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6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
My wife & I chose Ponant on the recommendation of our travel agent as the preferred cruise line to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with a transit of the North West Passage. Unfortunately, Ponant failed dismally to deliver ... Read More
My wife & I chose Ponant on the recommendation of our travel agent as the preferred cruise line to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary with a transit of the North West Passage. Unfortunately, Ponant failed dismally to deliver & in our opinion, were misleading & deceptive in their decision to proceed with the cruise in view of the forecast sea ice conditions. We believe that Ponant should have known that the NWP was or was likely to be impassable prior to embarcation on le Soleal (& le Boreal) as reported by the Canadian Ice Service & Canadian Coast Guard. I need not repeat the reviews of other Cruise Critic members on the the saga of the connecting air charters, the second class treatment of non-French passengers, the shortage of restaurant staff, food & drinks or the amount of time spent needlessly sailing around Greenland so as to use up the number of cruise days. These comments are consistent with our experience & that of other passengers, including a number of French passengers who were equally unimpressed - "luxury" it was not! While these issues have been formally raised with Ponant by a number of passengers, no adequate response has yet been provided. The cabin, a “deluxe stateroom” was clean & comfortable but included only one chair in the room & we had to bring a chair from the verandah to sit in the room as a couple. Dining was a disaster as the ship was full to capacity & there was insufficient capacity in the 2 dining rooms – one of which required bookings & was usually full. Further, both restaurants were understaffed, the food selection was limited & definitely not “heute cusine”. Embarcation of the Australians & some other nationalities was after midnight from a tender after a long, economy charter flight from Paris via Copenhagen that was so full that some of the baggage had to be stored in a bathroom (against aircraft regulations?). At the end of the “cruise” we suffered another economy charter from Kangerlussaq to Seattle (over 10 hours) with an unexpected stop in Buffallo NY where we were not permitted to leave the aircraft. We understand that many of the French passengers were flown business class from & to Paris by Ponant at no extra cost. Apart from a daily bulletin (which contained mis-information about le Boreal supposedly transiting the Bellot Strait) that was informative & a couple of very helpful & friendly room service, bar & excursion staff, the rest of the le Soleal crew had arrogant & dismissive attitudes & would have difficulty obtaining work on a quality cruise line. Communications with passengers was poor & we were misled about the sea ice conditions preventing the transit of the North West Passage. As mentioned above, the on-board experience was very disappointing & many passengers were looking forward to leaving the ship rather than floating around Greenland killing time for a large proportion of the cruise. This was a very expensive cruise at more than AUD53000 for a couple but I would feel even more aggrieved if I had paid significantly more to travel as part of the Captain’s Choice group on le Soleal or on the Abercrombie & Kent charter of le Boreal. To compound the situation, Ponant declined to refund any of the cruise costs (unlike another cruise line similarly impacted by the sea ice) & their "offer" of modest discounts on future Ponant cruises is useless as all of the passengers we have contacted will NEVER sail with Ponant again. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
I am a USAF military retiree, 20 years active duty (in uniform) and 13 years as a contractor. In effect, 33 years of service to this country’s military. I am at present 67 years old, with a number of health issues including a left knee ... Read More
I am a USAF military retiree, 20 years active duty (in uniform) and 13 years as a contractor. In effect, 33 years of service to this country’s military. I am at present 67 years old, with a number of health issues including a left knee that collapses on me at times and very bad back problems. My wife is 4 years younger, basically in good health with the usual old age ailments. We’re both able to still get around pretty good. Recently, I became interested in the historical search for THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE after watching a cable semi historical series that centered on the British Royal Navy’s Franklin Expedition in the mid 1800’s which tried to find the way through but disappeared and was never heard from again. Amundson finally made it through in the early 1900’s. Some blame “global warming” on causing more ice melt so that a passage exists now in the North American summertime. In more recent years, the historical details of what happened to the 2 Franklin ships and their crews have come to light. I have also watched a number of documentaries on the Franklin Expedition, and my interest began to rise. So, when an opportunity to sail through THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE came up through the French cruise line Ponant, my wife & I booked passage. I was so excited, my wife not so much, but her enthusiasm increased as the cruise drew nearer. The itinerary was: 1)Fly to Paris on Aug 25-26, 2018, overnight in Paris the night of Aug 26th, and then fly on Aug 27th with a Ponant charter fight direct to Kangerlussuag on the west coast of Greenland; 2)Then cruise up the west coast of Greenland, enter THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE at its east entrance; 3)Sail through THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE; 4)Exit at the west exit of THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE, and then sail to Nome, Alaska; 5)Disembark the ship(Le Soleal) at Nome and board a charter flight Ponant had said they arranged to Seattle; 6)From Seattle we were on our own to arrange transportation to our home, which we did with American Airlines, to Dallas, and then connected to El Paso, TX. And, then drive 90 miles to our home in Alamogordo, NM reaching it Sept 19, 2018. Yes, a long trip and it cost a bundle, but we figured we could still do it now because waiting was not a good idea because we’re now at the ages where one can get too sick to go or even die. This was also true of most of the other passengers. The first sign of trouble came about 2 weeks before departure. It was a letter on Ponant letter head stationary dated Aug 6th from someone named Emilie Soulte from Ponants headquarters in Marseille France. It informed us that the Ponant advertised included nonstop flight from Paris to Kangerlussuag Greenland would not be nonstop after all, there would be a stopover in Copenhagen where we were told to get our luggage and go to the 2nd flight. As it turned out, neither flight was a charter; the first one was Air France, and the second Greenland Air. This change not only made the trip more arduous, but now we wouldn’t get to Kangerlussuag Greenland until close to midnight. Originally, we were supposed to board the ship between 6-8 pm. Ponants letter dated Aug 6th blamed the change on the Kangerlussuag Airport authorities. This sounded fishy to me, so I contacted the Kangerlussuag airport directly via email, also sending them a copy of Ponants letter. Eventually, I got an email from the Kangerlussuag Airport Manager saying yes they were a small airport that could only handle 1 jet at a time, but he did not know what Ponant was talking about. He clearly suggested in his email that Ponant had not made the air arrangements soon enough and that was the cause of our stopover in Copenhagen. So, Ponant blames the Kangerlussuag airport. The airport manager blames Ponants tardiness. Whom do I believe? No doubt, I believe the Kangerlussuag Airport Manager!! So, we get off at the Kangerlussuag airport, and get on buses which were supposed to take us to a dock to board the ship Le Soleal. Most of the passengers were ecstatic at this point thinking we’d been through the worst of it and we would soon be aboard a luxury ship, The Le Soleal, & get to our cabins, fall on the beds and sleep for a long time. NOooo! By the way, we had seen no Ponant guides anywhere along the way to help us along and answer questions etc. So, the buses drove for a long time on a road that was mostly not paved. We arrive at the “dock” which was really just a small slab of concrete littered with abandoned cargo containers, and there was a little dock area with a rickety wooden gangplank leading to a small ship of questionable integrity. The Le Soleal was anchored out in the bay. Note: most cruise lines are boarded at regular large docks where they are tied down and passengers walk onto the boat in some comfortable way. Anyway, it’s nearly midnight, it’s very cold and windy, and nearly 250 passengers are dumped out of the buses onto this cold concrete slab, and the buses skedaddled (left). No Ponant people around to direct us and tell us what’s going on. Eventually, the boat, which turned out to be a Le Soleal lifeboat, started loading people and left for the ship. Myself & my wife did not make this first boat and where stranded on this rickety gang plank in the cold not knowing anything. The rest of the passengers were waiting on the concrete slab ”dock” in the cold not knowing anything about what’s going on. You’re thinking at this point: why weren’t the passengers allowed to stay in the warm buses and then called to the life boat when it was their turn to load. Nobody seems to know the answer to this. So, you’ve got a bunch of cold uninformed passengers standing on this concrete slab or rickety gang plank while these slow small lifeboats ferry people to the Le Soleal. Not exactly luxury cruising as Ponant advertised. So, eventually my wife & I board a boat and are ferried to the Le Soleal where we were greeted by Captain Patrick Marchesseau. He and the rest of the crew seemed unaware of the conditions his passengers had endured to get from the airport to the ship. I shook his hand and tried to tell him, but he seemed unconcerned and hustled me along, seeming to be more interested in glad handing the next passenger etc. Same was true of the rest of the officer crew who were in a small room behind the captain where they were serving welcoming appetizers and champagne. We went to our cabin, fell on our beds without any unpacking, and slept late into the next morning. The next morning with a good night’s sleep and food in our stomachs the world seemed brighter. We thought now we were through the worst of it. NOooo! At first it seemed all was well. We sailed up the west coast of Greenland making the scheduled stops. Then we crossed Baffin Bay and entered THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE at its eastern entrance. Once inside THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE at first things went well. But then, at 9:30 pm ships time on Sept 3rd, the captain called all the guests together in this little theater they had and announced that we were not going further west into THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE because the western exit into the Beaufort Sea was blocked with ice. He said that no Canadian Ice Breaker Ship could be spared because they were all being used on cargo ships. Does it seem odd that cargo ships took priority over a cruise ship filled with 250 guests, plus whatever the size of the crew was? Might it be that again Ponant had not coordinated soon enough with the Canadian Coast Guard? I don’t know, I guess the Canadian Coast Guard is the only one that can answer that question. The captain further said that we were going to turn around, cross Baffin Bay to the west coast of Greenland, stopping at “new” places and arriving back in Kangerlussuag (where we started) on Sept 18th the same day we were supposed to arrive in Nome. This point/date is significant, so please note them. Well, the passengers were up in arms. Some passengers had to book 2 years ahead of time. The main purpose of most of the passengers was to sail through THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE, not see scenery, wild life, etc. Most of the passengers were in their 60s and older, so this was their one & only chance to go through THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE. One male passenger asked the captain: “Well, if we can’t get through why we don’t just sail straight back to Kangerlussuag instead of floating around Baffin Bay for 15 days?” No, the captain said we’re doing what I said and not arriving in Kangerlussuag until Sept 18th. Another passenger asked: “Why don’t we sail down the east coast of the Canadian Artic where we hadn’t been before?” The Captain said no, we were sailing across Baffin Bay, back to the west coast of Greenland, where we’d just been, and arriving in Kangerlussuag (our point of origin) on Sept 18th. Another passenger asked if there were not any other ice breaker ships available that could get us through, or one that might sail east into the west exit of THE NORTHWEST PASSAGE and then create a passage to get us through to the Beaufort Sea? NO, the captain said. So, we floated around Baffin Bay for 15 days!! Florence, the expedition team’s leader, “invented” places for us to stop over the next 15 days, but they were all the same: barren tundra, made up mostly of large & small rocks, and soft green mossy plants that your foot sank into when stepped on. I fell more than a few times. Another passenger broached a theory to me, which I believe to be correct, that the reason the ship was not going straight back to Kangerlussuag was that if it did then Ponant would have to give us refunds. By floating around Baffin Bay and not arriving back to Kangerlussuag until Sept 18, Ponant could say they gave us the advertised number of days on the ship, and refuse refunds. I believe firmly that this passenger’s theory was correct. And sure enough, a letter arrived to us on Sept 24th from Marseille France (Ponants headquarters) saying there would be no refunds, but they offered a 20% discount on our next sailing with them. What makes them think that we, or most of the other passengers, will ever book with Ponant again??? We will not. I had asked for a full refund. Another female passenger asked if Ponant knew before we left home that we couldn’t get through and just did this charade to prevent giving refunds. Because if they’d done the right & moral thing and cancelled the cruise before we left home, they’d definitely have to give us full refunds. Knowing Ponant the way I do now, I believe this is also a good possibility. As I said Ponant recently sent us a letter denying any (zero) refunds. At the end of this meeting, I was not convinced the captain realized the gravity of the situation of sailing back to Kangerlussuag was for the English speaking passengers—i.e. all the passengers had made plans to go on from Seattle. I was afraid that Ponant would simply book a charter flight back to Paris, dump us all off at the Paris airport, and wash their hands of us. And, yes I believe that is something Ponant would do! Now, flying back to Paris was OK for the French speaking passengers, but it would be terrible for all the English speaking passengers who had made plans to go on from Seattle. I simply wanted to speak with the captain to make sure he understood the plight of the English speaking passengers, but after the announcement he was mobbed and so I decided to wait until the next day. Note: even though this was a French cruise line, only about a third of the passengers were French. Two thirds were English speaking, a lot of Australian and some Americans like my wife & I. So, the first thing I did the next morning was call the customer service desk and ask that an appointment be arranged with me and the captain so I could communicate these concerns. I never got a call back. Later, that day I decided to go up to the bridge and see if I could speak with him there. On the way, I ran into the captain and Florence in a hall way. I told him I wanted to speak to him, but he said he was too busy running the ship and he couldn’t talk to me now. He and Florence literally ran away from me into a restricted part of the ship leading to the bridge where I couldn’t follow. Well, I knew that that day they were allowing ordinary passengers to be on the bridge and watch. Supposedly, there was an ice breaker ship leading us through this part of the trip. So, I entered the passengers’ entrance to the bridge and stood in a place where I could observe everything but not get into the way of the crew. I stood in that spot observing everything including how really busy the captain was. Here's what I observed with my own eyes and ears: The Captain was sitting in a plush chair with a large circular computer screen in front of him. Two crew members to his left was another officer with an identical computer screen, who I assume was his second in command and between them was a person (not an officer) who actually drove the ship. The driver had a joy stick in front of him which I assume controlled the rudder and thus the direction of the ship. On either side of this joy stick there were 2 levers with handles on them which I think controlled the 2 propellers which when pulled towards the driver slowed down or stopped that propeller, and when pushed forward sped up the propeller up to their maximum at fully forward. I assume that if the captain wasn’t at his post the second officer could control the boat from his station. I also saw the alleged ice breaker ship which looked more like a tug boat and was not breaking any ice anyway because there was none to break. I stood there for a whole hour watching everything and there was no ice to break, just small pieces of sea ice floating by. The bridge was calm and the captain did not seem very busy. There was an exit behind the captain which I assumed lead to his office. My plan was to watch when the captain was attempting to leave his chair and go down this exit to his office, and ask him if he had time now. The captain knew I was watching him, and when I briefly looked away, he got up and ran down the exit. I tried to follow, but 2 members of the crew stopped me. It was obvious to me that the captain did not want to talk to me. Why, I don’t know. SO, I resorted to a little subterfuge to get his attention and grant me an audience. And, it worked. I got a call in my cabin from the captain himself requesting a meeting in his office (which is all I wanted in the first place). He sent the Hotel Manager to our cabin, and he escorted my wife and I to the captain’s office. I sat immediately across the desk from him looking him in the eyes. Also present was the ships doctor, I guess to determine if I was crazy. Well, sitting eye to eye with the captain I simply explained my concerns, which is all I wanted to do from the beginning. He told me that Ponant was arranging to have 2 jets at the Kangerlussuag airport. One would take the French passengers to Paris, and the other to take the English speaking passengers to Seattle in time to make all their connections. He asked me if this reassured me, and I said Yes and No. I told him that if this was Silversea cruise line I would have no doubt that they would take care of us properly. But not so with Ponant. I told him I did not trust Ponant at all. He reassured me that what he told me would happen, and the meeting ended. Wow, talk about having to pull teeth. Note: the communication between the French officer crew of the Le Soleal and the English speaking passengers was terrible, and this was what caused most of the problems, distrust, and anger. Most of the English speaking people I talked to were of the opinion that the French always got preference even though they only made up a third of the passengers. Another odd thing happened during one of these “15 floating” days. Usually, in the late afternoon or early evening there would be a briefing in the theater about the next day’s activities. Florence, the head of the expedition team, would usually start these briefs. One day she started the briefing by accusing some supposedly drunken passengers of both malicious mischief and graffiti. Passenger’s expedition boots were kept outside the cabin on a mat there for that purpose. The idea was that way you don’t drag what’s still on your boots from being ashore into your cabin. So, she said that some passengers, who had too much to drink, took some boots and put them into a crew elevator as a prank. She also said that that night some passengers also did 2 instances of graffiti somewhere on the ship. Now I was skeptical of her opinion that it was the passengers that did these 2 pranks. Remember, most of the passengers were 60 or older, fit old people, but old. Is it likely that this age group would do pranks like this? I thought not. This is the type of thing that younger people do. She was sure it was not the crew. The command & officer parts of the French crew were very young. Captain Marchesseau was probably in his 40s. The rest of the French officers were in their 20’s, and the rest of the crew, both the people you see and the people you don’t regularly see, where also very young. She said they had videos from cameras in the areas and were going to identify the culprits. I decide to volunteer my services to review the videos as a service to both the passengers and the crew. So, at the end of the briefings, I went up to Florence and volunteered my services. Surprisingly, she turned me down, and kept walking away from me as I tried to talk to her more. What does that tell you? You be the judge. So, we floated around Baffin Bay near the west coast of Greenland for 15 days, arrived at Kangerlussuag early on Sept 18th, and then flew a charter aircraft Ponant had arranged from the Kangerlussuag airport to Seattle. When we got off the plane in Seattle we were so happy to be back in our own country, the good old USA. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Totally agree with Baloghpj. We also were on the Ponant Cruise that left from Kangerlussuaq to cruise the Northwest Passage on August 2018. He forgot to mention the debacle with the luggage on the flight from Paris from Copenhagen. We were ... Read More
Totally agree with Baloghpj. We also were on the Ponant Cruise that left from Kangerlussuaq to cruise the Northwest Passage on August 2018. He forgot to mention the debacle with the luggage on the flight from Paris from Copenhagen. We were all jammed into a Fokker 100 - after we boarded, the pilot realised that the plane could not hold all the luggage so it was put into three toilets and the few spare seats that were available - leaving one toilet between us all. This is how our “luxury” trip started. The flight back to Seattle wasn’t much better. We have looked at ice charts since we have returned and believe that Ponant should “reasonably” have known that the passage was blocked before we left. Also a lot of the passengers had either toured Greenland before or another Arctic/Antarctic area and weren’t interested in staying on the cruise to cruise the coastline of a country we had just left. When asked if they could disembark in Pond Inlet (where we had just left from) the Captain was very firm in his ruling that no passengers could leave the cruise till the final date of the cruise. We found the cabin staff and the various “ice specialists” (wildlife/history/geologists ect) employed by Ponant for the cruise to be good and they tried their best under difficult circumstances. However the management of Ponant is abysmal. We got the list of what we needed for the cruise when we boarded the plane for Paris! Spent a lot of time in Paris trying to find mosquitoe nets! Also we feel the cruise was overbooked - it was hard to find a spare seat on the 6th floor restaurant. The maître d would turn a blind eye to ppl wandering around with their trays trying to find a seat! There are a lot of angry, upset passengers who paid a lot of money to cruise the Northwest Passage. Ponant’s offer of a 20% discount on a cruise line that none of the passengers want to cruise with again is pathetic! If you are thinking of cruising with Ponant - think again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Dalmatian coast on the Ponant ship Le Lyrial. Food and service: fair to poor. Wine: poor. No choice at dinner: 1 red, 1 white, 1 rose. All wines were French for the entire cruise. Whites were undrinkable. Outdoor furniture in common areas: ... Read More
Dalmatian coast on the Ponant ship Le Lyrial. Food and service: fair to poor. Wine: poor. No choice at dinner: 1 red, 1 white, 1 rose. All wines were French for the entire cruise. Whites were undrinkable. Outdoor furniture in common areas: poor and most uncomfortable (no cushions). Westin hotel dinner: poor. Cabins: small. Shows were poor. Singers were very good. We enjoyed the ports however don't sail on Ponant. We chose this cruise for the ports, and booked through Tauck. Departed Venice on May 24, 2018. Cleanliness, laundry and room staff all OK. Dance lessons were good. Only one type of beer available in the restaurant. Waiters were friendly but service was poor. We were a couple and looking to sit with other people for dinners. Maitre d' was unable to help us and in fact did nothing. Champagne was not drinkable - tasted off. Boutique was very expensive. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Aside from major customer service issues... number one complaint was the food. Many passengers complained about the food. It was truly shockingly bad. Food was under cooked, over cooked, generally inedible. They served leftover tuna ... Read More
Aside from major customer service issues... number one complaint was the food. Many passengers complained about the food. It was truly shockingly bad. Food was under cooked, over cooked, generally inedible. They served leftover tuna steaks that were shriveled and tough. They served undercooked halibut that was slimy. IT WAS BAD. Couldn't even drink the coffee. It was bitter or burnt - they could not make a proper latte - only tried that a couple times. Truly for the price which was about 43K - this company should be ashamed of themselves. Ashamed. Don't spend so much money and go on a boat that has decent food! We suffered through this for 17 days, as did our fellow passengers. Every single meal and bar conversation had a gripe and complainer about the food. This is inexcusable. I have had better meals in hospitals and airports and from street vendors. This is no exaggeration. Stay away from this boat. The captain was great. One of the naturalists was great. The waiters great. Housekeeping great. The landings were good. One in particular even exceptional. But none of it made up for the food. Would not recommend this boat at all. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Our travel agent recommended Ponant and we were very satisfied with everything on the ship . The cabins were very nicely decorated and had a lot of space ( deck # 6 ) . The food and service were excellent . There was a little confusion by ... Read More
Our travel agent recommended Ponant and we were very satisfied with everything on the ship . The cabins were very nicely decorated and had a lot of space ( deck # 6 ) . The food and service were excellent . There was a little confusion by the staff when we arrived at the Athens port and when they went to check in the passengers . They originally announced that they would check in people by cabin level but only had three people at check in and that confused everyone in line . After that , the staff was first class and provided everything that we asked for . We also enjoyed the shore excursions . The guides were well trained and easy to understand . Early in the cruise , there seemed to be some confusion on who could get onto the excursion boats first ? The staff did not announce that the excursions were to get on the boats first and this lead to some confusion . All in all a very nice cruise . Read Less
Sail Date: June 2017
We have friends who work in the Cruise travel industry. Ponant was portrayed as a luxury cruise small ship company with an expedition theme. We should have had some idea when we first booked that the cruise would not be "smooth" ... Read More
We have friends who work in the Cruise travel industry. Ponant was portrayed as a luxury cruise small ship company with an expedition theme. We should have had some idea when we first booked that the cruise would not be "smooth" sailing because all questions were referred to head office in France and the Sydney staff could not assist us. Day 1 arrived at Orly Airport at 7.30 am - there was no company staffer nor sign assisting us to find the charter flight at Orly Airport despite being reassured by Sydney Office the flight would be listed on Departures Board - it wasn't. Finally when we found check in desk in the basement we stood for 80 minutes waiting to be processed (there were no seats anywhere to be found on this floor). Through no fault of Ponant's our charter flight was delayed but there were no Ponant staff to give us an update or any information such as would it be at the same gate! Orly airport have very few seats at the departure gates so many of us sat on the floor for several hours.The rest I will dot point but its downhill all the way until we arrived safely back in Paris. 1. Arriving in Bergen to meet the ship there was no assistance with luggage from carousel to charter bus, we were not offered water upon our arrival to the bus and couldn't purchase any as Bergen shops wanted the local currency. We were met by some young ladies outside the airport who told us the bus number and take luggage and put it into the luggage hold. Our guide on the bus was a lovely young woman she shared her local knowledge and in particular that is rains in Bergen 360 pus days of the year. Shame Ponant didn't know that! 2. Taken on city tour of Bergen - 3 three times around the town centre and an hour later we were taken to wharf. All 4 buses at the same time arrived at the wharf. 3. Promptly told we had to collect our luggage and take it along the wharf to the ship - at this point we were tired but did as we told without complaint. 4. At the gang plank we had a 45 minute wait in light rain whilst the Captain greeted each of the 220 something passengers. Whilst waiting we were exposed to fumes as the ship was being refuelled and the truck would've been about 5 metres from us. I hoped no one would light up! Still no offer of beverages nor umbrellas and no concern for those of us who were waiting patiently on the dock: dehydrated and nauseous from the fumes and standing in the queue we approached the officer who was controlling the number of passengers on the gang plank and got an apologetic shrug.We got to our cabin at 5.20 pm and told over the loud speaker that the english shore excursions talk would begin in 10 minutes - no rest for the wicked! There was bottled water in our cabin thank goodness! 5. During the entire cruise the onboard staff were rude and unwelcoming. No "Bonjour" greetings. "No! you can't have that wine tonight", "no we've run out of croissants". 6. The cruise was advertised as "Expeditionary " but the first part of the cruise from Bergen to Tromso was not and paid Shore Excursions were on offer but limited numbers. The information session held on the first evening at 5.30pm repeated the information that we had printed out from the website, we were all making notes but despite this the speakers were difficult to understand with their broad accents and we struggled to comprehend what was on offer, there was much confusion amongst the english speaking guests (50 of us) but we bonded really well over this confusion pooled our fragments of information and worked out what to book. The popular excursions were quickly booked out e.g. the kayaking in one of the fjords and you couldn't book all your excursions at once they only opened for bookings for one hour in the early evening about one or two days in advance. No pre cruise booking was available. 7. English Lectures were interesting but whilst out in the field one of the Expedition team described the birdlife in French when he had finished he refused my request to translate the information to English although he had lectured to us in English the day before. One of the french speaking passengers was kind enough to tell me what was said. We found two of the expedition leaders were generous with their information and time and passionate about their work,we became their shadow where possible. Shore Excursions this was part expedition and part shore excursions. 8. Food served a la carte in formal dining room always tepid never hot. Returned it one day but waited 1/2 hr before it arrived back whilst those dining with me had finished their desserts! Didn't do that again. However the Ice Cream served warm 9.. Observation Deck Bar: Don't ask for a beverage before 12.00 noon (it was 11.55 am unaware the bar opened at 12.00) because you will get an unopened can, no glass and thumped down on the coffee table. Except the day the "tip" envelopes were delivered to our cabin - then we were offered a smile and nuts and a cocktail! 10. Departure: again no staff member to supervise the charter flights at the airport in Longyearbyen - flight delayed 1 1/2 hrs or more and when we finally arrived at CDG we discovered that our luggage was mistakenly put on the other charter flight 2 hours behind ours and their luggage was on the carousel in CDG with us! Again no official Ponant staff to speak to, however, as luck would have it, one of the expedition leaders was on our flight, thank goodness, he rang the ship and told us our luggage was on the other charter flight. Needless to say we missed our train to Lille but Ponant did reimburse us the fare. Approx 60 Euros. 11. We wrote to the Sydney Office detailing our issues and disappointment and were offered a 10% discount on a Ponant cruise. Thanks but no thanks Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Sailed aboard the Lyrical The ship epitomizes its French origins - go for show, worry about substance another time. The boat is modern, sleek, and almost well designed. The cabins are nice. The food itself is mediocre. I have had ... Read More
Sailed aboard the Lyrical The ship epitomizes its French origins - go for show, worry about substance another time. The boat is modern, sleek, and almost well designed. The cabins are nice. The food itself is mediocre. I have had better on other cruise lines. They make a great show of presentation,when serving the food but calling a hot dog a tube steak does not change the fact that it is still a hot dog. The first meal after embarkation was 35 - 45 minutes late. No explanation. A few things which would have improved my experience on board. When they say it is a small ship, they are telling the truth. You get one washroom. That is it. There may be other washroom facilities on board the ship but the only other one I saw, besides the one in my cabin, was kept locked. If you are at one end of the ship and need the washroom, you have to move quickly, and hope your roommate is not using it. The bulk of the serving staff were French, and they let you know it. If you were not French,well they condescended to serve you. You were expected to be impressed, and pay for some of their fantastic wines. Internet charges are reasonable, I think. They started at 30 Euros, and went up from there. I don't know how good the wifi service was on board because I never used it.. Of course when I got off the boat there are lots of places which provided wifi for free. The staff claims to understand English, but only to their advantage. When I put the gratuity for the staff on my credit card at the end of the trip, I expressed the amount in dollars. When I asked for a receipt, the staff member would not give me one, but assured me it was correct. Except it was not. They got the amount right. But they put it through in Euros, not in dollars. Sailing on Le Lyrial was an interesting learning experience for me. I don't think I will sail with them again. Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We were participants in a university alum travel group. It was appealing to explore Cuba while having a floating hotel. We love cruising and this was our first time on Le Ponant. The staff was outstanding - each was friendly and knew ... Read More
We were participants in a university alum travel group. It was appealing to explore Cuba while having a floating hotel. We love cruising and this was our first time on Le Ponant. The staff was outstanding - each was friendly and knew our names in no time. We were disappointed in the food and with the bed in the cabin. The snack food during happy hour was the best food on the trip. Since this is a French ship, we expected wonderful food - that was not the case. It was as if they were trying too hard to do something complicated and missed the mark time after time. The focus was on seafood with few other options. Even the seafood was mediocre. Additionally, dinner was served late and took forever to complete. This was a group who had a full itinerary every day with early starts and an earlier dinner with a faster pace would have been appreciated. The bed was miserable - it was hard as a rock. I was in pain all night and as I arose. I had them add extra padding on top but it did nothing to change the level of comfort. The room itself was fine although small, the bathroom fine. There were 2 channels on the TV (CNN and sports) as well as movie selections. The shore excursions were through the university travel group. The ship had no responsibility for those. This was true of the enrichment lectures as well. All in all, we are glad to have made the trip to explore Cuba. We would not travel on Le Ponant again. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Cabin was fine . Excursion crews generally were good . This cruise was all about the intinerary . Due to the incompetent captain he hit a rock on our first excursion day . No quite Cosa Cordia but could have been . So we then ... Read More
Cabin was fine . Excursion crews generally were good . This cruise was all about the intinerary . Due to the incompetent captain he hit a rock on our first excursion day . No quite Cosa Cordia but could have been . So we then spent two days getting back to Bluff for 48 hours of underwater welding and then another wasted three days trying to get back down . Ever been to Bluff ? End result only 5 out of 12 intinerary landings . Lot more I could say but Ponants response to the incompetance was to come up with every excuse, even to the extent of a wonderful term " we touched a rock " Food was average . Mind you this was after a previous cruise we had paid to go on on Boreal 2016 was cancelled because the crew had a fire in the engine room while on an Antractic cruise in 2015 . You might say travelling with them is a health hazard . Also Austral only weeks later touched another rock in Milford Sound and has more recently been dry docked in Asia for another lot of urgent repairs from their many misadventures . Pity because their intineraries are good but two class - French and the rest and poor range of food and bad seamanship spoil what could be a good line . Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
I chose this trip because it offered an opportunity to go ashore on Pitcairn Island, a remote island in the South Pacific. I am 86 years old, in good physical condition, exercise regularly. I was discriminated because of my age from the ... Read More
I chose this trip because it offered an opportunity to go ashore on Pitcairn Island, a remote island in the South Pacific. I am 86 years old, in good physical condition, exercise regularly. I was discriminated because of my age from the very start of the trip. When we assembled in the auditorium for the mandatory life boat drill, I was immediately singled out by one of the attendants. I was told to go to my cabin instead of going to my life boat. The reason? I couldn't climb the two flights of stairs to get to my life boat station; someone would come to my cabin to get me. I argued that I climb four or more flights of stairs nearly every day to my apartment, No, I had to wait in my cabin. My desire in going on this cruise was to walk on Pitcairn Island the terrain of which was a major feature in the famous Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy. When we reached Pitcairn, where landing was by Zodiac, we were called by stateroom floor to load on the Zodiacs. When my group was called we lined up in the aft cabin. I was immediately noted by the ship's doctor who took me aside and said I couldn't board the Zodiac. I asked why and she said the road (that could be seen from the ship) was too steep. I said I hike 8 to 12 km. in the mountains near Seattle on trails much steeper than the one on Pitcairn. She then changed her tune and said the water was too rough. I had boarded Zodiacs in an Antarctica cruise recently in much rougher conditions. Yet I watched obese people getting into Zodiacs. Only age discrimination explains these insults. Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was the second cruise on Le Soleal. I would NOT have returned if the second was not already paid for. My experiences.... The management and upper staff onboard were unable /unwilling to address issues such as NO internet for 4 ... Read More
This was the second cruise on Le Soleal. I would NOT have returned if the second was not already paid for. My experiences.... The management and upper staff onboard were unable /unwilling to address issues such as NO internet for 4 days. NO news or current affairs TV for the whole journey. NO wine came aboard in Hong Kong so the included wine was very slim pickings indeed. Food was ok. But French speaking staff preferred the French speaking guests who received priority treatment. The manager claimed that any complaints " were the first time he had had a complaint" NO!! many English speaking guests complained in person about inadequacies and inefficiencies. The first time on Le Soleal was around New Zealand, and was inadequate and not to the standard I expect from "luxury" whatever that may mean. I sent 2 emails at that time about my disappointments before I received a reply. The second trip Hong Kong to Japan was 6 weeks later and had different inadequacies. I sent 2 emails and a text before I received an telephone response from the management in Sydney. Summary for both trips ...amateurish and expensive. Read Less
39 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
As a long time cruiser having sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, P&O Australia, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn and lately Ponant, I have to say Ponant is way down the list in overall satisfaction, giving that is ... Read More
As a long time cruiser having sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, P&O Australia, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn and lately Ponant, I have to say Ponant is way down the list in overall satisfaction, giving that is supposed to be up there with the best. I have never written a cruise review before, but after reading other cruisecritic reviews of the Le Soleal, decided to add my thoughts. The ships decor was very nicely done, and was light and bright, a few Christmas decorations were in place, but not enough Festive ambience was created for this special time in my opinion. I was on the leg from Noumea to Akaroa in December 2015, and it was the worst "premium" cruise EVER. This was supposed to be a wonderful Xmas experience for us, but from day one it was clear that the ship and its staff did not in any way live up to its promises. Embarkation was after 5 pm, after waiting for 3hrs in a deserted area in the port and believe me, downtown Noumea on a Sunday is pretty dismal. Food was very average, on the two most important nights, Captain's Gala Dinner and Christmas Eve there was a set menu. No other choices from a standard menu as is usual on other ships, so if you didn't like what was offered, bad luck. The lunch buffet often ran out of the main offering so we went without on a few occassions. Alcohol was included, but only two wines, a red or white and very average quality, upon asking for a decent drop we were told there was a surcharge. 'Fresh' orange juice was advertised but not produced, just a concentrated cheap tasting alternative. No entertainment to rave about, in fact there was nothing to do during the day. Officers sat at their own table and virtually ignored passengers each evening. The waiters were unable, in the main, to answer questions about the menus etc, it seemed they, and the bar staff did what they needed and no more. Other Australian and NZ passengers commented on their disappointment on this ship, and one couple who were fervent Ponant cruisers having done 6 already, cancelled their next cruise then and there so bad was their experience. Lifeboat drill was a farce. We had to go down to listen to 45 minutes of both French and English translations and a spiel about all the facilities on board, then file out, trudge upstairs, go to our stateroom, get our lifejackets and return for the drill. What???? I could go on, but you get the idea. Never again. Read Less
36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
We have done about 25 cruises overall, and with Oceania, SilverSea, Seabourn, Crystal and APT. All top end luxury cruise lines. Ponant is priced at the same level but our cruise was unbelievably awful, FOOD...tasteless, the same every ... Read More
We have done about 25 cruises overall, and with Oceania, SilverSea, Seabourn, Crystal and APT. All top end luxury cruise lines. Ponant is priced at the same level but our cruise was unbelievably awful, FOOD...tasteless, the same every day...poor quality..boring, so I survived on watermelon and lettuce. SUITE..what a joke. They left the door open between two adjoining cabins and called it a suite. We had no need for a second cabin, so we paid double for nothing. SERVICE...It would help if the crew spoke English without an accent one cannot understand and it would also help if the Maitre D did not argue with guests about the poor quality of the food...very defensive. EXCURSIONS...Very expensive and should have been included in the price. ATTITUDE ON BOARD....OK if you are French, not OK if you speak English...felt like we were intruding on the French guests and crew. DISEMBARKATION....what a joke. They promised to take us to Christchurch and dropped us off at a place called Akaora some 2 hours from Christchurch so we had to pay yet again to get to Christchurch. ITINERARY...Do NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING THIS MOB PUT IN THEIR BROCHURES . We purchased this cruise to visit Norfolk Island, the high light of the cruise. The day before we sailed when I read the itinerary that had been delivered to us only hours earlier, we found a quite different itinerary which cut out Norfolk Island. No explanation and when I asked for compensation from Ponant upon return to Sydney, I received a most arrogant defensive letter ." you should have checked our website to check out what changes we make..". Just awful attitude...rude..defensive...insulting...just like the attitude on board. It comes from the top administration of course, so if you are looking for a far inferior cruise to those I have mentioned above, and you want to eat poor quality food the same every day and have to hassle to get what you have paid for, go for Ponant. If on the other hand you want good service, food, accommodation etc. then there are plenty of other cruise lines that charge the same or less who will respect you as a guest. Embarkation at Noumea. No preparation...had to wait on street with luggage with no water or refreshments until 5 p.m. boarding. Unusually late for luxury ship, but they were still not ready. Very disorganised. SUITE. We purchased a suite and were given two adjoining cabins with door propped open. We had no use for a second cabin, so we paid double for no suite . FOOD. Just awful. Repetitive. Bland. Overcooked. Poor quality. Tasteless and unattractive I mostly ate watermelon and lettuce. CHRISTMAS DAY. What a joke..a few red and white balloons with the kitchen staff embarrassingly trying to sing something relevant at dinner and crew on Deck 3 lounge even worse prepared as they struggled through french and then english unfamiliar songs. ENTERTAINMENT. 4 female and 1 male professional dancers were the full extent, plus a pianist and two female singers. Dancers were excellent but not sufficient to hold attention of a luxury ship's guests for nearly 2 weeks. BEVERAGES Open bar worked well on decks 3 and 6. SHIP. New and attractive but too small for open seas..it bobbed around like a cork on the rough days. EXCURSIONS. Too expensive we did not purchase. ITINERARY. We purchased the cruise to visit Norfolk Island but discovered only a day before sailing that Ponant had totally changed the published itinerary...we were never notified and Ponant advised me on return to Sydney I should have been checking out their web site for any changes....unbelievable and arrogant. Compensation claim underway. DISEMBARKATION. Another misleading promise by Ponant. We purchased a cruise to Christchurch, New Zealand but were ferried across to a wharf at Akaroa 2 hours from Christchurch, where Ponant charged us nearly AUD $200 to finish the trip. Either that or get a local bus for about AUD $60 to Christchurch which some guests did. I definitely would NEVER EVER use Ponant again and I did not meet one English speaking guest on board who disagreed. It is a french line, totally focused on french speaking guests. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
Keen to try a Ponant cruise, we booked a 10 day Christmas cruise in December from Noumea to Akaroa. As seasoned cruisers, mostly with Seabourn and Silversea, we were expecting Ponant to deliver similar service, food and ambience that ... Read More
Keen to try a Ponant cruise, we booked a 10 day Christmas cruise in December from Noumea to Akaroa. As seasoned cruisers, mostly with Seabourn and Silversea, we were expecting Ponant to deliver similar service, food and ambience that other small ships excel in. CHECK IN: Many pax had a 3-4 hour wait at the port as check in was at 5pm. It was a hot day, so bottled water would have been a nice touch as it was Sunday and shops were closed. Check in was efficient and staff to escort us on to the ship, but where was the welcome glass of champagne? AMENITIES: Beautiful modern decor, stateroom was small with a separate shower/vanity room and small toilet room which was useless. Not ideal as we had to exit the toilet without being able to wash our hands to step back ip into the shower room. There were 2 lounge areas and a nook that provided some board games and a few books, unfortunately mostly French language. MDR was beautifully set up with comfortable dining chairs but limited tables for 2. FOOD: Was never amazing but ranged from good to terrible. The breakfast & lunch buffet was very limited. Quality and choice was poor and it was difficult to find something really tasty. Food in the MDR was nicely presented but very small portions and usually luke warm. 2nd night was a Gala Dinner with a menu chosen by the Captain, it was not to our taste, (think: almost raw egg on cucumber jelly) and mushrooms that we cant eat, so our party of 4 left and went to the almost deserted buffet. Finding a limited selection I ordered a small steak. After repeating to the Maitre D that the steak was to have no blood, a bloody steak appeared and he argued that it was perfectly fine and it was bloody juice, not blood ! He left us in a huff and never spoke to us again. Very unprofessional. What was supposed to be a lovely night was totally ruined. Christmas Eve was a set menu with many dishes containing mushrooms which we can't eat. We could not order anything else even though we gave the Chef 24 hours notice. Hungry again. Ordered a Bacardi & Coke one day in the buffet only to be told to get it from the bar myself. Breakfast finished at 9.30 am but staff started clearing at 9.15 each day, not good for those who want a lie in. Alcohol was included, but choice was limited. Fresh orange juice disappeared after day one, but they still called the concentrated juice 'fresh'. Fresh supplies came on board in Tauranga, and whilst beautiful fresh berries were in season and being sold everywhere in the region, did we get any on board for breakfast? Or oranges, so we could have fresh juice again ? NO and NO. ENTERTAINMENT: Virtually nothing during the day. On a couple of occasions we were given ONE bingo card to play. Prizes were a 3 yr old Inaugural Cruise coffee mug and on another occasion a plastic pencil case. The game lasted all of 15 minutes with another 15 minutes added for english translation as first language on the ship is French. Shows were limited with at least one cancelled. We were so bored. What does the Cruise Director do all day? Staff socialised mainly with French guests. Smoking was allowed everywhere which limited non-smoking guests to the inside lounges if they didn't want to sit near smokers. ACCIDENT: Day 2 after the disastrous Gala night, my wife injured her ankle whilst exiting the bathroom (step). Saw the Doctor the next morning who placed a cast on her leg. Both Doctor and Nurse spoke very poor English and were difficult to understand. No painkillers for her (ankle fractured) or any other advice. No arrangements to have an Xray at next port of call. We went back to our cabin and realized that now she was in a wheelchair we needed a disabled room, but no one suggested or offered assistance. I had to organize it. No senior officer, guest relations person or anyone came to see if she was ok or to see if we needed assistance to get an X-ray in port. In Tauranga NZ, armed with only an email giving the name of a Radiology Centre I pushed my wife down the dock in the rain and had to park her under some shelter whilst I walked up to the main street to hail a cab. The radiology place could not X-ray through the cast, nor did we have a proper referral from the ship's doctor which is necessary. They piled us and the wheelchair into their own vehicle and took us to an accident & emergency centre where she was diagnosed, x rayed and had a new cast fitted. The locals were so helpful and friendly. Back on board, still no follow up.....until the Doctor, realizing we had now complained to the Hotel Manager started pressing us for the documentation we had from the A& E rooms as he had not followed procedure and was concerned for his own sake. He verbally abused us in front of reception staff, then back in the surgery, kept yelling, raised his fist at me and then ordered us off the ship. With a very distressed wife I asked for a meeting with the Captain. He argued the fact that the Doctor's rage was due to lack of communication due to his poor English. We flew home a day early as Wellington was the next wheelchair accessible port. The Captain, Hotel Manager, Doctor and his Nurse (wife), Guest Relations person et al all came down on to the dock to see us off in the cab, (probably hoping everyone could see how caring they were), they all shook our hands and the nurse took my wife's hand, pressed a couple of painkillers in an envelope into it and said she hoped we would sail again with them. Not likely. Were these the painkillers my wife needed a week ago?? I think we were charged for them too after we paid our final bill. This ship is probably not suited for Australian & New Zealanders. It is too French, and the many long announcements in French start to annoy you after a while. It is sadly lacking in entertainment, good food, and sociable staff. For the price you pay, I would suggest you sail Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal or Regent. Not Ponant. We held off posting this review until we had a response from Ponant, but to date we are still waiting so here it is. Read Less
27 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
I was under the impression this was to be a quality luxury holiday, where i would be looked after with the "white glove " style service i had encountered on the queen mary last year. I particularly chose this as cruise with ... Read More
I was under the impression this was to be a quality luxury holiday, where i would be looked after with the "white glove " style service i had encountered on the queen mary last year. I particularly chose this as cruise with this promise of luxury and service in the ponant marketing material. I had a very difficult personal year and wanted to be rewarded in a special cruise style, as this was held out to be. I am a single traveler and this was yet another reason my decision to take this kind of cruise was based on. I needed the personal service and attention , i had basic knowledge of the french language and wanted to integrate more of the culture into my experience during the time on board. Where do I begin, 1. On arrival at the dock at 1pm, i was sent away, it was not the correct time. They told me to come back at 5pm. Conversation was in french and no interest to assist was offered. Here i was up since 4.30am that morning ,departed from sydney airport looking forward to this once in a "special experience" cruise. I had no water, no local currency, there was no phone reception, i wondered around noumea port area with two luggage and handbag etc in the heat for the afternoon. This was the beginning of my "special cruise." When we finally were allowed to embark, doors opened to a comfortable waiting area, with water , rest rooms, shaded secure area for us and our luggage. I wonder why that reception area was not open for all us early arrivals ...4 hours before.? I am certain that this shipping line is well aware of customer service . The ship was 2/3 french speaking, 1/3 english speaking. So the problem was attitude mostly, if we were french speaking, we would be spoken to in a more personable manner by the senior staff in charge of our entertainment, our health and by officers etc. We the english speakers were making an effort to participate in the "french" way, however there was no attempt from the senior staff to ask how are we going, eg upstairs dining room maitre de when he saw us each day, and several times he didn't bother to address us by name, even though we did. The same with all the officers.. The good thing was they had a mid cruise survey, and we all spoke up...did things improve? hmmm on the last day the captain saw us off personally as he knew there was a lot of dissent . Our fellow passenger was injured early on and was in a wheelchair for the rest of the cruise. No personal care or treatment from the doctor on board. i was violently ill for over 10 hours in my cabin, on my own, there was no follow up. if good attitude was engaged, i am sure we could have tolerated, the lack of a good daily activity schedule, a lack of authentic quality cuisine, the boredom of the day could have been a lighter burden if the crew were also enjoying themselves. They also were bored. so they couldn't pass on any positive energy to us. The 5 or so entertainers / dancers desperately tried to keep smiles on their faces and do their job. The filipino crew volunteered to sing carols to us before xmas dinner. The food was average, nothing to get excited about. Shouldn't i be saying "there is no one who beats french cuisine". The first thing i did when i arrived home was to eat a good meal locally and be glad to be home. I have cruised many times..but sadly this was not an exceptional holiday as they are marketing it to be. the well meaning captain needs to get rid of the uncaring staff if he wants to carry on in this region with australian passengers etc. The positive points for me were, cleanliness throughout was excellent, cabin staff very pleasant and helpful. Dinning staff on level 6 were very helpful. Without these people the rest is zero . It is truly a shame to see such a nice modern ship run by staff with poor customer relations and poor attitude in all. I hope they will let us know when the many issues are resolved, we Australians are pretty easy to please. It can't be that hard. I have visited France and never been disappointed. I always had a greeting and a willingness to help and serve. In return i would support by spending my hard earned money , gladly..as i always had an enjoyable personal experience with the French people. Read Less
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line ... Read More
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line Le Ponant, is the the worst run cruise ship I have ever seen. Paying for Le Soleal is like throwing your money away. The problems go to the policies (which means the company is horrible as well) as well as the clueless staff (which could be the company’s fault, the fault of the ship’s manager, or both). I hate when people criticize without specifics, so I’m happy to give them. Here we go. 1. This is advertised as an all-inclusive ship and advertises fine wines and spirits as included in the price. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 1 or 2 wines available are cheap and unheard of. There is no single malt scotch. There is no Bourbon. The only Brandy is too cheap to drink. 2. Even when you go to the list available for pay, the prices are jacked up terribly. Usually a ship that is all-inclusive gives you decent prices for upgrading as you get sort of a credit. Not here. Not only is the list overpriced, it features only one American Red and one American White – both from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection line which, while it sounds good and probably fooled the incompetents running this Line, is a low line wine. A comment here: For many of the wines for sale the list has a Parker score. Many are 90 or above, but the Mondavi Chardonnay is 84. Can you imagine having one American wine on the list and bragging about an 84? Stupid. There are others in the mid 80’s. Why have them there at all? 3. This ship has only about 200 passengers and a crew ration of 1:2, which is too low in the first place for a so-called luxury ship. More importantly, most crew members have no idea about anything outside their particular job, and often not then. a. The first afternoon neither the reception desk nor the staff in the 6th floor lounge had any idea if there was shipboard music being played later in the evening. And the poorly put together daily notice said nothing about it. Turned out there were entertainers in both the 6th floor and 3rd floor lounges. b. At the lunch buffet shrimp was offered. We asked the servers about sauce, and none knew what was available and had to go find out. c. Upon check in, we were put in the lounge on the 3rd deck, being told rooms were not ready. About 30 minutes later as friends of ours told us they were in their room I went to the front desk and was told by the hotel manager they would come get us when they started taking people to rooms. As he is telling me this, those boarding were indeed being taken to their cabins right in front of my face. So we just went to ours on our own. It was ready, but no luggage at 4:00 in the afternoon on a ship with only about 100 cabins. I went and found the luggage and brought it in. d. On the night of the captain’s reception they ship’s newsletter said a Gala dinner would begin after the reception and they would not serve until all were seated. There was no indication of what time that would be. The front desk told me I could actually dine at any time after 6. She was shocked when I told her it was now 6:25 and the restaurant was not open yet. She called and told me it would open at 6:45. It actually opened at 6:37. e. Here is a clueless hotel manager story that will make you smile. When we complained that we were told there were fine wine and spirits aboard the ship, he asked us, with a quizzical look on his face, where we heard or read that. He said he only offers wine and spirits. They may not be so fine. Dumb? 4. At dinner on the 3rd night we ordered the lamb on the menu. After about 10 minutes the waiter told us they were out. We had ordered a bottle of wine to go with the lamb, but the staff wasn’t trained well enough to understand any problem with this. So we ordered steak skewers and as we were finishing, out came lamb for the table next to us who ordered well after we did. We asked a captain what happened and he said they did not know they had more lamb and it took the chef 20 minutes to find out. We told him we thought that was incompetent and he sent a higher up who first said the other table ordered first, which was not true, and had so been confirmed by the captain. Caught in a lie, he attempted to say it took 25 minutes to thaw the lamb. No one understood that all they had to say to us was wait a few minutes while they check things out. They are simply incompetent on the ship. IMPORTANTLY, this was the second time this happened. They ran out of baked salmon at lunch and told everyone they had no more only 20 minutes into a 90 minute restaurant opening. As we left, there sat the dish. The host of that room said they convinced the chef to make more. Shouldn’t have run out in the first place. 5. With regard to the ship’s entertainers/musicians, the newsletter never tells you who is entertaining where. So we know nothing about them or where they might be at any given time. This is unfair to the passengers and entertainers, and shows a total lack of understanding on the part of the crew. Every other cruise line gives you this information. 6. The group we were with had many people (over 25) in the 6th floor lounge one evening. We were actually playing the piano, and all were singing. At midnight the bartenders closed down and left. Never seen that on a ship. 7. At the so-called Gala dinner, the server put my salad fork back for me to use again when I finished the salad. I had him get me a new one. Then, someone was not thinking on the mussels curry dish as we had to use our hands to open the mussels. What a mess. The chargers on which this dish sat were naturally covered with shells and liquid from the broth. Were they removed? No. At least not until we requested it. 8. Unbelievably, in both dining rooms there is a table for the ship’s officers, who sit by themselves and ignore all their passengers. I cannot remember such rudeness and obvious lack of thought on any other ship. 9. The ship scheduled a mandatory safety meeting followed by a mandatory life jacket drill at 5:45 and 6:00 respectively the first day. Obviously, people took their life jackets with them. Some of the crew allowed them in the room during the lecture and some made us take them back to our cabin saying we could not bring them until 6:00, of course meaning we all had to leave the lecture, go to the room, get the life jackets, and come right back. You would think this is a comedy, but the people on this ship are just this disconnected. Also, the drill was help at a time we were in port and people were not required to be on board for another 8 hours. Finally, even tho the drill was designed to show us how to put on the life jackets, the notice sent out asked us to come with them already on. 10. They are so cheap on this ship. We have already written about the spirits and wine that fall into this category, and the fact that the bartenders close shop at 12 even when passengers are out. In the morning they advertise fresh squeezes orange, grapefruit, and tomato juice. Think they have this during the day at the two cocktail bars? Nope. Too cheap, as we say. Cruise another line - really. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
Did the 17 Day Gallipoli Dawn Service cruise with APT on Ponant's Le Soleal. Found that APT is good at producing glossy brochures but a little short on delivery. Kept advertising that it would land ticket holders to Dawn Service onto ... Read More
Did the 17 Day Gallipoli Dawn Service cruise with APT on Ponant's Le Soleal. Found that APT is good at producing glossy brochures but a little short on delivery. Kept advertising that it would land ticket holders to Dawn Service onto the Peninsula around dusk on the 24th. This was patently misleading as all operators had been advised as early as June 2014 that this would not be possible. Also advertised full complimentary bar throughout but then tried to walk back on that in there cruise guide issued with tickets to only house wine and beer with lunch and dinner. Something which now appears in the fine print of their advertising. Food and standard of wine onboard was second rate. Whilst shore excursions are included in the price they are pretty basic, and in bigger ports with a bit of planning could be undertaken on one's own. Having sailed with both Azamara and Seabourn recently I would recommend them well ahead of APT. Our Gallipoli cruise cost us on a daily basis twice as much as a recent Antarctic cruise with Seabourn, and was well short of the luxury that Seabourn promises and delivers. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2015
We took a Tauck tour "Cruising Down Under." This was a new tour for Tauck and they chose L'Austral starting in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in Melbourne, Australia for 12 days. Let me say that we have traveled twice on ... Read More
We took a Tauck tour "Cruising Down Under." This was a new tour for Tauck and they chose L'Austral starting in Auckland, New Zealand and ending in Melbourne, Australia for 12 days. Let me say that we have traveled twice on the Regent Seven Seas through the Panama Canal and Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, twice on the Paul Gauguin in the South Seas, once on the Silver Seas - Silver Cloud from Istanbul to Cyprus and twice on the Windstar – once in the Caribbean and once on the Adriatic, and NEVER had a problem. Our complaints arise with the L’Austral. The food on this ship was not up to Tauck standards. As a matter of fact it was awful. Many people on the tour complained about the food and said they would write to Tauck which I have also done. Dinner on Deck 2 in Le Coromandel was bland and uninviting. One instance of poor food was the Rib Eye Steak which was very tough, and when I complained to the maître d he said the steak was from New Zealand and therefore not under their control. Has anyone ever heard of ordering from another supplier? If so many people complained in a restaurant and the restaurant did nothing about it – it would be closed. Well the ship had a captive audience. Both Captain’s Dinners were pre-set menus. When we asked the waiter what would happen if we didn’t like the meal, he told us, “Don’t eat it.” The serving sizes were very small and of poor quality. For example, for an appetizer we had “one” scallop; the second course was “one” lobster medallion about the size of a quarter. We had monkfish one night, which was about two inches and wouldn’t feed a child. This is a French ship and we had to continually ask for a French dinner. We asked for Escargot and got it once. We asked for French Onion Soup and all the chef did was sauté onions and plopped them in beef bouillon. No crusty bread in the soup and no cheese on top. Should I have offered to give the chef the recipe for French Onion Soup? We asked for a soufflé for dessert and we were told that there were not enough cooks in the kitchen to make soufflés. Could this be possible??? On Deck 6 the casual Le Rodrigues was a buffet and was another culinary experience. The first night we chose to eat in this restaurant because we were tired and wanted a shorter dining time. One gastronomical delight was a hamburger not even fit for a dog. We were told that Tauck suggested hamburgers because most of their tour group was Americans. The average age of our group was about 65 and for the most part well-travelled people who paid a great deal for this trip. Do you honestly think we were looking for hamburgers? The rest of the buffet was sparse and tasteless. The fish was tough, the pork medallions were dry and I could get better spaghetti and meatballs in an Atlantic City, NJ buffet table. The bathroom in our cabin and in every cabin consisted of two rooms – a water closet with a bowl and no sink. You have to leave the water closet and then go into the portion of the bathroom with a sink and a shower. This is so unsanitary that I felt that I was in an airport bathroom. How could this renowned ship have a water closet with no sink to wash your hands before you opened the door to leave this portion of the bathroom? As a matter of fact there were many people on board the ship who were sick with bad colds and flu-like symptoms. The ship’s doctor said that there was an epidemic of bad colds and flu-like symptoms on the cruise before ours. It seems that the ship was not sanitized before we got on board. The Wi Fi on the ship was barely existent. If you managed to log on, you were bounced off in two minutes. We were told that their connection to the satellite was weak – well upgrade. When we were in port we were told that you could not get a connection because the buildings interfered with the connection. We were supposedly connecting to a satellite and not a tower – so how could the buildings get in the way. We paid almost $40,000 for this vacation. The most we have ever spent on any vacation and I am sure a large portion of this was due to the L’Austral. I would like to talk to the group that made the decision to use this ship and ask them if they actually took the voyage and actually ate the same food that was served to us. This ship is supposed to be a luxury cruise ship. It was not luxury but sub par. I have seen other reviews which give this ship and food a decent rating. I can't understand why.   Read Less
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