Shore excursions are not included in the fare of a Le Lyrial sailing with Ponant. Depending on the port you'll usually have a choice of three to four excursions, though some have only one option. Many of the options are active, including biking, kayaking and hiking, but you'll also find traditional city tours.
You'll only get to see wildlife during Le Lyrial's expedition sailings to the Antarctic or Arctic. The best spots for wildlife viewing are on Deck 6, from open decks either at the front or back. Deck 7 also offers great views, though it's also where equipment is stored, so be careful maneuvering around it. If weather is poor, the Panoramic Lounge at the front of Deck 6 is ideal, though fills up quickly.
On Deck 3, just off the guest lounge area, you'll find small spaces for quick wildlife viewing, both port and aft. Make sure to bring binoculars on trips designed for wildlife viewing; Ponant doesn't provide them for use during your cruise.
Daytime and Evening Entertainment
A cruise on Le Lyrial will probably be port intensive so there's not a huge amount of daytime or evening entertainment. However, the ship does have a crew of dancers who perform in the ship's main theater a few times a cruise. Shows that might be offered include "Bijoux," during which the ship's five dancers perform uninspiring dance routines to French and American pop songs, and a classical piano concert with music from Bach, Mozart, Liszt and others. The theater sits about 250 and has excellent sight lines from all angles.
You'll also find live music (think Edith Piaf-style lounge singing), sometimes with dancing, in the Main Lounge and piano melodies in the Panoramic Lounge each night until about 11:30 p.m.
During the day or in the early evening, the ship's dancers will offer dance classes; one time it might be salsa, another day the cha-cha. On days when the ship spends some time at sea, a premium drink tasting might be offered. On our sailing, there was a premium whiskey tasting for 35 euros per person.
Main Lounge (Deck 3): The ship's main lounge is the central gathering spot before and after dinner, with lots of places to sit, a small stage and a dance floor. It's modern, with lots of white and gray, and a large ceiling mirror, which gives the room a bright feeling -- and prevents the actually low ceilings from feeling low. In the late afternoon and evening you'll find either piano music or a singer (there's usually two who rotate throughout the cruise) doing light music standards. It's also where you'll find the daily tea from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Panoramic Lounge (Deck 6): With floor-to-ceiling windows, this lounge is a great spot for watching the scenery go by, especially on an inclement weather day. As with the rest of the ship, most of the decor is in shades of cream, but many of the armchairs and couches are done in aquamarine, giving it a relaxed feel. There's a small bar, a piano for evening music and a smattering of chairs for reading during the day or socializing at night. Right outside is the Panoramic Terrace, where you'll find lounge chairs. Located at the front of the ship, it's the best spot for picture taking, but it can get windy when the ship is moving at a fair clip.
Open-Air Bar (Deck 7): At the top of the ship, toward the back, is a small open-air lounge with tables, chairs and love seats for two or three people. There's also a bar with high wicker stool seating. Furniture is white and cream with dark blue or cream cushions, so most of it shows wear easily. It's a great spot for catching the sunset with a glass of wine in hand. It's also the only shaded spot outside and overlooks the pool. This space is likely to be closed when the ship is sailing cold-weather expedition voyages.
Le Lyrial has a small pool (4-feet deep) on Deck 6 aft, with about 20 loungers arrayed around it. On the same deck, at the front, and on Deck 7, also at the front, you'll find more loungers.
There is a marina on Deck 2. When in use, you can jump directly into the water for snorkeling, or board a kayak or Zodiac.
The reception and shore excursion desks are located on Deck 3, which is also the main deck for embarking and disembarking the ship in ports. The shop is also on Deck 3; here you'll find designer clothing, Ponant-branded accessories and essentials you might have forgotten at home.
The library is on Deck 6 off to the side of the Panoramic Lounge. About 60 percent of the books are in French; the rest are mostly in English with a few in German or Chinese. You'll also find some board games here in multiple languages.
Along one side of the library are two computer terminals for connecting to the internet, one with a French keyboard, the other with an English keyboard. Internet access, which can be unbearably slow much of the time, does not come cheap. One hundred minutes costs 30 euros; 240 minutes is 60 euros; and 1,000 minutes costs 180 euros.
The photo gallery is on Deck 5; you'll need to scroll through hundreds of pictures on two computer terminals to find photos of yourself.
The ship has three elevators that go from Decks 2 to 6. (If seas are rough, the captain might elect to shut down the elevators for safety reasons.) There is a wheelchair lift on the aft stairs (between Decks 6 and 7) for passengers to reach Deck 7.
There are no self-service launderettes onboard, but a pay laundry service is available.
Le Lyrial has a small spa and fitness room on Deck 5.
The ship's spa has two treatment rooms, but offers a pretty full menu of treatments from massages and facials to scrubs, and aromatherapy baths. The salon offers several Kerastase hair treatments (repair, shine, volume, etc.), as well as cuts and styling, manicures, pedicures and waxing. Prices are high for most treatments.
At the back of the spa, you'll find a hammam (Turkish steam room); bathing suits are required.
The ship's fitness center on Deck 5 has three treadmills and three stationary bikes, as well as one recumbent bike, all by Technogym. There's also a resistance Kinesis machine, with picture and video instructions. There are no free weights but there is an exercise ball, as well as mats and a few resistance bands. Most mornings there's an early morning stretch class.
There is no minimum age to sail on Le Lyrial with Ponant, but it is not a ship particularly suited to children. Families bringing children younger than 8 years are required to fill out and sign a "responsibility discharge" form, relieving the cruise line of any responsibility for the safety of the child.
A small game room on Deck 5 has board games and kids' books and a flat-screen TV is hooked up to a Wii gaming system. Kids' menu items are available upon request.
There are no particularly family-friendly accommodations. The Prestige Suites comprise two staterooms, so parents or grandparents could put the kids into one of the rooms and take the other for themselves.