We chose Ponant as it offered an in depth look at the area at a competitive price. This was our first Ponant cruise. We have cruised with Silversea and Seabourn previously, but not on expedition cruises.
L'Austral is sleek and the décor is understated but elegant and contemporary. Our cabin ( a "prestige stateroom" on Deck 5) was very comfortable. It was a bit small in some respects but that's not surprising on a ship of this size. The French crew were attentive and pleasant.
The expedition team was very impressive, particularly in organising and accompanying the groups departing on shore excursions by Zodiac.
Very comfortable, but it would be a better if the wardrobe doors were sliding rather than opening outwards into the entry hall. A second chair in the cabin would be an improvement, but the console along the side wall would need to be shorter to fit it in.