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31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Having made numerous cruises on various lines (20 +) I can honestly say Ponant really misses the mark. Cruise is billed as high end with gourmet dining, luxury cabins and exciting entertainment all to be accompanied with outstanding ... Read More
Having made numerous cruises on various lines (20 +) I can honestly say Ponant really misses the mark. Cruise is billed as high end with gourmet dining, luxury cabins and exciting entertainment all to be accompanied with outstanding French service standards. Rooms are clean, not spacious but such should be expected on a small ship. Toilet is in a separate room from shower making it somewhat inconvenient but tolerable. Plenty of closet storage as well as many drawers. Food was tolerable definitely not gourmet. Food that should be served hot was barely at room temperature, specifically at the buffet. Selections very limited and reservations required for the buffet at dinner. Service standards are hit or miss with the classical French attitude one would hope not to encounter. On a side note, the first evening at the buffet, went thru 4 packages of butter that were moldy, I suppose it can happen, but I was sitting directly next to the cruise director who ignored the issue turning his head the other. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Our long awaited and much anticipated Northwest Passage trip has ended and will long be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Inputing required information into Ponant’s website before the trip was frustratingly difficult and ... Read More
Our long awaited and much anticipated Northwest Passage trip has ended and will long be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Inputing required information into Ponant’s website before the trip was frustratingly difficult and generally only remedied by Sydney’s staff. Thank you to all who assisted. The required medical information was widely regarded by GPs and fellow travellers as an invasion of privacy. Our travels to Antarctica onboard MV Orion in 2007 and a previous 42-day Arctic expedition cruise aboard MV Silver Explorer in 2013 did not require such detailed information, simply evidence of travel insurance that included repatriation from remote areas. And then there were the charter flights. Check-in at Charles de Gaulle airport was an absolute shambles. Many, if not most, passengers had arrived long before the Ponant representative and located a Ponant banner near gates 50-51. Nobody was aware that there were two charter flights, the other check-in being on the opposite side of the terminal at gates 1-2. Much cross-terminal activity ensued as people realised they were in the wrong queues! My partner and I were allocated the Trade Air flight that used a Fokker 100 aircraft. The aircraft was not designed to carry a full economy-class passenger load with everyone having hold-stowed baggage, and consequently some baggage was loaded into some of the toilets at the captain’s suggestion. That carrier has been cited on previous occasions for regulatory breaches, according to internet entries, and this was possibly another. Being a charter flight we parked remotely from the terminal in Copenhagen and much of the baggage was offloaded into open baggage-carts in a downpour. Some passengers reported their baggage was sodden upon retrieval. Transferring to the Air Greenland commercial flight was another exercise involving a very long walk with little guidance. A couple of quick-thinking passengers were able to pay for a business-class upgrade, while most of us continued to languish in economy. Upon arrival in Kangerlussuaq we were directed to board coaches for the transfer to the ship. Nobody bothered to inform us, until asked, about what was to happen to our luggage....it was collected in bulk and transferred (successfully) to the ship. The reception on boarding the ship, was adequate but not exceptional, particularly as it was close to midnight when we boarded. Our cabin, 528, was tiny with no under-bed storage for luggage and was apparently designed as the sitting-room to the adjoining cabin 526, to which it had a connecting door for use when both cabins were sold as one suite. It was a similar story for other cabins on deck 5, some with under-bed storage, others without. Within the cabin, the bathroom and toilet doors opened outwards into the entrance passageway, as did the wardrobe doors. Open one door but beware opening another as they clashed with one another. Inexplicably, the shower door opened inwards to the stall and if anyone fell while in the shower and could not pick themselves up, access for assistants would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, without demolishing the screens. Compactness was also a feature of both restaurants, with tables very close together hampering access for both passengers and waiters. Both restaurants were badly under-staffed, with waiters having too many tables to look after and also doubling as wine waiters. Under these very trying circumstances, the waiters did the best they could, but lengthy delays were normal. The bars were also understaffed. Some food items and beverages ran very low, with some items completely exhausted within 10 days of the start of a 23 day cruise! Somebody needs to answer for that. The much-hyped French cuisine was disappointing, with a preponderance of fish on the dinner menu. The cruise proceeded much as advertised until it was announced that we would be unable to transit the Northwest Passage because of the ice conditions in Bellot Strait and further west. That decision was based on ice charts and forecasts available before we had even set sail from Kangerlussuaq on the cruise, and that changed little as the cruise progressed. We were initially offered early disembarkation (at Pond Inlet, Canada), an option that a number of us selected, and two other options, each less appealing than the other. Eventually it was decided an early disembarkation would unnecessarily delay the ship sailing north in Baffin Bay on a random itinerary taking us towards the very north of Greenland towards another channel blocked by sea ice, before turning south and returning to Kangerlussuaq by the 18th September, the date we were originally due to disembark in Nome. Mutterings were heard that we’d paid the ransom before we’d been kidnapped! Communications from staff members was poor on many occasions, with the constant changing from French to English difficult to follow. And once the revised itinerary got underway, we were only told on a daily basis what to expect the next day, with nobody sure when we would be back in Kangerlussuaq (17th or 18th, morning or afternoon etc). Eventually we found ourselves back in Kangerlussuaq and the charter flight shambles started all over again. Europeans won the lottery with a short flight back to Paris. The rest of us had to endure a long, uncomfortable economy-class flight all the way to Seattle with a refuelling stop in Buffalo. And finally liberation! We could never, in good conscience, recommend Ponant. As a luxury expedition/cruise line it barely rates a 3, based on this experience. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
We chose this cruise as we do not like big cruise ships. We have cruised on Sea Dreaming before (American based) and was hoping for something similar from Ponant. What a let down. It started off great when we arrived in our cabin - very ... Read More
We chose this cruise as we do not like big cruise ships. We have cruised on Sea Dreaming before (American based) and was hoping for something similar from Ponant. What a let down. It started off great when we arrived in our cabin - very spacious and own balcony. Than the set backs 1. Smoking - all outside decks including the main bar were filled with filthy smokers puffing cigarettes and cigars - not able to go outside without being consumed by smoke 2. Service - If you have been to France, you will understand the service. First morning after 24 hour flight we wanted a coffee. No coffee available until 6.30 am. We arrived at 6.15am and waiter was setting up. Coffee was made but he said we could not have milk until 6.30am . The milk was 1.0 metre away from him in the fridge behind him! That standard was present throughout whole trip. Apart from the Filipino staff who were actually quite pleasant and genuine. 3. Food - can be described as business class aeroplane food - all pre-heated and 5 courses could be served to 244 passengers inside 60 minutes 4. Eating times - set dinner time - 7.30-9.00pm - absolutely ridiculous that we could not eat after the sun went down! We tried to come in around 8.30pm but NO food left on buffet! 5. Drinks - we are not big drinkers but like an occasional drink. Not one barman could actually make a reasoable vodka and soda with fresh lime? That is just one example. 6. Not a luxury cruise in any sense of the word. Pre-heated food, limited choice menu, set eating times limited to daylight hours - really disappointing This may be better than the big ships but do not choose this cruise if you have any expectations other than average Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Ponant had been suggested to me by a family member, and the smaller number of passengers was appealing after the larger cruise lines. However, leaving after this 8 night cruise, I am underwhelmed and left feeling that I certainly did not ... Read More
Ponant had been suggested to me by a family member, and the smaller number of passengers was appealing after the larger cruise lines. However, leaving after this 8 night cruise, I am underwhelmed and left feeling that I certainly did not get value for money. As has been previously stated by other reviewers, the standard of meals is not consistent. We had three Gala Dinners and these were all of varying standards, nothing particularly memorable about any of them. The alternative buffet on deck 6 was awful, I have had better more appealing meals on the larger cruise lines. I had room service a number of times and they were delivered without any covers over the plates! The last night farewell affair was laughable in that the entire staff were paraded onto the pool deck with rock music, whilst I understand that staff need to be acknowledged for their service this was over the top. As a non-French speaking passenger there was a feeling of condescension from the reception staff and in particular from the female cruise director, there were a number of non-French speakers on board and we all had the same opinion. The wait staff and cabin staff were much better, polite and willing to assist at all times. I will definitely not be cruising with Ponant again. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
We chose this particular trip to Japan because the ship was small and the itinerary was part land and part sea.While the ship itself was adequate- the small room was comfortable, clean, and well attended, the restaurants and food left much ... Read More
We chose this particular trip to Japan because the ship was small and the itinerary was part land and part sea.While the ship itself was adequate- the small room was comfortable, clean, and well attended, the restaurants and food left much to be desired. We are not "foodies", but were quite displeased with the food. The more "formal" dining room seemed to be understaffed, and the staff that was there seemed rushed, impatient, and sometimes a bit discourteous. The more casual dining room required an advance reservation, something we felt a bit odd. It was buffet,also understaffed, with a rather boring selection of food that hardly ever changed. Perhaps, in general, our biggest complaint was the lack of almost anything that gave you the feeling you were traveling in Japan: not a Japanese dinner, a few pieces of the same sushi at the buffet, no Japanese "entertainment", and very limited Japanese culture and the like. We were very fortunate to be traveling with groups that provided excellent speakers- unfortunately, this ship does not have the system allowing you to listen or watch the speakers from your cabin, if you wished to do so. Furthermore, the ship has a peculiar lay-out, lacking rest rooms near the restaurants and no "quiet area"- the "library" is part of a lounge - we tried to sit there, but were driven out by the noisy card players .We are "seasoned" travelers having taking many, many land and sea trips and would definitely not travel on this line again nor could we recommend it to others. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose this cruise because we were so pleased with our last year cruise to Antartica. But, our cruise from Ushuaia to Valparaiso was disappointing; The beginning started well with a good excursion at the Cap Horn, but over the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were so pleased with our last year cruise to Antartica. But, our cruise from Ushuaia to Valparaiso was disappointing; The beginning started well with a good excursion at the Cap Horn, but over the following 11 days we had few excursions (we expected 1/day or at least 1/two days): only 3 ! Conferences on board were few & not up to the standard we experienced before. On top of that, the Boreal had some issues: - a lift not working - the GPS Map not working - my wife & other female passengers got a virus through the air conditioning system, that obviously was not cleaned; she was prescribed antibiotics after the cruise & needed 4 weeks to recover from a deep lung infection. - The internet/wifi did not work, though we paid Usd180 for connections ! - Dining was fine, but not as refined as what we had before with Ponant, the quality is going down - Our Cabin had a bath stub, but we expected a shower Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
The ship is young enough and attractively styled and crewed! Maintenance of rust and cleaning of deck,glass,and balcony are not great. Cabin and storage was totally fine. Our cabin steward was never close to our heart and when we ... Read More
The ship is young enough and attractively styled and crewed! Maintenance of rust and cleaning of deck,glass,and balcony are not great. Cabin and storage was totally fine. Our cabin steward was never close to our heart and when we boarded one waste bin was not emptied, nor the bedside table cleaned. The toilet compartment seemed to need a deep clean /freshening. The Senior Housekeeper always looked in control but the staff were disappointing as stewards and waiters. Our cabin /balcony was blighted by the constant contact with Zodiac boats being lowered and raised to the top deck storage. Ponant made several blunders during the booking, confusing my details with someone on the other side of the world with a similar name. We were given an on board spend to our surprise just before the end of the cruise after being told earlier that there was none. I must say the Captain and French members of staff were excellent as was Camal the Cruise Director. Though with a 98% English speaking passenger group why French was usually the first language spoken I never understood. The very few French speakers on board were favoured and one day, next in line to board a zodiac ,we became invisible as a French couple were shown on ahead of us ! Even more outstanding were the large Nature Guide/Zodiac pilots team who gave excellent lectures/briefings and were entertaining stars. The trouble was the food and drink. The baking was also pathetic at times. Twice there were "fancy" set menu special/party nights in the very attractive main dining room. However the set menu food was even worse than regular cooking.Now I have been on many ships and make every allowance I can for the catering difficulty of a small ship in remote waters, but this was BAD. The extra pasta meal required due to the sea state delay in final docking was one of the better efforts!! To cap it Ponant served as house wine (to mainly Australian passengers) cheap Australian "Oxford Landing" wines, which irritated many. Cabin service food was simple but fast and well served. Eventually some poor French wines did materialized! Bar service could be slow with one bar man being the norm and many cocktails on offer! I will say I enjoyed the free flowing Champagne.... The "Grill" (deck) restaurant/buffet is too small when the ship is full and the weather hot. These Kimberly Coast cruises attracted mostly (noisy) elderly Australians so the fun of an international passenger mix was missing. Good ships photography/DVD service. Did not use internet, (100 minutes@ 30Euroes). I could never use Ponant again as my food and drink is important to me. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2017
A disastrous holiday from start to finish. Charter flight from Orly Aiport was exhausting. One would expect a staff representing Ponant to be at a designated Meeting Place but we were told the flight would be advertised on the Departure ... Read More
A disastrous holiday from start to finish. Charter flight from Orly Aiport was exhausting. One would expect a staff representing Ponant to be at a designated Meeting Place but we were told the flight would be advertised on the Departure Boards with check in details so need for signage or staff - there wasn't any information airport staff weren't sure. We finally found the charter flight check in ( in the basement) by accident. Flight delayed but no information at the gates as to expected time, no seating at the gates - sat on the floor. At our destination we were met by staff taken on a city tour with all 4 buses arriving at the wharf simultaneuosly. No assistnace with luggage, we queued in the rain for 45 minutes as the captain and his hotel manager stood at the top of the gang plank and welcomed each passenger. No regard for us getting wet, no beverages offered and no seating whilst we waited on wharf. Excursion staff and accessibilty to details: Poor Expedition Staff: Rude Waitstaff: Rude in both the dining room and Observation Deck Bar Food: Variety: reasonable Main Dining Room: Food served luke warm Alcohol: Wine of the day - if you preferred the wine served the previous day - "not available tonight" bad luck Organisation of Shore excursions: Chaotic Overall staff never greeted you on approach. They appeared to be disgruntled employees. We have traveeld on many cruise ship lines of various categoriesand have never been treated with such rudeness. Never again Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
Chosen for itinerary and was intrigued to try out a small ship. Itineray was great but ship was a disappointment. Suite was nothing more than two standard rooms that adjoined, with the bed taken out of one and a couch and two chairs ... Read More
Chosen for itinerary and was intrigued to try out a small ship. Itineray was great but ship was a disappointment. Suite was nothing more than two standard rooms that adjoined, with the bed taken out of one and a couch and two chairs substituted. That did give us two bathrooms, which was important, since the bathrooms are tiny. the sleeping cabin was small with only about a foot or son between the end of the bed and the dresser. I have had suites on many larger 5 star ships that put this "premiere suite" to shame. The food was also terrible. Buffet breakfast and lunch was basically the same for 8 days. Being a French ship, I expected that at least pasties and deserts would be of high quality but even the croissants were dry, heavy. The best croissants I had on the trip was from a Japanese hotel (Shangri-la)m in Tokyo. Dinners were average at best and poor at worst. Beef steak lacked flavor. Fish was always overcooked and dry. There was no imagination with plating or menu selection. Only 3 entrees offered per night with an option for a steak, hamburger, etc all there time. Worst food we have ever had on a cruise ship. Staff was indifferent at best. Smiles were at the ready but real caring service was lacking. Waiters would walk by at breakfast with a coffee pot and never asked if you wanted more. We always had to flag someone down. Reception desk personnel sometimes acted like you were bothering them if you stopped and asked for something. Admittedly this is a small ship and you should not expect the comforts and activities of larger cruise lines. But the ship never felt comfortable and there are few places to go on board that offer a relaxing atmosphere. We are not mega ship cruisers but are more in the 750-1000 passenger ship category. Our experience on L'Austral convinced us to avoid small ships in the future and particularly Ponant Cruise line, which I feel was a poor representative of the small ship segment of the market. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because of Ports of Call and time of year, and the smaller type of vessel. We were pleased with the choice of the Ports of Call but overall were disappointed in the Quality of the Cruise in a few facets. This is an ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of Ports of Call and time of year, and the smaller type of vessel. We were pleased with the choice of the Ports of Call but overall were disappointed in the Quality of the Cruise in a few facets. This is an expensive ship and we did not fell we received adequate value for the money spent The front desk staff were rude if not nasty, and very officious. The dining was good for Breakfast and Lunch but relatively poor for the evening The seating areas for both were less than comfortable and there were only 2 options for dining. The lack of any Japanese food on board and little attempt to make gala evenings feel gala. The local guides in japan were well meaning but generally incompetent in English and had very little of interest to report. The guide in Bosan was very good however. The tour locations were interesting however. This ship's bookings were dominated by Tauck and as a result we were isolated as a small group of English speakers who were not part of Tauck. Since we had a suite, we would expect a little attention and maybe a perq or two. There were none in evidence.. I think Ponant has a poor sense of customer expectations and I would rate it as much poorer than either AMA Waterways or Viking as well large cruise ships such as NCL. Having made these negative observations, I do want to compliment the service staff including waiters, butlers, and housekeeping. They were always friendly and very responisve Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2017
Itinerary was good, ship nice and modern, very quiet engines. But the captain, hotel manager and reception are very arrogant ,and not very skilled in handling guests. After a horrible arriving on 5.30am,after waiting 4 hours on ... Read More
Itinerary was good, ship nice and modern, very quiet engines. But the captain, hotel manager and reception are very arrogant ,and not very skilled in handling guests. After a horrible arriving on 5.30am,after waiting 4 hours on gasstation in nowmans land of Batangas, the ship was still in dry dock and no-one was talking to us. We had drill on 11am, despite of having a seaday. . Food was poor for a french ship. fish overcooked, everyday the same salad ,fruits, only 4 kind of cheese the whole 18 days. Only one white wine, one red und sometimes a rose wine, always the same kind and winery never changing. English speaking guests are second class, or third class, if there is a huge Tauck group overcrowding the ship. After 30 cruises with the best ships of the other five star companies,this was a great disappointment. the excursions were average and a lot could have don by yourselves . Seldom we had a shuttles to the town, which sometimes was dangerous running between containers through the harbour to find an exit. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
this cruise chosen for itinerary and chance to visit very remote islands south of new Zealand the cruise was poor, accommodation, small and basic, food either good or bad, service mediocre. I have read salty1000 report and think he ... Read More
this cruise chosen for itinerary and chance to visit very remote islands south of new Zealand the cruise was poor, accommodation, small and basic, food either good or bad, service mediocre. I have read salty1000 report and think he must be an employee because this was not what happened on the ship. This ship charges top 5 star prices and gives 3 star value at best Expedition staff were knowledgeable but zodiac drivers were poor with no knowledge, most of the time they were dancers from the cabaret, or novice cadets The ship hit rocks off of the Snares islands and this meant returning to Bluff Harbour for emergency repairs. The itinerary was now severely shortened and specific Islands such as Antipodes and Bounty were missed, others including Mc Quarrie island went from 3 days to 3 hours or less. Everything was to blame of course except Ponant, weather, seas, laws and governments, we paid for a pre cruise tour and we did not get it, instead we stood outside of the ship in the sun waiting for the ship to be ready for embarkation Our cabins bed was a foldaway and barely adequate. the food was bland, cold and poorly served most of the time. The ships design is poor, too many disconnected areas, very little outside spaces of any note for £8000+ per person we expected more than they gave to us. NO we would not use this cruise line again, even with the on board bribe of _15-25% off of new Poanant cruises. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Chosen because of itinerary - shore excursions featured in promotional materials. Ponant completed mismanaged all shore activities from arrival at airport through nearly all shore excursions. Ponant rep could not find driver and bus at ... Read More
Chosen because of itinerary - shore excursions featured in promotional materials. Ponant completed mismanaged all shore activities from arrival at airport through nearly all shore excursions. Ponant rep could not find driver and bus at Narita airport keeping us waiting more than an hour causing us to arrive at destination after dark so that we could not see the first featured garden. Most local guides spoke with such thick accents that they could not be understood. In addition, since there was no continuity of guides, many repeated information that had been given to us previously. On one day we waited more than two hours to be processed by Japanese customs because Ponant had not prepared properly for the customs agents. Further Ponant representatives made no attempt to ensure that the queue was maintained in an orderly fashion, allowing cutting in to the line. On that day we were delayed so long that we were too late to enter the Hiroshima peace memorial (another highlight of the trip missed). Further, the PA announcements could not be heard in cabins, it was necessary to open the cabin door to hear the announcements through the corridor PA systems. In addition the details of when and where it was necessary to congregate were often changed at the last minute. On a more positive note, our cabin (a suite) was excellent, although the standard veranda cabins appeared to be too small compared with either Seabourn or Crystal's similar cabins. On board service was excellent. Dining - breakfasts were outstanding, luncheon buffets generally good except for the hot entrees. Dinners suffered from poor quality of the main entrees (tenderloin anything but tender) fish seemed not to be fresh. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
This was almost so good. But yet it wasn't. And I doubt I would ever sail with Ponant again because of this experience. The itinerary was amazing - a 23 night cruise through the Arctic Circle, crossing from Greenland to Alaska ... Read More
This was almost so good. But yet it wasn't. And I doubt I would ever sail with Ponant again because of this experience. The itinerary was amazing - a 23 night cruise through the Arctic Circle, crossing from Greenland to Alaska via the North West Passage, it's the stuff of adventurous dreams. The expeditions were truly amazing, can you imagine the delight of zodiacs right up to the front of a glacier; tramping across pristine arctic tundra (though of course it won't stay pristine for much longer once the tourists really start to visit); being entertained by local Inuit people; and watching walruses and polar bears and seals and whales and narwhals and and and. The whole itinerary was simply wonderful; the expeditions were amazing and the expedition staff friendly and knowledgable (if occasionally slightly unintelligable). So, why was it all so disappointing? Well, it was billed as luxury luxury luxury 5 star 6 star best ever. And as such my expectations were way up. And it was expensive, but as a once in a lifetime cruise, I saved for it and then splurged. But it was all pretty ordinary. The cabins were small and in need of some major refurbishing and certainly a redesign. It was awkward to move in the cabin; with dressing table and drawers in the wrong spot. Storage was very narrow and deep and there was only one chair, no couch, to sit on So if you wanted to relax in the cabin one of you has to sit on the bed. Not so good for my back. The bed was very comfortable though and I slept brilliantly. The toilet was separate from the bathroom and basin and the actual bathroom was quite small. Ok for petites, not sure how some people could turn around in the shower. There is no guest laundry which means that all of your washing is either done by hand in the bathroom basin (not my idea of luxury) or sent out at expense for the ship to do. And it added up to quite an expense. The food was basic and as a vegetarian I struggled to get any variety. A strict vegan would be advised to bring their own! There were nights when my main meal consisted of pasta; potato and rice (and, mostly, dessert). Too often, the vegetables dishes had bacon included and for example on the barbeque meals, while there were all sorts of hamburger patties: beef; pork; chicken;and lamb, there were never any vegetable or chickpea patties. I ate salads mostly, but they lacked variety and 23 nights of almost the same meal is not what I call luxury. I must add though that the bread was amazing - best ever - and the desserts were without question as good as any patisserie. The 'inlcuded' wine was pretty ordinary plonk. The premium wine was just expensive. The dining hours were limited, and both the restaurant and the buffet filled up quickly. If you cruise normally there are extended options for your meals and being crowded out happens rarely. There were only shared tables of 4 or 6, but no tables of 2. I don't mind sharing on most nights but occasionally you like to have just a quiet night without having to make conversation. And, of course, if you got the seats next the window on a 6 person table you could barely get in or out of your seat until the others moved out. The cabin was not set up for a meal, sohaving room service regualrly was really out of the question. In addition, whole sections of both the buffet and the restaurant were put aside for tour groups, which was good for them, but not so convenient for the other passengers. The tour groups also seemed to take over one of the two guest lounges. A concern for me was that the usual cruise ship hygiene precautions did not seem to have high priority. The two hand sanitiser dispensers near the eating areas were rarely used (and their use never encouraged let alone enforced). Embarkation and disembarkation were both a schemozzle. I am aware that neither Kangerlussuaq nor Nome are luxury destinations, but Ponant was quite simply disorganised. The disembarkation was timed around getting the next group of passengers flown up from Seattle, so we had a full day to bumble around Nome waiting for the plane. That wasn't so bad as it's an interesting town, but then getting to the airport - tour groups got precedence (of course they did!) and the rest of us had to just line up and take what was left. It was 'open seating' so once the others were on, there were very limited options for the last bus load. Didn't seem quite fair but hey ho! The flight was a budget airline and quite squashed and running very late, so our day ended at about midnight in Seattle. So, I'd absolutely recommend the itinerary. I didn't object to paying a huge amount for the cruise but I was very disappointed in the shipping line. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
The expeditions on this cruise were amazing. The scenery, the wildlife and the excursions onshore in the remote arctic were the stuff of dreams and I would do it all again. But I would do it on a different ship and with a different ... Read More
The expeditions on this cruise were amazing. The scenery, the wildlife and the excursions onshore in the remote arctic were the stuff of dreams and I would do it all again. But I would do it on a different ship and with a different cruise line. This was expensive (very expensive) and was billed as '5 star luxury' but it was really at the class of the Queen Victoria (Cunard) - ie a good mid-level, small ship. It's not anywhere near the luxury levels of Silverseas or Regent. For example, the room only had one chair, not two nor a couch so that at any time in the room one of us had to sit on the bed. There were no rugs for covering us when on the balcony so we couldn't comfortably sit outside to watch the icebergs. And the main lounge opened onto the 'smokers deck' and was always having cold and smoky air rush in. Curiously, for a French line, the food was probably the most disappointing aspect. Well, that and the pushiness of most other passengers. It did not cater well for vegetarians and not at all for vegans. When specific foods were checked, the sous chef was abrupt to the point of rudeness in his responses. Not really good enough. The embarkation and disembarkation were disorganised (and, yes, I appreciate that neither Kangerlussuaq nor Nome are set up for big groups) but the arrangements were not good and the charter flights were very basic. It was not pleasant being in the crush for seats when boarding and then landing in Seattle late at night was tiring. If you look at just the 'expediaiton' nature of this cruise, then I would wholeheartedly recommend it. It was truly wonderful. But the luxury aspect wasn't. Read Less
20 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
This APT tour from June 14-30 on the new Le Lyrial French ship with city stays in Venice & Istanbul was a disaster from beginning to end. At $2000/day for my wife and me, the trip was plagued by one issue after another. The Venice City ... Read More
This APT tour from June 14-30 on the new Le Lyrial French ship with city stays in Venice & Istanbul was a disaster from beginning to end. At $2000/day for my wife and me, the trip was plagued by one issue after another. The Venice City stay was poor value. Three ports, Korcula, Otranto & Mytilini were cut due to time moored at a Trogir ship yard to repair damage caused by a collision with the Split Wharf and then a refusal by the port authority in Otranto to allow tendering to shore in choppy but not insurmountable conditions. This was then exacerbated by a fouled anchor which prevented the ship calling into Corfu as a belated alternative to Otranto. There were other issues such as an exceedingly poor attitude , organisational inefficiency and unresponsiveness by the APT Cruise Director over much of the early part of the holiday. It was generally felt that this trip was well below previous experience with APT and certainly not worth the $2000/day cost per couple to most of the passengers. It failed in almost all respects to live up to what was promised in the glossy APT brochure and other material which promoted the expectation that smaller ships can dock at more wharfs and visit attractive smaller places and enable ready access to and from the ship instead of having to line up for the tender to shore. Although the ship and cabins were lovely, the cuisine and beverages were no better than what we've experienced on Holland America and inferior to that on a Hurtigruten cruise down the coast of Norway. In summary, it's such a pity that this trip fell way short in almost all respects from everybody's expectations and prior experience and no doubt all passengers are awaiting a more formal and satisfactory response from APT than the paltry $500/cabin credit that's been offered to date. Read Less
54 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Virtually unknown in the UK, this French company has four ships with capacities of around 250 and a three-masted ship with 27 cabins which offer unique experiences and expeditions with a French Touch around the world. The ships are ... Read More
Virtually unknown in the UK, this French company has four ships with capacities of around 250 and a three-masted ship with 27 cabins which offer unique experiences and expeditions with a French Touch around the world. The ships are stunning in appearance and elegant and luxurious on board. They promise a French crew, attentive service, excellent cuisine, fine cheeses, artisan breads and pastries, and a selection of grands crus. The restaurant on deck 2 provides an elegant, sophisticated and refined cuisine in the finest French gastronomic tradition, or one can choose deck 6 restaurant for a more casual, relaxed atmosphere. It is quite difficult to find reviews of Ponant cruises, and this review of our experience on board L’Austral may be helpful to anyone considering a cruise with this line which aspires to a luxury rating. We chose an eight night cruise for the itinerary from Dublin visiting Douglas, Liverpool, Belfast and on to Ullapool, Stornoway, Skye, Mull and Iona. Advertised as a Gastronomic Cruise, we understood that there would be some gala dinners and cooking demonstrations presented by Michelin starred chefs together with the world’s best sommeliers pairing the food with fine wines and hosting tastings. We are by no means gourmets or wine connoisseurs and were fondly anticipating some French onion soup, boeuf bourguignon or coq au vin, and possibly crème brulees, crepes or souffles. Unfortunately for us, we had completely failed to appreciate what Ponant intended. On six of the eight evenings we were instructed to be seated at 8pm and during the next two and a half to three hours we were presented with culinary masterpieces created by the chefs. The first meal consisted of cold aniseed flavoured potato soup with a raw oyster, an extremely lightly cooked piece of foie gras, and some very pink lamb accompanied by a few grams of delicately diced vegetables. The chocolate dessert was deliciously calorific. Every other meal included very undercooked or raw fish, meat or eggs the presentation of which was painstakingly exquisite, but could only be appreciated by a more refined palate than ours. Between courses the world famous sommelier went into considerable detail regarding the origin and nature of the wines. We may have become more knowledgeable about what we were eating and drinking had the information not been given entirely in French with very little attempt to translate. We did however manage to understand the information provided in French at breakfast, warning about the possible hazards to health from eating raw or undercooked food. Despite having expected to be able to dine in the more casual dining area on deck six, or possibly take advantage of the free room service, these facilities were not available on gala evenings, neither were we permitted to select an alternative to any of the courses from the vegetarian options. During the cookery presentations, wine tasting, cheese conference, and champagne and whiskey tastings we were offered earpieces in order to listen to a very limited translation to English. Unfortunately the microphone of the French expert was so loud that we could not hear a word and gave up after two attempts. Perhaps we should blame ourselves for having failed to appreciate that there would be little attempt by Ponant to be more accommodating to us as foreigners. The situation in which we found ourselves and the stress caused by trying to communicate over dinner with six other guests who claimed not to speak English was considerable. Tables for two were not available. Our O level French was sadly inadequate and we were relieved to find that some of the other English speakers felt the same. Together with the other 17 English speakers that we managed to find we were in a minority of less than 8%, the remainder being French speaking. Perhaps Ponant could have arranged for us to have had an opportunity to meet at an early stage instead of leaving it to us to meet by accident. It would appear that Ponant is happy to take bookings from English speakers but after this are not particularly concerned for their comfort and needs. We booked the cruise via Ponant’s brochure (published in English) in June 2015 and arranged for hire cars in four ports. Quite by chance in March 2016 we noticed a different itinerary on their website-same ports, but different dates. After two emails to Ponant and their failure to respond, our t/a discovered that the itinerary had changed but that they had not been notified. Our car hire bookings were changed. Embarkation in Dublin was scheduled for 4pm to 5pm for a 6pm sailing. We therefore travelled the previous day as the flight arrival time would have been very close to 4pm. Actual sailing time turned out to be 9.30 pm. Do not believe everything they tell you. A very limited tender service was provided in the four tender ports- usually only one per hour each way. After a short 5 to 10 minute journey the tender would remain in position with the engine running until the next scheduled time slot. On the penultimate day we were instructed to attend an important meeting about disembarkation procedures at 6pm although we did not sail until 8pm. As we had pre-arranged car hire until 7pm we missed the meeting but did not receive any written instructions of the type normally provided until after 10pm on the last night of the cruise. There was no requirement to complete the usual health questionnaire and we never saw anyone use either of the two hand sanitisers outside the restaurants. Despite the language and gastronomic problems, we enjoyed many aspects of the cruise. The ship was immaculate and the crew were pleasant and efficient. There was an open bridge policy. The breakfasts and lunches were very good. The open bar offered a good selection. There was a quiz one day. I believe that the evening entertainment was good but by the time we left the dining room we were too exhausted to watch. The Scottish islands were beautiful, the sun shone, the locals were friendly and our hire cars enabled us to see much more than the ship’s excursions would have allowed. Although it may be unfair to downgrade our score due to our inability to appreciate the food we were offered, had we been able to dine a la carte we may have given an extra star. The inaccuracy of the pre cruise information has also impacted on our rating. We sincerely hope that this review of our experience will be helpful to anyone English speakers who may consider a cruise with Ponant. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
This was supposed to be a 5 star cruise over Christmas. We had paid a premium price for this and were disappointed before we even got on the ship. Our tickets arrived 2 weeks before the cruise. When we checked them we found that the ... Read More
This was supposed to be a 5 star cruise over Christmas. We had paid a premium price for this and were disappointed before we even got on the ship. Our tickets arrived 2 weeks before the cruise. When we checked them we found that the itinerary had been changed and no longer stopped at Norfolk Island. Stopping at Norfolk Island was the main reason that we booked this. Our Travel Agent checked with Ponant and found that the itinerary was altered back in June and he was not told of this. At this late stage we really had no alternative but to except this . When we arrived at the ship it was chaotic and there did not seem to be any organisation. We were very concerned when we boarded as there was no security checking of hand luggage. In view of the fact that it had only been 5 weeks since the Paris shootings, and that this was a french ship, we really felt that security should have been more rigorous. At no time when we re-boarded were any bags checked. At the mandatory lifeboat drill my husband found that he had a defective life jacket. He reported this to 2 different crew members who told him that it would be replaced. It never was. As Norfolk Island was no longer on the itinerary we had more time at sea. I found this very boring as there was not enough going on. The Lectures were not of interest to me and so other than reading a book there was little else to do, unless you wanted the spa. We tried Afternoon tea. What a fiasco. You had to get a mug and make your own tea from the urn. One day there was even a Salsa dance class going on in the middle of the room. This is such a contrast to how Seabourn and Silversea arrange Afternoon Tea. A white gloved waiter who serves you with an assortment of teas, sandwiches and cakes. This is how it should be done. The dining overall was satisfactory. However on Christmas Eve only 1 restaurant was open and no buffet. When we arrived we were shown the menu. It was a set meal, 1st course an Egg dish (I do not eat eggs) 2nd and 3rd courses seafood (I am sick if I eat seafood). We asked what I could have instead and was told nothing. I would have to sit through 3 courses with no food. At this we walked out of the restaurant. We decided to order room service instead, even though the cabin only had 1 chair and a tiny table. We were told that there was no room service on Christmas Eve and that we must eat in the Restaurant. Their brochure says 24 hour a day room service. When I said that I could not eat a large part of the menu the receptionist then asked the chef what he was prepared to cook. He said a steak and salad. I said that was OK as long as my steak was well done. When it came it was bright red in the middle and the salad was limp and looked old. I could not eat this, so had no dinner that night. Christmas Day was another none event. We sailed around White Island, which took all of 20 minutes and that was it . We were at sea for the rest of the day with no particular Christmas events planned. You were not able to pre book Excursions. I have never been on a cruise before when this is the case.We had to wait until the excursion desk opened and then it was a free for all, loads of pushing and queue jumping. The excursions when you got them were fine and quite interesting. We disembarked at Akaroa. There is no proper wharf there and we had to disembark by tender, along with your suitcases. This was very badly organised and we were told one thing one minute only to be altered by another crew member a few minutes later. I cannot believe that they ended a cruise here, as getting to Christchurch from here is not easy, as there are no taxis or Hire cars in Akaroa. This is probably one of the worst cruises that I have ever been on and I feel if Ponant want to get into the Australian luxury cruise market they need to improve dramatically. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, ... Read More
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, although the toilet was separate which was good. The lounge areas were uninspiring. Afternoons entertainment violinist and a jazz singer, piano player. They were quite good for afternoon entertainment. Night there was sometimes a dance show, but nothing in the main lounge area. No music, no dancing, zero atmosphere. If you wanted to sit in there it was quite boring. Ponant have to lift their game if they want to come into the Australian market. Food just average, we expected better for the price we paid. Staff very good, no complaints there. Restaurant staff very helpful. Front desk staff not greatly friendly. Ship always clean and neat. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
What a greeting we got the window to board was one hour we had come from Tokyo by bullet then a Taxi that did not know were the port was then we got out of the Taxi two crew took our bags and lead us to the gangway very nice touch, on ... Read More
What a greeting we got the window to board was one hour we had come from Tokyo by bullet then a Taxi that did not know were the port was then we got out of the Taxi two crew took our bags and lead us to the gangway very nice touch, on entering the Ship 23 min early we were treated to you are early sit there till your cabin is ready , our party was made up of a 86 year old a 70 & a 60 year old the attitude shown was rude abrupt discourteous and not a credit to the French people it followed on with the reception counter staff also French The cabin was great but no list is given on what is included in you package and what is paid for the most of the cabin crew & restaurant staff are great not French the off handed French restaurant manger falling over the French customers but keeping away from the Australians Food quality could not be described a fine dining it had its moment but over all was not up to P&O at half the cost P&O , Carnival Line & Princess Line are able to handle 2500 passengers boarding in four hours this boat could not handle 200 Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
We paid £350 per person per day for an 8 night cruise around Japan on Le Boreal. Having paid a price similar to those on "Six Star" cruises such as Seabourn or Silversea I think it wasn't unreasonable of us to expect a ... Read More
We paid £350 per person per day for an 8 night cruise around Japan on Le Boreal. Having paid a price similar to those on "Six Star" cruises such as Seabourn or Silversea I think it wasn't unreasonable of us to expect a similar standard of food. We were sadly mistaken. Both Breakfast and Lunch are served as a buffet. The choice, presentation and flavour of the food on offer was distinctly 3 star or inedible, for example, American sytle bacon was served undercooked and submerged under 2 centimetres of molten fat! Dinner was a slight improvement but nowhere near the standard of, say, Seabourn. Poor service, cold soup, watery Caesar Salad and a miniscule overdone steak on three of our eight nights compounded our dissatisfaction. On most nights of the cruise the small boutique was not open. When we enquired why it wasn't open we were simply told "Because the manager has decided so" Embarcation on Ponant ships starts at 17.00. Not very useful if you have flown in earlier that morning. They provide no facility to store your baggage prior to embarcation. The embarcation process itself is shambolic e.g. luggage taken from you without being tagged, medical questionairre not collected. Entertainment on such a small ship is obviously going to be more restricted than on bigger ships. However, matters were not helped by the schedule of events being manipulated to suit "private events" or a cruise director who seemed incapable of keeping to a schedule. The ship itself is superb, service outside of the restaurants is excellent and the bars are outstanding. I've complained to Ponant and after three weeks they've offerred us a €500 onboard credit to spend in the spa or boutique. The spa is very expensive and the boutique is hardly ever open! If we'd had paid half of what we did I don't think we would have complained about anything, except breakfast which was truly awful. However, we paid £350 per person per night and it simply was not worth it compared to what you can get for your money elsewhere. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
We had high expectations for this cruise having sailed with Seabourn and other high-end ships before around the Greek Isles. The food was really average and didn't vary enough from day to day. The chef at breakfast looked annoyed by ... Read More
We had high expectations for this cruise having sailed with Seabourn and other high-end ships before around the Greek Isles. The food was really average and didn't vary enough from day to day. The chef at breakfast looked annoyed by our requests for omelettes (at the omelette bar!) and picked on us for eating pork (we're Indian, and clearly his sensibilities were miffed by this revelation). This is also not a cruise for non-French speakers and even though we do speak some French the French language (excursions, lectures) is pretty constant and most guests were French and avoided us, as did the mostly French-speaking crew. The waiters were lovely and welcoming but otherwise the staff was pretty useless, especially the woman at reception who had absolutely zero information about ports of call (we kept being told they hadn't been there before but I doubt this...). The cabins are small and the cleaning staff are unhelpful and pushy. The evacuation drill is annoying and needlessly fascistic. And finally---the continuous photo shoots with hired models (while we're swimming!!!) was really ridiculous. The models were everywhere. Also, rubbish 'pool' which is more like a puddle and small gym. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2014
On its website the company promotes this ship in a manner which is quite misleading and leaves one very disappointed. In particular: “The Art of cruising A la Francaise”, “exquisite dining with French cuisine” “our gourmet ... Read More
On its website the company promotes this ship in a manner which is quite misleading and leaves one very disappointed. In particular: “The Art of cruising A la Francaise”, “exquisite dining with French cuisine” “our gourmet cuisine is worthy of top fine dining restaurants “, “French chic and elegance” “Crew members, all versed in elegant discretion” “fully bilingual service on board”, Well, the truth is quite different. Excepted for a handful of French officers, rarely seen about, and the small number of French bartenders, the majority of the crew was Asian. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, except in that this lot, whilst very nice and friendly, where mostly poorly trained, disorganised, but worse of all spoke little English or French. And yes they were discreet, but only because communication was difficult. There was a little or poor supervision of the staff in the dining rooms. Some of the food was delicious, but mostly hit and miss, and often very disappointing. No comparison to fine dining restaurants. The ship was beautiful, but a number of passengers were complaining as they were sleeping on convertible sofa beds, as their cabin was actually the living room component of a suite transformed into a cabin. The entertainment was second rate.   Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2013
Le Boreal is a very attractive ship with an elegant, sophisticated interior, comfortable public spaces, and smallish but comfortable cabins. We had a Deluxe Suite which had an extra dressing space and a longer balcony, and we found that ... Read More
Le Boreal is a very attractive ship with an elegant, sophisticated interior, comfortable public spaces, and smallish but comfortable cabins. We had a Deluxe Suite which had an extra dressing space and a longer balcony, and we found that there was plenty of space to store our items for a seven-day Iceland cruise. The mix of passengers is roughly half American (with some British) and half French. I enjoyed the mix as I am always looking for ways to improve my intermediate-level French and found a few French guests that were willing to tolerate my struggles at speaking their language. One could observe the standard American/French differences that may be uncomfortable for some Americans. French service tends to be formal and inflexible, and if you expect that at the outset you will be fine. My problem was not with the French and Swiss staff, or with the Filipino personnel, but rather with the many French-speaking waiters from francophone islands. They were, without exception, exceedingly unfriendly and seemed, at times, to be downright angry. The problem is that you encounter them at every breakfast, lunch, and dinner and at the lounges (they serve as bartenders). It actually became laughable towards the end. However, this factor alone would lead me to choose another company for an upcoming trip to Antarctica. While National Geographic/Lindblad is more expensive, I will happily pay the extra for professional, respectful service. The food was a great source of discussion on our trip. We all expected great food on a French trip. At times, the food did border on wonderful. Usually, however it was mediocre or less. A final note. The captain is an attractive, youngish French man. He was also one of the most affected people I have ever witnessed. His announcements were so unintentionally comical with his affect that our group found great amusement when he made them and we all enjoyed mimicking him. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2012
The week got off to an inauspicious start. The instructions sent by Ponant for passengers arriving in their own car at the port of Venice turned out to be misleading and the cause of frustration and delay. Our spirits picked up when we ... Read More
The week got off to an inauspicious start. The instructions sent by Ponant for passengers arriving in their own car at the port of Venice turned out to be misleading and the cause of frustration and delay. Our spirits picked up when we were shown to our cabin (deluxe suite) which was comfortable and very adequate for a week long cruise. Any euphoria was soon dispelled the first night at dinner. We were told we could only sit with other groups throughout the cruise. On expressing surprise, the dining manage told us "Don't blame me, blame the ship's designers". The food offered was, at best, bland and, at worst, barely edible. It was suggested we might like to move to the buffet restaurant, where we offered cold rib of beef. When I asked that same evening if we could disembark and leave the cruise at the next port of call, our concerns began to be taken seriously. In fact, we were well looked after for the rest of the voyage, including being offered a table for two every meal time. Unfortunately, the food remained mediocre and uninspiring. Perhaps our expectations of the cuisine on a French ship were too high. There was a very large Tauck contingent on the cruise. Every evening they completely took over the bar prior to dinner; it was suggested that "we might like to take our cocktails in our cabin". We felt we were on a Tauck cruise. The little enjoyment we got from the cruise was due to the very friendly and helpful dining and bar staff.......and gorgeous weather during the whole week. Read Less
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