This was a make-up cruise following COVID cancellations. The itinerary looked interesting, included many places I'd never been, and I liked the starting and ending points. Also, there was no single supplement, something that Ponant offers a lot and I really appreciate that. As to how it went, I love Ponant for so many reasons, it's hard to narrow it down. I'll start with the ship, beautiful, cozy, just perfect. At less than 200 passenger capacity, the feeling is intimate and you get to know both passengers and crew well. As to the crew and staff, I've seen negative reviews of Ponant in that regard on here and they baffle me. This was my second sailing with them and on both occasions I found the staff to be exceptionally friendly and helpful. The captain was always in evidence and I was thrilled to get a tour of the bridge. On disembarkation, he was there shaking every person's hand. Meals were good to great, nicely presented, with many choices. The main dining room is welcoming and, like the rest of the ship, lovely. Service there was occasionally uneven, but very good overall. I liked the outdoor venue for lunch as it was well heated from overhead which was good as the weather was often cool to cold, and the food choices were abundant. The soups in particular were wonderful. The pastries, of course, were great, baked fresh daily, as were the breads. This is a French line, so you expect exceptional food and you get it consistently, in portions that are appropriate. Cocktail hour was a daily highlight as Victor, the bar lead, is a talented mixologist, offering something creatively different every night -- great fun. This was one of Ponant's Smithsonian collaborations and the two speakers were interesting and very available. I had dinner with both of them and afternoon small group gatherings also were offered often. I would definitely recommend a Smithsonian journey and will take another, I'm quite sure. The excursions overall were well-planned and included in the fare. You just had to pick one and Ponant took care of the rest. The only real negative, and it's a minor one, was that embarkation was rather chaotic as there had been conflicting information given as to what form was needed in terms of health status. I had tossed the old one and filled out the new, only to find that the old one was what was required. Once that got sorted, I was taken to my wonderful cabin with the luggage waiting.
So, would I said with Ponant again? Of course I would and already have another adventure booked on a sister ship. Cannot wait.
I loved my cabin on Deck 3, with the theater to the left and the main lounge and outdoor dining area to the right. It was perfect for one person, the bed comfortable and the room design absolutely beautiful. I like the toilet being in a separate room. These cabins have a large window with seating next to it and a conventional door leading to the balcony (photos below). I had a similar cabin on my earlier trip with Ponant and found I liked it better than the usual glass sliding doors typical on ships and on this one too on upper decks. The cabin attendant was outstanding, the room spotless.