Ah, the French lifestyle: a blend of gorgeous food and delicious wines, with appreciation for high style and café society as well as relaxation and family time.
And, there’s a cruise line that brings the very best of the French lifestyle to its ships: Marseille-based Ponant.
The French Touch
As soon as you step on a Ponant ship, you’ll feel like you’re on a little floating piece of France. When you step on a Ponant ship, you’ll feel like you’re on a little floating piece of France.
Ponant officers are French, the décor has the French air of effortless elegance, and the international cuisine has a strong French influence, too (and is prepared by French chefs, of course).
Ponant prides itself on the Ponant’s guests appreciate “The French Touch.” Guests also appreciate the cruise line’s small, intimate ships; “a la carte” approach to extra services and amenities; and fun, adventurous itineraries.
The Ponant fleet currently has five ships. There’s Le Ponant, a three-masted ship that accommodates 64 lucky passengers. It sails some of the cruise line’s most exotic itineraries.
Then, there are four nearly identical ships: Le Soleal, Le Boreal, L’Austral and Le Lyrial. Ponant calls them “mega-yachts:” each carries up to 264 passengers. They combine the feeling of a luxury private yacht with many of the features of larger cruise ships.
For example, there are two restaurants, multiple lounges, a library and card room, an Internet nook, and a spa and fitness facility.
Ponant’s mega-yachts have comfortable staterooms and suites that blend sophistication with casual comfort. The palette is soothing neutrals: grey, taupe, ivory and white.
There are king-sized beds, dressing tables, plush bathrobes and French bath products to enjoy. Most staterooms and suites are equipped with balconies.The public spaces are beautiful and designed to encourage passengers to enjoy social time together. The open-air pool deck has plenty of seating, and afternoon tea is served in one of the lounges. At night, passengers gather in the Main Lounge for cocktails and dancing, or enjoy live music in the ship’s view lounge.
Ponant has four new ships on order, so even more cruise lovers will be able to enjoy “The French Touch” beginning in summer 2018.
Services a la Carte
Depending on where and how you purchase a Ponant cruise, pricing may be more “a la carte” than you expect from a luxury line. Cruises purchased in the U.S. tend to have more all-inclusive pricing, but booking elsewhere gives guests the opportunity to select the extra services and programs they want (shore excursions, beverage packages, etc.) and pay for them accordingly.
Ponant’s a la carte pricing is widely considered to provide good value. Note that gratuities for the crew are not included in your fare; and, the onboard currency is the euro.
Ponant attracts a French clientele, as well as other Europeans and a growing number of Americans and Canadians. During school holidays, younger families with children may be on board (Ponant doesn’t have any special programs for children, but makes them welcome). The rest of the year and on longer cruises, most passengers will be 50-plus. In general, Ponant guests are well-traveled, social and interested in exploring the destinations.Ship announcements are made in French and English, and many crew members speak English, too. If you like, you can ask the maître d’ to seat you at an English-speaking table in the restaurants.
Ponant sails a collection of adventurous itineraries. The four mega-yachts are built to handle ice, so they can sail to Antarctica and the Arctic just as easily as they can sail the Mediterranean and other European itineraries, Asia and South America. The smaller ships tend to venture off the beaten track, as well.
Each ship carries a fleet of Zodiac landing crafts for to take passengers ashore when the ship needs to anchor rather than dock. Itineraries emphasize long days in port, as well as some overnight stays, so passengers can become immersed in a destination.There’s no strict dress code, but attire generally ranges on Ponant ships: you’ll see everything from country club casual to some seriously fashionable-chic evening wear. Women in cocktail dresses and heels, a jacket and tie for men, will fit right in on dress-up nights, (and you can certainly go haute couture if you like.
There are two venues in which to dine: the main dining room, Le Coromandel, on Deck 2, and the casual Le Rodrigues on Deck 6. Open-seating breakfast, lunch and dinner are served in both every day.
If this quick introduction to Ponant and the French Touch has you wanting to know more, checkout some of our featured Ponat cruises >>