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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I chose Ponant to travel to the Antarctic as it offered the longest amount time that I would be on board. And I really liked the pleasant look and design of the Ponant vessels. I was also impressed with the locations that we were ... Read More
I chose Ponant to travel to the Antarctic as it offered the longest amount time that I would be on board. And I really liked the pleasant look and design of the Ponant vessels. I was also impressed with the locations that we were intending to visit. But unfortunately things happened that was well below satisfactory. And the voyage ended up almost being a total disaster. The ship had been damaged on a previous voyage and basically was not ready for any passenger on the designated time. When we finally boarded at around 2300 hr, nearly one and half days late. And apart from ridiculous hour of the day, the crew were very pleasant and they tried hard to make us all welcome. As the voyage was my second one with Ponant, I was very happy with the cleanliness and décor of the vessel. Both of the restaurants were open so we all could have a meal. But because of the hour I went straight to my cabin. Which was the same as the Le Boreal. Very comfortable, quiet and clean. As I was travelling by myself I found the cabin exceptionally good. So the first night was spent along side the wharf as the ship needed fuel. We finally left the port of Concepcion at just before lunch the following day. So now we all had 4 days travelling down the west coast of Chile instead of leaving from Ushuaia, which is at the bottom of Sth America, where we should have left from. But I have to say the dinning and the choice of food, along with the crew were all fabulous. With the vast majority of the crew being very pleasant and made us all feel very welcome. So I was trying hard to see the glass half full rather than half empty which helped me enjoy the company of some great people from a number of countries around the world. We also enjoyed the enthusiasm of the expedition team with their great lectures on a number of topics. But when we finally arrived at Cape Horn we had basically lost nearly six days of our voyage. And because of this, the time lost had to be made up somewhere else. While we were all offered 35% refund on our fair. That did not replace the hurt and disappointment that we all experienced by firstly only having less than 24 hours at the Falkland Islands. And we also missed out on going to the South Georgia Isl.,all together. But when we finally arrived on the Antarctic Peninsula the weather was perfect for the days we were there. That part of the trip was fabulous and was everything I expected the Antarctic to be like. But then it started going wrong again because of the inexperience of some of the expedition crew, and unfortunately the arrogance of the expedition leader himself. On our first shore landing on the RIB ( zodiac ) which I was on, was nearly tipped over when making the approach to the shore. The inexperience of the RIB driver ( coxswain ) was being directed by the expedition leader on the shore. This stupidity caused the RIB to nearly tip over, and flinging two passengers into the water, one under the zodiac, and the other 8 passengers nearly going in as well. Luckily the 2 men that went into the water managed to recover and scramble out of the water to the shore. But the disbelief didn't stop there. The ships captain and ponant did not conduct any investigation into the near miss drowning. Which they are meant to do under IMO regulation. To our disappointment, they also refused to discuss the incident with anybody. Which we only wanted to contribute something to maybe help them put things in place to help prevent it ever happening again. I am very disappointed in the voyage as a whole and the arrogance of the Ponant. As I have written. The only thing that made my voyage enjoyable. Was the great crew. The very good dinning with a good amount of choice of food in the two very good restaurants. And the fact that we got fantastic weather while we were in the Antarctic Peninsula.The disembarkation for me went perfectly. As I was staying in Ushuaia for an extra two days. I had booked my own private driver. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
Christmas and New Year in Southern Lands From December 20th 2018 to January 05th 2019 After reading information on your site about other travelers' experiences we felt that we should share our experience of traveling with ... Read More
Christmas and New Year in Southern Lands From December 20th 2018 to January 05th 2019 After reading information on your site about other travelers' experiences we felt that we should share our experience of traveling with Ponant. 1. The issues began before we boarded the ship. We live in Perth, West Australia and booked a pre-cruise tour to Patagonia with Ponant and also the cruise to the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic. We left Perth on 9th December 2018 and flew for approximately 20 hours to Buenos Aires. This was 12 days before we were due to board the ship Le Soleal. At 0139 am on Friday 14 December in Buenos Aires we were woken by an sms telling us that there was going to be a "very big itinerary change" to our cruise. Basically the cruise was still going, however after an “issue” a couple of weeks earlier, the ship would be departing from Talcahuano in Chile. Ponant had chartered a flight from Buenos Aires to Concepcion and then a coach transfer to Talcahuano to join the ship. As well, the cruise would miss the stopover in the Falkland Islands on the 22nd December and South Georgia for the 25th to 27th December, would be mainly on the Antarctica Peninsula and would be having the two tours from the ship per day. We were offered a 4 day pro rata refund per person if we continued, or a full refund of the cruise and associated costs if we wanted to come home. After receiving this sms in the middle of the night prior to leaving for Iguazu Falls early that morning, we went on line to try find out the nature of the “issue” with the ship. We discovered that the ship had sustained significant underwater damage a month previously and had only recently arrived at Talcahuano. This meant that the damage to the ship had happened before we had left West Australia. As we had been able to find out some of the details of the incident we were concerned as to the viability of the cruise going forward as originally advertised and so we contacted Ponant in France. The person we spoke to was surprised that we knew about the changes to the ships’ schedule. Ponant’s only advice was that we should keep in touch with our travel agent. We continued with our holiday but at the same time we were in daily communication with our travel agent as we moved to Iguazu Falls and then back to Buenos Aires. Our travel agent was in communication with Ponant in Sydney who had been told that France had been working on developing an enhanced itinerary for guests traveling from Chile to Antarctica. Ponant in Sydney wrote that this would be an expedition cruise so therefore they were assuming that there would be wonderful expedition opportunities in the Chilean Fjords before then spending more time in the Antarctic Peninsula (7-8 Days) and then 3 days cruising back to Ushuaia. We were communicating with our travel agent in West Australia late at night and we began to feel increasingly worried and exhausted on what was meant to be a holiday. On arrival back in Buenos Aires we were hopeful of more direct information from Ponant because we were then on their organised pre-tour. None of their agents in either Buenos Aires or in Patagonia knew anything. The Patagonian pre-tour was wonderful. The agents and the hotels were excellent. On the night of the 17th December we rang Ponant’s office in Sydney, Australia and asked them specifically whether or not the ship was back in the water, had undertaken trials and had been passed back into survey. We were answered “yes” to each of these questions. On the basis of this we decided to continue with the cruise. The confirmation of the ship being in the water ready for embarkation was advised to our travel agent by Ponant’s Sydney office on the 19th December. In Calafate, Patagonia, we were told by the Ponant agent that we would be flying to Buenos Aires on the morning of the 20th December and changing planes for a charter flight to Concepcion where we would be bused to Talcahuno to join the ship. On the charter flight on the 20th December we were advised that we would be landing at Santiago to clear customs and quarantine before continuing the flight to Concepcion where we would now be staying overnight at a hotel as the ship was still in dry dock. The information from Ponant had changed yet again. Clearing customs in Santiago was a nightmare. It was the height of the holiday season, we were a group made up of different nationalities, most of whom did not know one another, and despite the best efforts by a very overwrought young man acting on Ponant’s behalf, most of us managed to get lost in the airport and its seemingly endless and chaotic queues. With the help of airport staff we eventually managed to find each other again and to help each other as much as we could. Most of the group were older, were overwrought, suffering from dehydration and very tired. In circumstances such as these, rumours abound and in this situation it was no different. No one really knew what was happening but everyone had an opinion. On arrival at Concepcion buses were provided to ferry us to the hotels. We were in the group to stay at the Aton and on our bus a local courier with no English attempted to advise us of the procedures on arrival at the hotel. One of the group who understood some Spanish relayed the basics of what was happening to the rest of us, but the English speakers did not really know what was going on. If a representative from Ponant had met us at the airport and explained what was happening so that everyone could understand, the ensuing chaos, at the end of a trying day, could have been prevented. The buses pulled up in a street near the entrance to the hotel. Unfortunately the street was on a hill and the passengers had to take their luggage themselves and carry or wheel it across the road, along an entrance driveway which was cobbled and up steps into the hotel entrance. A number of the passengers were elderly or incapacitated. Some of the able bodied passengers helped those who were not. Others just walked away and did not help. The bus driver and the courier did their best. It was chaotic, with runaway luggage heading down the hill and panicking owners trying to control their bags. On entering the foyer of the hotel we found the Ponant Expedition Team waiting for our arrival. Their welcoming assistance would have been far more appreciated had they waited for us at the kerbside or at the airport. The hotel was unaccustomed to such an influx of guests at one time but rose to the occasion magnificently and continued their amazingly high level of service throughout our stay. I can thoroughly recommend the Aton Hotel in Concepcion, Chile. That night at dinner we were told by the Captain that the ship would come out of dry dock in the early hours of the morning, would undertake trials, and would be ready for us to join after breakfast in the morning. This was certainly different information than we had been told by Ponant in Sydney thee days earlier. They had told us that the ship was in the water and ready to go. We were asked to hand in our passports to the Cruise Director but by now a number of people had decided not to continue with the cruise. As a result of the dissatisfaction being shown by the passengers the Cruise Director became increasingly frustrated and was increasingly failing to keep a pleasant demeanour towards the passengers. By the time my husband and I reached the head of the queue, we were told in no uncertain terms we had to make up our mind there and then whether of not we were going to continue with the cruise because once we had handed our passports in, we would not be getting them back. Of course he could not do this, but it made for a rather uncomfortable situation and an unsettled night’s sleep. We were worried by what appeared to be an unprofessional attitude projected by an inexperienced and disorganised staff. At breakfast we were advised of a city tour in the morning, followed by lunch at the hotel and to have our bags ready after that in order to join the ship. A small group of us, three Australians and five French, decided to order two taxis and go down to the docks in Talcahuana to see over the 19th century iron clad ship the Huascar. To our surprise we could see the Ponant ship Le Soleal still in the dock. This was certainly not what we had been lead to believe the night before. At lunch, back in the hotel, we were again told to have our bags ready to be taken down to the ship and that this would happen while we were taken on a coach tour of the area before joining the ship at around 7 pm that evening. We were told that the ship was going to conduct sea trials that night while we were all on board, that it would sail in the early hours of the morning and that they were planning on 5 and a half days sea time to the Antarctic traveling at 15 knots. By now the gossip and rumour had started about the different compensation packages that people had been offered. Each "offer" seemed to be different. On the afternoon tour we visited a beach, a museum and the museum garden. It was interesting, well organised and handled professionally by a very good driver and an excellent courier. However as it stretched into the evening we became increasingly worried about what was happening and were becoming tired and hungry. We stopped at a café where one of the Expedition Team used his own money to buy us food and drinks, and then later we all queued at a service station near the docks in order to use the toilets. We finally embarked at 9.30pm. During the course of this day a number of people decided to leave the cruise and people were still deciding to leave right up to the time that we arrived at the dock gates. As a result, by the time we embarked the cruise was by no means full. After sea trials that night we returned to the dockside and were alongside when we woke. We fueled in morning and finally sailed at 11am on the 22nd of December, two days late. By this time what had begun as a wonderful holiday in South America and the Antarctic was rapidly turning into a nightmare of exhaustion and uncertainty. We had decided to stay with the cruise because we were a long way from home and to get back we would have had to go across South America to Buenos Aires at the height of the holiday season and then fly back to the west coast of Australia right on Christmas. We had made and paid for all the arrangements for the care of our home, garden and animals. We had invested in the appropriate clothing for Antarctic, clothing which would never be worn in our home town. One of my dreams had been to visit the Antarctic and we had been promised that we would be sailing straight down to spend as much time there as possible. 2. The Cruise The problem now was that we were not only two days late sailing, but also that we were sailing from Talcahuana, half way up the coast of Chile, and not from Ushuaia at the tip of South America. Quite obviously this meant that we could not complete our original cruise, but what it did mean was continued discussion and the spreading of rumours about exactly where we were going. It became increasingly apparent that the information we had been given about sailing from Chile to Antarctica (approximately 4 – 5 days) and optimising our time in the Antarctic (7 – 8 days) was not going to happen. But by the time this became apparent we were on board and steaming down the coast of Chile. Two days into the cruise our itinerary was confirmed as being to the Falklands and then to the Antarctic. It was a great pity that we had only one afternoon and one morning in the Falklands, and that we had only 4 days in Antarctica. All the rest were at sea. This was not what we had hoped for when we planned this holiday. Also, this was not what we thought we had accepted on the basis of maximising our time in Antarctica on what ended up being 14 full days on board ship. We could have had 8 meaningful days in Antarctica, but we did not. However it was fortunate that we had excellent weather throughout enabling full use to be made of the time that we did have in the Falklands and in Antarctica. 3. Other Issues: An accident at a landing site in the Antarctic meant that two men fell out of and underneath a zodiac. They were freezing cold, wet, battered, bruised and shocked but were not injured in a serious way, perhaps because they were more run over by the zodiac than dunked in the water, their lifejackets did not deploy. Before the next trip by zodiac the crew, upon request, demonstrated that the lifejackets would inflate when immersed in water. It was unfortunate that the two men in the accident felt that their efforts to express their dismay to the Captain were not recognised in a serious and professional manner. This lead to more gossip, rumours and unease amongst the passengers. It was disconcerting to find on the third to last day of the cruise that when the fast rescue boat had been retrieved on board, the brake control wire had left its drum and overwrapped the main falls. This situation could impede safe launching if not noticed beforehand. The situation was pointed out to ship’s staff but the wires were still in the same condition when we arrived in Ushuaia. Some passengers had looked forward to sea kayaking in the Antarctic. There were kayaks stored on board and the opportunity to kayak had been advertised as part of the cruise. The interested passengers were told that there was no one on board qualified to supervise the use of the kayaks and that therefore they would not be launched. This did not make people feel any happier with Ponant. The attitude of the Cruise Director was patronising and unhelpful. He appeared to be out of his depth. The Expedition Director was capable but arrogant and did not cater for those of us who were interested in the overall history of the area although there was one excellent lecture by one of the team on Shackelton’s Expedition. Personally I was deeply disappointed at being unable to visit South Georgia. Despite being advertised as a luxury cruise, it was not. Our cabin was one which could be combined with another to make a suite. The door between the two was locked but unfortunately there was a hole through which wind whistled. The ship was not full and there was no one on either side of us, so we were not overly concerned. The entry passage in the cabin was so narrow that if the wardrobe doors were open the bathroom door could not be opened and vice versa. It made for uncomfortable clashes from time to time. The cabins were definitely not large. We had no trouble with our toilet, but others did have issues with sewage backing up. From talking with other passengers it soon became apparent that different people had been offered different compensation packages. This did not make for a contented group of people. The charter flight at the end from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires was cramped and extremely uncomfortable. 4. Good points. The accommodation and the ship in general was extremely comfortable. The beds were large, the linen of good quality and changed regularly. There was a plentiful supply of clean, fluffy towels at least twice a day. There was a plentiful supply of Hermes cosmetics. The complimentary bar fridge in the cabin was fully restocked every day. The cabin staff, the bar staff and the restaurant staff were excellent. They could not do enough for us. Nothing seemed to upset them. Nothing was too much trouble. They did everything they could to accommodate our needs and our wishes. They were professionals. They should be proud of their work on this cruise. Having an open bridge was interesting, specially when navigating in confined areas. The members of the multinational Expedition Team were very good, very helpful and very kind. The one time that I fell over on the ice they were there in an instant to help. When I had trouble walking down a steep track in the ice, one of them walked down backwards in front of me, encouraging me to have confidence and to keep going by myself, instead of being manually helped down. There was an excellent classically trained pianist on the staff. The food was very good indeed in both restaurants although I preferred the informality and open ambiance of the restaurant on Deck 6. Although embarkation had been a nightmare, disembarkation was swift and efficient. 5. Conclusion There were three distinct groups of passengers on the ship, divided by ethnicity, and there seemed to be no one in the hierarchy on board skilled enough to bring these three small groups of people together. There was some cross-over communication and we made friends in each group, but on the whole this did not happen. This lead to a certain amount of suspicion and gossip that one group was being offered a better “deal” than the others and unfortunately did not make for a collegial atmosphere. This is perhaps the crux of the whole issue with the cruise. Everyone was in some way disappointed. The group as a whole did not “gel”. The hierarchy on board did not seem to have the skills to make it all work. Throughout there was continued discussion amongst the passengers about their dissatisfaction with the cruise and with Ponant. It was not a happy ship. From our personal point of view the main issue was the disconnect between the reality of what had happened with the ship and the communications we received from Ponant. Openess and transparency in communication would have been appreciated and would have enabled each of us to have made more informed decisions. On the 24th of December we were all offered a refund of 35% of the price of our cruise, an on board credit of Euros 500 per cabin, 25% off our next trip with Ponant and 50% off any Ponant cruise calling at South Georgia and departing within the next 3 years. This is a fair and generous offer. It is unfortuate that we are still being told of people having been offered and having accepted more generous offers. I returned home and immediately came down with shingles which is why I have only now been able to write this report. At this moment I find it hard to imagine ever planning another holiday that in any way involved Ponant. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise because it went to Pitcairn Island and Easter Island from Papeete. We then stayed on for a further 6 days and cruised to Chile. Embarkation at Papeete was shambolic as the Paul Gaugain was also boarding at the same ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to Pitcairn Island and Easter Island from Papeete. We then stayed on for a further 6 days and cruised to Chile. Embarkation at Papeete was shambolic as the Paul Gaugain was also boarding at the same time. It appeared that no one from Ponant was present to advise us what we were to do and we were all walking around like sheep. At the disembarkation end it was even worse as we were told there would be taxis once we got out of the terminal and of course there were none, nor did the taxis even come there, so we had to arrange very expensive private transfers after waiting more than an hour for a fabled taxi. Once on board, our cabin was what we expected. It was very clean and our room steward was excellent. The turnaround for laundry, which was free for us as past passengers, was brilliant. Service in the dining room was inconsistent. Sometimes it was good and sometimes not. The service on any gala night seemed to favour those tables which had officers, which seemed to only host French passengers. That said, the wait staff we had were always happy and helpful. The standard of the entertainment is consistently good and the shows are always a highlight. Kamel, the Cruise Director is a huge asset for Ponant. The food is the biggest let down on this ship. In advance of this cruise we were required to produce significant medical evidence of our ability to travel for the last 6 days. From that I would have thought that both I, and my doctor, had made my gluten intolerance very clear. Apparently not. The choice of gluten free food is beyond poor. I raised this at the first opportunity with the head waiter, who then raised it with a very indignant head chef, who effectively dismissed my complaints. To be given a broken piece of toast for breakfast is an absolute insult, given how much this cruise cost. There were no gluten free pastries, not even rice biscuits for the cheese. The room service menu was even more limited. It is not often that I can go on a 3 week holiday, on what sets itself up as a French culinary gastronomy cruise and lose weight, but it happened. The quality of the included wine was very hit and miss. It was all French. Some was acceptable and others were very, very ordinary. The cocktails however were fabulous. The port calls were a bit of a problem, but mainly due to the water conditions. Our captain did a great job to get us to Pitcairn. In other reviews, non French passengers have made the complaint that there appears to be favouritism shown to French passengers and a sense of entitlement. We saw this too. I don't know how many times I was literally pushed out of the way by a person thinking that they had a better right than I did to be in that position in an ordered queue. We had very few landings on this cruise and for our special lunch and performance on Easter Island the French speaking passengers arrived significantly before the English speaking ones and took up the very best positions. We found it so hard to find a spot together so far from the action that it was not worth even bothering to get involved in the show. With so many non French traveling on Ponant this really needs to be addressed. We really did feel like we were getting second best treatment. Overall, if this had been my first cruise with Ponant I would be in no hurry to do another. We have been on two other cruises ( the Kimberley and from New Zealand to Sydney) and they were excellent. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This cruise was from Lautoka in Fiji to Papeete in Tahiti, in September/October 2018. It was promoted as the 30th Anniversary cruise for Ponant, and made a special visit to Mata Utu, the registration home for Ponant ships. The Ponant CEO ... Read More
This cruise was from Lautoka in Fiji to Papeete in Tahiti, in September/October 2018. It was promoted as the 30th Anniversary cruise for Ponant, and made a special visit to Mata Utu, the registration home for Ponant ships. The Ponant CEO was onboard for the cruise, along with a very large proportion of French passengers.We had cruised on Ponant a few times before, and on this particular ship. The cruise itinerary was interesting and met the usual Ponant onboard standards but we were a little disappointed. We thought more information and relevant lectures might have been provided. The cruise visited some island locations not previously visited by cruise ships, and that showed in some below average excursions and details. That, along with some bad weather, made the first half of the voyage less than memorable. The second half, visiting the Cook Islands, Bora Bora, and Moorea was much more enjoyable. Very picturesque and excursions were satisfactory (apart from the usual high costs). The cruise ended with a great fireworks display at Papeete harbour provided by Ponant. it is not pleasant to register some reservations about fellow passengers but we did find that not all the French passengers were very welcoming. There was an attitude apparent that Ponant is a French cruise line and the French passengers therefore hold or expect special rights in some undefined way! This did spoil things a bit at times although senior crew made it clear this was not the Ponant view. The line has to make revenue and profits and that means appealing to all comers. Just a point to keep in mind for some cruises. Overall could only rate this cruise as average but recognising some of the Ponant efforts to make it a memorable anniversary cruise. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this ship as it was small and seemed an ideal way to visit Croatia. Previous reviews were worrying with comments about smoking on board but this was not a huge problem. The French do smoke out on the decks but not inside. The pomp ... Read More
We chose this ship as it was small and seemed an ideal way to visit Croatia. Previous reviews were worrying with comments about smoking on board but this was not a huge problem. The French do smoke out on the decks but not inside. The pomp and ceremony didnt appeal on boarding but it went smoothly. The cabin on deck 4 was fine. Quite compact but a lovely shower with plenty Hermes toiletries replenished daily. Excellent service of the cabin. Nice balcony, comfy bed and very smooth sailing every day for 8 days. There was a single chair and an ottoman if you wanted room service. We used this once, it was ok. The times to eat were quite rigid and we did see crew clearing the food away at the buffet right on deadlines! The bars were fine, lovely crew, drinks and nibbles ok. The cocktail party was a joke. No cocktails in sight just champagne or water. No cocktail food as such, a couple of cooked carrot balls and dried olive inedible pastry. Which brings me to the food. french, we thought it would be a highlight.... breakfast on level 2 was great. Couldnt ask for more, fruit, pastries( they were cold and tired and needed to be reheated) On level 6 it was a buffet free for all. Food difficult to reach and at several stations. Lunch was the same and dinner on level 6. We ate maily on 2, al la carte. Food was plain, steak inedible, vegetables, boiled, reheated, deserts teasteless often. Wine was ok. The food was presented well but the taste was a total let down. As for Croatia. If you dont like smoking beware. Montenegro smoking inside cafes etc. people quite friendly, time ashore was enough. The day in Split, walking to the old town was terrible via a chaotic port. Dubrovnik, lovely. We found the crew very friendly and helpful. Most were French, rest were from USA, Uk, Australia. Would we cruise again? No. Mention must also be made of the very poor Ponant online site. We received photocopied docements a weeks before departure with no instructions on how to find the ship in Venice. It leaves from San Basilio. A vaporretto 5.1 will take you there. We found this out ourselves. Ponant offered no information at all in this regard. Entertainment was a small group of excellent dancers each night. We did our own excursions not with a group. Disembarkation was fine Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
The cruise was to sail through the Northwest Passage, however there was too much ice so spent the majority of the time on the west coast of Greenland with some time in Canadian waters. The captain made the correct call about not proceeding ... Read More
The cruise was to sail through the Northwest Passage, however there was too much ice so spent the majority of the time on the west coast of Greenland with some time in Canadian waters. The captain made the correct call about not proceeding through the Passage judging by the ice in Bellot Strait and the ice maps for Alaska, so no problem with this. The Canadian icebreaker service was very good, but unfortunately the US does not provide such a service in their waters. The main problems were that some food types ran out after about a week into the cruise, such as no french fries! Also the meals tended to become somewhat repetitious and the lack of variety in vegetables was telling. OK we were in Arctic waters but the provisioning left a bit to be desired. The wine selection was better than we experienced on our Antarctica cruise on the same ship in February-March 2018, but the cheese selection was worse; much better earlier in the year. A lot of the supposedly soft cheeses on this cruise were not "ripe" and were dry in the middle. Also they ran out of draft beer plus some liqueurs. Some provisions were able to be topped up in Greenland but probably to the detriment of the locals as the supermarket was "raided" in a small community. Service in the main restaurant depended on where you sat as some staff were excellent whereas others were barely average, so didn't appear to be able to cope with a busy restaurant. Overall the cruise was better than average, but not good enough to rate as very good due to the onboard problems. The ship's officers were very good as were the expedition staff, the problem was more with the catering and restaurant area. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
This was our first cruise with Ponant - and might I add it will probably be the last - and we were very much looking forward to cruising the North West Passage especially as we had booked two years ago and have read a lot of media about ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Ponant - and might I add it will probably be the last - and we were very much looking forward to cruising the North West Passage especially as we had booked two years ago and have read a lot of media about Ponant, the Company and the special voyages offered. There is no doubt there has been a huge media campaign to encourage Australians to participate in the various itineraries. First of all there was the debacle of the charter flight - or lack of - at the very start. We were made aware of the change in plans just before we left Australia and so we made arrangements to stay an extra night at our hotel in Paris instead of staying at the airport as the flight was scheduled for late afternoon. The fact that Ponant could not organise a direct charter flight Paris/Kangerlussuaq for all passengers beggars belief. Once at the airport we were given to understand that we would be assisted by Ponant representatives to ensure a smooth check-in. This was not the case. The signage at the airport was insignificant and there were two lines in order to have names checked off. One line was for the French passengers and the other for the Australian/English speaking passengers. This was not a good start. Once names were given we were told to go to the check-in counter which we did and after that we went to the departure gate to await the flight. No one assisted us and no one made themselves known or ensured everyone was content which is surely what a Rep would do if only for the PR exercise. Once the flight was called we were herded onto a bus - French passengers went somewhere else. The bus took us to the aircraft but instead of disembarking we were kept closed up in the bus with no air on a very hot afternoon for quite some time. Several passengers became irate and demanded that the doors be opened. Once on the aircraft we were told that not all baggage could be loaded so the Captain asked if we would agree to him placing the bags in a locked toilet, which meant that only one toilet was operational during the flight. Other bags were placed in empty seats with seatbelts around them! This is hardly what is expected on a very expensive 5 star trip. Once in Copenhagen, again, we were not met but told we had to collect bags and re-check for the flight to Kangerlussuaq. I finally found a Ponant representative hiding under a stairwell with a small sign and asked which gate we had to go to. No assistance whatsoever was given to any of us. It appeared that French passengers were given priority on the aircraft (they were in business class) and on arrival in Greenland they were the first off and onto a bus to the port. The rest of us managed - again without advice or assistance - and found our own way to one of the waiting buses. There was then a long wait (in the dark and it was cold) for the tender to make several trips. We finally boarded the ship around midnight which was equivalent to 4 am in Paris where we started. Throughout the cruise there was a definite feeling of separation between the French speaking and English speaking passengers. It was almost a feeling of resentment on the part of the French that they were not in the majority. I personally felt sad about this as I speak French and have many French friends having lived in the country years ago. The reality that we could not go through the Northwest Passage caused a lot of dismay. There were a lot of disgruntled people. I am now aware of the fact that the Canadian Coastguard posted a warning about the ice conditions and the fact that the Northwest Passage was impassable on 18th August – nine days before our departure from Paris. It defies logic that we were not told about this and at least given the option of either continuing the cruise – albeit to areas in and around Greenland - or cancelling the holiday. On board we were all under the impression that this ice development and weather conditions were sudden and unavoidable and under this misconception, Captain Marchesseau did his best to ensure that we had great experiences nonetheless. A comment I must make is that the ship does not seem ideally designed for a Polar cruise as outdoor areas cannot be utilized. Deck 7 was closed obviously because of the cold and the Pool area (deck 6) could not be used, thus the dining out by the pool was only utilised on about two occasions at lunch time when the wind dropped and the sun was out. This meant that the Restaurant on Deck 6 was always crowded and people had to go to the other Restaurant which was not the first choice. The Observation lounge on Deck 6 was also always crowded and the only other option was the Main Lounge which had entertainment in the afternoons (and sometimes during the morning) so it was impossible to sit quietly and read or write. It was too cold to sit in the outside lounge - which I imagine would be very pleasant on a warm weather cruise. A word about the food - it was not the gastronomic experience we had been led to believe it would be and the house wines were often unpalatable. The crew were all very friendly and did their best under the circumstances. The expedition team - led by Florence - were very good and we had some interesting lectures before and after the excursions. Finally, when flights from Kangerlussuaq to either Paris or Seattle were announced we were told that we would be going via Toronto to Seattle. It was not until we received boarding passes that we discovered we were, in fact, going to Buffalo for a refuelling stop. We had to stay on the aircraft for almost two hours before taking off for Seattle. This was understandable because of Customs formalities but why were we told we were going to Toronto? As with much of the trip. The information flow from Ponant to guests was anything but efficient. To summarise, I regret to say that I would not give Ponant or this cruise the 5 star luxury experience it purports to be. There were many frustrations and in speaking to both French and English speaking passengers over the three week period, it seems generally guests’ dissatisfaction was across the board. Personally, I really disliked the fact that the French were given priority over everyone else to the extent that the atmosphere on board became toxic at times, and I doubt we would ever choose Ponant again in spite of the fact that I am a Francophile. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Ponant markets itself as a luxury expedition cruiseline but it does not meet expectations on either account. Most other cruiselines offer at least similar or better levels of comfort, food and service, apart from the limited open bar. ... Read More
Ponant markets itself as a luxury expedition cruiseline but it does not meet expectations on either account. Most other cruiselines offer at least similar or better levels of comfort, food and service, apart from the limited open bar. Although the overall appearance of the ships is attractive some of the cabins are not particularly well-designed, having for example, only a narrow hanging space for a wardrobe. With only one chair In some, room service is not really an option. As for the expedition claim, Ponant ships carry far more pasengers - over 230 on Le Soleal - than expedtion companies such as Aurora, Coral Expeditions, Orion or True North. Smaller numbers of passengers means easier logistics and a more personal experience. The main drawback with Ponant is its pricing. You are paying a premium for the marketing claims which cannot be justified. If cost is not a concern then by all means go with Ponant. You will have a pleasant trip but it will not be good value for money. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Cabins too small, temperature too cold throughout the ship including in cabins, food very disappointing for what is expected from the French, meat tough, food too salty even the doctor on board told the chefs this but they refused to ... Read More
Cabins too small, temperature too cold throughout the ship including in cabins, food very disappointing for what is expected from the French, meat tough, food too salty even the doctor on board told the chefs this but they refused to change. Little to no service poolside, pool only a plunge pool. Ponant office in Sydney much too slow at sending documents, many passengers did not receive prior to leaving their homes to travel. Pick-up from hotels in Broome organised by Ponant was a debarkle, some passengers not informed of pickup location and time and then when we arrived at ship we were informed that we were an hour too early and would have to wait an hour in hot sun with no shade or seating. Australian expedition crew excellent! Ponant Sydney office are not organised— we 3 will never travel Ponant again— back to Silver Sea and Seabourn for future cruises. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
The Good. The wait staff, front reception or any staff you met on deck exceptional! Rooms are very nice and clean and housekeeping excellent. I have travelled on a few River Cruises expecting a closet on a Small Ship. Not the case very ... Read More
The Good. The wait staff, front reception or any staff you met on deck exceptional! Rooms are very nice and clean and housekeeping excellent. I have travelled on a few River Cruises expecting a closet on a Small Ship. Not the case very nice. Shore excursions great. Our safety briefing was conducted by someone who did not have a great command of the English language. I left the session still not sure what to do in an emergency. We were asked to go back to our cabins to get our life jacket to ensure we knew how to put it on. What?? The boat would have sank by the time everyone returned. Now the bad, the food on the boat ough. Keep in mind I Love KD at home! So I am easy to please. Breakfast- eggs Benedict under a heat lamp, scrambled eggs in a large tray looked like yellow porridge, lunch had us looking at a Sword Fish as they gutted it. Every time I looked I saw guts from this animal dumped in a pail and the last view cutting the head off. This was the chef’s show for lunch ough. Dinner, it started day one no service. We had to flag down a waiter who was doing his best to keep up. Some tables almost finished their dinner before we received our appetizers. This continues throughput my trip and I returned two meals. The dinners around my table were returned or not eaten, however the pastries chef excellent. Tauck should include more on shore meals. When you look at the cost of the cruise and then add on shore meals you were responsible for this proves to be an expensive trip. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We were very interested in the destination Japan. The Ship for this round trip should not be too big and exclusive. There is not much choice. That's why we decided to LÁustral. The price would be reasonable if service and quality ... Read More
We were very interested in the destination Japan. The Ship for this round trip should not be too big and exclusive. There is not much choice. That's why we decided to LÁustral. The price would be reasonable if service and quality were to be correct. It's not like that. The quality of the food was very different. The selection was partly not very large. Seafood as you know it from Silversea or Hapag Lloyd, there is little. My wife had a stomach upset and wanted a clear broth for lunch. This could not be realized. Every kitchen actually holds a broth! For dinner there was a broth... The trips were partly catastrophic. The guides were not always as qualified as you could expect. The temporal organization was not satisfactory. We complained about the cleanliness of our suite. The suite was not clean, instead we received a bottle of champagne as compensation. This was our so far most expensive cruise with more than €20,000 cost and unfortunately the worst of so far about 40 cruises in terms of value for money. For guests like us with high standards and willingness to pay a lot for this service unfortunately no recommendation. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We chose Tauck small ship cruises due to reputation. We had a good experience last year on two river cruises. We would not recommend small ship cruises with Tauck. I had written a 5 page letter describing both the good and the bad on ... Read More
We chose Tauck small ship cruises due to reputation. We had a good experience last year on two river cruises. We would not recommend small ship cruises with Tauck. I had written a 5 page letter describing both the good and the bad on two small ship back to back cruises and I received back a one page letter addressing one item. Most group dinners consisted of chicken. Very little choice of local foods since we visited 5 different countries. We drove around after lunch to kill time before going to hotel. VERY boring!. We should have been given a choice of shopping since we were close or go to hotel to wait. the stop At Tallinn was rushed. In Saint Petersburg only overpriced souvenir shops were suggested. Should have gone to a market area and shopped for bargains. Too many people(40) on each excursion trying to meander thru the towns we visited. I had thought Tauck was different using local guides and smaller groups. Other excursions we have been on have larger groups for less money. We did have a good Swedish lunch and a good Russian lunch. Not chicken!! this cruise better than the first one two weeks earlier with Tauck. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Hello: We did not like : * The shore embarkation and disembarkation on the Zodiac : "wet shoes" * The primary school- like disciplin : prohibited to walk out of the flaged pathways, swimming prohibited, etc … * The ... Read More
Hello: We did not like : * The shore embarkation and disembarkation on the Zodiac : "wet shoes" * The primary school- like disciplin : prohibited to walk out of the flaged pathways, swimming prohibited, etc … * The disembarkation timing, compulsatory and early in the morning (sometime departure at 6h30), no other possibility of disembarkation if one miss the departure. * The short time spent on shore. The loud announcements at any time, from the cabin speakers. The lack of Holiday spirit ... permanent stress Kind Regards Jean-Claude and Jeanine in french : On n'a pas aimé : Les débarquements/embarquements en Zodiac « pieds mouillés » La discipline de type maitresse d'école : interdiction de sortir des sentiers balisés, interdiction de se baigner, … Les horaires des débarquements imposés très tôt le matin (certain départ à 6h30), sans aucune possibilité de débarquer si on « rate » le départ. La courte durée des escales. Les annonces haut-parleurs dans la cabine à toute heure Le manque d'esprit de vacances , le stress permanent Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
Time and place was suitable. Cruise #1 was very attractive with visit to game reserves. Cruise #2 was not as attractive as we are not great swimmers. one of the few english lecturers was 82 yrs old, he sat during his mumbled talks. ... Read More
Time and place was suitable. Cruise #1 was very attractive with visit to game reserves. Cruise #2 was not as attractive as we are not great swimmers. one of the few english lecturers was 82 yrs old, he sat during his mumbled talks. Only one of the expedition team ( of more than 16) was an englishman so that the number of talks in english was very limited - though the french staff members tried hard. Only 15% of the 200+ passengers were english speaking, we were all felt to feel like second class travellers, not by the ship's staff (who were excellent) but by the expedition members. three couples, independently, said to us they would not sail with ponant again. Quality of the food, again needs mention, it is not up to the standard expected. This was our tenth cruise on ponant and we have ten more booked, so we hope that the company improves it attention to international travellers. 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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We’d cruised with Ponant previously and had an enjoyable cruise. This time – definitely NOT. This cruise was to Antarctica and we had both been looking forward to it. Antarctica is simply amazing - nothing can ever take away from that! ... Read More
We’d cruised with Ponant previously and had an enjoyable cruise. This time – definitely NOT. This cruise was to Antarctica and we had both been looking forward to it. Antarctica is simply amazing - nothing can ever take away from that! I'd love to go again - but with a different cruise line. The good things first – o The expedition crew were simply amazing, excursions well organised and managed. o Fantastic captain - so enthusiastic. It was obvious he loved sailing in Antarctic waters. o Friendly staff & crew – except for maintenance staff who were dour, totally unhelpful and had a shocking attitude to solving issues o Although spotless, the cabins are small (but we knew that from a previous cruise). Just one chair in a cabin is useless although having a second would mean no space to walk around the bed o Bathrooms are well laid out and we like the concept of a separate toilet. Now to the things which mean we will never sail with Ponant again - o On some nights food was less than ordinary even for one of us who is a meat eater. Fish had a smell about it – totally off putting. An example of overcooked food– ordering breaded turkey. Originally to be without a sauce, the waiter offered béarnaise (the only sauce available evidently). The small piece of very overcooked and dried out turkey arrived with nothing else on the plate except for the béarnaise in a little pot - so frozen that it was impossible to even put a knife in it! o When food was sent back virtually untouched no one bothered to ask if there was an issue o A lot of the menu from the restaurant on level 2 was repeated in the restaurant on level 6. OK there were a few extra items on level 6 but most cruise ships would have had a totally different menu in each restaurant after all why both with more than one restaurant if food is the same. o Wine, as others have described, was awful - yet the French make fabulous wines o Staff unhappy to offer another wine when we did not like or want the “wine of the evening” Many luxury cruise lines include gratuities. Ponant asks guests to either place money in an envelope or have reception charge a per day amount to accounts at the end of the cruise. This is despite Ponant charging similar rates to other luxury cruise companies who include gratuities in the overall rate paid! OK, it wasn’t compulsory but it made things difficult not to! Ponant claims it is in the luxury cruise market and is trying to attract cruisers internationally (not just the French). Standards have most certainly dropped from our previous cruise. Overall cruise costs are similar to other luxury lines, eg Seabourn. Yes, they offer itineraries out of the ordinary but, in our opinion, Ponant has a long way to go before it can compete favourably with those lines. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We saw this ship while on a another cruise and was impressed by its look and finish and commented that we should try this company/ship. When we saw a cruise around French Polynesia we were excited, the online information sounded great, ... Read More
We saw this ship while on a another cruise and was impressed by its look and finish and commented that we should try this company/ship. When we saw a cruise around French Polynesia we were excited, the online information sounded great, the cost was high compared to other all inclusive lines. I booked direct with Ponant in Sydney and the staff were very helpful and I was able to obtain the cabin I thought would suit us best. Boarding in Papeete was unprofessional and dysfunctional, no staff were on the ground to help you or tell you what you needed to do, we were treated as if we were just off for the day sightseeing and not as new guests arriving. There was also NO security screening of any kind. The cabin was adequate, storage was limited but after a day or so we sorted out the room. The bathroom was small in size but well designed, large walk in shower with good water pressure, a rain shower and a hand held, with a glass door/wall. Another great feature is a glass wall panel the looks out into the cabin, this made the space seem much bigger and you can look out to the ocean while in the bathroom, there is also a seperate toilet. The bed/ linen/ pillows were good, over the 7 nights we only saw our room steward once, the room was well maintained and keep clean, toiletries were replenished as required.the fridge in the room did not get cold at all. The ship itself is well designed and easy to get around, being on the small side, the public spaces were limited but they worked well. The dining areas were well presented and I will give more detail re this by area. The Bistro dining area was very well laid out and it opened out onto the pool deck, plenty of seats for two, great selection of food and it was always presented very well.The staff in this area were very helpful and the wine supplied was quite drinkable. We enjoyed every meal we had in this space. The main dining room was formal, the issues I had was there were no tables set for two, I am not a fan of sharing a table for meals, at this level of ship I think this is a major failure in design. We also had very erratic service in this restaurant it went from fantastic to us walking out one night as we sat waiting for 20 minutes for anybody to supply a menu or any form of service. I must admit the Maitre'd did his best to make amends and we did not have any issues again, the food was well presented and very enjoyable. The one major concern we had was the public announcements, all were in French which was as expected, but the English announcements were always short and sometimes not at all and you had the impression that you were only getting half the information. The other guests on the ship were predominantly French and they excelled themselves at being rude and impolite. We have been to different areas of France and spent weeks in Paris over the years and I have never encounted this before. We befriended a couple from Quebec and even they said the same thing, so I know I was not being sensitive, the other English speaking people told me they had the same issue. The staff ranged from rude and unhelpful to lovely, I found the most problems at the main reception desk on level 3, I rang on one occasion and the lady who answered could not speak any English. I always knew that English would be the second language but the office staff were at times just rude while answering you in English. This is the first time in all the cruises we have done that I was pleased to disembark, I wonder was it a "tour group" mentality that the other passengers had, or the fact that it was cruising in a French territory, but either way it was unpleasant. Would I cruise with Ponant again, I am not sure, I loved the ship but..... I feel Ponant have not decided if they are a French Domestic Cruise company only because thats how it seems onboard or if they are truly a global cruise company, compared to Silversea and Azamara they have a long way to go. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose Ponant for its size and so called ‘luxury’ cruising. We found the cabin very small and could not store our bags anywhere. We struggled to move around the cabin without bumping in to one another! We were disappointed in the ... Read More
We chose Ponant for its size and so called ‘luxury’ cruising. We found the cabin very small and could not store our bags anywhere. We struggled to move around the cabin without bumping in to one another! We were disappointed in the meals which we expected to be of a higher standard in both restaurants. We felt general information was lacking. The shore excursions were incredibly over priced for what we received and certainly would not recommend any that we went on. The staff on board were excellent however and have no criticism of them. We did not attend any entertainment activities except for the last night where a local Tahitian dance company came on board and we thoroughly enjoyed the night. Papeete was a huge disappointment for us- very neglected -obviously the French have not poured any money into their colonies over the years. The Tahitians however are a lovely race, friendly and welcoming. Read Less
4 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
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Tauck Tours uses this ship for the Baltic Tour. I won't write about the "tour" part, but the ship had some good aspects. The staterooms were nice and clean. The bed comfortable. After day two, we spent a lot of time off the ... Read More
Tauck Tours uses this ship for the Baltic Tour. I won't write about the "tour" part, but the ship had some good aspects. The staterooms were nice and clean. The bed comfortable. After day two, we spent a lot of time off the ship. Two points of concern. The first is the food, which effected us three times a day. It's just not good. I can't remember one thing I ate that I liked, though now a memory of some good cheese returns. But that it? Cheese? And the wifi. Really? We were given 1.5 hour vouchers, but the service is so slow, 1.5 hours goes by in a wink. I actually had to work while onboard, and it was really difficult. I know other cruise liners provide better service, and for the prices, I would say they need to work on this. Most everyone was nice, the the people at reception got a little terse, mostly because we were there asking questions and they were under-staffed. This experience has made me think I won't be cruising again soon. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Our cruise on the Le Lyrial was quite enjoyable with great food and wine. The Asian crew made sure you had everything that you wanted without a fuss to make sure that you enjoyed your time on board. Saying this I have to say that ... Read More
Our cruise on the Le Lyrial was quite enjoyable with great food and wine. The Asian crew made sure you had everything that you wanted without a fuss to make sure that you enjoyed your time on board. Saying this I have to say that the Cruise Director, Guest Relation Manager and Shorex Manager were extremely rude young women who would only speak to you if you were french. One of these women was not going to listen to me until I said (are you gong to listen to my complaint - twice). There was no organisation for tours going ashore and one day the Shorex Manager was yelling at people asking where to go to meet the tour guide. Meals at dinner in the Le Celeste was very rushed. Entre plate taken and one swoop next dish placed in front of you at the same for the next course. Ponant is having four new ships delivered in the next two years and that means more english speaking people therefore Ponant needs to have all French staff except other languages. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
We recently completed our 3rd & 4th cruise with Ponant. Our prior experience was 5 years ago and it was excellent. Again, the service and friendliness of the general staff (servers, bartenders, cabin stewards, cooks, entertainers, ... Read More
We recently completed our 3rd & 4th cruise with Ponant. Our prior experience was 5 years ago and it was excellent. Again, the service and friendliness of the general staff (servers, bartenders, cabin stewards, cooks, entertainers, excursion helpers, etc.) were excellent! Open bar was a nice touch. The Le Boreal is very nice, but has some limitations for a "luxury" ship. .The rooms are nice, but only 1 chair (2nd person had to sit on bed), very small table, and a very small bathroom. The TV seldom worked and the Internet was slow and often not available. The “included” red wine, white wine & champagne were terrible; the premium wines were over priced. No decent, reasonably priced wines were available. Meals/food were “just OK”; not excellent. Same things daily, over-cooked, not fresh tasting. The bread & cheeses were excellent. Breakfast (eggs) was the probably the best meal of the day .With the exception of 1 excellent lecturer, there were very few lectures and most were poor. Also, there was a Zodiac accident nearly 2 months ago where people could have died and the passengers lost many valuables; there has been no response from Ponant yet. Ponant has changed hands twice since we first cruised with them and has gone down hill. It had been 4 to 5 stars, now it is 3 stars. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
I had never been to Uruguay. This cruise connected with the Amazon cruise which we very much wanted to go on. I enjoyed Montevideo, but would have liked more time to explore. Very rough weather with very few ports. We were supposed to ... Read More
I had never been to Uruguay. This cruise connected with the Amazon cruise which we very much wanted to go on. I enjoyed Montevideo, but would have liked more time to explore. Very rough weather with very few ports. We were supposed to have 2 full days in Rio, but were very late getting in. We had to really cram in the 2 tours and sightseeing. Very disappointing with very little communication from the crew. Late Embarking and late most of the cruise. Balance of non-French speaking passengers was very low. No effort made to get us together. One couple ate with a table of people who spoke no English. They were very uncomfortable until they connected with other passengers. I have sailed with Ponant before and enjoyed the interaction with all passengers, but this cruise was very different. The passengers were NOT very friendly. 1 from UK, 3 from USA, 2 from Canada, 2 from Hong Kong. The rest were French. We were lucky to meet the English lady at the airport, who was traveling by herself. I would suggest a first night mixer for passengers with languages, other than French. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Above all DON'T DRINK the WINE! On day one I tried the ship's wine, it was awful (to be kind.) On the second day I ordered a bottle of French Bordeaux Margaux for 125 Euros thinking I've never had a bad Margaux. I was ... Read More
Above all DON'T DRINK the WINE! On day one I tried the ship's wine, it was awful (to be kind.) On the second day I ordered a bottle of French Bordeaux Margaux for 125 Euros thinking I've never had a bad Margaux. I was wrong this was as bad as the ship's selection. For a French line this is a sin. There were higher priced wines available but based on this experience I abstained for the rest of the voyage. This cruise was part of a Tauck tour through Australia and NZ. What I was told of Tauck being a luxury tour group was wrong. It was average in reality but priced like a luxury tour. The food in the 2nd floor dining room was generally poor with limited menu items. The buffet on the 5th deck was a little better because you could pick and choose you poison. Overall for a ship "hand picked" by Tauck for luxury this was a mistake. Like others on this trip I paid dearly for this tour and I do not believe that I got what I paid for. As this was a smaller ship I did not expect many choices with entertainment and activities. This was as expected. The ship's staff were accommodating and friendly especially the ship's Master and Doctor. Read Less
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