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54 Ponant Le Boreal Cruise Reviews

Having never heard of Ponant, we chose this cruise because it did a circumnavigation of Iceland which is what we wanted. The ship was extremely clean, comfortable, and well laid-out. Embarkation from a small port outside of Reykjavik was ... Read More
Having never heard of Ponant, we chose this cruise because it did a circumnavigation of Iceland which is what we wanted. The ship was extremely clean, comfortable, and well laid-out. Embarkation from a small port outside of Reykjavik was a breeze (as was disembarkation). Captain Etienne Garcia was terrific - his enthusiasm for the immense beauty of Iceland came through in every message from him and he made sure no one on board missed a whale sighting or any other special event. Food service was in one of two rooms - on Deck 6 was a buffet-at-all-meals room that opened on to the deck which had additional seating. Weather during our cruise was wonderful so we could often eat on the deck which was delightful. Food was good and daily choices varied enough to keep us interested. The drinks-included selections were excellent and the pouring wine was very good. Other food option was a white-tablecloth dining room on Deck 2 with no outdoor access. We learned that it served the same food but with dinner served (not buffet). We did not choose that option. Excursions were very good and organization of everything on the ship was perfect. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I am writing this following a April 2019 transatlantic crossing from Miami to Lisbon ( an itinerary to be repeated in 2020 ). This is a wonderful all inclusive experience as PONANT includes fine wines (including French champagne), ... Read More
I am writing this following a April 2019 transatlantic crossing from Miami to Lisbon ( an itinerary to be repeated in 2020 ). This is a wonderful all inclusive experience as PONANT includes fine wines (including French champagne), alcoholic beverages, tips and even WiFi with no additional charge to the cost of the cruise. Cabins feature toiletries from Hermes and offer all the comforts one would expect from a 5 star cruise line. Dress, however, is country club casual. While PONANT has deep French roots, the entire onboard staff is fluent in English and everything, including announcements, menus and shore excursions, are offered in both English and French. The cuisine, as one would expect, is gourmet and there is complimentary 24 hour room service for those who so desire. On my cruise entertainment included several singers and dancers, a guitar player and professionally trained classical pianist. There is also a lecturer, giving separate presentations in the theater in English and French. Shore excursions sold onboard are varied. The Captain and officers are quite visible and friendly with guests. And the service staff goes beyond expectations, quickly learning guests names and preferences. It should be noted that PONANT offers a number of itineraries with no single supplement, which can easily be found on their website. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I wanted to go to Antarctica in comfort and Ponant offered an excellent 'no single supplement' deal. Le Boreal is an elegant and well maintained ship with wonderful staff. It was very annoying not to get our travel documents ... Read More
I wanted to go to Antarctica in comfort and Ponant offered an excellent 'no single supplement' deal. Le Boreal is an elegant and well maintained ship with wonderful staff. It was very annoying not to get our travel documents until 2 weeks before departure. I was stressing about the baggage limits and the timing of the flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia. It turned out I need not have worried as the flight was at 0830 and the baggage limit was 23kgs. Arriving in Ushuaia we were taken to the magnificent hotel Arakur for lunch and an optional walk. The amount of time at the hotel could have been halved. On Le Boreal we ate most of our meals in the main dining room on level 2 rather than the self service option on level 6. Excellent variety of well prepared food and free flowing wines. The staff remembered our preferences and I noticed them carefully 'tweaking' the dishes on offer for a couple of fussy passengers. I always had room service breakfast which was fast and my order was always correct, something that is often a problem on larger ships. Being an expedition voyage, the emphasis was on zodiac rides and landings. As I am decidedly unfit I was a bit worried about these activities. I need not have been. The expedition leader, Florence, gave detailed briefings each day and there was a good little video demonstrating how to get on and off and in and out of the zodiacs. The sailors at the marina were wonderful, assisting all passengers. Passengers were divided into groups by language, i.e. French or English with the few Germans going with German speaking naturalist. Group order was rotated each day. I did not do all the excursions on offer, choosing those I felt most comfortable with. I am not an outdoors person, so all the layers of clothing were a new experience for me. Getting kitted up to venture out was a huge effort. Underthings, thermals, next layer, waterproof pants, 2 pairs of socks, 2 pairs of gloves, neck scarf, beanie and enormous red Ponant supplied parka. As my stuff was all brand new I did not have to vacuum it prior to landing on the Antarctic peninsula. The supplied boots were a hassle and the website advice to go down a size when ordering was definitely incorrect. I ended up 3 sizes larger and still had to roll the boots over at the top, so if we had had very wet landings my feet would have been wet. Something to consider if you don't have slender legs. However this is a cruise where you can enjoy the great wilderness that is Antarctica from the comfort of your ship. Iceberg and whale viewings were magnificent. Our captain slowed down when there was something to see and we spent hours sailing around an enormous tabular iceberg. All in all I loved this cruise. At sea Ponant does a very good job indeed. It was a shame therefore that it ended on a real downer. After a faultless cruise, Ponant did not excel with the return transfers and flight. Left the ship at 0900, hung around Ushuaia for 45 minutes and then queued for over 90 minutes at the airport. The LATAM flight was a disorganised mess and the service was non existent. The flight down on Air Austral was much better but I would seriously suggest organising your own way to and from the ship. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
We chose this cruise because it went to all the places we dreamed of going to. The expedition team were exceptional, very knowledgeable and made the trip forever memorable. Cruising to Falklands and South Georgia were a highlight. Captain ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it went to all the places we dreamed of going to. The expedition team were exceptional, very knowledgeable and made the trip forever memorable. Cruising to Falklands and South Georgia were a highlight. Captain and crew did an amazing job enabling us to land at all but one location Food was very good except never hot enough from the buffet on level 6. Many lovely desserts and great variety of French bread and cheese at all meals. One meal was spoiled by finding a piece of metal in tomato salad. Charter flight to embarkation port was standard domestic flight which took 2 hours longer than normal as it made a stop along the way. We thought the group photo was not very good and too expensive to purchase. Lectures by the naturalists were very engaging and informative. One criticism was that all announcement were made in French first and then English so sometimes it was hard to hear the English version in public areas as the French speakers talked over it. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
For a long time I have wanted to visit Antarctica and it was a privilege to be one of comparatively few people who have visited the white continent. Friends talked us into taking a cruise which took in South Georgia and its penguin ... Read More
For a long time I have wanted to visit Antarctica and it was a privilege to be one of comparatively few people who have visited the white continent. Friends talked us into taking a cruise which took in South Georgia and its penguin colonies are amazing. We also visited western Falklands but I wouldn't recommend it as has been too heavily farmed and the wildlife compared with South Georgia is not in the same league and it made for additional days at sea. We chose Ponant due to its reputation and competitive price. Le Boreal is a sleek but sturdy ship. The cabin was comfortable and the food excellent. It is mildly annoying to have every announcement in French then English. Luckily I can understand the former so was able to tune out the second time around. Very professional crew and experienced and charming captain. The naturalists were good in their own field of expertise but generally weak on other areas. Other activities such as daily quizzes, yoga and Zumba were well received. When the sea was calm the theatre show was very good and the entertainers in both bars were also accomplished, especially the pianist Asenili. I would visit Antarctica again, but next time with a fly/cruise. If the price and itinerary were right, I would travel with Ponant again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Pretty well everything about this voyage was great. The only concern I had was the obvious lack of experience from some of the expedition crew in their lack of ability and skill in operating the RIB's ( zodiac ). In saying that ... Read More
Pretty well everything about this voyage was great. The only concern I had was the obvious lack of experience from some of the expedition crew in their lack of ability and skill in operating the RIB's ( zodiac ). In saying that I was just a bit careful who I travelled with. But all of their lectures were great. And they were quite passionate in what they did in regards to the preservation of the environment and passing on information to the passengers. I think the captain certainly did his best along with the crew to make our experience the best ever. Which they achieved. The Patagonian coast with the Andes in the distance made for fabulous scenery every day while aboard. I felt the food was more than adequate and their was plenty of it. Travelling as a single person I also had no problems in meeting a lot of great people. Not only from Australia, but from a number of other countries. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Chilean Fjords were on my wish list for several years. I chose Ponant because it seemed that the cruise would fulfil my wishes and because there was a special price offer due to a jubilee year and no single supplement. As a lone traveller ... Read More
Chilean Fjords were on my wish list for several years. I chose Ponant because it seemed that the cruise would fulfil my wishes and because there was a special price offer due to a jubilee year and no single supplement. As a lone traveller this is important. I liked the fact that everything onboard was included in the price. Service was excellent and the staff discreet and friendly. The expedition leaders were mostly knowledgeable and informative. The captain's enthusiasm was infectious and inspiring. The open bridge policy was also excellent. There was always a good choice of fine meals and the chefs were very good. I liked the cabin layout with a balcony and big windows. Above all, the cruise itself was amazing and the landing at Cape Horn super. Regarding the type of cruise, I have only ever been on expedition type cruises with around 200 passengers or far less (28). I have no interest in any other type of cruise. This was one of the most luxurious cruises I have been on, yet the expedition side was also good. It is nice to be pampered after an adventure! Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
I have always wanted to visit Pitcairn and Easter Island, so this cruise became an excellent opportunity to visit these two isolated destinations. I arrived in Papeete five days before the cruise was due to begin. This gave me plenty of ... Read More
I have always wanted to visit Pitcairn and Easter Island, so this cruise became an excellent opportunity to visit these two isolated destinations. I arrived in Papeete five days before the cruise was due to begin. This gave me plenty of time to explore Papeete, do a round island and inner island tour and laze by the pool. The embarkation in Papeete was the best of my three Ponant cruises. My cabin on Deck 3 was central to everything, especially Reception, the main lounge and the theatre on deck 4. As a solo traveller I had more than enough storage space. Shower was always hot and with good pressure. Service by all staff I encountered was excellent. I was made to feel welcome, staff soon learning my preferences like sparkling water at lunch and dinner, tea with milk at breakfast etc.. most importantly my name. The service provided by my cabin steward was excellent.. I enjoyed the captain's enthusiasm for the voyage, the South Pacific, Easter Island and our sighting of whales on our last evening at sea just west of Valparaiso. Unfortunately we were unable to land on Pitcairn Island due to big seas, 'so close and yet so far'. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We enjoyed four days in Honolulu prior to the arrival of Le Boreal. The ship was actually a day late as she had been stuck in ice attempting a Northwest Passage transit in August. After disembarking her passengers in Greenland she sailed ... Read More
We enjoyed four days in Honolulu prior to the arrival of Le Boreal. The ship was actually a day late as she had been stuck in ice attempting a Northwest Passage transit in August. After disembarking her passengers in Greenland she sailed full speed for Hawaii via the Panama Canal, encountering Hurricane Rosa on the way across the Pacific. We felt it too on our flight from Sydney to Honolulu! Anyway, Ponant very generously covered our additional night's accommodation in Honolulu, arranged transfer to the ship and offered generous compensation for the late arrival and subsequent cancellation of two port calls on our voyage to Valparaiso. Boarding of the ship was very well organised, especially for a full complement of passengers and we were soon settling into our cabin and preparing to enjoy the sail out from Honolulu. Although rather small, the cabin is beautifully fitted out with plenty of storage and good amenities. The ship itself, in my view, is a beautiful design with very sleek lines and complimentary colour scheme. Fitted with stabilisers, she rides nicely through rough seas and is one of the quietest and most vibration free ships that I've sailed on...and I am a professional Master Mariner. Being a small ship, she only has two dining venues; a grill buffet restaurant on deck six for a more relaxed atmosphere and the formal restaurant on deck two. We enjoyed excellent service in both with very friendly staff who we got to know very well during our six weeks on board. Waiters are Indonesian with senior staff French, all speak excellent English and tolerated my limited use of French and Bahasa Indonesie! Downstairs the food had a tendency to be somewhat bland, but I guess this may be deliberate as not everyone appreciates a lot of seasoning and spices or chilli. One area that could be improved is catering for those requiring a low sugar diet, e.g. Diabetics. The only low carb drink available,other than water, was Diet Coke. It would be nice to see some other options available. The French influence is apparent but not overwhelming and in fact is rather charming. The officers and crew are very approachable and being such a small vessel are easily accessible. The bridge of the ship is generally accessible to passengers except during critical periods such as emergency drills. Our Captain changed halfway through our cruise and there was a marked difference in style. The first Master was very visible, approachable and interested in meeting all his passengers whilst managing the vessel, whereas his successor seemed more interested in his French passengers and could often be seen interacting with them. He seemed reluctant to engage with English speakers and non French nationals. He did make many announcements of interesting sights in both French and English however. The entertainers on board were excellent and I was surprised how involved the dancers were in other aspects of the hotel/excursion activities. Our final ocean voyage from Hanga Roa to Valparaiso (with about 70 or 80 pax) was the most relaxed part of our cruise and we had some enjoyable informal evenings with the musicians and dancers. We found that the cruise director was sometimes giving contradictory information in her announcements and the planning of some on board activities could have been better organised. We shouldn't forget the unseen heroes such as the galley, laundry and housekeeping staff who did so much behind the scenes to ensure our comfort. All so cheerful and enthusiastic. The range of shore excursions was fantastic and so interesting and informative to learn about the different cultures that we encountered. Our tour manager worked very hard on our behalf, especially so when the internet link was disrupted for several days. We would recommend taking some excursions when they are offered as we consider they were good value for the price paid. The ship lost twhe internet and tv links for several days which, although not disastrous, was somewhat annoying. Our disembarkation in Valparaiso was very relaxed as the ship didn't arrive until late morning. This enabled us to have lunch before leaving the ship around 1:15pm. Our tour manager coordinated our transfer to Santiago for €70 in a comfortable Mercedes minibus as there were nine of us travelling, very helpful. We enjoyed our voyage immensely and have future cruises booked on Le Boreal's three sisterships through to late 2020. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We had travelled on Ponant (L'Austral) previously and found that the size of ship, crew numbers, facilities suited the style of cruising which we look for. The destinations are different to other cruise lines with experts on board to ... Read More
We had travelled on Ponant (L'Austral) previously and found that the size of ship, crew numbers, facilities suited the style of cruising which we look for. The destinations are different to other cruise lines with experts on board to give detailed information about the destination and customs of the local people. Disembarkation at the ''ports'' is via zodiacs which makes for a fun experience. Travelling with only 200-230 passengers and 140 crew makes for an intimate cruise experience. Crew are aware of each passengers requirements as the same crew look after you whether it be the bar or restaurants. There are two dining options - a more formal dining room and buffet. There is a wide variety of food at both venues. Two main lounge areas are available serving beverages. Cabins are well appointed, always well looked after by cabin crew for whom nothing is too much trouble. There is a spa area with gym equipment which is open 24/7 - small but has enough equipment to counteract the food and beverages if required. Crew are obviously loyal to Ponant as we met crew on this cruise who we had met previously. We have since travelled on 2 more Ponant cruises and again met crew who we had met before and they remembered us. This is not a cruise for people looking for big bands, large shows but looking more for background music in a more relaxed environment. Shows performed by 5 dancers who also have other duties so are able to mingle with the passengers. There are activities arranged for sea days. All in all a wonderful small ship experience. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We booked this cruise because we have always wanted to see icebergs and the Disko bay. My husband only speaks french and we wanted to enjoy beautiful scenery, interesting conferences, and an all inclusive drink and food cruise. ... Read More
We booked this cruise because we have always wanted to see icebergs and the Disko bay. My husband only speaks french and we wanted to enjoy beautiful scenery, interesting conferences, and an all inclusive drink and food cruise. • Travel To Port of Embarkation We live in France and made our own way to Reykjavik Iceland to join the ship.We arrived the day before and stayed at the Storm Hotel, which was walking distance to town center. It's a simple and very clean modern hotel, rooms are small, no closet, but a clothes rack with a few hangers. It's okay for a night or 2. • Boarding was very easy, there are many people waiting to carry our bags on board and the captain and staff are there to welcome us. Stateroom • Our prestige stateroom was on the 5th floor, with a balcony. The rooms are beautiful, clean, and there are a lot of storage room. Double wardrobe with drawers and enough hangers, and opposite the bed there are 3 big drawers with a coffee machine and electric kettle on top . There is also a safe and small fridge. Note that you cannot store suitcases under the bed, we laid them flat in the wardrobe. • Shower room is small but very nice. It's a walk-in shower and there's a clothes line in it to hang your washing. Don't forget to bring a few clothes pins! Dining There are 2 dining rooms, one on the 6th floor which is a buffet, and another one on the 2nd floor which is a more formal dining room. Food is fabulous french cuisine, drinks and wine are included.You can also enjoy more expensive wines , but we found them very expensive, around 100€ a bottle. • Entertainment Don't expect entertainment like on Costa or other huge cruises! On the 6th floor there is a observatory bar with a musician who plays classical music and on the 3rd floor in the evening there's a singer and musician who are more lively and you can dance to disco, rock & roll or other music. • Port & Shore Excursions There are excursions organized in Reykjavit before leaving port, a few small towns, in the capital Nuuk, Illulisat, and bay of Disko. Most of the excursions are not free and you have to sign up for them. They are not cheap either! Considering that Ponant sells luxury cruises, they could have included these excursions in their price. • Disembarkation Disembarkation was at Kangerlussuaq which is an old american military base and we left the ship at 5:30AM, with a bus. Return flight to Paris was a chartered flight with Iberia. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We joined Le Boreal in Longyearbyen on the A & K chartered cruise on 27 July. We had the previous night as part of the tour at Thon Opera, Oslo as the nominated hotel at our time of booking (Hotel Bristol) was closed for renovations ... Read More
We joined Le Boreal in Longyearbyen on the A & K chartered cruise on 27 July. We had the previous night as part of the tour at Thon Opera, Oslo as the nominated hotel at our time of booking (Hotel Bristol) was closed for renovations which was disappointing as we had booked and paid months earlier at Thon Rosenkrantz around the corner from Bristol and was, we thought, walking distance with wheelable luggage to relocate after arriving 2 nights earlier from Australia off longhaul flights. FYI we could not book Bristol – fully booked at the time, but as time went by, no bookings at all, so clearly this last minute move by A and K was known for some time!! The advice for the hotel change was only after we had paid our final amount, which was pretty disappointing and meant we had to make a change from one side of the city to the other – not insurmountable but inconvenient and had we known we probably would have booked the Opera for the whole period. The Thon Opera is a BIG 4ish star hotel, right on the back of the station. Very convenient, nice room, however we liked the Thon Rosenkrantz better despite much smaller rooms – better central location for two days exploring Oslo major sights, not so good for a longer stay though – room is a bit tight. Rosenkrantz also has a complimentary “supper” service and included breakfast. The supper, basic and a bit sloppy (bread, salad, stew of sorts) was great on the travel weary day, not great night 2 but we were still being lazy and not much else around the hotel without a few blocks walk. Rosenkrantz has a lovely enclosed rooftop area with free water and coffee with views of the Palace – would be a good catch up location to be with a group, would make up for the tiny rooms. Breakfast was as you would expect a buffet to be without being sumptuous. So to the ship – we attended the welcome function at the Opera – fairly basic affair and not a real tour warmer despite the calibre of A and K personnel there making the introductions and the price of the cruise. Next morning, somewhat early, we had an early private buffet breakfast back in our welcome room from the previous night and then buses to the airport. There were 3 tranches, cheapest cabins earliest call – that was us and that was fair enough in our view. Well the airport turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. The so called charter is not a charter – it is prebooking out entire flights on small commercial aircraft – the cruise had booked out all 3 consequetive flights so when we all lined up at the ticket counters to check in we were left to the mercy of the small airline staff who could not care less – our check in lines became so long that all 3 tranches ended up together in a long snaking line despite half hour gaps between buses being planned. The threat of no more than 23 kgs in pre tour information dissolved, although anybody with a bag over 20 kgs (and don’t forget you are going to cold climates so you have more than summer stuff and for those of us coming far this was a month long trip at least) was taken aside, mine included. In hindsight I think this is more of a threat than a cost but these “charter planes” are small – seats 2 x 2 across and no overhead racks to speak of so they are very luggage restricting. Pre tour I could not find any information re the ability to pay for extra luggage weight – this was frustrating. I took the view, pack what I needed but on the light must have side, and see what happens. Outcome was fine with no additional bag fees requested, but this was a stressor which could be easily overcome. I feel it is more of an effort to try to keep luggage down rather than allowing 32kgs for example, which would be more appropriate. Indeed many bags that were sidelined did look plenty heavy by size alone. The next stressor at Oslo airport was when our gate was changed no less than 3 times in an hour (after we had finally got through check in with not enough A and K oversight of the check in staff – (difficult given the ticketing arrangements) with kilometres of walking/running in between. We understand this may be normal, but if normal, A and K need to manage and warn passengers much better and have more staff on watch for the roulette gate changes. So the 2 flights we took to Longbearyen (stopover in Tromso for refuelling - but you could not get off the plane) – were seamless. We were met at Longbearyen airport where we claimed our luggage (none missing despite the “heavy bags” being sidelined ) and the ship’s personnel had it whisked away to our cabin – very smooth transition. We did a lap of the town in buses and a tour of a very good museum to set us in the Arctic mood and were given a sit down meal in a local auditorium which was strange and a little unannounced but OK. The weather was cool and rainy – weather that we thought was a sign of the cruise – we were so delighted to have been quite wrong. After lunch we were bused to the wharf to embark the ship. My husband and I took up our residence in cabin 331 which we thought turned out to be perfect. It is midships in case the weather was poor but on our cruise there was no rough weather. Firstly, unless you are in an upmarket suite, all cabins are the same size, layout and fit out no matter what your deck, so to pay more to be on a higher deck we felt was not necessary and proved so for us. In addition we found Level 3 most convenient. Level 3 is the disembarkation point for all zodiac activities so this was very convenient and it also has a lovely stern bar and lounge with all day coffee and drinks and a small balcony, again very convenient. Level 2 is the main dining room, two flights of stairs down – we decided to use the stairs for exercise. Level 4 is the theatre where briefings and lectures were held – two flights up. It was a bit of a hike to the Level 6 casual dining area and pool deck, but all in all Level 3 was an excellent choice. I note there are complaints on Cruise Critic saying Level 3 has fuel smells – our group had 3 Level 3 cabins and we had no fuel smell issues, in fact no issues at all and great cabin service. The cabin layout is practical and spacious enough with a good sized balcony which would be great in other parts of the world, but even in the Artic, it enabled you to pop out into the elements, feel the temperature, watch the scenery and it generally adds to the size of the cabin. The bed was large and comfortable. The bathroom layout was generous for a ship (and we have been on many of all sizes), there was plenty of wardrobe and drawer space and hooks to hang sometimes wet outdoor gear out of the way without it cluttering the bathroom. The desk was small but OK, there was one lounge chair and side table and a full size bar fridge that was topped up everyday with spirits, mixers, soft drink and water. All in all a very satisfactory home in our small expedition ship for 2 weeks. Given this was an A and K charter of Le Boreal, the cruise staff were A and K contractors and the ship personnel were Ponant. They worked seamlessly together. Captain Etienne Garcia was most generous with his time with passengers and the A and K team were handpicked, highly skilled and qualified men and women who just couldn’t do enough to share information, a joke, a meal. The cruise staff team was large by other cruise comparisons. They drove zodiacs, escorted shore tours, lectured on all manner of geography, history, flora and fauna. They went above and beyond to find us the best there was to see, as did the ship’s crew, all in all a very good combination. The initial safety briefing led by Captain Garcia and the Staff Captain was the best and most thorough of any ship safety briefing we have experienced. Unlike other waters where there are many ships available for rescue support, the Artic waters are not only remote but not that many ships are running there yet. We were told that there are 38 vessels plying the Antarctic (even though you don’t really see them as they take their slots in the various allocated stops to give the impression of wilderness), but the Arctic only has a handful of vessels around so safety is an even higher priority. Our 14 day cruise included Spitsbergen took us along the east coast of Greenland, a planned landing at the volcano Jan Mayan and 2 days on the west coast of Iceland. Our Jan Mayan stop was cancelled due to an emergency medical evacuation which saw us have to steam back to within 160 nautical miles of the Icelandic coast for a helicopter evacuation of a heart attack patient. Le Boreal has no helideck so it was a ship to chopper rappelling transfer. It was carried out at around 9.30pm, off the bow of the ship, midsea, right in front of all of the other passengers watching inside from the Level 6 deck bar area – it was done with the utmost calm and precision. Two rappellers were dropped on the deck, then a back pack, then the husband, then the ill wife were lifted by harness in 3 lifts, then the crew reboarded the chopper and all were loaded and away in under 30 minutes, maybe faster. Everything about the medivac looked very practiced and it must have cost A LOT!! Le Boreal then headed back towards Greenland and resumed her course southbound. We disembarked in Reykjavik and were taken to our pre cruise nominated hotel by a prepaid taxi as part of the trip package which was a nice closing gesture. We stayed on in Iceland for one week (2 days Rekyjavik and 5 days driving half the ring road – Akureyri to Keflavik– all fabulous and an excellent addition to the cruise, actually a must if you have the time and inclination). So some observations – we have now cruised the Antarctic and the Arctic. • Which is better we are asked? – well both are very different although the concept is similar. Antarctica is colder and the story is ice and penguins (all sorts) and likely rough weather. The Arctic is polar bears and ice but also interesting flora and the weather is likely to be kinder. • If you had to choose one (yes both are extremely expensive so price is not really any decision maker), I could not choose – loved them both. • Based on price, both can be similar, but there is more choice of vessel at present in the Antarctic so that may help the budget. • Perhaps the opportunity for cruise extensions may make a difference for you – Antarctica and South America: Arctic and/or Iceland/Scandanavia, or anywhere in Europe – Iceland is only 5 hours flight from London and not that far from US east coast. Then again Sth America is not that far from the US either. We chose the cruise that included the Falklands and South Georgia (a must for the emperor penguins). In hindsight this was such a bonus rather than just going up and back from Uschuia. • Another question is which one to do first? Again, one will prepare you in sorts for the other. You need to be average fitness to do both. • Another question is which ship? We were lucky enough to be told when we went first to the Antarctic to ensure you go on a small expedition ship, not a big cruise liner. That was exactly the right advice – in Antarctica ships can only land something like 200 passengers at any one time at any one place under the Antarctic Treaty, so whilst some of the bigger ships do go a south, you won’t have the same shore access or it will take a lot longer to do it or you will just sail past with a view and you are missing out on so much plus they can’t get into some of the smaller, wonderful spots. • Another thought is timing – Artic is July/August: Antarctic is December/January. What works best for you? We went to the Antarctic on The Fram (Hurtigruten Line). We enjoyed it immensely and the ship rode out some very rough weather very well (we know because our husbands are merchant sea captains so they know what rough weather looks and feels like) and the Norwegian captain and officers just took it like another day in the office. The Fram is similar in passenger size to Le Boreal but is not as comfortable (cabin to main rooms and we had a high level cabin on this vessel – not suite though) compared to Le Boreal. The A and K cruise staff made for a very different level of knowledge and interaction with the passengers, but you do pay for it. About seasickness – we used Kimite motion sick patches on both trips (definitely overkill for our Arctic trip but you need to be wearing them for 6 hours before you need the effect to kick in and hey, we had them in our bag and they have an expiry date). However they saved me from 4 plus days of rough weather on our crossing from South Georgia to the ice of the Antarctic – can totally recommend. FYI you can’t buy them in Australia – we obtain them in Hong Kong over the counter in chemist shops like Boots or Watsons (maybe able to get online?). Finally, our memories and photos of both expeditions – all fabulous, real life experiences, so lucky to have been able to have the opportunity to see one, more to see both and as they say be Bi-Polar. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose Ponant for this trip because we were looking for a more intimate cruise experience. We have been on large cruise ships (3000+ passengers) and felt it was time for a more refined trip. One of the best things about being on a ... Read More
We chose Ponant for this trip because we were looking for a more intimate cruise experience. We have been on large cruise ships (3000+ passengers) and felt it was time for a more refined trip. One of the best things about being on a smaller ship is that the embarkation and disemarkation process. All of the crew members were courteous and professional. Also, there was rarely ever a line. Once we landed at our port or destination, getting off the ship to begin enjoying the tours was a breeze. I must admit that we were a little skeptical about having the shore excursions included in the cost of the cruise. We wondered what the quality of the excursions would be. But, we were not disappointed. Every excursion we joined was very informative and enjoyable. In addition, our days on the uninhabited Caribbean Islands were the best! Being able to take the zodiac boats in for a morning of snorkeling along the coral reefs of the atolls was a once in a lifetime experience. Our cabin was lovely, and very well appointed. Having a balcony where we could enjoy the views and fresh sea air was a great feature. Of course, everything we needed was provided by the stewards, it was as though there were fairies on the ship tending to our every need. Every meal we enjoyed on the ship was perfect. The variety of food, and accommodations for special dietary needs was attended to very well. We were able to enjoy dinner at the captain's table as well. It was nice to see the captain at every dinner, and feel that he was approachable and willing to mingle with the guests. The entertainment and activities on the boat during days at sea and each evening were very enjoyable. We enjoyed everything from educational lectures about our ports of call to spectacular shows each evening from with the on board performers as well as specialty shows from some of our ports. There was never a lack of good entertainment. Overall, it was a wonderful adventure we would recommend to everyone looking for a luxury vacation experience. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
30 days all up covering three back to back cruises. What stands out above everything else is the impeccable dedication of the staff from Commandant Regis Daumesnil down to the humblest toiler, who would have to be the people who did ... Read More
30 days all up covering three back to back cruises. What stands out above everything else is the impeccable dedication of the staff from Commandant Regis Daumesnil down to the humblest toiler, who would have to be the people who did the laundry. We never saw them but without them, it would have beeen a very different voyage. The Commandant was exceptional in many ways, in particular the way he interacted with the passengers. Not only was he at the gangway for our arrival but every day we departed for excursions he was there to say Bon Jour and hope you have a good trip. It was an intensely personal touch and, in another example, many times he lunched and talked with passengers at the buffet on deck 6. He seemed genuinely interested in who his passengers were and in their welfare. I found him a fascinating conversationalist on a range of subjects and his commentary on tours of the bridge by passengers in French and English was very informative and absorbing. As usual, the food in both restaurants on decks 2 & 6 was sublime… too much so, as it’s very easy to overindulge. Thank goodness the gym was operational and, on some days, very busy! But I would have preferred a greater range of cuisines, e.g. why were there very few Asian dishes on offer or some Mexican cooking or some hot spicy choices? We need more variety. On the down side, however, Le Boréal, the oldest of the Ponant fleet, is beginning to show its age; little things didn’t work or were inefficient. For example, the left-hand lift between decks 2 & 6 was out of operation for the entire time we were on board. For the latter half of the cruise there was no access to the television channels in the cabins. And for the last ten days as we crossed the Atlantic Ocean the theatre was completely out of action as it was being renovated. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose this cruise because we were so pleased with our last year cruise to Antartica. But, our cruise from Ushuaia to Valparaiso was disappointing; The beginning started well with a good excursion at the Cap Horn, but over the ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we were so pleased with our last year cruise to Antartica. But, our cruise from Ushuaia to Valparaiso was disappointing; The beginning started well with a good excursion at the Cap Horn, but over the following 11 days we had few excursions (we expected 1/day or at least 1/two days): only 3 ! Conferences on board were few & not up to the standard we experienced before. On top of that, the Boreal had some issues: - a lift not working - the GPS Map not working - my wife & other female passengers got a virus through the air conditioning system, that obviously was not cleaned; she was prescribed antibiotics after the cruise & needed 4 weeks to recover from a deep lung infection. - The internet/wifi did not work, though we paid Usd180 for connections ! - Dining was fine, but not as refined as what we had before with Ponant, the quality is going down - Our Cabin had a bath stub, but we expected a shower Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
What a privilege it was to experience Antarctica. The Antarctic peninsula we explored was so magical and beautiful. Ponant offered and provided an experience of a lifetime. Everything was well organised from picking us up at our BA ... Read More
What a privilege it was to experience Antarctica. The Antarctic peninsula we explored was so magical and beautiful. Ponant offered and provided an experience of a lifetime. Everything was well organised from picking us up at our BA hotel, and on check in at Buenos Aires airport to our arrival in Ushuaia and embarkation to our ship. From our Captain of Le Boreal, Christophe Colaris and his crew, and to the expedition leader, Klemens Putz and his team, you all made it wonderful for us. From the lectures/talks given by the expedition team to the zodicac outings as well as land expeditions, all were enormously enjoyable. Safety being a priority on all these expeditions. The Le Boreal crew all looked after us extremely well. Our cabin steward was friendly and efficient; the bar and restaurant staff attentive to our requirements and the food, très bon. This is our second expedition cruise with Ponant. Once again safety, comfort and attention to detail are requirements for us and Ponant do these well. The champagne bar on an ice floe capped off an incredible cruise expedition. We have been more than enthusiastic in recommending Ponant and especially this area of the world to our friends. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
My wife and I went to Alaska in 2016 with Ponant. We were so impressed with the experience that we began immediately to look into another Ponant cruise. The expedition director in Alaska convinced us to look at the Antarctic. Our ... Read More
My wife and I went to Alaska in 2016 with Ponant. We were so impressed with the experience that we began immediately to look into another Ponant cruise. The expedition director in Alaska convinced us to look at the Antarctic. Our experience in the Antarctic exceeded our expectations. The expedition people were superb and always ready to answer our questions. The crew from captain to room steward was courteous, helpful and enthusiastic. The dining, as we discovered in Alaska, was first class. The highlights of the trip were seeing Nature at its purest. Walking among the penguins and seals was a thrill. At one point, when the ice prevented us from going ashore, the crew set up a table of champagne glasses on an ice flow - how perfectly French. It reminded us of our experience after a balloon ride in Africa where the passengers were treated to a champagne breakfast in the style of the original French balloonists. The 2 days across the Drake Passage were relatively smooth and the captain took us ti see Cape Horn. Ponant is concerned about every detail of the cruise and about your pleasure and comfort from checking in to checking out, from transportation to and from the airports and from ensuring that you are prepared for the expedition. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
Everything on this cruise was very well organised and went smoothly. The excursions were well executed and going on the zodiac I felt very safe. All land excursions were well organised with lots of expedition staff to help and answer ... Read More
Everything on this cruise was very well organised and went smoothly. The excursions were well executed and going on the zodiac I felt very safe. All land excursions were well organised with lots of expedition staff to help and answer questions. The room was like a 5 star hotel room. Air con was individual which made a difference to individual room comfort. The staff were so friendly and helpful. The service in all areas of the ship was excellent. Food was very good and the bread, pastries and cheeses were excellent. There was a good selection of drinks and service at the bars was great. The cruise guests were American, French and Australians. I am glad there were about 30 Australians aboard as socially it would be different without that friendly Australian manner and there also was the language barrier. Each night there was music entertainment which was ok. The main lounge was a good place to gather for the entertainment and to also sit and have a chat. I would highly recommend this company for cruising although I would enquire about the guests nationalities. A range of different nationalities is the best. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
After travelling with Silversea for some years we decided on the Ponant voyage to Antartica. From embarkation until we reluctantly left the ship in Ushaia we could not fault any part of Ponants service standards. The captain was visible ... Read More
After travelling with Silversea for some years we decided on the Ponant voyage to Antartica. From embarkation until we reluctantly left the ship in Ushaia we could not fault any part of Ponants service standards. The captain was visible throughout the expedition, guests were invited to the bridge, the cabins were spotless, even if somewhat smaller than Silver Sea. The onshore activities by professional naturalists were outstanding. The food and wines were of a superior standard also. My wife and I were joined by some 220 other people of all ages, about 60 from Australia and a further international mix. Our highlight was being invited to the Captains table for the farewell dinner. We stayed on deck three, minimising any rolling across the Drake Passage - however both crossings were relatively calm. All staff are friendly and get to know you by name fairly quickly. We have now booked for the Athens to Aquba cruise in 2019. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
Travelling to Antarctica, the 7th continent on Board Le Boreal was the journey of a life time As we stepped on board we entered a world of comfort and luxury. The ship was elegant and classy. Staff were devoted, caring helpful and ... Read More
Travelling to Antarctica, the 7th continent on Board Le Boreal was the journey of a life time As we stepped on board we entered a world of comfort and luxury. The ship was elegant and classy. Staff were devoted, caring helpful and every so smiling. Service in the room, bars, dining areas and reception were impeccable. The expedition team was experienced and knowledgeable. All expeditions to the shore were extremely organised and well thought out to give us a real taste of expedition to the remotest land of the world. The dining on board was the best dining experience we ever had and staff in Deck 2 dining area were amazingly knowledgeable about drinks and food and so were the bar attendants. Our ever smiling cruise director Philippe was phenomenal with an eye for details and stunned us with a spectacular Christmas show and dinner. Entertainment was classy and all singers and dancers were brilliant. Overall the whole experience was seamless and the cruise will be etched in our memory forever. I would recommend this cruise ship to friends and family and I can guarantee that everyone will be blown away. Thanks again to all the staff of Le Boreal. I am already planning my next trip Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
I Liked the idea of a ship with good food and wine as well as the safety factor. May as well enjoy the Drake passage crossings. I wanted to get off using the zodiacs and this cruise had all that and terrific naturalists who had expertise ... Read More
I Liked the idea of a ship with good food and wine as well as the safety factor. May as well enjoy the Drake passage crossings. I wanted to get off using the zodiacs and this cruise had all that and terrific naturalists who had expertise in different areas. always willing to answer questions. Restaurant staff were so friendly and remembered you well. 2 x places to eat, both different, but the same attention to detail. I loved the shore excursions, but we took one trip in the zodiac through very icy seas to look at swimming penguins and fantastic icebergs. That trip was my favourite., I Think the website needs work in helping prepare you for the cruise. There was some confusion on board when the 'white night, with a little black' turned into the blue and white night. People were mostly dressed casually even for the 'dressy' nights. Read Less
Sail Date December 2017
We’d cruised with Ponant previously and had an enjoyable cruise. This time – definitely NOT. This cruise was to Antarctica and we had both been looking forward to it. Antarctica is simply amazing - nothing can ever take away from that! ... Read More
We’d cruised with Ponant previously and had an enjoyable cruise. This time – definitely NOT. This cruise was to Antarctica and we had both been looking forward to it. Antarctica is simply amazing - nothing can ever take away from that! I'd love to go again - but with a different cruise line. The good things first – o The expedition crew were simply amazing, excursions well organised and managed. o Fantastic captain - so enthusiastic. It was obvious he loved sailing in Antarctic waters. o Friendly staff & crew – except for maintenance staff who were dour, totally unhelpful and had a shocking attitude to solving issues o Although spotless, the cabins are small (but we knew that from a previous cruise). Just one chair in a cabin is useless although having a second would mean no space to walk around the bed o Bathrooms are well laid out and we like the concept of a separate toilet. Now to the things which mean we will never sail with Ponant again - o On some nights food was less than ordinary even for one of us who is a meat eater. Fish had a smell about it – totally off putting. An example of overcooked food– ordering breaded turkey. Originally to be without a sauce, the waiter offered béarnaise (the only sauce available evidently). The small piece of very overcooked and dried out turkey arrived with nothing else on the plate except for the béarnaise in a little pot - so frozen that it was impossible to even put a knife in it! o When food was sent back virtually untouched no one bothered to ask if there was an issue o A lot of the menu from the restaurant on level 2 was repeated in the restaurant on level 6. OK there were a few extra items on level 6 but most cruise ships would have had a totally different menu in each restaurant after all why both with more than one restaurant if food is the same. o Wine, as others have described, was awful - yet the French make fabulous wines o Staff unhappy to offer another wine when we did not like or want the “wine of the evening” Many luxury cruise lines include gratuities. Ponant asks guests to either place money in an envelope or have reception charge a per day amount to accounts at the end of the cruise. This is despite Ponant charging similar rates to other luxury cruise companies who include gratuities in the overall rate paid! OK, it wasn’t compulsory but it made things difficult not to! Ponant claims it is in the luxury cruise market and is trying to attract cruisers internationally (not just the French). Standards have most certainly dropped from our previous cruise. Overall cruise costs are similar to other luxury lines, eg Seabourn. Yes, they offer itineraries out of the ordinary but, in our opinion, Ponant has a long way to go before it can compete favourably with those lines. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
We saw this ship while on a another cruise and was impressed by its look and finish and commented that we should try this company/ship. When we saw a cruise around French Polynesia we were excited, the online information sounded great, ... Read More
We saw this ship while on a another cruise and was impressed by its look and finish and commented that we should try this company/ship. When we saw a cruise around French Polynesia we were excited, the online information sounded great, the cost was high compared to other all inclusive lines. I booked direct with Ponant in Sydney and the staff were very helpful and I was able to obtain the cabin I thought would suit us best. Boarding in Papeete was unprofessional and dysfunctional, no staff were on the ground to help you or tell you what you needed to do, we were treated as if we were just off for the day sightseeing and not as new guests arriving. There was also NO security screening of any kind. The cabin was adequate, storage was limited but after a day or so we sorted out the room. The bathroom was small in size but well designed, large walk in shower with good water pressure, a rain shower and a hand held, with a glass door/wall. Another great feature is a glass wall panel the looks out into the cabin, this made the space seem much bigger and you can look out to the ocean while in the bathroom, there is also a seperate toilet. The bed/ linen/ pillows were good, over the 7 nights we only saw our room steward once, the room was well maintained and keep clean, toiletries were replenished as required.the fridge in the room did not get cold at all. The ship itself is well designed and easy to get around, being on the small side, the public spaces were limited but they worked well. The dining areas were well presented and I will give more detail re this by area. The Bistro dining area was very well laid out and it opened out onto the pool deck, plenty of seats for two, great selection of food and it was always presented very well.The staff in this area were very helpful and the wine supplied was quite drinkable. We enjoyed every meal we had in this space. The main dining room was formal, the issues I had was there were no tables set for two, I am not a fan of sharing a table for meals, at this level of ship I think this is a major failure in design. We also had very erratic service in this restaurant it went from fantastic to us walking out one night as we sat waiting for 20 minutes for anybody to supply a menu or any form of service. I must admit the Maitre'd did his best to make amends and we did not have any issues again, the food was well presented and very enjoyable. The one major concern we had was the public announcements, all were in French which was as expected, but the English announcements were always short and sometimes not at all and you had the impression that you were only getting half the information. The other guests on the ship were predominantly French and they excelled themselves at being rude and impolite. We have been to different areas of France and spent weeks in Paris over the years and I have never encounted this before. We befriended a couple from Quebec and even they said the same thing, so I know I was not being sensitive, the other English speaking people told me they had the same issue. The staff ranged from rude and unhelpful to lovely, I found the most problems at the main reception desk on level 3, I rang on one occasion and the lady who answered could not speak any English. I always knew that English would be the second language but the office staff were at times just rude while answering you in English. This is the first time in all the cruises we have done that I was pleased to disembark, I wonder was it a "tour group" mentality that the other passengers had, or the fact that it was cruising in a French territory, but either way it was unpleasant. Would I cruise with Ponant again, I am not sure, I loved the ship but..... I feel Ponant have not decided if they are a French Domestic Cruise company only because thats how it seems onboard or if they are truly a global cruise company, compared to Silversea and Azamara they have a long way to go. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose Ponant for its size and so called ‘luxury’ cruising. We found the cabin very small and could not store our bags anywhere. We struggled to move around the cabin without bumping in to one another! We were disappointed in the ... Read More
We chose Ponant for its size and so called ‘luxury’ cruising. We found the cabin very small and could not store our bags anywhere. We struggled to move around the cabin without bumping in to one another! We were disappointed in the meals which we expected to be of a higher standard in both restaurants. We felt general information was lacking. The shore excursions were incredibly over priced for what we received and certainly would not recommend any that we went on. The staff on board were excellent however and have no criticism of them. We did not attend any entertainment activities except for the last night where a local Tahitian dance company came on board and we thoroughly enjoyed the night. Papeete was a huge disappointment for us- very neglected -obviously the French have not poured any money into their colonies over the years. The Tahitians however are a lovely race, friendly and welcoming. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Le Boreal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 4.5 3.8
Entertainment 4.0 3.3
Public Rooms 4.0 4.6
Fitness Recreation 3.0 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.5 4.2
Enrichment 4.0 3.9
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 4.0

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