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13 Ponant Europe - Eastern Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We had been to Croatia on our own, driving a car, 30 years ago. It was fascinating to see how it had changed (and how it had not changed) since then. We had a delightful time, met some interesting people, enjoyed the excursions as well ... Read More
We had been to Croatia on our own, driving a car, 30 years ago. It was fascinating to see how it had changed (and how it had not changed) since then. We had a delightful time, met some interesting people, enjoyed the excursions as well as the time to explore on our own. We have not been on many cruises and the fact that Le Lyrial was a small ship was appealing to us. The food was very good and beautifully presented. We found the food choices in the casual dining area were much more extensive than the formal dining room and wish we had eaten more dinners there. All of the staff from the Captain to the maids were very effecient and personable. Everyone was very friendly. It was a bit off-putting to have the cruise advertised as "all-inclusive - to include gratuity" and then find an envelope with a "suggested" amount for gratuities in our cabin toward the end of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Unlike other reviewers, I was very pleased with my time spent aboard the Le Lyrial. The entire crew was very personable and took care of my every need. I found it amazing how the cleaning staff mysteriously appeared to clean my cabin ... Read More
Unlike other reviewers, I was very pleased with my time spent aboard the Le Lyrial. The entire crew was very personable and took care of my every need. I found it amazing how the cleaning staff mysteriously appeared to clean my cabin and turn down my bed at night. My omelets were cooked to perfection every morning and there was an abundant selection of entrees at the buffet. Yes some were better than others but there was quite an assortment to choose from. You could also dine out on the deck. The restaurant Le Celeste was a formal sit down restaurant and offered French cuisine. I had some of the best Vodka tonics onboard and the wine flowed freely and far from undrinkable as stated by others. On so many occasions our Captain, Regis Daumesnil, helped us board the tender for shore excursions or greeted us as we returned to the ship. He was very hands on and personable. My only complaint was that I purchased a CD "The Best of Croatia" and when I tried to play it, it was blank. That was my only disappointment. I am hoping I can be sent a replacement. The ship was nicely appointed and I would travel again with this line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose Ponant to sail the Adriatic because Le Lyrial is a small ship and like the other reviewer said the Captain was excellent and not aloof at all. Very hands on always helping us embark/disembark. His presentation in the control deck ... Read More
We chose Ponant to sail the Adriatic because Le Lyrial is a small ship and like the other reviewer said the Captain was excellent and not aloof at all. Very hands on always helping us embark/disembark. His presentation in the control deck was highly informative and fascinating to hear. The food was excellent and in the French style - serves were not too large but delicious. The French wines were fabulous. Well done Mr Sommelier. All the room staff and bar staff were very friendly and very attentive. The only small criticism I have is the bed was too big! It was a King size and we only need a Queen. This would add more room to our suite but we did have a private balcony as well. We loved it so much we have booked another cruise and have recommended Ponant to our friends. Can't wait to do the Kimberleys. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
There is much to praise and little to dislike about this ship. The crew are very proficient in all departments and go out of their way to provide a friendly helpful service. Generally speaking, they are also happy to strike up a ... Read More
There is much to praise and little to dislike about this ship. The crew are very proficient in all departments and go out of their way to provide a friendly helpful service. Generally speaking, they are also happy to strike up a conversation. The barman quickly learnt our coffee preferences and never forgot them. Our air-conditioned cabin on Level 3 was well-designed, with a separate toilet to the bathroom and good storage facilities including under-bed space for the suitcases, a wardrobe and many drawers. There were lots of electrical sockets although these of course all use the European design. The food is provided mainly in a formal Level 2 restaurant with quality French-oriented cuisine and a more relaxed buffet on level 6 which is so popular one has to book for dinner each night. Level 6 has an outdoor area and meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) taken here are the epitome of indulgence and relaxation, with a wide variety of items on display. Drinks are included. We also found ourselves at home in the Level 3 lounge which serves coffee, tea and alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks. These are free except for speciality items. A lot goes on in the way of entertainment and talks on the ship. There is an excellent theatre but the lounge and observation bar are also used for entertainment. There are many shore excursions available for a price – we used some of them but also explored some ports independently. Our favourite tour was the one to the Krka National Park with its lovely waterfalls. The one thing that everyone complained about is the Wi-Fi, which is satellite-based. Reception and download speeds vary considerably depending on location and the number of users. It’s also expensive – ninety euros for four hours. The ship is English and French bi-lingual as a matter of routine but some staff speak other languages too. Overall, Le Lyrial is a floating palace. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Did the 17 Day Gallipoli Dawn Service cruise with APT on Ponant's Le Soleal. Found that APT is good at producing glossy brochures but a little short on delivery. Kept advertising that it would land ticket holders to Dawn Service onto ... Read More
Did the 17 Day Gallipoli Dawn Service cruise with APT on Ponant's Le Soleal. Found that APT is good at producing glossy brochures but a little short on delivery. Kept advertising that it would land ticket holders to Dawn Service onto the Peninsula around dusk on the 24th. This was patently misleading as all operators had been advised as early as June 2014 that this would not be possible. Also advertised full complimentary bar throughout but then tried to walk back on that in there cruise guide issued with tickets to only house wine and beer with lunch and dinner. Something which now appears in the fine print of their advertising. Food and standard of wine onboard was second rate. Whilst shore excursions are included in the price they are pretty basic, and in bigger ports with a bit of planning could be undertaken on one's own. Having sailed with both Azamara and Seabourn recently I would recommend them well ahead of APT. Our Gallipoli cruise cost us on a daily basis twice as much as a recent Antarctic cruise with Seabourn, and was well short of the luxury that Seabourn promises and delivers. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Le Soleil is beautiful. It has everything going for it, except the food. Considering this is a French company we were expecting more, a lot more. The Chef de Cuisine, introduced to all at the welcome reception on the pool deck, was French ... Read More
Le Soleil is beautiful. It has everything going for it, except the food. Considering this is a French company we were expecting more, a lot more. The Chef de Cuisine, introduced to all at the welcome reception on the pool deck, was French but I am not sure how many others were French and know that a good number were not European. The main courses were regularly bland, lacking in appearance and in taste. There were common grumbles that the food was adequate at best but lacked any wow, ever. Too many times the hot food was served tepid and it was almost impossible to get a properly hot tea or coffee. Embarkation was not comfortable. The scheduled time was 4pm and guests were gathering before that. In our case from 3:30 directly from the airport to the port. It was a very hot day. The shed was not air-conditioned and had no facilities except a soft drinks machine that did not work. The staff sat at their desks looking at us standing around, some passengers forming lines, but not until the dot of 4:00pm did they begin to process embarkation. Not cool. There were good points. Announcements were in English and French and given equal time. We were never sure if the Cruise Director was an Englishman who spoke very good French or vice versa. The staff were uniformly friendly, cheerful and helpful, the Captain was out and about all over the ship, approachable, and his open bridge policy was appreciated. We have never before experienced such a silent, vibration-free ship when underway. It was modern propulsion at its outstanding best. Shore excursions seemed expensive but nearly everyone thinks that whichever cruise they are on. The Croatian ports are delightful. The piece-de-resistance was to be Dubrovnik, the Queen of the Dalmatian coast. It turned out to be the worst. Not the ship's fault. It is not a big town and there were at least four other cruise ships there at the same time. We were not sure how many because Soleil, due to it's smaller size, was able to anchor in the old harbour where we could quickly tender ashore while the mega ships moored somewhere else out of our sight. Ashore, the crowds were impossible and it was raining as well. With hundreds of umbrellas up in narrow streets I thought I was lucky not to loose an eye and we fled back to the ship. I have heard that the savvy cruises now call in late in the day for an overnight that presents an empty pleasant stopover. Something Ponant might consider for next season. For a ship claiming this rating they should be doing a lot better in the galley then they can have all the stars. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
We left Istanbul end of the day and the ship looked small compared to the Costa and the Xelebrity. The Austral is the second after Boral and before the new Solal. Human size Yachts of only 264 passengers, with only very nice outside ... Read More
We left Istanbul end of the day and the ship looked small compared to the Costa and the Xelebrity. The Austral is the second after Boral and before the new Solal. Human size Yachts of only 264 passengers, with only very nice outside rooms. But the first impressions were very positive regarding the casual and friendly style of this company. On a lot of ships you see the captain at a drink or a special event. Here Captain Jean-Philippe Lemaire and his staff were very close to the passengers. I reminded the experience of 2008 on the Windstar! Passengers are invited to visit the bridge (of course outside the maneuvers or when there is a pilot on board) Himself and his officers give you plenty of information and you are invited to ask question. And if you want to go back in the evening, no problem. A very nice different and impressive experience. There are two restaurants: the main one downstairs with full service (only in the evening) and the self-service upward with possibilities of eating outside. Good selected wines, beer and drinks are included during the meals. There are facilities such as a pool (not very large view the ship size) there is a wellness center, there is conference and theater and several bars. With regard to drinks you have the choice for paying (on your account) per consumption (prices in Euro but reasonable) or an all-inclusive forfeit of 30 per person per day. Tip: is only interesting if you stay most of the time on board and you drink quite a lot! After passing the mount Athos island the captain decided to approach Greek coast and drop the anchor and open the marina facilities. Swimming in the sea in a rather wide limited area of course with safety facilities of the crew with zodiacs. Destinations we did: Limnos (was no so good, all closed on Saturday) The mount Athos visit cruising (not allowed to go on land) was nice and impressive. At Volos we took the chip excursion of a full day to the mtoras with the impressive monasteries (we visited 2 of the 4 or 5 still in use) Worthwhile! Patmos was quite nice. Kusadasi you have the choice to go to Ephesus (what we did on a previous cruise) so we went with own means to Priene,Milat and Didyme with famous Greek / Roman constructions and in Diikilli we used the ships excursion to Pergame and Asclpion. The languages used are of course French but also English. We had mixed nationalities of passengers roughly half French of course, but also Belgians, Suisse, British some Americans, Aussies and New Zealanders and even a Japanese. There were some younger children, mostly adolescents, on board. A ship of this size is not a big fun ship of course, but the staff arranged a lot things with them participation for example in show and in spectacle with the artists. I can say that they really were proud, enjoyed themselves a lot! The company can really be recommended !!!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2013
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
Sail Date September 2012
Maybe after the first 2 voyages the crew of L'Austral gelled, because the previous reviews were nothing like the experience we had. Took the cruise from Venice to the Dalmatian Coast and one day was more spectacular than the next. The ... Read More
Maybe after the first 2 voyages the crew of L'Austral gelled, because the previous reviews were nothing like the experience we had. Took the cruise from Venice to the Dalmatian Coast and one day was more spectacular than the next. The cabin may have been small, but luxurious, clean and comfortable. The dining hall was elegant and the meals spectacular. The outdoor grill was more modest and the food not as good, but offered a change of atmosphere. There were plenty of activities to keep you busy and private space was readily available. Excursions appealed to the sporty-types and the tourists; something for everyone. The incredible staff and the personal care shown by the ship's captain was truly unique. We just happened to take the "Family Cruise" and, although we didn't have children, this added to the fun. I'm assuming that mostly adults choose this cruise at other times and may not be appropriate for kids. Lastly, everyone on board, crew and guests, spoke English, but this is a French line and French is the dominant language. We found that this added to the exotic nature of the trip, but some may find this difficult. L'Austral was like spending time on a private yacht with a knowledgeable crew and great new friends; elegant, relaxing and memorable. Read Less
Sail Date July 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
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
Sail Date June 2011
The Le Boreal is the newest of the Le Ponant fleet. I have been on Le Ponant and Le Levant so was curious how this new vessel would stack up. General Impression: this is a very modern, clean ship with a very customer friendly design and ... Read More
The Le Boreal is the newest of the Le Ponant fleet. I have been on Le Ponant and Le Levant so was curious how this new vessel would stack up. General Impression: this is a very modern, clean ship with a very customer friendly design and beautiful and functional furnishings. It only accommodates about 250 guests but is not cramped and combines the best of a small and larger ship. The cabins are well designed with large beds, excellent bathrooms with separate toilet. Most cabins have a balcony. There is a large, flat screen TV with movies, music and cruise information. The shower was a good size and had excellent fixtures and great pressure. The food was excellent with 2 restaurants, a grill at lunch and a limited room service menu. The desserts were superb, featuring excellent fruit tarts and mousse. Shore excursions were well planned and executed at a very professional level. The ship's excursion coordinators were very helpful and traveled along on every excursion. Both the cruise director and the captain were omnipresent and extremely guest oriented. Some special surprises included a cruise though the Mouth of Kotor, a sightseeing swing through Istanbul and the first sailing through the Corinth Canal. There is no requirement for formal dress or even a tie if you are so inclined. Many guests did dress up, but others were well dressed in casual clothes. It worked. Entertainment was limited but there was a show every night including dancers, singers and a concert pianist. There were always guests in the lounge and there were always people dancing. I recommend this ship to anyone who wants a relaxed but high end cruise experience. This ship attracts passengers from many countries which enhanced the overall experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We boarded the brand new mega yacht Le Boreal in May for her Monaco Grand Prix cruise, with high expectations for an ultra luxury cruise experience. I will initially explain that I have now cruised with quite a few of the luxury lines ... Read More
We boarded the brand new mega yacht Le Boreal in May for her Monaco Grand Prix cruise, with high expectations for an ultra luxury cruise experience. I will initially explain that I have now cruised with quite a few of the luxury lines including Seabourn, Silversea and Regent. I have therefore come to expect a distinct level of service provided by these superior lines. Upon booking for Le Boreal it was explained to me that Compagnie du Ponant were putting this yacht in service to try to compete with the high end lines, the prices for the cruise were also very high over £4000 each for a week's cruise with only wine and tea coffee with meals included, for a small suite. We quickly embarked the ship and were promptly recieved and shown our suite, there was no welcome drink or pleasantries, just straight to our suite. The suite one down from the owners suite was compact, dread to think of the size of the other rooms! The balcony was solid and the room was quite dark because of this. This was not explained to us at the time of booking so visibility from the balcony was quite a problem, which we thought was very poor for a room of this magnitude. We complained to the hotel manager, but he showed little interest, and was more keen on taking every phone call he had whilst talking to us, extremely rude to say the least! We had a TV that did not work for 4 days of a 8 day cruise, but champagne was sent to the room as an apology. The public areas of the ship were very modern and sophisticated and the vessel with the right management could proove a successful enterprise. The restaurant was lovely, but we were told that we could not reserve tables and every time we went to a table it had a reserved sticker on it??? It seemed WE could not, but others could, and this pattern unfortunately continued for the whole of the cruise. I am used to hearing YES on a cruise, with our party on this cruise it became NO all of the time! The restaurant opened at not a set time, and the same wines were served EVERY DAY AND NIGHT for a week, to make you buy additional wines of course!! A cheap ploy for such an expensive cruise. The food ranged form the sublime to the plain awful and there seemed no in between. At lunch there was just a buffet available no grill menu, we saw a man special order a burger,so I called over the maitre'd to ask if I could pre order for the next day 2 burgers for our friends, the reply ......... The chef won't be very happy....my reply with a face of thunder,and I wont be very happy if you dont sort it out!! Unfortunately, this behaviour was typical of the whole experience one rule for one and one for the others. It really depended on which nationality you were as to the level of service you recieved, and I was shocked this kind of thing was happening. The rooms were small and although imaculate, they were brand new, they were furnished well and featured L'occitane amenities, these however were never replenished, which was just terrible, service like this you wouldnt receive in a cheap hotel. There was little to do and next to no entertainment in the day,apart from a singer or two, not even a game of bridge, trivia, cooking demonsration or wine tasting, nothing and with 3 days at sea it became pretty boring. I will summarise by saying that if the company do not adjust their business model I think it will quickly run out of staem, if clientele are paying premium money they expect good service,food,QUALITY wine, and ambience. LeBoreal is seriously lacking al of the above,which is a real shame as the vessel is stunning. Some fellow cruisers enjoyed themselves, but when I asked them if they had cruised before, I kinda knew the answer would be NO. If they had, they would have been seriously unhappy with this shower!!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2010
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