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20 Ponant Romantic Cruise Reviews

Antarctica 2019 -What am amazing trip. The ship and the crew where Wonderfull. From the start, Ponant picked us at the airport - took care of all our luggage and bought it right to our room. Friendly greeting by the Captain, and ... Read More
Antarctica 2019 -What am amazing trip. The ship and the crew where Wonderfull. From the start, Ponant picked us at the airport - took care of all our luggage and bought it right to our room. Friendly greeting by the Captain, and cocktails waiting when you arrived on board. The expedition team- was amazing, friendly, knowledgable and top notch. The expedition team is really what made this already amazing trip to Antarctica even better. They where such a great group that made sure every day you knew what you were doing and ran every excursion smoothly. We had a recap every day of what we did, what we saw and what to expect the next day. We had great educational lectures, about the animals, landscape and facts about Antarctica. I just can not say enough about the expedition team we had. Whale Watching - When ever we would spot Whales, the Captain would stop the ship and circle around and whale watch. You felt like you where on a whale watching trip. They Bridge and the expedition team, made sure you had the full Antarctica experience. This is defiantly one of the great perks on being on a small ship. The Ship was lovely, and spotless. The rooms where clean and you had amazing view everyday. The food was fantastic, the desserts where amazing. Wow!! So much great French Cheese. Over all, the ship was run first class, you never had to worry about anything. Everything and anything was taken care of. Tips - Bring extra face cream and variety of creams (my face got very dry and wind blown) Dress Code - I stressed over what to bring for dinners and the 2 Captains dinner. They 2 more formal nights (are optional). Men: Sports Jackets / Suites. Women in cocktail dresses, some more casual dressed then other and some much more formal. The formal night defiantly had a wide range of styles. Some ladies had slacks, and accessorized. I had a nice sweater dress, necklace and earnings. Heals or flats worked. Other nights, I would wear black fitted slacks and pretty blouses. I suggest pack a few nice pieces. Over all the ship was warm and comfortable , so you do not need heavy clothes for dinner. Always nice to have layers and a sweater if you had to run out to the decks to see a whale or an amazing Ice Berg. I would go back on Ponant Cruise and most defiantly go back to Antarctica - it was spectacular. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
My cruise with Ponant was definitely a memorable experience! We were in the Reykjavik to Bergen cruise onboard Le Laperouse, the newest ship in the fleet. The ship was modern and luxurious - perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but I really ... Read More
My cruise with Ponant was definitely a memorable experience! We were in the Reykjavik to Bergen cruise onboard Le Laperouse, the newest ship in the fleet. The ship was modern and luxurious - perhaps not to everyone’s taste, but I really liked it! However, the two things that stood out the most for me were the staff’s excellent and friendly service and the sumptuous food. The restaurant staff knew our preferences after the 2nd day, so they’d always have our favorite drinks delivered to our table even before they take our order. My husband and I love French food, so it was a gastronomic delight for us. As dinners were served in the formal restaurant, we normally went to the grill for lunch. It was our first time to go on a cruise trip, and it really set the bar high. We’ll definitely take Ponant again when we go for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We booked this cruise because we have always wanted to see icebergs and the Disko bay. My husband only speaks french and we wanted to enjoy beautiful scenery, interesting conferences, and an all inclusive drink and food cruise. ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we have always wanted to see icebergs and the Disko bay. My husband only speaks french and we wanted to enjoy beautiful scenery, interesting conferences, and an all inclusive drink and food cruise. • Travel To Port of Embarkation We live in France and made our own way to Reykjavik Iceland to join the ship.We arrived the day before and stayed at the Storm Hotel, which was walking distance to town center. It's a simple and very clean modern hotel, rooms are small, no closet, but a clothes rack with a few hangers. It's okay for a night or 2. • Boarding was very easy, there are many people waiting to carry our bags on board and the captain and staff are there to welcome us. Stateroom • Our prestige stateroom was on the 5th floor, with a balcony. The rooms are beautiful, clean, and there are a lot of storage room. Double wardrobe with drawers and enough hangers, and opposite the bed there are 3 big drawers with a coffee machine and electric kettle on top . There is also a safe and small fridge. Note that you cannot store suitcases under the bed, we laid them flat in the wardrobe. • Shower room is small but very nice. It's a walk-in shower and there's a clothes line in it to hang your washing. Don't forget to bring a few clothes pins! Dining There are 2 dining rooms, one on the 6th floor which is a buffet, and another one on the 2nd floor which is a more formal dining room. Food is fabulous french cuisine, drinks and wine are included.You can also enjoy more expensive wines , but we found them very expensive, around 100€ a bottle. • Entertainment Don't expect entertainment like on Costa or other huge cruises! On the 6th floor there is a observatory bar with a musician who plays classical music and on the 3rd floor in the evening there's a singer and musician who are more lively and you can dance to disco, rock & roll or other music. • Port & Shore Excursions There are excursions organized in Reykjavit before leaving port, a few small towns, in the capital Nuuk, Illulisat, and bay of Disko. Most of the excursions are not free and you have to sign up for them. They are not cheap either! Considering that Ponant sells luxury cruises, they could have included these excursions in their price. • Disembarkation Disembarkation was at Kangerlussuaq which is an old american military base and we left the ship at 5:30AM, with a bus. Return flight to Paris was a chartered flight with Iberia. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose Ponant for this trip because we were looking for a more intimate cruise experience. We have been on large cruise ships (3000+ passengers) and felt it was time for a more refined trip. One of the best things about being on a ... Read More
We chose Ponant for this trip because we were looking for a more intimate cruise experience. We have been on large cruise ships (3000+ passengers) and felt it was time for a more refined trip. One of the best things about being on a smaller ship is that the embarkation and disemarkation process. All of the crew members were courteous and professional. Also, there was rarely ever a line. Once we landed at our port or destination, getting off the ship to begin enjoying the tours was a breeze. I must admit that we were a little skeptical about having the shore excursions included in the cost of the cruise. We wondered what the quality of the excursions would be. But, we were not disappointed. Every excursion we joined was very informative and enjoyable. In addition, our days on the uninhabited Caribbean Islands were the best! Being able to take the zodiac boats in for a morning of snorkeling along the coral reefs of the atolls was a once in a lifetime experience. Our cabin was lovely, and very well appointed. Having a balcony where we could enjoy the views and fresh sea air was a great feature. Of course, everything we needed was provided by the stewards, it was as though there were fairies on the ship tending to our every need. Every meal we enjoyed on the ship was perfect. The variety of food, and accommodations for special dietary needs was attended to very well. We were able to enjoy dinner at the captain's table as well. It was nice to see the captain at every dinner, and feel that he was approachable and willing to mingle with the guests. The entertainment and activities on the boat during days at sea and each evening were very enjoyable. We enjoyed everything from educational lectures about our ports of call to spectacular shows each evening from with the on board performers as well as specialty shows from some of our ports. There was never a lack of good entertainment. Overall, it was a wonderful adventure we would recommend to everyone looking for a luxury vacation experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
To see paradise in the South Pacific, the Marquesas Islands. Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth operation.Greeted and farewelled by the Captain and members of the crew. The ship is small and intimate with luxuriously ... Read More
To see paradise in the South Pacific, the Marquesas Islands. Embarkation and disembarkation very smooth operation.Greeted and farewelled by the Captain and members of the crew. The ship is small and intimate with luxuriously appointed cabins,complimentery mini bar,and French toiletries. The crew are friendly and no task is a problem. Would love to have brought some home. Dining is a pleasure with top French Cuisine,good wine, a choice of 2 dining rooms, and snacks available in 3 lounge/bar areas, The ship has a nice library and internet centre.also a small fitness centre and Spa. Enjoyed the entertainment, dancers,musicians,the Cruise directors programmes also the lectures on the South Pacific. The Port and shore excursions were excellent plenty of time and no pressure or rush to leave the ship or the destinations. My sort of holiday, relaxing and laid back with plenty to do if you wished,but no pressure. Would love to go again and fully recommend Ponant. Enjoyed it so much have booked another trip. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Always wanted to see the Kimberly coast by ship, to view the horizontal waterfalls. King George gorge scenery, and Rock Art proof of extra-terrestial visitors from long ago. The trip met expectations, but wine was not uniformly of expected ... Read More
Always wanted to see the Kimberly coast by ship, to view the horizontal waterfalls. King George gorge scenery, and Rock Art proof of extra-terrestial visitors from long ago. The trip met expectations, but wine was not uniformly of expected standard for french wine and should have been at next level up for non-selected (types- champagne,rose were 0K) Service on back outside deck was exceptionally good ,as was upstairs bar. Food variety (except for fish) was interesting and well presented and prepared - especially the omelettes!! The visit to the bridge was particularly informative and interesting and we appreciated the time and operations detailed by the om-duty officer. The medical officer ,trained at Toulouse. was efficient and seemed to understand my partners' (attempted) French. The bottom rung of the in-pool ladder should be fitted with a non slip sleved surface (this caused deep lacerations to my partners shin)., Well put together and executed schedule of visitations. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This cruise was chosen as a celebratory event for a 50th wedding anniversary and was chosen because it had an art theme. It also had an interesting itinery and the cruise dates fitted in with the dates to visit family in Sweden during ... Read More
This cruise was chosen as a celebratory event for a 50th wedding anniversary and was chosen because it had an art theme. It also had an interesting itinery and the cruise dates fitted in with the dates to visit family in Sweden during their summer holidays. The features included special excursions to coincide with the Venice Biennale with open tickets to the evnts whilst in Venice. The cruise had attendance of some art specialists from the international firm of Christies and this provided interesting insights into the bsuiness world of collectable art assets. The food was well balanced with some specialties such as fresh oysters and calamari at selected ports. The excursions were led by very competant guides and with the exception of being placed in a french speaking group (an issue that was rectified at the first rerst stop) the information and content was very interesting. In Dubrovnik we were treated to some excellent singing in the Rector's palace by a local group of male acapella singers known as the Klapa Subrenum singers. The Adriatic was at peace during the whole trip and the ship was very quiet being electrically propelled. Passing though the Corinth canal was a treat and worth a special mention in case the choice of ship size is important. The small ship format was importnant to us as we had only cruised twice previously ( on the Orion under Australian waters and SS Catherine on the Rhone river cruise with Uniworld) and so prefered the more intimate and casual style which we were happy with. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
21 cruises and 19 years after we first set sail on Radisson's "Song of Flower", which soon became Ponant's "Le Diamant", we at last experienced L'Austral and French hospitality. In the meantime we have ... Read More
21 cruises and 19 years after we first set sail on Radisson's "Song of Flower", which soon became Ponant's "Le Diamant", we at last experienced L'Austral and French hospitality. In the meantime we have sailed on many Seabourn cruises, some Radisson/Paul Gauguin, several Silversea, and a memorable trans-Atlantic trip on Cunard's QM2. We should have joined Ponant years earlier. As we made our way south along the coast of Vietnam, eventually to reach Brunei and Kota Kinabalu, we were delighted to find we again were back in the golden days of cruising; before the vessels were overrun with some of the grumpy non-travellers who have written some of these reviews. First, we were at last free of the structured, dress coded, regimented approach of Seabourn and (to a lesser extent) Silversea. From captain to repair mechanic, nothing was a problem. The elegant French ladies of reception, the restaurant maitre d's, the superb guest relations staff - all were faultless. Now its true that, with delightful Gallic insouciance, some who thought themselves important and could only converse in demands were put down in that delightful French way - service slowed down for example. With half our passengers French for a start, such delicate responses did not happen to many! The food was exceptional. The chef had the pride and the courage to simply offer his best- none of the "branded" marketing which has in the past been pushed at us that the menu is by some American chef unknown to us but apparently revered in his country. Ponant does not splash out on vast ranges of menu items, but instead provides what you would get in a family hotel in France. Good food, well cooked and presented. The sous chef who spent his night on the baguettes, brioches, pain du chocolate, and croissants made breakfast a delight. For the first time ever, the coffee was always equal to the best in Italy (or New Zealand). The tours were fascinating and left on time. They were excellent value, taking us to parts of Vietnam we could not have experienced by simply going ashore. Disembarkation was the smoothest we have ever experienced. Don't go on Ponant if you want a casino, trivia quiz sessions, or the intrusion on your holiday of attempts at mass jollity. Don't go if you think your cabin should be the size of an American hotel room and you intend to spend your time inside it. The compact cabin suites are, like many European hotel rooms, practical bases from which to have your holiday outside them not in them. Intelligent engaged older children would learn much - on this cruise there were none of any kind. Do go if you want quality entertainment like a ballet group of five, a classical pianist, and a singing duo of ability. A captain and crew tuned to your needs, an entertainment director who is a true professional, and a vision of cruising which seeks to provide what you want, not impose their ideas on your holiday. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Sailed aboard the Lyrical The ship epitomizes its French origins - go for show, worry about substance another time. The boat is modern, sleek, and almost well designed. The cabins are nice. The food itself is mediocre. I have had ... Read More
Sailed aboard the Lyrical The ship epitomizes its French origins - go for show, worry about substance another time. The boat is modern, sleek, and almost well designed. The cabins are nice. The food itself is mediocre. I have had better on other cruise lines. They make a great show of presentation,when serving the food but calling a hot dog a tube steak does not change the fact that it is still a hot dog. The first meal after embarkation was 35 - 45 minutes late. No explanation. A few things which would have improved my experience on board. When they say it is a small ship, they are telling the truth. You get one washroom. That is it. There may be other washroom facilities on board the ship but the only other one I saw, besides the one in my cabin, was kept locked. If you are at one end of the ship and need the washroom, you have to move quickly, and hope your roommate is not using it. The bulk of the serving staff were French, and they let you know it. If you were not French,well they condescended to serve you. You were expected to be impressed, and pay for some of their fantastic wines. Internet charges are reasonable, I think. They started at 30 Euros, and went up from there. I don't know how good the wifi service was on board because I never used it.. Of course when I got off the boat there are lots of places which provided wifi for free. The staff claims to understand English, but only to their advantage. When I put the gratuity for the staff on my credit card at the end of the trip, I expressed the amount in dollars. When I asked for a receipt, the staff member would not give me one, but assured me it was correct. Except it was not. They got the amount right. But they put it through in Euros, not in dollars. Sailing on Le Lyrial was an interesting learning experience for me. I don't think I will sail with them again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Background - My wife and I have cruised 12 times throughout the world. We live in Texas. We pick our cruises based upon the destination and ports. We do not like “days at sea” and we use cruises to see new places, in a short amount of ... Read More
Background - My wife and I have cruised 12 times throughout the world. We live in Texas. We pick our cruises based upon the destination and ports. We do not like “days at sea” and we use cruises to see new places, in a short amount of time. I was looking for a cruise that sailed around New Zealand but I did not want a cruise that crossed the Tasman Sea from Australia. Ponant was the only luxury cruise line that had such an itinerary. The cruise started in Auckland and ended in Milford Sound (and then to Queenstown). Prior to booking this cruise I had never heard of Ponant and the reviews on various sites were not great. Here is my attempt to give more information. Pre and post cruise hotels – We did not buy the Pre or Post cruise hotel options from Ponant. However, we stayed in the same hotels as these packages and arranged our own transportation to/from the ship, at a fraction of the cost. We stayed pre-cruise at the Sofitel Viaduct Harbor in Auckland. This Sofitel is a very nice hotel located right near the harbor area. We were able to take walking tours of the city, the wharf and the museums. Our cab ride to the ship took about 5 minutes. Embarkation – Once we arrived at the ship, within the check-in window of 4 to 5 pm, we were escorted directly to the gangway. We had our photo taken at the entrance to the ship and were handed our cabin card. They did not even ask for a credit card imprint. We were escorted directly to our cabin and our bags arrived almost immediately. This was the easiest embarkation we have ever had. Ship – The L’Austral can hold as many as 250 passengers. On this trip there were approximately 200 passengers and 140 crewmembers. The ship is small but seemed to have very good stabilizers, when we hit rough waters. The ship had a small pool with padded lounge chairs, a fitness center with very nice views, and several viewing decks. In addition, the Captain maintained an “open bridge” policy. If the sign was green on the door to the bridge, you were welcome to come in and watch. The ship is French. The Captain and his direct reports were almost all from France. When the ship would make announcements, the first announcement was in French and the second was in English. About ½ of the passengers were Americans. About ¼ were French. The remaining crewmembers were from all over the world, consistent with every other cruise line. Internet is available throughout the ship at a price per minute. The internet service was very slow and did not work very well, if at all. You would be better off going to cafes on shore and get free internet. Activities and children’s club – The ship had a small library and card room plus a couple of bars fore and aft. We spent most of our daylight hours on shore so we did not participate in any of the activities. The ship had a small children’s area. On our cruise there were zero children on board. Service – Our cabin steward was excellent. Our cabin was very clean and he was very timely. We never came back from a meal or excursion and found him working on the room. Our servers in the dining room were also excellent. They were very friendly and would know us by name. Dining – The ship has two dining areas. The main dining room is on deck #2 and can accommodate all passengers. The dining room on deck #6 always had a buffet set-up for the meals. This dining room could not hold all the passengers so reservations were required. We ate 100% of our dinners in the main dining room. In the main dining room, it was “open” seating. You could sit anywhere you liked. Sometimes we ate with others and sometimes just the 2 of us. Dinner service started at 7:00 each night but often we wouldn’t arrive until 7:30 or 8:00. Not a problem. Breakfast was served buffet-style in both dining rooms although you could also order eggs and omelets, as preferred. The dinners were French cuisine. At each meal you had a choice of 3-4 entrees. You could also order a generic steak, chicken or fish dish also. The only time selection was limited to one entrée was on the Captain Welcome dinner and the Captain’s Gala dinner. For these two dinners, they suggested coats and ties. The entrée was lamb one night and beef filet the 2nd night. There was always a vegetarian option. If you like French food and cuisine, this ship will thrill you. My wife loved the food. Personally, I would have preferred simple meat, potatoes and vegetables. The chocolate desserts were wonderful. Each night 8 lucky guests were able to eat at the Captain’s table. We assumed these “lucky” guests were the high-rollers in the Owners Suites. Much to our surprise, on the 6th night of the cruise, we returned to our 4th level cabin and were invited to eat at the Captain’s Table – What a wonderful man and a very special evening. Cabin – Most of the cabins are balcony cabins. The majority of the cabins are approximately 200 sq. ft., not including the small balcony. As others have mentioned, the toilet is in a small room, by itself. In the next small room is the shower and sink. In the main part of the cabin is the bed and a chair. The balcony has 2 small chairs and a small table. On most ships, we try to book cabins approx. 300 sq. ft. On this ship, that was not an option. You went from the 200’ cabin to the large suites. The cost of the cabins increases slightly as you go higher on the ship but the cabins are the same size whether on 4, 5 or 6. Try to get a cabin in the middle or towards the front for the best ride. On this itinerary, we traveled in a clock-wise direction so you really needed an “odd #” cabin (starboard side). Get “even” (port side) if taking in reverse. Entertainment – I never book a cruise for the entertainment value. This ship had 4 dancers and 2-3 singers. We did not go to any of the main evening performances. The theatre is small but could accommodate all passengers. Ports and excursions – We had $500 of shipboard credit and we used our credit on 2 shore excursions. The cruise line offered 2-3 excursions per port. The excursions were well selected but very pricey. If we did not have the shipboard credit, we probably would have arranged all of our tours ourselves. I have reviewed the ports in more detail in the Port Review section. Here are the highlights: Tauranga – Took a tour to Rotorua arranged via Zealander. We ended-up as the only guests so we got a very personal tour. Saw geysers, Rotorua Lake area, Redwoods, waterfalls, Kiwi farm and Maori show. Napier – Took a Whirlwind Tour arranged with Hawkes Bay Scenic Tours. Once again, we were the only guests so our tour was private. We saw all the sites of Napier and had a wine tasting at Mission winery. Wellington – We rode the Red Cable Car and then did our own walking tour of the city. Picton – This was the first shore excursion booked from the ship. Their vendor was Cougar Tours. We had a boat ride across the harbor and were dropped-off for a guide-led hike along a portion of the Queen Charlotte track. Very nice! Akaroa – We booked the “Swim with Dolphins” from Black Cats. The bay has Hector dolphins. We did see the dolphins but the water was too rough to swim with them. They refunded a portion of our cost. Dunedin – This was the 2nd excursion arranged from the ship. The tour took us, by bus, to the Ortago Peninsula. On this peninsula, we saw nesting Albatrosses, nesting penguins and many very young, baby seals. A great wildlife area! Disembarkation and Queenstown – The cruise ended at Milford Sound. Milford Sound is a beautiful area in the fiords of the South Island. We met the bus at 7:30 which was earlier than we expected from the printed material (which said 9:00). Disembarkation was no problem. The cruise fare included bus service to Queenstown. In Queenstown, we stayed at the St. Moritz hotel. This boutique hotel is located within walking distance to the CBD. Queenstown is a very vibrant area with many adventurous activities. We took the gondola to the top of the mountain and hiked some trails at the top. Summary ---- Overall, we enjoyed this cruise very much. The itinerary was great and I would cruise with Ponant again. In particular, we enjoyed the small size of the ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
To discover Antarctica: the wild, the peaceful, the pristine landscapes, the animals, in their very own habitat, and visibly not disturbed by these strange visitors coming from other continents, To do so onboard a small size ship to be ... Read More
To discover Antarctica: the wild, the peaceful, the pristine landscapes, the animals, in their very own habitat, and visibly not disturbed by these strange visitors coming from other continents, To do so onboard a small size ship to be able to go in shore as much as possible around the icebergs and the whales, to enjoy the feeling of being part of a small family (only 200 passengers), to benefit of a strong and caring team of naturalists who were extremely helpful in preparing the visits... And to top it up, to relax in a large, nicely furnished room with a large bed, a balcony... and to enjoy a constantly amazingly good food, and good wines. What else? Very friendly staff, always ready to help. Excellent service at the various bars and restaurants. State of cleanliness very much OK. And I appreciated as well the availability and dedication of the Captain and of the Cruise Director who did everything in their power to make our cruise a memorable one, probably the "cruise of my life"... Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise because of the smaller size of the ship, the French language (although everything on board is bilingual French/English) the food, the trip, the reputation of this company and the itinerary. It was our first cruise and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the smaller size of the ship, the French language (although everything on board is bilingual French/English) the food, the trip, the reputation of this company and the itinerary. It was our first cruise and we are hooked. The service was impeccable, the captain and crew outstanding, the cabin modern, gorgeous and luxurious, the food was absolutely wonderful, the best we have ever had (in our lives). The itinerary was the stuff of dreams, the lecturers of the highest possible qualifications and knowledge. I honestly don't think we would consider another cruise company. We are aware that we have found perfection and need look no further. We immediately pre-booked our upcoming trips while on board and are still suffering from withdrawal symptoms. What I appreciated the most was the peace and quiet, and the sophisticated quietness (no rowdy parties, loud discotheques, queues) and the lack of formal palava (no need to wear tuxedos and ball gowns), just to be correctly dressed for dinner for example. For us this cruise ticked every box on our dream list, and more. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Have cruise we other small ships such as Windstar and Seaboure. The Ship it self was fantastic having only been launched in 2015. The cabins were small and difficult for 2 people to dress for dinner etc if both in the cabin at the same ... Read More
Have cruise we other small ships such as Windstar and Seaboure. The Ship it self was fantastic having only been launched in 2015. The cabins were small and difficult for 2 people to dress for dinner etc if both in the cabin at the same time. `The food was fantastic and the service second to none, except being a french owned boat the crew and staff assume you are french which is fine to start with but after a couple of days can be very annoying if you do not speak french. With circa 240 people on board having 19 sun loungers with large french families of unto and over 16 per group will not end well when travelling to destinations during the day. Overall a good cruise but with important details letting it down can't feel disappointed. One being that from the top enrtainment and pool bar you had to go down 2 deck levels to find a WC?. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
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
The voyage started in Sydney and called the various islands and anchorages a ship of only this size is capable of , with the Zodiacs on board ferrying passengers across to remote places in the region if tender service not an option , this ... Read More
The voyage started in Sydney and called the various islands and anchorages a ship of only this size is capable of , with the Zodiacs on board ferrying passengers across to remote places in the region if tender service not an option , this worked quite wel We found the staff very capable and instructions both in French and English well presented and all explained in detail in most cases the day before , the Australian expedition leaders knowledgeable and a bit of Aussie humour to flavour the experience !it was the vessels and Ponant's first experience exploring the Barrier Reef. Passengers mostly from France , My guess 60 percent and the remainder Aussies , some Anericans and other Europeans , actually a great mixture and it seemed they all enjoyed each other's company. The Ship is fairly new and cabins and beautifully appointed , comfortable beds , a flat screen TVs with all the English channels , a mini bar well stocked and replenished daily at no cost and included in the open bar policy , however be mindful of the suites , they might have a fold out couch serving as a king size bed , best to check this out if you prefer 2 singles The cabins on deck 5 very quiet and no noise from other passenger cabins nearby . The vessel boasts 2 restaurants , all open sitting , the on deck 6 more casual and booking for dinner is essential due to the limited space , the one on deck 2 very nicely appointed and seats all if required , the senior officers and Master occupy their own table apart from Welcome and Farewell dinners , The vessel has an open bar policy that includes most drinks, cocktails , wines , fancy a gin and tonic or a Martini , a Brandy after dinner , not a problem ! We experienced 2 Wine tastings , one in French and one in English , very knowledgable and presented , the stock of top wines is also on display and available from the restaurant in deck 2 . Numerous activities during the day , what ever you fancy from Quizes to Can Can shows at night in the theatre and with the amount of passengers not a busy excercise , the ship also has an open bridge policy most of the time if you fancy a look where all the action is . Food , plenty , not silver service though , not sure if that still excists nowadays , there is a Butler service if you want to dine in private , the French tone is prevellent of course and if you like this style , these sort of cruises won't disappoint , The Master and Officers are French , the crew in general a mixture of Fillipino and Indonesian , and all English speaking . Embarkation / Disembarkation not a problem , yes 4 o'clock for a 6 pm departure , what's the fuss? Your luggage tagged and delivered to your cabin and vice versa when going off . The staterooms on deck 3 don't have an totally open veranda as on the top,decks , there is a reason for that as you are closer to the water line, just a safety thing, and so are the doors towards your veranda not full length , same thing . Overall a beautiful ship , no pokies , no casino,no rowdy teenagers ! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
As a long time cruiser having sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, P&O Australia, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn and lately Ponant, I have to say Ponant is way down the list in overall satisfaction, giving that is ... Read More
As a long time cruiser having sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, P&O Australia, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn and lately Ponant, I have to say Ponant is way down the list in overall satisfaction, giving that is supposed to be up there with the best. I have never written a cruise review before, but after reading other cruisecritic reviews of the Le Soleal, decided to add my thoughts. The ships decor was very nicely done, and was light and bright, a few Christmas decorations were in place, but not enough Festive ambience was created for this special time in my opinion. I was on the leg from Noumea to Akaroa in December 2015, and it was the worst "premium" cruise EVER. This was supposed to be a wonderful Xmas experience for us, but from day one it was clear that the ship and its staff did not in any way live up to its promises. Embarkation was after 5 pm, after waiting for 3hrs in a deserted area in the port and believe me, downtown Noumea on a Sunday is pretty dismal. Food was very average, on the two most important nights, Captain's Gala Dinner and Christmas Eve there was a set menu. No other choices from a standard menu as is usual on other ships, so if you didn't like what was offered, bad luck. The lunch buffet often ran out of the main offering so we went without on a few occassions. Alcohol was included, but only two wines, a red or white and very average quality, upon asking for a decent drop we were told there was a surcharge. 'Fresh' orange juice was advertised but not produced, just a concentrated cheap tasting alternative. No entertainment to rave about, in fact there was nothing to do during the day. Officers sat at their own table and virtually ignored passengers each evening. The waiters were unable, in the main, to answer questions about the menus etc, it seemed they, and the bar staff did what they needed and no more. Other Australian and NZ passengers commented on their disappointment on this ship, and one couple who were fervent Ponant cruisers having done 6 already, cancelled their next cruise then and there so bad was their experience. Lifeboat drill was a farce. We had to go down to listen to 45 minutes of both French and English translations and a spiel about all the facilities on board, then file out, trudge upstairs, go to our stateroom, get our lifejackets and return for the drill. What???? I could go on, but you get the idea. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line ... Read More
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line Le Ponant, is the the worst run cruise ship I have ever seen. Paying for Le Soleal is like throwing your money away. The problems go to the policies (which means the company is horrible as well) as well as the clueless staff (which could be the company’s fault, the fault of the ship’s manager, or both). I hate when people criticize without specifics, so I’m happy to give them. Here we go. 1. This is advertised as an all-inclusive ship and advertises fine wines and spirits as included in the price. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 1 or 2 wines available are cheap and unheard of. There is no single malt scotch. There is no Bourbon. The only Brandy is too cheap to drink. 2. Even when you go to the list available for pay, the prices are jacked up terribly. Usually a ship that is all-inclusive gives you decent prices for upgrading as you get sort of a credit. Not here. Not only is the list overpriced, it features only one American Red and one American White – both from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection line which, while it sounds good and probably fooled the incompetents running this Line, is a low line wine. A comment here: For many of the wines for sale the list has a Parker score. Many are 90 or above, but the Mondavi Chardonnay is 84. Can you imagine having one American wine on the list and bragging about an 84? Stupid. There are others in the mid 80’s. Why have them there at all? 3. This ship has only about 200 passengers and a crew ration of 1:2, which is too low in the first place for a so-called luxury ship. More importantly, most crew members have no idea about anything outside their particular job, and often not then. a. The first afternoon neither the reception desk nor the staff in the 6th floor lounge had any idea if there was shipboard music being played later in the evening. And the poorly put together daily notice said nothing about it. Turned out there were entertainers in both the 6th floor and 3rd floor lounges. b. At the lunch buffet shrimp was offered. We asked the servers about sauce, and none knew what was available and had to go find out. c. Upon check in, we were put in the lounge on the 3rd deck, being told rooms were not ready. About 30 minutes later as friends of ours told us they were in their room I went to the front desk and was told by the hotel manager they would come get us when they started taking people to rooms. As he is telling me this, those boarding were indeed being taken to their cabins right in front of my face. So we just went to ours on our own. It was ready, but no luggage at 4:00 in the afternoon on a ship with only about 100 cabins. I went and found the luggage and brought it in. d. On the night of the captain’s reception they ship’s newsletter said a Gala dinner would begin after the reception and they would not serve until all were seated. There was no indication of what time that would be. The front desk told me I could actually dine at any time after 6. She was shocked when I told her it was now 6:25 and the restaurant was not open yet. She called and told me it would open at 6:45. It actually opened at 6:37. e. Here is a clueless hotel manager story that will make you smile. When we complained that we were told there were fine wine and spirits aboard the ship, he asked us, with a quizzical look on his face, where we heard or read that. He said he only offers wine and spirits. They may not be so fine. Dumb? 4. At dinner on the 3rd night we ordered the lamb on the menu. After about 10 minutes the waiter told us they were out. We had ordered a bottle of wine to go with the lamb, but the staff wasn’t trained well enough to understand any problem with this. So we ordered steak skewers and as we were finishing, out came lamb for the table next to us who ordered well after we did. We asked a captain what happened and he said they did not know they had more lamb and it took the chef 20 minutes to find out. We told him we thought that was incompetent and he sent a higher up who first said the other table ordered first, which was not true, and had so been confirmed by the captain. Caught in a lie, he attempted to say it took 25 minutes to thaw the lamb. No one understood that all they had to say to us was wait a few minutes while they check things out. They are simply incompetent on the ship. IMPORTANTLY, this was the second time this happened. They ran out of baked salmon at lunch and told everyone they had no more only 20 minutes into a 90 minute restaurant opening. As we left, there sat the dish. The host of that room said they convinced the chef to make more. Shouldn’t have run out in the first place. 5. With regard to the ship’s entertainers/musicians, the newsletter never tells you who is entertaining where. So we know nothing about them or where they might be at any given time. This is unfair to the passengers and entertainers, and shows a total lack of understanding on the part of the crew. Every other cruise line gives you this information. 6. The group we were with had many people (over 25) in the 6th floor lounge one evening. We were actually playing the piano, and all were singing. At midnight the bartenders closed down and left. Never seen that on a ship. 7. At the so-called Gala dinner, the server put my salad fork back for me to use again when I finished the salad. I had him get me a new one. Then, someone was not thinking on the mussels curry dish as we had to use our hands to open the mussels. What a mess. The chargers on which this dish sat were naturally covered with shells and liquid from the broth. Were they removed? No. At least not until we requested it. 8. Unbelievably, in both dining rooms there is a table for the ship’s officers, who sit by themselves and ignore all their passengers. I cannot remember such rudeness and obvious lack of thought on any other ship. 9. The ship scheduled a mandatory safety meeting followed by a mandatory life jacket drill at 5:45 and 6:00 respectively the first day. Obviously, people took their life jackets with them. Some of the crew allowed them in the room during the lecture and some made us take them back to our cabin saying we could not bring them until 6:00, of course meaning we all had to leave the lecture, go to the room, get the life jackets, and come right back. You would think this is a comedy, but the people on this ship are just this disconnected. Also, the drill was help at a time we were in port and people were not required to be on board for another 8 hours. Finally, even tho the drill was designed to show us how to put on the life jackets, the notice sent out asked us to come with them already on. 10. They are so cheap on this ship. We have already written about the spirits and wine that fall into this category, and the fact that the bartenders close shop at 12 even when passengers are out. In the morning they advertise fresh squeezes orange, grapefruit, and tomato juice. Think they have this during the day at the two cocktail bars? Nope. Too cheap, as we say. Cruise another line - really. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
Only part i can give 5 stars to are the ship and the suites. Our suite was small but felt larger than it was. There was amazing storage and hanging places to put all our stuff. Bathroom was elegant with a separate toilet. Good fitness ... Read More
Only part i can give 5 stars to are the ship and the suites. Our suite was small but felt larger than it was. There was amazing storage and hanging places to put all our stuff. Bathroom was elegant with a separate toilet. Good fitness center with floor to ceiling windows to see the view. Service was reluctant at best. When ever I went to reception for a question or information, the first response was always, "Well, I don't know" rather than "How can I help you" The staff seems to find you an annoyance rather than a paying customer. The wine that was served on board (included) was of the quality of wine in a box. Several passengers beside me commented on the poor quality for a French ship. The wine they wanted you to pay for was always very expensive. The cheapest recommended wine was 79 Euros a bottle.The food was inconsistent. Some times it was excellent; other times it was mediocre. On the final night, the veal medallion was like a hockey puck. The night of the captain's dinner we did not get served our main course until 10:30 pm. Service in the Dining Rooms needs improvement. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
My husband and I hadn't done a cruise before and were intimidated by the larger, floating shoe box style ships with an RSL style feel. We wanted to have an intimate cruise experience that was elegant and allowed us to experience ... Read More
My husband and I hadn't done a cruise before and were intimidated by the larger, floating shoe box style ships with an RSL style feel. We wanted to have an intimate cruise experience that was elegant and allowed us to experience destinations that the bigger ships couldn't provide. We can't speak more highly of our holiday. When the 3 horns sounded as we left Darwin, I felt we were transported back to a time of the 'romantic cruise liner' days. We met other Australian's who shared our same interests which made it easy to have engaging conversations - it was great to learn from other people and hear what they had achieved in their life. The interpretation between French and English was very exciting. We knew we were travelling with a French cruise line and had read the reviews about translation, but couldn't agree once we experienced it ourselves. It was just another feeling of being on a romantic cruise line voyage. Their service was impeccable. I loved the recognition after just a short time and the effort that was made to remember how we liked our breakfast, what wine for lunch and dinner, even cocktails at five-zizzies! The light afternoon gatherings and activities were always great fun. It was a non-pressured way to get to meet some of the other guests. Again, the other passengers were very interesting and we made some great connections with people from around the world. Our stateroom was absolutely beautiful - lazy afternoons sitting on our balcony, looking out to the passing islands, sunsets and sharing a glass of champagne with my husband. The design of our room was very stylish and tasteful with enough space to feel comfortable to stay in or spend the day out. One of the highlights was when we stopped at a sandy island and in the distance we could see a strange looking cloud, and then realised it was an active volcano way off in the distance - doubt we would have seen that on a bigger ship! Overall, we realised that starting our first cruise experience on a luxury cruise ship like PONANT would make it hard to try a different one... but we don't mind at all! We are going again this year to the Med and can't wait! Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
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
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