Ponant ship, chartered by Tauck

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#1
Seattle, WA
61 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Dublin - Southampton
Le Soleal (Spring 2018)


I'm a bit confused on how this works, is it that Tauck handles the shore excursions only?
#2
Florida
4,529 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
If you book with Tauck, they will handle the shore excursions and provide a guide like they do on their land tours. I don't know how many passengers will be Tauck customers, maybe all? If not, the ship will provide the excursions for the other passengers or you book your own. If Tauck has chartered the entire ship, you can only book the cruise through them.
#3
Seattle, WA
61 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Thanks

The folks here who post such negative Ponant reviews had me a bit concerned. I don't intend to pack a suit, the other issue, but seems as though that might not be required.
#4
FL
14,466 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
We leave today for a Ponant cruise and DH packed a sport coat for the special evenings on board. We know someone who cruised with them last year and she said the Europeans do tend to dress up and there were a lot of cocktail dresses on the Captain's evenings. It has often been our experience that Europeans in general dress well, especially as compared to Americans. JMO.
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143 cruises since 1964, 16 on the river.
Looking forward to:
MS Joy - Magic of Advent, December 2017

Amadeus Silver III, May 2018
AmaStella, Christmas Markets, December 2018
Scenic Eclipse, April, 2019

Our river cruising history:
Avalon Luminary B2B- Christmas Markets, 2009
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#5
calif
186 Posts
Joined Apr 2015
Originally posted by caviargal
We leave today for a Ponant cruise and DH packed a sport coat for the special evenings on board. We know someone who cruised with them last year and she said the Europeans do tend to dress up and there were a lot of cocktail dresses on the Captain's evenings. It has often been our experience that Europeans in general dress well, especially as compared to Americans. JMO.
How was your trip? Did you like this company? I'm considering Ponant for future cruises.
Thanks!
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Azamara Journey Italy Intensive 10/2018; Celebrity Expedition Galapagos 5/2019; Viking Delling Lyon and Provence 10/2019; Tauck Ultimate Alps & Dolomites land tour 5/2020;
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Past Trips
Celebrity Reflection Ultimate Caribbean 4/2018; Viking Jarl Romantic Danube 10/2017; Avalon Luminary Essential Holland and Belgium-Tulips in Spring 4/2017; Holland America Ms Westerdam Mexican Riviera Holiday 12/2016; Celebrity Solstice Alaska Tracy Arm Fjord 5/2016; Majesty of the Seas Western Caribbean 2001
#6
Glasgow/Scotland
7 Posts
Joined Feb 2011
We used Ponant "Australis" last July in the Kimberly region of Australia, and whilst I quite liked the ship and some (the French) staff we found the cooking and cheap wine so bad I will never use the line again.
Strange thing was after I wrote up my daming review the next 5 or so reviews of the same trip were glowing 5 star write ups.
Trust me I know poor food and wine when I taste it!
#7
Florida
4,529 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
The included wine? We asked our waiter to bring a different one. He switched us a from cheap Languedoc country wine to a much better Australian vintage which was also included. Both the red and the white. The food was decent on our cruise. I complained in writing to the executive chef about the overly salty soups and they were good from that day on.

caviargal, I also wondered about your experience.
#8
7 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by f2s
We used Ponant "Australis" last July in the Kimberly region of Australia, and whilst I quite liked the ship and some (the French) staff we found the cooking and cheap wine so bad I will never use the line again.
Strange thing was after I wrote up my daming review the next 5 or so reviews of the same trip were glowing 5 star write ups.
Trust me I know poor food and wine when I taste it!
Dear Sir, dear Madam,
We have learned of your disappointment with your recent Ponant cruise, and we are sincerely sorry. Our Customer Relations department is at your entire disposal to discuss the matter with you at 1300 737 178, if you so wish.

Yours faithfully,


The PONANT team.
#9
Adelaide
242 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
We sailed On Ponant (Australian Kimberly Cruise) in August. The ship was ok although the room and bathroom were very small (bathroom was ridiculous). The food was the worst we have ever had on a ship (been on HAL, Windstar, Silversea,Seabourn) which was such a disappointment for us. We thought being a French line the food would be a highlight. I wrote to the Australian office for Ponant re our disappointment and to their credit they did reply. They definitely aren’t a luxury line and if they what to do well in Australia, they will have to improve a lot - we will never know if things improve because we will never sail with them again.
#10
Sydney, Australia
814 Posts
Joined Aug 2010
Interesting comments.
We loved our ponant Antarctica cruise on Le Boreal in January 2017, we have now booked an Arctic cruise on Le Champlain in August 2019.
We were very happy with the food, included alcohol and staff. We thought the cabins were good, beds comfortable, bathrooms spotless, we didn’t think the bathrooms were particularly small.
Our only issue was the buffet restaurant was busy and difficult to get a table. Half the passengers were French and they tended to head to restaurant 10 minutes before it opened and wait, instead of waiting we would head to the dining room and eat there.I’m looking forward to seeing the restaurant set up in the new ships.
Maybe because we were doing a polar cruise, we compared prices and Ponant were extremely reasonable, we thought we received great value for money, others may be expecting much more....
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#11
Florida
4,529 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Just a comment on the food on Ponant's L'Austral on our Asia cruise. It was definitely better than any food we have eaten on HAL ships. If you have ever travelled in France, you recognize the typical dishes of "traiteurs" (delicatessen shops) that you find in France's vacation regions. These dishes were served in the buffet restaurant. For casual eating, it's not a pizza, hamburger, hot dog ship.

Of course, there was crisp baguette, country bread and French cheese varieties in the main dining room. The included wine was a decent Australian vintage.

My comparison references include Hapag-Lloyd (top1), Oceania (top2), Azamara (very good), Princess (ok), and HAL (bland).
#12
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
we will be trying Ponant for the first time in March. We are usually Seabourn passengers, but are looking forward to trying a smaller ship than Seabourn provides now. I usually blog during my cruises, but have no idea what the internet is like or what costs there are on Ponant. Can anyone give me a clue? We will just be in the Great Barrier Reef so I may also be able to use a Telstra dongle?
#13
Adelaide
242 Posts
Joined Sep 2012
I feel as though I should justify my comments re our Ponant Kimberly cruise. I have traveled extensively through France (cities and country) so I do know what the French cuisine is like. I also realise that food is subjective but as I said Ponant Australia did answer my comments about food, service and other parts of this cruise. Their response was, several crew members were sick and they were very short staffed. They also said, because of the remote area, fresh supplies were difficult (not sure I accept that as this line goes to Antarctica) but I was impressed that they replied. I was by no way the only person onboard who was disappointed with this particular cruise. Was it a one off? I don’t know, I suspect it could have been, but it was well below what we were expecting (and I think the people from Ponant who were onboard thought so too). I hope everyone who is travelling on Ponant in the future enjoy their cruise but we will not be going again - sad because we do enjoy the smaller ships.
#14
Annapolis, MD
254 Posts
Joined Nov 2000
We're looking at a trip on Ponant's new ship Laperouse in January 2019 from Cairns to Sydney. The itinerary looks outstanding, with expedition landings on some of the more remote locations along the Queensland Coast/Whitsunday Islands. We visited Hayman Island for our honeymoon 28 years ago, and we've wanted to go back and see more of the Great Barrier Reef. I appreciate all the posts here, and I've read all the recent reviews, especially of the Austalian voyages.
We like smaller ships, and our two favorite lines are SeaDream and Starclippers--they're completely different, and we love the experience on each.
I will continue to watch updates on voyages from the 2018 season, and the initial reactions to Laperouse.
Thanks,
Steve
#15
7 Posts
Joined Jan 2017
Originally posted by Joc123
I feel as though I should justify my comments re our Ponant Kimberly cruise. I have traveled extensively through France (cities and country) so I do know what the French cuisine is like. I also realise that food is subjective but as I said Ponant Australia did answer my comments about food, service and other parts of this cruise. Their response was, several crew members were sick and they were very short staffed. They also said, because of the remote area, fresh supplies were difficult (not sure I accept that as this line goes to Antarctica) but I was impressed that they replied. I was by no way the only person onboard who was disappointed with this particular cruise. Was it a one off? I don’t know, I suspect it could have been, but it was well below what we were expecting (and I think the people from Ponant who were onboard thought so too). I hope everyone who is travelling on Ponant in the future enjoy their cruise but we will not be going again - sad because we do enjoy the smaller ships.
Dear Joc123,
Thank you for your comments about yourlast cruise onboard one of our ship. If you are agree with that, the guestrelationship manager of PONANT Australia will contact you soon in order todiscuss about your deception and the reason of the dysfunctions you mayencountered. If you may, please send us your contact in private.
With our best regards,
PONANT
#16
Tennessee USA
344 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Ponant's new La Laperouse is in Iceland now. We are confirmed to sail this new ship the end of July. We are traveling with Tauck Tours.
We are not planning on taking "dressy"clothes. Nice casual.
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#17
Seattle, WA
61 Posts
Joined Oct 2016
Here are my belated impressions of our cruise/tour. There were a couple of more formal captain's dinners where we ate at the buffet instead.

---------------------

My Ponant cruise around the Irish Sea (on Le Soleal), chartered by Tauck, has come to an end. Would I take another trip on Ponant? No!

My mother and I booked separate rooms, which Tauck had clearly indicated via pre-boarding bag tags. Ponant tried to insist that we were sharing the same room, until the Tauck liaison convinced them to "move" me into the correct single cabin.

Bed took up most of the room space, along with a small table and chair. Four medium drawers, two closet shelves and hangers to store clothes. Toilet in a dank broom closet; some reviewers have noticed an odor, as did I with a relatively weak sense of smell; preferred not to dwell on its nature. Shower-sink cubicle small enough that I found it easier to dry off in the cabin than manouevre in the phone booth-sized area.

Dining options were a la carte dining room, or upstairs buffet. Latter required reservations for dinner as seating limited. Buffet was fine for meals, but dining room not so much ... Ponant tried for chic bistro effect, with upscale-sounding soup, starters, main course and dessert ordered separately (translation from original French menus could've used a native English speaker's input in some cases). Food itself from these menus ranged from okay-not-great to dismal. My tomato bisque the final night was so bad I had no idea what it was - a can from Campbell's would've been preferable! Portions were very small, except for dessert. I'm not the stereotypical American needing a whopping trencher of vittles. I like visiting France, people and food there.

Aside from acting deer-in-headlights panicky about the cabin assignments, rest of Ponant staff themselves were perfectly fine folks in terms of service and personality. I did get the impression that the non-European dining room staff were a bit concerned about criticism/reprimand from French supervisors though.

Anyway, those were the highlights for my two cents.
#18
Tennessee USA
344 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Not too encouraging. Hoping with the new ship, the cruise amenities will be better.

We enjoyed a Rhine Christmas Market Tauck Cruise and really enjoyed the markets. Food on the ship was also mediocre. The ship could have been Ponant, I do not now. The chef needed to get some training.

Have no intention of going to Iceland and taking dressy, formal, clothing. We will dress very appropriately for a nice dining room.

Next summer, we go back to Oceania. We really enjoy traveling with Tauck, so hope it goes well.
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#19
New York
9,331 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by 1westover
Not too encouraging. Hoping with the new ship, the cruise amenities will be better.

We enjoyed a Rhine Christmas Market Tauck Cruise and really enjoyed the markets. Food on the ship was also mediocre. The ship could have been Ponant, I do not now. The chef needed to get some training.

Have no intention of going to Iceland and taking dressy, formal, clothing. We will dress very appropriately for a nice dining room.

Next summer, we go back to Oceania. We really enjoy traveling with Tauck, so hope it goes well.
No. Ponant does not have any river ships. Tauck leases these ships from Scylla, a Swiss company, for their exclusive use. Scylla designs and staffs these ships to Tauck's requirements, so these river cruises are a true Tauck product.

At present Tauck usually takes about half the cabins on a Ponant ship and markets it in parallel to Ponant's direct bookings. [For example, we are booked with Ponant for a New Zealand cruise in 2020 which is also offered by Tauck as a combination Australian land tour plus our Ponant cruise.] I have been told that as Ponant doubles the size of their fleet over the next few years, Tauck will move to chartering entire Ponant ships to market as Tauck-exclusive sailings – whether that will change the onboard experience, only time will tell.
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Booked:
Viking Sun British Isles Explorer 8-2018
Celebrity Edge Caribbean 1-2019
Ponant/Backroads Iceland 8-2019
Ponant New Zealand 3-2020

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