Our recent cruise on Ponant's Le Laperouse around New Zealand went way beyond our expectations. We hadn't sailed with Ponant before, but are avid cruisers, having enjoyed several with Seabourn, Silversea, Regent and Viking, all of which have been wonderful, but we would have to say that our experience on Le Laperouse has most definitely been the best to date.
The ship is stylish, comfortable, and well sized (with only 180 passengers), making it possible to call into every port on our itinerary without the need for tenders.
Our beautiful suite was spotlessly clean, spacious, well equipped and extremely comfortable (as were all areas throughout the ship). The service in the restaurant and bar was impeccable, with highly professional and friendly staff and the food was delicious, varied and beautifully presented.
One of the highlights of the ship is a unique 'Blue Eye Lounge' in the hull of Le Laperouse, offering a multi sensory underwater viewing experience in a beautiful space-age style bar. Well worth a visit.
We also very much enjoyed the entertainment, attending several impressive shows with talented dancers, singers and musicians. Talks on board were offered in both French and English and there were several opportunities during the cruise to participate in quizzes and dance lessons etc.
The itinerary was superb, with Le Laperouse journeying us through several of the sounds of the South Island, including the idyllic Milford Sound, Our zodiac adventure into this fjord was just amazing and made very easy with the ability to board the zodiacs directly from the back deck. Our stops at various ports as we journeyed from Dunedin to Auckland included some interesting excursions, with our favourite being a visit to Cape Kidnappers Gannet Colony.
We should also mention that our Captain, Fabien Roche, and his crew, did a wonderful job ensuring the passengers enjoyed comfortable sailing throughout the trip and keeping us well informed of the ships whereabouts, schedules, and local conditions. Our original itinerary was to include White Island, but due to the tragic volcanic incident just a few weeks earlier the schedule was changed. But a further issue with high seas in the aftermath of cyclone Tino meant the replacement stop (Gisborne) was also not a possibility. The captain managed the situation perfectly, keeping us all comfortable. We did, as it turned out, sail by White Island, whilst the captain made a fitting tribute, with one minutes silence , for those who had lost their lives in the spirit of adventure there. It was an emotional experience well handled in a surreal landscape.
Needless to say, we highly recommended Ponant, if you are considering a cruise.
Cabin was spacious and comfortable with a large walk in robe with plentiful hanging space, shelves and drawers. The cabin had a good sized bathroom with ample storage and a separate toilet . Comfortable bed , couches and armchair and a pillow choice is available.
Soundproofing on this ship is very good, and we experienced no noise at all from the corridors or adjacent cabins
Cabin 617 was quite close to the lift and to the rear stairs to the restaurant which we found helpful.
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