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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The South Pacific is a bucket-list destination and the back-to-back cruises on Le Soleal hit all the high spots. I generally like expedition-style cruises, but the itinerary captivated me: Cruise #1: Easter Island, Pitcairn, Gambier ... Read More
The South Pacific is a bucket-list destination and the back-to-back cruises on Le Soleal hit all the high spots. I generally like expedition-style cruises, but the itinerary captivated me: Cruise #1: Easter Island, Pitcairn, Gambier Islands, Moorea, Bora Bora and Papeete; Cruise#2: Papeete, Moorea, Tuamotu islands, Marquesa Islands, Hilo, Honolulu This review will cover both cruises. As it turned out, the itienrary had a lot of expedition-style elements: transportation by zodiac, snorkel eqipt. issued, visiting out of the way places (not even listed in Lonely Planet or much on the web about them), an excellent speaker introducing us to the various Polynesian cultures, film programs, some hiking, and excellent local guides. The mix on the ship was about 50% French-speaking and the rest English speaking (consisting of US, Australian/New Zelanders, Europeans) and most programs were offered twice, once for the French speaking, and again for the English speaking audience. Ship announcements were bi-lingual. Food is both restaurants is excellent and I enjoyed the buffet on on the 6th level for most meals as I could "eat and run". Spa services are excellent I liked that the ship had a afternoon reception for those of us traveling on our own so we could meet each other. This is a 5-star ship, with 5-star dining, 5-star services and 5-star amenities (for example, bathroom amenities are from Hermes). Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Antarctica 2019 -What am amazing trip. The ship and the crew where Wonderfull. From the start, Ponant picked us at the airport - took care of all our luggage and bought it right to our room. Friendly greeting by the Captain, and ... Read More
Antarctica 2019 -What am amazing trip. The ship and the crew where Wonderfull. From the start, Ponant picked us at the airport - took care of all our luggage and bought it right to our room. Friendly greeting by the Captain, and cocktails waiting when you arrived on board. The expedition team- was amazing, friendly, knowledgable and top notch. The expedition team is really what made this already amazing trip to Antarctica even better. They where such a great group that made sure every day you knew what you were doing and ran every excursion smoothly. We had a recap every day of what we did, what we saw and what to expect the next day. We had great educational lectures, about the animals, landscape and facts about Antarctica. I just can not say enough about the expedition team we had. Whale Watching - When ever we would spot Whales, the Captain would stop the ship and circle around and whale watch. You felt like you where on a whale watching trip. They Bridge and the expedition team, made sure you had the full Antarctica experience. This is defiantly one of the great perks on being on a small ship. The Ship was lovely, and spotless. The rooms where clean and you had amazing view everyday. The food was fantastic, the desserts where amazing. Wow!! So much great French Cheese. Over all, the ship was run first class, you never had to worry about anything. Everything and anything was taken care of. Tips - Bring extra face cream and variety of creams (my face got very dry and wind blown) Dress Code - I stressed over what to bring for dinners and the 2 Captains dinner. They 2 more formal nights (are optional). Men: Sports Jackets / Suites. Women in cocktail dresses, some more casual dressed then other and some much more formal. The formal night defiantly had a wide range of styles. Some ladies had slacks, and accessorized. I had a nice sweater dress, necklace and earnings. Heals or flats worked. Other nights, I would wear black fitted slacks and pretty blouses. I suggest pack a few nice pieces. Over all the ship was warm and comfortable , so you do not need heavy clothes for dinner. Always nice to have layers and a sweater if you had to run out to the decks to see a whale or an amazing Ice Berg. I would go back on Ponant Cruise and most defiantly go back to Antarctica - it was spectacular. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
I enjoyed everything on this cruise. Everything went really well and smoothly, from embarkation to disembarkation, there were no problems, delays or issues with anything. We choose the pre-cruise package and it was great because ... Read More
I enjoyed everything on this cruise. Everything went really well and smoothly, from embarkation to disembarkation, there were no problems, delays or issues with anything. We choose the pre-cruise package and it was great because everything was organised and we were able to meet some of the passengers the day before the cruise started. The ship is very confortable and the common areas and the cabin were in very good conditions, the decor is lovely and looks like new. The cabin was really comfortable, very warm and had everything we needed - it is not very spacious, but had everything needed - the towels were super fluffy! Food and drink were excellent, and there was a lot of variety everyday. The daily schedule was really well organised, and between landings, lectures and briefings we were kept busy. The destination is truly incredible and difficult to describe, and the captain and expedition leader took every opportunity to make the most of it. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2019
The staff on board Le Soleal were fabulous and always available to help. The ship itself was of a high standard with plenty of creature comforts. We were in a PR Deck 6 Cabin which was allocated from a Deluxe Guarantee Cabin and it was the ... Read More
The staff on board Le Soleal were fabulous and always available to help. The ship itself was of a high standard with plenty of creature comforts. We were in a PR Deck 6 Cabin which was allocated from a Deluxe Guarantee Cabin and it was the perfect position on Deck 6 being close by to the casual dining (buffet) area at the front and the bar / lounge at the back, both with observation decks. The cabin itself is spacious with large window doors opening to the balcony, very comfortable for the 11 days. Exceptional service on board from all staff including the expedition crew who were very knowledgeable, each with their own area of expertise. The wildlife and scenery in the Weddell Sea and on the Antarctic Peninsula was incredible and i believe the expedition staff and captain picked great landing spots throughout based on both of these. The only concern i have is that the 'charter' flight are not always chartered. The one from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia was a commercial flight where we had to check ourselves in with no real instructions on if we should just proceed or do this as a group. The airline (AR) was unaware of any group (because it was a commercial flight and not charter) and therefore didn't know anything about the 'voucher' which was provided by Ponant as the info on the flights. The 'voucher' stated luggage was 1pc 23kgs however AR only accept 15kgs so we had to pay for the excess luggage amount from the 15-23kgs which was extremely disappointing since those who had the 'charter' flight earlier that day would have checked in as a group and not had this issue in anyway. Coming back we had the actual charter flight while others would have been on the commercial one where they were not getting their bags transferred together and instead had to do this themselves as well as checking in etc which is disappointing when everyone believes they are paying for charter flights where the cost IS much higher then the normal commercial flights and instead they are on commercial anyway with no real instructions. Otherwise i do highly recommend if you are looking for a deluxe all inclusive Antarctica Cruise that Ponant for the cruising portion is a great option. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Although the expected itinerary was not respected, due to the ice conditions, the exploration crew always found nice alternatives to discover new sites, and interesting contacts with the local population. The exploration crew is very ... Read More
Although the expected itinerary was not respected, due to the ice conditions, the exploration crew always found nice alternatives to discover new sites, and interesting contacts with the local population. The exploration crew is very competent, which is the main point (together with the excellent service) to be able to discover and enjoy experiences in places that are otherwise unreachable for most people. Although a previous cruise to the Antartic was much more interesting, in terms of the variety and richness of the animal life, the present cruise gave us the opportunity to meet with the people leaving in extreme conditions, and how they cope with this. It was also very nice to see that respecting the traditions of the local population (Greenland) leads to a better life, while imposing a different culture as the "right one" leads to a lack of self-respect (Canada) with the related problems. In total, a very enjoyable experience!!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
My wife and I recently went on the Le Soliel expedition cruise entitled The Saga of Erick the Red from July 17—29. The trip started in Iceland and spent most of the time combing the Greenland coast up to Kangerlussuaq. We were both ... Read More
My wife and I recently went on the Le Soliel expedition cruise entitled The Saga of Erick the Red from July 17—29. The trip started in Iceland and spent most of the time combing the Greenland coast up to Kangerlussuaq. We were both impressed with the level of service on the ship. The housekeeping as immaculate, the meals were wonderful, and the entertainment was enjoyable, and the ship staff was friendly and helpful. We are looking forward to spending another cruise with Ponant. Unfortunately, one serious drawback to the trip was the quality of the expedition staff (known as naturalist guides). The expedition leader, Florence, was over-matched in her role, and appeared to provide little actual leadership to her guide staff. While all the naturalist guides seemed to be good people, essentially they provided little real guiding. We were usually dumped onto land and were on our own to “use our imagination” as the expedition leader would say. The naturalist guides would simply spread out and watch as passengers walked around, often aimlessly and confused. Here are some examples to illustrate my point: • There was no emphasis on wilderness ethics. The Arctic growing season is short and plant life is precious, yet the expedition leader, Florence, and her staff made very little effort to educate the visitors on how to behave in these wild places and how to best preserve them. Passengers would be wearing big rubber boots designed specifically for mud and muck, yet would trample over delicate flora to avoid wet areas on the trails. • Naturalists were frequently unable to answer the most basic questions about the flora, fauna, geology, or history of a landing site. A naturalist guide should have at least a general knowledge of the natural and human history of an area to be visited, and should have a guidebook to help them answer questions, yet frequently, we got the “I don’t know” response or an outright mis-identification. • One hike we went on was a disaster. My wife and I were one of the first off the ship but we waited over an hour until the all passengers unloaded before the hike started. When it did, nearly 200 passengers all crammed along the same narrow trail, and received no guiding input on the hike. Instead of one enormous group, why not divide the passengers up among the guides and go on more manageable smaller group hikes? • The Viking sites were special but the expedition leader and her naturalist guides were not located at the actual ruins where they could identify the ruins and give historical background. In fact, the first Viking site we landed at, many passengers had no idea where the ruins were located and when we finally saw the 1,000 year-old ruins we had no idea what we were looking at. Passengers even found they had wandered right over one of the Viking long houses, not realizing where the ruin was. • Frequently, naturalist guides were taking pictures as their own personal hobby instead of helping passengers. • The naturalist guides’ PowerPoint presentations on the landing sites were of marginal use. Some of the information presented on the Vikings was superficial and incomplete. We talked to passengers who were on other Ponant expeditions and they said their previous experiences with the naturalists guides was must better. Perhaps we just hit a dud on this expedition. With that said, despite the poor guiding, we enjoyed the rest of the experience enough that we will try another Ponant cruise in the future. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
I had an invitation to cruise the Baltic - a chance for me to retrace my footsteps as a young traveller in this part of the world which has seen so many changes, Le Soleal lived up to all promises, with exceptional French service and ... Read More
I had an invitation to cruise the Baltic - a chance for me to retrace my footsteps as a young traveller in this part of the world which has seen so many changes, Le Soleal lived up to all promises, with exceptional French service and superb food and beverages at all times. Tours were well organised and wonderfully instructive. Relaxing on the ship was a great experience, though we were underwhelmed by the nightime offerings of entertainment and onboard lectures were inadequate (the only negative feature of the whole experience. I especially enjoyed the dining experiences at both restaurants with exceptional variety of foodstyles and ingredients. I appreciated the fresh fruit and salads available at each meal and loved the opportunity to try different dishes and styles of cuisine. The wine list was superb and the martinis excellent! My cabin was spacious, well -organised and beautifully maintained throughout the cruise. My special treat was to visit the bridge on our day at sea and hear all about navigation from the officer in charge. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We were very, very happy with our cruise. Our travel agent had recommended Ponant, in US we don't hear a lot about it. At least with the multiple brochures we receive I had not gotten anything from this amazing cruise line. Going to ... Read More
We were very, very happy with our cruise. Our travel agent had recommended Ponant, in US we don't hear a lot about it. At least with the multiple brochures we receive I had not gotten anything from this amazing cruise line. Going to the Antartica was my dream. Going first to South Georgia and Falklands was a very important part of the trip. The ship was lovely. Never a worry about being bored, hungry or thirsty. And just when I thought I was being spoiled as can be, the staff provided a new surprise like champagne and French macaroons served on an iceberg. This a cruise like no other. As the captain (who was wonderful) reminded passengers, the show is outside. You come for the penguins and fall in love with the ice. So if you like penguins, whales, seals, sea birds and ice and the most breathtaking scenery ever. this is the ultimate destination. I feel it was like another world. However, all good Antartica cruises will see what nature offers. I feel Ponant created the perfect cruise to let it happen. So if you like excellent food (too much for me), perfect service, nice entertainment and a comfortable ship Ponant has it all. We had a basic cabin and it was very functional. Small, but that comes with being an expedition ship. The zodiacs were very well run and I felt very safe. The naturalists were excellent. They went out of their way to be helpful. Each seemed to have their own niche. Also, impressed with the fact most of them were able to communicate in both French (French, first, it is a French line) and English. My only criticism is I would have liked availability of field guides for birds and mammals. I hadn't brought any because I assumed they would be available on the ship. As a bonus, we met very lovely people from Australia, England and US. What I would do different--bring less stuff and upgrade flight between B.A. and Ursula to Economy plus (ship provides basic economy). When I say bring less stuff, I am glad I included some nice dinner outfits because Europeans tend to dress nicely. My husband was happy that there was no "formal" night however. Be sure to buy the CD. The photographers were great. It's hard to take a bad penguin picture but the professional video is a great memory. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We chose this cruise because of the lines reputation and the size of the ship.I fel that the naturalists were optimistic in their rating of some of the excursions. They tend to forget that we were all quite a lot older than them and what ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the lines reputation and the size of the ship.I fel that the naturalists were optimistic in their rating of some of the excursions. They tend to forget that we were all quite a lot older than them and what is easy to mild to them is not to people over 55. But Antarctica was wonderful and hard to describe to people just how magnificent it is. The size of the ship helped in that everywhere we went was acessable. Embarkation and disembarkation was well organised as were the excursions. In particular I would give special praise to the restaurant staff. They were exceptional with their service, especially Teddy, Yogi and Baptiste. Food was exceptional and after 15-16 days it was still as fresh as when we started. With regards to the entertainment, maybe a little less electronic backing music and just the singers themselves, as they all had good voices without having to rely on electronic backing. William was an excellent entertainment officer and his piano playing was terrific, also his knowledge of the different music genres. I would recommend Ponant to anyone who will listen. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Beyond the polar circle expedition trip of 16 nights with Ponant Soleal including the Falkland and South Georgia Islands will always remain in our memories for life. Landscapes still intact and wild life of birds, penguins, seals, ... Read More
Beyond the polar circle expedition trip of 16 nights with Ponant Soleal including the Falkland and South Georgia Islands will always remain in our memories for life. Landscapes still intact and wild life of birds, penguins, seals, whales, and icebergs, sea ice, and mountains of Antarctica were no where found and still very much untouched by humans makes this expedition very unique of its kind. Ponant staff overall were very friendly and very service oriented deserve to be appreciated. Naturalists were young, multilingual, motivated, and , very knowledgeable and did a fantastic job with landings and preparing the land itineraries with poles and presence everywhere if you needed them. We had the cabin 603 deluxe suite and it was comfortable although the toilet we a bit small. Internet connection was not the best although it had to be purchased separately but we were warned about the connection. Overall, I would rate this expedition trip with Ponant high, 4.5 on a scale of 5. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We originally choose this Cruise because of the destination, which was on our bucket list, and thankfully because a friend introduced us to Ponant. The cruise was exceptional in every experience, the ship, the cabin, the Captain and ... Read More
We originally choose this Cruise because of the destination, which was on our bucket list, and thankfully because a friend introduced us to Ponant. The cruise was exceptional in every experience, the ship, the cabin, the Captain and crew, the food and beverage, the naturalists and the understated but excellent entertainment. From the time we me some of our fellow travellers at the Inter-Continental Hotel in Buenos Aires until our departure we were continually impressed by the staff management of activities and the friendly co-operation of all guests. All communication was bi-lingual, but very clear and precise. We benefitted by excellent weather which allowed us to pass the Artic/Polar Circle and land and climb Cape Horn which were added bonuses to our planned itinerary. The attention to detail in every aspect safety, service, customer satisfaction was superb. The cruise was everything we hoped for and more with the excersion experiences remaining life memories. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, ... Read More
Always wanted to go to Antarctica and to see Cape Horn. The charter flight from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia gave us the chance to spend time in the vibrant capital of Argentina as a bonus. Le Boreal was a fantastic ship; Goldilocks size, luxurious and attentively crewed. Dining choices included the full service restaurant as well as a more casual grill. Live entertainment in the theatre was relaxing and fun and the same venue held briefings and information sessions during the day. Zodiak excursions were well planned and superbly executed by highly trained staff. The spectacular coastal scenery was complemented by lots of sea-ice and great icebergs, as well as penguins, orcas and humpback whales up close and personal. We appreciated the great care taken to preserve the pristine environment when shore excursions occurred, and the opportunity to visit a shore based research station occupied throughout the year. I feel every person on board disembarked both entertained and better informed about one of the world's great wilderness areas. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I choose this cruise to visit Antarctica. I enjoyed this cruise tremendously. The scenery was breathtaking. The crew was outstanding helping you in every way and enjoying what they do. The cabins were excellent and had plenty of room. The ... Read More
I choose this cruise to visit Antarctica. I enjoyed this cruise tremendously. The scenery was breathtaking. The crew was outstanding helping you in every way and enjoying what they do. The cabins were excellent and had plenty of room. The food was very good. Seeing the penguins, seals and humpback whales made the experience worth while. Getting in and out of the zodiacs was an experience not to be forgotten. The zodiacs got you to the shore where you were able to watch the penguins going about their daily duties of nest sitting and feeding. The males carrying the stones for nest building was very amusing as the females would accept or reject the stones. The humpback whales surfacing within 15 feet of the zodiac was stimulating. The only bad thing about the cruise was the internet charges in an area where the internet was very intermittent. Overall it was an excellent cruise and I will certainly use Ponant as my premier cruise line. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
I had wanted to visit Chile and the Chilean Fjords since visiting Puerto Montt in 1973. The Fjords can only be visited by ship and it is the easiest way to visit Puerto Natales and the outstanding Torres del Paine national park. ... Read More
I had wanted to visit Chile and the Chilean Fjords since visiting Puerto Montt in 1973. The Fjords can only be visited by ship and it is the easiest way to visit Puerto Natales and the outstanding Torres del Paine national park. Cruising with Ponant is very flexible. If you want to explore ports of call on your own, you don't have to pay for the shore excursions. Since we had visited Osorno before this was important for us. We took a public bus to Ancud instead of going on the organised tours. However the zodiac excursions in the fjords were included in the cruise price and were very well organised. The small number of passengers meant that getting passengers on and off the ship for excursions was quick and easy. One good reason for choosing Ponant is the quality of the food on board. The French take food very seriously and we were not disappointed. Our cabin was very comfortable and the service was excellent. I was initially disappointed by the lack of information about our route through the fjords but since Ponant have an open bridge policy, I soon found out that it was easy to visit the bridge and have a look at the charts (although the bridge is closed from time to time.) In summary, I would recommend this cruise for the magnificent scenery, good food and the flexibility that comes from being with a small number of other passengers. I shall travel with Ponant again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We like to sail on the smaller ships and had been sailing with Seabourn for 15 years (max. 208 passengers) when they had the 3 small ships. Sailed a couple of times on the larger, newer ships (max. 450 passengers) and did not like it. My ... Read More
We like to sail on the smaller ships and had been sailing with Seabourn for 15 years (max. 208 passengers) when they had the 3 small ships. Sailed a couple of times on the larger, newer ships (max. 450 passengers) and did not like it. My husband found Ponant on line and thought the line looked very interesting. Having got the brochure and saw the type of cruises we like (particularly the repositioning as we like days at sea) we booked the Boston, Mass. to Lima, Peru. Loved every minute and we will certainly book another one as soon as possible (and we have saved some money up!) The staff could not do enough for you and nothing was too much. The food was superb, particularly the wonderful French cheeses and the bread is to die for! (Take clothes that will expand with your waistline!!!!) I would have liked a bit more to do in the daytime, i.e. art and craft classes etc. The only problem was that the majority of the passengers were only French speakers. However, the staff did translate where appropriate (quizzes etc) Our cruise agent informed me that there are going to be some 'all English speaking' cruises in the future and we would be VERY interested in hearing about those. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
We chose this cruise as a total getaway from caregiving and because we really needed a break. We wanted a small ship with no casino, no children, no loud cruise director, and a small number of passengers. We flew to Boston from Tampa and ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a total getaway from caregiving and because we really needed a break. We wanted a small ship with no casino, no children, no loud cruise director, and a small number of passengers. We flew to Boston from Tampa and boarded with 35 other passengers - the ship holds about 200 total. As this was a repositioning cruise, the cost was very affordable and we were prepared for 8 days of total relaxation. The crew did a great job of refurbishing one area after another - new carpets, drapes, etc. while keeping enough public space open that we hardly noticed. The catering was less elaborate than ususl, we were told, but the array and quality of the food was superb. We like the occasional gourmet dinner but we also like an option for simple grilled salmon or more country food, which was always an option. This was our first Ponant cruise - we had already booked one next Spring from Martinique to Lisbon (another ocean cruise) - and took the opportunity for a short cruise in advance. We are so glad we did. We met every single other passenger - even the French, who comprised about half of the passengers. As I speak a bit of French, I had no trouble, but neither did those who spoke only English. The passengers were fun and friendly. Only ten of us disembarked in Panama and the rest were joined by others as they went on to Lima over the following week or so. The crew was excellent - only the reception staff were a bit uninterested in being responsive. The Butler, West, attended to all our needs. We had a suite - essentially two staterooms together. Beware, European sizes are small for us Americans, but there was plenty of room. For the most part, we hardly stayed in the stateroom. The public rooms are gorgeous, well cared-for and comfortable. We are going again and we actually booked a Tahiti - Honolulu - Japan trip in 2019. This is a wonderful line and perfect for adults and friends. The entertainment was just fine and much more than we expected given a repositioning cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2017
The itinerary was fabulous, with varied and interesting ports of call: Beautiful Stockholm, elegant Helsinki, opulent St Petersburg (3 days), unspoilt Tallin with its exquisite Old Town and lovely local shops, finishing in elegant ... Read More
The itinerary was fabulous, with varied and interesting ports of call: Beautiful Stockholm, elegant Helsinki, opulent St Petersburg (3 days), unspoilt Tallin with its exquisite Old Town and lovely local shops, finishing in elegant Copenhagen. We spent a few days exploring Stockholm prior to departing for the Balic Sea and spent a couple of days in Copenhagen at the end of the cruise. The service was outstanding throughout the entire cruise with smiling helpful staff making you feel very welcome at all times. Much of the crew is from the Philippines with the cruise director and officers mostly being French. Everyone spoke excellent English. Embarkation and disembarkation ran extremely smoothly. The ship's decor is understated and elegant. Its three lounges/theatre allow plenty of room for passengers to relax in common areas and never feel crowded. The more formal restaurant on Deck 2 can seat the entire ship in one sitting. There is no need to book a table and staff will accommodate your wishes to sit alone or with a group. With about half the passengers being French and the other half English, your preferred language and preferred dining companions are taken into consideration when offering you a table for dinner. The more casual buffet and carvery restaurant is on Deck 6 and, despite being more casual, bookings are advised. There is no specific dress code, but smart casual is expected in the dining room. Some passengers choose to dress more formally for the Captain's dinner and most men wear a sports jacket, but many women are in pants. There is certainly no need for formal attire. The food is of excellent quality with a French influence. We loved it. The cabins are located towards the bow of the ship and most common areas towards the stern resulting in no discernible engine noise. Our cabin was well appointed, attractive, very comfortable and spacious, with a king-size bed and excellent storage. A desk, lounge chair and small table were very useful. The floor-ceiling doors leading to the good size balcony were wonderful and you could pull back the drapes and lie in bed and look out at the passing landsccape if you wished. A fabulous lecturer gave extremely informative and entertaining lectures on each port. We didn't pay much attention to the entertainment, choosing instead to chat with fellow passengers in the bar. The spa was wonderful. We would certainly travel with Ponant again. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This was a College Charter run by Gohagen & Co. booked through UCLA Alumni. Our ratings: UCLA Alumni Travel: 5/5 Gohagen & Co.: 5/5 Ponant: 5/5 Le Soleal: 5/5 Antarctica: 10/5 The booking process went very ... Read More
This was a College Charter run by Gohagen & Co. booked through UCLA Alumni. Our ratings: UCLA Alumni Travel: 5/5 Gohagen & Co.: 5/5 Ponant: 5/5 Le Soleal: 5/5 Antarctica: 10/5 The booking process went very smoothly as was the follow-up to the numerous questions we had prior to the trip. Documentation was equally easy. We left from Houston IAH where we met the Gohagen staff who escorted us to Buenos Aires for two nights. We then flew to Ushuaia to board Le Soleal. We had read several poor reviews of this ship on CC so we were quite surprised when the Captain himself greeted us by name (without a prompt) as we boarded. We had never experienced anything like this on our previous 40 cruises on various lines. Most of the staff knew ours and everyone else's name by the third day. With very few exceptions, each crew member was gracious, informative and helpful. The ship was comfortable (having a suite is a big plus) and it met most of our needs. Food was good, service superb and selection was fine. The visit to Antarctica was unbelieveable. The on-board naturalists and scientists were very informative, interesting and well trained. Getting on and off the ship via Zodiacs was a challenge for us older folks, but the crew made it work well. When you tour the Polar areas everything depends on the local weather so you don't know from hour to hour what stops you will be making. The Captain did a great job of finding great stops and keeping us informed. You will not believe what you see ashore. It reminded me of my visit to the Grand Canyon: You can't really describe it with words nor can you really photograph it. In summary: A life altering experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2017
To discover Antarctica: the wild, the peaceful, the pristine landscapes, the animals, in their very own habitat, and visibly not disturbed by these strange visitors coming from other continents, To do so onboard a small size ship to be ... Read More
To discover Antarctica: the wild, the peaceful, the pristine landscapes, the animals, in their very own habitat, and visibly not disturbed by these strange visitors coming from other continents, To do so onboard a small size ship to be able to go in shore as much as possible around the icebergs and the whales, to enjoy the feeling of being part of a small family (only 200 passengers), to benefit of a strong and caring team of naturalists who were extremely helpful in preparing the visits... And to top it up, to relax in a large, nicely furnished room with a large bed, a balcony... and to enjoy a constantly amazingly good food, and good wines. What else? Very friendly staff, always ready to help. Excellent service at the various bars and restaurants. State of cleanliness very much OK. And I appreciated as well the availability and dedication of the Captain and of the Cruise Director who did everything in their power to make our cruise a memorable one, probably the "cruise of my life"... Read Less
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose the cruise upon the recommendation of a friend who had previously traveled with Ponant. We found all the staff (especially the expedition staff) to be terrific people who all seemed to enjoy their job very much. The expedition ... Read More
We chose the cruise upon the recommendation of a friend who had previously traveled with Ponant. We found all the staff (especially the expedition staff) to be terrific people who all seemed to enjoy their job very much. The expedition staff had an obvious enthusiasm for all the places we visited. Other guests were friendly. All the meals and drinks were excellent. Did not have a bad meal. Our only disappointment was the obvious mess up in getting all guests on to the chartered flight from Beunos Aires. We were amongst the 45 passengers who were not advised of the chartered aeroplane's early departure. The B.A. staff from the Ponant office were excellent and did all they could to get us to Ushaia. It was disappointing that no apology was forthcoming from the captain regarding this inconvenience. (We waited 13 hours at Jorge Newbury airport before leaving for Ushaia). Nous avons choisi la croisière sur la recommendation d'un ami qui avait auparavant voyagé avec Ponant. Nous avons constaté que tout le personnel (surtout le personnel d'expédition) a été les gens terrifiants que tous ont semblés apprécier leur emploi très beaucoup. Le personnel d'expédition avait un enthousiasme évident pour tous les endroits que nous avons visités. D'autres invités étaient sympathiques. Tous les repas et les boissons étaient excellents. N'avait pas de mauvais repas. Notre seul désappointement était le désordre évident en haut dans le fait de monter tous les invités au vol chartered de Beunos Aires. Nous étions parmi les 45 passagers à qui on n'a pas conseillé du premier départ de l'avion chartered. Le personnel B.A. du bureau Ponant était excellent et a fait tout ce qu'ils pourraient pour nous recevoir à Ushaia. Il était décevant qu'aucune apologie n'était prochaine du capitaine quant à ce dérangement. (Nous avons attendu 13 heures à l'aéroport de Jorge Newbury avant le départ pour Ushaia). Read Less
Sail Date: December 2016
Antarctica has been #1 on my "bucket list" for as long as I can remember. Le Soleal and its crew made the Antarctic a one of a kind experience. From the captain's greeting as we boarded the ship to the ship itself, the ... Read More
Antarctica has been #1 on my "bucket list" for as long as I can remember. Le Soleal and its crew made the Antarctic a one of a kind experience. From the captain's greeting as we boarded the ship to the ship itself, the crew, the food, the shore excursions and more, I will always remember my visit to Antarctica. If you choose to venture so far south, go with Ponant. You won't regret it! Prior to the cruise we had been warned that setting foot on the continent might not ne possible given ice. My goal was to set foot on it at least once and I would die a happy cruiser. Not only did we landed once, but we did so nine more times. Unlike other cruises, the captain had the freedom to change the itinerary to capture the best weather, the stay within sighting distance of a pod of Orcas, and maneuver us among magnificent icebergs. We saw tens of thousands of penguins as well as elephant seal, whales and Orcas. The knowledgeable crew gave daily lectures on the birds, mammals, penguins, and types of ice we would see. And the fine touches were the icing on the cake. One day our zodiac rounded the side of an iceberg where we were greeting by crew in another zodiac with champagne. Although I will likely never venture to the Antarctic again, I will cruise with Ponant! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2016
Have just returned from a cruise on Le Soleal from Tahiti to Easter Island. We chose this cruise as it visited remote islands, particularly the difficult to access Pitcairn Island. Having seen some quite negative reviews from Australians ... Read More
Have just returned from a cruise on Le Soleal from Tahiti to Easter Island. We chose this cruise as it visited remote islands, particularly the difficult to access Pitcairn Island. Having seen some quite negative reviews from Australians on this site about this cruiseline I was a bit concerned before we left. Having travelled on a few cruise lines I found Ponant friendly, professional, staff catered well to non French speaking passengers and the food and service were excellent. There was a balance of fun, comfort and adventure. The Captain was frequently accessible and the cruise director one of the best. The cabins were comfortable and always clean. With such difficult to access islands it was sometimes unclear whether we would be able to land until the last minute, but we were always kept informed by the Captain about the conditions. So some flexibility is needed when undertaking this type of cruise but it all adds up to an unforgettable holiday. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
We chose this cruise because Ponant is one of the very few companies to offer a cruise starting and ending in Tahiti. We also chose it because, being a very small yacht, it was able to visit remote islands that were too small to service or ... Read More
We chose this cruise because Ponant is one of the very few companies to offer a cruise starting and ending in Tahiti. We also chose it because, being a very small yacht, it was able to visit remote islands that were too small to service or accommodate big cruise ships. Having read the wildly varying reviews of Ponant and Le Soleal on this site we wondered if we had done the right thing. In the end our fears, raised by some of the reviewers on this site proved to be complete unfounded. Le Soleal is a fabulous cruise yacht, the staff are friendly to a fault and the food is absolutely the finest French cuisine. All the excursions including the zodiac disembarkation onto tiny little islets were organised with the utmost professionalism and slickness. Really impossible to fault. Almost everyone we spoke to and dined with loved the cruise unreservedly. The notable exceptions were the Australians who had cruised on Seabourne etc. They whinged incessantly and I guess it's they who are responsible for the poor reviews here. None of the Europeans we spoke to were anything other than delighted with the ship and the crew. I haven't been on a Seabourne cruise but I have dined in some of the finest restaurants and stayed at some of the finest hotels and as fas as I'm concerned Le Soleal was right up there with the best. However, to sample the very finest wines you you have to leave the all-inclusive menu and choose something (expensive) a la carte. Only once did I see anything less than exemplary behaviour from one of the staff and that was the result of constant whinging and harping from one of our Australian cruisers. I can quite see how the French crew would get wound up by people who do nothing but criticise. In short Le Soleal is a wonderful cruise experience best suited to middle aged affluent travellers who are still agile enough to enjoy all their is to offer (snorkelling, diving etc). But even if you have advanced beyond that the Polynesian cruise on Le Soleal is a perfect way to sample the islands. Best of all you get to see the ones that are well off the beaten track as well as the standard favourites such as Bora Bora. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2016
We chose this cruise because of the smaller size of the ship, the French language (although everything on board is bilingual French/English) the food, the trip, the reputation of this company and the itinerary. It was our first cruise and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the smaller size of the ship, the French language (although everything on board is bilingual French/English) the food, the trip, the reputation of this company and the itinerary. It was our first cruise and we are hooked. The service was impeccable, the captain and crew outstanding, the cabin modern, gorgeous and luxurious, the food was absolutely wonderful, the best we have ever had (in our lives). The itinerary was the stuff of dreams, the lecturers of the highest possible qualifications and knowledge. I honestly don't think we would consider another cruise company. We are aware that we have found perfection and need look no further. We immediately pre-booked our upcoming trips while on board and are still suffering from withdrawal symptoms. What I appreciated the most was the peace and quiet, and the sophisticated quietness (no rowdy parties, loud discotheques, queues) and the lack of formal palava (no need to wear tuxedos and ball gowns), just to be correctly dressed for dinner for example. For us this cruise ticked every box on our dream list, and more. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2016
My wife and I were facing such a cruise for the 1st time. Good friends of ours told us to join them, I was not ready to do it because I was reserving this kind of experiences for my 80's... Well, even if we had explored the program ... Read More
My wife and I were facing such a cruise for the 1st time. Good friends of ours told us to join them, I was not ready to do it because I was reserving this kind of experiences for my 80's... Well, even if we had explored the program before departing, the surprise went far beyond expectations: we personally loved the "small yacht" principle and the expeditions side surrounded by top quality in all its aspects: registration process, boarding, logistic, high maintenance of equipment/material, organization and variety of expeditions, lodging, service, personnel, restaurants and food, etc. Last but not least we greatly appreciated that 'nature' linked with 'culture' with the level of specialists who accompanied us, and with who we shared their so interesting professional experiences. Yes we are planning to go again, with other friends why not? since they are all paying interest to all what we are telling them. Read Less
Le Soleal Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins N/A 4.1
Dining N/A 3.9
Entertainment N/A 3.4
Public Rooms N/A 4.3
Fitness Recreation N/A 3.6
Family N/A 3.6

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