naturalists on board to explain and show you the ... Read More
We visited the Kimberley region 20 years ago on a small cruise boat with less than 20 passengers and always wished to return. The Ponant Expedition Cruise with very experienced Naturalists on board to explain and show you the fascinating features and Aboriginal art was a highlight tat is a must for visitors to the area. We are well past retirement age and found the accessability into the Zodiacs and places of interest easily managed with only one set of falls missed due to the 70 degree climb that was really only suitable for the really fit passengers. That was not an issue as the crew took us to other places of interest. The Le Austral is a 5 star vessel with all the features that go with that rating, the cabin and dining was excellent with the French touch. Two dining experience were available the al la carte and the Buffet the latter on the Pool deck which was really suited to travelling in the tropics Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
I had been to the Antarctic on L'Austral so when the opportunity came to visit the Kimberley I could not pass that opportunity to again travel in 5 star luxury. The ship is quiet, the staff helpful and friendly, they go out of their ... Read More
I had been to the Antarctic on L'Austral so when the opportunity came to visit the Kimberley I could not pass that opportunity to again travel in 5 star luxury. The ship is quiet, the staff helpful and friendly, they go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your experience. The organization of the zodiac excursions runs like clock work and the expedition leaders are very knowledgeable and ready to answer any questions. The food, wine and service first class whether dining in the main dining room or more casually by the pool. The Kimberley Expedition Cruise exceeded my expectation when everyday there was another experience to look forward to and to visit many otherwise inaccessible places.The visit to the Lacepede Islands was spectacular with the aqua color of the sea reflecting on the white feathers of the birds which were all as curious about the humans as the humans were about the birds.The visit to Paspaley Pearls in Darwin was another highlight. I highly recommend an expedition cruise with Ponant. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
For me, Ponant is the perfect mix of intinerary, price and comfort. It is not for everyone - this was my third Ponant cruise, complaints about the food are common and based on the mis-understanding that the French eat souffle, foie ... Read More
For me, Ponant is the perfect mix of intinerary, price and comfort. It is not for everyone - this was my third Ponant cruise, complaints about the food are common and based on the mis-understanding that the French eat souffle, foie gras and French onion soup every day. Simple, high quality fresh ingredients is the norm. Also expect the Captain, officers, receptionists, spa staff and some of the naturalists to be French by birth and speak English with French accents! It is a bi-lingual staff and crew. Some of the rudest Australians I've ever met have been on the Ponant ships, demanding that French not be spoken as they feel that they are missing out in some way. If you're that paranoid, there are many other 'English only cruise lines. Rant over. The Kimberley expedition was Darwin to Darwin, which might be the first and last time Ponant offer that variation. The sea conditions and weather were spectacular - the calmest seas I've ever seen, clear blue skies and emerald green seas. Getting up to the Wandjina art caves at Raft Bay takes some physical fitness, as does the climb to the top of King George Falls, as does some ability to cope with the heat (35 Celsius on average). L'Austral is a modern, comfortable, ship, showing some signs of exterior wear after the Antarctic season, but nothing that a coat of paint won't rectify. The cabins are in excellent condition and the cabin staff maintain the cleanliness of them very well. There were 231 passengers out of a possible 264 due to the number of single travellers, and it never seems like too many people - I saw people at disembarkation that I'd never seen in the preceding 10 days. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
We had always wanted to experience the Kimberley from the Ocean and chose Ponant as we have cruised with them before. Their service is great - pleasant cabin and excellent food and dining facilities. The expedition staff were ... Read More
We had always wanted to experience the Kimberley from the Ocean and chose Ponant as we have cruised with them before. Their service is great - pleasant cabin and excellent food and dining facilities. The expedition staff were knowledgeable and helpful. The excursions were well organised from getting people into the zodiacs and out to the attractions to the effort put in to making sure that we had the best possible experience off ship. The presentations onboard that backed up the excursions were also particularly interesting. The food was excellent, and I was very well looked after with my special dietary requirements (vegetarian). The main dining room (with a la carte service) is particularly good and we used it for all meals. Our cabin was quite spacious, well maintained and pleasant. Staff are always courteous and cannot do enough to make sure that guests have a great experience. Both embarkation and disembarkation were handled professionally and expeditiously. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
This was an Abercrombie & Kent trip on the Ponant ship Le Boreal through the Northwest Passage, from Kangerlussuaq on the west coast of Greenland to Nome, Alaska. The trip was very expensive, and extremely disappointing. Though I had ... Read More
This was an Abercrombie & Kent trip on the Ponant ship Le Boreal through the Northwest Passage, from Kangerlussuaq on the west coast of Greenland to Nome, Alaska. The trip was very expensive, and extremely disappointing. Though I had few, and those relatively minor, complaints about the ship and its crew, it soon became apparent that A&K had oversold the trip. Its literature highlighted close-up photos of polar bears, musk oxen, etc. and emphasized that there would be a focus on the history of Northwest Passage exploration and the individual explorers who attempted its passage. We saw very few large animals within the range of even very good binoculars (the animals are hunted by the indigenous population, and are nowhere to be seen when the yellow-jacketed “bear guards” go ashore to establish a wide perimeter before the passengers are ferried by zodiacs to the shoreline); had virtually no lectures about the several mariners who eventually treaded a path through the islands of the Canadian Archipelago and found the Northwest Passage (the "history" lecturer, apparently a last minute substitute, was terrible), missed about two and a half days when we should have been sailing along the northwest coast of Greenland because of a snafu in provisioning the ship, which caused us to have to retrace our steps and sail far south of the planned itinerary (for that significant omission, after much passenger protest, we were eventually given a credit of 200 euros per cabin, or about 3/10th of 1% of the $68,490 cost for the cruise). Furthermore, the 174 passengers were completely cut off from contact with the outside world for nearly two weeks – from Pond Inlet, Canada until we docked in Nome, Alaska – because the ship did not have sufficient band width to connect to the satellite (this during the period when hurricanes were devastating coastal areas of Texas and Florida, where a number of the passengers lived). Finally, and though this was much less significant than the above, the ship ran short of liquor (which was to be complimentary and included in the price) within just a few days. When I returned home, I wrote almost immediately to the President of A&K U.S. Even after three letters and e-mails, my correspondence (except for a very brief form response stating only that A&K had received my initial letter and was researching my points) was ignored until Dec. 20th, nearly three months after the date of my initial letter. Ultimately, when I did finally get a substantive response, I was told that A&K had no responsibility for anything that happened and referred to the various, small-print disclaimers and releases buried in the sales literature, which state that “this itinerary is subject to change based on weather, wildlife, ice and other conditions beyond A&K’s control. The final itinerary will be determined at the sole discretion of the Captain and Expedition Leader.” On balance, if someone wants to see the villages in which the Intuit people live in the remote regions of the Canadian Archipelago, this trip will fit that bill. But if your interest is, as mine was, to see the glaciers and fjords of western Greenland, to witness animal life close up (as you do in the Antarctic and Galapagos), and to learn first-hand what many intrepid mariners experienced as they sought the illusive Northwest Passage, you might want to rethink whether you want to spend a lot of money on this A&K expedition. As an alternative, if you are determined to sail the Northwest Passage on a comfortable ship, you could travel the same exact itinerary, and stay on the same ship and in the same cabin class, by booking directly from Ponant for about 22% ($7695 per person) less. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
A wonderful experience in every aspect. Le Ponant is a beautiful yacht with thirty-two cabins and ideal for the itinerary with so much stunning scenery. Comfortable cabins, with good bathroom and shower, hairdryer. Friendly ... Read More
A wonderful experience in every aspect. Le Ponant is a beautiful yacht with thirty-two cabins and ideal for the itinerary with so much stunning scenery. Comfortable cabins, with good bathroom and shower, hairdryer. Friendly Captain and Crew readily available to interact with passengers. Excellent food and waiters, with formal dining and dining on deck being our preferred option. Ports of call beautiful and unique with zodiacs at our disposal. Opportunities to swim off the back of the yacht as well as opportunities at most ports of call with sections of beach set aside with Ponant beach umbrellas set up by the wonderful crew. At Calvi, we were served champagne and oysters on the beach. Excursions optional but so interesting. Embarkation and disembarkation was effortless. We have traveled quite extensively and this experience is the most memorable and fun we have undertaken and we would do it all again in a heartbeat. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
The ship is young enough and attractively styled and crewed! Maintenance of rust and cleaning of deck,glass,and balcony are not great. Cabin and storage was totally fine. Our cabin steward was never close to our heart and when we ... Read More
The ship is young enough and attractively styled and crewed! Maintenance of rust and cleaning of deck,glass,and balcony are not great. Cabin and storage was totally fine. Our cabin steward was never close to our heart and when we boarded one waste bin was not emptied, nor the bedside table cleaned. The toilet compartment seemed to need a deep clean /freshening. The Senior Housekeeper always looked in control but the staff were disappointing as stewards and waiters. Our cabin /balcony was blighted by the constant contact with Zodiac boats being lowered and raised to the top deck storage. Ponant made several blunders during the booking, confusing my details with someone on the other side of the world with a similar name. We were given an on board spend to our surprise just before the end of the cruise after being told earlier that there was none. I must say the Captain and French members of staff were excellent as was Camal the Cruise Director. Though with a 98% English speaking passenger group why French was usually the first language spoken I never understood. The very few French speakers on board were favoured and one day, next in line to board a zodiac ,we became invisible as a French couple were shown on ahead of us ! Even more outstanding were the large Nature Guide/Zodiac pilots team who gave excellent lectures/briefings and were entertaining stars. The trouble was the food and drink. The baking was also pathetic at times. Twice there were "fancy" set menu special/party nights in the very attractive main dining room. However the set menu food was even worse than regular cooking.Now I have been on many ships and make every allowance I can for the catering difficulty of a small ship in remote waters, but this was BAD. The extra pasta meal required due to the sea state delay in final docking was one of the better efforts!! To cap it Ponant served as house wine (to mainly Australian passengers) cheap Australian "Oxford Landing" wines, which irritated many. Cabin service food was simple but fast and well served. Eventually some poor French wines did materialized! Bar service could be slow with one bar man being the norm and many cocktails on offer! I will say I enjoyed the free flowing Champagne.... The "Grill" (deck) restaurant/buffet is too small when the ship is full and the weather hot. These Kimberly Coast cruises attracted mostly (noisy) elderly Australians so the fun of an international passenger mix was missing. Good ships photography/DVD service. Did not use internet, (100 minutes@ 30Euroes). I could never use Ponant again as my food and drink is important to me. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We decide to cruise from Darwin to Broome with Ponant from July 24th 2017 to 2 August 2017 because we wanted to experience the Kimberley from the ocean side. We had travelled the region by car back in 2007 and love the colours and the ... Read More
We decide to cruise from Darwin to Broome with Ponant from July 24th 2017 to 2 August 2017 because we wanted to experience the Kimberley from the ocean side. We had travelled the region by car back in 2007 and love the colours and the landscape. We chose Ponant because it was a 5 star French ship, the price was reasonable and it was doing the areas we wanted to visit. $750 per day, per person (deck 4 verandah) which included all the zodiac tours, all meals and open bar. We were expecting French food and fine wine as per their brochure. Disappointingly, their fine wine and open bar was not as we expected and no French food. Their "house wine" was Jacobs Creek Classic Shiraz, Jacobs Creek Chardonay, and Gossips Rose. There were other wines which you could purchase by the glass or bottle. You could imagine the horror of 220 Australians on board to be served Jacobs Creek wine which retails at Dan Murphy's for about $7 and Gossips Rose for $3. The Hotel Managers excuse for the Jacobs Creek wine was because their shipment had not arrived. Not quite believable. Not a drop of Sav Blac to be found on the ship for those who preferred something other than Chardonay. They ran out of Sprite, Bailey, Dramburie, VB and had to share the Sambucca between the bars - if you wanted to have a Gin & Tonic with Blue Sapphire gin it is 9 euro, and any cocktails that were not on the "ordinary" list you had to pay for. As for the food, average but definitely not French Cabins are small with only 1 chair for sitting except on bed, couldn't have bathroom door and wardrobe door open at same time and you both could not walk past the end of the bed at the same time. Whilst you are not in your cabin a lot, sometimes it is nice to relax in your own space with room to move. Entertainment although not a lot was acceptable. Service - not enough Bar staff, they were always very busy and service was slow. Wait staff in dining room was good. The Buffet at night was crowded and difficult to get hot food with the number of people queueing. Definitely not what we expected of a 5 star cruise line. Silverseas wins over Ponant hands down. However on a positive note the expedition team and zodiac outings were exceptional, everything was well planned and organised. All of the team were very informative and knowledgeable. Great job. Would we go again?.... Only if we factored in $200 a day for drinkable wine. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2017
We chose Ponant as it offered an in depth look at the area at a competitive price. This was our first Ponant cruise. We have cruised with Silversea and Seabourn previously, but not on expedition cruises. L'Austral is sleek and the ... Read More
We chose Ponant as it offered an in depth look at the area at a competitive price. This was our first Ponant cruise. We have cruised with Silversea and Seabourn previously, but not on expedition cruises. L'Austral is sleek and the décor is understated but elegant and contemporary. Our cabin ( a "prestige stateroom" on Deck 5) was very comfortable. It was a bit small in some respects but that's not surprising on a ship of this size. The French crew were attentive and pleasant. The expedition team was very impressive, particularly in organising and accompanying the groups departing on shore excursions by Zodiac. The shore excursions were a lot of fun and very interesting in terms of natural scenery and indigenous art, The wildlife was a highlight, particularly the unexpectedly large freshwater crocodiles on the Ord River and so many sea turtles near the Lacepede Islands, A couple of catering issues: There was a lack of choice in the included wines, apparently due to the non-delivery of ordered wines before departure in Darwin. A formal apology was issued by Ponant for this. Secondly, you couldn't get an espresso coffee in the Panoramic lounge during the day even though there is a coffee machine sitting there. There was no espresso coffee machine in the Deck 6 Grill restaurant, where breakfast, lunch and dinner are served. The waitstaff there had to order it from the Main lounge on Deck 3, so it was going cold by the time it got to us. And the coffee machine at the Deck 7 bar didn't work properly. But overall it was a very enjoyable cruise! Read Less
Sail Date: July 2017
We wanted to see the Kimberley and we decided that this was the way to do it without having to pack and unpack every day or so - do so with a degree of luxury. The trip started in Darwin and finished in Broome. When excursions are added ... Read More
We wanted to see the Kimberley and we decided that this was the way to do it without having to pack and unpack every day or so - do so with a degree of luxury. The trip started in Darwin and finished in Broome. When excursions are added such as Bungle Bungles, Mitchell Falls, Horizontal Falls, etc it makes the whole experience come alive and educational. The whole expedition crew were very knowledgeable - especially the Expedition Leader (Mick Fogg) and this added to our overall enjoyment. The ships crew were always attentive and made the "cruise" part of the trip an absolute pleasure. The 2 dining rooms were excellent and well serviced by stewards. The cruise was all inclusive except for additional excursions such as the plane and helicopter flights, but normal expedition excursions, eg zodiac expeditions up the King George River to the Falls, Montgomery Reef, Lacepede Islands, etc were included. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We had previously sailed on L'Austral in Alaska and were so impressed that when we learnt that Ponant were to cruise the Kimberley we decided to join them again. FRom the moment we embarked, we were made very welcome by the captain ... Read More
We had previously sailed on L'Austral in Alaska and were so impressed that when we learnt that Ponant were to cruise the Kimberley we decided to join them again. FRom the moment we embarked, we were made very welcome by the captain and crew. As the cruise progressed it became clear that the expedition crew (naturalists and specialists on indigenous rock art etc) were really top class and excellent communicators. The cabin was comfortable and room service was excellent and unobtrusive. As second time travellers the addition of free laundry service was a remarkable additional comfort. The information sessions and entertainment were well managed and relevant. As a personal reflection, the fact that many of the crew were French nationals, made the cruise that more enjoyable to one who loves to try out his French language skills (or lack of) and it was good that their was a response that made us feel good for trying. The food was excellent and the choice of a la carte or buffet style was refreshing. The only slight problem was that the wine selection was a little lacking although we understand that this was due to circumstances beyond Ponant's control. once again, as we had been in Alaska, we came away refreshed and renewed and happy enough to book a cruise on the same ship to Antartica. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We recently returned from our second Ponant Cruise where we cruised from Darwin to Broome along the Kimberley Coast of Western Australia. We had previously travelled to Antarctica with Ponant and enjoyed the expedition style cruising so ... Read More
We recently returned from our second Ponant Cruise where we cruised from Darwin to Broome along the Kimberley Coast of Western Australia. We had previously travelled to Antarctica with Ponant and enjoyed the expedition style cruising so much we decided to travel with them again. We spent 5 nights exploring Darwin and were surprised by the activities available and found it was time well spent. Ponant arranged a private showing of pearls at the Pasarley Pearls showroom the afternoon prior to departure. Embarkation in Darwin was very smooth and we were soon on board L’Austral enjoying a glass of champagne and chatting with fellow cruisers. Our cabin on deck 5 was very comfortable with plenty of storage and kept very clean. It would be good to have a card introducing our steward so we could be on a first name basis. We dined most of the time in the more formal Level 2 restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As the Level 6 Grill Restaurant flows out to the pool deck it has a more casual feel which made it very busy at times. We were disappointed there was no variety in the house wines on offer. Ponant have acknowledged our disappointment and stated they normally carry a larger selection of wine but it was not possible on this trip. Coffee and tea facilities could be improved with the use of self-serve machines in the main lounge area. As this was an expedition cruise we found that the expedition crew were very knowledgeable.They certainly did not disappoint us with daily zodiacs through waterways looking at wildlife, rock formations or just to the beach where we would walk to view Aboriginal paintings. The extra excursions taking in flights over the Bungle Bungles, a helicopter to the Mitchell Falls or a fast boat ride through the Horizontal Falls were very well organised. We looked forward to the daily talk on the activities we had done that day and what we were doing the next. Our days were kept very busy with some early morning starts. It became apparent to us that the crew on this ship were very happy. As Ponant ships are small they don’t have a lot of entertainment as the bigger cruise ships do but the singers, musicians and dancers were all very good and we thoroughly enjoyed their performances. Kamel the cruise director was very good and made a lot of people laugh with his antics. The morning we were to arrive in Broome we were informed that the port was closed because of strong winds. Disembarkation days are always busy on a ship but to Ponant’s credit they allowed us to stay in our cabin and served us lunch before the okay was given to dock. Disembarkation went very smoothly and there to wish us well were some of the expedition crew and of course the Captain himself. We also enjoyed four nights in Broome at the end of the cruise staying at the Mangrove Hotel which we found to be comfortable and walking distance to town. We found more than enough to do in the time there. We thoroughly enjoyed this trip and would recommend it. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
This was our second cruise with Ponant we have completed a cruise to Antarctica (La Boreal and the Kimberley's - L'Austral) and have already booked on L'Austral to travel to the New Zealand antipodes. We found the ship to be ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Ponant we have completed a cruise to Antarctica (La Boreal and the Kimberley's - L'Austral) and have already booked on L'Austral to travel to the New Zealand antipodes. We found the ship to be perfect for our form of travel - passenger numbers not too big nor too small.. Service either in the Dining Room (Deck 2) or the BBQ area (Deck 6) was excellent.On our last cruise the outside dining was extremely popular due to the warm weather conditions. The expedition style also suits us with daily shore visits and exceptional naturalists and guides.The were few if any Days at Sea. Cabins were clean and most comfortable and serviced to our satisfaction each day.. Food was varied and extremely enjoyable. Wines etc were good. The evening entertainment was most enjoyable. The excursions were perfect on both cruises with almost 2 shore landings each day (Antarctica and Kimberley's) . We have enjoyed both cruises and look forward to our next one in January.2018. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We chose a cruise because we wanted to visit the Kimberley but did not want to do a land trip. We chose this particular cruise because we did not want to use a small vessel and had seen good reviews of Ponant in general. All the staff we ... Read More
We chose a cruise because we wanted to visit the Kimberley but did not want to do a land trip. We chose this particular cruise because we did not want to use a small vessel and had seen good reviews of Ponant in general. All the staff we encountered were very friendly and helpful and the service and dining were excellent. The menus provided were varied and extensive. The ship was well maintained, clean and tidy. Our cruise was an 'expedition' cruise entailing the use of zodiacs. This part of the cruise was superbly organised and we were thrilled with the experiences offered (congratulations to Mick Fogg!!); information provided by the 'expedition' crew was interesting and informative. We did not experience much in the way of entertainment, ie we did not go to any shows, but we did sit in on the music offerings at afternoon tea. We are not 'cruisers' but we wanted a way to see the Kimberley and this cruise fitted the bill. We thoroughly enjoyed the experience from beginning to the end. Our one criticism concerns the finalisation of our account. We settled our bill for extra excursions with cash (euros) the night before disembarkation but on arriving home we found that the amount for these excursions was 'frozen' on the card account of our bank (we were asked to provide card details at the start of the cruise). We contacted Ponant regarding this last week but as of writing this review, the amount is still being held. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We always wanted to do a cruise of the Australian Kimberleys and when we realized that Ponant was including cruising in the region into their itinerary, we jumped at it straight away, having had a great previous experience with the ship ... Read More
We always wanted to do a cruise of the Australian Kimberleys and when we realized that Ponant was including cruising in the region into their itinerary, we jumped at it straight away, having had a great previous experience with the ship and the cruise in Antarctica. We had undertaken Antarctica together with our friends who also joined us on this cruise. We were not disappointed! The individual destinations chosen by the ship and its diverse naturalists brought us close to the best the Kimberleys has to offer and we thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. In addition to that, my wife celebrated her 60th birthday the day before the start of the cruise and we delayed those celebration till the first dinner onboard which I had specifically arranged with Ponant. As usual, the food on offer in both the main dining room as well as the restaurant on the 6th floor was outstanding for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Given all these facts, there was nothing that disappointed. It must have been pretty hard for the dance crew to perform their routine in the theatre but they offered some terrific shows. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2017
We have friends who work in the Cruise travel industry. Ponant was portrayed as a luxury cruise small ship company with an expedition theme. We should have had some idea when we first booked that the cruise would not be "smooth" ... Read More
We have friends who work in the Cruise travel industry. Ponant was portrayed as a luxury cruise small ship company with an expedition theme. We should have had some idea when we first booked that the cruise would not be "smooth" sailing because all questions were referred to head office in France and the Sydney staff could not assist us. Day 1 arrived at Orly Airport at 7.30 am - there was no company staffer nor sign assisting us to find the charter flight at Orly Airport despite being reassured by Sydney Office the flight would be listed on Departures Board - it wasn't. Finally when we found check in desk in the basement we stood for 80 minutes waiting to be processed (there were no seats anywhere to be found on this floor). Through no fault of Ponant's our charter flight was delayed but there were no Ponant staff to give us an update or any information such as would it be at the same gate! Orly airport have very few seats at the departure gates so many of us sat on the floor for several hours.The rest I will dot point but its downhill all the way until we arrived safely back in Paris. 1. Arriving in Bergen to meet the ship there was no assistance with luggage from carousel to charter bus, we were not offered water upon our arrival to the bus and couldn't purchase any as Bergen shops wanted the local currency. We were met by some young ladies outside the airport who told us the bus number and take luggage and put it into the luggage hold. Our guide on the bus was a lovely young woman she shared her local knowledge and in particular that is rains in Bergen 360 pus days of the year. Shame Ponant didn't know that! 2. Taken on city tour of Bergen - 3 three times around the town centre and an hour later we were taken to wharf. All 4 buses at the same time arrived at the wharf. 3. Promptly told we had to collect our luggage and take it along the wharf to the ship - at this point we were tired but did as we told without complaint. 4. At the gang plank we had a 45 minute wait in light rain whilst the Captain greeted each of the 220 something passengers. Whilst waiting we were exposed to fumes as the ship was being refuelled and the truck would've been about 5 metres from us. I hoped no one would light up! Still no offer of beverages nor umbrellas and no concern for those of us who were waiting patiently on the dock: dehydrated and nauseous from the fumes and standing in the queue we approached the officer who was controlling the number of passengers on the gang plank and got an apologetic shrug.We got to our cabin at 5.20 pm and told over the loud speaker that the english shore excursions talk would begin in 10 minutes - no rest for the wicked! There was bottled water in our cabin thank goodness! 5. During the entire cruise the onboard staff were rude and unwelcoming. No "Bonjour" greetings. "No! you can't have that wine tonight", "no we've run out of croissants". 6. The cruise was advertised as "Expeditionary " but the first part of the cruise from Bergen to Tromso was not and paid Shore Excursions were on offer but limited numbers. The information session held on the first evening at 5.30pm repeated the information that we had printed out from the website, we were all making notes but despite this the speakers were difficult to understand with their broad accents and we struggled to comprehend what was on offer, there was much confusion amongst the english speaking guests (50 of us) but we bonded really well over this confusion pooled our fragments of information and worked out what to book. The popular excursions were quickly booked out e.g. the kayaking in one of the fjords and you couldn't book all your excursions at once they only opened for bookings for one hour in the early evening about one or two days in advance. No pre cruise booking was available. 7. English Lectures were interesting but whilst out in the field one of the Expedition team described the birdlife in French when he had finished he refused my request to translate the information to English although he had lectured to us in English the day before. One of the french speaking passengers was kind enough to tell me what was said. We found two of the expedition leaders were generous with their information and time and passionate about their work,we became their shadow where possible. Shore Excursions this was part expedition and part shore excursions. 8. Food served a la carte in formal dining room always tepid never hot. Returned it one day but waited 1/2 hr before it arrived back whilst those dining with me had finished their desserts! Didn't do that again. However the Ice Cream served warm 9.. Observation Deck Bar: Don't ask for a beverage before 12.00 noon (it was 11.55 am unaware the bar opened at 12.00) because you will get an unopened can, no glass and thumped down on the coffee table. Except the day the "tip" envelopes were delivered to our cabin - then we were offered a smile and nuts and a cocktail! 10. Departure: again no staff member to supervise the charter flights at the airport in Longyearbyen - flight delayed 1 1/2 hrs or more and when we finally arrived at CDG we discovered that our luggage was mistakenly put on the other charter flight 2 hours behind ours and their luggage was on the carousel in CDG with us! Again no official Ponant staff to speak to, however, as luck would have it, one of the expedition leaders was on our flight, thank goodness, he rang the ship and told us our luggage was on the other charter flight. Needless to say we missed our train to Lille but Ponant did reimburse us the fare. Approx 60 Euros. 11. We wrote to the Sydney Office detailing our issues and disappointment and were offered a 10% discount on a Ponant cruise. Thanks but no thanks Read Less
Sail Date: June 2017
A disastrous holiday from start to finish. Charter flight from Orly Aiport was exhausting. One would expect a staff representing Ponant to be at a designated Meeting Place but we were told the flight would be advertised on the Departure ... Read More
A disastrous holiday from start to finish. Charter flight from Orly Aiport was exhausting. One would expect a staff representing Ponant to be at a designated Meeting Place but we were told the flight would be advertised on the Departure Boards with check in details so need for signage or staff - there wasn't any information airport staff weren't sure. We finally found the charter flight check in ( in the basement) by accident. Flight delayed but no information at the gates as to expected time, no seating at the gates - sat on the floor. At our destination we were met by staff taken on a city tour with all 4 buses arriving at the wharf simultaneuosly. No assistnace with luggage, we queued in the rain for 45 minutes as the captain and his hotel manager stood at the top of the gang plank and welcomed each passenger. No regard for us getting wet, no beverages offered and no seating whilst we waited on wharf. Excursion staff and accessibilty to details: Poor Expedition Staff: Rude Waitstaff: Rude in both the dining room and Observation Deck Bar Food: Variety: reasonable Main Dining Room: Food served luke warm Alcohol: Wine of the day - if you preferred the wine served the previous day - "not available tonight" bad luck Organisation of Shore excursions: Chaotic Overall staff never greeted you on approach. They appeared to be disgruntled employees. We have traveeld on many cruise ship lines of various categoriesand have never been treated with such rudeness. Never again Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This cruise was chosen as a celebratory event for a 50th wedding anniversary and was chosen because it had an art theme. It also had an interesting itinery and the cruise dates fitted in with the dates to visit family in Sweden during ... Read More
This cruise was chosen as a celebratory event for a 50th wedding anniversary and was chosen because it had an art theme. It also had an interesting itinery and the cruise dates fitted in with the dates to visit family in Sweden during their summer holidays. The features included special excursions to coincide with the Venice Biennale with open tickets to the evnts whilst in Venice. The cruise had attendance of some art specialists from the international firm of Christies and this provided interesting insights into the bsuiness world of collectable art assets. The food was well balanced with some specialties such as fresh oysters and calamari at selected ports. The excursions were led by very competant guides and with the exception of being placed in a french speaking group (an issue that was rectified at the first rerst stop) the information and content was very interesting. In Dubrovnik we were treated to some excellent singing in the Rector's palace by a local group of male acapella singers known as the Klapa Subrenum singers. The Adriatic was at peace during the whole trip and the ship was very quiet being electrically propelled. Passing though the Corinth canal was a treat and worth a special mention in case the choice of ship size is important. The small ship format was importnant to us as we had only cruised twice previously ( on the Orion under Australian waters and SS Catherine on the Rhone river cruise with Uniworld) and so prefered the more intimate and casual style which we were happy with. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This back to back cruise was my fourth with Ponant and as on previous cruises, I enjoyed myself immensely. The wonderful ship, the staff, who did everything to ensure a leisurely, safe and carefree cruise......it just all fitted. The food ... Read More
This back to back cruise was my fourth with Ponant and as on previous cruises, I enjoyed myself immensely. The wonderful ship, the staff, who did everything to ensure a leisurely, safe and carefree cruise......it just all fitted. The food was delicious and offered great variety; even for a vegetarian like me. I would also like to mention the cleanliness in the cabin as well as all over the ship and especially the friendliness of the staff. The shore excursions were always very well organized with English - and French speaking guides. Thanks to the cruise designer I found the excursions interesting and always very informative. In most cases, except maybe once or twice, there was plenty of time to get the maximum enjoyment out of the excursions. Although I travel on my own, there was always a lot of diversion in the form of entertainment and activities on and off the ship. To sum it up, the whole fortnight was again a great, unforgettable experience for me and I hope to be on board of "Le Lyrial" or any other of Ponant´s ships very soon. Since I travel on my own, I would appreciate maybe more cruise-choises without single supplement. This is also the wish of some friends of mine, who also usually travel on their own. Thanks again to everybody at Ponant who is involved in making these cruises so wonderful! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
Weboarded in Stockholm after a three day stay there, we met the ship at the address stated on our paper work, we were greeted by the captain ( a very dry and funny guy) they're still looking for my luggage ( just joking) his crew who ... Read More
Weboarded in Stockholm after a three day stay there, we met the ship at the address stated on our paper work, we were greeted by the captain ( a very dry and funny guy) they're still looking for my luggage ( just joking) his crew who were absolutely fantastic. We had a cabin on deck 6 which was close to the main dining area, perfect for us. We chose the starboard side but in hindsight it wouldn't matter which side of the boat you're on when travelling through the Fjords the scenery was fabulous. Dining was in two areas, the formal and not so formal and both areas had everything covered, the food was sensational and a want for nothing, the food varied always with wonderful breads and desserts, the wines with the meals were just right and if one wanted something more special that was also available at a price. The room service incase one slept in for lunch or dinner was also fabulous. The bars, which I think there were 3, are fantastic the bar tenders super knowledgable and speak multiple languages of course the cocktails were included in the fare so why not a Bloody Mary at 10 am and Pisco sours in the afternoon. The entrainment on the ship was a bit lame and boring it would have been nice if they had a dinner dance or if the musicians who played on the boat separately could have joined together in a band, I felt that the musicians and the opera singer were only there for their own holiday and a fill in. ( my opinion and really need to do some work on it) In the morning there were yoga classes and some dance classes which were fun the teachers had a great sense of humour. We didn't elect to go on any tours as we like to do our own thing when getting to port which was fine for us as we didn't miss the great lunches or cocktails!!! We didn't hear any complaints from people who did go on the tours, passengers weren't given the big sell and we felt very comfortable. The service we received on the ship was absolutely fantastic from George the cabin steward to the ships captain everyone was so obliging. Our cruise quite a mix of race of passengers mostly French who I might add were lovely and we tried to converse regularly, The ship was near capacity at 240 passengers and 142 crew - in my world - perfect - plenty of room to move around no one in each others pockets. I loved every minute of this cruise except for the so called world famous opera and the lame musicians, Please do something so that people can dance after dinner to reasonable music. My wife loved the yoga and dance classes All in all a fabulous time Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We wanted to cruise around Norway. Also we had cruised with Seabourne and Silverseas and we decided to try a cruise with Ponant We enjoyed the cruise and found the atmosphere great and staff very friendly. This came all the way down ... Read More
We wanted to cruise around Norway. Also we had cruised with Seabourne and Silverseas and we decided to try a cruise with Ponant We enjoyed the cruise and found the atmosphere great and staff very friendly. This came all the way down from the Captain who was remarkably attentive seeing us off and welcoming us from onshore excursions. The entertainment on the boat was excellent and the shore excursions were well chosen with excellent guides. We found the food on board adequate but it lacked variety. Also there was insufficient fresh local content. There were wonderful fresh berries in The market in Bergen yet we were never offered these berries for breakfast. Similarly we were not offered the varieties of fish, particularly herrings available onshore. The wines offered with meals were mediocre. I found this surprising on a French boat. It is true that I could have purchased better wine but I believe that if you serve good quality meals the wine should be of equal quality without the need to pay extra for a decent bottle of wine. At times the service in the restaurant on the sixth floor was poor. There were not enough waiters allotted to this restaurant and consequently water glasses were not replenished and used plates were not taken away in a timely fashion. My only other comment is in regard to the lectures on Scandinavia given during the cruise. I felt that these could have been improved. The images were difficult to see and the talk was not well organized Read Less
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