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About Aussieflyer

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    Cool Cruiser

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    Canberra, Australia
  • Interests
    Cooking (and eating), travel any type

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  1. Really? You prefer the Med? We loved Antarctica and yes it was rough at times, but we don't mind that. Never sea sick though quite a few on board were and we saw a lot with patches. The landscape and the penguins were amazing. We weren't in high whale season but friends who went a couple of months later saw lots. South Georgia was such a special place to visit as well as the peninsula so we are very glad we chose an itinerary that included it.
  2. It is some time since we did a SS expedition (2010 to the Arctic) and last year for a Ponant one to Antarctica. It's a long story but the Ponant was thousands cheaper than SS was offering as we booked very late (paid in full at booking). The feedback I gave our TA on the Ponant ship was that while we would be happy to sail with them again, there were some negatives that people need to be aware of. We had a balcony cabin in Deck 5 - it was very small and only one chair and an ottoman to sit on. We were offered an upgrade after boarding to a suite for about $AU10 but owing to a number of factors didn't take it. The food was not as good as we hoped - poultry was excellent but steak was terrible - tough and overdone. The entrees (appetisers), breads and oils were very good on the whole. Drinks were excellent - well made cocktails and wines very passable. English speakers numbered about a third of the total passenger load and we did sometimes feel a bit left out, as French was the first language. On the other hand, we did expect this and can imagine how awkward it must be for non-English speakers on most cruises. Service was good and all staff did speak good English but we did miss the banter with bar and restaurant staff. We thought the expedition staff were much poorer in quality than we had had on SS though I have heard that it can be a bit hit and miss on SS now. We felt that the young staff were inexperience and 'keen kids' rather than established experts that we had had on SS. Lectures in English were generally not great though I hear the French were much better. The itinerary made a lot of difference - South Georgia and Antarctica - you can't go wrong so not sure if a different region and a first cruise with Ponant people would be disappointed. I should say we are looking at another Ponant expedition to the Russian Far East but know what to expect.
  3. Interesting as on the QM2 voyages I have done (several in Far and Middle East) it would be perhaps 50% of men (if that) only in a tux on formal night not most at all. No one looked awful or out of place if they didn't wear a tux. Maybe it's different on voyages in other regions.
  4. Thank you Stickman for the response. We are umming at the moment for another couple of weeks till some health issues are sorted, then will decide. 😀
  5. Not having sailed on SB though have looked at it many times in the past and now considering again a cruise on Encore - a. question about caviar. Is it an added extra (pay extra) or included and if so where and how often is it available? It is only included for top suite passengers? I think in the past I have read of it being available just wondering if things have changed. On SS Muse for example it's available in the pay extra restaurant only really.
  6. The landings were amazing. South Georgia was so different from what I was expecting and the peninsula was stunning. Loved being the first cruise of the season as there was lots of snow and ice and no other footprints. As I am quite short I found it very difficult to get back into the zodiacs when returning to the ship. It wasn’t till the last day that they supplied a stool which made it so much easier. From memory Silversea had a stool for all its wet landings when we were in the Arctic.
  7. Le Lyrial had the same bathroom set up though we didn't find it a problem. You are right though that having a separate toilet did make the main bathroom smaller.
  8. We were on the same cruise and whilst I agree with much of portofinoitaly's review, I have to disagree about the standard of the food. We found that overall the standard of catering was very poor. The fish, which DH ordered once, was inedible (very dry and 'fishy' tasting), the red meat was tough, especially the piece of steak I ordered, and the chicken I had was dry and overcooked. We were quite disappointed with the standard. Although there were dishes that were excellent, I cannot say that there was one meal that I would rave about. IMO the catering on Celebrity and Cunard was better and people we dined with who sailed Oceania said that the food on that left Ponant in the dark. Wines and other drinks were very good though. The other issue with the catering is the layout of the restaurants. Their design means that there is a bottleneck just inside the doors as people line up at the salad bars. As the buffet restaurant was closed on some days due to high seas this made it doubly frustrating to battle through the crowds in the main restaurant. We also felt that the standard of their expedition staff was below that of Silversea that we have sailed on before. The lectures and recaps in English were not always well prepared and presented. And also that Ponant didn't quite have a clear idea of what expedition cruising is all about as they seemed to have 'entertainment' more suited to a mainstream cruise. Most passengers on expedition cruises, we have found, are not interested in dance lessons, trivia competitions or origami, or even gala dinners and white evenings. That is not to say we didn't love the expedition and the locations are breathtaking. We would be happy to sail Ponant again but certainly would not have high expectations for the food and would be aware that it is rather different from other lines.
  9. When we were in Ushuaia last time we booked a tour to Martillo Island and Estancia Harberton. We booked directly with the supplier (Pira tours) as they only allow 80 people per day in groups of 20 onto the island to walk among the penguins as it's a designated nature reserve. It was a fabulous experience. While we were there a catamaran from Ushuaia came past but they could not land and could only watch from the water.
  10. Given it's such a small ship and a special itinerary, I didn't think it was overly expensive. Though I probably wouldn't be a candidate.
  11. Can you please add Nov 3 ..... Aussieflyer..... Ponant Le Lyrial..... Montevideo to Ushuaia..... 16 nights Thanks
  12. We had the forms signed and duly sent off though interesting that there was not an auto reply to say they had been received. Whilst I think the on sea experience will be great there have been a few issues with the land based operation, though that seems to be common for most cruise lines I think. :) In the process of chasing up boots as I have quite a small foot but also a wide calf and the ones provided onboard are unlikely to fit. DH however will have no problems with boots.:)
  13. Very annoyed that the necessity for a doctor to sign the forms (and the detail of the questions which in some cases are well outside what a GP would know about you eg.when did you last visit a dentist, what is your aptitude, physical and endurance, for the cruise).We don't have a regular doctor at all. I expected a health declaration of course but was assuming it would be like the SS form when we went to the Arctic a few years back, detailed but but no doctor needed. As well, I can see doctors refusing to sign as they may be leaving themselves open to litigation if something went wrong. The fact that the necessity for doctor is hidden in the small print of the T &Cs and that the form is not available to view before booking is perhaps the worst thing. Undecided as to what to do now. Had we known before we probably would not have booked.:(
  14. I've just transferred the booking to an agent who I have worked with before. As soon as he takes over I will get him to send it to me. The agent does a fair bit of trade with Ponant so will be able to supply the form easily I am expecting.
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