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5 Ponant Dunedin Cruise Reviews

It is my second attempt to explore and visit the New Zealand subantarctic islands. 2 years ago, I was on the Spirit of Enderby which I am going to call "SoE". That trip was booked by a travel agent which I trusted. The result ... Read More
It is my second attempt to explore and visit the New Zealand subantarctic islands. 2 years ago, I was on the Spirit of Enderby which I am going to call "SoE". That trip was booked by a travel agent which I trusted. The result however was something I never do again. I can't handle SoE. Sharing a small room, small shower, toilet that isn't allowed to flush toilet paper etc etc.. well, you get the idea. I am 6'10" tall and diabetic and after just 1 day and actually nice weather: Seasickness, hypo's, bad pain in the back, not good. I was able to leave the SoE expedition. If anyone is okay with that ship, that's fine. I find the ship something you can't relax on and that did it for me. So here we go, Le Laperouse which took most of the destinations SoE offered on their voyage. The Le Laperous expedition went way better. You have the room for yourself, no sharing with other travellers, a balcony which is actually great to do some birdwatching and photographing from. In comparison with SoE though... yep, we obviously don't have 50 people on board but 150 on Le Laperouse. That means that when you go on a shore excursion or zodiac cruise, you'll be split into groups. That unfortunately means, less time to actually be out of the ship. Nothing the crew could do about it, but something to think about when choosing a cruise. A ship with 50 people on board (SoE) may be too small for some (including me) but having more then 150 people probably means less excursion time. Excursion time, actually "being out there" is the most important thing for me. I don't really care how diverse the menu is. I go on holiday to watch birds first, and other wildlife / landscape second. Everything else..., yeah it needs to be comfortable so I can: Eat well Sleep well Work on my laptop to download, store and edit pictures which I have just taken. Stay clean (shower and toilet) Everything else, lectures, dancing classes, luxury dinners etc. etc. are a non priority for me. On the cruise itself, yeah it was great that we were able to go to Sandy Bay on Macquarie Island, since the Australian Government shut down the entire island because of Corona virus but through some tough negotiations we were still able to go to Sandy Bay, not to the Adare Station. Unfortunate that we couldn't do zodiac tours around The Snares but being close to the Snares was still very nice. We saw plenty of birds, seals as well as stunning landscape in the Fjords. The crew was excellent. I am certainly looking forward to one's in a few years visit a remote place on a cruise and Ponant's Le Laperouse or the other Exploration vessels do come recommended for certain. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
Our recent cruise on Ponant's Le Laperouse around New Zealand went way beyond our expectations. We hadn't sailed with Ponant before, but are avid cruisers, having enjoyed several with Seabourn, Silversea, Regent and Viking, all ... Read More
Our recent cruise on Ponant's Le Laperouse around New Zealand went way beyond our expectations. We hadn't sailed with Ponant before, but are avid cruisers, having enjoyed several with Seabourn, Silversea, Regent and Viking, all of which have been wonderful, but we would have to say that our experience on Le Laperouse has most definitely been the best to date. The ship is stylish, comfortable, and well sized (with only 180 passengers), making it possible to call into every port on our itinerary without the need for tenders. Our beautiful suite was spotlessly clean, spacious, well equipped and extremely comfortable (as were all areas throughout the ship). The service in the restaurant and bar was impeccable, with highly professional and friendly staff and the food was delicious, varied and beautifully presented. One of the highlights of the ship is a unique 'Blue Eye Lounge' in the hull of Le Laperouse, offering a multi sensory underwater viewing experience in a beautiful space-age style bar. Well worth a visit. We also very much enjoyed the entertainment, attending several impressive shows with talented dancers, singers and musicians. Talks on board were offered in both French and English and there were several opportunities during the cruise to participate in quizzes and dance lessons etc. The itinerary was superb, with Le Laperouse journeying us through several of the sounds of the South Island, including the idyllic Milford Sound, Our zodiac adventure into this fjord was just amazing and made very easy with the ability to board the zodiacs directly from the back deck. Our stops at various ports as we journeyed from Dunedin to Auckland included some interesting excursions, with our favourite being a visit to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony. We should also mention that our Captain, Fabien Roche, and his crew, did a wonderful job ensuring the passengers enjoyed comfortable sailing throughout the trip and keeping us well informed of the ships whereabouts, schedules, and local conditions. Our original itinerary was to include White Island, but due to the tragic volcanic incident just a few weeks earlier the schedule was changed. But a further issue with high seas in the aftermath of cyclone Tino meant the replacement stop (Gisborne) was also not a possibility. The captain managed the situation perfectly, keeping us all comfortable. We did, as it turned out, sail by White Island, whilst the captain made a fitting tribute, with one minutes silence , for those who had lost their lives in the spirit of adventure there. It was an emotional experience well handled in a surreal landscape. Needless to say, we highly recommended Ponant, if you are considering a cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
It was my husband’s 70th birthday and we are wildlife carers so the opportunity to see so many penguin, albatross and seals in their natural,habitat was a must for us. We had never done such a cruise before, a smaller ship, only 150 ... Read More
It was my husband’s 70th birthday and we are wildlife carers so the opportunity to see so many penguin, albatross and seals in their natural,habitat was a must for us. We had never done such a cruise before, a smaller ship, only 150 passengers and 100 crew. We were amazed at having 13 expedition leaders to lead trips on zodiacs to various islands, each had speciality knowledge, flora, fauna and geological. Each day we experienced an expedition on zodiacs, we felt safe and were always assisted into and out of the boats. Despite some rough seas, we were comfortable and the shipmbehaved well, our Captain was very experienced in difficult seas, having taken passengers down to antarctic waters previously. The most wonderful experience was going to Macquarie Island where few people are able to go. We were surrounded on the beach by hundreds of King and Royal,penguins, a remarkable experience, to sit on the beach and have the birds come up to us and check us over. We visited islands of New Zealand including Enderby where we saw Royal Albatross and endangered yellow eyed penguins. I can thoroughly recommend this cruise if anyone is interested in wildlife. Despite the average age was 60+ no one seemed to miss out on the enjoyment, It was the best cruise ever, expensive but everything was provided, Nespresso machine and kettle for tea and coffee in our cabins, all wine and spirits unless expensive kinds wanted, French cuisine for lunch and dinner. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
The highlight was the Zodiac cruises to places very rarely visited. More people climb Everest each year than visit the islands we saw. We were privileged to get close to literally thousands of birds and seals (many classified as rare and ... Read More
The highlight was the Zodiac cruises to places very rarely visited. More people climb Everest each year than visit the islands we saw. We were privileged to get close to literally thousands of birds and seals (many classified as rare and endangered). What a joy to find seals and penguins who were as interested in checking out the red penguins (humans in their Ponant supplied red parkas) as we were in looking at them! The outstanding range of colourful flora on all the islands (except the Bounty group which only support some grasses) was a joy to the eye and the megaherbs a reminder that it doesn't need to be a tropical plant to be fascinating and strange. The L'Austral is a superb cruise ship and Ponant a first class company. Food, service, cabin -- all top quality. The French touch was important. Activities were divided into those for French speakers and English speakers. I joined the French speakers with my French wife. This meant we were a group of about 40 while the other group was closer to 150. Thanks to that we had a more personal expedition and got to know our guides and fellow passengers. The cruise is very dependent on the weather. We were very lucky to have the best weather ever experienced by the ship's captain and the expedition team. Two days of all day sunshine (the Snares and the Bounty Islands). The other days were mixed (think of a typical English summer in the north such as the Lake District). The Southern Ocean was unusually calm so we suffered very little from sea-sickness and soon had our sea-legs. There are 2 restaurants. Deck 2 has a better menu and tables. Deck 6 is on the "First Class" passenger level but more like a snack bar with buffet service. We dined almost every time on Deck 2 and quickly befriended our servers. Their personal service gave us a First Class experience even though we had the economy cabins on Deck 3. Value for money was on Deck 3. Every deck higher was a couple of thousand $/EUR higher without any tangible benefit. Satellite based internet was expensive (30 EUR for 1 hour) and so slow it was essentially unusable. Perhaps because I was trying to get to a NZ based server and the satellite service was tuned to Europe (my wife and I live 6 months in NZ and 6 months in France)? Deck 3 gave us quick access to the central services of the boat - the 24 h staffed reception and the grand salon with its bar and outside deck looking over the stern. The outside deck was always a delight to get the feel of the sea and sky. All food and drink is included. This means a mini-bar with beer, spirits, juice, water (but no wine) and 2 other bars with wine, cocktails, beer (only Heineken to my dismay) and spirits. The restaurant service also provided unlimited access to the same array of drinks. Nibbles are provided (even without asking) in the bar areas. The range of food was good - always with a French touch. The standard did not really come up to the rest of our experiences on the ship. The food was never bad but was only occasionally exceptional. The breads and cheeses were well up to the high standard of French cuisine. The captain (le commandant) is soft spoken in French (his native tongue) and English (with an English accent). We looked forward to his daily bulletins with eagerness and pleasure at his insightful commentary and confidence inspiring information. The cruise director was French but communicated clearly in English. As a French speaking Englishman I found the bilingual announcements to have sometimes quite different interpretations but never really misleading. The main fault I found was the poor port service in Dunedin and Wellington. Not a fault of the cruise company. Both these cities are known for their wet and windy weather. There is no shelter for passengers or baggage during embarkation or disembarkation which can mean being at the mercy of the elements for 20 - 30 minutes at each end of the trip. Congratulations to Ponant, the ship's crew and the Expedition team for making this one of the top adventures in my life (along with running the Grand Canyon with just 2 inflatable rafts and 4 people over 3 weeks). Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
These islands are possibly the least visited and unspoilt islands in the world with unique flora and fauna. They cruise visits these island positioned halfway between Australia and New Zealand and Antarctica. In the great southern ocean ... Read More
These islands are possibly the least visited and unspoilt islands in the world with unique flora and fauna. They cruise visits these island positioned halfway between Australia and New Zealand and Antarctica. In the great southern ocean The islands contain the greatest variety of penguins and the opportunity to sit on the beach and have these highly curios birds come and investigate the stranger in their midst On Macquarie hugh breeding colonies of up to 500,000 pairs can be observed plus smaller breading colonies Colony’s of elephant seal, New Zealand fur seals, New Zealand sea lions can be observed while wali g on the islands Bird life is abundant and breading colonies of various breeds of Albatros can be observed whilst on land and also from zodiacs while investigating the shore line and inlets and cliffs of the various islands. Apart from. Penguins, seals, and a great diversity of bird life the islands have their own unique forms of vegetation This all takes place with a team of highly experienced specialised experts who daily give lecture on what we can expect to see on the next days excursions ashore or from the zodiacs Ponant take you to these far away places in the luxury of their ship with fine food,fine wine and great service that makes the trip even more enjoyable Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
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