Anyone with experience with Ponant in Antarctica?

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#1
12 Posts
Joined Jun 2015
Relevant to my previous post, we're currently leaning Ponant as a decent compromise of:
  • Ship size (smaller ship equals more chances and longer times ashore??)
  • Comfort (I mentioned the balcony thing, right )
  • "All inclusiveness" - Ponant seems to cover everything with their prices - gratuities, drinks, trips ashore (I understand some lines charge extra fees?), etc.
All input gratefully accepted.
#2
Canberra Australia
141 Posts
Joined Aug 2011
Originally posted by Linanbob2
Relevant to my previous post, we're currently leaning Ponant as a decent compromise of:
  • Ship size (smaller ship equals more chances and longer times ashore??)
  • Comfort (I mentioned the balcony thing, right )
  • "All inclusiveness" - Ponant seems to cover everything with their prices - gratuities, drinks, trips ashore (I understand some lines charge extra fees?), etc.
All input gratefully accepted.
I can't give you a definite "go Ponant" recommendation as I haven't been yet, but after several weeks of similar investigation earlier this year, I came to the same conclusion that Ponant was the right one for us too.

In the end, main reasons were:
- They look like nice ships. There is also a "mighty cruise ships" that shows one of their journeys which should give you a pretty good idea of the journey.
- There are cheaper options elsewhere, but they mostly seem like 3 or 4 berth cabins, and we want a twin. The "twins" options on the cheaper ships were coming back higher than Ponant did for us.
- The reasonable prices extended to balcony cabins, and we really wanted a balcony if possible.

We ended up booking a trip to Antarctica and South Georgia in Feb 2018. Good luck with your investigations! Try to get some of the early bird offers as they are up to 30% off which helps a lot. .
#3
UK
1,543 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
I'm not aware of any ships which charge for landings ('trips ashore').

You have a couple of recommended links to useful resources on your other thread. Can I suggest that you concentrate on that one thread to avoid us having to flip between the two? Your 'Relevant to my previous post' comment, for example, makes no sense to anyone who has not read the other thread.
#4
France
761 Posts
Joined Jan 2011
As far as expedition ships in Antarctica go (and by "expedition ships" I mean "ships that allow landings and not only cruise-by), Ponant ships are actually rather large. They have around 200 passengers, which means the passengers take turn to go ashore (as explained in your previous post, see digitl's answer). So that limits your time ashore compared to a ship with less than 100 passengers (honestly, do not even consider ships with more passengers than 200 for this kind of trip).

I have no personal experience with Ponant, but I've been on a similar size ship (Hurtigruten's Fram) and the landing rotations are usually a smooth process and you still have time ashore to enjoy. I think that on Ponant, the passengers not ashore are offered zodiac rides, which is also a wonderful way to see landscape and wildlife up close.

I have many friends who have travelled with Ponant both in the Arctic and Antarctic and they have only great things to say about them. They have a stellar reputation in these regions, with good captains and expedition teams, very comfortable ships (with a luxury twist, although it seems that the atmosphere on board is still relaxed), knowledge of the area, going all the way to make passengers happy. They also have an open bridge policy if that is important to you. And they are very competitive in price. I would travel with them without a worry (other than the fact that they can be many French passengers and, being French myself, I know that some French passengers can be pretty obnoxious, but if you don't speak French you should be spared this . The language on board is French and English. The ships are sometimes chartered to international companies so less French-speaking and more English-speaking crowd).
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My travelblog : http://voyageterremer.blogspot.com Hurtigruten, Antarctica, Svalbard, Norway (and other places...).
#5
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
647 Posts
Joined Feb 2006
After doing research for a couple of years and speaking to a travel agent who specializes in expedition trips, we came to the conclusion that Ponant was for us and have booked on a sailing for January 2018 called "Crossing the Polar Circle" or something similar on Le Soleal.
We had told the agent we wanted to visit Antarctica, Faulklands and S Georgia, balcony cabin, luxury surroundings, high end food and service, great expedition staff, and our budget, and this sailing hit our wish list.
For Antarctica sailings Ponant limits passengers to 199, although the ship can hold just over 200 passengers.
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Cunard QM2 Eastbound Transatlantic, May, 2018; Pullmantur Zenith Coastal Norway, May, 2018; Ponant LeSoleal, Beyond The Polar Circle, Antarctica, Falklands, S Georgia,Jan., 2018; Viking Tialfi, Rhine Getaway, Nov., 2017; Norwegian Spirit Mediterranean, Nov., 2017; Royal Caribbean Vision ofthe Seas, 11 day Baltic, Aug., 2017; Norwegian Epic, Spain, Morocco, CanaryIslands, March, 2016; Viking Pride, Paris & Heart of Normandy, Sept., 2015;Semiramis II, Nile River Egypt, May, 2015; Oceania Riviera, Turkey & GreekIsles, Oct., 2014; Celebrity Summit, S. Caribbean, Jan., 2014; CarnivalElation, W. Caribbean, Jan., 2012; Carnival Pride, E. Caribbean, Aug., 2010; GoldenPrincess, 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; DeTijdgeest Dutch Barge, Netherlands & Belgium, May, 2002; Renaissance R3,Tahitian Islands, March, 2001; Dawn Princess, S. Caribbean, Nov., 1999; StarPrincess, S. Caribbean, Nov., 1994; And lots of land based adventures to morethan 60 countries on 6 continents! Happy to answer any questions or share photos,home(at)terryandmike(dot)com.
#6
ExPerth, Now Melb Aus
654 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
There are several trip reports in the Trip Advisor Antarctica Adventures forum for Ponant
http://antarcticafaqs.boards.net/thread/218/ponant

Much too large for my personal liking - I prefer less than 100 pax for my expeditions.
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Antarctica
Kapitan Khlebnikov Nov 2010 (West Antarctica, Weddell Sea, Riser Laarsen Coast, Sth Sandwhich & Sth Georgia Islands)
Kapitan Khlebnikov Dec 2011 (Final voyage - East Antarctica & Heard Island)
Sea Adventurer: Feb 2014 (East side of Antarctica Peninsular, South Georgia Is, Falkland Is).

Ortelius: Feb 2014 Bluff NZ, Ross Sea, West Antarctica, Peninsula, Peter 1st Island, Ushuaia
Other regions: too many to list so just the highlights:
P&O Oriana 1984 (Indian Ocean) and 1986 (Pacific Ocean), Superstar Virgo 2003 (Indian Ocean),
Radiance of the Seas: Nov 2014 Bravo Theatre Opera cruise - Noumea.

#7
25,692 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
We are on Le Lyrial in January, so I will do my best to come back with a full report. We booked an A&K charter, so the experience may vary slightly (such as English being the primary language), but I'm sure the service and amenities are the same.

I'm in the process of acquiring the essential clothing items now.
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-Jean


Block Island Ferry 1965

Nordic Empress 4/95; Vision of the Seas 10/02, 5/03,1/06,11/07, 12/07, 11/08, 9/12; Splendour of the Seas 10/03; Monarch of the Seas 2/04, 12/04, 9/05, 6/06, 9/06, 1/07, 02/07, 04/07, 05/07B2B, 08/07, 11/07, 2/08, 03/08, 04/08B2B, 6/08, 7/08-2x,08/08x3, 9/08x2, 10/08, 6/09, 12/11; Radiance of the Seas 9/04, 9/07, 10/09B2B, 11/09, 4/10, 5/15, 04/16, 06/16B2B, 04/17; Brilliance of the Seas 10/05, 9/12; Serenade of the Seas 10/06, 9/14, 12/14 2/15, 10/15, 8/16; Jewel of the Seas B2B 11/06, 7/07, 10/11, 12/12x2, 1/13; 2/13, 12/13, 5/15, 9/15; Liberty of the Seas 5/07, 3/11, 11/11; Mariner of the Seas 3/08, 02/09, 04/09, 09/09, 01/10, 12/10x2, 01/11; Navigator of the Seas 12/11; Oasis of the Seas 11/09, 01/16 B2B, 10/16 B2B; Rhapsody of the Seas 2/10, 4/11, 5/13, 5/14; Allure of the Seas 11/10, 1/14, Quantum of the Seas 11/14, Explorer OTS 09/16 (91)

Star Princess 5/02, 9/02, 5/12; Diamond Princess 5/04,4/05,5/07; Sun Princess 5/05; Island Princess 05/06; Sapphire Princess 12/09, 3/13, 3/14, Golden Princess 10/13, 11/13 x3, 10/14, 11/14, 4/15, 7/15, Crown Princess 12/14, 1/15 Ruby Princess 2/16, 12/16; (23)

Azamara Journey 12/08 Azamara Quest 05/09, 03/16, 10/17 (B2B) (5)

Carnival Paradise 2/09, 07/09, 8/09, 12/09, 3/10, 10/10, 2/11, 09/11 Carnival Inspiration 12/11, 2/12, 11/12, 3/13, 8/13 (13)

HAL Oosterdam 4/11 (1)

Celebrity Xpedition 9/13, Solstice 05/17, Infinity 09/17 (3)

Ponant Le Lyrial - Antarctica - #1 Trip of a Lifetime! (1)
#8
Los Angeles
10 Posts
Joined Nov 2014
We were on a different Ponant ship in 2012. We were very pleased. The 200 passenger size is not a problem at all. I frankly think it is an ideal size considering how turbulent a Drake crossing can be. The guides are top notch and the French meals better than any cruise I ever had.

There are usually two boat rides a day: one landing and one ice field cruising. Every day is busy.
#9
UK
1,543 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
I would be disappointed if every day consisted of only one landing plus 'one ice field cruising' rather than two landings each day with one of them replaced just occasionally by 'ice field cruising'.
#10
Los Angeles
10 Posts
Joined Nov 2014
Ice field cruising is in fact a great deal of fun. I remember being so close to a leopard seal that we literally could touch it as it was biting the raft. Of course nobody dared to extend a hand out. There were several other types of actions.
#11
UK
1,543 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
Originally posted by cheng_PVE
Ice field cruising is in fact a great deal of fun. I remember being so close to a leopard seal that we literally could touch it as it was biting the raft. Of course nobody dared to extend a hand out. There were several other types of actions.
Yes, it's fine, I have done it, but I would not want to forgo a landing every day in favour of a zodiac ride.
#12
ExPerth, Now Melb Aus
654 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Originally posted by digitl
Yes, it's fine, I have done it, but I would not want to forgo a landing every day in favour of a zodiac ride.
Agree. Especially since on smaller vessels the average is a minimum two landings per day - sometimes 3. With scenic zodiac cruising being an extra activity. Not a replacement for a whole landing.

But that's what people have to weigh up when they choose the bigger vessels with greater passenger numbers.
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Antarctica
Kapitan Khlebnikov Nov 2010 (West Antarctica, Weddell Sea, Riser Laarsen Coast, Sth Sandwhich & Sth Georgia Islands)
Kapitan Khlebnikov Dec 2011 (Final voyage - East Antarctica & Heard Island)
Sea Adventurer: Feb 2014 (East side of Antarctica Peninsular, South Georgia Is, Falkland Is).

Ortelius: Feb 2014 Bluff NZ, Ross Sea, West Antarctica, Peninsula, Peter 1st Island, Ushuaia
Other regions: too many to list so just the highlights:
P&O Oriana 1984 (Indian Ocean) and 1986 (Pacific Ocean), Superstar Virgo 2003 (Indian Ocean),
Radiance of the Seas: Nov 2014 Bravo Theatre Opera cruise - Noumea.

#14
ExPerth, Now Melb Aus
654 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Its rare to find roll calls for polar trips on CC. Try Trip Advisor. There is one for the Lyrial for Dec 2016. None for 2017 yet.

https://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowF...dventures.html
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Antarctica
Kapitan Khlebnikov Nov 2010 (West Antarctica, Weddell Sea, Riser Laarsen Coast, Sth Sandwhich & Sth Georgia Islands)
Kapitan Khlebnikov Dec 2011 (Final voyage - East Antarctica & Heard Island)
Sea Adventurer: Feb 2014 (East side of Antarctica Peninsular, South Georgia Is, Falkland Is).

Ortelius: Feb 2014 Bluff NZ, Ross Sea, West Antarctica, Peninsula, Peter 1st Island, Ushuaia
Other regions: too many to list so just the highlights:
P&O Oriana 1984 (Indian Ocean) and 1986 (Pacific Ocean), Superstar Virgo 2003 (Indian Ocean),
Radiance of the Seas: Nov 2014 Bravo Theatre Opera cruise - Noumea.

#15
25,692 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Originally posted by Ultrapilot1
We are also on the Le Lyrial in January! (2017). Do we have a roll call? I can't seem to find it.
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showt...4#post51915254

If you're on the A&K charter, this is it. I couldn't help myself.
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-Jean


Block Island Ferry 1965

Nordic Empress 4/95; Vision of the Seas 10/02, 5/03,1/06,11/07, 12/07, 11/08, 9/12; Splendour of the Seas 10/03; Monarch of the Seas 2/04, 12/04, 9/05, 6/06, 9/06, 1/07, 02/07, 04/07, 05/07B2B, 08/07, 11/07, 2/08, 03/08, 04/08B2B, 6/08, 7/08-2x,08/08x3, 9/08x2, 10/08, 6/09, 12/11; Radiance of the Seas 9/04, 9/07, 10/09B2B, 11/09, 4/10, 5/15, 04/16, 06/16B2B, 04/17; Brilliance of the Seas 10/05, 9/12; Serenade of the Seas 10/06, 9/14, 12/14 2/15, 10/15, 8/16; Jewel of the Seas B2B 11/06, 7/07, 10/11, 12/12x2, 1/13; 2/13, 12/13, 5/15, 9/15; Liberty of the Seas 5/07, 3/11, 11/11; Mariner of the Seas 3/08, 02/09, 04/09, 09/09, 01/10, 12/10x2, 01/11; Navigator of the Seas 12/11; Oasis of the Seas 11/09, 01/16 B2B, 10/16 B2B; Rhapsody of the Seas 2/10, 4/11, 5/13, 5/14; Allure of the Seas 11/10, 1/14, Quantum of the Seas 11/14, Explorer OTS 09/16 (91)

Star Princess 5/02, 9/02, 5/12; Diamond Princess 5/04,4/05,5/07; Sun Princess 5/05; Island Princess 05/06; Sapphire Princess 12/09, 3/13, 3/14, Golden Princess 10/13, 11/13 x3, 10/14, 11/14, 4/15, 7/15, Crown Princess 12/14, 1/15 Ruby Princess 2/16, 12/16; (23)

Azamara Journey 12/08 Azamara Quest 05/09, 03/16, 10/17 (B2B) (5)

Carnival Paradise 2/09, 07/09, 8/09, 12/09, 3/10, 10/10, 2/11, 09/11 Carnival Inspiration 12/11, 2/12, 11/12, 3/13, 8/13 (13)

HAL Oosterdam 4/11 (1)

Celebrity Xpedition 9/13, Solstice 05/17, Infinity 09/17 (3)

Ponant Le Lyrial - Antarctica - #1 Trip of a Lifetime! (1)
#16
Memphis, TN
103 Posts
Joined Apr 2009
We were lucky enough to do Antarctica on Le Boreal on an A&K Charter 3 years ago. The ship is beautiful, comforatble, wonderful French crew - the most important thing to chose is your expedition team. Which is why we went with A&K.
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DadainTN


Sailing on Oceania- Nautica - March 26, 2015
Sailed on Oceania Marina December 28, 2103 Santiago to Papeete
Sailed on Le Boreal to Antarctica January 2, 2013
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
#17
ExPerth, Now Melb Aus
654 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Originally posted by DadainTN
the most important thing to chose is your expedition team. Which is why we went with A&K.
You personally dont get to "choose your expedition team".

As most expedition team members work freelance across the majority of the companies and swap and change throughout the season depending on their own desires and the needs of each company - they can change between you choosing an itinerary and the actual departure.

Having been on 4 different polar voyages - ALL expedition team members on each were excellent - regardless of where they came from and what company they were currently being paid by.
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Antarctica
Kapitan Khlebnikov Nov 2010 (West Antarctica, Weddell Sea, Riser Laarsen Coast, Sth Sandwhich & Sth Georgia Islands)
Kapitan Khlebnikov Dec 2011 (Final voyage - East Antarctica & Heard Island)
Sea Adventurer: Feb 2014 (East side of Antarctica Peninsular, South Georgia Is, Falkland Is).

Ortelius: Feb 2014 Bluff NZ, Ross Sea, West Antarctica, Peninsula, Peter 1st Island, Ushuaia
Other regions: too many to list so just the highlights:
P&O Oriana 1984 (Indian Ocean) and 1986 (Pacific Ocean), Superstar Virgo 2003 (Indian Ocean),
Radiance of the Seas: Nov 2014 Bravo Theatre Opera cruise - Noumea.

#18
UK
1,543 Posts
Joined Jan 2009
As PP has said, you have no control over the composition of the Expedition Team.

We have flown out to join a ship with Expedition Team members on our flight, and we have flown out from the ship with different Expedition Team members. The Team is whatever it is, but it will be quality: you don't get paid to be on a team unless you are going to make a valued contribution: there is no room for a passenger (pun not intended!).
#19
25,692 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Originally posted by DadainTN
We were lucky enough to do Antarctica on Le Boreal on an A&K Charter 3 years ago. The ship is beautiful, comforatble, wonderful French crew - the most important thing to chose is your expedition team. Which is why we went with A&K.
Thanks for that information! I understood what you meant by choosing your expedition team. I'm not a literalist, though.
#20
ExPerth, Now Melb Aus
654 Posts
Joined Feb 2010
Originally posted by critterchick
I'm not a literalist, though.
Doesn't pay to insult those who are only taking time out of their day to provide actual facts that assist people.
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Antarctica
Kapitan Khlebnikov Nov 2010 (West Antarctica, Weddell Sea, Riser Laarsen Coast, Sth Sandwhich & Sth Georgia Islands)
Kapitan Khlebnikov Dec 2011 (Final voyage - East Antarctica & Heard Island)
Sea Adventurer: Feb 2014 (East side of Antarctica Peninsular, South Georgia Is, Falkland Is).

Ortelius: Feb 2014 Bluff NZ, Ross Sea, West Antarctica, Peninsula, Peter 1st Island, Ushuaia
Other regions: too many to list so just the highlights:
P&O Oriana 1984 (Indian Ocean) and 1986 (Pacific Ocean), Superstar Virgo 2003 (Indian Ocean),
Radiance of the Seas: Nov 2014 Bravo Theatre Opera cruise - Noumea.