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#1
Baltimore
36 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Via trip advisor, I found some fairly cryptic info on these two lines. Both are luxurious. Seabourn is the bigger boat, probably a bit more comfortable when underway. Ponant is smaller, can perhaps get in closer, perhaps more time ashore. Also, more expensive. Ponant goes to the Falkland islands, Seabourn does not but cruises some Chilean waterways. Both apparently have massage therapists, a bid deal for me. More airplane time with Ponant, more boat time with Seabourn. Any words of wisdom?
#2
Tucson,Arizona
4,714 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Seabourn does go to the Falklands on all but the Holiday Antarctica cruise which instead spends a few days in landing various spots on South Georgia Island. Have not been on Ponant but did do the Seabourn one that included South Georgia. I have been on a number of Lindblad/Nat Geo expedition trips and while they were wonderful I chose Seabourn for this cruise. It is really a hybrid cruise - great expedition teams and landings but Seabourn pampering and luxurious ambiance and dining.. Also remember that the Falklands are often missed by many cruise ships due to weather.


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#3
Baltimore
36 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Thanks, Chairsin. How much time did you get ashore? Larger number of passangers an issue in this regard?
#4
Tucson,Arizona
4,714 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
We went ashore once a day for an hour plus or minus the days we were in Antarctica and South Georgia. There were a couple of days when because of rough waters we were only able to ride around in the zodiacs and not go ashore. That of course will be the case no matter whom you cruise with - safety is paramount. Per the Antarctic regulations no more than 100 on shore at a time. We were broken into color groups and when one group returned another group was launched.


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#5
Paradise, USA
817 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by der110
Any words of wisdom?
Carefully research Ponant. We were set on booking with them until we saw some scathing reviews re food, service, and ambiance.
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171 days at sea. 38 more on horizon.
#6
Gold Coast
10,876 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by Chairsin
We went ashore once a day for an hour plus or minus the days we were in Antarctica and South Georgia. There were a couple of days when because of rough waters we were only able to ride around in the zodiacs and not go ashore. That of course will be the case no matter whom you cruise with - safety is paramount. Per the Antarctic regulations no more than 100 on shore at a time. We were broken into color groups and when one group returned another group was launched.
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On our cruise on Hurtigruten's Fram, we went ashore twice a day. On the rare occasion staff found conditions unsuitable for landing, the Captain would relocate the ship to a more suitable location.
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Hurtigruten - Fram - 2018 - Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Halifax, Canada (Booked)
Hurtigruten - Fram - 2018 - Halifax, Canada to Miami, Florida (Booked)
Azamara - Journey - 2017 - Singapore to Hong Kong
Hurtigruten - Fram - 2014 - Ushuaia to Antarctica, via Falkland Islands and South Georgia Islands.
Princess - Ocean Princess - 2013 - Dover to Iceland and Norway, via Shetland and Faroe Islands.

Princess - Ocean Princess - 2012 - Singapore to Sydney
Fred Olsen Black Watch - 2012 - The Baltic, with Norway. Dover to St. Petersburg, via Kiel Canal.
Celebrity Century - 2011 - Auckland to Sydney

CTMA Vacancier - 2011 - Montreal to Magdalen Islands. Amtrak - Toronto to New York
MSC - Poesia - 2010 - Kiel, Germany to NY. Amtrak NY to Niagara Falls, VIA Rail Toronto to Vancouver
MSC - Lirica - 2008 - Genoa, Italy to Fort Lauderdale
Royal Caribbean - Rhapsody of the Seas - 2007 - Honolulu to Sydney
Rivers of Holland Cruise - 2003 - to Amsterdam
Alaskan Marine Highway - 2003 - to most Alaskan ports of call
Star Cruises - Superstar Leo - 2003 - Sydney to Darwin
Norwegian Coastal Voyage - Naruik - 2002 - Bergen to Kirkenes
Angelina Lauro - 1971 - Sydney to Perth. Indian Pacific - Perth to Sydney (Put me off cruising for 30 years!)

P & O - Chusan - 1970 - London to Brisbane, via Africa, India and Sri Lanka (Suez closed).
Chandris Lines - Queen Frederica - 1969 - Sydney to London, via Panama, New York and Rotterdam
#7
Baltimore
36 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Originally posted by notjaded
Carefully research Ponant. We were set on booking with them until we saw some scathing reviews re food, service, and ambiance.
I did on CruiseCritic. Both Ponant and Seabourn have vastly more excellent and very good ratings than those lower than that. Specifically for Antarctica, Ponant was even better. As I recall, there were 15, almost all excellent. There were only two for Seabourn on Antarctica, but at least there were strong. That said, when I read the negative reviews, they mostly seemed reasonable, i.e. people seemed to have fair objections and were not just being whiny. I have only been on one cruise, but my sense is that all of these outfits blow it once and a while. We have to hope it does not happen while we are cruising. We can't expect any cruise line to only get perfect scores. Still, I can understand why the reviews made your nervous. When I researched Ponant, they seemed to get more complaints for non-Antarctica cruises, FWIW.
#8
Baltimore
36 Posts
Joined Sep 2016
Well, my girl friend vetoed the tiny rooms on Ponant, so it looks like we are going with Seabourn. As Chairsin said and Seabourn confirmed, we will only get to go ashore once a day for about an hour. But Seabourn spends about 6 days in Antarctica, so hopefully we will get our fill. Seabourn is also about $6000 cheaper for the two of us for more time on the boat and a 40% bigger room. Also, Ponant requires a 25% nonrefundable deposit, while Seabourn is 12%, fully refundable up to around 100 days before the trip starts. We will miss the Falklands, but will get to see the Chilean Fjords and the Straight of Magellan. Either line probably gives you a great trip.
#9
Oslo, Norway
1,718 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Originally posted by MMDown Under
On our cruise on Hurtigruten's Fram, we went ashore twice a day. On the rare occasion staff found conditions unsuitable for landing, the Captain would relocate the ship to a more suitable location.
Seabourn Quest carries twice as many passengers as Fram, so for Quest to get everyone ashore under the 100-pax limit requires at least 4 rotations. Hard to get through that many people and still have time for a mid-day reposition. Fram does try* to get in two landings per day despite her 200+ passenger load, but it does mean shorter landings than I've experienced on smaller ships.

*We missed one entirely, because ice conditions blocked the landing site, and there weren't any other suitable locations close enough.
#10
Anywhere, USA
2,352 Posts
Joined Mar 2001
Originally posted by der110
I did on CruiseCritic. Both Ponant and Seabourn have vastly more excellent and very good ratings than those lower than that. Specifically for Antarctica, Ponant was even better. As I recall, there were 15, almost all excellent. There were only two for Seabourn on Antarctica, but at least there were strong. That said, when I read the negative reviews, they mostly seemed reasonable, i.e. people seemed to have fair objections and were not just being whiny. I have only been on one cruise, but my sense is that all of these outfits blow it once and a while. We have to hope it does not happen while we are cruising. We can't expect any cruise line to only get perfect scores. Still, I can understand why the reviews made your nervous. When I researched Ponant, they seemed to get more complaints for non-Antarctica cruises, FWIW.
the CC reviews are a small pool of pax ... if you have not done so already, check the Antarctica forum on trip advisor
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Antarctica Ross Sea Expedition - Ushuaia, AR to Bluff, NZ - Ortelius 2015
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#11
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
690 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
I depart on Ponant's Le Soleal on January 23 for a 17 day sailing that does Falklands, S Georgia, Antarctica and crosses the Polar Circle, we fly out next week. When I return I will post my thoughts as to landings, ship, food, staff, ambiance and so on. I have sent many clients on Seabourn and know the offerings fairly well, so should be able to make somewhat of a comparison.
Looking forward to our Antarctic adventure!
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Diamond Princess, Southeast Asia & Japan, Jan., 2020; Norwegian Dawn, Southern Caribbean, Feb., 2019; Ponant LeSoleal, Beyond The Polar Circle, Antarctica, Falklands, S Georgia, Jan., 2018; Viking Tialfi, Rhine Getaway, Nov., 2017; Norwegian Spirit, Western Mediterranean, Nov., 2017; Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas, 11 day Baltic, Aug., 2017; Norwegian Epic, Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands, March, 2016; Viking Pride, Paris & Heart of Normandy, Sept., 2015; Semiramis II, Nile River Egypt, May, 2015; Oceania Riviera, Turkey & Greek Isles, Oct., 2014; Celebrity Summit, S. Caribbean, Jan., 2014; Carnival Elation, W. Caribbean, Jan., 2012; Carnival Pride, E. Caribbean, Aug., 2010; Golden Princess, Alaska Inside Passage, May, 2010; Carnival Fantasy, W. Caribbean, July, 2009; Uniworld River Countess, Germany & Austria Christmas Markets, Dec., 2007; Holland America Statendam, Australia & New Zealand, Oct., 2006; Norwegian Dream, W. Caribbean, Dec., 2005; RCCL Rhapsody of the Seas, W.Caribbean, Oct., 2003; Imagine French Barge, Burgundy Region, May, 2003; De Tijdgeest Dutch Barge, Netherlands & Belgium, May, 2002; Renaissance R3, Tahitian Islands, March, 2001; Dawn Princess, S. Caribbean, Nov., 1999; Star Princess, S. Caribbean, Nov., 1994; And lots of land based adventures to more than 75 countries on all 7 continents! Happy to answer any questions or share photos, home(at)terryandmike(dot)com.
#12
Paradise, USA
817 Posts
Joined Jun 2009
Originally posted by terry&mike
I depart on Ponant's Le Soleal on January 23 for a 17 day sailing that does Falklands, S Georgia, Antarctica and crosses the Polar Circle, we fly out next week. When I return I will post my thoughts as to landings, ship, food, staff, ambiance and so on. I have sent many clients on Seabourn and know the offerings fairly well, so should be able to make somewhat of a comparison.
Looking forward to our Antarctic adventure!
Thank you. In anticipation, I’ve subscribed to this thread.
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171 days at sea. 38 more on horizon.
#13
Memphis, TN
105 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
The expedition team aboard is critical .. We did Ponant with Abercrombie & Kent in Antarctica and the Arctic.- have stayed in the smallest room twice - it is beautiful! and you'll love your balcony. we went ashore twice a day for two hours each time. We found the food excellent
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DadainTN

Sailed on Le Boreal to the Arctic - August 2016 with Abercrombie & Kent
Sailing on Oceania- Nautica - March 26, 2015 to China, Japan & Vietnam
Sailed on Oceania Marina December 28, 2103 Santiago to Papeete
Sailed on Le Boreal to Antarctica January 2, 2013 with Abercrombie & Kent
Sailed on Regent Seven Seas Voyager May 3, 2012
Sailed on Oceania Regatta March 9, 2011
Cruised the Loire Canal September 12,2010
Sailed on Oceania Insignia July 26, 2009
Sailed on Celebrity, February 2008
Sailed on Oceania Regatta 2006
Sailed on Holland America 2005
#14
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
690 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
Originally posted by notjaded
Thank you. In anticipation, I’ve subscribed to this thread.
I just posted my review of my Ponant LeSoleal 17 Day sailing, "Beyond the Polar Circle", to the Falklands, South Georgia and Antarctica, under the Ports of Call: Antarctica section.
It is titled Ponant LeSoleal, Jan 23-Feb 8, 2018 Review
Hopefully this link will work: https://boards.cruisecritic.com/show....php?t=2600943
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Diamond Princess, Southeast Asia & Japan, Jan., 2020; Norwegian Dawn, Southern Caribbean, Feb., 2019; Ponant LeSoleal, Beyond The Polar Circle, Antarctica, Falklands, S Georgia, Jan., 2018; Viking Tialfi, Rhine Getaway, Nov., 2017; Norwegian Spirit, Western Mediterranean, Nov., 2017; Royal Caribbean Vision of the Seas, 11 day Baltic, Aug., 2017; Norwegian Epic, Spain, Morocco, Canary Islands, March, 2016; Viking Pride, Paris & Heart of Normandy, Sept., 2015; Semiramis II, Nile River Egypt, May, 2015; Oceania Riviera, Turkey & Greek Isles, Oct., 2014; Celebrity Summit, S. Caribbean, Jan., 2014; Carnival Elation, W. Caribbean, Jan., 2012; Carnival Pride, E. Caribbean, Aug., 2010; Golden Princess, Alaska Inside Passage, May, 2010; Carnival Fantasy, W. Caribbean, July, 2009; Uniworld River Countess, Germany & Austria Christmas Markets, Dec., 2007; Holland America Statendam, Australia & New Zealand, Oct., 2006; Norwegian Dream, W. Caribbean, Dec., 2005; RCCL Rhapsody of the Seas, W.Caribbean, Oct., 2003; Imagine French Barge, Burgundy Region, May, 2003; De Tijdgeest Dutch Barge, Netherlands & Belgium, May, 2002; Renaissance R3, Tahitian Islands, March, 2001; Dawn Princess, S. Caribbean, Nov., 1999; Star Princess, S. Caribbean, Nov., 1994; And lots of land based adventures to more than 75 countries on all 7 continents! Happy to answer any questions or share photos, home(at)terryandmike(dot)com.
#15
Sydney, Australia
822 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
We also love Ponant.
I didn’t find the cabins particularly small, in fact we loved them.
I’d much prefer to go ashore twice a day with a smaller ship than once a day for an hour.
Food and service was excellent.
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2007 Pacific Sky, 2010 Pacific Sun, 2011 Navigator of the Seas, 2012 Pacific Sun, 2014 Celebrity Reflection, 2015 Carnival Spirit, 2015 Celebrity Solstice, 2016 Radiance of the Seas, 2016 Celebrity Infinity, 2017 Le Boreal-Antarctica!, 2017 NCL-Getaway, 2017 Celebrity Solstice, 2018 Celebrity Solstice
#16
Nova Scotia Canada
4,884 Posts
Joined Feb 2009
I would not be happy with only six possible short landings just once a day. You are paying a lot for the fancier ship and the massage therapist.

Check into the smaller expedition ships. Here is a place to compare: http://www.traveltothepoles.com/ant-ships.html
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Sailed:
Eden (Navimag) four nights on ferry up inner west coast of Chile, March 2016
Expedition (GAdventures) Antarctica, Feb/March 2016
Dragon's Pearl Halong Bay, Vietnam 2014
Azamara Quest Far East, March 5, 2011
Victoria Empress, Yangtze River, March 25, 2011
Azamara Quest Ancient Empires, Nov. 14, 2009

Independent land tours:
Skiing in France, then drove to Tuscany, down to Sicily and back to Lyon: six weeks, March/April, 2017
Argentina and Chile - cities and Patagonia, 2016
Cambodia, Myanmar, Vietnam and Seoul, 2014
New Zealand and Australia 2013
China 2011
Argentina and Peru, 2007
Europe, 1985, 91-92, 95, 2001, 2003, 2008, 2011
numerous in US and Canada
Guatemala and Mexico 1971, 1972
Haiti, 1970
Jamaica, 1968-71

Next:
Safari in Tanzania; Victoria Falls; train to Pretoria; train to Cape Town - with stays in Amsterdam going and coming. fall, 2018
#17
Perth, Australia
2 Posts
Joined Apr 2018
A vote for Ponant here. Basically, the smaller the better, though need to be big enough to deal with whatever mother nature throws at you. Ponant's ships are just about right in that regard. If rougher ocean crossings are in the plan (i.e. the Drake), chose cabinet as low as you can (deck 3) and the middle of the ship. That is where the least amount of motion will be. A few months ago, we sailed on Le Boreal through the back of a hurricane in the Bering Sea, far worse than the Drake for us in 2016. But still OK. The short spells in rough weather are a very small price to pay for the absolutely amazing scenery and wildlife that you then get to experience. This is where Ponant really excells.
Another big benefit I see is that the only things you pay extra for are: top shelf wines, anything you buy in the shop, and shore excursions where a 3rd party is involved. After your first cruise, the next best perk is free laundry on board. That is a real bonus.
#18
Gold Coast
10,876 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Originally posted by kaisatsu
Seabourn Quest carries twice as many passengers as Fram, so for Quest to get everyone ashore under the 100-pax limit requires at least 4 rotations. Hard to get through that many people and still have time for a mid-day reposition. Fram does try* to get in two landings per day despite her 200+ passenger load, but it does mean shorter landings than I've experienced on smaller ships.

*We missed one entirely, because ice conditions blocked the landing site, and there weren't any other suitable locations close enough.
We found on our cruise, with less than 200 passengers, we could stay on land as long as we liked. Not all passengers choose to go on land every time and some were happy for a quick visit, e.g. didn't want to walk on the snow. We basically stayed until "all aboard", or until I wanted to go to the toilet (cold does that to seniors like me from the tropics).
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Hurtigruten - Fram - 2018 - Kangerlussuaq, Greenland to Halifax, Canada (Booked)
Hurtigruten - Fram - 2018 - Halifax, Canada to Miami, Florida (Booked)
Azamara - Journey - 2017 - Singapore to Hong Kong
Hurtigruten - Fram - 2014 - Ushuaia to Antarctica, via Falkland Islands and South Georgia Islands.
Princess - Ocean Princess - 2013 - Dover to Iceland and Norway, via Shetland and Faroe Islands.

Princess - Ocean Princess - 2012 - Singapore to Sydney
Fred Olsen Black Watch - 2012 - The Baltic, with Norway. Dover to St. Petersburg, via Kiel Canal.
Celebrity Century - 2011 - Auckland to Sydney

CTMA Vacancier - 2011 - Montreal to Magdalen Islands. Amtrak - Toronto to New York
MSC - Poesia - 2010 - Kiel, Germany to NY. Amtrak NY to Niagara Falls, VIA Rail Toronto to Vancouver
MSC - Lirica - 2008 - Genoa, Italy to Fort Lauderdale
Royal Caribbean - Rhapsody of the Seas - 2007 - Honolulu to Sydney
Rivers of Holland Cruise - 2003 - to Amsterdam
Alaskan Marine Highway - 2003 - to most Alaskan ports of call
Star Cruises - Superstar Leo - 2003 - Sydney to Darwin
Norwegian Coastal Voyage - Naruik - 2002 - Bergen to Kirkenes
Angelina Lauro - 1971 - Sydney to Perth. Indian Pacific - Perth to Sydney (Put me off cruising for 30 years!)

P & O - Chusan - 1970 - London to Brisbane, via Africa, India and Sri Lanka (Suez closed).
Chandris Lines - Queen Frederica - 1969 - Sydney to London, via Panama, New York and Rotterdam
#19
Oslo, Norway
1,718 Posts
Joined Aug 2006
Originally posted by MMDown Under
We found on our cruise, with less than 200 passengers, we could stay on land as long as we liked. Not all passengers choose to go on land every time and some were happy for a quick visit, e.g. didn't want to walk on the snow. We basically stayed until "all aboard", or until I wanted to go to the toilet (cold does that to seniors like me from the tropics).
I've had the same experience traveling on a smaller ship, which is part of what made my experience on the Fram feel rushed. On my previous expedition, everyone could be ashore at once, and I'd often be out until "last zodiac." If at all possible, my future trips will certainly be on ships that are under 150 pax. If I find an amazing deal, I might go back on a bigger ship, but it's extremely hard, having experienced a smaller ship experience!