1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Ponant
  4. Le Soleal Review
  5. Le Soleal Cruise Reviews

29 Ponant Le Soleal Luxury 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 enjoyed everything on this cruise. Everything went really well and smoothly, from embarkation to disembarkation, there were no problems, delays or issues with anything. We choose the pre-cruise package and it was great because ... Read More
I enjoyed everything on this cruise. Everything went really well and smoothly, from embarkation to disembarkation, there were no problems, delays or issues with anything. We choose the pre-cruise package and it was great because everything was organised and we were able to meet some of the passengers the day before the cruise started. The ship is very confortable and the common areas and the cabin were in very good conditions, the decor is lovely and looks like new. The cabin was really comfortable, very warm and had everything we needed - it is not very spacious, but had everything needed - the towels were super fluffy! Food and drink were excellent, and there was a lot of variety everyday. The daily schedule was really well organised, and between landings, lectures and briefings we were kept busy. The destination is truly incredible and difficult to describe, and the captain and expedition leader took every opportunity to make the most of it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Ponant markets itself as a luxury expedition cruiseline but it does not meet expectations on either account. Most other cruiselines offer at least similar or better levels of comfort, food and service, apart from the limited open bar. ... Read More
Ponant markets itself as a luxury expedition cruiseline but it does not meet expectations on either account. Most other cruiselines offer at least similar or better levels of comfort, food and service, apart from the limited open bar. Although the overall appearance of the ships is attractive some of the cabins are not particularly well-designed, having for example, only a narrow hanging space for a wardrobe. With only one chair In some, room service is not really an option. As for the expedition claim, Ponant ships carry far more pasengers - over 230 on Le Soleal - than expedtion companies such as Aurora, Coral Expeditions, Orion or True North. Smaller numbers of passengers means easier logistics and a more personal experience. The main drawback with Ponant is its pricing. You are paying a premium for the marketing claims which cannot be justified. If cost is not a concern then by all means go with Ponant. You will have a pleasant trip but it will not be good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Our long awaited and much anticipated Northwest Passage trip has ended and will long be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Inputing required information into Ponant’s website before the trip was frustratingly difficult and ... Read More
Our long awaited and much anticipated Northwest Passage trip has ended and will long be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Inputing required information into Ponant’s website before the trip was frustratingly difficult and generally only remedied by Sydney’s staff. Thank you to all who assisted. The required medical information was widely regarded by GPs and fellow travellers as an invasion of privacy. Our travels to Antarctica onboard MV Orion in 2007 and a previous 42-day Arctic expedition cruise aboard MV Silver Explorer in 2013 did not require such detailed information, simply evidence of travel insurance that included repatriation from remote areas. And then there were the charter flights. Check-in at Charles de Gaulle airport was an absolute shambles. Many, if not most, passengers had arrived long before the Ponant representative and located a Ponant banner near gates 50-51. Nobody was aware that there were two charter flights, the other check-in being on the opposite side of the terminal at gates 1-2. Much cross-terminal activity ensued as people realised they were in the wrong queues! My partner and I were allocated the Trade Air flight that used a Fokker 100 aircraft. The aircraft was not designed to carry a full economy-class passenger load with everyone having hold-stowed baggage, and consequently some baggage was loaded into some of the toilets at the captain’s suggestion. That carrier has been cited on previous occasions for regulatory breaches, according to internet entries, and this was possibly another. Being a charter flight we parked remotely from the terminal in Copenhagen and much of the baggage was offloaded into open baggage-carts in a downpour. Some passengers reported their baggage was sodden upon retrieval. Transferring to the Air Greenland commercial flight was another exercise involving a very long walk with little guidance. A couple of quick-thinking passengers were able to pay for a business-class upgrade, while most of us continued to languish in economy. Upon arrival in Kangerlussuaq we were directed to board coaches for the transfer to the ship. Nobody bothered to inform us, until asked, about what was to happen to our luggage....it was collected in bulk and transferred (successfully) to the ship. The reception on boarding the ship, was adequate but not exceptional, particularly as it was close to midnight when we boarded. Our cabin, 528, was tiny with no under-bed storage for luggage and was apparently designed as the sitting-room to the adjoining cabin 526, to which it had a connecting door for use when both cabins were sold as one suite. It was a similar story for other cabins on deck 5, some with under-bed storage, others without. Within the cabin, the bathroom and toilet doors opened outwards into the entrance passageway, as did the wardrobe doors. Open one door but beware opening another as they clashed with one another. Inexplicably, the shower door opened inwards to the stall and if anyone fell while in the shower and could not pick themselves up, access for assistants would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, without demolishing the screens. Compactness was also a feature of both restaurants, with tables very close together hampering access for both passengers and waiters. Both restaurants were badly under-staffed, with waiters having too many tables to look after and also doubling as wine waiters. Under these very trying circumstances, the waiters did the best they could, but lengthy delays were normal. The bars were also understaffed. Some food items and beverages ran very low, with some items completely exhausted within 10 days of the start of a 23 day cruise! Somebody needs to answer for that. The much-hyped French cuisine was disappointing, with a preponderance of fish on the dinner menu. The cruise proceeded much as advertised until it was announced that we would be unable to transit the Northwest Passage because of the ice conditions in Bellot Strait and further west. That decision was based on ice charts and forecasts available before we had even set sail from Kangerlussuaq on the cruise, and that changed little as the cruise progressed. We were initially offered early disembarkation (at Pond Inlet, Canada), an option that a number of us selected, and two other options, each less appealing than the other. Eventually it was decided an early disembarkation would unnecessarily delay the ship sailing north in Baffin Bay on a random itinerary taking us towards the very north of Greenland towards another channel blocked by sea ice, before turning south and returning to Kangerlussuaq by the 18th September, the date we were originally due to disembark in Nome. Mutterings were heard that we’d paid the ransom before we’d been kidnapped! Communications from staff members was poor on many occasions, with the constant changing from French to English difficult to follow. And once the revised itinerary got underway, we were only told on a daily basis what to expect the next day, with nobody sure when we would be back in Kangerlussuaq (17th or 18th, morning or afternoon etc). Eventually we found ourselves back in Kangerlussuaq and the charter flight shambles started all over again. Europeans won the lottery with a short flight back to Paris. The rest of us had to endure a long, uncomfortable economy-class flight all the way to Seattle with a refuelling stop in Buffalo. And finally liberation! We could never, in good conscience, recommend Ponant. As a luxury expedition/cruise line it barely rates a 3, based on this experience. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose Tauck small ship cruises due to reputation. We had a good experience last year on two river cruises. We would not recommend small ship cruises with Tauck. I had written a 5 page letter describing both the good and the bad on ... Read More
We chose Tauck small ship cruises due to reputation. We had a good experience last year on two river cruises. We would not recommend small ship cruises with Tauck. I had written a 5 page letter describing both the good and the bad on two small ship back to back cruises and I received back a one page letter addressing one item. Most group dinners consisted of chicken. Very little choice of local foods since we visited 5 different countries. We drove around after lunch to kill time before going to hotel. VERY boring!. We should have been given a choice of shopping since we were close or go to hotel to wait. the stop At Tallinn was rushed. In Saint Petersburg only overpriced souvenir shops were suggested. Should have gone to a market area and shopped for bargains. Too many people(40) on each excursion trying to meander thru the towns we visited. I had thought Tauck was different using local guides and smaller groups. Other excursions we have been on have larger groups for less money. We did have a good Swedish lunch and a good Russian lunch. Not chicken!! this cruise better than the first one two weeks earlier with Tauck. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We originally choose this Cruise because of the destination, which was on our bucket list, and thankfully because a friend introduced us to Ponant. The cruise was exceptional in every experience, the ship, the cabin, the Captain and ... Read More
We originally choose this Cruise because of the destination, which was on our bucket list, and thankfully because a friend introduced us to Ponant. The cruise was exceptional in every experience, the ship, the cabin, the Captain and crew, the food and beverage, the naturalists and the understated but excellent entertainment. From the time we me some of our fellow travellers at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Buenos Aires until our departure we were continually impressed by the staff management of activities and the friendly co-operation of all guests. All communication was bi-lingual, but very clear and precise. We benefitted by excellent weather which allowed us to pass the Artic/Polar Circle and land and climb Cape Horn which were added bonuses to our planned itinerary. The attention to detail in every aspect safety, service, customer satisfaction was superb. The cruise was everything we hoped for and more with the excersion experiences remaining life memories. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Aside from major customer service issues... number one complaint was the food. Many passengers complained about the food. It was truly shockingly bad. Food was under cooked, over cooked, generally inedible. They served leftover tuna ... Read More
Aside from major customer service issues... number one complaint was the food. Many passengers complained about the food. It was truly shockingly bad. Food was under cooked, over cooked, generally inedible. They served leftover tuna steaks that were shriveled and tough. They served undercooked halibut that was slimy. IT WAS BAD. Couldn't even drink the coffee. It was bitter or burnt - they could not make a proper latte - only tried that a couple times. Truly for the price which was about 43K - this company should be ashamed of themselves. Ashamed. Don't spend so much money and go on a boat that has decent food! We suffered through this for 17 days, as did our fellow passengers. Every single meal and bar conversation had a gripe and complainer about the food. This is inexcusable. I have had better meals in hospitals and airports and from street vendors. This is no exaggeration. Stay away from this boat. The captain was great. One of the naturalists was great. The waiters great. Housekeeping great. The landings were good. One in particular even exceptional. But none of it made up for the food. Would not recommend this boat at all. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, ... Read More
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, luxurious and attentively crewed. Dining choices included the full service restaurant as well as a more casual grill. Live entertainment in the theatre was relaxing and fun and the same venue held briefings and information sessions during the day. Zodiak excursions were well planned and superbly executed by highly trained staff. The spectacular coastal scenery was complemented by lots of sea-ice and great icebergs, as well as penguins, orcas and humpback whales up close and personal. We appreciated the great care taken to preserve the pristine environment when shore excursions occurred, and the opportunity to visit a shore based research station occupied throughout the year. I feel every person on board disembarked both entertained and better informed about one of the world's great wilderness areas. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
I choose this cruise to visit Antarctica. I enjoyed this cruise tremendously. The scenery was breathtaking. The crew was outstanding helping you in every way and enjoying what they do. The cabins were excellent and had plenty of room. The ... Read More
I choose this cruise to visit Antarctica. I enjoyed this cruise tremendously. The scenery was breathtaking. The crew was outstanding helping you in every way and enjoying what they do. The cabins were excellent and had plenty of room. The food was very good. Seeing the penguins, seals and humpback whales made the experience worth while. Getting in and out of the zodiacs was an experience not to be forgotten. The zodiacs got you to the shore where you were able to watch the penguins going about their daily duties of nest sitting and feeding. The males carrying the stones for nest building was very amusing as the females would accept or reject the stones. The humpback whales surfacing within 15 feet of the zodiac was stimulating. The only bad thing about the cruise was the internet charges in an area where the internet was very intermittent. Overall it was an excellent cruise and I will certainly use Ponant as my premier cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 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
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 October 2017
The itinerary was fabulous, with varied and interesting ports of call: Beautiful Stockholm, elegant Helsinki, opulent St Petersburg (3 days), unspoilt Tallin with its exquisite Old Town and lovely local shops, finishing in elegant ... Read More
The itinerary was fabulous, with varied and interesting ports of call: Beautiful Stockholm, elegant Helsinki, opulent St Petersburg (3 days), unspoilt Tallin with its exquisite Old Town and lovely local shops, finishing in elegant Copenhagen. We spent a few days exploring Stockholm prior to departing for the Balic Sea and spent a couple of days in Copenhagen at the end of the cruise. The service was outstanding throughout the entire cruise with smiling helpful staff making you feel very welcome at all times. Much of the crew is from the Philippines with the cruise director and officers mostly being French. Everyone spoke excellent English. Embarkation and disembarkation ran extremely smoothly. The ship's decor is understated and elegant. Its three lounges/theatre allow plenty of room for passengers to relax in common areas and never feel crowded. The more formal restaurant on Deck 2 can seat the entire ship in one sitting. There is no need to book a table and staff will accommodate your wishes to sit alone or with a group. With about half the passengers being French and the other half English, your preferred language and preferred dining companions are taken into consideration when offering you a table for dinner. The more casual buffet and carvery restaurant is on Deck 6 and, despite being more casual, bookings are advised. There is no specific dress code, but smart casual is expected in the dining room. Some passengers choose to dress more formally for the Captain's dinner and most men wear a sports jacket, but many women are in pants. There is certainly no need for formal attire. The food is of excellent quality with a French influence. We loved it. The cabins are located towards the bow of the ship and most common areas towards the stern resulting in no discernible engine noise. Our cabin was well appointed, attractive, very comfortable and spacious, with a king-size bed and excellent storage. A desk, lounge chair and small table were very useful. The floor-ceiling doors leading to the good size balcony were wonderful and you could pull back the drapes and lie in bed and look out at the passing landsccape if you wished. A fabulous lecturer gave extremely informative and entertaining lectures on each port. We didn't pay much attention to the entertainment, choosing instead to chat with fellow passengers in the bar. The spa was wonderful. We would certainly travel with Ponant again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
To discover Antarctica: the wild, the peaceful, the pristine landscapes, the animals, in their very own habitat, and visibly not disturbed by these strange visitors coming from other continents, To do so onboard a small size ship to be ... Read More
To discover Antarctica: the wild, the peaceful, the pristine landscapes, the animals, in their very own habitat, and visibly not disturbed by these strange visitors coming from other continents, To do so onboard a small size ship to be able to go in shore as much as possible around the icebergs and the whales, to enjoy the feeling of being part of a small family (only 200 passengers), to benefit of a strong and caring team of naturalists who were extremely helpful in preparing the visits... And to top it up, to relax in a large, nicely furnished room with a large bed, a balcony... and to enjoy a constantly amazingly good food, and good wines. What else? Very friendly staff, always ready to help. Excellent service at the various bars and restaurants. State of cleanliness very much OK. And I appreciated as well the availability and dedication of the Captain and of the Cruise Director who did everything in their power to make our cruise a memorable one, probably the "cruise of my life"... Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
Antarctica had been on my bucket list for years, and I finally made that dram a reality in December 2016. It was an amazing voyage, and lived up to the high expectations I had planted in my mind. Travelers should realize that when you ... Read More
Antarctica had been on my bucket list for years, and I finally made that dram a reality in December 2016. It was an amazing voyage, and lived up to the high expectations I had planted in my mind. Travelers should realize that when you cruise to Antarctica, you really only visit the tip of the Antarctic peninsula, not the great mass of the continent to which only intrepid explorers and crazy people go. Some cruises sail from Ushuaia just to the peninsula and back, usually over the course of 10-12 days. I wanted to take a longer, 16-day, cruise that included the Falklands and South Georgia island. Why Ponant? I was looking for a combination of itinerary, comfort, cuisine and cost, and it appeared that Ponant scored high on all categories. I'm sure that Silversea's offering is wonderful, but they were much more expensive. Hurtigruten was less costly, but they fall short in the comfort and cuisine areas. Ponant, which has only been actively marketing to Americans for two years or so, seemed to have the right balance. The Le Soleal is a new ship with comfortable cabins, an attentive and helpful crew, excellent food and the perfect itinerary. The French connection was another plus. My wife speaks French fluently, but she gets rusty from disuse and was savoring the idea that she would be able to hear and speak French for 2 1/2 weeks straight. The Cabin: Most of the cabins on Le Soleal have balconies, but I intentionally chose one of the few cabins with only a big window. Why? Because I simply didn't think I'd use the balcony very much in Antarctica. What's more, my cabin (#302) was exactly the same size as the others, except that their 30 square feet of balcony was a 30 square foot sitting area in mine. I don't regret the decision. Beyond that, the cabins were just fine. . . nothing opulent, but well-equipped and quite comfortable. A quick digression: The trip I booked was "all-inclusive" and included wine, liquor and gratuities. The mini-fridge in the cabin was stocked with sodas, water, beer and a few mini-bottles of booze, all complimentary. That was nice. But elsewhere in the cabin was an assortment of what I recall were crackers and cookies, that you were welcome to consume for several Euros each. They simply didn't fit the nom de plume "all-inclusive". I had my cabin steward remove them on the first day. Embarkation day was a disaster, most of which was NOT Ponant's fault. An eight hour strike by the baggage handlers on the day of our departure resulted in dozens of passengers missing luggage for a week, and a few of us (including me) missing luggage for the entire cruise. Ponant's senior crew and their on-shore representatives did a horrible job that day communicating with affected passengers. We were given little information and much of what was communicated was wrong. I - and many others - spent a couple of hours just before departure scouring stores in Ushuaia for socks, underwear, pants, shirts,hats, gloves, toothpaste, razors, etc. (I learned that the only place to buy underwear in Ushuaia is the grocery store.) I have to give Ponant a lot of credit. After the initial luggage SNAFU, Ponant got their act together, stepped up and bent over backwards to assist those of us without our bags. They defrayed our on-shore expenses, provided clothing items from the shop on board as well as from the crews' clothing outlet in the bowels of the ship, and gave us complimentary laundry service. They even planned and successfully executed a rendezvous six days later with another Ponant ship which enabled most of the delayed luggage to be reunited with its owners on Le Soleal. Dining on Le Soleal was excellent. There are two restaurants on Le Soleal. L'Eclipse on Deck 2 is full-service while Le Pytheas on Deck 6 is buffet and less elegant. Both were outstanding with lots of choices. I was especially impressed with the produce on board.. Remember that this was a 16 day cruise with no opportunity along the way to resupply the kitchen. Nonetheless, the fruits and salads were always excellent. Granted, as the days wore on, kiwi and bananas disappeared, and a few days later we had no more lettuce. But there was little else missing. Ponant did an outstanding job providing fresh, tasty produce throughout the cruise. Language. The passenger compliment on Le Soleal was probably 50% or more French speaking European, with the other half a mish-mash of Aussies, Americans, Asians, etc. Announcements were almost always given in both French and English. Efforts were often made (on Zodiac rides, eg., and some lectures) to have the entire group English speaking or French speaking. It was sometimes cumbersome, but necessary. (If you would prefer a totally English-speaking passenger compliment, Abercrombie & Kent, Tauk, and other companies sometimes charter the entire ship for an English-only experience.) Most passengers were quite friendly and outgoing, and I got to know and spend lots of time with many wonderful fellow travelers from around the world. I truly hope and expect that some of those relationships will endure. Daily and nightly entertainment on board were pianists and lounge singers who performed often in the lounge and observatory. Le Soleal also had a troop of young, very flexible and energetic dancers (four girls and a guy) who performed several creative and high-energy, productions in the theater. We also made out own entertainment. Kudos to Patrick, our cruise director. When several of us lobbied Patrick to schedule one or two karaoke nights, he happily complied, and we had a great time singing, dancing and making karaoke fools of ourselves. Excursions. All the above is nice, but the main reason travelers come to Antarctica is to see and walk among the wild life. And we did that in spades! There were thirteen naturalists on board. All of them were good and some were truly excellent. They were experienced, knowledgeable and willing to share with the passengers. The large fleet of Zodiacs on board was adequate to the task and Ponant had a well-trained crew to safely and efficiently get us where we needed to go. The wildlife is incredible! We saw, up close and personal, eight species of penguins, including a nesting colony of some 400,000 King Penguins on South Georgia Island. We saw what has to be the most photographed bird in Antarctica: a single, solitary Emperor Penguin on an ice shelf in Wilhelmina Bay, some two hundred miles or more from where most of the rest of the Emperors were congregating. The whale watching on this cruise was, by far, the most incredible I've ever seen. We observed Fin Whales, Minke Whales and even a rare Blue Whale. We watched a couple pods of Orca Whales. But the stars of the sea were the Humpback Whales. They were all around us, often only a few feet away from the Zodiac, lunge feeding, flipper-flapping, and, of course, proudly displaying their tails as they dove back under the surface. They were magnificent! Bottom Line: This cruise was just about everything I had hoped it would be. I would highly recommend Ponant and Le Soleal to anyone considering a cruise to Antarctica. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose the cruise upon the recommendation of a friend who had previously traveled with Ponant. We found all the staff (especially the expedition staff) to be terrific people who all seemed to enjoy their job very much. The expedition ... Read More
We chose the cruise upon the recommendation of a friend who had previously traveled with Ponant. We found all the staff (especially the expedition staff) to be terrific people who all seemed to enjoy their job very much. The expedition staff had an obvious enthusiasm for all the places we visited. Other guests were friendly. All the meals and drinks were excellent. Did not have a bad meal. Our only disappointment was the obvious mess up in getting all guests on to the chartered flight from Beunos Aires. We were amongst the 45 passengers who were not advised of the chartered aeroplane's early departure. The B.A. staff from the Ponant office were excellent and did all they could to get us to Ushaia. It was disappointing that no apology was forthcoming from the captain regarding this inconvenience. (We waited 13 hours at Jorge Newbury airport before leaving for Ushaia). Nous avons choisi la croisière sur la recommendation d'un ami qui avait auparavant voyagé avec Ponant. Nous avons constaté que tout le personnel (surtout le personnel d'expédition) a été les gens terrifiants que tous ont semblés apprécier leur emploi très beaucoup. Le personnel d'expédition avait un enthousiasme évident pour tous les endroits que nous avons visités. D'autres invités étaient sympathiques. Tous les repas et les boissons étaient excellents. N'avait pas de mauvais repas. Notre seul désappointement était le désordre évident en haut dans le fait de monter tous les invités au vol chartered de Beunos Aires. Nous étions parmi les 45 passagers à qui on n'a pas conseillé du premier départ de l'avion chartered. Le personnel B.A. du bureau Ponant était excellent et a fait tout ce qu'ils pourraient pour nous recevoir à Ushaia. Il était décevant qu'aucune apologie n'était prochaine du capitaine quant à ce dérangement. (Nous avons attendu 13 heures à l'aéroport de Jorge Newbury avant le départ pour Ushaia). Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
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
We chose this cruise because of the smaller size of the ship, the French language (although everything on board is bilingual French/English) the food, the trip, the reputation of this company and the itinerary. It was our first cruise and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the smaller size of the ship, the French language (although everything on board is bilingual French/English) the food, the trip, the reputation of this company and the itinerary. It was our first cruise and we are hooked. The service was impeccable, the captain and crew outstanding, the cabin modern, gorgeous and luxurious, the food was absolutely wonderful, the best we have ever had (in our lives). The itinerary was the stuff of dreams, the lecturers of the highest possible qualifications and knowledge. I honestly don't think we would consider another cruise company. We are aware that we have found perfection and need look no further. We immediately pre-booked our upcoming trips while on board and are still suffering from withdrawal symptoms. What I appreciated the most was the peace and quiet, and the sophisticated quietness (no rowdy parties, loud discotheques, queues) and the lack of formal palava (no need to wear tuxedos and ball gowns), just to be correctly dressed for dinner for example. For us this cruise ticked every box on our dream list, and more. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
1. Loved the ship itself. 2. Crew Excellent. 3. Food extremely disappointing. Considering the French have a reputation for fine food, the food was boring, often tasteless unless it was the soup which was always too salty and seemed ... Read More
1. Loved the ship itself. 2. Crew Excellent. 3. Food extremely disappointing. Considering the French have a reputation for fine food, the food was boring, often tasteless unless it was the soup which was always too salty and seemed to be lack variety 4. Itinerary and excursions terrific. We went to places in Polynesia that were absolutely magic. The excursion staff were exceptional in providing both the background to the area and the current activities. Their enthusiasm was infectious. 5. WIFI was pathetic. Constantly dropping out. I had to have a conversation with an Australian company at 10pm when I was alone at reception. A 2 minute conversation took half an hour. At times there were 8 -10 people at reception trying to get a connection. WIFI should be available in the cabin and at speeds equal to Seabourn and Silversea. Ponant need to recognise that many people still need to be connected to the outside world. 6. Post cruise arrangements should have been better Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
My wife and I were facing such a cruise for the 1st time. Good friends of ours told us to join them, I was not ready to do it because I was reserving this kind of experiences for my 80's... Well, even if we had explored the program ... Read More
My wife and I were facing such a cruise for the 1st time. Good friends of ours told us to join them, I was not ready to do it because I was reserving this kind of experiences for my 80's... Well, even if we had explored the program before departing, the surprise went far beyond expectations: we personally loved the "small yacht" principle and the expeditions side surrounded by top quality in all its aspects: registration process, boarding, logistic, high maintenance of equipment/material, organization and variety of expeditions, lodging, service, personnel, restaurants and food, etc. Last but not least we greatly appreciated that 'nature' linked with 'culture' with the level of specialists who accompanied us, and with who we shared their so interesting professional experiences. Yes we are planning to go again, with other friends why not? since they are all paying interest to all what we are telling them. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Love the Expedition Cruises! The locations visited are amazing and without hords of tourist. The Expedition Crew are so knowledgeable on the locations; People, flora, fauna and wildlife found there. We love the small ship size: The ... Read More
Love the Expedition Cruises! The locations visited are amazing and without hords of tourist. The Expedition Crew are so knowledgeable on the locations; People, flora, fauna and wildlife found there. We love the small ship size: The entire Crew is friendly from the waiters, bartenders, bus boys & housekeeping personnel to the Bridge crew and the Captain himself. The food is 5 star across the board taste, choices and presentation. Accomodations are graciously made for allergies. The Piano and Cabaret are very nice. A few fun activities are provided on sea days. The children on board ages 7 and up, seem to enjoy the various activities provided by the AMAZING cruise director, Note:These Expeditions are not really suitable for children under the age of 6. This is not your typical big boat cruise. This is a Luxary Mega Yacht with Mega Amazing prople on board who treat you like a Royal Family. The Gym & Spa on board were a nice feature for sea days. See you again soon. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
A cruise up the Inside Passage of Alaska has been on our Bucket List for many years. When we discovered that Ponant operated such cruises on their luxury, small ships, we jumped at the opportunity. Life on board was fantastic, such ... Read More
A cruise up the Inside Passage of Alaska has been on our Bucket List for many years. When we discovered that Ponant operated such cruises on their luxury, small ships, we jumped at the opportunity. Life on board was fantastic, such wonderful French influence was everywhere, from welcome aboard to departure. The cabin was very nice and the dining on Level 2 exceptional. Of course the staff were helpful and caring at all times. We really enjoyed the entertainment and lectures in the theatre. The shore excursions were all very good and in particular we enjoyed the Chilkoot Trail Hike and Float outing from Skagway. It covered some rough trails, but quite manageable. The hike leader/guide was excellent. The visit to Petersburg was very special and our group voted Haines as our favourite shore outing. At the end of the cruise we spent time in Juneau, where a visit to the Red Dog Saloon is a must! Happy to recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a ... Read More
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a part of the world that I had long wanted to visit. Le Soleal and Ponant exceeded expectations. The accommodations, crew, amenities, excursions, and food were all first class. We spent a day in Sydney before flying on to Darwin to meet the ship. Sydney was great fun, exactly what we expected from prior reading, surfing and recommendations. Darwin is just a place to meet the ship. Embarkation involved a long, boring wait in a typical but uncrowded, unadorned, unsupported boarding room. Disembarkation was fine. The ship has all the amenties I consider important. No casino but not much time for one. We upgraded to a suite which was a first-time, outstanding luxury to which we may become addicted. The French cuisine was outstanding, despite our various dietary restrictions. The combined MIT and ship's lectures were excellent. Service was impeccable. The shore excursions were interesting, educational, and fun. SCUBA would have been a plus but wasn't offered. However, the snorkeling sites were great. Yes, I would go again. In fact, we did, five months later on the same ship, in the same cabin, to Western Alaska and Siberia. Another great trip, albeit with somewhat lesser excursion quality. Great wildlife photo ops, though. But that's another story... Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
The voyage started in Sydney and called the various islands and anchorages a ship of only this size is capable of , with the Zodiacs on board ferrying passengers across to remote places in the region if tender service not an option , this ... Read More
The voyage started in Sydney and called the various islands and anchorages a ship of only this size is capable of , with the Zodiacs on board ferrying passengers across to remote places in the region if tender service not an option , this worked quite wel We found the staff very capable and instructions both in French and English well presented and all explained in detail in most cases the day before , the Australian expedition leaders knowledgeable and a bit of Aussie humour to flavour the experience !it was the vessels and Ponant's first experience exploring the Barrier Reef. Passengers mostly from France , My guess 60 percent and the remainder Aussies , some Anericans and other Europeans , actually a great mixture and it seemed they all enjoyed each other's company. The Ship is fairly new and cabins and beautifully appointed , comfortable beds , a flat screen TVs with all the English channels , a mini bar well stocked and replenished daily at no cost and included in the open bar policy , however be mindful of the suites , they might have a fold out couch serving as a king size bed , best to check this out if you prefer 2 singles The cabins on deck 5 very quiet and no noise from other passenger cabins nearby . The vessel boasts 2 restaurants , all open sitting , the on deck 6 more casual and booking for dinner is essential due to the limited space , the one on deck 2 very nicely appointed and seats all if required , the senior officers and Master occupy their own table apart from Welcome and Farewell dinners , The vessel has an open bar policy that includes most drinks, cocktails , wines , fancy a gin and tonic or a Martini , a Brandy after dinner , not a problem ! We experienced 2 Wine tastings , one in French and one in English , very knowledgable and presented , the stock of top wines is also on display and available from the restaurant in deck 2 . Numerous activities during the day , what ever you fancy from Quizes to Can Can shows at night in the theatre and with the amount of passengers not a busy excercise , the ship also has an open bridge policy most of the time if you fancy a look where all the action is . Food , plenty , not silver service though , not sure if that still excists nowadays , there is a Butler service if you want to dine in private , the French tone is prevellent of course and if you like this style , these sort of cruises won't disappoint , The Master and Officers are French , the crew in general a mixture of Fillipino and Indonesian , and all English speaking . Embarkation / Disembarkation not a problem , yes 4 o'clock for a 6 pm departure , what's the fuss? Your luggage tagged and delivered to your cabin and vice versa when going off . The staterooms on deck 3 don't have an totally open veranda as on the top,decks , there is a reason for that as you are closer to the water line, just a safety thing, and so are the doors towards your veranda not full length , same thing . Overall a beautiful ship , no pokies , no casino,no rowdy teenagers ! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
As a long time cruiser having sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, P&O Australia, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn and lately Ponant, I have to say Ponant is way down the list in overall satisfaction, giving that is ... Read More
As a long time cruiser having sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, P&O Australia, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn and lately Ponant, I have to say Ponant is way down the list in overall satisfaction, giving that is supposed to be up there with the best. I have never written a cruise review before, but after reading other cruisecritic reviews of the Le Soleal, decided to add my thoughts. The ships decor was very nicely done, and was light and bright, a few Christmas decorations were in place, but not enough Festive ambience was created for this special time in my opinion. I was on the leg from Noumea to Akaroa in December 2015, and it was the worst "premium" cruise EVER. This was supposed to be a wonderful Xmas experience for us, but from day one it was clear that the ship and its staff did not in any way live up to its promises. Embarkation was after 5 pm, after waiting for 3hrs in a deserted area in the port and believe me, downtown Noumea on a Sunday is pretty dismal. Food was very average, on the two most important nights, Captain's Gala Dinner and Christmas Eve there was a set menu. No other choices from a standard menu as is usual on other ships, so if you didn't like what was offered, bad luck. The lunch buffet often ran out of the main offering so we went without on a few occassions. Alcohol was included, but only two wines, a red or white and very average quality, upon asking for a decent drop we were told there was a surcharge. 'Fresh' orange juice was advertised but not produced, just a concentrated cheap tasting alternative. No entertainment to rave about, in fact there was nothing to do during the day. Officers sat at their own table and virtually ignored passengers each evening. The waiters were unable, in the main, to answer questions about the menus etc, it seemed they, and the bar staff did what they needed and no more. Other Australian and NZ passengers commented on their disappointment on this ship, and one couple who were fervent Ponant cruisers having done 6 already, cancelled their next cruise then and there so bad was their experience. Lifeboat drill was a farce. We had to go down to listen to 45 minutes of both French and English translations and a spiel about all the facilities on board, then file out, trudge upstairs, go to our stateroom, get our lifejackets and return for the drill. What???? I could go on, but you get the idea. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Le Soleal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins N/A 4.1
Dining N/A 3.9
Entertainment N/A 3.4
Public Rooms N/A 4.3
Fitness Recreation N/A 3.6
Family N/A 3.6

Find a Le Soleal Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click