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Sail Date: July 2019
Ponant cruise lines chartered the Le Dumont D'Urville to Thomas P Gohagan & Co. who then marketed the Baltic Sea cruise primarily through college/university alumni offices, Smithsonian Journeys, National Trust for Historic ... Read More
Ponant cruise lines chartered the Le Dumont D'Urville to Thomas P Gohagan & Co. who then marketed the Baltic Sea cruise primarily through college/university alumni offices, Smithsonian Journeys, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Philadelphia Council on World Affairs, etc. So the cruise passengers were members of the various alumni groups and marketing organizations and each of the organizations had a representative who gave lectures during the cruise. Ponant also markets similar cruises directly to the public without the alumni connections and lectures. The Le Dumont D'Urville is a new ship in 2019 so the cabins and all the facilities of the ship were new and designed to a high standard. My understanding is that Ponant has ordered several ships with a standard design that are being delivered in 2019 and 2020. Although the ship has only 92 cabins it is still a sizable ship at 400+ feet long and was stable throughout our cruise. The kitchen is an excellent French kitchen with an outstanding pastry chef. The cabin was well designed with a sliding door to the balcony/veranda. The theater, dining room, grill, observatory lounge were all very comfortable. Although the ship carries an excellent pianist, singer, and dancers, entertainment was limited. Shore excursions were included for all passengers (no need to sign up in advance) with very good local guides and comfortable buses and covered the highlights of the cities visited. There was a pre-cruise extension in Stockholm and a post-cruise extension in Norway covering Oslo, the Oslo-Bergen train, Flam with a fjord cruise, and Bergen. This small ship experience was focused on shore excursions, lectures, excellent meals, and a comfortable outside cabin. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
We liked the idea of French food and smaller portions and not American food which we get on Seabourn. We also wanted to visit Croatia in a small ship. We loved the ship and the open bridge policy. We found the Captain, officers and crew ... Read More
We liked the idea of French food and smaller portions and not American food which we get on Seabourn. We also wanted to visit Croatia in a small ship. We loved the ship and the open bridge policy. We found the Captain, officers and crew terrific and well trained. The ship was attractive but the pool rather small. We would have liked sun umbrellas as there was no shade around that area...nor in the deck area with sunbathing chairs. Our cabin was small but had great storage & well designed. The bathroom was small but had an excellent shower. The separate toilet was very small. We liked our balcony with 2 chairs and small table. The TV sound was poor and we would have liked better news channels. The boutique had quality clothes. We liked dining in the formal restaurant on Deck 2 very much at night but loved lunch and breakfast on the deck (6) in the open air mainly. We enjoyed the Chef’s barbecue and delicious grilled fish. The French pastries were delicious as were all the meals. We saw two shows, one was modern dancers and the other a French Canadian magician. Both excellent. We had a superb tour guide in the pretty island of Rab, one of the best we have found anywhere. We enjoyed all the ports we went to but of course a couple were very crowded as it was high season. The good thing about Ponant is the ship is small enough to visit quieter places. The few, French, children who were on board were beautifully behaved. It is not ideally a cruise for children though. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
Having sailed twice before with Ponant on expedition cruises the choice for our cruise to the Kimberley was easy to make as we knew first hand the type of cruise that we would be joining. Ponant are a little expensive compared to some ... Read More
Having sailed twice before with Ponant on expedition cruises the choice for our cruise to the Kimberley was easy to make as we knew first hand the type of cruise that we would be joining. Ponant are a little expensive compared to some other operators in the Kimberley area, however the quality with Ponant is always the same and they spare nothing to allow each person to enjoy the most out of the adventure. In Wyndham you have the choice of 3 excursions (included in the cruise price),a cruise undertaking the remarkable Ord river wildlife, a scenic flight over the east Kimberley including the Bungle Bungle Range or a day exploring El Questro station including Emma George and Zebedee Springs. We chose the Ord river which is supplied by a Ponant contractor and is a fantastic day seeing all the wild life and the water system of the river. Each day we enjoyed 2 different Zodiacs trips offered by the very experienced Expedition team which allowed us to get up close to some of the most amazing sights on earth. We will never forget the King George River, Vansittart Bay, Hunter River , Mitchell Falls, Collier Bay ( Horizontal Waterfalls), Talbot Bay (Montgomery Reef),Lacepede Islands or the amazing day trips to view and learn about the first nations people and the cave art work and way of life. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2019
This cruise was chosen as it is a smaller ship with only 220 guests. We never felt crowded and the choice of services meant everyone was spread out. A lovely group of people cruising and the whole experience was very refined. Absolutely 5 ... Read More
This cruise was chosen as it is a smaller ship with only 220 guests. We never felt crowded and the choice of services meant everyone was spread out. A lovely group of people cruising and the whole experience was very refined. Absolutely 5 star food and wine. Staff also excellent. When we stopped at each port the information and excursions made available were extensive. We did some excursions and other days did our own thing. The room was spacious enough. We were very pleased to have our own balcony. The main reason we chose Ponant was because the entry level stateroom has a balcony which I think is essential. The housekeeping was very good and attentive to our own needs with pillow menu and room service available 24/7. All inclusive. We had a classical pianist playing every night in the front bar which we really enjoyed. The dancing was great also but a bit dated. Very old fashioned French style. Overall an excellent cruise and we look forward to another. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
This might be a lengthy review, but I feel it needs to be because when booking with Ponant, I found little to no reviews on this company, especially for people who were bringing children. We traveled with our kids 8 and 10 and just got ... Read More
This might be a lengthy review, but I feel it needs to be because when booking with Ponant, I found little to no reviews on this company, especially for people who were bringing children. We traveled with our kids 8 and 10 and just got home from an 8 night Mediterranean cruise onboard the Le Lyrial. We LOVED this ship. The staff were amazing, there was a kids club that I couldn't pull my kids from (more on that), and we were very pleased with the food. Cabins: Cabins are adequate in size. We have been on Royal Caribbean and Disney boats and the Deluxe Balcony stateroom was just as big, with a decent sized balcony. We had cabins 323 and 325, both rooms were perfect for 2 ppl per cabin with plenty of storage. They took out the balcony divider between out staterooms so we could come and go between the cabins. These staterooms do not connect from the inside. Kids Club: There was a kids club on this cruise, which I don't think is offered on all the itineraries. If there's a kids club, it will be listed. My kids loved kids club. The activities they provided for the children were entertaining. No there is not a basketball court, or all the other kids stuff you find on the Disney and RC boats, but my kids never complained about not having that. In fact, they told us this was the best kids club they've been too. Port stops: Because this is a smaller boat, you port in smaller ports and getting off the boat is so much less stressful. Ponant organizes everything to a "T" and we were very impressed with the tours they provided. We generally do not book cruise ship tours, but these tours never had any more than 20 ppl in a group, again a BONUS being on a smaller boat. Food and Dining: Food was great! There are 2 restaurants and we never had a problem getting seating at either of them. I do wish they had a couple more options for the included house wines. With this being a french boat, I was looking forward to tasting some good french wines. They do have them, but they come at a cost. Pool Deck: Never crowed. On a Mediterranean cruise one would have thought you would have problems finding a chair. We never did. Also, ppl do not reserve chairs with towels, which was nice! There were 122 people onboard our ship. Amazing! I can't imagine we will ever be able to go back to a bigger boat after being on the Le Lyrial. I would also like to add that our tour manager, Nina was phenomenal. She organized all our excursions, and they went above and beyond to make sure we had the best experience possible. For example, we booked an excursion that was not offered as an inclusion to the US passengers, and was given only in French. My husband and I knew this going into it. We fully expected that we were going on a French speaking excursion and were OK with that. To our surprise, Nina had organized an English speaking guide to accommodate us that day. It was like we had our on personal guide. We did not expect this at all! But again, this is Ponant, and Nina was just exceptional. All in all we will book again with Ponant. Not having to deal with the crowds on embarking and disembarking is so worth the extra cost! Plus the attention you get on the cruise is priceless. Sail Date: July 2019 Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
Did this cruise two years ago on L'Austral. It was so good we re-booked and took our adult children on with us this time on Le Laperouse. This trip was even better! The new ship is beautiful. Love the cabins and public areas. The new ... Read More
Did this cruise two years ago on L'Austral. It was so good we re-booked and took our adult children on with us this time on Le Laperouse. This trip was even better! The new ship is beautiful. Love the cabins and public areas. The new Zodiac landing arm is amazing. When not in use for this purpose we had a champagne cocktail party on it as well as a concert by an opera singer as the sun was setting over the Indian Ocean. Magical. The expedition team were fantastic. Very knowledgeable and likable. Wonderful Captain and crew on board and sensational food. An incredible itinerary in such a beautiful remote area. We felt very privileged to be able to hike to some of the Aboriginal rock art sites. We are quite well traveled and cruise a lot and hands down this was the best trip we have ever done. Could not fault a thing. If you haven't been to the Kimberley be sea, I would highly recommend it with Ponant. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2019
The crew were unfailingly friendly yet efficient. The organisation of embarkation, disembarkation and the multiple excursions was flawless, and supplemented by daily debriefing/briefing sessions which ensured passengers were well informed ... Read More
The crew were unfailingly friendly yet efficient. The organisation of embarkation, disembarkation and the multiple excursions was flawless, and supplemented by daily debriefing/briefing sessions which ensured passengers were well informed as to the requirements and expectations for each day's activities. Shore excursions were supervised by highly qualified, well-informed and enthusiastic scientist/naturalists, and we visited stunning locations which are only accessible by boat (or helicopter). While encouraged to participate, passengers could do as much or as little as they wished. With only 175 passengers aboard, there was a great sense of community on the ship. Cabin accommodation was very comfortable, well laid out and kept spotlessly clean and replenished by twice-daily staff visits; individual balconies were a bonus. There was plenty of space for lounging and relaxation. Facilities included a gymnasium and sauna/spa/massage. Although there were only about 15 children on board, they were well catered for by the cruise director and her team (and, to their parents' great credit, the children's behaviour was beyond reproach). There were ample entertainments laid on in the evenings and at night. Meals were superb in variety, cuisine and presentation, with excellent wines included (no need to subscribe to the "superior" beverage package!); all dietary requirements were catered for. Only complaint: too short! Would we go again? Definitely! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
I am writing this following a April 2019 transatlantic crossing from Miami to Lisbon ( an itinerary to be repeated in 2020 ). This is a wonderful all inclusive experience as PONANT includes fine wines (including French champagne), ... Read More
I am writing this following a April 2019 transatlantic crossing from Miami to Lisbon ( an itinerary to be repeated in 2020 ). This is a wonderful all inclusive experience as PONANT includes fine wines (including French champagne), alcoholic beverages, tips and even WiFi with no additional charge to the cost of the cruise. Cabins feature toiletries from Hermes and offer all the comforts one would expect from a 5 star cruise line. Dress, however, is country club casual. While PONANT has deep French roots, the entire onboard staff is fluent in English and everything, including announcements, menus and shore excursions, are offered in both English and French. The cuisine, as one would expect, is gourmet and there is complimentary 24 hour room service for those who so desire. On my cruise entertainment included several singers and dancers, a guitar player and professionally trained classical pianist. There is also a lecturer, giving separate presentations in the theater in English and French. Shore excursions sold onboard are varied. The Captain and officers are quite visible and friendly with guests. And the service staff goes beyond expectations, quickly learning guests names and preferences. It should be noted that PONANT offers a number of itineraries with no single supplement, which can easily be found on their website. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
This ship is beautiful. It’s like being on a private yacht, especially when it is nowhere near full. It’s so easy to get everywhere and the decor is very soft aqua with neutrals. Our cabin was lovely and beautifully kept by our steward ... Read More
This ship is beautiful. It’s like being on a private yacht, especially when it is nowhere near full. It’s so easy to get everywhere and the decor is very soft aqua with neutrals. Our cabin was lovely and beautifully kept by our steward Manshuri. It’s really nice to have coffee capsules and different teas available and the mini bar has spirits, soft drinks and water. We were greeted by the Captain who was always around and gave an in depth weather forecast in the lounge daily. All the crew were wonderful and quickly remembered drinks etc (thanks Jay Jay, Richie and Berenice in the lounge) The whole dining process was wonderful all the way through. The staff again were great but special mention must be made for the chef Michenon Ludovic. The food he produced was Michelin star status although, we believe from other passengers, not the normal Ponant food. We looked forward to every meal and we’re not disappointed. From beef Wellington to Halibut with sesame and Asian sauce, to Chateaubriand spectacularly served at our table either by the chef or one of the restaurant managers. We had a gorgeous seafood tagliatelle with lobster, huge prawn and tiny mussels - the list goes on. It made it truly a gourmet cruise. Because it was a transatlantic cruise we were led to believe there would be no entertainment. However we had a great duo( her voice was great), a concert pianist and a singer with 3 dancers - how they dance when the ship is moving I don’t know. The cruise director, María (who was lovely) was very inventive and used the crew for talks or demonstrations and meet and greet sessions We even had a few hours in Funchal, not on the itinerary, which was unexpected but lovely Embarkation was a bit basic but we were in Cayenne which is not a cruise port!! All in all we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and would definitely like to repeat it Thank you to all on board (crew and Passengers)for making it so good Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Le Champlain is a beautiful, small, expedition ship. We sailed on her from Cayenne to Lisbon-had a wonderful time! Only 43 guests on this voyage and 120 crew-the 11 day crossing felt like a party on your best friend's large yacht. ... Read More
Le Champlain is a beautiful, small, expedition ship. We sailed on her from Cayenne to Lisbon-had a wonderful time! Only 43 guests on this voyage and 120 crew-the 11 day crossing felt like a party on your best friend's large yacht. Nationalities of the guests: 5 Americans; 5 Australians; 2 Canadians; 4 from the UK; 1 German; and the rest French. All were well-traveled and everyone mixed well. Language was not an issue - the crew all spoke English and French-with our taxi/restaurant French, we managed to communicate well enough with our French friends. We had a base-level suite on deck 3. Well appointed, but a tad snug-they are significantly smaller than on other lines. We did not find this to be an issue. Food in our opinion was very good and we had a number of exceptional dishes. Service was good throughout the ship - best in the restaurant and suite. Open bar offerings sufficient-no need to up purchase anything. Limited entertainment. Booked another, we liked it so much! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
Just finished a 16 day Durban to Mahe (Seychelle Islands). We were a bit worried about the ship due to some not so good reviews. But, all I can say is it was a fantastic experience! We are generally traveling on Crystal and always happy, ... Read More
Just finished a 16 day Durban to Mahe (Seychelle Islands). We were a bit worried about the ship due to some not so good reviews. But, all I can say is it was a fantastic experience! We are generally traveling on Crystal and always happy, but this line has some very unique itineraries so we thought we would give it a try. To begin, the service is OUTSTANDING. Our Butler Hassan, the restaurant manager Kevin, the expedition guides, our daily food servers, our cabin attendant Rona, all exceeded our expectations. Due to the fact several in our group suffer from food allergy and are vegan, we were pleasantly surprised to find the chef provided very good meals for us. Enjoyed the daily salad bar, and the daily poolside BBQ of a variety of themed items. Several in our group loved the amazing breads, the french style cuisine, the terrific breakfast and option for a casual or more formal daily dinner. It is an all-inclusive ship with open bar. We tried several amazing “featured cocktails” and enjoyed them at the pool bar at sunset. The itinerary was terrific. We boarded the ship in Durban after a few days at the Oyster Box Hotel—which was also OUTSTANDING. Then visits to a variety of uninhabited islands. The snorkeling, diving and nature talks very, very good. Our daughter had a minor dive problem with her ear. The ship doctor and dive master were right on top of it every second and very helpful. We really appreciated their help. Smoking is only allowed off the back of ship. Other reviews complained about this, but I found it no problem. No smoking in rooms or public places. The Captain was quite personable and spoke English and French fluently. This was so nice that we booked two more cruises with really unique itineraries. Looking forward to going back. Loved this ship and staff! Read Less
Sail Date: March 2019
First of all, on our many cruises we've never had such a warm and fuzzy crew, we felt like part of an extended family, and it was genuine. The crew actually bids to come back to the same ship because they like being around each other. ... Read More
First of all, on our many cruises we've never had such a warm and fuzzy crew, we felt like part of an extended family, and it was genuine. The crew actually bids to come back to the same ship because they like being around each other. We never witnessed grouchiness or tension among the staff, in definite contrast to the larger cruise ships we've been on in the past. The service was hence over the top. Perhaps it was just our L'Austral crew, but e.g. the front desk ladies were amazing, juggling all day in at least 2 languages, and manning the reception 24/7. Always friendly with a smile, and anything we asked for was done, taken care of or checked on with efficiency. We never felt 'second class' by not being French, and 99% of the French passengers were very friendly once you tried a few words in French.. I think sometimes people get insecure and appear standoffish until you get to know them a little. Due to the itinerary, we had a significant number of Aussies, Germans, Austrians, some Brits, someone from Iceland, and a handful of Americans. Several multilingual passengers, and an unusually high number of solo travelers. That being said, it does help to speak French, since the naturalists, cruise director etc are all native French people, and not every joke or comment can be translated properly into English. All announcements were always in both French and English. The captain was very involved and you seemed to run into him often. He was there, coming in another Zodiac when ours had engine problems, always ready to help out. He navigated that vessel safely and very smoothly. His background is commanding icebreakers, so a transatlantic is probably much easier work for him. Overall recommendations: Although there's 3 elevators, they don't reach everything, for example the marina. Not a good ship for wheelchair, crutches, or walker. Cane may be okay if you can negotiate 1-2 flights of stairs. Currency on board is Euro, but you can settle your account in USD, and if you book a future cruise on board, the quote can be done in either currency. The onboard boutique/store does NOT have sunscreen, nail clippers, antacids... so don't forget those. They have mostly clothing, a few gifts, small amount of jewelry and handbags. Most of the clothing is for use in Antarctica. All high quality (mostly made in France and Germany), and thus pricey. If you wish to leave tips, you have to have cash. Unlike on other cruise ships, where you can add a tip to your bill, you can't do that on Ponant. The services in the spa already include a service charge. Food/drink: Be prepared to gain weight - we felt like Thanksgiving turkeys.. especially the desserts are too delicious to pass up, plus they have daily varying homemade gelato.. ugh. The pastry chef is top notch, French of course. And then the cheeses...! Our ship wasn't full, so during the first 2 weeks, dinner was either buffet on 6, or sit down on 2, and lunch was only buffet. You can always get coffee drinks, croissants and fruit in the main lounge on 3 in the a.m., and coffee/tea with some type of goodie from 4pm-5pm, main lounge as well. Open bar using decent brands, top shelf is extra. Their champagne is pretty good, and on certain occasions, Veuve Cliquot comes out. House wines red/white/rosé are overall decent. If you like beer, you'll be probably disappointed. Mostly Heineken, and e.g. Corona amazingly has to be paid for. Main dishes range from okay to superb - it really depends who's cooking and what. The mostly Indonesian crew is of course best at fish etc, even room service fish was fantastic. The Peruvian carving chef was amazing. Lamb most of the time was awesome. Be aware most of their beef and pork meats (roast, loin etc) are cooked 'rare' and are quite fatty. Room service club sandwich was the best sandwich we've ever had, period. Now if you can't find anything to strike your fancy, just talk to the restaurant head guy or directly to the chefs, they will come up with something for you. Spa/fitness: actually got a haircut, Elsa was very good and took a whole hour, only 65Euro. The hammam looked nice, very hot in there and we were in the tropics, so didn't use. Fitness center looked nice, mostly deserted. The saltwater pool is a decent size for a small ship, due to internal ramp you can't swim laps but it's nice to hang out or tread water. As far as the itinerary - the Brazilian government has now banned all non-Brazilian vessels from anchoring off Fernando de Noronha. It was quite a bummer, but nothing could be done about it. We received 250Euro onboard credit each as a compensation. OB credit can't be used for future cruise deposit, certain visas they arrange for you, or tips as I mentioned above. Since basically everything is already included, we "had to" shop at the boutique, DH got a real Panama Hat and I bought an Icebreaker vest and 2 Breton sweaters, nice souvenirs! Brazil: Rio - loved it and will try to return Paraty - very quaint, difficult walking on cobblestones, not touristy, and no public RR Salvador - broke my heart to see how they let their city deteriorate in so many ways.. even in the public market prostitution was going on. Very sad. Recife/Olinda - Would love to return to see the Olinda Carnaval. We had dancers from Olinda come to the ship to present a show and they were spectacular. Olinda walking tours are quite the workout walking steep hills in high heat and humidity. Guinea-Bissau, Bijagos Islands There was a couple (he French, she Portuguese) who lives on Keré Island, who acted as cultural intermediaries. Our naturalists came from Antarctica and that's where their expertise lies, not Africa, so they did not have much information. Honestly, most of my information was from documentaries I had found online at home, prior to the voyage. The Islands are definitely not touristy (there's rarely a ferry from Bissau), most of the village inhabitants are very reserved and do not interact. It appears they asked a couple of women to put on their 'good dress' and sit by the walking trail, so people could get their selfies with a person from Bijagos. I felt we were being intrusive overall, although I understand they authorized the visit and Ponant helps finance e.g. a water well etc for the villages. If you're a snorkeler/diver, this is not your spot, water murky with very low visibility. Sadly, we saw almost no wildlife, wrong season, normally there are lot of birds, hippos etc. Senegal-Dakar Well, we spent the day at an African family's B&B in Dougar, 45 min E of Dakar, and about 20min from the new airport. We booked through airbnb.com and they reconciled us with Senegal. Before we arrived there, I couldn't get out of Dakar fast enough, between peddlers, noise, the smell of urine, Sahara dust, and traffic insanities... Considering you don't wait in line for anything except the Zodiac embarkations, and the whole ambiance, it's definitely a luxury line and we're glad we chose this trip. Regardless of the itinerary glitches, we enjoyed ourselves and were thoroughly relaxed, so we booked another/ future cruise onboard, which will be on one of the sister ships. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The South Pacific is a bucket-list destination and the back-to-back cruises on Le Soleal hit all the high spots. I generally like expedition-style cruises, but the itinerary captivated me: Cruise #1: Easter Island, Pitcairn, Gambier ... Read More
The South Pacific is a bucket-list destination and the back-to-back cruises on Le Soleal hit all the high spots. I generally like expedition-style cruises, but the itinerary captivated me: Cruise #1: Easter Island, Pitcairn, Gambier Islands, Moorea, Bora Bora and Papeete; Cruise#2: Papeete, Moorea, Tuamotu islands, Marquesa Islands, Hilo, Honolulu This review will cover both cruises. As it turned out, the itienrary had a lot of expedition-style elements: transportation by zodiac, snorkel eqipt. issued, visiting out of the way places (not even listed in Lonely Planet or much on the web about them), an excellent speaker introducing us to the various Polynesian cultures, film programs, some hiking, and excellent local guides. The mix on the ship was about 50% French-speaking and the rest English speaking (consisting of US, Australian/New Zelanders, Europeans) and most programs were offered twice, once for the French speaking, and again for the English speaking audience. Ship announcements were bi-lingual. Food is both restaurants is excellent and I enjoyed the buffet on on the 6th level for most meals as I could "eat and run". Spa services are excellent I liked that the ship had a afternoon reception for those of us traveling on our own so we could meet each other. This is a 5-star ship, with 5-star dining, 5-star services and 5-star amenities (for example, bathroom amenities are from Hermes). Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
It was my husband’s 70th birthday and we are wildlife carers so the opportunity to see so many penguin, albatross and seals in their natural,habitat was a must for us. We had never done such a cruise before, a smaller ship, only 150 ... Read More
It was my husband’s 70th birthday and we are wildlife carers so the opportunity to see so many penguin, albatross and seals in their natural,habitat was a must for us. We had never done such a cruise before, a smaller ship, only 150 passengers and 100 crew. We were amazed at having 13 expedition leaders to lead trips on zodiacs to various islands, each had speciality knowledge, flora, fauna and geological. Each day we experienced an expedition on zodiacs, we felt safe and were always assisted into and out of the boats. Despite some rough seas, we were comfortable and the shipmbehaved well, our Captain was very experienced in difficult seas, having taken passengers down to antarctic waters previously. The most wonderful experience was going to Macquarie Island where few people are able to go. We were surrounded on the beach by hundreds of King and Royal,penguins, a remarkable experience, to sit on the beach and have the birds come up to us and check us over. We visited islands of New Zealand including Enderby where we saw Royal Albatross and endangered yellow eyed penguins. I can thoroughly recommend this cruise if anyone is interested in wildlife. Despite the average age was 60+ no one seemed to miss out on the enjoyment, It was the best cruise ever, expensive but everything was provided, Nespresso machine and kettle for tea and coffee in our cabins, all wine and spirits unless expensive kinds wanted, French cuisine for lunch and dinner. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
I wanted to go to Antarctica in comfort and Ponant offered an excellent 'no single supplement' deal. Le Boreal is an elegant and well maintained ship with wonderful staff. It was very annoying not to get our travel documents ... Read More
I wanted to go to Antarctica in comfort and Ponant offered an excellent 'no single supplement' deal. Le Boreal is an elegant and well maintained ship with wonderful staff. It was very annoying not to get our travel documents until 2 weeks before departure. I was stressing about the baggage limits and the timing of the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. It turned out I need not have worried as the flight was at 0830 and the baggage limit was 23kgs. Arriving in Ushuaia we were taken to the magnificent hotel Arakur for lunch and an optional walk. The amount of time at the hotel could have been halved. On Le Boreal we ate most of our meals in the main dining room on level 2 rather than the self service option on level 6. Excellent variety of well prepared food and free flowing wines. The staff remembered our preferences and I noticed them carefully 'tweaking' the dishes on offer for a couple of fussy passengers. I always had room service breakfast which was fast and my order was always correct, something that is often a problem on larger ships. Being an expedition voyage, the emphasis was on zodiac rides and landings. As I am decidedly unfit I was a bit worried about these activities. I need not have been. The expedition leader, Florence, gave detailed briefings each day and there was a good little video demonstrating how to get on and off and in and out of the zodiacs. The sailors at the marina were wonderful, assisting all passengers. Passengers were divided into groups by language, i.e. French or English with the few Germans going with German speaking naturalist. Group order was rotated each day. I did not do all the excursions on offer, choosing those I felt most comfortable with. I am not an outdoors person, so all the layers of clothing were a new experience for me. Getting kitted up to venture out was a huge effort. Underthings, thermals, next layer, waterproof pants, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, neck scarf, beanie and enormous red Ponant supplied parka. As my stuff was all brand new I did not have to vacuum it prior to landing on the Antarctic peninsula. The supplied boots were a hassle and the website advice to go down a size when ordering was definitely incorrect. I ended up 3 sizes larger and still had to roll the boots over at the top, so if we had had very wet landings my feet would have been wet. Something to consider if you don't have slender legs. However this is a cruise where you can enjoy the great wilderness that is Antarctica from the comfort of your ship. Iceberg and whale viewings were magnificent. Our captain slowed down when there was something to see and we spent hours sailing around an enormous tabular iceberg. All in all I loved this cruise. At sea Ponant does a very good job indeed. It was a shame therefore that it ended on a real downer. After a faultless cruise, Ponant did not excel with the return transfers and flight. Left the ship at 0900, hung around Ushuaia for 45 minutes and then queued for over 90 minutes at the airport. The LATAM flight was a disorganised mess and the service was non existent. The flight down on Air Austral was much better but I would seriously suggest organising your own way to and from the ship. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
From the moment we arrived at the Buenos Aries airport to board our charter flight to Ushuaia , the attention to detail with this cruise line was evident. From having boarding passes ready to go, to buses in you should wear divided by ... Read More
From the moment we arrived at the Buenos Aries airport to board our charter flight to Ushuaia , the attention to detail with this cruise line was evident. From having boarding passes ready to go, to buses in you should wear divided by language, there was nothing it was left chance. The ship was immaculate and in wonderful shape, however it pale by comparison to the genuine friendliness and graciousness of the crew. They are relaxed elegant manner in meeting guest’s requests, made it an absolute delight to be on board. As Antarctica cruise, the coordination of people in and out of zodiacs was masterful and without incident. The food was wonderfully proportioned in the main dining room and for those of preferred self service, there was a buffet on the sixth deck. The lectures from the expedition crew we're insightful, pertinent pertinent, and well delivered. The trip lived up to the value proposition of a luxury cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
This trip began in Buenos Aires with a night at the Hyatt located in Recoleta. We have sailed with Ponant previously so knew the expeditions off boat would be great. We had two trips in zodiacs each day whilst on the Antarctic peninsula, ... Read More
This trip began in Buenos Aires with a night at the Hyatt located in Recoleta. We have sailed with Ponant previously so knew the expeditions off boat would be great. We had two trips in zodiacs each day whilst on the Antarctic peninsula, one a landing and the other a zodiac trip to take photographs. All were amazing and the expedition staff were extremely knowledgeable and generous with their time. We were so lucky with the weather that all but one zodiac trip went ahead. The recap of each day allowed for questions and expanded our general knowledge of what we had seen. Attention to detail to ensure our boots were sterile before stepping ashore was reassuring in not contaminating the otherwise pristine antarctic shores. Life on board was fabulous - great food and wine (even without a drinks package) extremely comfortable cabins and fabulous service not only in restaurants and bars but also in our cabin. We were so impressed that we have booked another Ponant cruise in the Arctic in July. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
I chose Ponant based on the dates available, as well as a lower single supplement than I saw on other cruises that I researched. Ponant alsoninvluded the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia which was a bonus. I spent a night in Buenos ... Read More
I chose Ponant based on the dates available, as well as a lower single supplement than I saw on other cruises that I researched. Ponant alsoninvluded the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia which was a bonus. I spent a night in Buenos Aires after my flight from JFK, and met the Ponant team at the airport the next morning. The representatives were easy to find and I was quickly waiting in line to drop of my luggage and wait for boarding. After landing in Ushuaia, Ponant offered either a trip to the national park or lunch at a beautiful hotel overlooking the city. I chose lunch. Here, I met other solo travelers who I dined with throughout the cruise. We were then taken to the ship were we began the embarkation process. There was no waiting. Walked directly from the bus up the gangway and onto the ship. We were greeted by the staff, and brought to our rooms. The room was very spacious and the bathroom had a sliding door covering a window which allowed you to watch the scenery when showering. It was very nice! Throughout the cruise, the staff kept us well informed of what the plans were for the day. We generally made 2 zodiac trips per day and most days, 2 landings. Everything was organized very well, from getting our parkas and boots to the daily educational programs (provided in French and English). Our weather was phenomenal, and Drake’s passage was like glass both directions! The expedition team was very concerned about the guests seeing as much as possible and worked very hard to ensure it. There are 2 restaurants on board and I generally chose to visit the buffet which allowed more choice than the sit down restaurant. The food was overall excellent and often had a French flair. The staff on the ship were lovely and any needs were met right away. This cruise was all inclusive and the drinks flowed freely! I did not attend any of the shows except the last one on the last night. It was cute but I’m not a show person. The WiFi was great! Free, and I was able to check email, social media, and text with family and friends (helpful since I was traveling solo). No issues with disembarkation at all. Extremely smooth and organized cruise. Loved Antarctica! I would go back and would chose Ponant again for sure!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
My background being Hospitality, Housekeeping, PR and Compliance I felt the crew, Officers and the Captain acted in a very respectful and lovely manner along with creating a great atmosphere. • The ship was a small luxurious one and ... Read More
My background being Hospitality, Housekeeping, PR and Compliance I felt the crew, Officers and the Captain acted in a very respectful and lovely manner along with creating a great atmosphere. • The ship was a small luxurious one and I took into observation myself on what was available and what was limited especially regarding the trip to Antarctica. • The restaurant staff were very efficient and worked well under pressure at times (special occasions such as gala nights) while keeping great composure. • I was more drawn to the A La Carte and found the food to be very delicious along with a variety of specialties. • The drinks service at the bar was great. • The entertainment was good for being a small luxury ship and I considered that it wasn’t a party ship, but more of an intimate one as why I decided on a small luxury ship. • The cabin room had a balcony and it was very lovely and cosy with great space and storage. • The room service was great and the steward, she was very lovely. • The zodiac expeditions were very well organised and supervised by the Officer/s and crew who were very safety conscious and were never hesitant to take anything into consideration. • The Expedition Leader/ Naturalist (one in particular) were very well experienced and very knowledgeable and the lectures given were presented very well and were interesting. Engaging would be the word due to their passion. • I observed some customers giving some staff a hard time at the reception regarding “their concerns/expectations” of which I saw was well handled and sorted with great communication and expedience. • Any feedback was also taken into consideration and handled diligently and implemented. • The Captain and Expedition Leader both delivered on an amazing substituted trip in place of an expedition trip on one of the days we were not able to get to a destination due to weather and an ice blockage however this idea was a phenomenal one along with being in the right place to see whale activity much closer. Three Things To Consider • Single Supplementary Charges make it less flexible along with less journeys/experience to go on than I would like to have; • The cooked bacon could be improved; and • Regarding kids maybe more involvement interaction as they are the future however, I did see the Expedition Leader do his best with what he had and could do. It was the first time I had experienced a cruise, taken three flights within 24/48hrs experiencing jet lag for the first time along with travelling alone to areas with little language experience. The trip was perfect along with the weather and this was not “the Norm” every time so I got a special trip. I have lots of photos, lost of memories and I went on the trip with no expectations and instead it was just about enjoying the moments. Thank you to all who made my trip a great one and I will definitely be back for more. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2019
The cruise was amazing. These ships are superb and so smoothly do what they are designed for. Inc getting every out into the zodiacs often. The sights in Antarctica are stunning and the wildlife. Well humpbacks penguins galore and special ... Read More
The cruise was amazing. These ships are superb and so smoothly do what they are designed for. Inc getting every out into the zodiacs often. The sights in Antarctica are stunning and the wildlife. Well humpbacks penguins galore and special sights like minkes up close in a zodiac. 6am rise for a pod of orcas and to top it off a blue whale in the weddell sea. The guides and the zodiac drivers did a great job of getting you close to interesting sights and explaining everything well. On the ship the crew were great. Everything was so well taken care off. And the food well. Level 2 is Devine. I guess what you expect on a French ship! The crossing back across the Drake was windy but what's a trip to Antarctica without having to say you have endured the Drake... These Ponant ships are excellent. I would do it again in a heart beat. Maybe a tropical trip next time or Alaska. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2019
I have always wanted to go to Antartica, and Ponant ad for this Antartica cruise was in our Travel Paper. Price was really good. The flight from BA to ushaia was quite dreadful, coupleas were not seated together and far to much luggage ... Read More
I have always wanted to go to Antartica, and Ponant ad for this Antartica cruise was in our Travel Paper. Price was really good. The flight from BA to ushaia was quite dreadful, coupleas were not seated together and far to much luggage allowed in cabin. The embarkation was seamless and very welcoming . The ship itself was pristine, hygiene incrediable, service form all staff inpeckiable, the facilities were outstanding. To be fair could not fault anything. The communication throughout the 10days was so regular and UTD. The excursions were professional and very well organised. comfort plus. I would definantly only ever do another cruise with Ponant, as ticked every box. Food was exceptional, and loads of variety, activity was constant and varied. Very professional expedition leaders and the staff involved in hauling us on and of the zodiacs were amazing. Captain was informative and passionate about his ship as well as Antartica. JUST AMAZING EPIC AND BREATHTAKING. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
(Apologies if this is a bit long, but I know i love to get all the details when I read a review!) Day 1 - Boarding As others have noted Ponant are very strict with their 1 hour boarding window, and even turning up 15 minutes early ... Read More
(Apologies if this is a bit long, but I know i love to get all the details when I read a review!) Day 1 - Boarding As others have noted Ponant are very strict with their 1 hour boarding window, and even turning up 15 minutes early meant we were only able to leave our luggage and head for a beer in the brewery next door! Boarding in Cairns was very straightforward, with no Immigration requirements as this was an Australian cruise. There was a short delay boarding while both the Captain and the Chairman (Sarina Bratton A.M.) greeted every passenger. Once on board we were escorted to our cabin (312 which is about 10m from Reception). First impressions of the cabin were excellent. The light airy décor and general cabin layout were good, and the cabin was spotless. Departure As the next day was a port call at Lizard Island, the programme once aboard was rushed. Just time to grab a welcome drink before at 5pm (as boarding finished) there was an expedition briefing in the theatre and issue of lifejackets for the Zodiacs. Then back to the cabin to retrieve our full lifejackets for lifeboat drill in the theatre at 5:30pm – fortunately nothing is too far from anywhere on Le Laperouse. This was immediately followed by drinks on the rear deck for sailaway at 6pm, then dinner from 7:00pm. Day 2 – Lizard Island Our call at Lizard Island was affected by weather with the preferred anchorage unsuitable due to wind and swell. However the crew had a Plan B and we stopped on the other side of the island (although the captain was unable to anchor and had to drift and reposition the ship all day). This meant a slightly longer 15 minute Zodiac trip to the beach, and no real opportunity for snorkelling although the water was pleasant for swimming. The passengers were split into 4 colour groups for the duration of the cruise, and this determined your activity order and Zodiac boarding time. Generally this process ran pretty efficiently and too schedule. There were a couple of guided walks offered morning and afternoon which weren’t too strenuous and allowed us to become better acquainted with some of the Expedition team. Sailaway preceded the Captains Welcome party on the rear deck and the first of what proved to be many 6-course degustation dinners! Dress was what I describe as ‘semi-formal’ with most men wearing jackets, some wearing a tie as well, but others in long-sleeve shirts and slacks (noting it was 30ºC plus outside). Due to the balmy weather, the Grill on Level 3 was open every meal for those who didn’t wan’t a large extended dinner or wished to dress more casually. Day 3 & 4 – Willis Island Due to the massive complexity of Australian marine regulation (discussed by Sarina Bratton during her Q&A session) the cruise included 2 days at sea to make a “technical stop” at Willis Island. This constitutes ‘leaving Australia’ and avoids coastal-cruising fees which otherwise would be lumped onto the fares. Activities during what were effectively 2 sea days included lectures from the Expedition crew, and Sarina’s Q&A session. Snorkelling equipment was also issued to those so inclined, which you kept for the duration of the reef visits. A highlight was the seafood luncheon prepared by the guest chef, Guillame Brahimi, and the first of his 2 degustation dinners. Worth noting that the degustation dinners took nearly 2.5 hours to get to the final course as everyone was served at once. Day 5 – Hardy Reef The visit to Hardy Reef involves being moved by Zodiac to a moored reef pontoon some 20 minutes away by Zodiac. This is due to the restricted anchorage available for ships of this size. Due to choppy weather conditions, everyone got soaked en-route to the platform – fortunately the water was warm! We had the run of the platform except for between 11am and 4pm when we were joined by day-trippers. This included a ride in a semi-submersible over the reef, an underwater observatory, and snorkelling. Coffee, tea and water and toilets were available on the platforms cruise boat moored at the platform. Day 6 – Percy Island We moored off Percy Island in calmer conditions with a 5-10 minute ride into the beach. The crew had erected beach umbrellas on the sand, and stand-up paddleboards (SUPs) and 2-man kayaks were available to tour the small lagoon at the end of the beach during the morning. 2 walks were available, which were a bit more strenuous than Lizard Island, although a few wilting passengers were kindly transported by ute and quadbike by the residents (all 5 of them). Percy Island’s highlight is the “Yacht Club”, a large A-frame building covered in plaques and memorabilia from passing yachts (and cruise ships) – you could spend hours looking through them all. A pleasant surprise in the afternoon was a ‘cocktail party’ on the beach with rum punch, champagne and beer and a game of boules! Followed by another degustation dinner… Day 7 – Lady Musgrave Island Ponant arranges with the Lady Musgrave Experience tour boat for access to its facilities at Lady Musgrave Island. This includes snorkelling of their large reef boat, a glass-bottom boat tour and a walk around Lady Musgrave Island to see the turtle rookeries and bird colonies. However, rough weather made it impossible for the Zodiacs to be loaded, although the captain to his credit tried everything. Ultimately, to our amazement, they arranged to try a direct boat-to-boat transfer to the large reef boat! Some great seamanship on both sides saw 110 passengers taken to the reef to get a shortened experience for 2-3 hours. The snorkelling was excellent, and the guided walk (although necessarily short) was well done. All credit must go to the captains and crews for making it possible – lots of other cruises ships would have called it off hours earlier. Days 8 & 9 – At sea The next two days saw us cruise in increasingly better weather down the Australian east coast. An advantage of a ship with no casino, and smaller size, means they travel closer to the coast and there is more to see. One morning it was our colour groups turn at a Wine and Cheese Tasting hosted by the Sommelier, a chance to try some of the wines on the wine list paired with some excellent French cheeses (a step up from those on the buffet). Another degustation dinner… Day 10 – Newcastle Newcastle is a former steel making town that is re-inventing itself as a tourist destination based on its beaches and proximity to the Hunter Valley winery region. Ponant had organised an included tour, with each colour group boarding a coach to visit three of four wineries in the Hunter (so no 2 groups were at the same place at the same time), with all coaches converging on one winery for a 2-course lunch with some excellent local wine. A good day capped off with another degustation dinner… Day 11 – Sydney Our visit to Sydney highlighted the crisis the iconic harbour suffers with insufficient cruise ship capacity (particularly for large ships). We were unable to moor at the Overseas Passenger Terminal until 7pm due to another ship being port, and no other berth being available. The day started very well with the ship pulling into Broken Bay at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River. Zodiac tours ended up at a “surprise” location on a local tourist boat where we had an oyster shucking and testing session with some nice local wines – I sat among a group of non-oyster eaters and had a great time! The oysters were wonderful. About 30 passengers disembarked (mainly due to early flights the following day), and the remainder were allowed off from about 8pm to wander around The Rocks and Opera House precinct. Day 12 – Sydney Disembarkation was a nightmare – although it wasn’t particularly Ponant’s fault. At 4am Le Laperouse had to leave the OPT and moor at a mid-harbour anchorage so a large Carnival ship could berth. Passengers baggage was taken off and left at the OPT. The remaining passengers had to disembark by tender from 7am. This involved a bumpy 20 minute tender ride to the steps of the Opera House, very difficult for passengers with reduced mobility. That’s where the fun started… We were then herded across the Opera House forecourt by rude Security staff and loaded onto small buses to be taken to the OPT to clear Border Force formalities and get our baggage. This trip took nearly 20 minutes to cover what would be a 5-10 minute walk… Once at the terminal (about 8:15) we were forced to sit in the terminal (unless you joined the escorted tours to the toilets) until nearly 9:30 while Border Force finished with the Carnival ship. After all that, the actual Border Force process involved handing over the Incoming Passenger card and walking through… they would have processed all the passengers in less than 5 minutes. We could have dropped the cards in a box and been just as thoroughly processed. A very ordinary introduction to Sydney for our international visitors (although perhaps no great surprise to those of us locals who put up with their bureaucratic nonsense on a regular basis!). Overall Impression The Cabin Main Area – The bed and pillows were very comfortable, and the air-conditioning well controlled. The only real issue is the very narrow space at the foot of the bed requires the occasional pas-de-deux with your companion. Storage – shallow draws beneath the bedside tables (wide on one side of the bed, narrow on the other) with some space below. Good cupboards under the bench below the TV (although draws might have been better). Main wardrobe had good hanging space and plenty of hangers, with a shelf above (occupied by life jackets) and 4 storage shelves full-height on the side. Another cupboard to the side held the coffee/tea facilities (including a Nespresso machine and a kettle) and the mini-bar fridge (stocked with gin, vodka, scotch and bourbon along with beer, sparkling water, Coke, Coke no-sugar, tonic and fruit juice). The under-bed space was sufficient to store suitcases, although larger cases would need to be ‘butterflied’. Bathroom - The separate toilet and shower are a good idea, although the toilet cubicle is very small! The shower recess is quite roomy for a ship. All products were Hermes (a tie up with a parent company). There is a single large draw and 2 shelves and some bench space around the sink for storage. The only issue was that you can’t plug the sink to shave. Entertainment A large flat-screen TV has about 15 channels of mixed French/English entertainment and news channels, as well as channel for the front webcam and another for an underwater camera. There is a wide selection of new and old movies (although “Titanic” and “Lifeboat” may be odd choices for a cruise ship!). The only sport was mainly soccer (EPL etc), although watching the Super Bowl in French was novel! The Ship The ship generally has everything you want. Social life focusses around the main lounge and bar and the Grill area outside in fine weather, and in the Panorama Bar/Lounge above the Bridge. The much vaunted Blue Eye lounge is only open a few hours a day, and was rarely used. A short “Blue Eye Experience” was interesting, but otherwise it wasn’t open when you wanted it to be… The medical centre is staffed by a doctor and nurse, and a couple of people who had need of their services said they were helpful but expensive! The shop sells a lot of clothing and a few souvenirs, but doesn’t really stock any forgotten necessities. The Spa was well customised, the Sauna is beautiful (but not much used when it was already 30 plus outside!) and I believe there was a gym ! The theatre is comfortable and spacious, and can seat all passengers at once. It is used for daily recaps and briefings on Excursion cruises, and shows with the ships dancers on roughly alternate nights, weather permitting. The open-bridge policy is nice, and the crew are happy to answer questions. Once per cruise you can attend a bridge visit with the Captain who spent nearly an hour talking about the ship and it’s equipment and answering questions. The marina dock at the rear of the ship made boarding the Zodiacs relatively simple, and it can be raised to serve as a stage for the Captain’s welcome. Watching it unfurl itself from under the rear deck is a piece of theatre in itself! The Crew In a word, outstanding. Always friendly, quick to learn who you were and very visible and available – particularly the Captain who would frequently be on hand at the Marina as you boarded the Zodiacs. The opportunity was presented a couple of times during the cruise to ‘dine with an officer’ via a sign-up list at the Reception desk. We had two very pleasant dinners with crew, one hosted by the Reef Pilot and his wife, and once by the Cruise Director and the Shore Tours Manager. We were also joined by one of the Expedition team for a celebration dinner for my birthday. The waiters were generally engaging and efficient, and the bar staff quick to learn your preferences and anticipate your requirements! The Expedition team were all very friendly and engaged with the passengers frequently. When manning Zodiacs or taking guided walks they were well informed on the locations and wildlife. Our cabin steward was highly efficient but must have abseiled into the cabin ninja-like, as I think I saw him twice in 11 days for about 30 seconds each time. I never even found out his name… The Food… the food… the food… I guess that on a Food and Wine theme cruise, I shouldn’t have been surprised but there was SO MUCH FOOD…! Breakfasts were served either in the Nautilus Restaurant or the Grille, and were largely self-serve although egg dishes were available to order. A good range of juices, cereals, pastries, bread and hot food were available at the buffets. Lunch was similar, with one themed lunch run by the guest chef apart from the on-shore lunch arranged in Newcastle. Afternoon ‘tea’ food was available in the Main Lounge if you couldn’t hold out until dinner. Due to the theme, the normal 3 ‘Gala’ nights were supplemented by 2 others run by the guest chef, hence there were 5 six-course degustation dinners over 11 nights which was too much! To cap it off on the guest chef nights, you returned to your cabin to find a box of caramels or nougat on the bed… There was always a small treat left by the steward every night at turn-down, although many went uneaten as we couldn’t face any more food… The food itself was extremely good, and some of the dishes produced by the guest chef were sublime. There was a strong seafood content, although alternatives were always available, and a full vegetarian degustation was always offered in parallel on Gala nights. Room service was also available and included, but unused in my case. Drinks There was an ‘open’ bar including the in-cabin minibar, however there were a variety of extra-cost items and an extensive wine list with wines up to €900+ per bottle. There was also the option to purchase a €20 Euro/day (full duration only) package on the first 2 days that added more premium spirits and cocktails, and additional wines, to the package. Oddly, any premium spirit was charged at full cost despite the cost differential to the standard spirit being small (e.g. Johnnie Walker Red was included but Johnnie Walker Black was an extra €8 per serve, despite the cost differential between whole bottles being only roughly €10 in Australia or about €0.75 per serve – the same thing with Gordons vs Bombay Sapphire gin). The Itinerary The itinerary was as interesting as you would like an Expedition on the Great Barrier Reef to be. A pity that the local regulations forced the 2 sea days for the ‘technical stop’ as it would have been good to visit another part of the Great Barrier Reef (or one of the coastal towns). As a first time visitor, all the locations were interesting however they were all unsurprisingly to the same theme (swimming, snorkelling, beach) except Newcastle. In Summary Summing up this was a really excellent cruise despite the weather and the intervention of the Australian rules and regulations. Ponant have an excellent product and their crew are determined to make sure you enjoy your holiday. The cruise, even when hampered by weather, was conducted in good spirits and the small number of passengers made it very social as you ended up dining with nearly everyone at least once. As a first time Ponant cruiser, it was interesting to see the number of repeat cruisers with many following Sarina Bratton from her former Orion line. There was a definite French ‘touch’ to the ship, mainly in the décor, food and entertainment, but with 70% of the passengers being Australian the cruise was conducted entirely in English with all the crew bi- (or tri) lingual. I heard very few complaints (one woman was outraged she couldn’t order Eggs Benedict one day when it wasn’t the ‘egg of the day’) apart from the general concern about the disembarkation. A few passengers were amazed that they wouldn’t be able to disembark and make an 11am international flight – however their stupidity in booking a flight that required them to be at the airport (30 minutes from the terminal), an hour before the scheduled disembarkation time can hardly be laid at Ponant’s door, despite the passengers best efforts. All in all, highly recommended. We cruise again on Le Laperouse in 2 weeks to the Sub-Antarctic Islands and I can’t wait! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Words can’t do this cruise justice as is was far beyond anything that you expect The team are great and very knowledgeable. They are only too happy to share this with you. The wild life is amazing, beautiful and diverse. The ... Read More
Words can’t do this cruise justice as is was far beyond anything that you expect The team are great and very knowledgeable. They are only too happy to share this with you. The wild life is amazing, beautiful and diverse. The zodiac tours are great with lots of penguins all around you and the ship at Macca. They follow you like babies following mum. They are so fast in the water and waddle on land. The weather is cold but you are dressed properly and I was never cold. The ship is a great haven in the middle of nowhere. Warm, good food, drinks. There are rules that you have to abide by, no food to leave the ship, take nothing with you when you leave, stay on the boardwalk, don’t touch the wildlife. All outer clothes have to be vacuumed when you get back so as not to contaminate the next stop. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Antarctica 2019 -What am amazing trip. The ship and the crew where Wonderfull. From the start, Ponant picked us at the airport - took care of all our luggage and bought it right to our room. Friendly greeting by the Captain, and ... Read More
Antarctica 2019 -What am amazing trip. The ship and the crew where Wonderfull. From the start, Ponant picked us at the airport - took care of all our luggage and bought it right to our room. Friendly greeting by the Captain, and cocktails waiting when you arrived on board. The expedition team- was amazing, friendly, knowledgable and top notch. The expedition team is really what made this already amazing trip to Antarctica even better. They where such a great group that made sure every day you knew what you were doing and ran every excursion smoothly. We had a recap every day of what we did, what we saw and what to expect the next day. We had great educational lectures, about the animals, landscape and facts about Antarctica. I just can not say enough about the expedition team we had. Whale Watching - When ever we would spot Whales, the Captain would stop the ship and circle around and whale watch. You felt like you where on a whale watching trip. They Bridge and the expedition team, made sure you had the full Antarctica experience. This is defiantly one of the great perks on being on a small ship. The Ship was lovely, and spotless. The rooms where clean and you had amazing view everyday. The food was fantastic, the desserts where amazing. Wow!! So much great French Cheese. Over all, the ship was run first class, you never had to worry about anything. Everything and anything was taken care of. Tips - Bring extra face cream and variety of creams (my face got very dry and wind blown) Dress Code - I stressed over what to bring for dinners and the 2 Captains dinner. They 2 more formal nights (are optional). Men: Sports Jackets / Suites. Women in cocktail dresses, some more casual dressed then other and some much more formal. The formal night defiantly had a wide range of styles. Some ladies had slacks, and accessorized. I had a nice sweater dress, necklace and earnings. Heals or flats worked. Other nights, I would wear black fitted slacks and pretty blouses. I suggest pack a few nice pieces. Over all the ship was warm and comfortable , so you do not need heavy clothes for dinner. Always nice to have layers and a sweater if you had to run out to the decks to see a whale or an amazing Ice Berg. I would go back on Ponant Cruise and most defiantly go back to Antarctica - it was spectacular. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
The staff on board Le Soleal were fabulous and always available to help. The ship itself was of a high standard with plenty of creature comforts. We were in a PR Deck 6 Cabin which was allocated from a Deluxe Guarantee Cabin and it was the ... Read More
The staff on board Le Soleal were fabulous and always available to help. The ship itself was of a high standard with plenty of creature comforts. We were in a PR Deck 6 Cabin which was allocated from a Deluxe Guarantee Cabin and it was the perfect position on Deck 6 being close by to the casual dining (buffet) area at the front and the bar / lounge at the back, both with observation decks. The cabin itself is spacious with large window doors opening to the balcony, very comfortable for the 11 days. Exceptional service on board from all staff including the expedition crew who were very knowledgeable, each with their own area of expertise. The wildlife and scenery in the Weddell Sea and on the Antarctic Peninsula was incredible and i believe the expedition staff and captain picked great landing spots throughout based on both of these. The only concern i have is that the 'charter' flight are not always chartered. The one from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia was a commercial flight where we had to check ourselves in with no real instructions on if we should just proceed or do this as a group. The airline (AR) was unaware of any group (because it was a commercial flight and not charter) and therefore didn't know anything about the 'voucher' which was provided by Ponant as the info on the flights. The 'voucher' stated luggage was 1pc 23kgs however AR only accept 15kgs so we had to pay for the excess luggage amount from the 15-23kgs which was extremely disappointing since those who had the 'charter' flight earlier that day would have checked in as a group and not had this issue in anyway. Coming back we had the actual charter flight while others would have been on the commercial one where they were not getting their bags transferred together and instead had to do this themselves as well as checking in etc which is disappointing when everyone believes they are paying for charter flights where the cost IS much higher then the normal commercial flights and instead they are on commercial anyway with no real instructions. Otherwise i do highly recommend if you are looking for a deluxe all inclusive Antarctica Cruise that Ponant for the cruising portion is a great option. Read Less
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