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24 Ponant Venice Cruise Reviews

We liked the idea of French food and smaller portions and not American food which we get on Seabourn. We also wanted to visit Croatia in a small ship. We loved the ship and the open bridge policy. We found the Captain, officers and crew ... Read More
We liked the idea of French food and smaller portions and not American food which we get on Seabourn. We also wanted to visit Croatia in a small ship. We loved the ship and the open bridge policy. We found the Captain, officers and crew terrific and well trained. The ship was attractive but the pool rather small. We would have liked sun umbrellas as there was no shade around that area...nor in the deck area with sunbathing chairs. Our cabin was small but had great storage & well designed. The bathroom was small but had an excellent shower. The separate toilet was very small. We liked our balcony with 2 chairs and small table. The TV sound was poor and we would have liked better news channels. The boutique had quality clothes. We liked dining in the formal restaurant on Deck 2 very much at night but loved lunch and breakfast on the deck (6) in the open air mainly. We enjoyed the Chef’s barbecue and delicious grilled fish. The French pastries were delicious as were all the meals. We saw two shows, one was modern dancers and the other a French Canadian magician. Both excellent. We had a superb tour guide in the pretty island of Rab, one of the best we have found anywhere. We enjoyed all the ports we went to but of course a couple were very crowded as it was high season. The good thing about Ponant is the ship is small enough to visit quieter places. The few, French, children who were on board were beautifully behaved. It is not ideally a cruise for children though. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We booked Ponant without ever having sailed with this cruise line. Overall, I would rate as very good for the value. The accommodations were comfortable, Hermes products, comfy beds and linen. Small but efficient pool area. Bars ... Read More
We booked Ponant without ever having sailed with this cruise line. Overall, I would rate as very good for the value. The accommodations were comfortable, Hermes products, comfy beds and linen. Small but efficient pool area. Bars were generally comfortable and service was nice but they did run out of simple things for a couple of days like bloody mary mix and cranberry juice. That seemed odd that they didn't restock while in port. They seemed surprised when we questioned it. The meal service in the restaurant and buffet area was decent but not overly attentive. Sometimes orders were mixed up and sometimes you had to ask for wine but if you are not too sensitive to this your expectations will be met. The actual food was nicely done especially appetizers and deserts. There were some mains that were less than great such as pork loin which was very tough. There was one caviar testing that was nice but they held it on the pool deck in the blazing sun. I think they will rethink it. Shows were cute but this is a small ship so mostly ballet type dancing and some singing. I did not attend the lectures. The outdoor lounges are lovely but the allowed smoking area made it difficult for non-smokers if sensitive to this. The pool deck was not always attended too and there were towels all over the place by midday and you have to walk up to the bar upstairs to have a drink -- no pool service. The bars sometimes seemed overwhelmed but if you don't mind waiting you are ok. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We had been to Croatia on our own, driving a car, 30 years ago. It was fascinating to see how it had changed (and how it had not changed) since then. We had a delightful time, met some interesting people, enjoyed the excursions as well ... Read More
We had been to Croatia on our own, driving a car, 30 years ago. It was fascinating to see how it had changed (and how it had not changed) since then. We had a delightful time, met some interesting people, enjoyed the excursions as well as the time to explore on our own. We have not been on many cruises and the fact that Le Lyrial was a small ship was appealing to us. The food was very good and beautifully presented. We found the food choices in the casual dining area were much more extensive than the formal dining room and wish we had eaten more dinners there. All of the staff from the Captain to the maids were very effecient and personable. Everyone was very friendly. It was a bit off-putting to have the cruise advertised as "all-inclusive - to include gratuity" and then find an envelope with a "suggested" amount for gratuities in our cabin toward the end of the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this ship as it was small and seemed an ideal way to visit Croatia. Previous reviews were worrying with comments about smoking on board but this was not a huge problem. The French do smoke out on the decks but not inside. The pomp ... Read More
We chose this ship as it was small and seemed an ideal way to visit Croatia. Previous reviews were worrying with comments about smoking on board but this was not a huge problem. The French do smoke out on the decks but not inside. The pomp and ceremony didnt appeal on boarding but it went smoothly. The cabin on deck 4 was fine. Quite compact but a lovely shower with plenty Hermes toiletries replenished daily. Excellent service of the cabin. Nice balcony, comfy bed and very smooth sailing every day for 8 days. There was a single chair and an ottoman if you wanted room service. We used this once, it was ok. The times to eat were quite rigid and we did see crew clearing the food away at the buffet right on deadlines! The bars were fine, lovely crew, drinks and nibbles ok. The cocktail party was a joke. No cocktails in sight just champagne or water. No cocktail food as such, a couple of cooked carrot balls and dried olive inedible pastry. Which brings me to the food. french, we thought it would be a highlight.... breakfast on level 2 was great. Couldnt ask for more, fruit, pastries( they were cold and tired and needed to be reheated) On level 6 it was a buffet free for all. Food difficult to reach and at several stations. Lunch was the same and dinner on level 6. We ate maily on 2, al la carte. Food was plain, steak inedible, vegetables, boiled, reheated, deserts teasteless often. Wine was ok. The food was presented well but the taste was a total let down. As for Croatia. If you dont like smoking beware. Montenegro smoking inside cafes etc. people quite friendly, time ashore was enough. The day in Split, walking to the old town was terrible via a chaotic port. Dubrovnik, lovely. We found the crew very friendly and helpful. Most were French, rest were from USA, Uk, Australia. Would we cruise again? No. Mention must also be made of the very poor Ponant online site. We received photocopied docements a weeks before departure with no instructions on how to find the ship in Venice. It leaves from San Basilio. A vaporretto 5.1 will take you there. We found this out ourselves. Ponant offered no information at all in this regard. Entertainment was a small group of excellent dancers each night. We did our own excursions not with a group. Disembarkation was fine Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Ponant met our needs with their short 7 night cruise down the Dalmatian Coast. We had some friends who had taken this cruise and recommended it.Looking back on the experience we would have to say it exceeded their recommendation. Although ... Read More
Ponant met our needs with their short 7 night cruise down the Dalmatian Coast. We had some friends who had taken this cruise and recommended it.Looking back on the experience we would have to say it exceeded their recommendation. Although we only slept there the cabin was excellent, the crew (with one exception) were great, a special mention to the cabin cleaning staff who opened cabin doors with a smile,were always helpful and kept our cabin clean and tidy. The captain was brilliant (the tour of the ships bridge was memorable). Whether it be fine dining or buffet the food was amazing and one of the red wines ( the captains pick?) was a stand out. Special mention to the dining staff and their great sense of humour - great service with a laugh thrown in. In summary a very special experience and yes we would take another cruise with Ponant in a heartbeat. Well done guys. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Unlike other reviewers, I was very pleased with my time spent aboard the Le Lyrial. The entire crew was very personable and took care of my every need. I found it amazing how the cleaning staff mysteriously appeared to clean my cabin ... Read More
Unlike other reviewers, I was very pleased with my time spent aboard the Le Lyrial. The entire crew was very personable and took care of my every need. I found it amazing how the cleaning staff mysteriously appeared to clean my cabin and turn down my bed at night. My omelets were cooked to perfection every morning and there was an abundant selection of entrees at the buffet. Yes some were better than others but there was quite an assortment to choose from. You could also dine out on the deck. The restaurant Le Celeste was a formal sit down restaurant and offered French cuisine. I had some of the best Vodka tonics onboard and the wine flowed freely and far from undrinkable as stated by others. On so many occasions our Captain, Regis Daumesnil, helped us board the tender for shore excursions or greeted us as we returned to the ship. He was very hands on and personable. My only complaint was that I purchased a CD "The Best of Croatia" and when I tried to play it, it was blank. That was my only disappointment. I am hoping I can be sent a replacement. The ship was nicely appointed and I would travel again with this line. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was the second cruise that we did on Le Lyrial ( Ponant ) . All of our needs were taken care of by a very professional staff and crew . We had an excellent cabin ( # 614) that was very close to one of the restaurants and the swimming ... Read More
This was the second cruise that we did on Le Lyrial ( Ponant ) . All of our needs were taken care of by a very professional staff and crew . We had an excellent cabin ( # 614) that was very close to one of the restaurants and the swimming deck . We enjoyed the buffet restaurant on the sixth level for lunch and dinner and were able to make an advance reservation at a certain table each evening for dinner . The service by the staff at this restaurant was excellent . We participated in four excursions that included the waterfall tour , sailing , kayaking and a walking tour . Each excursion had great guides and were well worth the extra money . We stayed in Venice for three nights and thought it was very crowded , hot and very expensive to get to and from the airport and the cruise terminal . Ponant did a very nice job in setting up our itinerary with very good guides . Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Our first consideration was to visit places we had chosen in the Adriatic. Not all of our needs could be met wiht any of the cruise options we explored and narrowed it down to a number of cruise providers that best met our needs. We were ... Read More
Our first consideration was to visit places we had chosen in the Adriatic. Not all of our needs could be met wiht any of the cruise options we explored and narrowed it down to a number of cruise providers that best met our needs. We were not familiar with some of the stops on this cruise but were prepared to accept those offered as good examples of the Croatian coast and towns. A second consideration was the size of the ship. We wanted to travel on a smaller vessel that was large enough too provide a high level of comfort and service but small enough to enable easy access in ports. We had travelled on a large ship previously and wanted to avoid queues and delays in the various ports we visited. A third consideration was the all inclusive price. The ease of attending the restaurants and bars without having to consider budget was important. When travelling with a group of friends the release from worrying about whether your preferences will weigh more heavily on a restaurant or bar bill makes the experience more relaxing. Our experience was that all of our needs were met on Le Lyrial. Of particular note was the quality of service provided by the friendly crew. In the short time we were on board we got to know a number of the wait and bar staff by first name. We also attended an informative, interesting and at times humourous presentation on navigation provided by the captain. We also noted that the captain took his turn as crew on the vessel taking guests ashore on one of the visits. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Dalmatian coast on the Ponant ship Le Lyrial. Food and service: fair to poor. Wine: poor. No choice at dinner: 1 red, 1 white, 1 rose. All wines were French for the entire cruise. Whites were undrinkable. Outdoor furniture in common areas: ... Read More
Dalmatian coast on the Ponant ship Le Lyrial. Food and service: fair to poor. Wine: poor. No choice at dinner: 1 red, 1 white, 1 rose. All wines were French for the entire cruise. Whites were undrinkable. Outdoor furniture in common areas: poor and most uncomfortable (no cushions). Westin hotel dinner: poor. Cabins: small. Shows were poor. Singers were very good. We enjoyed the ports however don't sail on Ponant. We chose this cruise for the ports, and booked through Tauck. Departed Venice on May 24, 2018. Cleanliness, laundry and room staff all OK. Dance lessons were good. Only one type of beer available in the restaurant. Waiters were friendly but service was poor. We were a couple and looking to sit with other people for dinners. Maitre d' was unable to help us and in fact did nothing. Champagne was not drinkable - tasted off. Boutique was very expensive. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
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
This back to back cruise was my fourth with Ponant and as on previous cruises, I enjoyed myself immensely. The wonderful ship, the staff, who did everything to ensure a leisurely, safe and carefree cruise......it just all fitted. The food ... Read More
This back to back cruise was my fourth with Ponant and as on previous cruises, I enjoyed myself immensely. The wonderful ship, the staff, who did everything to ensure a leisurely, safe and carefree cruise......it just all fitted. The food was delicious and offered great variety; even for a vegetarian like me. I would also like to mention the cleanliness in the cabin as well as all over the ship and especially the friendliness of the staff. The shore excursions were always very well organized with English - and French speaking guides. Thanks to the cruise designer I found the excursions interesting and always very informative. In most cases, except maybe once or twice, there was plenty of time to get the maximum enjoyment out of the excursions. Although I travel on my own, there was always a lot of diversion in the form of entertainment and activities on and off the ship. To sum it up, the whole fortnight was again a great, unforgettable experience for me and I hope to be on board of "Le Lyrial" or any other of Ponant´s ships very soon. Since I travel on my own, I would appreciate maybe more cruise-choises without single supplement. This is also the wish of some friends of mine, who also usually travel on their own. Thanks again to everybody at Ponant who is involved in making these cruises so wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Our cruise on the Le Lyrial was quite enjoyable with great food and wine. The Asian crew made sure you had everything that you wanted without a fuss to make sure that you enjoyed your time on board. Saying this I have to say that ... Read More
Our cruise on the Le Lyrial was quite enjoyable with great food and wine. The Asian crew made sure you had everything that you wanted without a fuss to make sure that you enjoyed your time on board. Saying this I have to say that the Cruise Director, Guest Relation Manager and Shorex Manager were extremely rude young women who would only speak to you if you were french. One of these women was not going to listen to me until I said (are you gong to listen to my complaint - twice). There was no organisation for tours going ashore and one day the Shorex Manager was yelling at people asking where to go to meet the tour guide. Meals at dinner in the Le Celeste was very rushed. Entre plate taken and one swoop next dish placed in front of you at the same for the next course. Ponant is having four new ships delivered in the next two years and that means more english speaking people therefore Ponant needs to have all French staff except other languages. Read Less
Sail Date May 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
A very enjoyable cruise on a well presented and managed ship. My wife has been reluctant to cruise and this was her first. At the end of the cruise she was speaking about the next. What made this very enjoyable was the small ship ... Read More
A very enjoyable cruise on a well presented and managed ship. My wife has been reluctant to cruise and this was her first. At the end of the cruise she was speaking about the next. What made this very enjoyable was the small ship concept which made for a very pleasant uncrowded time on-board ship - we had 240 passengers with all cabins taken. A good mix of nationalities. The staff were attentive and efficient. As you would expect from a French ship the food was excellent and lived up to what you would expect from any good French restaurant. While the whole ship had an open bar, the selection of French wines in the restaurants could have been better. The ship's public areas were well appointed and not crowded. The cabin was spacious, modern and well appointed with a very usable balcony. The on-shore excursions were well organised and informative. Of course, there were some ports where doing your own thing was appealing. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This APT tour from June 14-30 on the new Le Lyrial French ship with city stays in Venice & Istanbul was a disaster from beginning to end. At $2000/day for my wife and me, the trip was plagued by one issue after another. The Venice City ... Read More
This APT tour from June 14-30 on the new Le Lyrial French ship with city stays in Venice & Istanbul was a disaster from beginning to end. At $2000/day for my wife and me, the trip was plagued by one issue after another. The Venice City stay was poor value. Three ports, Korcula, Otranto & Mytilini were cut due to time moored at a Trogir ship yard to repair damage caused by a collision with the Split Wharf and then a refusal by the port authority in Otranto to allow tendering to shore in choppy but not insurmountable conditions. This was then exacerbated by a fouled anchor which prevented the ship calling into Corfu as a belated alternative to Otranto. There were other issues such as an exceedingly poor attitude , organisational inefficiency and unresponsiveness by the APT Cruise Director over much of the early part of the holiday. It was generally felt that this trip was well below previous experience with APT and certainly not worth the $2000/day cost per couple to most of the passengers. It failed in almost all respects to live up to what was promised in the glossy APT brochure and other material which promoted the expectation that smaller ships can dock at more wharfs and visit attractive smaller places and enable ready access to and from the ship instead of having to line up for the tender to shore. Although the ship and cabins were lovely, the cuisine and beverages were no better than what we've experienced on Holland America and inferior to that on a Hurtigruten cruise down the coast of Norway. In summary, it's such a pity that this trip fell way short in almost all respects from everybody's expectations and prior experience and no doubt all passengers are awaiting a more formal and satisfactory response from APT than the paltry $500/cabin credit that's been offered to date. Read Less
Sail Date June 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
Le Soleil is beautiful. It has everything going for it, except the food. Considering this is a French company we were expecting more, a lot more. The Chef de Cuisine, introduced to all at the welcome reception on the pool deck, was French ... Read More
Le Soleil is beautiful. It has everything going for it, except the food. Considering this is a French company we were expecting more, a lot more. The Chef de Cuisine, introduced to all at the welcome reception on the pool deck, was French but I am not sure how many others were French and know that a good number were not European. The main courses were regularly bland, lacking in appearance and in taste. There were common grumbles that the food was adequate at best but lacked any wow, ever. Too many times the hot food was served tepid and it was almost impossible to get a properly hot tea or coffee. Embarkation was not comfortable. The scheduled time was 4pm and guests were gathering before that. In our case from 3:30 directly from the airport to the port. It was a very hot day. The shed was not air-conditioned and had no facilities except a soft drinks machine that did not work. The staff sat at their desks looking at us standing around, some passengers forming lines, but not until the dot of 4:00pm did they begin to process embarkation. Not cool. There were good points. Announcements were in English and French and given equal time. We were never sure if the Cruise Director was an Englishman who spoke very good French or vice versa. The staff were uniformly friendly, cheerful and helpful, the Captain was out and about all over the ship, approachable, and his open bridge policy was appreciated. We have never before experienced such a silent, vibration-free ship when underway. It was modern propulsion at its outstanding best. Shore excursions seemed expensive but nearly everyone thinks that whichever cruise they are on. The Croatian ports are delightful. The piece-de-resistance was to be Dubrovnik, the Queen of the Dalmatian coast. It turned out to be the worst. Not the ship's fault. It is not a big town and there were at least four other cruise ships there at the same time. We were not sure how many because Soleil, due to it's smaller size, was able to anchor in the old harbour where we could quickly tender ashore while the mega ships moored somewhere else out of our sight. Ashore, the crowds were impossible and it was raining as well. With hundreds of umbrellas up in narrow streets I thought I was lucky not to loose an eye and we fled back to the ship. I have heard that the savvy cruises now call in late in the day for an overnight that presents an empty pleasant stopover. Something Ponant might consider for next season. For a ship claiming this rating they should be doing a lot better in the galley then they can have all the stars. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
On its website the company promotes this ship in a manner which is quite misleading and leaves one very disappointed. In particular: “The Art of cruising A la Francaise”, “exquisite dining with French cuisine” “our gourmet ... Read More
On its website the company promotes this ship in a manner which is quite misleading and leaves one very disappointed. In particular: “The Art of cruising A la Francaise”, “exquisite dining with French cuisine” “our gourmet cuisine is worthy of top fine dining restaurants “, “French chic and elegance” “Crew members, all versed in elegant discretion” “fully bilingual service on board”, Well, the truth is quite different. Excepted for a handful of French officers, rarely seen about, and the small number of French bartenders, the majority of the crew was Asian. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, except in that this lot, whilst very nice and friendly, where mostly poorly trained, disorganised, but worse of all spoke little English or French. And yes they were discreet, but only because communication was difficult. There was a little or poor supervision of the staff in the dining rooms. Some of the food was delicious, but mostly hit and miss, and often very disappointing. No comparison to fine dining restaurants. The ship was beautiful, but a number of passengers were complaining as they were sleeping on convertible sofa beds, as their cabin was actually the living room component of a suite transformed into a cabin. The entertainment was second rate.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
The week got off to an inauspicious start. The instructions sent by Ponant for passengers arriving in their own car at the port of Venice turned out to be misleading and the cause of frustration and delay. Our spirits picked up when we ... Read More
The week got off to an inauspicious start. The instructions sent by Ponant for passengers arriving in their own car at the port of Venice turned out to be misleading and the cause of frustration and delay. Our spirits picked up when we were shown to our cabin (deluxe suite) which was comfortable and very adequate for a week long cruise. Any euphoria was soon dispelled the first night at dinner. We were told we could only sit with other groups throughout the cruise. On expressing surprise, the dining manage told us "Don't blame me, blame the ship's designers". The food offered was, at best, bland and, at worst, barely edible. It was suggested we might like to move to the buffet restaurant, where we offered cold rib of beef. When I asked that same evening if we could disembark and leave the cruise at the next port of call, our concerns began to be taken seriously. In fact, we were well looked after for the rest of the voyage, including being offered a table for two every meal time. Unfortunately, the food remained mediocre and uninspiring. Perhaps our expectations of the cuisine on a French ship were too high. There was a very large Tauck contingent on the cruise. Every evening they completely took over the bar prior to dinner; it was suggested that "we might like to take our cocktails in our cabin". We felt we were on a Tauck cruise. The little enjoyment we got from the cruise was due to the very friendly and helpful dining and bar staff.......and gorgeous weather during the whole week. Read Less
Sail Date September 2012
I have to confess that I am not easy to please so when I read some of the previous reviews of the L'Austral to the Dalmatian Coast, I was nervous. I have been across the Atlantic many times, including the SS France, and on one cruise ... Read More
I have to confess that I am not easy to please so when I read some of the previous reviews of the L'Austral to the Dalmatian Coast, I was nervous. I have been across the Atlantic many times, including the SS France, and on one cruise line and have to say this was as good as it gets for this size ship/crew. The service was perfect, the food excellent and the attention to detail (eg not waking everybody on the ship to announce the daily tours at 8:00 am) help with whatever you needed and including moving your table the next night from very loud neighbors. There was a Tauk group on the ship but we never even noticed that it was there except we were told...certainly no preferential treatment. This cruise was perfect for US...we weren't looking for night life etc. The cabins are small but extremely efficient and we didn't even use all our drawer space. On the negative side, the internet is ridiculously expensive and for me a bit difficult to navigate. On the whole, our ship mates ages were from late 40's to 70's. A well dressed, sophisticated group of travelers, primarily in the 60's group. Many French, many Australians. I hesitate to even write this review as I think the reviews are catching on and it will be more and more difficult to book on this and other Ponant cruises for Americans as word gets out across the ocean. We're already working on another. Hope this reassure those of you have already booked. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
In a word, our experience on L'Austral was exceptional. We just got back from a 10 day cruise from Venice to Athens. As hospitality professionals, we immediately recognized and appreciated the elegant quality of the ship, attention to ... Read More
In a word, our experience on L'Austral was exceptional. We just got back from a 10 day cruise from Venice to Athens. As hospitality professionals, we immediately recognized and appreciated the elegant quality of the ship, attention to detail, excellent selection of food, and high standard of customer service. We decided to book a prestige suite which turned out to be worth it as it was extremely comfortable and kept immaculately clean by the attentive staff. The bed and pillows were so comfortable my husband and I hadn't slept that well in quite awhile. The views from our double balcony were breathtaking. Fortunately our cabin was on the port side of the ship which faced the gorgeous Adriatic coastline. As a first time cruiser I suddenly knew why some people love cruises so much. We absolutely loved the relatively small size of L'Austral. It made for an intimate atmosphere and yet we had lots of privacy when we felt like it. We looked forward, a little too much, to our meals in one of the two dining rooms each day. On deck 2 the formal dining room has a daily four course dinner menu with various choices of delicious, beautifully presented dishes served by a team of hard-working and always friendly waiters. Lunch was a different theme each day. One day on deck 6 they had a huge bucket of fresh oysters which were being cracked open as we watched! Breakfast was also perfectly complete from steaming coffee to fresh croissants, and the whole nine yards for those who felt like it. The staff also went out of their way when we had some special food requests. English and French were spoken interchangeably. Although I speak a fair amount of French, I mostly spoke English and had no problem whatsoever. They were so genuinely helpful and professional, it felt like leaving old friends at the end of our cruise. We really enjoyed the itinerary. Croatia is absolutely lovely, and we are now officially in love with the Greek islands we visited, the Greek people, and of course, the Greek food. Conclusion, after weeks of planning and wondering if we had made the right choice, L'Austral turned out to be such a perfect fit for us that, you guessed it, we are already planning our next cruise to Asia with Le Ponant cruise line. Thank you to everyone who made this the best trip of our lives so far. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Maybe after the first 2 voyages the crew of L'Austral gelled, because the previous reviews were nothing like the experience we had. Took the cruise from Venice to the Dalmatian Coast and one day was more spectacular than the next. The ... Read More
Maybe after the first 2 voyages the crew of L'Austral gelled, because the previous reviews were nothing like the experience we had. Took the cruise from Venice to the Dalmatian Coast and one day was more spectacular than the next. The cabin may have been small, but luxurious, clean and comfortable. The dining hall was elegant and the meals spectacular. The outdoor grill was more modest and the food not as good, but offered a change of atmosphere. There were plenty of activities to keep you busy and private space was readily available. Excursions appealed to the sporty-types and the tourists; something for everyone. The incredible staff and the personal care shown by the ship's captain was truly unique. We just happened to take the "Family Cruise" and, although we didn't have children, this added to the fun. I'm assuming that mostly adults choose this cruise at other times and may not be appropriate for kids. Lastly, everyone on board, crew and guests, spoke English, but this is a French line and French is the dominant language. We found that this added to the exotic nature of the trip, but some may find this difficult. L'Austral was like spending time on a private yacht with a knowledgeable crew and great new friends; elegant, relaxing and memorable. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We have just undertaken a cruise on L'Austral from Venice to Croatia and back to Venice. We were very excited to go on such a brand new ship. We stayed in a normal cabin while our friends booked the owner's suite. Hopefully they ... Read More
We have just undertaken a cruise on L'Austral from Venice to Croatia and back to Venice. We were very excited to go on such a brand new ship. We stayed in a normal cabin while our friends booked the owner's suite. Hopefully they will write their review but they spent many hours talking to the hotel manager about things that were unacceptable. For me the outstanding point was that it was like walking into an old age home! There were no children or anyone under 50 years of age. I would recommend anyone younger to check first what the composition of the cruise passengers is like. The cabins are very small and the double bed occupies most of the room. Our room had only a shower and no bath. Service levels in general were not great. While the food was generally very good the service in the main dining room was shocking. The few waiters could not cope and we waited very long for our food. We eventually booked dinner in the buffet restaurant on deck 6 to avoid the long waiting. The 2 nights that there were cocktail functions before dinner with the captain and then dinner for everyone in the same restaurant were chaos. Also the Tauck group seemed to get preferential bookings at dinner and special functions where bars were closed for their functions. I found that totally unacceptable as I was a fully paying passenger! Croatia is beautiful but my impression was that the excursions off the boat were very expensive. We took one cycling excursion near Dubrovnik which cost Euro 75 per person and which was certainly not worth that amount. We ended up renting cars on our own in the other locations and definitely saved money doing that. All in all for me the cruise did not live up to the expectations created the brochure and I probably will not go on another Ponant cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
We were disappointed in our cruise from Venice along the Croatian coast This brand new ship was elegant and comfortable though not without its design faults. This ship would suit people who speak french. The announcements were all made in ... Read More
We were disappointed in our cruise from Venice along the Croatian coast This brand new ship was elegant and comfortable though not without its design faults. This ship would suit people who speak french. The announcements were all made in French first and then when English was spoken you had to listen very carefully to understand their accents. It felt as though for every 5 minutes of french spoken only 1 minute of English was spoken during the announcements. There was a large group of TAUCK travellers (+- 130) and a group of French (60+). The ship accommodates 260 passengers. These groups enjoyed "Happy Hour" and cocktail parties that excluded the other passengers. I found the food very bland. The "Welcome" and "Farewell" dinners were both on nights that the ship was in port. The casino remained closed as we were never far away enough from the coast for it to open. There were no children and there was no happy holiday vibe I have experienced on other cruises. The dining area outside the buffet restaurant was always covered with water from the pool as the slope was incorrect (design error) and we could not sit there. The railing around the other outside seating area was not see trough and when sitting down we enjoyed no view of the sea at all. The large bed in the cabin took up most of the space and the cabin would have felt cramped if we had not had a very nice balcony. The itinerary was fabulous and the ports were all very enjoyable.Embarkation was great as we were greeted with umbrellas on the gang way and offered warm towels to wipe our hands. Disembarkation was also fine. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
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