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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We were based on the boat with three university alum travel groups visiting Cuba. It was a great advantage to return to one location after visiting 4 of the oldest cities on the island. We were always greeted warmly by the French crew ... Read More
We were based on the boat with three university alum travel groups visiting Cuba. It was a great advantage to return to one location after visiting 4 of the oldest cities on the island. We were always greeted warmly by the French crew and it was good to have a respite from rundown Cuba. We enjoyed the special food and buffet service on the outside deck for breakfast and lunch and dinner in the dining room by outstanding crew who knew our names after the first day. We also appreciated the boat crew who helped us get on and off the boat. There was even a doctor from the boat who accompanied the tours-nice because the steps and walkways were so uneven. We had one night being tossed around at sea between Santiago de Cuba and Cienfuegos. The boat rocks side to side with swells. That gets me to what is totally unacceptable on this boat-THE BEDS! They are rock hard mattresses which no first class ship should ever use. My husband had a back ache every morning. When I told the hotel director I had read a cruise critic reviewer had the same complaint, he said that was the best they could do. I wonder how they ever get a return customer to sleep on that bed! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
The small ship experience was the most important factor in my choice but the so called luxury experience left a lot to be desired. Service was varied and inconsistent, the food was not of the suggested standard and sometimes quite bad. I ... Read More
The small ship experience was the most important factor in my choice but the so called luxury experience left a lot to be desired. Service was varied and inconsistent, the food was not of the suggested standard and sometimes quite bad. I returned a number of meals to be replaced. Expedition activities were very good. Meals varied but meat that was of an inferior quality is not acceptable and the attitude of staff to issues of poor quality were indifferent. The Expedition staff were very good and the general style was as one would expect of a luxury ship. Cabins do have a balcony but mold in the shower is not acceptable and staff rectification of housekeeping issues is poor. The room staff were indifferent to individual needs and often had to be asked for simple services more than once. The age of the ship is beginning to show and more attention to refurbishment and ongoing maintenance is needed. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
This was called an "expedition cruise". And yes, there were some interesting excursions. But most afternoons were scheduled for swimming and/or snorkelling off a small island with no alternative activities. Not everyone in ... Read More
This was called an "expedition cruise". And yes, there were some interesting excursions. But most afternoons were scheduled for swimming and/or snorkelling off a small island with no alternative activities. Not everyone in the main cruising demographic needs so much water activity. We had been to some of the excursion sites before and found this time the visits were shorter, rather watered-down especially in Rabaul where we did not go as close to Mt Tavurvur as on a previous cruise, and were closely shepherded around the town and not allowed to wander. The visits to Kitava and Tufi were good, but we had seen more of Alotau on a previous trip. And please, Ponant, don't bother with Gizo! L'Austral is a very attractive ship, is very smooth. But there is very little area to sit and look at the sea with the exception of your cabin balcony. The bars were good, ditto the interior lounge spaces. The staff were excellent. Ditto the expedition leaders, especially Mick Fogg, Harry Christensen, and Justin Friend. Their summaries and information were extensive although a little more onshore involvement of expedition staff would have been appreciated. Now to the great disappointment - the food. For what could be classed as a reasonably expensive cruise the quality of the food could not even be classed as average. This is the first occasion that we have had to return meals because they were inedible or unchewable. This occurred on three occasions. Once, with a steak, we asked for English mustard and even the maître d' had not heard of it! Courses were very small and in many cases lacked flavour. However, the cheese selections were outstanding even though a little repetitive. The ship carries a good selection of wines which can be purchased but are reasonably expensive when charged in euros. We chose the house wines which were adequate but very limited in choice. We would have appreciated speaking to the sommelier about the wine selections but did not have the opportunity. However, the dining staff were excellent. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Ponant is a lovely yacht if the seas are kind. We were lucky and it only got rough the last night. Despite the excellent service onboard, there are a few things that, for the price, should be addressed. 1. Do not be fooled by the ... Read More
Ponant is a lovely yacht if the seas are kind. We were lucky and it only got rough the last night. Despite the excellent service onboard, there are a few things that, for the price, should be addressed. 1. Do not be fooled by the deck chart. Cabins 1 through 5 are very tiny and definitely should be your last choice. The beds are fixed queens and cannot be separated. These cabins themselves are very tiny. 2. On day two of sleeping onboard I awoke with the most horrible pain in my hip. This has never happened before. This pain stayed with me throughout the entire cruise. I could only get to a standing position very slowly with much pain and walking pain. Then I found out I was not alone. Two other people were having such issues, another one actually having to stay onboard like I did. There is something wrong with the mattresses. Even adding two duvets to the top and a pillow did not help. 3. Food choices are really geared to lamb and fish. I never saw chicken on the menu. Although the ship was very accomodating on some food issues, in general all I can say is that both my husband and I lost weight on the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: September 2016
i was offered a deal by your sydney sales woman,gina. i had to take advantage of it.the only part of the cruise that was 5 star ,was the service provided by the receptionists, the excursion officer, all the cabin attendants,the house ... Read More
i was offered a deal by your sydney sales woman,gina. i had to take advantage of it.the only part of the cruise that was 5 star ,was the service provided by the receptionists, the excursion officer, all the cabin attendants,the house keeping supervisor,the restaurants serving staff and supervisors,most of the bar attendants and some of the crew members. some of the a la carte food would be considered illegal in australia. the quality of food was from sizzlers 3 star quality to 5 star. embarkation was not pleasant. logistically not well organised. the on board lectures by sophie and pascal were a high light. the theatre has great atmosphere. the stage performances were french formula type. pleasant ,but average. the islands childrens and dancers visiting at night were very pleasant. the trivia games were very retirement village type. the incidental music provided by the onboard singers/musicians was average. the rudeness towards some of the staff and fellow passengers by some of the french passengers was intolerable. from the time of the the meeting in the theatre regarding disembarkation,some of us felt abandoned. the company has our money . so get off. we have to start to think about the next group of arriving passengers. the cruise director should of gone around to every table the night before disembarkation and quickly thanked everybody. but we noted it did not happen. he represents the owner and senior managers of the company. but overall it was a french experience,but certainly not 5 star. that was reflected in the attitude of the captain, officers and hotel management. you may not like it ,but we passengers do talk to each other about the various qualities of the 5 star cruise ship market. i sent an email to head office regarding employment for somebody. but typically ,no reply. i would like to embark on another ponant cruise, but it depends upon where and how long. i want to go to antarctica. but so far what you are offering ,is inadequate. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
1. Loved the ship itself. 2. Crew Excellent. 3. Food extremely disappointing. Considering the French have a reputation for fine food, the food was boring, often tasteless unless it was the soup which was always too salty and seemed ... Read More
1. Loved the ship itself. 2. Crew Excellent. 3. Food extremely disappointing. Considering the French have a reputation for fine food, the food was boring, often tasteless unless it was the soup which was always too salty and seemed to be lack variety 4. Itinerary and excursions terrific. We went to places in Polynesia that were absolutely magic. The excursion staff were exceptional in providing both the background to the area and the current activities. Their enthusiasm was infectious. 5. WIFI was pathetic. Constantly dropping out. I had to have a conversation with an Australian company at 10pm when I was alone at reception. A 2 minute conversation took half an hour. At times there were 8 -10 people at reception trying to get a connection. WIFI should be available in the cabin and at speeds equal to Seabourn and Silversea. Ponant need to recognise that many people still need to be connected to the outside world. 6. Post cruise arrangements should have been better Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Chosen specifically for the Iceland, Greenland and Northwest Artic passage to Alaska. Excellent itinerary with great shore excursions and expedition excursions. Many great features such as the ship design, 24/7 access to bridge, zodiacs, ... Read More
Chosen specifically for the Iceland, Greenland and Northwest Artic passage to Alaska. Excellent itinerary with great shore excursions and expedition excursions. Many great features such as the ship design, 24/7 access to bridge, zodiacs, etc. Had a suite which was great, but a regular cabin was not of sufficient size. The dining, menu, food preparation was very bad, not at all up to standard, let alone luxury! Dining room service was poor. Room service was excellent and the selected acceptable food items were good. Cabin service was outstanding. Went for the specific itinerary and expeditionary cruise which was excellent, HOWEVER would never ever take or recommend Ponant to anyone unless the specific itinerary was unique and special. There are now other much better expeditionary modern cruise ships which are ice rated. The expedition team was mixed, some very good and some very very poor. Very few English speaking passengers, at a significant disadvantage unless French! Captain, ship officers and receptionists were excellent. Organization of the charter flight from Nome was horrible. Some information from home sales group was significantly wrong. Lectures were badly organized with bad time management. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Have cruise we other small ships such as Windstar and Seaboure. The Ship it self was fantastic having only been launched in 2015. The cabins were small and difficult for 2 people to dress for dinner etc if both in the cabin at the same ... Read More
Have cruise we other small ships such as Windstar and Seaboure. The Ship it self was fantastic having only been launched in 2015. The cabins were small and difficult for 2 people to dress for dinner etc if both in the cabin at the same time. `The food was fantastic and the service second to none, except being a french owned boat the crew and staff assume you are french which is fine to start with but after a couple of days can be very annoying if you do not speak french. With circa 240 people on board having 19 sun loungers with large french families of unto and over 16 per group will not end well when travelling to destinations during the day. Overall a good cruise but with important details letting it down can't feel disappointed. One being that from the top enrtainment and pool bar you had to go down 2 deck levels to find a WC?. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This particular cruise was the transportation/living accommodations from an alumni organization trip booked by my husband (whom I love dearly but didn't do much research on what the trip entailed). Instead of a small group, the ... Read More
This particular cruise was the transportation/living accommodations from an alumni organization trip booked by my husband (whom I love dearly but didn't do much research on what the trip entailed). Instead of a small group, the ship was under charter by Gohagan as the agent for alumni organization consortium travel. This meant 240 in the "small group." The ship itself is clean, neat and decorated in the hotel lobby fashion with leather, chrome, and glass. The service from the bar and cabin staff was outstanding, the dining staff much less so. According to the alcohol drinkers in the group, the included wines, beers, and liquors were fine. The food was beautifully presented, both in the buffet and the main dining room. Flavorless, but the presentation was amazing. However, if you are a vegetarian - forget it. There is literally nothing worth eating. On a ship this expensive, I really expected a better choice that cream covered pasta at dinner. There are only so many times you can make do with a tasteless omelette. The tofu option was worse - three slabs of tofu barely warmed up and sprinkled with paprika. Eating cheese and hard boiled eggs is not my preferred way of getting protein. The meat eaters praised some of the meat dishes and many of the fish entrees. Two of the three treadmills were broken with zero knowledge of repair date. There is neither an elliptical or stair stepper. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
The itinerary of Morocco and Andalusia was our primary attraction. The itinerary and the tours were up to expectations. Excellent and recommended We expected a 6 star cruise line, although Ponant and their ships are fairly new in the ... Read More
The itinerary of Morocco and Andalusia was our primary attraction. The itinerary and the tours were up to expectations. Excellent and recommended We expected a 6 star cruise line, although Ponant and their ships are fairly new in the cruise industry. We appreciated the modest number of passengers, and we look for the cruise lines that have smaller ships. We have been Seabourn fans for some years, but are now avoiding them as their ships have grown from ~150 to over 700. Ponant provided an excellent and engaging set of talks and lectures which we thoroughly enjoyed on the history of Morocco, Andalusia and Islam. We long for the more intimate cruising experience with an emphasis on historic and cultural presentations. Ponant delivered on this promise. Ponant’s service outside of the dining room was excellent, their staff well trained. The food was not up to our expectations, a surprise given the French ownership of the line. The dining room service was the weak point in an otherwise excellent service experience. We routinely required almost two hours to eat in the dining room with extended waits for the food. Perhaps our biggest problem was with the staterooms. They were incredibly small and cramped. Significantly smaller than the Seabourn staterooms. We will not likely cruise with Ponant again in the future because of the cramped staterooms. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
Only part i can give 5 stars to are the ship and the suites. Our suite was small but felt larger than it was. There was amazing storage and hanging places to put all our stuff. Bathroom was elegant with a separate toilet. Good fitness ... Read More
Only part i can give 5 stars to are the ship and the suites. Our suite was small but felt larger than it was. There was amazing storage and hanging places to put all our stuff. Bathroom was elegant with a separate toilet. Good fitness center with floor to ceiling windows to see the view. Service was reluctant at best. When ever I went to reception for a question or information, the first response was always, "Well, I don't know" rather than "How can I help you" The staff seems to find you an annoyance rather than a paying customer. The wine that was served on board (included) was of the quality of wine in a box. Several passengers beside me commented on the poor quality for a French ship. The wine they wanted you to pay for was always very expensive. The cheapest recommended wine was 79 Euros a bottle.The food was inconsistent. Some times it was excellent; other times it was mediocre. On the final night, the veal medallion was like a hockey puck. The night of the captain's dinner we did not get served our main course until 10:30 pm. Service in the Dining Rooms needs improvement. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
I choose the ship and trip expecting to be fed interesting French cusine rather than the typical steam table cardboard. Apparently quite a number of the other guests expected the same and were as disapointed as I was. Breakfasts and ... Read More
I choose the ship and trip expecting to be fed interesting French cusine rather than the typical steam table cardboard. Apparently quite a number of the other guests expected the same and were as disapointed as I was. Breakfasts and lunches were typical shipboard fare, pleasantly presented and abundant. Bacon at breakfast was tasteless and rubbery, difficult to chew. Soups at lunch and dinner were generally good with the rare excellent. Dinners were mainly medicore except for one memorable meal which served properly seasoned and cooked lamb chops. They were tender and juicy! The included wines were drinkable at best. The wait staff, cabin attendants and ships crew in general were outstanding. The physical ship was comfortable and well maintained. The open bridge policy was a welcome amenity especially on the Canal transit.   Read Less
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