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1 Helpful Vote
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this cruise as a total getaway from caregiving and because we really needed a break. We wanted a small ship with no casino, no children, no loud cruise director, and a small number of passengers. We flew to Boston from Tampa and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a total getaway from caregiving and because we really needed a break. We wanted a small ship with no casino, no children, no loud cruise director, and a small number of passengers. We flew to Boston from Tampa and boarded with 35 other passengers - the ship holds about 200 total. As this was a repositioning cruise, the cost was very affordable and we were prepared for 8 days of total relaxation. The crew did a great job of refurbishing one area after another - new carpets, drapes, etc. while keeping enough public space open that we hardly noticed. The catering was less elaborate than ususl, we were told, but the array and quality of the food was superb. We like the occasional gourmet dinner but we also like an option for simple grilled salmon or more country food, which was always an option. This was our first Ponant cruise - we had already booked one next Spring from Martinique to Lisbon (another ocean cruise) - and took the opportunity for a short cruise in advance. We are so glad we did. We met every single other passenger - even the French, who comprised about half of the passengers. As I speak a bit of French, I had no trouble, but neither did those who spoke only English. The passengers were fun and friendly. Only ten of us disembarked in Panama and the rest were joined by others as they went on to Lima over the following week or so. The crew was excellent - only the reception staff were a bit uninterested in being responsive. The Butler, West, attended to all our needs. We had a suite - essentially two staterooms together. Beware, European sizes are small for us Americans, but there was plenty of room. For the most part, we hardly stayed in the stateroom. The public rooms are gorgeous, well cared-for and comfortable. We are going again and we actually booked a Tahiti - Honolulu - Japan trip in 2019. This is a wonderful line and perfect for adults and friends. The entertainment was just fine and much more than we expected given a repositioning cruise. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
This Ponant cruise greatly exceeded our expectations! We're first time cruisers and read many reviews before choosing this cruise line. We were looking for a smaller ship that would provide a more personal experience which could get ... Read More
This Ponant cruise greatly exceeded our expectations! We're first time cruisers and read many reviews before choosing this cruise line. We were looking for a smaller ship that would provide a more personal experience which could get into some of the tighter ports and avoid the crush of hundreds of other travelers with the same agenda. Embarkation was smooth. Once we cleared security at the terminal, it wasn't long before we were escorted on-board, being greeted by a smiling ship's captain and senior officers as we embarked. The Cruise Director, Kamel, and entire on-board staff we interacted with were professional, friendly, helpful and smiling. This made for a very enjoyable upbeat cruise. The ship was clean and had a very elegant feel. Each of the public areas were spacious and kept immaculate. The dining was exceptional. Whether we chose the more casual dining experience on Deck 6 or the more formal service on Level 2, the smiling staff were attentive and helpful. The food was fresh, inventive, beautifully plated and offered a variety to satisfy all tastes.We especially enjoyed the fresh fish of the day. Ponant truly delivered on its promise of 'gastonomie francaise!' There was a good choice of excursions at each port of call. Our ability to enjoy these excursions was enhanced by the on-board guest lecturers that discussed the history, geology, flora & fauna of Alaska. The zodiac excursion to the face of the Dawes Glacier and Endicott Arm was a clear trip highlight. Although this was a smaller ship with 120 staterooms, we were delighted with the quality of the nightly entertainment and hourly activities one could participate in, whether it be games for the kids, yoga, stretching, zoomba and a fitness room for the healthy-minded on-board or cozy spots in their library to curl up with a good book. Ponant also offered pre- and post-cruise travel options, which we did not participate in. We would not hesitate to travel with this company again. We're already planning our next cruise with them! Read Less
31 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was the second cruise on Le Soleal. I would NOT have returned if the second was not already paid for. My experiences.... The management and upper staff onboard were unable /unwilling to address issues such as NO internet for 4 ... Read More
This was the second cruise on Le Soleal. I would NOT have returned if the second was not already paid for. My experiences.... The management and upper staff onboard were unable /unwilling to address issues such as NO internet for 4 days. NO news or current affairs TV for the whole journey. NO wine came aboard in Hong Kong so the included wine was very slim pickings indeed. Food was ok. But French speaking staff preferred the French speaking guests who received priority treatment. The manager claimed that any complaints " were the first time he had had a complaint" NO!! many English speaking guests complained in person about inadequacies and inefficiencies. The first time on Le Soleal was around New Zealand, and was inadequate and not to the standard I expect from "luxury" whatever that may mean. I sent 2 emails at that time about my disappointments before I received a reply. The second trip Hong Kong to Japan was 6 weeks later and had different inadequacies. I sent 2 emails and a text before I received an telephone response from the management in Sydney. Summary for both trips ...amateurish and expensive. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 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
32 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line ... Read More
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line Le Ponant, is the the worst run cruise ship I have ever seen. Paying for Le Soleal is like throwing your money away. The problems go to the policies (which means the company is horrible as well) as well as the clueless staff (which could be the company’s fault, the fault of the ship’s manager, or both). I hate when people criticize without specifics, so I’m happy to give them. Here we go. 1. This is advertised as an all-inclusive ship and advertises fine wines and spirits as included in the price. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 1 or 2 wines available are cheap and unheard of. There is no single malt scotch. There is no Bourbon. The only Brandy is too cheap to drink. 2. Even when you go to the list available for pay, the prices are jacked up terribly. Usually a ship that is all-inclusive gives you decent prices for upgrading as you get sort of a credit. Not here. Not only is the list overpriced, it features only one American Red and one American White – both from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection line which, while it sounds good and probably fooled the incompetents running this Line, is a low line wine. A comment here: For many of the wines for sale the list has a Parker score. Many are 90 or above, but the Mondavi Chardonnay is 84. Can you imagine having one American wine on the list and bragging about an 84? Stupid. There are others in the mid 80’s. Why have them there at all? 3. This ship has only about 200 passengers and a crew ration of 1:2, which is too low in the first place for a so-called luxury ship. More importantly, most crew members have no idea about anything outside their particular job, and often not then. a. The first afternoon neither the reception desk nor the staff in the 6th floor lounge had any idea if there was shipboard music being played later in the evening. And the poorly put together daily notice said nothing about it. Turned out there were entertainers in both the 6th floor and 3rd floor lounges. b. At the lunch buffet shrimp was offered. We asked the servers about sauce, and none knew what was available and had to go find out. c. Upon check in, we were put in the lounge on the 3rd deck, being told rooms were not ready. About 30 minutes later as friends of ours told us they were in their room I went to the front desk and was told by the hotel manager they would come get us when they started taking people to rooms. As he is telling me this, those boarding were indeed being taken to their cabins right in front of my face. So we just went to ours on our own. It was ready, but no luggage at 4:00 in the afternoon on a ship with only about 100 cabins. I went and found the luggage and brought it in. d. On the night of the captain’s reception they ship’s newsletter said a Gala dinner would begin after the reception and they would not serve until all were seated. There was no indication of what time that would be. The front desk told me I could actually dine at any time after 6. She was shocked when I told her it was now 6:25 and the restaurant was not open yet. She called and told me it would open at 6:45. It actually opened at 6:37. e. Here is a clueless hotel manager story that will make you smile. When we complained that we were told there were fine wine and spirits aboard the ship, he asked us, with a quizzical look on his face, where we heard or read that. He said he only offers wine and spirits. They may not be so fine. Dumb? 4. At dinner on the 3rd night we ordered the lamb on the menu. After about 10 minutes the waiter told us they were out. We had ordered a bottle of wine to go with the lamb, but the staff wasn’t trained well enough to understand any problem with this. So we ordered steak skewers and as we were finishing, out came lamb for the table next to us who ordered well after we did. We asked a captain what happened and he said they did not know they had more lamb and it took the chef 20 minutes to find out. We told him we thought that was incompetent and he sent a higher up who first said the other table ordered first, which was not true, and had so been confirmed by the captain. Caught in a lie, he attempted to say it took 25 minutes to thaw the lamb. No one understood that all they had to say to us was wait a few minutes while they check things out. They are simply incompetent on the ship. IMPORTANTLY, this was the second time this happened. They ran out of baked salmon at lunch and told everyone they had no more only 20 minutes into a 90 minute restaurant opening. As we left, there sat the dish. The host of that room said they convinced the chef to make more. Shouldn’t have run out in the first place. 5. With regard to the ship’s entertainers/musicians, the newsletter never tells you who is entertaining where. So we know nothing about them or where they might be at any given time. This is unfair to the passengers and entertainers, and shows a total lack of understanding on the part of the crew. Every other cruise line gives you this information. 6. The group we were with had many people (over 25) in the 6th floor lounge one evening. We were actually playing the piano, and all were singing. At midnight the bartenders closed down and left. Never seen that on a ship. 7. At the so-called Gala dinner, the server put my salad fork back for me to use again when I finished the salad. I had him get me a new one. Then, someone was not thinking on the mussels curry dish as we had to use our hands to open the mussels. What a mess. The chargers on which this dish sat were naturally covered with shells and liquid from the broth. Were they removed? No. At least not until we requested it. 8. Unbelievably, in both dining rooms there is a table for the ship’s officers, who sit by themselves and ignore all their passengers. I cannot remember such rudeness and obvious lack of thought on any other ship. 9. The ship scheduled a mandatory safety meeting followed by a mandatory life jacket drill at 5:45 and 6:00 respectively the first day. Obviously, people took their life jackets with them. Some of the crew allowed them in the room during the lecture and some made us take them back to our cabin saying we could not bring them until 6:00, of course meaning we all had to leave the lecture, go to the room, get the life jackets, and come right back. You would think this is a comedy, but the people on this ship are just this disconnected. Also, the drill was help at a time we were in port and people were not required to be on board for another 8 hours. Finally, even tho the drill was designed to show us how to put on the life jackets, the notice sent out asked us to come with them already on. 10. They are so cheap on this ship. We have already written about the spirits and wine that fall into this category, and the fact that the bartenders close shop at 12 even when passengers are out. In the morning they advertise fresh squeezes orange, grapefruit, and tomato juice. Think they have this during the day at the two cocktail bars? Nope. Too cheap, as we say. Cruise another line - really. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, ... Read More
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, although the toilet was separate which was good. The lounge areas were uninspiring. Afternoons entertainment violinist and a jazz singer, piano player. They were quite good for afternoon entertainment. Night there was sometimes a dance show, but nothing in the main lounge area. No music, no dancing, zero atmosphere. If you wanted to sit in there it was quite boring. Ponant have to lift their game if they want to come into the Australian market. Food just average, we expected better for the price we paid. Staff very good, no complaints there. Restaurant staff very helpful. Front desk staff not greatly friendly. Ship always clean and neat. Read Less
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

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