This might be a lengthy review, but I feel it needs to be because when booking with Ponant, I found little to no reviews on this company, especially for people who were bringing children.
We traveled with our kids 8 and 10 and just got home from an 8 night Mediterranean cruise onboard the Le Lyrial. We LOVED this ship. The staff were amazing, there was a kids club that I couldn't pull my kids from (more on that), and we were very pleased with the food.
Cabins are adequate in size. We have been on Royal Caribbean and Disney boats and the Deluxe Balcony stateroom was just as big, with a decent sized balcony. We had cabins 323 and 325, both rooms were perfect for 2 ppl per cabin with plenty of storage. They took out the balcony divider between out staterooms so we could come and go between the cabins. These staterooms do not connect from the inside.
There was a kids club on this cruise, which I don't think is offered on all the itineraries. If there's a kids club, it will be listed. My kids loved kids club. The activities they provided for the children were entertaining. No there is not a basketball court, or all the other kids stuff you find on the Disney and RC boats, but my kids never complained about not having that. In fact, they told us this was the best kids club they've been too.
Because this is a smaller boat, you port in smaller ports and getting off the boat is so much less stressful. Ponant organizes everything to a "T" and we were very impressed with the tours they provided. We generally do not book cruise ship tours, but these tours never had any more than 20 ppl in a group, again a BONUS being on a smaller boat.
Food and Dining:
Food was great! There are 2 restaurants and we never had a problem getting seating at either of them. I do wish they had a couple more options for the included house wines. With this being a french boat, I was looking forward to tasting some good french wines. They do have them, but they come at a cost.
Never crowed. On a Mediterranean cruise one would have thought you would have problems finding a chair. We never did. Also, ppl do not reserve chairs with towels, which was nice!
There were 122 people onboard our ship. Amazing! I can't imagine we will ever be able to go back to a bigger boat after being on the Le Lyrial. I would also like to add that our tour manager, Nina was phenomenal. She organized all our excursions, and they went above and beyond to make sure we had the best experience possible. For example, we booked an excursion that was not offered as an inclusion to the US passengers, and was given only in French. My husband and I knew this going into it. We fully expected that we were going on a French speaking excursion and were OK with that. To our surprise, Nina had organized an English speaking guide to accommodate us that day. It was like we had our on personal guide. We did not expect this at all! But again, this is Ponant, and Nina was just exceptional.
All in all we will book again with Ponant. Not having to deal with the crowds on embarking and disembarking is so worth the extra cost! Plus the attention you get on the cruise is priceless.
Sail Date: July 2019
Spacious, clean with plenty of storage. Great location, very quiet!