Ponant

European and Americans who have sailed on the cruise line's intimate, upscale ships love the line for its social atmosphere and Mediterranean and exotic itineraries. Good value for money for an upmarket experience with a strong French influence.

Ponant Cruise Highlights


Why Go?

Intimate ships with elegant casual onboard atmosphere

French cuisine cooked by French chefs

Visits exotic destinations around the world

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Onboard

Ponant's fleet of four virtually identical 264-passenger ships, Le Soleal, Le Boreal, L'Austral and Le Lyrial, offers an elegant, relaxed, yacht-like atmosphere onboard without losing the comforts of a cruise experience. Most cabins have balconies, and each ship has two restaurants, three lounges, a library/card room, an Internet nook, a spa and a fitness facility. About the only thing these four vessels don't have are casinos.

The 64-passenger Le Ponant, built in 1991, is a three-masted sailing ship. It sails some of the company's most exotic itineraries.

Whichever ship you choose, expect intimate onboard spaces that inspire a congenial atmosphere among guests. The crew offer personalized service. Because this is a French cruise line, European cuisine is a hallmark of the experience (though on charters to U.S.-based travel companies, menus might be tweaked, slightly, to accommodate American tastes).

One difference between Ponant's cruises and those of other upscale lines is that pricing is more a la carte. You could pay extra for shore excursions, cocktails (unless a drinks' package is included in your fare), Internet, gratuities and other services, depending on where you buy your cruise; the policies vary for U.S., U.K., French, German and Australian customers, so it can be confusing.

The line's a la carte fares, though, are competitive for its upmarket niche, so Ponant's value-for-money ratio is high.

Fellow Passengers

Ponant attracts a mostly French clientele, with a healthy mix of other Europeans and a sprinkling of Americans. Full-ship charters through Tauck, a Connecticut-based travel company, or Abercrombie & Kent, tend to have mostly North American passenger rosters. On these cruises, travelers tend to be 50-plus, well to do, well traveled and interested in engaging with the destination.

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