It has been our 4th cruise with Ponant. We like the concept of "Expedition-cruises". This cruise through the Seychelles-islands was very different. We have spoken to other travellers and the general feedback was as follows: Ponant repeaters clearly stated that this was the worst cruise they have done. From "newcomers" we have heard "never again Ponant". Remembering the other excellent cruises with Ponant we felt sorry to listen to these statements. We have been even more disappointed as we convinced some friends to join us on their "first cruise ever".....
The ship is great, the cabins clean, the entire staff absolutely charming and helpful. The food (as usual on Ponant) better than on comparable ships. Someone gets used to the chaotic administration before the cruise (documents arrive one day before departure despite several requests, no answers to mails, etc). But usually the organisation on board is excellent and does not reflect the low performance of the headquarter.
Not this time: Obviously the cruise director could not cope with the job: unprofessional announcements...if any.., (although we are French speaking we felt sorry for the English speaking passengers: the badly to understand announcements lead to a number of misunderstandings and frustrations among the passengers.) Further she seemed to be completely lost in unexpected situations. Even he highlight "Visit to La Digue" had been messed up. Due to weather and sea conditions the ship had to anchor in front of Praslin instead of La Digue. Instead of organising one of the frequent fast ferries from the pier to La Digue where the program had been organised and booked already, passengers had been offered to visit an unattractive beach on Praslin. Improvisation had always been the strength of Ponant. Not this time!
The captain tried to compensate. His personal involvement made up for certain mishaps. The same has to be said for the entertainer Stephanie and the bar keeper Ludovic....and many others! Both had been absolutely great! Thank you for that!
The excursion manager Kathia was literally working around the clock, did an excellent job but was very distant.....(stress?) The "naturalists" had been excellent, too. They finally helped to forget the numerous mishaps. Great! It has also been a "plus" that National Geographic had been involved although there was room for improvement, too. Why does Ponant not make better use of these excellent representatives of NG?
The cruise is advertised as a diving event. Only one dive master had to cope with 21 divers! Although he had not been informed before how many passengers wanted to dive he really did his best to cope with this unacceptable situation which resulted in a lot of frustration among the divers. Thank you Marcel!
Having experienced a lot of other "wet landings" on other Ponant ships we wonder whether this new ship is really suitable for these kind of excursions. Some disembarkations had to be canceled although the sea conditions were much better than on other cruises. It appears that the new concept of the rear marina looks very good but is not practical at all.
In summary: Great ship, excellent staff......Frustration because of lack of management on the ground.....and this time on the ship, as well.
Cabin very good although small. Lots of room in cupboard and drawers. Fantastic staff!