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8 Ponant Tahiti (Papeete) 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 chose this cruise because it went to Pitcairn Island and Easter Island from Papeete. We then stayed on for a further 6 days and cruised to Chile. Embarkation at Papeete was shambolic as the Paul Gaugain was also boarding at the same ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to Pitcairn Island and Easter Island from Papeete. We then stayed on for a further 6 days and cruised to Chile. Embarkation at Papeete was shambolic as the Paul Gaugain was also boarding at the same time. It appeared that no one from Ponant was present to advise us what we were to do and we were all walking around like sheep. At the disembarkation end it was even worse as we were told there would be taxis once we got out of the terminal and of course there were none, nor did the taxis even come there, so we had to arrange very expensive private transfers after waiting more than an hour for a fabled taxi. Once on board, our cabin was what we expected. It was very clean and our room steward was excellent. The turnaround for laundry, which was free for us as past passengers, was brilliant. Service in the dining room was inconsistent. Sometimes it was good and sometimes not. The service on any gala night seemed to favour those tables which had officers, which seemed to only host French passengers. That said, the wait staff we had were always happy and helpful. The standard of the entertainment is consistently good and the shows are always a highlight. Kamel, the Cruise Director is a huge asset for Ponant. The food is the biggest let down on this ship. In advance of this cruise we were required to produce significant medical evidence of our ability to travel for the last 6 days. From that I would have thought that both I, and my doctor, had made my gluten intolerance very clear. Apparently not. The choice of gluten free food is beyond poor. I raised this at the first opportunity with the head waiter, who then raised it with a very indignant head chef, who effectively dismissed my complaints. To be given a broken piece of toast for breakfast is an absolute insult, given how much this cruise cost. There were no gluten free pastries, not even rice biscuits for the cheese. The room service menu was even more limited. It is not often that I can go on a 3 week holiday, on what sets itself up as a French culinary gastronomy cruise and lose weight, but it happened. The quality of the included wine was very hit and miss. It was all French. Some was acceptable and others were very, very ordinary. The cocktails however were fabulous. The port calls were a bit of a problem, but mainly due to the water conditions. Our captain did a great job to get us to Pitcairn. In other reviews, non French passengers have made the complaint that there appears to be favouritism shown to French passengers and a sense of entitlement. We saw this too. I don't know how many times I was literally pushed out of the way by a person thinking that they had a better right than I did to be in that position in an ordered queue. We had very few landings on this cruise and for our special lunch and performance on Easter Island the French speaking passengers arrived significantly before the English speaking ones and took up the very best positions. We found it so hard to find a spot together so far from the action that it was not worth even bothering to get involved in the show. With so many non French traveling on Ponant this really needs to be addressed. We really did feel like we were getting second best treatment. Overall, if this had been my first cruise with Ponant I would be in no hurry to do another. We have been on two other cruises ( the Kimberley and from New Zealand to Sydney) and they were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We saw this ship while on a another cruise and was impressed by its look and finish and commented that we should try this company/ship. When we saw a cruise around French Polynesia we were excited, the online information sounded great, ... Read More
We saw this ship while on a another cruise and was impressed by its look and finish and commented that we should try this company/ship. When we saw a cruise around French Polynesia we were excited, the online information sounded great, the cost was high compared to other all inclusive lines. I booked direct with Ponant in Sydney and the staff were very helpful and I was able to obtain the cabin I thought would suit us best. Boarding in Papeete was unprofessional and dysfunctional, no staff were on the ground to help you or tell you what you needed to do, we were treated as if we were just off for the day sightseeing and not as new guests arriving. There was also NO security screening of any kind. The cabin was adequate, storage was limited but after a day or so we sorted out the room. The bathroom was small in size but well designed, large walk in shower with good water pressure, a rain shower and a hand held, with a glass door/wall. Another great feature is a glass wall panel the looks out into the cabin, this made the space seem much bigger and you can look out to the ocean while in the bathroom, there is also a seperate toilet. The bed/ linen/ pillows were good, over the 7 nights we only saw our room steward once, the room was well maintained and keep clean, toiletries were replenished as required.the fridge in the room did not get cold at all. The ship itself is well designed and easy to get around, being on the small side, the public spaces were limited but they worked well. The dining areas were well presented and I will give more detail re this by area. The Bistro dining area was very well laid out and it opened out onto the pool deck, plenty of seats for two, great selection of food and it was always presented very well.The staff in this area were very helpful and the wine supplied was quite drinkable. We enjoyed every meal we had in this space. The main dining room was formal, the issues I had was there were no tables set for two, I am not a fan of sharing a table for meals, at this level of ship I think this is a major failure in design. We also had very erratic service in this restaurant it went from fantastic to us walking out one night as we sat waiting for 20 minutes for anybody to supply a menu or any form of service. I must admit the Maitre'd did his best to make amends and we did not have any issues again, the food was well presented and very enjoyable. The one major concern we had was the public announcements, all were in French which was as expected, but the English announcements were always short and sometimes not at all and you had the impression that you were only getting half the information. The other guests on the ship were predominantly French and they excelled themselves at being rude and impolite. We have been to different areas of France and spent weeks in Paris over the years and I have never encounted this before. We befriended a couple from Quebec and even they said the same thing, so I know I was not being sensitive, the other English speaking people told me they had the same issue. The staff ranged from rude and unhelpful to lovely, I found the most problems at the main reception desk on level 3, I rang on one occasion and the lady who answered could not speak any English. I always knew that English would be the second language but the office staff were at times just rude while answering you in English. This is the first time in all the cruises we have done that I was pleased to disembark, I wonder was it a "tour group" mentality that the other passengers had, or the fact that it was cruising in a French territory, but either way it was unpleasant. Would I cruise with Ponant again, I am not sure, I loved the ship but..... I feel Ponant have not decided if they are a French Domestic Cruise company only because thats how it seems onboard or if they are truly a global cruise company, compared to Silversea and Azamara they have a long way to go. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose Ponant for its size and so called ‘luxury’ cruising. We found the cabin very small and could not store our bags anywhere. We struggled to move around the cabin without bumping in to one another! We were disappointed in the ... Read More
We chose Ponant for its size and so called ‘luxury’ cruising. We found the cabin very small and could not store our bags anywhere. We struggled to move around the cabin without bumping in to one another! We were disappointed in the meals which we expected to be of a higher standard in both restaurants. We felt general information was lacking. The shore excursions were incredibly over priced for what we received and certainly would not recommend any that we went on. The staff on board were excellent however and have no criticism of them. We did not attend any entertainment activities except for the last night where a local Tahitian dance company came on board and we thoroughly enjoyed the night. Papeete was a huge disappointment for us- very neglected -obviously the French have not poured any money into their colonies over the years. The Tahitians however are a lovely race, friendly and welcoming. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
The itinerary was for a few days on Pitcairn and Easter Island, which is not possible with large ships. So small ships are the way to go. the food was divine and the entertainment excellent. the cruise director made cry non french ... Read More
The itinerary was for a few days on Pitcairn and Easter Island, which is not possible with large ships. So small ships are the way to go. the food was divine and the entertainment excellent. the cruise director made cry non french speaking traveller part of the cruise. The provided history and cultural videos of our cruise and ports were excellent and added to ur experiences. It was a memorable time for family and friends to finally reach Easter Island and put a big tick off our bucket list. Spending 3 days on Easter Island was just the best highlight of the cruise as there was so much to see the than the few Moi's that you see on the postcards. ti be up close and personal especially the moi's from the quarry was just an amazing experience. If you want o see Easter Island, you need seen some solid days exploring the Island and not just a scenic cruise by. this was achieved with Ponant. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Have just returned from a cruise on Le Soleal from Tahiti to Easter Island. We chose this cruise as it visited remote islands, particularly the difficult to access Pitcairn Island. Having seen some quite negative reviews from Australians ... Read More
Have just returned from a cruise on Le Soleal from Tahiti to Easter Island. We chose this cruise as it visited remote islands, particularly the difficult to access Pitcairn Island. Having seen some quite negative reviews from Australians on this site about this cruiseline I was a bit concerned before we left. Having travelled on a few cruise lines I found Ponant friendly, professional, staff catered well to non French speaking passengers and the food and service were excellent. There was a balance of fun, comfort and adventure. The Captain was frequently accessible and the cruise director one of the best. The cabins were comfortable and always clean. With such difficult to access islands it was sometimes unclear whether we would be able to land until the last minute, but we were always kept informed by the Captain about the conditions. So some flexibility is needed when undertaking this type of cruise but it all adds up to an unforgettable holiday. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I chose this trip because it offered an opportunity to go ashore on Pitcairn Island, a remote island in the South Pacific. I am 86 years old, in good physical condition, exercise regularly. I was discriminated because of my age from the ... Read More
I chose this trip because it offered an opportunity to go ashore on Pitcairn Island, a remote island in the South Pacific. I am 86 years old, in good physical condition, exercise regularly. I was discriminated because of my age from the very start of the trip. When we assembled in the auditorium for the mandatory life boat drill, I was immediately singled out by one of the attendants. I was told to go to my cabin instead of going to my life boat. The reason? I couldn't climb the two flights of stairs to get to my life boat station; someone would come to my cabin to get me. I argued that I climb four or more flights of stairs nearly every day to my apartment, No, I had to wait in my cabin. My desire in going on this cruise was to walk on Pitcairn Island the terrain of which was a major feature in the famous Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy. When we reached Pitcairn, where landing was by Zodiac, we were called by stateroom floor to load on the Zodiacs. When my group was called we lined up in the aft cabin. I was immediately noted by the ship's doctor who took me aside and said I couldn't board the Zodiac. I asked why and she said the road (that could be seen from the ship) was too steep. I said I hike 8 to 12 km. in the mountains near Seattle on trails much steeper than the one on Pitcairn. She then changed her tune and said the water was too rough. I had boarded Zodiacs in an Antarctica cruise recently in much rougher conditions. Yet I watched obese people getting into Zodiacs. Only age discrimination explains these insults. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
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