Our previous experience in 2017 on Le Boreal gave us confidence in the offerings of Ponant. In addition, this voyage had interesting Pre Voyage offerings, which we purchased, as the chance to use the 4 day tour of Osaka and Nara was really attractive to us as mature travellers.
Of particular note was the quality of the Kyoto Hotel Okura, which dazzled us completely!
The provision of an interpreter during this experience was of great value throughout our land voyage. As were the transfers included.
Based on our previous voyage experiences, the bed (mattress) quality had improved, and we chose twin beds, which worked well for us. Everything in the room worked well and as expected. We used the balcony a great deal, as the weather was ideal throughout the voyage. One small issue related to the size of the (hand held) shower nozzle, as it was heavy and overlarge when off the wall bracket. This also affects the ability to have enough spray power for rinsing the body parts.
The room layouts on the Ponant sister ships are all similar, with the provision of a separate standalone toilet real appreciated, especially by the female passengers.
also, the ability to use either the glass or screen door really functions well. We used the privacy door when showering, and the glass wall at other times to allow natural light for use of the vanity and mirror.
Power outlets are available in convenient locations for charging devices and for use of the provided hair dryer. Our preference is for twin beds, which do affect available space, but more than adequate storage is available in drawers and hanging spaces.
We make a point of choosing midship room location to be sure of a steady ride, but at no time have we felt any significant pitch or roll on the 2 sisterships that we have travelled on.
We find the food very good for meals both in the formal restaurant on deck 2 and the more casual buffet located on deck 6. We love both the French cooking, and the Local food choices incorporated, After boarding, it takes no time at all to be comfortable, as the total crew/passenger experience is very intimate.
On boarding for this voyage we had the joy of being greeted while crossing the gangway by crew members from our previous Ponant voyages. Makes for a great feeling! Met more while settling in!
For those who are yet to experience Ponant we highly recommend their manner and ethic. They do put some other lines that we have experienced to shame.
The cruise critic system fails to recognise Yakushima as a port, so we will mention our walking tour in passing.This excursion was well organised to tour in the forest at 1000 metres above sea level. A good experience!
Our chosen excursion for Okinawa was The Battle of Okinawa, which gave insights of the horrors inflicted on the Okinawan natives by the Japanese. And also of the recovery efforts subsequent to the war.
Here, as our ship was departing port, we were buzzed by 4 F18 fighters at low level and using afterburner. NOISY!
As the cruise critic system fails to recognise Ishigaki Island as a port, we mention that we took the excursion Highlights of Ishigaki which was informative and interesting, particularly the pearl farms at Kabirawan.
At Hualien we took the excursion Taroko Gorge and Temples which we enjoyed immensely . This was a full day excursion which worked well as it involved bus travel into the mountains, walking and a fully catered lunch at a hotel in the mountains