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10 Night Antarctica Cruise from Ushuaia

10 Night Antarctica Cruise from Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego)

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  • Day 1
    Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego)
  • Day 2
    Drake Passage
  • Day 3
    Drake Passage
  • Day 4
  • Day 5
  • Day 6
  • Day 7
  • Day 8
  • Day 9
    Drake Passage
  • Day 10
    Drake Passage
  • Day 11
    Ushuaia (Tierra del Fuego)


L'Austral - Ponant


All cabins have outside views and itineraries maximize time on land


Bedroom layouts make rooms seem even smaller; limited storage space

Bottom Line

Choose L'Austral for its adventurous itineraries and upscale vibe

Cruise Reviews

We planned the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica on Ponant, impressed with reviews, the small size of the ship and everything French about it. We had no idea that the trip would be memorable in more ways than one. We had an amazing 15 days ... Read More
We planned the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica on Ponant, impressed with reviews, the small size of the ship and everything French about it. We had no idea that the trip would be memorable in more ways than one. We had an amazing 15 days at sea, with highlights including stops along the Peninsula and South Georgia Island with surprise stops at the international research station (because a passenger had to be medically evacuated from its airstrip) and King Haakon Bay because winds were in our favor. The naturalists were brilliant and the crew was completely attentive. But it was our captain Stanislas Devorsine who showed his skill, not just through the notorious Drake Passage, but at the end of the cruise when he was told the government of Uruguay was not going to allow us to disembark because of closing its ports--even though we were all healthy. After unsuccessful negotiations, Ponant and the French government coordinated with various ambassadors representing the nationalities onboard and switched efforts to Argentina. Again a "no." The plan was then to sail north, to Rio to at least refuel and reassess. Through the 10-day situation, the captain kept us completely informed, had everyone's health checked daily and held meetings to keep our spirits up. When Brazil unexpectedly said yes, Ponant negotiated to get everyone flights home and transport us to the Rio airport, vowing we were not going to get off the ship without a guarantee of repatriation. Many cruise lines do an excellent job, but the real test is how they respond to a global calamity. We continue to read about horror stories onboard other lines and consider ourselves so lucky that we chose Ponant. Read Less
Sail Date February 2020
We chose the cruise to the Arctic because the ship was supposed to be small. I made a mistake and thought it was 128 passengers. It was 128 cabins. In the arctic and antarctic only 100 passengers can be on shore at any time so ships should ... Read More
We chose the cruise to the Arctic because the ship was supposed to be small. I made a mistake and thought it was 128 passengers. It was 128 cabins. In the arctic and antarctic only 100 passengers can be on shore at any time so ships should be no more than 100 passengers to get the experience. All shore experiences except one were worthless wastes of time. More on that later. We called Ponant a week and a half before the trip began to get the flight itinerary because they neglected to send it to us in advance. They neglected to include the last page which had the flights from Paris to Spitsbergen. We discovered that the day before the flight and went nuts trying to find the flight because Ponant was closed as it was Saturday. We finally found the flight because there was only one flight from DeGaulle that day. The ship needed a refit. Paint was missing and it just was a bit worn out. The first day we had a safety briefing. They brought everyone into the theater and said if we had to abandon ship we would be told what to do. BAD The food was tasteless although it really looked nice on the plate. The service was not very good. Many of the wait staff were trained to not look at you so if you wanted something it did not happen for a while. We think they put sleepy dust in the food because there was virtually nothing to do on the ship except watch the scenery go by. After every meal we were so tired we went to our cabin and slept even after breakfast. The few other english speaking passengers agreed. There were 30 english speakers and 200 non english speakers. The crew spoke marginal Franglish and the Captain was not even good at Franglish. The few english speaking crew agreed. There we about four lectures two which were by english speakers. They were OK. The excursions off the ship were very short as there were so many passengers that we had to go in groups and there was not much to see. We expected animals and birds but there was not much of either. The piece de resistance was the film that they were peddling about the things we saw. What the crew did was send video crews on zodiacs when animals were sighted and they took videos up close to the animals to sell to the passengers as a memento of the trip. We did not get closer than a mile from the animals but the video showed them up close. A huge waste of a week. There are no guarantees of seeing animals in the arctic but to sell that video was a big huge fraud. We did see walrus but the crew kept us far away on the shore excursion. Nothing like going to the Antarctic. The cabin was OK. We have had much better elsewhere. After the second day we were so upset about the cruise that my wife went to the cruise director and was not given much satisfaction. We wanted to leave but that was not possible. Even the english speaking crew said she was a witch. Many of the excursions off the boat were to small towns with not much to see. Others were just a walk on the sea ice and champagne and then back on the ship. If you want to go on an expedition go on a small ship, one hundred passengers or less. We have been to the Antarctic on a 75 passenger ship and it was spectacular. Shore excursions were as long as we wanted to stay. We have been on other small ship expeditions in Chile and Galapagos and plan one in Western Australia. This ship was a bust and a waste of $20,000. You can be sure we will never travel with Ponant again. Be careful. They have a new icebreaker ship which is even more expensive but it has over 300 passengers. It will be a boat ride and nothing more. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
First of all, on our many cruises we've never had such a warm and fuzzy crew, we felt like part of an extended family, and it was genuine. The crew actually bids to come back to the same ship because they like being around each other. ... Read More
First of all, on our many cruises we've never had such a warm and fuzzy crew, we felt like part of an extended family, and it was genuine. The crew actually bids to come back to the same ship because they like being around each other. We never witnessed grouchiness or tension among the staff, in definite contrast to the larger cruise ships we've been on in the past. The service was hence over the top. Perhaps it was just our L'Austral crew, but e.g. the front desk ladies were amazing, juggling all day in at least 2 languages, and manning the reception 24/7. Always friendly with a smile, and anything we asked for was done, taken care of or checked on with efficiency. We never felt 'second class' by not being French, and 99% of the French passengers were very friendly once you tried a few words in French.. I think sometimes people get insecure and appear standoffish until you get to know them a little. Due to the itinerary, we had a significant number of Aussies, Germans, Austrians, some Brits, someone from Iceland, and a handful of Americans. Several multilingual passengers, and an unusually high number of solo travelers. That being said, it does help to speak French, since the naturalists, cruise director etc are all native French people, and not every joke or comment can be translated properly into English. All announcements were always in both French and English. The captain was very involved and you seemed to run into him often. He was there, coming in another Zodiac when ours had engine problems, always ready to help out. He navigated that vessel safely and very smoothly. His background is commanding icebreakers, so a transatlantic is probably much easier work for him. Overall recommendations: Although there's 3 elevators, they don't reach everything, for example the marina. Not a good ship for wheelchair, crutches, or walker. Cane may be okay if you can negotiate 1-2 flights of stairs. Currency on board is Euro, but you can settle your account in USD, and if you book a future cruise on board, the quote can be done in either currency. The onboard boutique/store does NOT have sunscreen, nail clippers, antacids... so don't forget those. They have mostly clothing, a few gifts, small amount of jewelry and handbags. Most of the clothing is for use in Antarctica. All high quality (mostly made in France and Germany), and thus pricey. If you wish to leave tips, you have to have cash. Unlike on other cruise ships, where you can add a tip to your bill, you can't do that on Ponant. The services in the spa already include a service charge. Food/drink: Be prepared to gain weight - we felt like Thanksgiving turkeys.. especially the desserts are too delicious to pass up, plus they have daily varying homemade gelato.. ugh. The pastry chef is top notch, French of course. And then the cheeses...! Our ship wasn't full, so during the first 2 weeks, dinner was either buffet on 6, or sit down on 2, and lunch was only buffet. You can always get coffee drinks, croissants and fruit in the main lounge on 3 in the a.m., and coffee/tea with some type of goodie from 4pm-5pm, main lounge as well. Open bar using decent brands, top shelf is extra. Their champagne is pretty good, and on certain occasions, Veuve Cliquot comes out. House wines red/white/rosé are overall decent. If you like beer, you'll be probably disappointed. Mostly Heineken, and e.g. Corona amazingly has to be paid for. Main dishes range from okay to superb - it really depends who's cooking and what. The mostly Indonesian crew is of course best at fish etc, even room service fish was fantastic. The Peruvian carving chef was amazing. Lamb most of the time was awesome. Be aware most of their beef and pork meats (roast, loin etc) are cooked 'rare' and are quite fatty. Room service club sandwich was the best sandwich we've ever had, period. Now if you can't find anything to strike your fancy, just talk to the restaurant head guy or directly to the chefs, they will come up with something for you. Spa/fitness: actually got a haircut, Elsa was very good and took a whole hour, only 65Euro. The hammam looked nice, very hot in there and we were in the tropics, so didn't use. Fitness center looked nice, mostly deserted. The saltwater pool is a decent size for a small ship, due to internal ramp you can't swim laps but it's nice to hang out or tread water. As far as the itinerary - the Brazilian government has now banned all non-Brazilian vessels from anchoring off Fernando de Noronha. It was quite a bummer, but nothing could be done about it. We received 250Euro onboard credit each as a compensation. OB credit can't be used for future cruise deposit, certain visas they arrange for you, or tips as I mentioned above. Since basically everything is already included, we "had to" shop at the boutique, DH got a real Panama Hat and I bought an Icebreaker vest and 2 Breton sweaters, nice souvenirs! Brazil: Rio - loved it and will try to return Paraty - very quaint, difficult walking on cobblestones, not touristy, and no public RR Salvador - broke my heart to see how they let their city deteriorate in so many ways.. even in the public market prostitution was going on. Very sad. Recife/Olinda - Would love to return to see the Olinda Carnaval. We had dancers from Olinda come to the ship to present a show and they were spectacular. Olinda walking tours are quite the workout walking steep hills in high heat and humidity. Guinea-Bissau, Bijagos Islands There was a couple (he French, she Portuguese) who lives on Keré Island, who acted as cultural intermediaries. Our naturalists came from Antarctica and that's where their expertise lies, not Africa, so they did not have much information. Honestly, most of my information was from documentaries I had found online at home, prior to the voyage. The Islands are definitely not touristy (there's rarely a ferry from Bissau), most of the village inhabitants are very reserved and do not interact. It appears they asked a couple of women to put on their 'good dress' and sit by the walking trail, so people could get their selfies with a person from Bijagos. I felt we were being intrusive overall, although I understand they authorized the visit and Ponant helps finance e.g. a water well etc for the villages. If you're a snorkeler/diver, this is not your spot, water murky with very low visibility. Sadly, we saw almost no wildlife, wrong season, normally there are lot of birds, hippos etc. Senegal-Dakar Well, we spent the day at an African family's B&B in Dougar, 45 min E of Dakar, and about 20min from the new airport. We booked through airbnb.com and they reconciled us with Senegal. Before we arrived there, I couldn't get out of Dakar fast enough, between peddlers, noise, the smell of urine, Sahara dust, and traffic insanities... Considering you don't wait in line for anything except the Zodiac embarkations, and the whole ambiance, it's definitely a luxury line and we're glad we chose this trip. Regardless of the itinerary glitches, we enjoyed ourselves and were thoroughly relaxed, so we booked another/ future cruise onboard, which will be on one of the sister ships. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
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