We have friends who work in the Cruise travel industry. Ponant was portrayed as a luxury cruise small ship company with an expedition theme. We should have had some idea when we first booked that the cruise would not be "smooth" sailing because all questions were referred to head office in France and the Sydney staff could not assist us.
Day 1 arrived at Orly Airport at 7.30 am - there was no company staffer nor sign assisting us to find the charter flight at Orly Airport despite being reassured by Sydney Office the flight would be listed on Departures Board - it wasn't. Finally when we found check in desk in the basement we stood for 80 minutes waiting to be processed (there were no seats anywhere to be found on this floor). Through no fault of Ponant's our charter flight was delayed but there were no Ponant staff to give us an update or any information such as would it be at the same gate! Orly airport have very few seats at the departure gates so many of us sat on the floor for several hours.The rest I will dot point but its downhill all the way until we arrived safely back in Paris.
1. Arriving in Bergen to meet the ship there was no assistance with luggage from carousel to charter bus, we were not offered water upon our arrival to the bus and couldn't purchase any as Bergen shops wanted the local currency. We were met by some young ladies outside the airport who told us the bus number and take luggage and put it into the luggage hold. Our guide on the bus was a lovely young woman she shared her local knowledge and in particular that is rains in Bergen 360 pus days of the year. Shame Ponant didn't know that!
2. Taken on city tour of Bergen - 3 three times around the town centre and an hour later we were taken to wharf. All 4 buses at the same time arrived at the wharf.
3. Promptly told we had to collect our luggage and take it along the wharf to the ship - at this point we were tired but did as we told without complaint.
4. At the gang plank we had a 45 minute wait in light rain whilst the Captain greeted each of the 220 something passengers. Whilst waiting we were exposed to fumes as the ship was being refuelled and the truck would've been about 5 metres from us. I hoped no one would light up! Still no offer of beverages nor umbrellas and no concern for those of us who were waiting patiently on the dock: dehydrated and nauseous from the fumes and standing in the queue we approached the officer who was controlling the number of passengers on the gang plank and got an apologetic shrug.We got to our cabin at 5.20 pm and told over the loud speaker that the english shore excursions talk would begin in 10 minutes - no rest for the wicked! There was bottled water in our cabin thank goodness!
5. During the entire cruise the onboard staff were rude and unwelcoming. No "Bonjour" greetings. "No! you can't have that wine tonight", "no we've run out of croissants".
6. The cruise was advertised as "Expeditionary " but the first part of the cruise from Bergen to Tromso was not and paid Shore Excursions were on offer but limited numbers. The information session held on the first evening at 5.30pm repeated the information that we had printed out from the website, we were all making notes but despite this the speakers were difficult to understand with their broad accents and we struggled to comprehend what was on offer, there was much confusion amongst the english speaking guests (50 of us) but we bonded really well over this confusion pooled our fragments of information and worked out what to book. The popular excursions were quickly booked out e.g. the kayaking in one of the fjords and you couldn't book all your excursions at once they only opened for bookings for one hour in the early evening about one or two days in advance. No pre cruise booking was available.
7. English Lectures were interesting but whilst out in the field one of the Expedition team described the birdlife in French when he had finished he refused my request to translate the information to English although he had lectured to us in English the day before. One of the french speaking passengers was kind enough to tell me what was said. We found two of the expedition leaders were generous with their information and time and passionate about their work,we became their shadow where possible.
Shore Excursions this was part expedition and part shore excursions.
8. Food served a la carte in formal dining room always tepid never hot. Returned it one day but waited 1/2 hr before it arrived back whilst those dining with me had finished their desserts! Didn't do that again. However the Ice Cream served warm
9.. Observation Deck Bar: Don't ask for a beverage before 12.00 noon (it was 11.55 am unaware the bar opened at 12.00) because you will get an unopened can, no glass and thumped down on the coffee table. Except the day the "tip" envelopes were delivered to our cabin - then we were offered a smile and nuts and a cocktail!
10. Departure: again no staff member to supervise the charter flights at the airport in Longyearbyen - flight delayed 1 1/2 hrs or more and when we finally arrived at CDG we discovered that our luggage was mistakenly put on the other charter flight 2 hours behind ours and their luggage was on the carousel in CDG with us! Again no official Ponant staff to speak to, however, as luck would have it, one of the expedition leaders was on our flight, thank goodness, he rang the ship and told us our luggage was on the other charter flight. Needless to say we missed our train to Lille but Ponant did reimburse us the fare. Approx 60 Euros.
11. We wrote to the Sydney Office detailing our issues and disappointment and were offered a 10% discount on a Ponant cruise. Thanks but no thanks
Storage for clothes: not enough coat hangers. Very little walking space between the drawers and the end of the bed. The toilet was separate to the bathroom which was good.
it was not a guided tour. We were left on our own to exploreView All 16 Cable Car Experience Reviews