Fodor’s Expert Review
The flagship 264-passenger Le Soléal debuts in July 2013, duplicating the elegant contours of her sister ships. Designer chic, the 132 staterooms and suites are decorated in shades of grey, white, and brown. Enjoy a spa, theater, and multiple lounges. Original 4- to 22-day itineraries cruise perennially through the Mediterranean, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Russia, and the Arctic.Read More
Ponant operates three designer ships for all-season premium yet unpretentious yacht cruising in places inaccessible to larger cruise ships. At this writing, a fourth ship was expected for delivery in July 2013. With distinctively French flair, the cruise company strikes an appealing balance between destination choice and price point on luxuriously refurbished modern sailing vessels that feature French gastronomy, elegant styling, and unique voyages with all-inclusive packages. Travel is privileged yet unpretentious aboard a small majestic three-masted sailing yacht or larger megayacht.
For experienced cruisers or newcomers, the fantasy of having one’s own private yacht to sail the seven seas comes closer to reality with exotic itineraries on upscale, uncrowded ships operated by Ponant, which was begun in 1988 by CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest container shipping company. In 2008, Ponant made international headlines when its smallest sailing yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. That incident had a very positive ending, and the company has since offered solid years of safe, luxury maritime travel and good reviews from discerning passengers, most of whom are European, American, and Australian globetrotters. Expectations for substantial entertainment, perfect service, and regal accommodations should be kept realistic since these ships are limited in size. Nevertheless, Ponant’s ambitious agenda is to provide impeccable, five-star cruising to its affluent clientele. The ships offer fine dining, outstanding attention to interior design, expedition-style cruising on eco-friendly, state-of-the-art vessels, and a sophisticated feel reminiscent of a hip boutique hotel, and these expectations are more than met for offbeat journeys draped in contemporary prestige.