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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.

An Exquisite Cruise Showcasing the Full Range of French Polynesian Islands

Le Soleal Cruise Review by Seafair

7 people found this helpful
Trip Details
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.
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Cabin Review

Cabin 517
Small by most cruising standards but superbly decorated and stylish. Avoid Deck 5, go for Deck 4 where none of the cabins have to do double duty as a living room for those choosing to have a suite.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Bora Bora
    We were desperate to see Manta rays but, unfortunately, neither of the two usual sites turned up anything. The boat was a superb, luxury bow rider type, and our captain did everything he could to make the trio a success. At $400 for 3 hours this is a very expensive option but it gave us the flexibility to tailor our trip precisely to our own requirements. Despite our Manta ray disappointment we did get to to snorkel extremely close to the reef in just 3-4 feet of water. The coral gardens here were beyond compare. This is not something you can visit on an ordinary snorkelling tour boat. Elsewhere, the shoal of 17 Eagle rays swimming in close formation in visibility exceeding 200 ft was a sight we will never forget.
    View All 12,434 Bora Bora Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Snorkeling
    Huahine is a totally beautiful island and the 30 minute trip along the coast to the snorkel site was wonderful. The snorkelling itself was average by Polynesian standards.
    View All 12 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Moorea
    I wish, oh how I wish, we had booked the whale watching excursion with Ponant. By all accounts it was an utterly fantastic trip with close, in-water contact with whales.

    Moorea itself is a beautiful island, in many respects far more beautiful, rewarding and engaging than Bora Bora.
    View All 138 Moorea Cruise Port Reviews
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  • Snorkeling
    Drift snorkelling in one of the passes on Taha. This involved a 35 minute speedboat ride to the site. The snorkelling itself was fabulous, driving through the pass in crystal clear conditions. We did 3 drifts all of which were fabulous.
    View All 5 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Snorkeling
    The aquarium snorkelling trip was one of the finest snorkelling experiences I've ever had.
    View All 15 Snorkeling Reviews
  • Tahiti (Papeete)
    The very lovely Isabelle Klein was our captain and tour guide. It was clear from the way the trip was organised that these guys were most professional in their approach to, and respect for, the whales. Unfortunately, although we saw and got into the water with a mother and calf, we didn't get to snorkel with them up close because the mother was not cooperating. Isabelle didn't press the issue which I was very glad to see. On a previous dolphin experience in NZ it was distressing to see a poor mother and calf being hounded by 40 shouting and thrashing snorkelers. I would recommend Tahiti Its Diving but you do need to be able to speak and understand French and you need to book online. The office at Phaeton Bay is rarely occupied. The boat has room for about 10 customers. It has no shelter and the sea can be rough.
    View All 12,434 Tahiti (Papeete) Cruise Port Reviews
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