I have had the pleasure of cruising on the new Ponant creature Le Boreal. After cruising 134 times, I still think Ponant is the perfect choice for all who want quality at low prices, in the premium cruising category. Aimed to give the company passengers a bigger ship, I have to admit that Jean Philip Nuel, one of the most prestigious designer has made a terrific job creating a masterpiece in minimalism, class, and luxury. If externally is one of the most discerning yacht ship afloat, internally nobody can match Le Boreal decoration. Monochromatic earthly tones are remarked by notes of crimson everywhere. Almost 10.000 tones gives an deep feeling of space containing everything one deserves: lower main restaurant decorated in white and grey colours, a huge circular lobby with hanging creative glass motives, the stunning Ispashan Lounge ideal for afternoon tea.
The company has also fitted a new sidereal like theatre, a Carita Spa, and in the upper decks I would remark the beautiful buffet and the bar-lounge-library in the front. The outside decks are designed to look like a smart Yacht Club with the same decoration as the rest of the ship. Essentially most cabins are virtually the same except a couple of suites. Most of the cabin furniture seems to be taken from a "modern art studio" in Milan, with volumes, ideas, arrangements not seem in any other ship. I remark the stunning bath with an spectacular glass panel which allows you to have a shower while the daily light comes into.
FOOD; French, elaborate and sublime. Everything tastes as it should taste. Desserts are sinful. Meats and fishes are of prime quality. The meals are a perfect combination of ingredients, freshly prepared recipes, graceful service and wines included. The stemware, china and service is second to none. Meals in the buffet (which offers plenty of space for alfresco dinning) always contains classics of the french cuisine like the best Chocolate Mousse ever tasted, exquisite Moroccan buffets, and delicious french soups, pasta, and crispy salads. Cabin service is sensational. Even baguette is freshly made, not frozen dough as in most cruise lines. Breakfast is sensational as well as coffee which is european style.
EXPERIENCE: Don´t compare it to anyone. Ponant is aimed to discerning international passengers, specially those who love the french way of live, and who can´t pay overpriced cruises in the other luxury cruise companies. All those who love a sophisticated service without being stiff, all people who don´t really need an American way of cruising full of shows, casinos, and so on.
I would recommend the Le Boreal, to all those who can´t afford the frills of the expensive luxury cruise, but need the feel the "flair" and taste of the luxury vessel, french style. I would suggest it to everyone who needs feeling in a familiar environment would love the friendliness of the crew, attentive attitude of the captain and chic live on board. Routes are simply imaginative and exotic, and usually visit many ports other can´t even dream to get at.
However I would remark some minor negative aspects: plastic bottles on the buffet tables are not really elegant. The pool deck lacks shade areas, and the communication between the pool and the upper sun deck could be improved. Some members of the crew need a little bit more subtle with passengers who serve themselves a cup of tea in the main lounge before tea time.