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Luxury Cruising Is it a state of mind?

Discussion to include, but not limited to: Abercrombie & Kent • American Safari • Aqua Expeditions • Azamara • Bora Bora Cruises • Compagnie du Ponant • Cruise Asia Ltd. • Crystal • Cunard • French Country Waterways • Go Barging • Hapag-Lloyd • Hebridean • Heritage Line • Lindblad Expeditions • Oberoi Group • Oceania • Orion Expedition Cruises • Paul Gauguin Cruises • Regent Seven Seas • Sea Cloud Cruises • Seabourn • SeaDream • Silversea • Star Clippers • Travel Dynamics • Uniworld • Windstar

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  #61  
Old December 26th, 2013, 09:04 AM
Mike2131 Mike2131 is offline
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Wink Formal dinners

Quote:
Originally Posted by mj_holiday View Post
We leave in three weeks for Le Boreal for the Antarctica. I have a question for Mike 2131 or editor@cruisecritic. The info I have says there will be two formal dinners. How formal are these on this type of trip?
There is NO need to bring dress up clothes on an expedition cruise. You will probably see anything from the odd suit and cocktail dress to pants, a flannel shirt, and suspenders to pants suits. The one safe observation is that usually no one will be in jeans (no matter how nice) at dinner - but I did see that once. The default? I wore a button up dress shirt (no tie) and a sport coat with a nice pair of pants. My girlfriend wore a nice skirt and top. We were comfortable and enjoyed the "formal nights" much more than we would have dressed to the nines.

Based on our Arctic and Antarctic cruises, my take is that the Europeans tend to dress more formally and the Americans dress somewhat more country club casual. Our experience is that no one really cares how you dress on an expedition cruise. The reason everyone came (wildlife, scenery, history, etc.) is the bond that makes the trip special.
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  #62  
Old December 29th, 2013, 10:05 AM
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We are booked on Le Soleal 19th Nov 2014- Antarctic trip. SO looking forward to hearing anything about the ship or the area!
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  #63  
Old December 29th, 2013, 03:52 PM
Mike2131 Mike2131 is offline
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Smile Antarctica

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Originally Posted by QM2 fan View Post
We are booked on Le Soleal 19th Nov 2014- Antarctic trip. SO looking forward to hearing anything about the ship or the area!
I suggest checking out member reviews (mine is there for the L'Austral 10-night in December of 2011). Balancing the passengers' accounts with the professional reviews, you will get a pretty fair reading on what to expect. If you want to post specific questions, I think you will get a fair number of responses from those who have been. It was a wonderful experience and we enjoyed the Ponant ship and crew. We want to return (and include South Georgia) and would certainly be happy to sail with them again.
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  #64  
Old January 5th, 2014, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editor@cruisecritic View Post
Anyway, just a heads up that I'm going to set up a meeting with the ship's hotel director to get answers to your food/dining questions. So if you have any others besides what's been posted, please let me know asap. And then I'll report back to you.

Carolyn
Happy New Year! I'm anxious to hear about the food on Le Soleal. Have you posted somewhere else?
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  #65  
Old January 5th, 2014, 04:54 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Hi, Kruznfool -- yes, I did post -- look for #s 50 and 51 (on page 3). If there's something I didn't address there, let me know!

Carolyn

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Originally Posted by kruznfool View Post
Happy New Year! I'm anxious to hear about the food on Le Soleal. Have you posted somewhere else?
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  #66  
Old January 8th, 2014, 07:33 AM
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I am also anxious for recommendations for travel insurance.....need a min of £5000 pp cancellation, plus, I am worried about the flights Buenos Aires- Ushuaia.....what if the flights are cancelled and we miss the boat etc??
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  #67  
Old January 8th, 2014, 08:07 AM
navyvet8395 navyvet8395 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LHT28 View Post
Some people have never heard of this line so may not be aware of their ships

Looking at the size of the ship it seems they are about 11000 GRT ..so how big can the cabins be

Smallest cabin is 200 sq ft with a 43 Sq ft balcony
Owner suites are 484 sq ft with 97 sq ft balcony

there is limited space when they have 132 cabins on a small ship
The biggest standard cabin on Carnivals largest ships is 186 Sq ft.. So 200 Sq ft,that is pretty good for a ship of 11,000 tons....
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  #68  
Old January 8th, 2014, 09:08 AM
Mike2131 Mike2131 is offline
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Smile A few choices

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Originally Posted by QM2 fan View Post
I am also anxious for recommendations for travel insurance.....need a min of £5000 pp cancellation, plus, I am worried about the flights Buenos Aires- Ushuaia.....what if the flights are cancelled and we miss the boat etc??
1) We booked our cruise and BA-Ushuaia-BA flights independently. We flew from Boston to Houston to BA. After clearing customs and immigration at the international airport, we took a coach transfer to the domestic airport (booked it in the luggage area after clearing the official arrival items). It was quick, comfortable and smooth. Once at the domestic airport we took our Aero Argentina flight to Ushuaia (LAN is the other option). We went early to spend time in Ushuaia (at a great B&B for a reasonable price) and not worry about the flight the day of the cruise. Probably the least expensive way to go.

2) Book the flight and transfers through Ponant. It will most likely be a charter and the ship will not sail without you since there will be a lot of passengers on that flight. You will probably want to go into BA at least a day early just to make sure there are no connection hiccups. Probably not a bargain price, but it brings piece of mind.

3) I know Ponant will sometimes include the flights to and from Europe (probably Paris) along with a couple of nights in BA if you want their package deal. Probably BA and Ushuaia sightseeing and perhaps a welcome dinner with breakfast daily. Again, not the least expensive option - but peace of mind.

We loved Ushuaia and are very glad we arranged things independently. Travel insurance? For that type of trip - absolutely!
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Last edited by Mike2131; January 8th, 2014 at 09:09 AM.
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  #69  
Old January 9th, 2014, 05:56 PM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Default My trip

Hi, I weighed in today on the Le Soleal trip on Cruise Critic's blog. Let me know if you have any other questions (and yes, really want to go back...).

Link: http://www.cruisecritic.com/blog/ind...-1-revelation/

Carolyn
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  #70  
Old January 9th, 2014, 07:19 PM
ducklite ducklite is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by editor@cruisecritic View Post
Hi, I weighed in today on the Le Soleal trip on Cruise Critic's blog. Let me know if you have any other questions (and yes, really want to go back...).

Link: http://www.cruisecritic.com/blog/ind...-1-revelation/

Carolyn

Thanks so much!


Autocorrect responsible for most typos...
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Past Cruises...
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia

Still to come...

Sometime in 2016, ship, month, and itinerary TBD

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.

My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
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  #71  
Old January 10th, 2014, 08:35 AM
Mike2131 Mike2131 is offline
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Smile Thanks, Carolyn

Quote:
Originally Posted by editor@cruisecritic View Post
Hi, I weighed in today on the Le Soleal trip on Cruise Critic's blog. Let me know if you have any other questions (and yes, really want to go back...).

Link: http://www.cruisecritic.com/blog/ind...-1-revelation/

Carolyn
I am glad you enjoyed the time on Le Soleal. We are planning our next expedition trip and, after a disappointing trip in the Silver Explorer in May, Ponant is on the top of the list for us.
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  #72  
Old January 10th, 2014, 11:34 AM
editor@cruisecritic editor@cruisecritic is offline
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Keep us posted, Mike2131!

Carolyn

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike2131 View Post
I am glad you enjoyed the time on Le Soleal. We are planning our next expedition trip and, after a disappointing trip in the Silver Explorer in May, Ponant is on the top of the list for us.
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  #73  
Old January 10th, 2014, 02:16 PM
wripro wripro is offline
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Great review, Carolyn. Sounds like a perfect combination of luxury and exploration. Definitely will consider it.
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  #74  
Old February 15th, 2014, 09:52 AM
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We were in july 2013 on an IST-IST cruise on ms Austral.
First of all the ships are of a nice size, allowing them to enter in ports where bigger cannot go. Example the Canal of Corinth Greece is possible.
-An item not mentionned yet here, is that the wines during the meals are included. They are not difficult at all if you wish white and afterwards red for exemple and also in normal sufficient quantity. Drinks outside the meals are charged. But you can buy an all-in fee. (Interesting if you drink a lot of more expensive drinks only)
-Another advantage is that under French flag you will not be charged with a daily service fee of $12/14 as other companies do. French law consider that the rules of Hotel/restaurant apply and they have to be included.
Now at the end of your voyage you will find an anonymous enveloppe that you put anonymous in a box, if you want to give a tip, but no obligation.
-Their shore excursions are at a reasonable rate for the quality. French and English guides on separate buses.
- The menthality is quite unformal on board. Even the captain invited the passengers to visit the bridge (except when pilot is on board or during special manoeuvering) There are not a lot of comapnies doing it..; advantage small ships!!
- Somebody had questions on the stability, well the ships are very stable and electronic controlled. They take less wind as the very tall big ships.

I recommend this company very much
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  #75  
Old February 15th, 2014, 10:35 AM
ducklite ducklite is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpver View Post
We were in july 2013 on an IST-IST cruise on ms Austral.
First of all the ships are of a nice size, allowing them to enter in ports where bigger cannot go. Example the Canal of Corinth Greece is possible.
-An item not mentionned yet here, is that the wines during the meals are included. They are not difficult at all if you wish white and afterwards red for exemple and also in normal sufficient quantity. Drinks outside the meals are charged. But you can buy an all-in fee. (Interesting if you drink a lot of more expensive drinks only)
-Another advantage is that under French flag you will not be charged with a daily service fee of $12/14 as other companies do. French law consider that the rules of Hotel/restaurant apply and they have to be included.
Now at the end of your voyage you will find an anonymous enveloppe that you put anonymous in a box, if you want to give a tip, but no obligation.
-Their shore excursions are at a reasonable rate for the quality. French and English guides on separate buses.
- The menthality is quite unformal on board. Even the captain invited the passengers to visit the bridge (except when pilot is on board or during special manoeuvering) There are not a lot of comapnies doing it..; advantage small ships!!
- Somebody had questions on the stability, well the ships are very stable and electronic controlled. They take less wind as the very tall big ships.

I recommend this company very much

Great info, thanks!


Autocorrect responsible for most typos...
__________________
Past Cruises...
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia

Still to come...

Sometime in 2016, ship, month, and itinerary TBD

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.

My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
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  #76  
Old February 15th, 2014, 06:49 PM
tgh tgh is online now
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Thumbs down Not all rosy though...

We tried to book with Ponant recently but gave up.
They did not respond to direct enquiries.
They did not respond to persistent enquiry from our ta.. well they responded of course but couldn't provide any useful info.

We wanted a btob quote.. ie what discount? ..
Reply.. don't know/can't say.. book and we will think about it was the reply.

There was a prospective off ship add on trip.. must be booked and paid by 60 days before sailing for it to run.
We asked within the 60 days ( ie after the payment deadline) .. will it run ? We don't know was the reply.

We say …we can't/ won't book the whole thing unless we know…please tell us what is happening
Reply.. silence

Unbelievable marketing and management in the very best tradition of "old" french ways

My conclusion is that there was/ is a massive disconnect between the marketing and ship management divisions.

Perhaps the British Merchant bank Owner fails to understand the relaxed sun loving life on the cote de azur ( where the staff …work .. or are supposed to….)

Caveat Emptor...
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  #77  
Old February 16th, 2014, 01:10 PM
wripro wripro is offline
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Have you considered a TA who can handle all these issues for you?
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  #78  
Old February 16th, 2014, 01:23 PM
ducklite ducklite is offline
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Default Are you curious about Compagnie du Ponant?

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Originally Posted by wripro View Post
Have you considered a TA who can handle all these issues for you?
Read again, they mentioned using a TA.

That said, some of us don't like to use travel agents for any number of reasons. Frankly I'm confused as to why the poster was expecting a discount, which is what seems to be causing a good part of the problem.


Autocorrect responsible for most typos...
__________________
Past Cruises...
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia

Still to come...

Sometime in 2016, ship, month, and itinerary TBD

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.

My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here

Last edited by ducklite; February 16th, 2014 at 01:24 PM.
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  #79  
Old February 17th, 2014, 05:55 AM
tgh tgh is online now
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Default sigh

I wondered about posting my comments .. because there will always be folks who extrapolate assumptions and invent conclusions.

I guess if folks want to assume that our ta is a less than competent little small town back water nothing one person five minutes in the game Yada yada yada ...ta… then anything I say to the contrary would be pointless… so I will not.

I'm also now quite sure that we must have it all wrong and that Ponant is truly a paragon of corporate virtue with an impeccable record of customer relations .

Everyone happy now ?

Ciao
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  #80  
Old February 17th, 2014, 09:06 AM
Mike2131 Mike2131 is offline
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Default I can tell you from experience...

Quote:
Originally Posted by tgh View Post
I wondered about posting my comments .. because there will always be folks who extrapolate assumptions and invent conclusions.

I guess if folks want to assume that our ta is a less than competent little small town back water nothing one person five minutes in the game Yada yada yada ...ta… then anything I say to the contrary would be pointless… so I will not.

I'm also now quite sure that we must have it all wrong and that Ponant is truly a paragon of corporate virtue with an impeccable record of customer relations .

Everyone happy now ?

Ciao
...that communication from Ponant corporate is not their strong point. Our TA had a real go around trying to get things straight with them for our Antarctic cruise on the L'Austral in December of 2011. The cruise experience was outstanding and we would definitely sail with them again. Our TA (the owner of 2 agencies) is fortunately a very patient and experienced person. I would have thrown up my hands early in the process no matter how good the deal - and it was really, really good!!!

My advice? Scour the Ponant site because they do a pretty fair job of telling you exactly what the pricing will be and what is included - depending on where you live and what you will using (like included flights or pre/post cruise nights). It also seems they consider back-to-back sailings "Special Offers" and might not have them in all areas or for all sailings. The hassle and inconvenience is worth it - challenging, but worth it. If you have specific questions, you might start with checking my review of the Antarctic cruise.

Good luck.
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