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L'Austral Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
106 Reviews

Beyond Wondrous in the age of Covid 19

L'Austral Cruise Review by JulieDCanter

6 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Feb 2020
  • Destination: Antarctica

We planned the trip of a lifetime to Antarctica on Ponant, impressed with reviews, the small size of the ship and everything French about it. We had no idea that the trip would be memorable in more ways than one. We had an amazing 15 days at sea, with highlights including stops along the Peninsula and South Georgia Island with surprise stops at the international research station (because a passenger had to be medically evacuated from its airstrip) and King Haakon Bay because winds were in our favor. The naturalists were brilliant and the crew was completely attentive. But it was our captain Stanislas Devorsine who showed his skill, not just through the notorious Drake Passage, but at the end of the cruise when he was told the government of Uruguay was not going to allow us to disembark because of closing its ports--even though we were all healthy. After unsuccessful negotiations, Ponant and the French government coordinated with various ambassadors representing the nationalities onboard and switched efforts to Argentina. Again a "no." The plan was then to sail north, to Rio to at least refuel and reassess. Through the 10-day situation, the captain kept us completely informed, had everyone's health checked daily and held meetings to keep our spirits up. When Brazil unexpectedly said yes, Ponant negotiated to get everyone flights home and transport us to the Rio airport, vowing we were not going to get off the ship without a guarantee of repatriation. Many cruise lines do an excellent job, but the real test is how they respond to a global calamity. We continue to read about horror stories onboard other lines and consider ourselves so lucky that we chose Ponant.

JulieDCanter's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Excellent space with a private balcony--great storage in a tiny space so there's no tripping on suitcases. Nespresso in the cabin too!

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

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