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Ponant cruises review

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Luxe, yacht-like voyages to boutique ports — with a French flair.

If you’re looking for an upscale sailing experience — like a 5-star hotel at sea — and have a penchant for French food, you’ll fall in love with Ponant. But if you’re hoping for budget-friendly fare, or want to sail on a large ship with rambunctious entertainment, consider something else.

12 ships

Number of ships

Price

No

Price matches

Details

Target demographic Singles
Number of ships 12 ships
Contact options Phone, Email
Payment options Visa, Mastercard, American Express
Deposit required Deposit at checkout
Deposit required No price matching
Food Food included
Drink Alcohol included
Room service Room service included

Expert review

Amy Stoltenberg

Review by


Amy Stoltenberg writes about lifestyle and money for Finder, researching the best options for shopping, banking, insurance and authentic travel experiences. After studying writing and fashion at Savannah College of Art and Design, she worked designing apparel at a corporate behemoth before opting for a career with unlimited travel time. When her laptop’s closed, she can be found wandering the streets looking for happy hour and hole-in-the-wall eateries.

Expert review

Ponant’s cruises are a sublime fusion of French sophistication, classy digs and fascinating ports — without being ostentatious or overly posh. It’s a very pleasant way to sail around the world, especially if you’re keen on haute cuisine and fine wine.

There aren’t late-night parties or grandiose theatrical productions on Ponant cruises. These trips are for people who are content to watch small groups of performers dance and play music. There are expert lectures, but on most cruises non-French speakers are usually ushered to a smaller room to get the English version.

Some people who’ve cruised with Ponant complain about the crew’s French accent, typos in the English itineraries and other cultural mix-ups. We’d consider this par for the course on international travel, but if that sort of thing upsets you then it may be wise to consider an American cruise line instead.

The service isn’t always flawless, so don’t expect white-glove butler service. But the atmosphere is relaxed, not rigid or straight-laced. Folks in need of an easygoing getaway complete with elevated creature comforts will be satisfied.

Oh, one more thing: While the interior of Ponant cruise ships are nonsmoking, it does allow smoking on the outside areas — so if you’re relaxing by the pool, someone could be enjoying a cigarette nearby. Keep this in mind if you have a strong aversion to the smell of smoke.

Where do Ponant’s cruises depart from?

When you cruise with Ponant, your focus will likely be on the destination, rather than the convenience of the departure port — though it does have some trips that depart from major US cities like Miami and San Diego. Near and far, here’s where your trip might begin:

Athens, Auckland, Bergen, Boston, Buenos Aires, Cairns, Callao, Cape Town, Colombo, Dakar, Dubai, Durban, Guam, Ho Chi Minh City, Istanbul, Lisbon, Otaru, Port Louis, Seward, Singapore, Sydney, Toronto, Ushuaia, Vancouver, Venice, Victoria

Ponant cruise destinations

Ponant sails to every continent around the globe, including Antarctica. Thanks to its small-sized, yacht-like ships, it docks at more remote ports and off-the-beaten path villages that larger cruise ships can’t access. Here’s where you can go:

Africa, Alaska, Arctic, Asia, Caribbean, North America, Northern Europe, Pacific, Transatlantic

Ponant also has a selection of themed cruises, so lovers of fine dining and wine, music, art and museums, theater and literature, golf, National Geographic and more can book a voyage that’s curated to their exact tastes.

What’s included in a Ponant cruise?

Ponant cruises aren’t cheap — but then again, they’re meant to be the epitome of luxury. Here’s what your fare includes:

  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Afternoon tea and snacks
  • Wine, beer and spirits
  • Specialty coffee and soda
  • Access to theaters, pools, fitness and more
  • Unlimited Wi-Fi
  • Gratuities
  • Transfers to and from the port

In general, shore excursions are not included in the cost of your Ponant cruise, though there may be guided tours that are free depending on the itinerary. And while gratuities are included in your fare, if you’re really happy with the service, Ponant recommends tipping the staff about $10 to $12 a passenger, daily.

Why you should (or shouldn’t) cruise with Ponant

Ponant is an award-winning cruise line with plenty of rave reviews from passengers past. But it’s not for everyone — or every budget. Weigh the benefits and drawbacks before booking.

Pros

  • Committed to sustainable tourism with its ban on single-use plastics and heavy oils
  • High-end, French-themed menus guided by the Ducasse Conseil
  • Cabins are equipped with on-demand video
  • Many of its ships have a pool on deck
  • Deluxe ships with upscale amenities
  • Itineraries include unique ports without crowds

Cons

  • Fares are pricier than midtier or budget cruise lines
  • Fewer onboard entertainment options than larger cruise lines
  • Dining options are limited compared to larger cruise lines
  • Only a handful of itineraries depart from the US

Are there Ponant cruises to Cuba?

In the past, Ponant has offered cruises to Cuba. However, in June of 2019 the Trump administration banned tourist travel to Cuba, effectively canceling cruises with stops to Havana.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin stated in a press release that this is because “Cuba continues to play a destabilizing role in the Western hemisphere, providing a communist foothold in the region and propping up US adversaries in places like Venezuela and Nicaragua by fomenting instability, undermining the rule of law and suppressing democratic processes.”

If you’re interested in cruising to Cuba, keep an eye on current events — we’ll update this page when and if the embargo is lifted.

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