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32 Ponant South Pacific Cruise Reviews

The South Pacific is a bucket-list destination and the back-to-back cruises on Le Soleal hit all the high spots. I generally like expedition-style cruises, but the itinerary captivated me: Cruise #1: Easter Island, Pitcairn, Gambier ... Read More
The South Pacific is a bucket-list destination and the back-to-back cruises on Le Soleal hit all the high spots. I generally like expedition-style cruises, but the itinerary captivated me: Cruise #1: Easter Island, Pitcairn, Gambier Islands, Moorea, Bora Bora and Papeete; Cruise#2: Papeete, Moorea, Tuamotu islands, Marquesa Islands, Hilo, Honolulu This review will cover both cruises. As it turned out, the itienrary had a lot of expedition-style elements: transportation by zodiac, snorkel eqipt. issued, visiting out of the way places (not even listed in Lonely Planet or much on the web about them), an excellent speaker introducing us to the various Polynesian cultures, film programs, some hiking, and excellent local guides. The mix on the ship was about 50% French-speaking and the rest English speaking (consisting of US, Australian/New Zelanders, Europeans) and most programs were offered twice, once for the French speaking, and again for the English speaking audience. Ship announcements were bi-lingual. Food is both restaurants is excellent and I enjoyed the buffet on on the 6th level for most meals as I could "eat and run". Spa services are excellent I liked that the ship had a afternoon reception for those of us traveling on our own so we could meet each other. This is a 5-star ship, with 5-star dining, 5-star services and 5-star amenities (for example, bathroom amenities are from Hermes). Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
I have always wanted to visit Pitcairn and Easter Island, so this cruise became an excellent opportunity to visit these two isolated destinations. I arrived in Papeete five days before the cruise was due to begin. This gave me plenty of ... Read More
I have always wanted to visit Pitcairn and Easter Island, so this cruise became an excellent opportunity to visit these two isolated destinations. I arrived in Papeete five days before the cruise was due to begin. This gave me plenty of time to explore Papeete, do a round island and inner island tour and laze by the pool. The embarkation in Papeete was the best of my three Ponant cruises. My cabin on Deck 3 was central to everything, especially Reception, the main lounge and the theatre on deck 4. As a solo traveller I had more than enough storage space. Shower was always hot and with good pressure. Service by all staff I encountered was excellent. I was made to feel welcome, staff soon learning my preferences like sparkling water at lunch and dinner, tea with milk at breakfast etc.. most importantly my name. The service provided by my cabin steward was excellent.. I enjoyed the captain's enthusiasm for the voyage, the South Pacific, Easter Island and our sighting of whales on our last evening at sea just west of Valparaiso. Unfortunately we were unable to land on Pitcairn Island due to big seas, 'so close and yet so far'. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We enjoyed four days in Honolulu prior to the arrival of Le Boreal. The ship was actually a day late as she had been stuck in ice attempting a Northwest Passage transit in August. After disembarking her passengers in Greenland she sailed ... Read More
We enjoyed four days in Honolulu prior to the arrival of Le Boreal. The ship was actually a day late as she had been stuck in ice attempting a Northwest Passage transit in August. After disembarking her passengers in Greenland she sailed full speed for Hawaii via the Panama Canal, encountering Hurricane Rosa on the way across the Pacific. We felt it too on our flight from Sydney to Honolulu! Anyway, Ponant very generously covered our additional night's accommodation in Honolulu, arranged transfer to the ship and offered generous compensation for the late arrival and subsequent cancellation of two port calls on our voyage to Valparaiso. Boarding of the ship was very well organised, especially for a full complement of passengers and we were soon settling into our cabin and preparing to enjoy the sail out from Honolulu. Although rather small, the cabin is beautifully fitted out with plenty of storage and good amenities. The ship itself, in my view, is a beautiful design with very sleek lines and complimentary colour scheme. Fitted with stabilisers, she rides nicely through rough seas and is one of the quietest and most vibration free ships that I've sailed on...and I am a professional Master Mariner. Being a small ship, she only has two dining venues; a grill buffet restaurant on deck six for a more relaxed atmosphere and the formal restaurant on deck two. We enjoyed excellent service in both with very friendly staff who we got to know very well during our six weeks on board. Waiters are Indonesian with senior staff French, all speak excellent English and tolerated my limited use of French and Bahasa Indonesie! Downstairs the food had a tendency to be somewhat bland, but I guess this may be deliberate as not everyone appreciates a lot of seasoning and spices or chilli. One area that could be improved is catering for those requiring a low sugar diet, e.g. Diabetics. The only low carb drink available,other than water, was Diet Coke. It would be nice to see some other options available. The French influence is apparent but not overwhelming and in fact is rather charming. The officers and crew are very approachable and being such a small vessel are easily accessible. The bridge of the ship is generally accessible to passengers except during critical periods such as emergency drills. Our Captain changed halfway through our cruise and there was a marked difference in style. The first Master was very visible, approachable and interested in meeting all his passengers whilst managing the vessel, whereas his successor seemed more interested in his French passengers and could often be seen interacting with them. He seemed reluctant to engage with English speakers and non French nationals. He did make many announcements of interesting sights in both French and English however. The entertainers on board were excellent and I was surprised how involved the dancers were in other aspects of the hotel/excursion activities. Our final ocean voyage from Hanga Roa to Valparaiso (with about 70 or 80 pax) was the most relaxed part of our cruise and we had some enjoyable informal evenings with the musicians and dancers. We found that the cruise director was sometimes giving contradictory information in her announcements and the planning of some on board activities could have been better organised. We shouldn't forget the unseen heroes such as the galley, laundry and housekeeping staff who did so much behind the scenes to ensure our comfort. All so cheerful and enthusiastic. The range of shore excursions was fantastic and so interesting and informative to learn about the different cultures that we encountered. Our tour manager worked very hard on our behalf, especially so when the internet link was disrupted for several days. We would recommend taking some excursions when they are offered as we consider they were good value for the price paid. The ship lost twhe internet and tv links for several days which, although not disastrous, was somewhat annoying. Our disembarkation in Valparaiso was very relaxed as the ship didn't arrive until late morning. This enabled us to have lunch before leaving the ship around 1:15pm. Our tour manager coordinated our transfer to Santiago for €70 in a comfortable Mercedes minibus as there were nine of us travelling, very helpful. We enjoyed our voyage immensely and have future cruises booked on Le Boreal's three sisterships through to late 2020. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We had travelled on Ponant (L'Austral) previously and found that the size of ship, crew numbers, facilities suited the style of cruising which we look for. The destinations are different to other cruise lines with experts on board to ... Read More
We had travelled on Ponant (L'Austral) previously and found that the size of ship, crew numbers, facilities suited the style of cruising which we look for. The destinations are different to other cruise lines with experts on board to give detailed information about the destination and customs of the local people. Disembarkation at the ''ports'' is via zodiacs which makes for a fun experience. Travelling with only 200-230 passengers and 140 crew makes for an intimate cruise experience. Crew are aware of each passengers requirements as the same crew look after you whether it be the bar or restaurants. There are two dining options - a more formal dining room and buffet. There is a wide variety of food at both venues. Two main lounge areas are available serving beverages. Cabins are well appointed, always well looked after by cabin crew for whom nothing is too much trouble. There is a spa area with gym equipment which is open 24/7 - small but has enough equipment to counteract the food and beverages if required. Crew are obviously loyal to Ponant as we met crew on this cruise who we had met previously. We have since travelled on 2 more Ponant cruises and again met crew who we had met before and they remembered us. This is not a cruise for people looking for big bands, large shows but looking more for background music in a more relaxed environment. Shows performed by 5 dancers who also have other duties so are able to mingle with the passengers. There are activities arranged for sea days. All in all a wonderful small ship experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This cruise visited Wallis and Futuna which I could not get with another cruise line. Since this was also a 30 anniversary cruise lots of specials were in store, such as reception in Wallis; native entertainment on board and on shore and ... Read More
This cruise visited Wallis and Futuna which I could not get with another cruise line. Since this was also a 30 anniversary cruise lots of specials were in store, such as reception in Wallis; native entertainment on board and on shore and the fireworks on the last night. The hula performances were a highlight. those dancers could surely move. The shore excursions were well organized allowing me to see the beauty of the various islands, especially from a high overlook on Moorea where the different shades of the waters really stood out. Even the dolphins cooperated (showed up) on an offshore boat trip. My balcony cabin located amidship, reduced the affects of the ocean and was always kept in good shape. The ships personnel was always friendly and eager to help. The food was plentiful and of good quality, too bad, gained a few pounds even though I was using the walking machine in the exercise room. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
This was our 3 cruise with Ponant, The staff were very friendly and helpful, especially when we had to get on and off the zodiac boats as my husband not long ago has a knee replacement but was still able to go and enjoy the expedition. ... Read More
This was our 3 cruise with Ponant, The staff were very friendly and helpful, especially when we had to get on and off the zodiac boats as my husband not long ago has a knee replacement but was still able to go and enjoy the expedition. Level 3 was easier for him to get around to reception and get on the zodiacs. The expedition staff were amazing and were very passionate and knowledgeable about their chosen fields, we had booked dinner with the expedition crew and it was very imformative to sit and enjoy their company. The Kimberley coast of Australia, what better way to see this by boat/zodiacs amazing, we saw whales, turtles, dolphins, birds and so much more, I would encouage everyone to go its truley amazing. We ate dinner of a night alternating between the dining room and buffet which is on the pool deck, as the nights were warm and it was great to be outside. TV with satellite wasnt always that good. The food in the restaurant wasn’t as good as the last 2 cruises, buffet offered a better range of food. Pastries, Desserts, icecream, sorbet, cheese, bread yummy! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We booked this cruise 18 months earlier and we are so glad we did. To begin with, the Kimberley area is stunning! The scenery, the wildlife and the indigenous rock art is all wonderfully beautiful. We saw an abundance of the most ... Read More
We booked this cruise 18 months earlier and we are so glad we did. To begin with, the Kimberley area is stunning! The scenery, the wildlife and the indigenous rock art is all wonderfully beautiful. We saw an abundance of the most beautiful birds, crocodiles, whales and sea turtles, all in their natural environment. The physical scenery was absolutely stunning. The geological features are incredibly special and places like Talbot Bay with the Horizontal Waterfalls, Raft Point, Prince Frederick Harbour with the amazing Mitchell Falls seen by helicopter will live in our memories forever. Seeing Montgomery Reef rise out of the water as the tide fell was an incredible experience. We were literally metres away from this. We visited several sites with ancient aboriginal rock art that were just amazing. Added to this, was the expertise of our guiding naturalists. They combined a sense of fun with incredible knowledge and made the daily excursions in the zodiacs something to really look forward to. The evening recap meetings led by Sandrine and the naturalists ensured we all knew exactly what was happening the next day as well as reliving that day's experiences. We couldn't have asked for more. The ship itself was quite beautiful. It was stylish and modern with more than a touch of class. Our cabin was 431 and it suited us perfectly. We loved sitting on the private balcony, particularly while whales frolicked nearby. Our room was kept spotlessly clean and the bar fridge constantly restocked. There was also no shortage of fabulous entertainment on board with various musicians, singers and a great dance group. I also used the library to get through a couple of relaxing books. We found the food to be beautiful and it was complemented by a never ending supply of fine wines. We ate in both the formal restaurant and also in the more casual buffet and found them to be outstanding. Finally a word about the staff. They were incredibly good, quick with a smile and always helpful. The service was far and away the best we have experienced. This was a really special holiday and we couldn't have been happier. Thank you Ponant! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We had been previously on a cruise across this Indonesian region last year that was disappointing with Silversea Expedition. This year Ponant cruise was exceptional, thanks to the outstanding expedition team lead by Mick Fogg and the ... Read More
We had been previously on a cruise across this Indonesian region last year that was disappointing with Silversea Expedition. This year Ponant cruise was exceptional, thanks to the outstanding expedition team lead by Mick Fogg and the captain; they chose superb location for all stops and we had both landing unique experiences visiting remote villages and extremely isolated locations in all islands of Western Papua, Spice Islands and South Philippines. the captain chose 5 unique locations where no ship had ever been before. They also selected almost every day beautiful remote top quality beach and snorkelling experience. Food with a dominant French style was magnificent as well as the European style service, as usual on Ponant ships. We usually prefer the full service downstairs, but there is everyday also the buffet style next to the swimming pool. Entertainment was high quality, in particular with excellent classical music pianist, singers and a team of 4 dancers. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We chose this cruise for its luxurious small ship experience. The ship was all the better for the French influence on the food and wine which were superb. The ship was fabulous with wonderful caring staff from Captain David Marionneau to ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its luxurious small ship experience. The ship was all the better for the French influence on the food and wine which were superb. The ship was fabulous with wonderful caring staff from Captain David Marionneau to the cabin stewards, wait staff, bar staff, housekeeping staff, reception and entertainment staff. What a trip! We boarded in Fremantle a couple of weeks into the 40 night Circumnavigation of Australia cruise which departed Sydney on 25th January and Fremantle on 8th February. Lovely cabin (315). Nice balcony, comfortable bed and adequate toilet and bathroom facilities (separate) serviced at least twice a day or on demand. Complimentary mini bar replenished daily (no wine though). If we wanted wine we needed to get it from room service. No problem. Plenty of beer, spirits and mixers along with water and soft drinks. Leaving Fremantle we sailed north to Geraldton, then on to Exmouth (glass bottomed boat experience). On to Broome, Talbot Bay for the horizontal falls. Astounding! Waterfalls everywhere- naturalists on board had not seen anything like it, nor the flows from the King George Falls. Aboriginal settlement at Yirrkala was amazing, artworks beautiful, and a performance that was exciting. On we travelled our 26 nights reducing rapidly. So many experiences - so much to see and great weather. Had no problems with the zodiacs and many people older than my 65 years managed them easily with the care and attention of the crew. Boy did we see parts of Australia I never knew existed. Other passengers were also overwhelmed by the beauty and colours of the Kimberley. This was all complimented by food (lots of high quality French inspired food but interspersed with some special lunches of Italian, Moroccan, Baltic inspired. Our bar, lounge and waiting staff knew us all by name after 24 hours, and they knew our drink preferences. Other stops at Darwin, cape york, Thursday Island, Hamilton Island and Fraser Island before heading back to Sydney where our “on board family” of 240 passengers said goodbye. A very sad time. This certainly an unforgettable cruise. So much, wonderful people, sights, eats and drinks, memories after memories, friend after friends. Thoroughly recommend the ship, it’s very professional but friendly and very happy crew and amazing entertainers. Just go, we are so glad we did. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
I have been on this ship once before to Macquarie Island and the New Zealand subantartic islands. This ship takes you to places where the others don’t go. Unbelievable experiences and excellent on board, with quality food beautifully ... Read More
I have been on this ship once before to Macquarie Island and the New Zealand subantartic islands. This ship takes you to places where the others don’t go. Unbelievable experiences and excellent on board, with quality food beautifully cooked, interesting fellow passengers and a relaxed style. Magnifique as only the French can do. The all inclusive fare includes your shore excursions in zodiacs (if on an expedition cruise) drinks, premium coffee etc which at the end of the day makes a cruise with this line much more competitive in price than it might seem at first blush when simply comparing ticket prices. Ponant ships are new, well equipped serve some of the best food I have ever experienced on a cruise ship and provide great service. All announcements are in French and English and there is a very welcoming atmosphere on board. The expedition cruises are great fun and the expedition crew are amazing. Je t’aime L’Austral Read Less
Sail Date March 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
Great expedition cruise : very knowledgeable and experienced expedition team with great selection of spots to visit on land; great interactions with locals and landings always so well prepared and fantastic welcome from locals. Very ... Read More
Great expedition cruise : very knowledgeable and experienced expedition team with great selection of spots to visit on land; great interactions with locals and landings always so well prepared and fantastic welcome from locals. Very good talks for review and preparation of excursions. Great opportunity to learn about the various indigenous population of such great diversity as Papua, Solomon and Vanuatu, with such differences in traditions from place to place. Quite interesting approach to the Second Word War in Asia Pacific, with a great talk and various visit to most historical and significant locations. As usually, luxury accommodation and excellent food in a relax ambiance. Cabin is very comfortable and functional. great choice of premium vines on top of usual free selection. The only thing we missed a little were the snorkelling opportunities, that were not so great due partially to the weather conditions and also because the choice of locations : they were too closed to beaches and not remote enough o get eth best of corals and fishes. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
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
First time on Ponant but 16th cruise overall. We were totally spoilt like never before. The ship is beautiful and the staff were all so very nice and went the extra mile with everything they did. The rooms were bigger than other cruise ... Read More
First time on Ponant but 16th cruise overall. We were totally spoilt like never before. The ship is beautiful and the staff were all so very nice and went the extra mile with everything they did. The rooms were bigger than other cruise lines we have travelled on and the finishing touches were lovely. Very comfortable beds and pillows. Plenty of closet space, an in room safe, good quality toiletries and a drinks fridge. The included mini bar was constantly restocked. It was great having an open bar and the French wines and champagne were very good. Some of the best red and Rose we have had for quite some time. Now the food, it couldn't be any better. Young Chef Tony deserves a medal along with his team for feeding us so well. It was all so delicious and we came home much heavier than when we boarded the ship. The French cuisine was superb. There were 3 formal nights on board, 2 of which we ate in the a la carte restaurant, all other meals were taken mostly outside by the pool at the buffet area. It was just so nice to sit outside at night and bookings were needed in advance due to the popularity. Morning and afternoon tea were always delicious little French cakes, pastries and savoury treats. This was an Expedition cruise Darwin to Darwin visiting the Kimberley's. Mick Fogg and the team were brilliant. Very friendly and extremely knowledgeable. We were awestruck day after day by what we saw in this very special part of the world. Just incredible scenery and Aboriginal rock art. Daily outing in the Zodiacs were well organised as were the couple of the optional tours we chose to do. There were daily evening recaps about what we had seen and what was in store the following day. Full credit to the team on a fantastic job.. There was nightly entertainment but we didn't see any of it as after dinner we were so tired that we went to bed ready for the following days big adventure. We are early 50's and we couldn't keep our eyes open after 10pm! If you are considering a Kimberley trip I would choose Ponant over every other option. We could not fault a thing. It was worth every cent and then some. . Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We undertook our first ever cruise this month. It was with Ponant and the ship was L'Austral. We chose this cruise as the expedition to the Kimberleys appealed to us also the small number of passengers of around 230 people was ... Read More
We undertook our first ever cruise this month. It was with Ponant and the ship was L'Austral. We chose this cruise as the expedition to the Kimberleys appealed to us also the small number of passengers of around 230 people was perfect. It was Darwin to Darwin. The cruise was 10 nights 11 days. Being our first ever cruise we had no idea of what to expect but we were more than pleased with every part of this experience. We were on deck 4, cabin 431, which was perfectly located to access all other decks easily by the stairs or lifts if needed. Our cabin had a queen bed and separate toilet to the bathroom. We also had a balcony which had plenty of room. Our cabin steward was lovely and very efficient. Our cabin was always cleaned and tidied morning and night. The restaurants were on Deck 2, table service and deck 6, buffet. Both served great food with a French influence. The service in the restaurants was high quality. The French wines were more than enjoyable. Room service was also available and was quick and beautifully presented. The on board entertainment was entertaining. In the main theatre, there was always a recap of the expedition of that day and a run down of the next day's expedition. The expeditions were great experiences. We went out in zodiacs most days to explore the breathtaking beauty of the Kimberley coast. There were always expedition team members on the zodiacs who were very knowledgeable and informative in their fields which ranged from geology, birds, sea animals and naturalists, to name a few. Overall this expedition cruise was amazing and would highly recommend this Kimberley expedition. Brilliant. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
I did back-to back cruises on L'Austral with the first being 10 days in Australia's Kimberly. It was excellent in every way -- itinerary, activities, cabin, food, and especially the expedition team. They worked together ... Read More
I did back-to back cruises on L'Austral with the first being 10 days in Australia's Kimberly. It was excellent in every way -- itinerary, activities, cabin, food, and especially the expedition team. They worked together beautifully., gave wonderful presentations and were always available for questions. The passenger makeup was mostly Australians, though about 20 French-speaking. I continued on the next cruise - Darwin to Bali - and the atmosphere changed a bit - now it was half English-speaking and half French-speaking. This was more of a cultural cruise as we made several stops in a few little-visited eastern islands of Indonesia. The island tours were well-organized. It was still active as we had several snorkeling opportunities. It is important to know that these were expedition-style cruises, and agility and balance are needed to board the zodiacs. It is active, with snorkeling and hiking opportunities. Everything is described in advance and passengers can self-select if they want to participate in the excursion. Ponant thinks of everything. For those of us continuing on, they provided a very nice half-day tour of Darwin with a good guide and a comfortable bus. I chose L'Austral for its reputation. I like the atmosphere and size of the ship.The fact that it is a fairly new ship (only 6 years old), and has continental food and service is a plus also. The back-to-back cruises were an excellent combination - with the first being all nature with a few visits to Aboriginal rock art; and the second more cultural. With such long flights to this part of the world, it made sense to do a back-to-back. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Fulfilled a long term ambition to visit Darwin and cruise the Kimberleys in WA. While there were quite a few issues on the vessel which were not the best, my overall rating is quite high just for the fact of my experiences within the ... Read More
Fulfilled a long term ambition to visit Darwin and cruise the Kimberleys in WA. While there were quite a few issues on the vessel which were not the best, my overall rating is quite high just for the fact of my experiences within the Kimberleys. The L'Austral was quite good although I believe it mostly catered for French tastes which is understandable with a French ship & mostly french crew. I went to see the Kimberleys and get up close travelling the waterways in Zodiacs & was not disappointed. I thought the onboard laundry & ironing charges were very expensive. Cabin service was outstanding though. All staff friendly & helpful. I can recommend this cruise to anyone who wants to see the Kimberleys as the access to amazing scenery & onshore visits would generally not be accessible other then by water or air. Naturalists on board were first rate and very informative. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We visited the Kimberley region 20 years ago on a small cruise boat with less than 20 passengers and always wished to return. The Ponant Expedition Cruise with very experienced Naturalists on board to explain and show you the ... Read More
We visited the Kimberley region 20 years ago on a small cruise boat with less than 20 passengers and always wished to return. The Ponant Expedition Cruise with very experienced Naturalists on board to explain and show you the fascinating features and Aboriginal art was a highlight tat is a must for visitors to the area. We are well past retirement age and found the accessability into the Zodiacs and places of interest easily managed with only one set of falls missed due to the 70 degree climb that was really only suitable for the really fit passengers. That was not an issue as the crew took us to other places of interest. The Le Austral is a 5 star vessel with all the features that go with that rating, the cabin and dining was excellent with the French touch. Two dining experience were available the al la carte and the Buffet the latter on the Pool deck which was really suited to travelling in the tropics Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I had been to the Antarctic on L'Austral so when the opportunity came to visit the Kimberley I could not pass that opportunity to again travel in 5 star luxury. The ship is quiet, the staff helpful and friendly, they go out of their ... Read More
I had been to the Antarctic on L'Austral so when the opportunity came to visit the Kimberley I could not pass that opportunity to again travel in 5 star luxury. The ship is quiet, the staff helpful and friendly, they go out of their way to make sure you enjoy your experience. The organization of the zodiac excursions runs like clock work and the expedition leaders are very knowledgeable and ready to answer any questions. The food, wine and service first class whether dining in the main dining room or more casually by the pool. The Kimberley Expedition Cruise exceeded my expectation when everyday there was another experience to look forward to and to visit many otherwise inaccessible places.The visit to the Lacepede Islands was spectacular with the aqua color of the sea reflecting on the white feathers of the birds which were all as curious about the humans as the humans were about the birds.The visit to Paspaley Pearls in Darwin was another highlight. I highly recommend an expedition cruise with Ponant. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
For me, Ponant is the perfect mix of intinerary, price and comfort. It is not for everyone - this was my third Ponant cruise, complaints about the food are common and based on the mis-understanding that the French eat souffle, foie ... Read More
For me, Ponant is the perfect mix of intinerary, price and comfort. It is not for everyone - this was my third Ponant cruise, complaints about the food are common and based on the mis-understanding that the French eat souffle, foie gras and French onion soup every day. Simple, high quality fresh ingredients is the norm. Also expect the Captain, officers, receptionists, spa staff and some of the naturalists to be French by birth and speak English with French accents! It is a bi-lingual staff and crew. Some of the rudest Australians I've ever met have been on the Ponant ships, demanding that French not be spoken as they feel that they are missing out in some way. If you're that paranoid, there are many other 'English only cruise lines. Rant over. The Kimberley expedition was Darwin to Darwin, which might be the first and last time Ponant offer that variation. The sea conditions and weather were spectacular - the calmest seas I've ever seen, clear blue skies and emerald green seas. Getting up to the Wandjina art caves at Raft Bay takes some physical fitness, as does the climb to the top of King George Falls, as does some ability to cope with the heat (35 Celsius on average). L'Austral is a modern, comfortable, ship, showing some signs of exterior wear after the Antarctic season, but nothing that a coat of paint won't rectify. The cabins are in excellent condition and the cabin staff maintain the cleanliness of them very well. There were 231 passengers out of a possible 264 due to the number of single travellers, and it never seems like too many people - I saw people at disembarkation that I'd never seen in the preceding 10 days. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We had always wanted to experience the Kimberley from the Ocean and chose Ponant as we have cruised with them before. Their service is great - pleasant cabin and excellent food and dining facilities. The expedition staff were ... Read More
We had always wanted to experience the Kimberley from the Ocean and chose Ponant as we have cruised with them before. Their service is great - pleasant cabin and excellent food and dining facilities. The expedition staff were knowledgeable and helpful. The excursions were well organised from getting people into the zodiacs and out to the attractions to the effort put in to making sure that we had the best possible experience off ship. The presentations onboard that backed up the excursions were also particularly interesting. The food was excellent, and I was very well looked after with my special dietary requirements (vegetarian). The main dining room (with a la carte service) is particularly good and we used it for all meals. Our cabin was quite spacious, well maintained and pleasant. Staff are always courteous and cannot do enough to make sure that guests have a great experience. Both embarkation and disembarkation were handled professionally and expeditiously. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We wanted to see the Kimberley and we decided that this was the way to do it without having to pack and unpack every day or so - do so with a degree of luxury. The trip started in Darwin and finished in Broome. When excursions are added ... Read More
We wanted to see the Kimberley and we decided that this was the way to do it without having to pack and unpack every day or so - do so with a degree of luxury. The trip started in Darwin and finished in Broome. When excursions are added such as Bungle Bungles, Mitchell Falls, Horizontal Falls, etc it makes the whole experience come alive and educational. The whole expedition crew were very knowledgeable - especially the Expedition Leader (Mick Fogg) and this added to our overall enjoyment. The ships crew were always attentive and made the "cruise" part of the trip an absolute pleasure. The 2 dining rooms were excellent and well serviced by stewards. The cruise was all inclusive except for additional excursions such as the plane and helicopter flights, but normal expedition excursions, eg zodiac expeditions up the King George River to the Falls, Montgomery Reef, Lacepede Islands, etc were included. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We had previously sailed on L'Austral in Alaska and were so impressed that when we learnt that Ponant were to cruise the Kimberley we decided to join them again. FRom the moment we embarked, we were made very welcome by the captain ... Read More
We had previously sailed on L'Austral in Alaska and were so impressed that when we learnt that Ponant were to cruise the Kimberley we decided to join them again. FRom the moment we embarked, we were made very welcome by the captain and crew. As the cruise progressed it became clear that the expedition crew (naturalists and specialists on indigenous rock art etc) were really top class and excellent communicators. The cabin was comfortable and room service was excellent and unobtrusive. As second time travellers the addition of free laundry service was a remarkable additional comfort. The information sessions and entertainment were well managed and relevant. As a personal reflection, the fact that many of the crew were French nationals, made the cruise that more enjoyable to one who loves to try out his French language skills (or lack of) and it was good that their was a response that made us feel good for trying. The food was excellent and the choice of a la carte or buffet style was refreshing. The only slight problem was that the wine selection was a little lacking although we understand that this was due to circumstances beyond Ponant's control. once again, as we had been in Alaska, we came away refreshed and renewed and happy enough to book a cruise on the same ship to Antartica. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
We recently returned from our second Ponant Cruise where we cruised from Darwin to Broome along the Kimberley Coast of Western Australia. We had previously travelled to Antarctica with Ponant and enjoyed the expedition style cruising so ... Read More
We recently returned from our second Ponant Cruise where we cruised from Darwin to Broome along the Kimberley Coast of Western Australia. We had previously travelled to Antarctica with Ponant and enjoyed the expedition style cruising so much we decided to travel with them again. We spent 5 nights exploring Darwin and were surprised by the activities available and found it was time well spent. Ponant arranged a private showing of pearls at the Pasarley Pearls showroom the afternoon prior to departure. Embarkation in Darwin was very smooth and we were soon on board L’Austral enjoying a glass of champagne and chatting with fellow cruisers. Our cabin on deck 5 was very comfortable with plenty of storage and kept very clean. It would be good to have a card introducing our steward so we could be on a first name basis. We dined most of the time in the more formal Level 2 restaurant and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. As the Level 6 Grill Restaurant flows out to the pool deck it has a more casual feel which made it very busy at times. We were disappointed there was no variety in the house wines on offer. Ponant have acknowledged our disappointment and stated they normally carry a larger selection of wine but it was not possible on this trip. Coffee and tea facilities could be improved with the use of self-serve machines in the main lounge area. As this was an expedition cruise we found that the expedition crew were very knowledgeable.They certainly did not disappoint us with daily zodiacs through waterways looking at wildlife, rock formations or just to the beach where we would walk to view Aboriginal paintings. The extra excursions taking in flights over the Bungle Bungles, a helicopter to the Mitchell Falls or a fast boat ride through the Horizontal Falls were very well organised. We looked forward to the daily talk on the activities we had done that day and what we were doing the next. Our days were kept very busy with some early morning starts. It became apparent to us that the crew on this ship were very happy. As Ponant ships are small they don’t have a lot of entertainment as the bigger cruise ships do but the singers, musicians and dancers were all very good and we thoroughly enjoyed their performances. Kamel the cruise director was very good and made a lot of people laugh with his antics. The morning we were to arrive in Broome we were informed that the port was closed because of strong winds. Disembarkation days are always busy on a ship but to Ponant’s credit they allowed us to stay in our cabin and served us lunch before the okay was given to dock. Disembarkation went very smoothly and there to wish us well were some of the expedition crew and of course the Captain himself. We also enjoyed four nights in Broome at the end of the cruise staying at the Mangrove Hotel which we found to be comfortable and walking distance to town. We found more than enough to do in the time there. We thoroughly enjoyed this trip and would recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
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