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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
we chose this cruise because it was an Expedition Cruise in an area we had not yet been to and we had had good experiences with both Ponant in general and Expedition Cruises in particular. Unfortunately Ponant were not up to scratch with ... Read More
we chose this cruise because it was an Expedition Cruise in an area we had not yet been to and we had had good experiences with both Ponant in general and Expedition Cruises in particular. Unfortunately Ponant were not up to scratch with this one. Things started badly when we discovered that the cabin we had been allocated, ( the one for the physically disabled), was not the one we believed we had booked. After a while our concerns were noted that afternoon and we were reallocated a normal cabin. The cruise was in association with a magazine "Paris Match' whic we soon came to discover to be the reason why there were 80% French passengers and that lectures etc were scewed towards the benifit of the French. Organisation of tours and trips seemed to somewhat haphazard, compared with our previous experences. While 'laid back' is good but only in controlled moderation. Luckily all other activities, including crew, were up to the usual high standandards that we have come to expect. The fitness programmes are excellent and as used by only the few healthy ones likes us there was never ever overcrowding.. Exercise was important in order to try and minimalize the ourmet food experiences match with the unlimited alcohol consumption. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
I choose the ship and trip expecting to be fed interesting French cusine rather than the typical steam table cardboard. Apparently quite a number of the other guests expected the same and were as disapointed as I was. Breakfasts and ... Read More
I choose the ship and trip expecting to be fed interesting French cusine rather than the typical steam table cardboard. Apparently quite a number of the other guests expected the same and were as disapointed as I was. Breakfasts and lunches were typical shipboard fare, pleasantly presented and abundant. Bacon at breakfast was tasteless and rubbery, difficult to chew. Soups at lunch and dinner were generally good with the rare excellent. Dinners were mainly medicore except for one memorable meal which served properly seasoned and cooked lamb chops. They were tender and juicy! The included wines were drinkable at best. The wait staff, cabin attendants and ships crew in general were outstanding. The physical ship was comfortable and well maintained. The open bridge policy was a welcome amenity especially on the Canal transit.   Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2013
We enjoyed a two week Central America cruise on Le Boreal, a 2010-built vessel with 264 pax capacity. We had 186 on board. Crew 144. New vessels offer lots of advantages. First, the pluses: Cabins are small but feature a tasteful ... Read More
We enjoyed a two week Central America cruise on Le Boreal, a 2010-built vessel with 264 pax capacity. We had 186 on board. Crew 144. New vessels offer lots of advantages. First, the pluses: Cabins are small but feature a tasteful contemporary design with superb European finishes and fittings. King size bed and bedding was very comfortable. Bathroom is small, but top quality. Toilet is separate. L'Occitaine toiletries are standard. All suites have a small balcony. The food is excellent, as expected of a French vessel. Desserts are superb. There are two dining areas, one more casual, the other light and bright on deck 2. Open seating. Service was terrific, especially from the Philipino and Indonesian staff. The (non-European) French-speaking waiters were somewhat haughty, which we thought unusual. The French maitre de, Christophe, was superb, as was the sommelier, Charles. Young, vibrant and personable. Ship's officers were convivial and Captain Garcia deserves special mention. It is not often you can be on the bridge for a Panama transit. When he said it was an open bridge policy he truly meant it. One treat was an unscheduled stop in the Pacific for a swim from the ship's stern marina deck. Fantastic. Tours were standard, average value and consistent with most cruise ships. Nothing special. The French tour staff were most helpful and convivial. There were only 4 English speaking passengers on our cruise, albeit many French and EU passengers did speak English. This did not concern us but may be a drawback for those seeking more social interaction. One good feature is that in restaurants, bars etc. the French are very quiet. We like this. Overall noise levels are subdued. Now for the not so good points: The alcohol policy on board is outdated. Beer and wine of good qualities are served free during meals, but pouring finishes promptly when the restaurant Is closing. You can buy an 'open bar' ticket for $80 per day per person. Otherwise cocktails are $15 and standard drinks $10. Tea and coffee $3. So you are forever signing chits, even with an open bar provision. My advice is to negotiate an open bar deal when booking if you like to drink out of meal times. The pool is purely for immersion. Not very good. And the smokers congregate here too, especially flocking to the outdoor dining area. Tipping is encouraged on an 'all staff' basis at the end of the cruise. Like most Australians, we consider this a blatant impost to top up the wages of crew so we chose to simply tip those staff individually who provided exceptional service. Le Ponant needs to adopt what is rapidly becoming the market standard, a contemporary all-inclusive policy for drinking, tipping and tours. Cruise passengers are increasingly looking for no-extras once on board. IT services were below average. The in house TV was poor, with a clunky interface and poor graphics for navigation etc. No satellite news on TV, but printed daily news. About 20 movies on line - the usual popular releases. The library is both stylish and comfortable but the choice of books is limited. Internet service was variable and much the same as other ships. Unreliable, slow and expensive. About $20 per hour. Policy is stated as non-smoking, except in designated areas. But there are quite a few of them, including the outdoor dining area and pool surrounds as well as other locations. The French appear to smoke more than most so this is a real negative, especially in the pool and outdoor dining area if you don't like to share your meal with tobacco smoke. And there were pipes too. As we were sailing in equatorial areas, it was more comfortable to dine indoors anyway, but the smoking policy may be a put-off for many. Ponant need to change this should they wish to broaden their passenger base. We did not check out the entertainment at night. It appeared to be a standard cabaret offering with a Paris touch, as well as dancing. The lounge pianist played classical music standards during cocktail hour with much the same playlist every night. Not exciting. The lecturers (two) were both charming and excellent company however English language skills were lacking, as well as the topicality of subjects and depth of knowledge. This was a key issue for us as lectures are so important for our cruising. Before taking another Le Ponant cruise, we would be seeking more details of lecturers and their CVs. Overall, we rated this cruise very highly - the combination of a terrific (new) ship with a number of nooks and crannies to lounge in, coupled with excellent food and restaurant service. This ship is very comfortable in all respects, with great sea-keeping. The friendly officers added to the experience. Captain Garcia is a gem. Read Less
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