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7 Ponant Le Dumont d'Urville Cruise Reviews

I was totally excited to be going on this trip with Ponant to Costa Rica. Afterall great destination, French wine and french food... what is there not to like. Well was I sorely disappointed. The wine was mediocre and limited variety. At ... Read More
I was totally excited to be going on this trip with Ponant to Costa Rica. Afterall great destination, French wine and french food... what is there not to like. Well was I sorely disappointed. The wine was mediocre and limited variety. At dinner many nights there was only one red or one white. The food was good not great(except for the special nights) and some of the meals were downright poor. I had a series of complaints about the service and met with the president of Ponant North America who was on the cruise. Her repeated response was to say she would forward it to Marseille. Nary an offer of a bottle of wine or a premium drink. Which gets me to my next point. If you purchase the premium drink package, be aware that you cannot have it in the dining room. A number of passengers were incensed at the explanation was that it was a revenue sharing issue between the restaurant and bar. The experience was so poor that I cancelled my next trip with Ponant. I was told by crew members that Americans have higher expectations than the Europeans and that Ponant had learning to do if they want to attract the US market. Well I do not intend to find out if they are learning and hope you wont either. I must say the ship is brand new and gorgeous. Too bad nothing else compared to it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Hubby & I chose the cruise because we wanted a short cruise that included a Panama Canal crossing. This cruise was an expedition cruise focusing on national parks in Costa Rica & Panama. Started in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica and ... Read More
Hubby & I chose the cruise because we wanted a short cruise that included a Panama Canal crossing. This cruise was an expedition cruise focusing on national parks in Costa Rica & Panama. Started in Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica and ended I. Panama City, including a Pacific to Atlantic crossing of the Panamá Canal. We’re not naturalists but thought it may be an interesting experience. This review is intended to give others an idea of what to expect. We were first time Ponant cruisers so really weren’t sure how they do things. We arranged our own Pre cruise activities including a private transfer to Puerto Caldera. We showed up at the pier a couple of hours before the 4pm embarkation. Had to transfer from the car that brought us to a shuttle van that took us to the terminal. The driver assisted with loading and unloading luggage from the shuttle van but you have to bring your luggage into the terminal on your own. Nothing to do at the very small terminal other than sit and wait or walk around in circles. At embarkation time, a whole slew of ship crew & staff showed up and helped get luggage and passengers onboard. The Captain & Travel Manager were at the bottom of the ramp greeting all passengers. Nice touch! Once onboard we were directed to present ourselves to the reception staff who took our passports (they kept passports until the day before we disembarked) & pictures, and gave us room card keys. We also got champagne. We then followed the crew with our luggage to our suites. All in all, embarkation was smooth and orderly, no issues. Ponant was offering ‘No Single Supplement’ so we booked a Grand Deluxe Suite on Deck 6 for my hubby & a Deluxe Suite down the hall for me. Our plan was for me to use my suite for showers and a dressing room. Worked out pretty well; nice to have my suite bathroom and walk-in closet all to myself. We spent most of the time onboard in my husband’s suite since it had a lot of space and a great balcony. We did sleep in my suite a couple of times when we were in rough seas since my suite was midship. Both suites were well laid out, clean and comfy. Room stewards kept the suites nice and clean. My suite was always promptly made up (thank you Rose); my husband’s was usually done late morning. AC worked well & was relatively quiet. Toiletries were plentiful. Beds were very comfy. There were on demand movies/docs but thought selections were limited. Some satellite TV channels (sorry, no ESPN or Golf). We watched FoxNews mostly. We liked the ship. It was small, new, clean, comfy & not Las Vegas glitzy. It was also quiet and had practically no engine vibration. We didn’t hear creaking when the ship was underway like we did on prior cruises with other lines. We’ve sailed on Crystal & RSSC and enjoyed those cruises a lot. The experience on Ponant is not high end luxury but very comfortable. Less variety but enough choices to be satisfied. We made some friends during the cruise so we were usually dining with other people most of the time. It seems to us the small ship and casual atmosphere is conducive to connecting with others. Food was very good. We ate in the main restaurant Nautilus mostly because we like the full service dining experience rather than the cafeteria style service at Nemo (the outdoor Grill venue). We even had a usual table for breakfast. Thank you Jim for taking care of us. We liked that there were always several main dish a la carte choices on the menu, as well as a starter & dessert buffet for breakfast & lunch. Unfortunately the buffets were pretty much the same the entire cruise so we got tired of it towards the end. For dinner it was a full a la carte menu. We enjoyed all the meals. Service was pretty good but we thought the Sommelier was stretched too thin. The servers were good about refilling wine glasses if the Sommelier wasn’t around. Inclusive wines were so-so. Hubby & I signed up for Premium Pass. We didn’t realize the wines included in the Premium Pass will NOT be available to us during dining. We could only get them at the bar. We can however get the Premium Pass liquor anywhere. This caused us some consternation when we attempted to order the Premium Pas wines during our first dinner and were told we couldn’t. Needless to say we were not happy. We consequently met with the Hotel Director to talk about it and he apologized but explained it’s a company policy that he could not change. He encouraged us to include the issue in any comments or reviews or surveys because he believes the policy does not make sense. One thing I thought that could be improved were meal schedules. Breakfast at Nautilus ended at 9am. I normally eat breakfast after 9am. Dinner was 7pm to 8:30pm - too short, too early. There is room service but we never tried it. Shore expeditions were by Zodiac & were usually wet landings. (Ship only docked at the start and end; all other stops were at anchor.) Got used to it after the 1st couple of times. True to expedition cruising we were never quite sure what was going to happen the next day until the 6:30pm briefing from our naturalists. This is quite different from our other cruises where we signed up for shore excursions in advance and that’s the activity you did for that port. One of the planned stops didn’t happen because of bureaucratic Costa Rica red tape but the naturalists & ship crew did a great job rearranging plans. They also made sure there were always several expedition options depending on how much energy you want to expend and ability to walk, climb, swim, etc. Saw monkeys, birds, raccoons, lizards, rodents, etc. Fascinating encounter with the Emberas, an indigenous Panamá tribe. I didn’t care much for the Zodiac rides since I don’t like being bounced around. The last 2 days we didn’t leave the ship because the sea was quite rough. The crew were always very conscientious about safety though. The Panama Canal crossing was the highlight of the trip for us. Took almost the entire day to do the crossing from the Pacific side to the Atlantic. Hubby & I agreed the trip was worth it just for that! Entertainment was adequate. A group of 3 female dancers & a singer were the main entertainment group. They were very good, especially the Dance Captain & the singer. Also a guitar player and piano player. Appropriate for a small ship. Crews were friendly (especially the Filipinos) and professional. Everyone spoke English. Majority of the passengers were English speaking so announcements and lectures and briefings were in English. The Captain did use both English and French for important announcements about weather and sea conditions. 3 days before disembarking we were asked to fill out & submit a form with our disembarkation plans. We opted to do the complimentary airport transfer with an old town Panama City tour. Our plan was to leave at the end of the tour and take an Uber to our hotel instead of staying with the bus to the airport. Somehow our form didn’t get to the transfer coordinator even though we turned it in as asked. She did find the form after we told her we were not on the appropriate transfer list and she rectified the omission. Disembarkation was smooth. People waited in the lounge or theater until their group is called. Once our group was called we went down to the terminal, collected our luggage and went to our bus (tour guide didn’t have us on the list but the transfer coordinator was there to smooth things over). We had told them we were leaving the group after the tour instead of going on to the airport so our luggage were loaded last, along with some others passengers’ who were also leaving the tour at the end. Tour of the old town was very general but we enjoyed it. At the end, we got our luggage off the bus (with assistance from the driver) and ordered Uber. The bus waited until our car arrived which was nice, to make sure we were ok. By the way, the Cruise Director did a great job all throughout the cruise. She was always around, coordinating all expedition disembarkations. We found her orientation session at the beginning and the disembarkation session at the end very helpful. Be prepared to actually do the emergency drill after they tell you how it’s done. Fitness room really small. No weights. No mats. 2 treadmills. 1 elliptical. 1 bike (or was it 2?). Spa was ok. Had massage & pedicure. Both good. Our favorite hangout during the cruise was the Observatory Lounge. We went there for Pre and Post dinner drinks. Thanks Ronaldo for the great service! We definitely will cruise Ponant again & are booked on 2 cruises in 2021. We plan to dress down & pack less - more resort casual for dinner rather than cocktail attire. BTW, we had great complimentary laundry service the entire cruise because we already had the 2nd cruise booked before we embarked. Really convenient! No dry cleaning though and no self serve laundry facilities onboard. Read Less
Sail Date January 2020
Everyone has different likes and dislikes. I’m going to summarize what we look for in a cruise vacation which we felt Ponant came closest to an overall exceptional experience and why. My sister n husband ( late 50s very active non ... Read More
Everyone has different likes and dislikes. I’m going to summarize what we look for in a cruise vacation which we felt Ponant came closest to an overall exceptional experience and why. My sister n husband ( late 50s very active non drinkers) and my husband (70) and myself(62) - both drinkers and not super active wanted a Xmas holiday experience together. We didn’t want to travel too far from USA and wanted a under 14 trip. I’ve been on a similar in Italy with a girlfriend to Costa Rica n thru Panama Canal with Windstar and felt this would satisfy everyone’s likes. PROS: Ships decore is STUNNING. Even though is a “ small ship”- under 2OO passengers you don’t feel like you are missing anything ( except if you are a casino person). Food was Fabulous. Worked for my sisters sophisticated taste and my more simple taste. You always had option to eat inside or out. We love dining outside with sea air. All managers, Captain and Directors spoke good English as a second language and they were so accommodating to all our requests. Cabins maximized space beautifully...even bathrooms were a Wow with separate showers ! Nightly theater entertainment was SO Outstanding. I can’t stand the mediocre kind of “ Lawrence Welk ” shows on most lines.This was so superior to anything I’ve seen on a ship. My husband signed up for a Bridge tour by captain. He said Captain was so enthusiastic, equipment was the newest technology -it was fascinating ! Cons: Some of servers English was rather poor and hard to communicate with, Needed more sanitation stations around ship ( I’m sure that will change!502) My brother-in-law needed sling for arm. DR didn’t even have one . This itinary is All About Nature... I booked independent all day tours on my own- ships offerings were very limited. However highly recommend 2 included tours - Panama Nicoya peninsula and the Native tribe that lives there n the stop at Hollanders Cay for day. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
We were looking forward to an expedition cruise to the Bijou Peninsular as these are very difficult islands to visit ordinarily. However on approaching the docks unlike other expedition cruises which clearly have signage and generally ... Read More
We were looking forward to an expedition cruise to the Bijou Peninsular as these are very difficult islands to visit ordinarily. However on approaching the docks unlike other expedition cruises which clearly have signage and generally personnel to help passengers, there were no signs to indicate the whereabouts of the ship even though our taxi driver tried very hard to find the entrance of this commercial port. We had to go through a security gate dragging our suitcases over half a mile across dirty terrain, eventually finding the ship. No personnel upon seeing us came to take our cases. The ship is beautiful, the food excellent overseen by the amazing Sebastian fronting the restaurant, the Filipino crew as always amazing. The cruise director was far too young and inexperienced and was heard to say I suppose I have to speak in English! She was utterly clueless. No information given to passengers each day, a total waste of time The expedition director was inexperienced, had poor organisational and communicating skills. Having told us not to put our hands in the water as there were sharks they then proceeded to race each other back to the ship, one mistake and the passengers would have been in the water. Of course getting back to the ship we had to wallow in the ocean waiting for our turn to embark Apart from the geologist the lectures were of poor quality and very few could speak English even though it was clearly stated in the brochure it was a French/English speaking lecture. The French were put in the lovely theatre and the rest of us (about 25%) were confined to a tiny art gallery on hard chairs. For the meals the expedition crew always raced to the front for their food. Absolutely disgraceful On making a complaint the Chief Executive I was told he does not reply to criticism My observations of this company is too Gallic and arrogant. If you are not a fluent French speaker do not use this company opt for an American company who certainly (although not perfect) know about service. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Great WiFi and easy to get on and off the boat, great butter and cheese...other than that is was like being on a geriatric prison boat. Same food everyday Extremely minimal service Small Dark rooms with the toilet separate from ... Read More
Great WiFi and easy to get on and off the boat, great butter and cheese...other than that is was like being on a geriatric prison boat. Same food everyday Extremely minimal service Small Dark rooms with the toilet separate from the sink. No bars to sit at No comfortable seating Morose staff Not enough staff 2 hours to eat each meal and then nothing else... Very little to do Nothing is open even when you are at sea Special bar is open for only 3 hours... I’ve had better service and food on carnival. No cocktail service at all beyond the dining rooms...if it’s luxury why am I getting my own drinks? Sub par food...baked goods were sad and they are French! Not a luxury experience at all.. Save your money and upgrade to a suite on any other cruise line. They lure you in with the cool destinations. It isn’t enough. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Negative was the english lectures which were poor and limited. As this is a french ship, there was separate lectures for the french-speaking. All announcements were in dual languages. French passengers were friendly but we did not ... Read More
Negative was the english lectures which were poor and limited. As this is a french ship, there was separate lectures for the french-speaking. All announcements were in dual languages. French passengers were friendly but we did not socialize together because of our large group. Staff was friendly. I would go again on this cruise line just because of the food. The pastry chef was outstanding. The evening menu was varied and good selections. I can not comment too much on the ship's excursions as we were traveling with a biking company. In retrospect, perhaps too much port time was spent in St Petersburg. Needs a bigger gym (2 treadmills and 2 stationary bikes) or more physical activities on the cruising day. The evening dance girls taught the exercise classes during the trip and they were educated in form and technique. Compared to a recent Ama waterways river cruise, the food was a much higher standard on this ship. friends had to use the younger female french ER trained doctor and were very happy with care...able to do lab and ekg. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Ponant cruise lines chartered the Le Dumont D'Urville to Thomas P Gohagan & Co. who then marketed the Baltic Sea cruise primarily through college/university alumni offices, Smithsonian Journeys, National Trust for Historic ... Read More
Ponant cruise lines chartered the Le Dumont D'Urville to Thomas P Gohagan & Co. who then marketed the Baltic Sea cruise primarily through college/university alumni offices, Smithsonian Journeys, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Philadelphia Council on World Affairs, etc. So the cruise passengers were members of the various alumni groups and marketing organizations and each of the organizations had a representative who gave lectures during the cruise. Ponant also markets similar cruises directly to the public without the alumni connections and lectures. The Le Dumont D'Urville is a new ship in 2019 so the cabins and all the facilities of the ship were new and designed to a high standard. My understanding is that Ponant has ordered several ships with a standard design that are being delivered in 2019 and 2020. Although the ship has only 92 cabins it is still a sizable ship at 400+ feet long and was stable throughout our cruise. The kitchen is an excellent French kitchen with an outstanding pastry chef. The cabin was well designed with a sliding door to the balcony/veranda. The theater, dining room, grill, observatory lounge were all very comfortable. Although the ship carries an excellent pianist, singer, and dancers, entertainment was limited. Shore excursions were included for all passengers (no need to sign up in advance) with very good local guides and comfortable buses and covered the highlights of the cities visited. There was a pre-cruise extension in Stockholm and a post-cruise extension in Norway covering Oslo, the Oslo-Bergen train, Flam with a fjord cruise, and Bergen. This small ship experience was focused on shore excursions, lectures, excellent meals, and a comfortable outside cabin. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Le Dumont d'Urville Ratings
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