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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
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
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: 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
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
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
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
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2011
We were disappointed in our cruise from Venice along the Croatian coast This brand new ship was elegant and comfortable though not without its design faults. This ship would suit people who speak french. The announcements were all made in ... Read More
We were disappointed in our cruise from Venice along the Croatian coast This brand new ship was elegant and comfortable though not without its design faults. This ship would suit people who speak french. The announcements were all made in French first and then when English was spoken you had to listen very carefully to understand their accents. It felt as though for every 5 minutes of french spoken only 1 minute of English was spoken during the announcements. There was a large group of TAUCK travellers (+- 130) and a group of French (60+). The ship accommodates 260 passengers. These groups enjoyed "Happy Hour" and cocktail parties that excluded the other passengers. I found the food very bland. The "Welcome" and "Farewell" dinners were both on nights that the ship was in port. The casino remained closed as we were never far away enough from the coast for it to open. There were no children and there was no happy holiday vibe I have experienced on other cruises. The dining area outside the buffet restaurant was always covered with water from the pool as the slope was incorrect (design error) and we could not sit there. The railing around the other outside seating area was not see trough and when sitting down we enjoyed no view of the sea at all. The large bed in the cabin took up most of the space and the cabin would have felt cramped if we had not had a very nice balcony. The itinerary was fabulous and the ports were all very enjoyable.Embarkation was great as we were greeted with umbrellas on the gang way and offered warm towels to wipe our hands. Disembarkation was also fine. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2011
We have just undertaken a cruise on L'Austral from Venice to Croatia and back to Venice. We were very excited to go on such a brand new ship. We stayed in a normal cabin while our friends booked the owner's suite. Hopefully they ... Read More
We have just undertaken a cruise on L'Austral from Venice to Croatia and back to Venice. We were very excited to go on such a brand new ship. We stayed in a normal cabin while our friends booked the owner's suite. Hopefully they will write their review but they spent many hours talking to the hotel manager about things that were unacceptable. For me the outstanding point was that it was like walking into an old age home! There were no children or anyone under 50 years of age. I would recommend anyone younger to check first what the composition of the cruise passengers is like. The cabins are very small and the double bed occupies most of the room. Our room had only a shower and no bath. Service levels in general were not great. While the food was generally very good the service in the main dining room was shocking. The few waiters could not cope and we waited very long for our food. We eventually booked dinner in the buffet restaurant on deck 6 to avoid the long waiting. The 2 nights that there were cocktail functions before dinner with the captain and then dinner for everyone in the same restaurant were chaos. Also the Tauck group seemed to get preferential bookings at dinner and special functions where bars were closed for their functions. I found that totally unacceptable as I was a fully paying passenger! Croatia is beautiful but my impression was that the excursions off the boat were very expensive. We took one cycling excursion near Dubrovnik which cost Euro 75 per person and which was certainly not worth that amount. We ended up renting cars on our own in the other locations and definitely saved money doing that. All in all for me the cruise did not live up to the expectations created the brochure and I probably will not go on another Ponant cruise. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
We chose this cruise because it went to Pitcairn Island and Easter Island from Papeete. We then stayed on for a further 6 days and cruised to Chile. Embarkation at Papeete was shambolic as the Paul Gaugain was also boarding at the same ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to Pitcairn Island and Easter Island from Papeete. We then stayed on for a further 6 days and cruised to Chile. Embarkation at Papeete was shambolic as the Paul Gaugain was also boarding at the same time. It appeared that no one from Ponant was present to advise us what we were to do and we were all walking around like sheep. At the disembarkation end it was even worse as we were told there would be taxis once we got out of the terminal and of course there were none, nor did the taxis even come there, so we had to arrange very expensive private transfers after waiting more than an hour for a fabled taxi. Once on board, our cabin was what we expected. It was very clean and our room steward was excellent. The turnaround for laundry, which was free for us as past passengers, was brilliant. Service in the dining room was inconsistent. Sometimes it was good and sometimes not. The service on any gala night seemed to favour those tables which had officers, which seemed to only host French passengers. That said, the wait staff we had were always happy and helpful. The standard of the entertainment is consistently good and the shows are always a highlight. Kamel, the Cruise Director is a huge asset for Ponant. The food is the biggest let down on this ship. In advance of this cruise we were required to produce significant medical evidence of our ability to travel for the last 6 days. From that I would have thought that both I, and my doctor, had made my gluten intolerance very clear. Apparently not. The choice of gluten free food is beyond poor. I raised this at the first opportunity with the head waiter, who then raised it with a very indignant head chef, who effectively dismissed my complaints. To be given a broken piece of toast for breakfast is an absolute insult, given how much this cruise cost. There were no gluten free pastries, not even rice biscuits for the cheese. The room service menu was even more limited. It is not often that I can go on a 3 week holiday, on what sets itself up as a French culinary gastronomy cruise and lose weight, but it happened. The quality of the included wine was very hit and miss. It was all French. Some was acceptable and others were very, very ordinary. The cocktails however were fabulous. The port calls were a bit of a problem, but mainly due to the water conditions. Our captain did a great job to get us to Pitcairn. In other reviews, non French passengers have made the complaint that there appears to be favouritism shown to French passengers and a sense of entitlement. We saw this too. I don't know how many times I was literally pushed out of the way by a person thinking that they had a better right than I did to be in that position in an ordered queue. We had very few landings on this cruise and for our special lunch and performance on Easter Island the French speaking passengers arrived significantly before the English speaking ones and took up the very best positions. We found it so hard to find a spot together so far from the action that it was not worth even bothering to get involved in the show. With so many non French traveling on Ponant this really needs to be addressed. We really did feel like we were getting second best treatment. Overall, if this had been my first cruise with Ponant I would be in no hurry to do another. We have been on two other cruises ( the Kimberley and from New Zealand to Sydney) and they were excellent. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
This cruise was from Lautoka in Fiji to Papeete in Tahiti, in September/October 2018. It was promoted as the 30th Anniversary cruise for Ponant, and made a special visit to Mata Utu, the registration home for Ponant ships. The Ponant CEO ... Read More
This cruise was from Lautoka in Fiji to Papeete in Tahiti, in September/October 2018. It was promoted as the 30th Anniversary cruise for Ponant, and made a special visit to Mata Utu, the registration home for Ponant ships. The Ponant CEO was onboard for the cruise, along with a very large proportion of French passengers.We had cruised on Ponant a few times before, and on this particular ship. The cruise itinerary was interesting and met the usual Ponant onboard standards but we were a little disappointed. We thought more information and relevant lectures might have been provided. The cruise visited some island locations not previously visited by cruise ships, and that showed in some below average excursions and details. That, along with some bad weather, made the first half of the voyage less than memorable. The second half, visiting the Cook Islands, Bora Bora, and Moorea was much more enjoyable. Very picturesque and excursions were satisfactory (apart from the usual high costs). The cruise ended with a great fireworks display at Papeete harbour provided by Ponant. it is not pleasant to register some reservations about fellow passengers but we did find that not all the French passengers were very welcoming. There was an attitude apparent that Ponant is a French cruise line and the French passengers therefore hold or expect special rights in some undefined way! This did spoil things a bit at times although senior crew made it clear this was not the Ponant view. The line has to make revenue and profits and that means appealing to all comers. Just a point to keep in mind for some cruises. Overall could only rate this cruise as average but recognising some of the Ponant efforts to make it a memorable anniversary cruise. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
Cabins too small, temperature too cold throughout the ship including in cabins, food very disappointing for what is expected from the French, meat tough, food too salty even the doctor on board told the chefs this but they refused to ... Read More
Cabins too small, temperature too cold throughout the ship including in cabins, food very disappointing for what is expected from the French, meat tough, food too salty even the doctor on board told the chefs this but they refused to change. Little to no service poolside, pool only a plunge pool. Ponant office in Sydney much too slow at sending documents, many passengers did not receive prior to leaving their homes to travel. Pick-up from hotels in Broome organised by Ponant was a debarkle, some passengers not informed of pickup location and time and then when we arrived at ship we were informed that we were an hour too early and would have to wait an hour in hot sun with no shade or seating. Australian expedition crew excellent! Ponant Sydney office are not organised— we 3 will never travel Ponant again— back to Silver Sea and Seabourn for future cruises. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
We were very interested in the destination Japan. The Ship for this round trip should not be too big and exclusive. There is not much choice. That's why we decided to LÁustral. The price would be reasonable if service and quality ... Read More
We were very interested in the destination Japan. The Ship for this round trip should not be too big and exclusive. There is not much choice. That's why we decided to LÁustral. The price would be reasonable if service and quality were to be correct. It's not like that. The quality of the food was very different. The selection was partly not very large. Seafood as you know it from Silversea or Hapag Lloyd, there is little. My wife had a stomach upset and wanted a clear broth for lunch. This could not be realized. Every kitchen actually holds a broth! For dinner there was a broth... The trips were partly catastrophic. The guides were not always as qualified as you could expect. The temporal organization was not satisfactory. We complained about the cleanliness of our suite. The suite was not clean, instead we received a bottle of champagne as compensation. This was our so far most expensive cruise with more than €20,000 cost and unfortunately the worst of so far about 40 cruises in terms of value for money. For guests like us with high standards and willingness to pay a lot for this service unfortunately no recommendation. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise line and ship for it's supposed 5 star rating and it's small number of passengers. We had previously been on two cruises on the Paul Gauguin out of Tahiti which were fantastic so we expected a similar ... Read More
We chose this cruise line and ship for it's supposed 5 star rating and it's small number of passengers. We had previously been on two cruises on the Paul Gauguin out of Tahiti which were fantastic so we expected a similar experience as the two ships are of similar size and capacity. We booked to travel from Noumea to New Zealand over 14 days spending Christmas and New Year on board expecting something quite special. It only took a couple of days to realise that there was a shortage of staff in the lounge/bar/entertainment area on deck 3. The lounge was nice and comfortable but could not accommodate a lot of guests and when there were quite a few there we found it could take up to an hour to get a drink. There was often only one waiter and one barman who just couldn't cope with all the orders. Sometimes the bar manager was in attendance however he did not arrange more staff and seemed more interested in talking with the French guests. We are English speakers only and it appeared that the French would receive more attention. There is a nice piano bar on deck 6 which we liked to attend however there were a few instances when the piano player was performing and the bar was closed. When the bar was open Alex, the barman, was excellent with his service and did his best for all. The a la carte restaurant on deck 2 was very nice but also short staffed when busy. The quality and range of the food was only average and the wine selection very limited. They had one particular white, red and rose house wine available each day which were very average. They had 3 chardonnays and one chablis the whole trip which were included in the open bar. If you wanted a sav blanc you had to pay 8 euros a glass. The rest of the open bar drinks were quite extensive so the cocktails, spirits and beers were plentiful. The buffet restaurant on deck 6 was always crowded which seemed to be a poor reflection on the a la carte one. The food was also average with some uncomfortable push and shove around the serveries. The cabin was very nice with sufficient storage. The cabin cleaner, Putu, was excellent and could not do enough for us. As we had visited New Zealand previously we did not do any shore excursions. We would just get off the ship for a few hours and explore the current port which was enjoyable. We spoke to quite a few other guests who had been on previous Ponant cruises who stated that they had really enjoyed their previous trips however were similarly disappointed with this one. It seems that the Ponant is great for expeditions but not so good for just cruising. We both picked up a 24/48 hour stomach bug at different times during the cruise and later discovered that this happened to several other guests also. We can only assume that this might have had something to to with the full offload of the ships stores in Auckland to be replaced by New Zealand produce which took all day at great cost. The official line was that this was a requirement of the New Zealand authorities. For 3 days there was a terrible smell on our deck which seemed to be vomit on the carpets however we were told a few days later that a sewer pipe had burst beneath the floor. This was not explained by the crew at any time. We would not go on another Ponant cruise after this trip. If asked we would recommend the Paul Gauguin over the Ponant. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
We decide to cruise from Darwin to Broome with Ponant from July 24th 2017 to 2 August 2017 because we wanted to experience the Kimberley from the ocean side. We had travelled the region by car back in 2007 and love the colours and the ... Read More
We decide to cruise from Darwin to Broome with Ponant from July 24th 2017 to 2 August 2017 because we wanted to experience the Kimberley from the ocean side. We had travelled the region by car back in 2007 and love the colours and the landscape. We chose Ponant because it was a 5 star French ship, the price was reasonable and it was doing the areas we wanted to visit. $750 per day, per person (deck 4 verandah) which included all the zodiac tours, all meals and open bar. We were expecting French food and fine wine as per their brochure. Disappointingly, their fine wine and open bar was not as we expected and no French food. Their "house wine" was Jacobs Creek Classic Shiraz, Jacobs Creek Chardonay, and Gossips Rose. There were other wines which you could purchase by the glass or bottle. You could imagine the horror of 220 Australians on board to be served Jacobs Creek wine which retails at Dan Murphy's for about $7 and Gossips Rose for $3. The Hotel Managers excuse for the Jacobs Creek wine was because their shipment had not arrived. Not quite believable. Not a drop of Sav Blac to be found on the ship for those who preferred something other than Chardonay. They ran out of Sprite, Bailey, Dramburie, VB and had to share the Sambucca between the bars - if you wanted to have a Gin & Tonic with Blue Sapphire gin it is 9 euro, and any cocktails that were not on the "ordinary" list you had to pay for. As for the food, average but definitely not French Cabins are small with only 1 chair for sitting except on bed, couldn't have bathroom door and wardrobe door open at same time and you both could not walk past the end of the bed at the same time. Whilst you are not in your cabin a lot, sometimes it is nice to relax in your own space with room to move. Entertainment although not a lot was acceptable. Service - not enough Bar staff, they were always very busy and service was slow. Wait staff in dining room was good. The Buffet at night was crowded and difficult to get hot food with the number of people queueing. Definitely not what we expected of a 5 star cruise line. Silverseas wins over Ponant hands down. However on a positive note the expedition team and zodiac outings were exceptional, everything was well planned and organised. All of the team were very informative and knowledgeable. Great job. Would we go again?.... Only if we factored in $200 a day for drinkable wine. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
Above all DON'T DRINK the WINE! On day one I tried the ship's wine, it was awful (to be kind.) On the second day I ordered a bottle of French Bordeaux Margaux for 125 Euros thinking I've never had a bad Margaux. I was ... Read More
Above all DON'T DRINK the WINE! On day one I tried the ship's wine, it was awful (to be kind.) On the second day I ordered a bottle of French Bordeaux Margaux for 125 Euros thinking I've never had a bad Margaux. I was wrong this was as bad as the ship's selection. For a French line this is a sin. There were higher priced wines available but based on this experience I abstained for the rest of the voyage. This cruise was part of a Tauck tour through Australia and NZ. What I was told of Tauck being a luxury tour group was wrong. It was average in reality but priced like a luxury tour. The food in the 2nd floor dining room was generally poor with limited menu items. The buffet on the 5th deck was a little better because you could pick and choose you poison. Overall for a ship "hand picked" by Tauck for luxury this was a mistake. Like others on this trip I paid dearly for this tour and I do not believe that I got what I paid for. As this was a smaller ship I did not expect many choices with entertainment and activities. This was as expected. The ship's staff were accommodating and friendly especially the ship's Master and Doctor. Read Less
L'Austral Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 5.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.6
Public Rooms 5.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.8
Family 3.0 3.8
Shore Excursion 4.0 4.4
Enrichment 2.0 4.1
Service 3.0 4.5
Value For Money 4.0 3.9
Rates 3.0 4.1

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