Find a Ponant Cruise
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.
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.