PHOTO: Ponant’s Le Soleal, helping redefine luxury. (Photo courtesy Ponant)
The idea began 30 years ago – a French Merchant Navy officer’s dream to bring French sophistication and elegance to the high seas.
Today, Ponant, the only French cruise company, fulfills this vision and more with five luxury small ships, offering both expedition and five-star culture and leisure cruises to more than 14 destinations, including the Adriatic, Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin and North America, Alaska, Northern Europe, the Arctic and Antarctica, the Mediterranean, Russia and Pacific Oceania.
With a maximum capacity of 264 passengers, Ponant is redefining luxury small-ship cruising. Le Boréal, L’Austral and Le Soléal have 132 cabins each and offer passengers a refined experience, while Le Lyrial, the newest addition to the Ponant fleet, sets sail with 122 cabins. The cruise line’s flagship Le Ponant is a three-mast yacht that offers an experience so intimate, passengers will swear they are plying the waters in their own luxury ship. Whether sailing the crystal blue waters of the Med, exploring the Polar ice caps or making a transatlantic crossing from Marseille to Montevideo, Ponant’s small ships translate into intimate ports of call that larger cruise ships simply can’t access.
Once aboard, guests are treated to the “French Touch”— discreet, elegant, refined. Throughout their journey, passengers are catered to by a highly trained, professional crew whose mission it is to make each voyage one for the ages. Guests aboard one of the four sister ships have the opportunity to take advantage of Butler service, a truly customized experience that will forever change the way they think about cruising.
No matter the ship, passengers have the choice of two restaurants, each making use of the freshest ingredients in dishes inspired by local ports of call. Whether it’s a gourmet meal in the more formal Gastronomic Restaurant, or the more relaxed setting of the Grill, passengers will share in their chef’s passion for exquisite food. And when it comes time to relax with a hand-crafted cocktail, various lounges including a panoramic lounge and piano bar provide the perfect place to unwind and review the day’s events.
When sailing, guests of Ponant have ample onboard activities to keep them engaged. The onboard theater offers a space to socialize and attend guest lectures given by naturalists and experts in their fields or even view special shows and screenings. By day, the pool and sundeck (heated saltwater pools with a solarium can be found aboard Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal and Le Lyrial) serve as a meeting spot and perfect vantage point from which to take in the sights.
Pampering knows no bounds aboard a Ponant ship. Guests can choose from a host of treatments—from facials to massages and anti-aging—while trained masseuses offer the latest in deep-tissue and relaxation techniques. Guests of Le Boréal and L’Austral are also able to enjoy and be revitalized by a variety of aromatherapy baths. Meanwhile, each ship’s Fitness room, which includes Technogym machines and a Kinesis Wall, offers an expansive view of the sea thanks to floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows.
And throughout each of the ships, passengers will find the very best products from Ponant’s partners, including travel beauty kits by L’Occitane, signature perfumes from Fragonard, Sothys beauty treatments, vintage wines by Maison Veuve Clicquot and pastries from Ladurée.
Regardless of which voyage you embark upon, Ponant will forever spoil you for other cruise lines.