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8 Ponant Le Soleal South Pacific 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
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
We chose this cruise because Ponant is one of the very few companies to offer a cruise starting and ending in Tahiti. We also chose it because, being a very small yacht, it was able to visit remote islands that were too small to service or ... Read More
We chose this cruise because Ponant is one of the very few companies to offer a cruise starting and ending in Tahiti. We also chose it because, being a very small yacht, it was able to visit remote islands that were too small to service or accommodate big cruise ships. Having read the wildly varying reviews of Ponant and Le Soleal on this site we wondered if we had done the right thing. In the end our fears, raised by some of the reviewers on this site proved to be complete unfounded. Le Soleal is a fabulous cruise yacht, the staff are friendly to a fault and the food is absolutely the finest French cuisine. All the excursions including the zodiac disembarkation onto tiny little islets were organised with the utmost professionalism and slickness. Really impossible to fault. Almost everyone we spoke to and dined with loved the cruise unreservedly. The notable exceptions were the Australians who had cruised on Seabourne etc. They whinged incessantly and I guess it's they who are responsible for the poor reviews here. None of the Europeans we spoke to were anything other than delighted with the ship and the crew. I haven't been on a Seabourne cruise but I have dined in some of the finest restaurants and stayed at some of the finest hotels and as fas as I'm concerned Le Soleal was right up there with the best. However, to sample the very finest wines you you have to leave the all-inclusive menu and choose something (expensive) a la carte. Only once did I see anything less than exemplary behaviour from one of the staff and that was the result of constant whinging and harping from one of our Australian cruisers. I can quite see how the French crew would get wound up by people who do nothing but criticise. In short Le Soleal is a wonderful cruise experience best suited to middle aged affluent travellers who are still agile enough to enjoy all their is to offer (snorkelling, diving etc). But even if you have advanced beyond that the Polynesian cruise on Le Soleal is a perfect way to sample the islands. Best of all you get to see the ones that are well off the beaten track as well as the standard favourites such as Bora Bora. Read Less
Sail Date September 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
i was offered a deal by your sydney sales woman,gina. i had to take advantage of it.the only part of the cruise that was 5 star ,was the service provided by the receptionists, the excursion officer, all the cabin attendants,the house ... Read More
i was offered a deal by your sydney sales woman,gina. i had to take advantage of it.the only part of the cruise that was 5 star ,was the service provided by the receptionists, the excursion officer, all the cabin attendants,the house keeping supervisor,the restaurants serving staff and supervisors,most of the bar attendants and some of the crew members. some of the a la carte food would be considered illegal in australia. the quality of food was from sizzlers 3 star quality to 5 star. embarkation was not pleasant. logistically not well organised. the on board lectures by sophie and pascal were a high light. the theatre has great atmosphere. the stage performances were french formula type. pleasant ,but average. the islands childrens and dancers visiting at night were very pleasant. the trivia games were very retirement village type. the incidental music provided by the onboard singers/musicians was average. the rudeness towards some of the staff and fellow passengers by some of the french passengers was intolerable. from the time of the the meeting in the theatre regarding disembarkation,some of us felt abandoned. the company has our money . so get off. we have to start to think about the next group of arriving passengers. the cruise director should of gone around to every table the night before disembarkation and quickly thanked everybody. but we noted it did not happen. he represents the owner and senior managers of the company. but overall it was a french experience,but certainly not 5 star. that was reflected in the attitude of the captain, officers and hotel management. you may not like it ,but we passengers do talk to each other about the various qualities of the 5 star cruise ship market. i sent an email to head office regarding employment for somebody. but typically ,no reply. i would like to embark on another ponant cruise, but it depends upon where and how long. i want to go to antarctica. but so far what you are offering ,is inadequate. 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
I chose this trip because it offered an opportunity to go ashore on Pitcairn Island, a remote island in the South Pacific. I am 86 years old, in good physical condition, exercise regularly. I was discriminated because of my age from the ... Read More
I chose this trip because it offered an opportunity to go ashore on Pitcairn Island, a remote island in the South Pacific. I am 86 years old, in good physical condition, exercise regularly. I was discriminated because of my age from the very start of the trip. When we assembled in the auditorium for the mandatory life boat drill, I was immediately singled out by one of the attendants. I was told to go to my cabin instead of going to my life boat. The reason? I couldn't climb the two flights of stairs to get to my life boat station; someone would come to my cabin to get me. I argued that I climb four or more flights of stairs nearly every day to my apartment, No, I had to wait in my cabin. My desire in going on this cruise was to walk on Pitcairn Island the terrain of which was a major feature in the famous Mutiny on the Bounty trilogy. When we reached Pitcairn, where landing was by Zodiac, we were called by stateroom floor to load on the Zodiacs. When my group was called we lined up in the aft cabin. I was immediately noted by the ship's doctor who took me aside and said I couldn't board the Zodiac. I asked why and she said the road (that could be seen from the ship) was too steep. I said I hike 8 to 12 km. in the mountains near Seattle on trails much steeper than the one on Pitcairn. She then changed her tune and said the water was too rough. I had boarded Zodiacs in an Antarctica cruise recently in much rougher conditions. Yet I watched obese people getting into Zodiacs. Only age discrimination explains these insults. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
I was under the impression this was to be a quality luxury holiday, where i would be looked after with the "white glove " style service i had encountered on the queen mary last year. I particularly chose this as cruise with ... Read More
I was under the impression this was to be a quality luxury holiday, where i would be looked after with the "white glove " style service i had encountered on the queen mary last year. I particularly chose this as cruise with this promise of luxury and service in the ponant marketing material. I had a very difficult personal year and wanted to be rewarded in a special cruise style, as this was held out to be. I am a single traveler and this was yet another reason my decision to take this kind of cruise was based on. I needed the personal service and attention , i had basic knowledge of the french language and wanted to integrate more of the culture into my experience during the time on board. Where do I begin, 1. On arrival at the dock at 1pm, i was sent away, it was not the correct time. They told me to come back at 5pm. Conversation was in french and no interest to assist was offered. Here i was up since 4.30am that morning ,departed from sydney airport looking forward to this once in a "special experience" cruise. I had no water, no local currency, there was no phone reception, i wondered around noumea port area with two luggage and handbag etc in the heat for the afternoon. This was the beginning of my "special cruise." When we finally were allowed to embark, doors opened to a comfortable waiting area, with water , rest rooms, shaded secure area for us and our luggage. I wonder why that reception area was not open for all us early arrivals ...4 hours before.? I am certain that this shipping line is well aware of customer service . The ship was 2/3 french speaking, 1/3 english speaking. So the problem was attitude mostly, if we were french speaking, we would be spoken to in a more personable manner by the senior staff in charge of our entertainment, our health and by officers etc. We the english speakers were making an effort to participate in the "french" way, however there was no attempt from the senior staff to ask how are we going, eg upstairs dining room maitre de when he saw us each day, and several times he didn't bother to address us by name, even though we did. The same with all the officers.. The good thing was they had a mid cruise survey, and we all spoke up...did things improve? hmmm on the last day the captain saw us off personally as he knew there was a lot of dissent . Our fellow passenger was injured early on and was in a wheelchair for the rest of the cruise. No personal care or treatment from the doctor on board. i was violently ill for over 10 hours in my cabin, on my own, there was no follow up. if good attitude was engaged, i am sure we could have tolerated, the lack of a good daily activity schedule, a lack of authentic quality cuisine, the boredom of the day could have been a lighter burden if the crew were also enjoying themselves. They also were bored. so they couldn't pass on any positive energy to us. The 5 or so entertainers / dancers desperately tried to keep smiles on their faces and do their job. The filipino crew volunteered to sing carols to us before xmas dinner. The food was average, nothing to get excited about. Shouldn't i be saying "there is no one who beats french cuisine". The first thing i did when i arrived home was to eat a good meal locally and be glad to be home. I have cruised many times..but sadly this was not an exceptional holiday as they are marketing it to be. the well meaning captain needs to get rid of the uncaring staff if he wants to carry on in this region with australian passengers etc. The positive points for me were, cleanliness throughout was excellent, cabin staff very pleasant and helpful. Dinning staff on level 6 were very helpful. Without these people the rest is zero . It is truly a shame to see such a nice modern ship run by staff with poor customer relations and poor attitude in all. I hope they will let us know when the many issues are resolved, we Australians are pretty easy to please. It can't be that hard. I have visited France and never been disappointed. I always had a greeting and a willingness to help and serve. In return i would support by spending my hard earned money , gladly..as i always had an enjoyable personal experience with the French people. 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

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