Ponant is one of the few cruise lines that offers multiple cruises without a single supplement. For almost the same price as a Caribbean cruise on a premium cruise line (double for solos), I was able to book a mid-ship balcony cabin on an ultra-luxury Ponant cruise. Le Dumont d'Urville is a beautiful mega-yacht with a modern, minimalist design. Food, drinks, service, cabins, lectures and so forth were all wonderful and included in the price. Most meals were excellent and similar to a fine dining French restaurant. The included wine and champagne were also of good quality, and I actually preferred the included Charles Heidsieck to the Veuve Clicquot served at special dinners. While the officers and most passengers spoke French as their first language, the captain and crew as well as many passengers could also speak English. The service staff is largely English-speaking, and even the Francophone passengers spoke English with them. Several passengers who did not speak any French told me that they thoroughly enjoyed the cruise. In fact, Captain Daumesnil went out of his way to include Anglophone passengers in activities, conducting a captain's table in English and a separate remote bridge tour just for them. Since I attended the remote bridge tour in French as well, I can say that the information was the same. This particular cruise featured lectures in oceanography and marine conservation conducted in French, but lectures on other topics were also offered in English. I didn't notice any difference in service for non-French speakers, and the service throughout was outstanding and polite. If I had to criticize any aspect of the cruise, I would say that the anchorages in the Grenadines were more popular and less out-of-the way than the ones I had visited on a sailing cruise years earlier. Le Dumont d'Urville has 92 cabins and suites, but it's still large relative to a sailing yacht. On the other hand, it was a stable ship with little movement when underway.
My cabin midship was very quiet and comfortable with good climate control. The bed linens were lovely, and I appreciated the Diptyque Philosykos toiletries in the bathroom. I enjoyed having tea and coffee on the balcony every morning, listening to music through Bose speakers (Nice touch!).
Terre de Haut has a cute, touristy town center with good shopping. Pain de Sucre beach was very crowded, but the water was calm and pleasant for swimming.
From my starboard cabin, the view of the Piton overlooking Soufriere harbor was simply stunning. Saint Lucia's botanical garden is lush and beautiful. We also visited Sugar Beach for a swim and really enjoyed the whole setting.
We saw a lot of sea life here (turtles, rays, grouper, etc.), but there are a lot of boats in the harbor, making snorkeling a little stressful.
The forests in Dominica are so verdant that's it's simply a unique, meditative experience to be able to walk through them.
Sandy Island is just the palm-tree lined sandbar that people imagine when they think of a desert island. However, several boats were anchored there, and we had quite a lot swells on the day we were there.