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7 Helpful Votes
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
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
In August, 2018, we first cruised along the coast of Croatia on Le Lyrial. It was fabulous-great weather, beautiful scenery with clear bright skies and turquoise waters. Our choice to do the Laperouse cruise was in part due to coordinating ... Read More
In August, 2018, we first cruised along the coast of Croatia on Le Lyrial. It was fabulous-great weather, beautiful scenery with clear bright skies and turquoise waters. Our choice to do the Laperouse cruise was in part due to coordinating it with the end of the Croatian cruise on Le Lyrial. We had a wonderful week in between the two cruises in Portugal before embarking on Le Laperouse. The interesting feature of Le Laperouse was its attention to live Jazz during the cruise, the intimate size of the ship and the service we received. On both ships we were treated with a great deal of personal care. Our cabin stewards were attentive and thorough. The dining choices were quite varied and the menus were delicious. Our wine stewards were quite helpful with pairing delicious tastes to complement our meals. We very much enjoy meeting with other English speaking guests and having lively discussions with them. The Captain and the cruise directors are very good at organizing get together sessions-both formal and informal. We had a very informative group discussion with the French guest journalist on Le Laprouse, Ms. Christian Makarian. It was a much appreciated chance to listen to viewpoints from all over the world concerning global affairs. We only wish it could have been longer! Our dinners at the Captain's table are always the highlight of our cruises. Thank you for allowing us the priviilege to dine with them. It is wonderful to share conversation about informative and cultural experiences with the Captains and his guests. It is the best! We also enjoy the time the Captain's Bridge is available for touring. We are big fans of seeing the intricacies that it takes to operate your ships. In closing we would like to express our appreciation to all the ship's staff that complete the making of our trips with Ponant so enlightening. We look forward to many more to come. Read Less
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Sail Date: April 2018
30 days all up covering three back to back cruises. What stands out above everything else is the impeccable dedication of the staff from Commandant Regis Daumesnil down to the humblest toiler, who would have to be the people who did ... Read More
30 days all up covering three back to back cruises. What stands out above everything else is the impeccable dedication of the staff from Commandant Regis Daumesnil down to the humblest toiler, who would have to be the people who did the laundry. We never saw them but without them, it would have beeen a very different voyage. The Commandant was exceptional in many ways, in particular the way he interacted with the passengers. Not only was he at the gangway for our arrival but every day we departed for excursions he was there to say Bon Jour and hope you have a good trip. It was an intensely personal touch and, in another example, many times he lunched and talked with passengers at the buffet on deck 6. He seemed genuinely interested in who his passengers were and in their welfare. I found him a fascinating conversationalist on a range of subjects and his commentary on tours of the bridge by passengers in French and English was very informative and absorbing. As usual, the food in both restaurants on decks 2 & 6 was sublime… too much so, as it’s very easy to overindulge. Thank goodness the gym was operational and, on some days, very busy! But I would have preferred a greater range of cuisines, e.g. why were there very few Asian dishes on offer or some Mexican cooking or some hot spicy choices? We need more variety. On the down side, however, Le Boréal, the oldest of the Ponant fleet, is beginning to show its age; little things didn’t work or were inefficient. For example, the left-hand lift between decks 2 & 6 was out of operation for the entire time we were on board. For the latter half of the cruise there was no access to the television channels in the cabins. And for the last ten days as we crossed the Atlantic Ocean the theatre was completely out of action as it was being renovated. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
This was the third cruise we have had on le Boreal and L'Austral. All have been excellent, This cruise was to the Sub antarcic Islands from Dunedin via the sounds and ending in Wellington NZ. As the ship was being repositioned from ... Read More
This was the third cruise we have had on le Boreal and L'Austral. All have been excellent, This cruise was to the Sub antarcic Islands from Dunedin via the sounds and ending in Wellington NZ. As the ship was being repositioned from Wellington to Sydney we were offered a free cruise to Sydney. The expedition could not be faulted as the weather and the seas allowed us to land on all the Islands where it is permitted. This we were told was exceptional. Even the cruise across the Tasman was akin to a Manly Ferry trip. We actually landed on both days as per the itinerary at Macquarie Island. Many of the expedition guides visited many times and had never achieved both landings. Some years were impossible to land at all. We also landed on Campbell Is and Enderby Is which were amazing. The entire operation was exceptionally managed and organised and minor tweaks were necessary to avoid some bad weather ahead of us. The Itinerary was completed with only one Zodiac outing cancelled due to unsafe waters over the loading deck at the Antipodese Is. Landing was not allowed there by NZNP's anyhow and it was a Zodiac inspection anyhow. The ship spent some time circumnavigating the islands so we could see the abundant bird life but missed the close up experience penguins and seals which we seen everywhere else. We had seen so many of these previously we didn't really miss much. All in all the entire expedition was amazing.Bio security was adhered to so nothing was conveyed to the Islands that would affect the ecology. Even no fresh food was allowed ashore. Things changed at Wellinton where many passengers left the ship to be replaced by people taking the 4 day cruise to Sydney. Is was to be a no frills cruise but developed into a big swill cruise with many of the new passengers overindulging in the open bar. They were not typical of the many passengers we have met and enjoyed on previous cruises who are mainly interested in the theme of the cruise - expeditions not boozing to excess. The cabins were comfortable and well serviced. As we were repeat passengers laundry was included. Dining was excellent at all meals. We preferred the more casual dining on Deck 6 which is buffet. The staff there were so accomodating and friendly where we found the dining in the formal dining room more formal and patronised by the more affluent wishing to be waited upon. The food is identical. Service is also more formal. There are no set dining periods or allocated seating. It is as you wish during the opening hours. On deck 6 bookings are often required due to popularity particularly if weather permits and as out-door dining is possible it is often extended to poolside. Each day there was a specially prepared dish available on deck 6 prepared by an exceptional chef (Jerome). Roast suckling pig,roast beef and lamb as well as a steak tartar to die for as well as prawns and scallops and many others. These meals are prepared for both lunch and dinner. Soups are always amazing.Wines are provided, red,white and rose at lunch and dinner which are reasonable but the more exclusive wines which are also available are expensive. Entertainment is restricted to 4 females and a male dancer and their performance is excellent.and if weather permits is performed on the pool deck. Otherwise it's in the theatre. For the more physical active a small gym is available to work off the extra weight that is so easy to put on.. Spa and massages are available. The lounges are comfortable and have singers or pianists playing at set times which are always advised in the daily schedule. Lectures are provided most days by one or other of the on-board guides, naturalists and scientists and are always most interesting and appropriate according to the areas being visited. Briefings and weather forecasts (if appropriate) are held before dinner regarding the next day's activities. In the sub-Antarctic they were were more than interesting and always gave us an appreciation of what we may expect be it good or bad. We have always found the cruise/expedition more than good value for money. The fact passenger size is limited to according to the size of the expedition and guides. Generally around 200 plus or minus a few depending upon how many people are permitted ashore which is dictated by the authorities managing the sites. Zodiac transfers are a breeze and access to/from the ship excellently achieved with ships crew amazing. Announcents are in French and English as there are usually more than a few French passengers on board (and they rule). It is after all a French owned ship. We have Been there and done that now three times and we will not travel with any other company based on ship size and passenger service. Many of the passengers and expedition staff formerly travelled or worked on the Orion which has now left Australian shores. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this cruise as a total getaway from caregiving and because we really needed a break. We wanted a small ship with no casino, no children, no loud cruise director, and a small number of passengers. We flew to Boston from Tampa and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a total getaway from caregiving and because we really needed a break. We wanted a small ship with no casino, no children, no loud cruise director, and a small number of passengers. We flew to Boston from Tampa and boarded with 35 other passengers - the ship holds about 200 total. As this was a repositioning cruise, the cost was very affordable and we were prepared for 8 days of total relaxation. The crew did a great job of refurbishing one area after another - new carpets, drapes, etc. while keeping enough public space open that we hardly noticed. The catering was less elaborate than ususl, we were told, but the array and quality of the food was superb. We like the occasional gourmet dinner but we also like an option for simple grilled salmon or more country food, which was always an option. This was our first Ponant cruise - we had already booked one next Spring from Martinique to Lisbon (another ocean cruise) - and took the opportunity for a short cruise in advance. We are so glad we did. We met every single other passenger - even the French, who comprised about half of the passengers. As I speak a bit of French, I had no trouble, but neither did those who spoke only English. The passengers were fun and friendly. Only ten of us disembarked in Panama and the rest were joined by others as they went on to Lima over the following week or so. The crew was excellent - only the reception staff were a bit uninterested in being responsive. The Butler, West, attended to all our needs. We had a suite - essentially two staterooms together. Beware, European sizes are small for us Americans, but there was plenty of room. For the most part, we hardly stayed in the stateroom. The public rooms are gorgeous, well cared-for and comfortable. We are going again and we actually booked a Tahiti - Honolulu - Japan trip in 2019. This is a wonderful line and perfect for adults and friends. The entertainment was just fine and much more than we expected given a repositioning cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We like to sail on the smaller ships and had been sailing with Seabourn for 15 years (max. 208 passengers) when they had the 3 small ships. Sailed a couple of times on the larger, newer ships (max. 450 passengers) and did not like it. My ... Read More
We like to sail on the smaller ships and had been sailing with Seabourn for 15 years (max. 208 passengers) when they had the 3 small ships. Sailed a couple of times on the larger, newer ships (max. 450 passengers) and did not like it. My husband found Ponant on line and thought the line looked very interesting. Having got the brochure and saw the type of cruises we like (particularly the repositioning as we like days at sea) we booked the Boston, Mass. to Lima, Peru. Loved every minute and we will certainly book another one as soon as possible (and we have saved some money up!) The staff could not do enough for you and nothing was too much. The food was superb, particularly the wonderful French cheeses and the bread is to die for! (Take clothes that will expand with your waistline!!!!) I would have liked a bit more to do in the daytime, i.e. art and craft classes etc. The only problem was that the majority of the passengers were only French speakers. However, the staff did translate where appropriate (quizzes etc) Our cruise agent informed me that there are going to be some 'all English speaking' cruises in the future and we would be VERY interested in hearing about those. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise as being the most interesting way to manage our return home to Perth, Australia from Fort de France - Martinique. Unknown to us when we booked, the ship was scheduled to visit Bermuda over 2 days, which extended our ... Read More
We chose this cruise as being the most interesting way to manage our return home to Perth, Australia from Fort de France - Martinique. Unknown to us when we booked, the ship was scheduled to visit Bermuda over 2 days, which extended our planned voyage by these 2 days (at no extra cost). The bonus of this leg was being introduced to the Groupama people at a sit-down meal on the arrival evening at Hamilton, and then a tour of the Cup facility after moving to Kings Wharf on the following morning. Then, to top off, 3 Cup boats came out to train, providing "Flybys" of the ship which anchored at the Cup course! We had an option to choose Premium Suite 618 for this passage which we did enjoy greatly. As this was a continuation of our voyage, our cabin move was managed by the ship while we were offered a shore excursion during the day in Fort de France which gave us an opportunity to see the ruins of Saint Pierre and also the Depaz rum distillery. Also visited was the the Sacre Coeur Martinique (Balata Church). Our time on board Le Boreal during this leg of our voyage was very relaxed and enjoyable as the Passage form of this leg was well catered and provided with low key entertainment and activities (which was as advertised). Room servicing on this ship was the best that we have experienced on any voyage so far, and the experience of Ports and Shore Excursions was excellent. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
I had never been to Uruguay. This cruise connected with the Amazon cruise which we very much wanted to go on. I enjoyed Montevideo, but would have liked more time to explore. Very rough weather with very few ports. We were supposed to ... Read More
I had never been to Uruguay. This cruise connected with the Amazon cruise which we very much wanted to go on. I enjoyed Montevideo, but would have liked more time to explore. Very rough weather with very few ports. We were supposed to have 2 full days in Rio, but were very late getting in. We had to really cram in the 2 tours and sightseeing. Very disappointing with very little communication from the crew. Late Embarking and late most of the cruise. Balance of non-French speaking passengers was very low. No effort made to get us together. One couple ate with a table of people who spoke no English. They were very uncomfortable until they connected with other passengers. I have sailed with Ponant before and enjoyed the interaction with all passengers, but this cruise was very different. The passengers were NOT very friendly. 1 from UK, 3 from USA, 2 from Canada, 2 from Hong Kong. The rest were French. We were lucky to meet the English lady at the airport, who was traveling by herself. I would suggest a first night mixer for passengers with languages, other than French. Read Less
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