Roderick Eime
Cruise Critic Contributor

Le Champlain Entertainment & Activities

Blue Eye Lounge (Deck 1): This much-hyped and innovative concept lends itself perfectly for expedition cruising. The lounge presents an audio-visual multisensory underwater experience aimed at bringing the oceans to life for passengers in a relaxed setting. The interior is predominantly dark blue and accessed via a 10-person elevator and a staircase that could be tricky for those with mobility issues. Inside, it's otherworldly. We did not experience the full capability of the lounge on our shakedown cruise, but imagine external cameras projecting underwater photos and video in real time. Hydrophones will amplify sounds of whales, dolphins and other sea creatures, and the seating vibrates in unison. Legendary aquanaut, Jacques Cousteau, inspired the lounge's architect Jacques Rougerie, along with French science fiction icon, Jules Verne. During presentations, groups of up to 40 per session can attend roughly twice per cruise. During this time, Blue Eye reverts to a "quiet space," with no talking and no service of drinks. Outside of these times, the lounge operates as a regular bar.

Main Lounge (Deck 3): This expansive area is where all passengers can sit and enjoy a drink or some light entertainment around the stylish bar and dance floor. A grand piano also adorns this space. Wide, panoramic windows lead out onto the aft deck where the Grill is located.

Panoramic Lounge/observatory (Deck 6): Located forward, this slightly more compact venue is much like a library or bright, airy salon with some outdoor seating as well. Listen to the pianist, enjoy a drink, sit, read, play card games and relax with an amazing view over the bow. Public computers are also located here.

Le Champlain Outside Recreation

Right at the back of Deck 3 is a small see-through infinity pool with a countercurrent for exercise. Not particularly private as everyone can see you (even from below), you can enjoy a swim there if you're also happy to provide visual entertainment to passengers seated at the Grill or marina.

The three-position water sports platform on Deck 2 is an impressively versatile addition to the ship and unlike anything you are likely to have seen, except on fancy private superyachts. It is extended only when the ship is anchored and is retracted before setting off. This is where passengers will embark for Zodiac excursions, kayaking and paddle-boarding. There are also a few sun loungers here for a bit of semi-private relaxation.

Le Champlain Services

Deck 3 is where you'll find the main entrance to the ship, as well as the reception area with some sofa seating encircling an impressive centerpiece sculpture. The main reception desk and expedition/excursion desk is also there as well as the boutique selling fashion items, toiletries and postcards. 

This same deck is where you'll find the medical center (consultations at extra charge).

The photo studio is on Deck 6. Ponant has a photographer and a videographer on board every departure and at the end, a video and images can be purchased specific to that voyage -- a convenience for many who might not be so good with a camera or just don't want the hassle.

Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship and at the public computers in the Panoramic Lounge, though it might be slow or nonexistent when traveling in remote areas. Wi-Fi is not included in your fare, but data packages are available for purchase.

Le Champlain Spa & Fitness

The Ponant Yacht Spa is located on the uppermost deck, Deck 7. Staff are trained by Sothys Paris. The treatment rooms are well lit with natural light from windows looking out to the ocean. Massages, body treatments and facials are all available along with hair styling, waxing, manicure and makeup in the adjoining salon. Prices are expensive; a 45-minute massage costs 100 euros ($114).

The beautifully designed sauna can be used at any time and is an attraction in itself with lovely wood features and a huge window looking out.

The fitness room is also on Deck 7, opposite the salon and spa area. Big windows and super views makes up for its compact size. Exercise equipment includes two treadmills and a bike; no weight equipment. Ponant occasionally supplies bicycles in port via a third party contractor. Unless there are early excursions planned, the ship's dancers conduct gym and stretching classes in the Main Lounge on Deck 3 every morning.

Le Champlain For Kids

Ponant accepts children between 3 and 8 years of age (Ponant requires children in this age group to be approved before sailing) and older. While space is set aside for children on Deck 6 with video games and TV, no formal program for children is provided. Obviously in expedition conditions, children must be able to respond to crew instructions quickly and remain in the care of their parents at all times. The captain has final say on whether any child may participate in any activity.

Ponant Le Champlain Ship Stats

  • Crew: 110
  • Launched: 2018
  • Decks: 5
  • Passengers: 184
  • Registry: France

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