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71 Ponant Le Soleal Cruise Reviews

What a lovely experience on Le Soleal. The captain, the crew and our expedition team were fantastic. I have never seen a more accessible ship's captain The ship was ideal for our expedition cruise through the Inside Passage, in ... Read More
What a lovely experience on Le Soleal. The captain, the crew and our expedition team were fantastic. I have never seen a more accessible ship's captain The ship was ideal for our expedition cruise through the Inside Passage, in and out of some of the tiniest places. The itinerary needed to be modified for rough seas and a danger to participants in boarding Zodiacs so another treat was planned. It was fantastic. With the shallow draft were were able to go where ships seldom venture. Icy Bay was an example, to see glaciers down to sea level. Cabin space was about the same as comparable space on other ships we have experienced, but the walk in shower made bathing so much easier. Ours was well appointed with a. iPod player and coffee machine. Dining in the two dining rooms was easy and staff very attentive. Food quality was good and as usual, I had potential to add too much when dining in the buffet. Our activities were to the fullest, as we had up to two Zodiac or tender visits a day to some out of the way places. Other activities were well organised and enjoyable. Our trip on Le Soleal was organised and marketed through APT (Australian Pacific Tours) Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
The cruise was a charter for selected college graduates in the US, starting from Juneau, making it's way in a semi-expeditionary manner to Vancouver with approx 250 passengers. The voyage was a quality and satisfying experience, with ... Read More
The cruise was a charter for selected college graduates in the US, starting from Juneau, making it's way in a semi-expeditionary manner to Vancouver with approx 250 passengers. The voyage was a quality and satisfying experience, with warm and sincerely friendly service, great food on two decks, and on the house drinks including wine. The house wines were quite satisfactory. Visited small fishing towns where large liners could not go. Much of the travel was in narrow channels which are impassible for large liners. A definite plus in our book. The ship itself was very svelte, nicely decorated inside, kept very clean, and was very quiet while moving, for the most part. Some operational noise cannot be avoided, such as lowering/raising the zodiacs and lifeboats. While we had a lower fwd room without balcony, that turned out to be a definite plus, as the lack of balcony gave us more room, which was entirely adequate for the two of us. The window size was fine, the rest of the ship quite accessible to all. Absolutely did not miss the lack of wi-fi and internet. Nice to get away from it all. We left as very satisfied customers, and although not inexpensive, would travel again on this small ship, avoiding the super large ships at all cost. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
This Ponant cruise greatly exceeded our expectations! We're first time cruisers and read many reviews before choosing this cruise line. We were looking for a smaller ship that would provide a more personal experience which could get ... Read More
This Ponant cruise greatly exceeded our expectations! We're first time cruisers and read many reviews before choosing this cruise line. We were looking for a smaller ship that would provide a more personal experience which could get into some of the tighter ports and avoid the crush of hundreds of other travelers with the same agenda. Embarkation was smooth. Once we cleared security at the terminal, it wasn't long before we were escorted on-board, being greeted by a smiling ship's captain and senior officers as we embarked. The Cruise Director, Kamel, and entire on-board staff we interacted with were professional, friendly, helpful and smiling. This made for a very enjoyable upbeat cruise. The ship was clean and had a very elegant feel. Each of the public areas were spacious and kept immaculate. The dining was exceptional. Whether we chose the more casual dining experience on Deck 6 or the more formal service on Level 2, the smiling staff were attentive and helpful. The food was fresh, inventive, beautifully plated and offered a variety to satisfy all tastes.We especially enjoyed the fresh fish of the day. Ponant truly delivered on its promise of 'gastonomie francaise!' There was a good choice of excursions at each port of call. Our ability to enjoy these excursions was enhanced by the on-board guest lecturers that discussed the history, geology, flora & fauna of Alaska. The zodiac excursion to the face of the Dawes Glacier and Endicott Arm was a clear trip highlight. Although this was a smaller ship with 120 staterooms, we were delighted with the quality of the nightly entertainment and hourly activities one could participate in, whether it be games for the kids, yoga, stretching, zoomba and a fitness room for the healthy-minded on-board or cozy spots in their library to curl up with a good book. Ponant also offered pre- and post-cruise travel options, which we did not participate in. We would not hesitate to travel with this company again. We're already planning our next cruise with them! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
A cruise up the Inside Passage of Alaska has been on our Bucket List for many years. When we discovered that Ponant operated such cruises on their luxury, small ships, we jumped at the opportunity. Life on board was fantastic, such ... Read More
A cruise up the Inside Passage of Alaska has been on our Bucket List for many years. When we discovered that Ponant operated such cruises on their luxury, small ships, we jumped at the opportunity. Life on board was fantastic, such wonderful French influence was everywhere, from welcome aboard to departure. The cabin was very nice and the dining on Level 2 exceptional. Of course the staff were helpful and caring at all times. We really enjoyed the entertainment and lectures in the theatre. The shore excursions were all very good and in particular we enjoyed the Chilkoot Trail Hike and Float outing from Skagway. It covered some rough trails, but quite manageable. The hike leader/guide was excellent. The visit to Petersburg was very special and our group voted Haines as our favourite shore outing. At the end of the cruise we spent time in Juneau, where a visit to the Red Dog Saloon is a must! Happy to recommend this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
The moment we stepped aboard and were personally greeted by the Captain and crew we had a feeling this was going to be a warm and enjoyable experience. We chose the Ponnant line following a recommendation from friends who said the small ... Read More
The moment we stepped aboard and were personally greeted by the Captain and crew we had a feeling this was going to be a warm and enjoyable experience. We chose the Ponnant line following a recommendation from friends who said the small size of the ship, with about 160 passengers, allowed access to places on the Inside Passage to Alaska that other larger cruise ships cant enter. This was true and we found that the size also allowed the crew to be get to know us and make us feel very welcome. Staff even greeted us by name in the corridors. Our cabin was very roomy with enough space for all our belongings.Having a private balcony was fantastic. We could choose either the formal dining or the buffet. Both were beyond our expectations. The French cuisine included traditional dishes, beautifully prepared and presented. The Inside passage from Vancouver to Juneau,Alaska has some of the most amazing scenery with different highlights every day. We enjoyed the lectures explaining the landscapes,the fauna and flora . However it would have been better to have native English speakers as the French naturalists struggled with the language. The shore excursions were well organised and with enough variety to meet most interests. I would have preferred to be able to choose the excursions prior to boarding . We are already looking forward to our next trip with Ponnant Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This was the second cruise on Le Soleal. I would NOT have returned if the second was not already paid for. My experiences.... The management and upper staff onboard were unable /unwilling to address issues such as NO internet for 4 ... Read More
This was the second cruise on Le Soleal. I would NOT have returned if the second was not already paid for. My experiences.... The management and upper staff onboard were unable /unwilling to address issues such as NO internet for 4 days. NO news or current affairs TV for the whole journey. NO wine came aboard in Hong Kong so the included wine was very slim pickings indeed. Food was ok. But French speaking staff preferred the French speaking guests who received priority treatment. The manager claimed that any complaints " were the first time he had had a complaint" NO!! many English speaking guests complained in person about inadequacies and inefficiencies. The first time on Le Soleal was around New Zealand, and was inadequate and not to the standard I expect from "luxury" whatever that may mean. I sent 2 emails at that time about my disappointments before I received a reply. The second trip Hong Kong to Japan was 6 weeks later and had different inadequacies. I sent 2 emails and a text before I received an telephone response from the management in Sydney. Summary for both trips ...amateurish and expensive. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a ... Read More
This cruise was planned by an affinity group (MIT alumni). I signed up because they always plan great trips with stimulating fellow travelers and my wife and I are mildly addicted eclipse chasers. Also, Australia/Indonesia/Malaysia is a part of the world that I had long wanted to visit. Le Soleal and Ponant exceeded expectations. The accommodations, crew, amenities, excursions, and food were all first class. We spent a day in Sydney before flying on to Darwin to meet the ship. Sydney was great fun, exactly what we expected from prior reading, surfing and recommendations. Darwin is just a place to meet the ship. Embarkation involved a long, boring wait in a typical but uncrowded, unadorned, unsupported boarding room. Disembarkation was fine. The ship has all the amenties I consider important. No casino but not much time for one. We upgraded to a suite which was a first-time, outstanding luxury to which we may become addicted. The French cuisine was outstanding, despite our various dietary restrictions. The combined MIT and ship's lectures were excellent. Service was impeccable. The shore excursions were interesting, educational, and fun. SCUBA would have been a plus but wasn't offered. However, the snorkeling sites were great. Yes, I would go again. In fact, we did, five months later on the same ship, in the same cabin, to Western Alaska and Siberia. Another great trip, albeit with somewhat lesser excursion quality. Great wildlife photo ops, though. But that's another story... Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
The voyage started in Sydney and called the various islands and anchorages a ship of only this size is capable of , with the Zodiacs on board ferrying passengers across to remote places in the region if tender service not an option , this ... Read More
The voyage started in Sydney and called the various islands and anchorages a ship of only this size is capable of , with the Zodiacs on board ferrying passengers across to remote places in the region if tender service not an option , this worked quite wel We found the staff very capable and instructions both in French and English well presented and all explained in detail in most cases the day before , the Australian expedition leaders knowledgeable and a bit of Aussie humour to flavour the experience !it was the vessels and Ponant's first experience exploring the Barrier Reef. Passengers mostly from France , My guess 60 percent and the remainder Aussies , some Anericans and other Europeans , actually a great mixture and it seemed they all enjoyed each other's company. The Ship is fairly new and cabins and beautifully appointed , comfortable beds , a flat screen TVs with all the English channels , a mini bar well stocked and replenished daily at no cost and included in the open bar policy , however be mindful of the suites , they might have a fold out couch serving as a king size bed , best to check this out if you prefer 2 singles The cabins on deck 5 very quiet and no noise from other passenger cabins nearby . The vessel boasts 2 restaurants , all open sitting , the on deck 6 more casual and booking for dinner is essential due to the limited space , the one on deck 2 very nicely appointed and seats all if required , the senior officers and Master occupy their own table apart from Welcome and Farewell dinners , The vessel has an open bar policy that includes most drinks, cocktails , wines , fancy a gin and tonic or a Martini , a Brandy after dinner , not a problem ! We experienced 2 Wine tastings , one in French and one in English , very knowledgable and presented , the stock of top wines is also on display and available from the restaurant in deck 2 . Numerous activities during the day , what ever you fancy from Quizes to Can Can shows at night in the theatre and with the amount of passengers not a busy excercise , the ship also has an open bridge policy most of the time if you fancy a look where all the action is . Food , plenty , not silver service though , not sure if that still excists nowadays , there is a Butler service if you want to dine in private , the French tone is prevellent of course and if you like this style , these sort of cruises won't disappoint , The Master and Officers are French , the crew in general a mixture of Fillipino and Indonesian , and all English speaking . Embarkation / Disembarkation not a problem , yes 4 o'clock for a 6 pm departure , what's the fuss? Your luggage tagged and delivered to your cabin and vice versa when going off . The staterooms on deck 3 don't have an totally open veranda as on the top,decks , there is a reason for that as you are closer to the water line, just a safety thing, and so are the doors towards your veranda not full length , same thing . Overall a beautiful ship , no pokies , no casino,no rowdy teenagers ! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
As a long time cruiser having sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, P&O Australia, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn and lately Ponant, I have to say Ponant is way down the list in overall satisfaction, giving that is ... Read More
As a long time cruiser having sailed on Holland America, Celebrity, P&O Australia, Royal Caribbean, Cunard, Silversea, Seabourn and lately Ponant, I have to say Ponant is way down the list in overall satisfaction, giving that is supposed to be up there with the best. I have never written a cruise review before, but after reading other cruisecritic reviews of the Le Soleal, decided to add my thoughts. The ships decor was very nicely done, and was light and bright, a few Christmas decorations were in place, but not enough Festive ambience was created for this special time in my opinion. I was on the leg from Noumea to Akaroa in December 2015, and it was the worst "premium" cruise EVER. This was supposed to be a wonderful Xmas experience for us, but from day one it was clear that the ship and its staff did not in any way live up to its promises. Embarkation was after 5 pm, after waiting for 3hrs in a deserted area in the port and believe me, downtown Noumea on a Sunday is pretty dismal. Food was very average, on the two most important nights, Captain's Gala Dinner and Christmas Eve there was a set menu. No other choices from a standard menu as is usual on other ships, so if you didn't like what was offered, bad luck. The lunch buffet often ran out of the main offering so we went without on a few occassions. Alcohol was included, but only two wines, a red or white and very average quality, upon asking for a decent drop we were told there was a surcharge. 'Fresh' orange juice was advertised but not produced, just a concentrated cheap tasting alternative. No entertainment to rave about, in fact there was nothing to do during the day. Officers sat at their own table and virtually ignored passengers each evening. The waiters were unable, in the main, to answer questions about the menus etc, it seemed they, and the bar staff did what they needed and no more. Other Australian and NZ passengers commented on their disappointment on this ship, and one couple who were fervent Ponant cruisers having done 6 already, cancelled their next cruise then and there so bad was their experience. Lifeboat drill was a farce. We had to go down to listen to 45 minutes of both French and English translations and a spiel about all the facilities on board, then file out, trudge upstairs, go to our stateroom, get our lifejackets and return for the drill. What???? I could go on, but you get the idea. Never again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We have done about 25 cruises overall, and with Oceania, SilverSea, Seabourn, Crystal and APT. All top end luxury cruise lines. Ponant is priced at the same level but our cruise was unbelievably awful, FOOD...tasteless, the same every ... Read More
We have done about 25 cruises overall, and with Oceania, SilverSea, Seabourn, Crystal and APT. All top end luxury cruise lines. Ponant is priced at the same level but our cruise was unbelievably awful, FOOD...tasteless, the same every day...poor quality..boring, so I survived on watermelon and lettuce. SUITE..what a joke. They left the door open between two adjoining cabins and called it a suite. We had no need for a second cabin, so we paid double for nothing. SERVICE...It would help if the crew spoke English without an accent one cannot understand and it would also help if the Maitre D did not argue with guests about the poor quality of the food...very defensive. EXCURSIONS...Very expensive and should have been included in the price. ATTITUDE ON BOARD....OK if you are French, not OK if you speak English...felt like we were intruding on the French guests and crew. DISEMBARKATION....what a joke. They promised to take us to Christchurch and dropped us off at a place called Akaora some 2 hours from Christchurch so we had to pay yet again to get to Christchurch. ITINERARY...Do NOT BELIEVE ANYTHING THIS MOB PUT IN THEIR BROCHURES . We purchased this cruise to visit Norfolk Island, the high light of the cruise. The day before we sailed when I read the itinerary that had been delivered to us only hours earlier, we found a quite different itinerary which cut out Norfolk Island. No explanation and when I asked for compensation from Ponant upon return to Sydney, I received a most arrogant defensive letter ." you should have checked our website to check out what changes we make..". Just awful attitude...rude..defensive...insulting...just like the attitude on board. It comes from the top administration of course, so if you are looking for a far inferior cruise to those I have mentioned above, and you want to eat poor quality food the same every day and have to hassle to get what you have paid for, go for Ponant. If on the other hand you want good service, food, accommodation etc. then there are plenty of other cruise lines that charge the same or less who will respect you as a guest. Embarkation at Noumea. No preparation...had to wait on street with luggage with no water or refreshments until 5 p.m. boarding. Unusually late for luxury ship, but they were still not ready. Very disorganised. SUITE. We purchased a suite and were given two adjoining cabins with door propped open. We had no use for a second cabin, so we paid double for no suite . FOOD. Just awful. Repetitive. Bland. Overcooked. Poor quality. Tasteless and unattractive I mostly ate watermelon and lettuce. CHRISTMAS DAY. What a joke..a few red and white balloons with the kitchen staff embarrassingly trying to sing something relevant at dinner and crew on Deck 3 lounge even worse prepared as they struggled through french and then english unfamiliar songs. ENTERTAINMENT. 4 female and 1 male professional dancers were the full extent, plus a pianist and two female singers. Dancers were excellent but not sufficient to hold attention of a luxury ship's guests for nearly 2 weeks. BEVERAGES Open bar worked well on decks 3 and 6. SHIP. New and attractive but too small for open seas..it bobbed around like a cork on the rough days. EXCURSIONS. Too expensive we did not purchase. ITINERARY. We purchased the cruise to visit Norfolk Island but discovered only a day before sailing that Ponant had totally changed the published itinerary...we were never notified and Ponant advised me on return to Sydney I should have been checking out their web site for any changes....unbelievable and arrogant. Compensation claim underway. DISEMBARKATION. Another misleading promise by Ponant. We purchased a cruise to Christchurch, New Zealand but were ferried across to a wharf at Akaroa 2 hours from Christchurch, where Ponant charged us nearly AUD $200 to finish the trip. Either that or get a local bus for about AUD $60 to Christchurch which some guests did. I definitely would NEVER EVER use Ponant again and I did not meet one English speaking guest on board who disagreed. It is a french line, totally focused on french speaking guests. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
This was supposed to be a 5 star cruise over Christmas. We had paid a premium price for this and were disappointed before we even got on the ship. Our tickets arrived 2 weeks before the cruise. When we checked them we found that the ... Read More
This was supposed to be a 5 star cruise over Christmas. We had paid a premium price for this and were disappointed before we even got on the ship. Our tickets arrived 2 weeks before the cruise. When we checked them we found that the itinerary had been changed and no longer stopped at Norfolk Island. Stopping at Norfolk Island was the main reason that we booked this. Our Travel Agent checked with Ponant and found that the itinerary was altered back in June and he was not told of this. At this late stage we really had no alternative but to except this . When we arrived at the ship it was chaotic and there did not seem to be any organisation. We were very concerned when we boarded as there was no security checking of hand luggage. In view of the fact that it had only been 5 weeks since the Paris shootings, and that this was a french ship, we really felt that security should have been more rigorous. At no time when we re-boarded were any bags checked. At the mandatory lifeboat drill my husband found that he had a defective life jacket. He reported this to 2 different crew members who told him that it would be replaced. It never was. As Norfolk Island was no longer on the itinerary we had more time at sea. I found this very boring as there was not enough going on. The Lectures were not of interest to me and so other than reading a book there was little else to do, unless you wanted the spa. We tried Afternoon tea. What a fiasco. You had to get a mug and make your own tea from the urn. One day there was even a Salsa dance class going on in the middle of the room. This is such a contrast to how Seabourn and Silversea arrange Afternoon Tea. A white gloved waiter who serves you with an assortment of teas, sandwiches and cakes. This is how it should be done. The dining overall was satisfactory. However on Christmas Eve only 1 restaurant was open and no buffet. When we arrived we were shown the menu. It was a set meal, 1st course an Egg dish (I do not eat eggs) 2nd and 3rd courses seafood (I am sick if I eat seafood). We asked what I could have instead and was told nothing. I would have to sit through 3 courses with no food. At this we walked out of the restaurant. We decided to order room service instead, even though the cabin only had 1 chair and a tiny table. We were told that there was no room service on Christmas Eve and that we must eat in the Restaurant. Their brochure says 24 hour a day room service. When I said that I could not eat a large part of the menu the receptionist then asked the chef what he was prepared to cook. He said a steak and salad. I said that was OK as long as my steak was well done. When it came it was bright red in the middle and the salad was limp and looked old. I could not eat this, so had no dinner that night. Christmas Day was another none event. We sailed around White Island, which took all of 20 minutes and that was it . We were at sea for the rest of the day with no particular Christmas events planned. You were not able to pre book Excursions. I have never been on a cruise before when this is the case.We had to wait until the excursion desk opened and then it was a free for all, loads of pushing and queue jumping. The excursions when you got them were fine and quite interesting. We disembarked at Akaroa. There is no proper wharf there and we had to disembark by tender, along with your suitcases. This was very badly organised and we were told one thing one minute only to be altered by another crew member a few minutes later. I cannot believe that they ended a cruise here, as getting to Christchurch from here is not easy, as there are no taxis or Hire cars in Akaroa. This is probably one of the worst cruises that I have ever been on and I feel if Ponant want to get into the Australian luxury cruise market they need to improve dramatically. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Keen to try a Ponant cruise, we booked a 10 day Christmas cruise in December from Noumea to Akaroa. As seasoned cruisers, mostly with Seabourn and Silversea, we were expecting Ponant to deliver similar service, food and ambience that ... Read More
Keen to try a Ponant cruise, we booked a 10 day Christmas cruise in December from Noumea to Akaroa. As seasoned cruisers, mostly with Seabourn and Silversea, we were expecting Ponant to deliver similar service, food and ambience that other small ships excel in. CHECK IN: Many pax had a 3-4 hour wait at the port as check in was at 5pm. It was a hot day, so bottled water would have been a nice touch as it was Sunday and shops were closed. Check in was efficient and staff to escort us on to the ship, but where was the welcome glass of champagne? AMENITIES: Beautiful modern decor, stateroom was small with a separate shower/vanity room and small toilet room which was useless. Not ideal as we had to exit the toilet without being able to wash our hands to step back ip into the shower room. There were 2 lounge areas and a nook that provided some board games and a few books, unfortunately mostly French language. MDR was beautifully set up with comfortable dining chairs but limited tables for 2. FOOD: Was never amazing but ranged from good to terrible. The breakfast & lunch buffet was very limited. Quality and choice was poor and it was difficult to find something really tasty. Food in the MDR was nicely presented but very small portions and usually luke warm. 2nd night was a Gala Dinner with a menu chosen by the Captain, it was not to our taste, (think: almost raw egg on cucumber jelly) and mushrooms that we cant eat, so our party of 4 left and went to the almost deserted buffet. Finding a limited selection I ordered a small steak. After repeating to the Maitre D that the steak was to have no blood, a bloody steak appeared and he argued that it was perfectly fine and it was bloody juice, not blood ! He left us in a huff and never spoke to us again. Very unprofessional. What was supposed to be a lovely night was totally ruined. Christmas Eve was a set menu with many dishes containing mushrooms which we can't eat. We could not order anything else even though we gave the Chef 24 hours notice. Hungry again. Ordered a Bacardi & Coke one day in the buffet only to be told to get it from the bar myself. Breakfast finished at 9.30 am but staff started clearing at 9.15 each day, not good for those who want a lie in. Alcohol was included, but choice was limited. Fresh orange juice disappeared after day one, but they still called the concentrated juice 'fresh'. Fresh supplies came on board in Tauranga, and whilst beautiful fresh berries were in season and being sold everywhere in the region, did we get any on board for breakfast? Or oranges, so we could have fresh juice again ? NO and NO. ENTERTAINMENT: Virtually nothing during the day. On a couple of occasions we were given ONE bingo card to play. Prizes were a 3 yr old Inaugural Cruise coffee mug and on another occasion a plastic pencil case. The game lasted all of 15 minutes with another 15 minutes added for english translation as first language on the ship is French. Shows were limited with at least one cancelled. We were so bored. What does the Cruise Director do all day? Staff socialised mainly with French guests. Smoking was allowed everywhere which limited non-smoking guests to the inside lounges if they didn't want to sit near smokers. ACCIDENT: Day 2 after the disastrous Gala night, my wife injured her ankle whilst exiting the bathroom (step). Saw the Doctor the next morning who placed a cast on her leg. Both Doctor and Nurse spoke very poor English and were difficult to understand. No painkillers for her (ankle fractured) or any other advice. No arrangements to have an Xray at next port of call. We went back to our cabin and realized that now she was in a wheelchair we needed a disabled room, but no one suggested or offered assistance. I had to organize it. No senior officer, guest relations person or anyone came to see if she was ok or to see if we needed assistance to get an X-ray in port. In Tauranga NZ, armed with only an email giving the name of a Radiology Centre I pushed my wife down the dock in the rain and had to park her under some shelter whilst I walked up to the main street to hail a cab. The radiology place could not X-ray through the cast, nor did we have a proper referral from the ship's doctor which is necessary. They piled us and the wheelchair into their own vehicle and took us to an accident & emergency centre where she was diagnosed, x rayed and had a new cast fitted. The locals were so helpful and friendly. Back on board, still no follow up.....until the Doctor, realizing we had now complained to the Hotel Manager started pressing us for the documentation we had from the A& E rooms as he had not followed procedure and was concerned for his own sake. He verbally abused us in front of reception staff, then back in the surgery, kept yelling, raised his fist at me and then ordered us off the ship. With a very distressed wife I asked for a meeting with the Captain. He argued the fact that the Doctor's rage was due to lack of communication due to his poor English. We flew home a day early as Wellington was the next wheelchair accessible port. The Captain, Hotel Manager, Doctor and his Nurse (wife), Guest Relations person et al all came down on to the dock to see us off in the cab, (probably hoping everyone could see how caring they were), they all shook our hands and the nurse took my wife's hand, pressed a couple of painkillers in an envelope into it and said she hoped we would sail again with them. Not likely. Were these the painkillers my wife needed a week ago?? I think we were charged for them too after we paid our final bill. This ship is probably not suited for Australian & New Zealanders. It is too French, and the many long announcements in French start to annoy you after a while. It is sadly lacking in entertainment, good food, and sociable staff. For the price you pay, I would suggest you sail Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal or Regent. Not Ponant. We held off posting this review until we had a response from Ponant, but to date we are still waiting so here it is. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
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
We boarded LeSoleal in the Solomon Islands, and cruised southwards through the Coral Sea to the very remote isles of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. We disembarked in Noumea. The ship was spotless, well maintained and operated to ... Read More
We boarded LeSoleal in the Solomon Islands, and cruised southwards through the Coral Sea to the very remote isles of Vanuatu and New Caledonia. We disembarked in Noumea. The ship was spotless, well maintained and operated to perfection. The crew from the captain down were polite and helpful, even though we basically only speak English. The cabins are small but comfortable, and well equipped. We found thefood very varied and tasty. The Expedition Cruising was spectacular, indeed we visited small islands of the Coral Sea that had never experienced a cruise ship visit. Landings were made by the use of 14 zodiacs, hence we never needed any facilities for the ship. The Expedition Crew of 8 extremely knowledgeable & multilingual experts in Marine Biology, Vulcanology, Ornithology etc were brilliant, and accommodated the pax of many languages (but mainly French & English). Mick Fogg was expedition leader, and "burned the midnight" oil to ensure the whole schedule ran like clockwork. Each of the islands staged their own (and very different) island welcome, and the captain was ever willing to modify the itinerary to visit out of the way places of interest to pax. We visited Japan for Cherry Blossom in April 2015 on sister ship L'Austral, and had a wonderful memorable experience. We like small ship cruising. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line ... Read More
After enjoying some 20 cruises on Oceania, Cunard, Norwegian, Crystal, Holland-America, and Silver Sea, we think we have a pretty good grasp of the industry and what a paying passenger should expect. Le Soloeal, owned by the French line Le Ponant, is the the worst run cruise ship I have ever seen. Paying for Le Soleal is like throwing your money away. The problems go to the policies (which means the company is horrible as well) as well as the clueless staff (which could be the company’s fault, the fault of the ship’s manager, or both). I hate when people criticize without specifics, so I’m happy to give them. Here we go. 1. This is advertised as an all-inclusive ship and advertises fine wines and spirits as included in the price. Nothing could be further from the truth. The 1 or 2 wines available are cheap and unheard of. There is no single malt scotch. There is no Bourbon. The only Brandy is too cheap to drink. 2. Even when you go to the list available for pay, the prices are jacked up terribly. Usually a ship that is all-inclusive gives you decent prices for upgrading as you get sort of a credit. Not here. Not only is the list overpriced, it features only one American Red and one American White – both from the Robert Mondavi Private Selection line which, while it sounds good and probably fooled the incompetents running this Line, is a low line wine. A comment here: For many of the wines for sale the list has a Parker score. Many are 90 or above, but the Mondavi Chardonnay is 84. Can you imagine having one American wine on the list and bragging about an 84? Stupid. There are others in the mid 80’s. Why have them there at all? 3. This ship has only about 200 passengers and a crew ration of 1:2, which is too low in the first place for a so-called luxury ship. More importantly, most crew members have no idea about anything outside their particular job, and often not then. a. The first afternoon neither the reception desk nor the staff in the 6th floor lounge had any idea if there was shipboard music being played later in the evening. And the poorly put together daily notice said nothing about it. Turned out there were entertainers in both the 6th floor and 3rd floor lounges. b. At the lunch buffet shrimp was offered. We asked the servers about sauce, and none knew what was available and had to go find out. c. Upon check in, we were put in the lounge on the 3rd deck, being told rooms were not ready. About 30 minutes later as friends of ours told us they were in their room I went to the front desk and was told by the hotel manager they would come get us when they started taking people to rooms. As he is telling me this, those boarding were indeed being taken to their cabins right in front of my face. So we just went to ours on our own. It was ready, but no luggage at 4:00 in the afternoon on a ship with only about 100 cabins. I went and found the luggage and brought it in. d. On the night of the captain’s reception they ship’s newsletter said a Gala dinner would begin after the reception and they would not serve until all were seated. There was no indication of what time that would be. The front desk told me I could actually dine at any time after 6. She was shocked when I told her it was now 6:25 and the restaurant was not open yet. She called and told me it would open at 6:45. It actually opened at 6:37. e. Here is a clueless hotel manager story that will make you smile. When we complained that we were told there were fine wine and spirits aboard the ship, he asked us, with a quizzical look on his face, where we heard or read that. He said he only offers wine and spirits. They may not be so fine. Dumb? 4. At dinner on the 3rd night we ordered the lamb on the menu. After about 10 minutes the waiter told us they were out. We had ordered a bottle of wine to go with the lamb, but the staff wasn’t trained well enough to understand any problem with this. So we ordered steak skewers and as we were finishing, out came lamb for the table next to us who ordered well after we did. We asked a captain what happened and he said they did not know they had more lamb and it took the chef 20 minutes to find out. We told him we thought that was incompetent and he sent a higher up who first said the other table ordered first, which was not true, and had so been confirmed by the captain. Caught in a lie, he attempted to say it took 25 minutes to thaw the lamb. No one understood that all they had to say to us was wait a few minutes while they check things out. They are simply incompetent on the ship. IMPORTANTLY, this was the second time this happened. They ran out of baked salmon at lunch and told everyone they had no more only 20 minutes into a 90 minute restaurant opening. As we left, there sat the dish. The host of that room said they convinced the chef to make more. Shouldn’t have run out in the first place. 5. With regard to the ship’s entertainers/musicians, the newsletter never tells you who is entertaining where. So we know nothing about them or where they might be at any given time. This is unfair to the passengers and entertainers, and shows a total lack of understanding on the part of the crew. Every other cruise line gives you this information. 6. The group we were with had many people (over 25) in the 6th floor lounge one evening. We were actually playing the piano, and all were singing. At midnight the bartenders closed down and left. Never seen that on a ship. 7. At the so-called Gala dinner, the server put my salad fork back for me to use again when I finished the salad. I had him get me a new one. Then, someone was not thinking on the mussels curry dish as we had to use our hands to open the mussels. What a mess. The chargers on which this dish sat were naturally covered with shells and liquid from the broth. Were they removed? No. At least not until we requested it. 8. Unbelievably, in both dining rooms there is a table for the ship’s officers, who sit by themselves and ignore all their passengers. I cannot remember such rudeness and obvious lack of thought on any other ship. 9. The ship scheduled a mandatory safety meeting followed by a mandatory life jacket drill at 5:45 and 6:00 respectively the first day. Obviously, people took their life jackets with them. Some of the crew allowed them in the room during the lecture and some made us take them back to our cabin saying we could not bring them until 6:00, of course meaning we all had to leave the lecture, go to the room, get the life jackets, and come right back. You would think this is a comedy, but the people on this ship are just this disconnected. Also, the drill was help at a time we were in port and people were not required to be on board for another 8 hours. Finally, even tho the drill was designed to show us how to put on the life jackets, the notice sent out asked us to come with them already on. 10. They are so cheap on this ship. We have already written about the spirits and wine that fall into this category, and the fact that the bartenders close shop at 12 even when passengers are out. In the morning they advertise fresh squeezes orange, grapefruit, and tomato juice. Think they have this during the day at the two cocktail bars? Nope. Too cheap, as we say. Cruise another line - really. Read Less
Sail Date November 2015
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, ... Read More
We paid a premium price for this cruise to see what a more luxurious ship was like. We expected much more than we actually got. Ship only 2 years old, so quite modern and trendier than other cruise lines. Cabin same size as normal ship, although the toilet was separate which was good. The lounge areas were uninspiring. Afternoons entertainment violinist and a jazz singer, piano player. They were quite good for afternoon entertainment. Night there was sometimes a dance show, but nothing in the main lounge area. No music, no dancing, zero atmosphere. If you wanted to sit in there it was quite boring. Ponant have to lift their game if they want to come into the Australian market. Food just average, we expected better for the price we paid. Staff very good, no complaints there. Restaurant staff very helpful. Front desk staff not greatly friendly. Ship always clean and neat. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Did the 17 Day Gallipoli Dawn Service cruise with APT on Ponant's Le Soleal. Found that APT is good at producing glossy brochures but a little short on delivery. Kept advertising that it would land ticket holders to Dawn Service onto ... Read More
Did the 17 Day Gallipoli Dawn Service cruise with APT on Ponant's Le Soleal. Found that APT is good at producing glossy brochures but a little short on delivery. Kept advertising that it would land ticket holders to Dawn Service onto the Peninsula around dusk on the 24th. This was patently misleading as all operators had been advised as early as June 2014 that this would not be possible. Also advertised full complimentary bar throughout but then tried to walk back on that in there cruise guide issued with tickets to only house wine and beer with lunch and dinner. Something which now appears in the fine print of their advertising. Food and standard of wine onboard was second rate. Whilst shore excursions are included in the price they are pretty basic, and in bigger ports with a bit of planning could be undertaken on one's own. Having sailed with both Azamara and Seabourn recently I would recommend them well ahead of APT. Our Gallipoli cruise cost us on a daily basis twice as much as a recent Antarctic cruise with Seabourn, and was well short of the luxury that Seabourn promises and delivers. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Traveled with excellent Tauck group from Buenos Aires on charter flight to Ushuaia. Boarded Le Soleal in the afternoon. Welcomed by captain and officers. Immediately impressed by cleanliness, subtle design and classiness of this new and ... Read More
Traveled with excellent Tauck group from Buenos Aires on charter flight to Ushuaia. Boarded Le Soleal in the afternoon. Welcomed by captain and officers. Immediately impressed by cleanliness, subtle design and classiness of this new and beautiful small ship. Enjoyed smooth Drake passage and great Antarctica weather. 12 zodiac landings led by outstanding team of naturalists. Impressed by safety and care taken by crew and naturalists. Cabin housekeeping excellent. Superb cruise director. Officers friendly and evident. Open bridge policy meant you can observe the ship being maneuvered, navigated and operated. Food good with choice of buffet on level 6 or dining room on level 2. Don't miss the superb steak tartare served at one lunch buffet. Pastry, desserts and baking fabulous. Crew smiling and helpful. Truly a fine voyage on a well run friendly ship. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
We had high expectations for this cruise having sailed with Seabourn and other high-end ships before around the Greek Isles. The food was really average and didn't vary enough from day to day. The chef at breakfast looked annoyed by ... Read More
We had high expectations for this cruise having sailed with Seabourn and other high-end ships before around the Greek Isles. The food was really average and didn't vary enough from day to day. The chef at breakfast looked annoyed by our requests for omelettes (at the omelette bar!) and picked on us for eating pork (we're Indian, and clearly his sensibilities were miffed by this revelation). This is also not a cruise for non-French speakers and even though we do speak some French the French language (excursions, lectures) is pretty constant and most guests were French and avoided us, as did the mostly French-speaking crew. The waiters were lovely and welcoming but otherwise the staff was pretty useless, especially the woman at reception who had absolutely zero information about ports of call (we kept being told they hadn't been there before but I doubt this...). The cabins are small and the cleaning staff are unhelpful and pushy. The evacuation drill is annoying and needlessly fascistic. And finally---the continuous photo shoots with hired models (while we're swimming!!!) was really ridiculous. The models were everywhere. Also, rubbish 'pool' which is more like a puddle and small gym. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
On its website the company promotes this ship in a manner which is quite misleading and leaves one very disappointed. In particular: “The Art of cruising A la Francaise”, “exquisite dining with French cuisine” “our gourmet ... Read More
On its website the company promotes this ship in a manner which is quite misleading and leaves one very disappointed. In particular: “The Art of cruising A la Francaise”, “exquisite dining with French cuisine” “our gourmet cuisine is worthy of top fine dining restaurants “, “French chic and elegance” “Crew members, all versed in elegant discretion” “fully bilingual service on board”, Well, the truth is quite different. Excepted for a handful of French officers, rarely seen about, and the small number of French bartenders, the majority of the crew was Asian. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, except in that this lot, whilst very nice and friendly, where mostly poorly trained, disorganised, but worse of all spoke little English or French. And yes they were discreet, but only because communication was difficult. There was a little or poor supervision of the staff in the dining rooms. Some of the food was delicious, but mostly hit and miss, and often very disappointing. No comparison to fine dining restaurants. The ship was beautiful, but a number of passengers were complaining as they were sleeping on convertible sofa beds, as their cabin was actually the living room component of a suite transformed into a cabin. The entertainment was second rate.   Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
Le Soleil is beautiful. It has everything going for it, except the food. Considering this is a French company we were expecting more, a lot more. The Chef de Cuisine, introduced to all at the welcome reception on the pool deck, was French ... Read More
Le Soleil is beautiful. It has everything going for it, except the food. Considering this is a French company we were expecting more, a lot more. The Chef de Cuisine, introduced to all at the welcome reception on the pool deck, was French but I am not sure how many others were French and know that a good number were not European. The main courses were regularly bland, lacking in appearance and in taste. There were common grumbles that the food was adequate at best but lacked any wow, ever. Too many times the hot food was served tepid and it was almost impossible to get a properly hot tea or coffee. Embarkation was not comfortable. The scheduled time was 4pm and guests were gathering before that. In our case from 3:30 directly from the airport to the port. It was a very hot day. The shed was not air-conditioned and had no facilities except a soft drinks machine that did not work. The staff sat at their desks looking at us standing around, some passengers forming lines, but not until the dot of 4:00pm did they begin to process embarkation. Not cool. There were good points. Announcements were in English and French and given equal time. We were never sure if the Cruise Director was an Englishman who spoke very good French or vice versa. The staff were uniformly friendly, cheerful and helpful, the Captain was out and about all over the ship, approachable, and his open bridge policy was appreciated. We have never before experienced such a silent, vibration-free ship when underway. It was modern propulsion at its outstanding best. Shore excursions seemed expensive but nearly everyone thinks that whichever cruise they are on. The Croatian ports are delightful. The piece-de-resistance was to be Dubrovnik, the Queen of the Dalmatian coast. It turned out to be the worst. Not the ship's fault. It is not a big town and there were at least four other cruise ships there at the same time. We were not sure how many because Soleil, due to it's smaller size, was able to anchor in the old harbour where we could quickly tender ashore while the mega ships moored somewhere else out of our sight. Ashore, the crowds were impossible and it was raining as well. With hundreds of umbrellas up in narrow streets I thought I was lucky not to loose an eye and we fled back to the ship. I have heard that the savvy cruises now call in late in the day for an overnight that presents an empty pleasant stopover. Something Ponant might consider for next season. For a ship claiming this rating they should be doing a lot better in the galley then they can have all the stars. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
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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