Grannys 2018 Adventure with Ponant!

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216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
This time tomorrow, we will be sailing ~somewhere~ along the coast of New South Wales, heading to the Great Barrier Reef! We have done many cruises, but this will be the first with Ponant. We are really looking forward to a new experience.

Sailing out of Sydney is a bonus for us. Usually we have to travel to the other side of the World to board a cruise. Last year we started one cruise in Buenos Aries, and one in Vancouver plus another short one in Sydney. Tomorrow we just have a short one hour flight to Sydney, no jet lag!! It is only a 10 day cruise.....wish it was longer.....but maybe next time.....

I may not have time to get the internet set up tomorrow, but we then have 2 sea days, so I will be able to get things organised on day 2......
I would like to do a Day by Day report, but not sure how well the internet will we will just have to wait and see what happens!

The main reason I want to do this blog, is because it is very hard to find much information about Ponant! I know, when I am traveling anywhere, I want to learn as much as possible, and read everything I can find on the subject or the area....... If I am doing a cruise, I like to hear as many opinions as I can! Obviously they are only the opinions of certain people, and may not be the same opinions that I may have.....BUT.....its important to hear what others have to say...... then make your own judgement.

As the Cruise Industry is building bigger and bigger ships, that do appeal to a huge amount of people, there are still a lot of us who are of the opinion that "small is better"..... I know a lot of people who are really getting excited about the amount of smaller ships that are being built at the moment. We started our cruise life on a 200 passenger ship..... and loved every minute of it.

We will be sailing on L'Austral, and I have studied the deck plans, and every photo I can find.......still isn't enough information for me! Hopefully I can show everyone a lot more pics, and write about our experience!
I am a blog addict, and have been writing my travel blogs for a very long time. Way back before internet! Back to the day of big hand written journals! LOL

So now, its time for me to get to bed, and try to get some sleep, before our big adventure starts tomorrow!
773 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Well the big day has arrived BrisbaneGran! I look forward to your blog with much anticipation. I hope the cruise is great. I am sure you will find many things to enjoy. That back deck overlooking the pool, with a bar, looks very tempting!
Ontario, Canada
333 Posts
Joined Sep 2007
Thank you for doing this! We will be sailing on L'Austral early next year, and are really looking forward to your thoughts about this ship. We'll be following along!
Annapolis, MD
256 Posts
Joined Nov 2000
BrisbaneGran: We are excited to follow your blog, and learn more about Ponant and this itinerary. Hope you have a wonderful voyage and the internet cooperates onboard!
Washington, DC, USA
69 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
Have a great voyage! We're doing a Ponant trans-Atlantic in April - Le Boreal from Martinique to Lisbon. Never been on Ponant - we're Silversea & Seabourn regulars so we're all ears to learn about your experiences. Hope you have smooth seas!
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Day 1 March 6

A very long and exhausting day! Day started at 4am as I am always worriedabout sleeping in, when I need to catch a flight!

Our flight wasnt until 10am. so breakfast at the airport,and then of couse our flight was delayed! I didnt bother trying to find out why, as its quite often a “mechanicalproblem” , and those I dont want to know about, shortly before being hurtled upinto the sky! Wasnt a very long delay after all. I had hoped for a not veryfull flight, so booked an A and a C seat, keeping everything crossed that no one would be in the B seat.....nope thatdidnt work......I have done the same for the flight home, but probably willhave the same result! This was theroughest flight we have ever had! I kept looking out the window to see if thewing was still there.

Landed in Sydney and tried to fill in some time with coffeeand snack, before leaving the airport for White Bay Cruise Terminal. Got to thecruise terminal by 2.30pm but Check In wasnt starting till 4pm. We werent the first people there, so a lot ofpeople had a long wait. There is a coffee shop at White Bay, but of course thatwasnt open. Ponant had put out water bottles.

At some stage those forms where you have to fill out if youare sick or been in contact with Ebola recently, etc were handed out. I alwayswonder how many people are ever going to tick the YES box! We were also givennumbers which would be called once Check In started. Finally at 4pm people were being called.Didnt take long for the Check In process , then it was on to the ship, andshown to our room.

We are on Deck 6 in a Luxury Suite. Our Butler came in andintroduced himself....and poured us a glass of champagne each......a Butler?? Ihad no idea we would be having a Butler! We asked him for a couple of things,but doubt we will be asking him for much else! Our Room Steward also came andintoduced himself. Whenever we need little odds and ends, we always just leavea note, so we wont have any idea if it was the Butler who did it, or if it wasthe Room Steward!

I will take photos of our suite at some stage, and explain what we think are the good andbad points. I believe our suite is justone of 3, and apart from the Owners Suite, it is the biggest on the ship. It isquite nice, but I am finding I dont have enough storage areas. I will have tolive with it a couple of days to see how I can make it work better for us. I always like to have my room neat and tidy,but cant find suitable places for all my computer stuff, and all my camerastuff etc etc. We are only going to be here for 10 days, so not such a problemnow, but if we were here for a longer cruise, I would have to have some of the“original stuff” removed to make moreroom. The bathroom is lovely, but very small. There is no bedside storage, justa shelf. The separate toilet is a great idea, and is very safe, as its so tightin there you could never fall off! Thebalcony is only just slightly wider than a chair, so certainly couldnt havemeals outside.

Johns luggage arrived, so he was able to unpack most of hisstuff, before the Welcome Speech by the Captain, followed by a Life on Boardtalk by our Cruise Director. This was held in the theatre, and I really likethat room, so will have to keep a look out for what is going to be performed inthere. As soon as those talks were over, we had to go back to our rooms,collect our Life Jackets, put them on, then back down the stairs, to thetheatre, for the Compulsory Life Drill. The putting on of Life Jackets andwalking down stairs, is another thing that has been changed at Seabourn, and itwas very obvious why when the man in front of us had a rather bad fall down thestairs! With those big jackets ON, wecant, especially older people, seeeasily the step below. One wrong move and a bad fall happens. It is much saferto be taught and shown how to put the jacket on, when you reach the drill area.

With all the formalities taken care of, it was almost dinner time. There are two Restaurants tochoose from, the main Restaurant, LeCoromandel, and the more casual Le Rodrigues. We opted for casual, and to sitoutside for the sailway from Sydney. Then of course down came the rain! We werestill able to stay outside, but neither the Bridge nor the Opera House were litup, so was rather a disappointing sailaway! Food was good, and all the crew arevery friendly, with those wonderful French accents.

After dinner we went to the Observatory Lounge for drinksand to listen to an excellent Classical pianist. Only stayed a short time, then fell into bed!The seas were getting bigger and bigger, and that is expected to continue forthe next couple of days.......perfet for me....I will be rocked to sleep!
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Day 2 March 7

So far I have tried to connect to the internet twice in thelast two days , but although I get a connection, and am being charged , nopages have been able to load. Maybe tomorrow when we are closer to FraserIsland or Hervey Bay, I may pick up a connection. I know so many people complain about theslowness of Seabourns internet, but I am sure they are all the same. We arentall that far off the Australian Coast, and some people are getting phone signals.

Last night, as I fell into bed, I tried to do the same as Ialways do on cruises, and that is to read the daily Journal for the nextday. Wanted to make sure there wasntsomething early that we needed to go to or take care of. I stared at it for awhile, then woke up that we had been given the French language weare not quite fluent in French just yet, I will leave a note for the steward toreplace it for an English version.

After breakfast this morning we had a compulsory briefingregarding the excursions and the safety procedures for the zodiacs. Of coursewe are “know alls” about this stuff, after doing 2 trips to Antarctica lastyear. We were introduced to ourExpedition Team, a group of 13, who come from France, Austria, Switzerland, Canadaand Australia. We probably wont be doing too many of these excursions, but willjust watch others from the comfort of the decks!

Our next mission was to discover Deck 3, sign up for someinternet, and organise our Colour Group for those excursions we may wish totake part in. We then found the MainLounge, also on Deck 3, and joined in a French Lesson with our CD, Kamel.

Shortly after our French lesson it was time for lunch. Wedecided to try the Main Restaurant this time, as we hadnt seen it at all. Lunchwas seafood, and most of the food was very nice, but the prawns were the worstwe have ever had! I also heard at least 4 other people near us complain aboutthem........I doubt very much that they were local ones. They were mushy, softand flourery, dreadful. Luckily I only took one, but most would have taken moreand left them on their plates.

We then spent half the afternoon snoozing and reading,something we have perfected over many years of cruising. We are becoming lazierevery year.......and loving it! Later we went to the Observatory Lounge forafternoon drinks. This Lounge is only a few steps from our room, so willprobably be the one we will frequent the most. Would love to be using theoutdoor Bar, but so far the weather has not been co operating for any outsideactivities. It has been wet and grey and the seas very rough.

One thing we discovered today, was that the “included”drinks doesnt really cover much! There are a lot of cocktails, apparently madewith the cheapest of the spirits, but if you want anything made with a betterquality spirit, that will cost you, and Im not just talking about Premiumbrands. I will get a list as soon as I can of what is included and what is not.To us it doesnt matter too much, because if we drink spirits, its always as amixed drink with coke or ginger etc, but for those who prefer a straight scotchetc.... it will cost extra. John asked what sort of beer theyhad.......Heineken.....thats it.....all the others I saw were 4 Euros. Only ONE brand of beer , with something like 130 Aussies on board?? THATS notgood!

Just before dinner was a Captains Reception out on the PoolDeck. Those who wanted could have their photo taken with the Captain. For us as Queenslanders, itwas still a bit chilly out there for us, but the Captain thought it was a lovelynight! The flag on the back of the ship was flying beautifully, as it was quitewindy, and it is a huge flag! Unfortunately, I hadnt taken my camera with me. Most of the time I have seen the flag,it is tightly wrapped aroud the flag pole!

It was a Formal night, but no one was dressed as formally asI am used to. This is an Expedition cruise, so thats probably the reason. TheMenu was a Tasting Menu, and the food was wonderful! We started with a scallop,in a carrot and orange gell....then a foire gras......a sea bass.....vealtenderloin.......chocolate praline....and strawberry tarts! We are reallyenjoying the food. The main Dining room was packed. TheCaptains Table was justacross from us, but I would think there were at least 12 people on the table......notsomething we enjoy at all. One thing that did impress us, was a Parade ofSilver Cloches to the Captains Table. We couldnt hear anything being said fromwhere we were sitting, but I could just imagine the “Un, Deux, Trois....Voila” that we used to get at EVERY table on Formalnight, on Seabourn. That is a tradition we do miss.
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Day 3 March 8

Breakfast in the Casual Restaurant again this morning, butwe think we will try the Main Dining room tomorrow morning. The casual diningarea is too small for the amount of people who want to eat there, so is toobusy and noisy. For lunch we went to themain dining room, and it was much quieter and peaceful, so I think we will behaving most of our meals there now. Lunch was Mediterranean, and was very good.

We had to get stickers for our key cards, to show whatcolour group we were in for the zodiac transfers and if you wanted snorkels,masks and flippers, they were also handed out today. We didnt need any of thosethings....we will just watch other people playing.....

Because we were in the main Lounge at the time it happened,we played a Quiz.....and failed......then played Bingo......and failed......sono need to try any of that again!

Had a nice lazy afternoon again, and managed to watch amovie we had wanted to see, but missed when it was on at the local movietheatre. We are also happy that we have access to MSNBC, which has a lot of shows we enjoy, but cantget them at home....only when we are positive here overSeabourn, is the BIG TV! I cant watch movies on Seabourns little TV’s.....

The seas are getting rougher and rougher. I havent seen waves this big for many years! Those whoknow me, know how much I love the big waves, but am always disappointed, thatno matter where we go in the World, theseas flatten out as soon as we arrive! Two trips to the Antarctic gave us DrakeLake....Bay of Biscay was a lake......and here we are, just off the coast ofour own State and we have great waves! Very soon though, we will be inside theGreat Barrier Reef, so then the seas should be nice and flat. The weather isalso very grey, and cooler than it should be, so not good for photos yet.

I really havent seen any sign of sea sickness, so everyonemust be seasoned sailors! All the restaurants seem to be busy, so no one is offtheir food! The ship certainly handles the waves well, but I do have troublewalking around, and am exhausted by the time I “get there”.... at lunch today,in the main Dining Room, one of the wait staff had to grab me, before I tookout the table that was loaded with all the plates! Trying to clean my hands, hold my camera, hold my glasses case, AND walk, just became abit too adventurous! After I filled my plate, the same person rushed over tocarry my plate for me....obviously didnt trust me too much!

Another lovely dinner in the main Dining room, and we satwith a very interesting young man from Washington DC. He has also been to all 7Continents, and had the same political and fire arms views as us!! Now THOSEare probably subjects you usually try toavoid when talking to international guests! LOL. We are really enjoying thefood on Ponant.

Back to our room to read the daily Journal, and find thatour colour group for tomorrows excursion, will be leaving the ship at7.30am.......guess thats an excursion we will be missing! Much too early forus. The excursion is a 4 hour, 4x4 drive around part of Fraser Island.....beenthere, done that anyway, so staying dry and comfortable on the ship, appealsmore to us!

216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Day 4 March 9

Woke to another grey damp looking day, just as were wearriving off Fraser Island. We were very pleased we had made the decision notto bother with the excursion. Fraser Island is a beautiful place, and it is ashame the weather isnt behaving, as people from other Countries wont get to seeit at its best! It has also been rainingon and off so not too comfortable for sightseeing. Tenders were used this morning, not zodiacs, and we didbriefly think about going across to the Resort for a walk around later, but itwas only a brief thought.......snoozing and reading are much more appealing!The one thing I am disaponted in, was that I would have liked to get a photo ofthe ship, from the beach. We are anchored quite close so would have been a nicepic......oh time!

Breakfast was extremely quiet and peaceful this morning, asmost people had already left the ship. We are opting for the main Dining roomfor most meals now. When we first started cruising with Seabourn we always usedto have our meals in the main Dining room too, as the casual dining was verysmall, and became too busy and noisy most of the time. Now Seabourns ships arebigger, the casual dining area is bigger, so we have more meals there.

If anyone has any questions, please let me know and I’ll seeif I can come up with an answer! I have to get to our sons room soon, and getsome pics of the “normal size” rooms. Does anyone want pics of anything inparticular?
773 Posts
Joined Jun 2007
Any pics of the public areas, including the pool would be great. How are you finding the service on board. Is it friendly and inclusive like Seabourn? Do the staff address you by name and know your preferences?
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Originally posted by cruising kirby
Any pics of the public areas, including the pool would be great. How are you finding the service on board. Is it friendly and inclusive like Seabourn? Do the staff address you by name and know your preferences?
Service is usually very good, there have been occasions when we have seen French people being given preference. We have seen them being served before the person who was waiting first.....announcements seem to be much longer and involved when in French, shorter info when in English...... we tend to have our afternoon drinks in one particular Bar, so that waiter now knows what we like....but no one really knows our name apart from the Butler and the room steward. So no, that part isnt as good as Seabourn. All the wait staff are very friendly.
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Day 5 March 10

Yesterday afternoon we were told that our stop for today,Lady Musgrave Island, was not going to be happening. Seems the weather therehasnt been too good either. Instead we would just be spending the nightanchored off Fraser Island, spending the morning here, then leaving aboutlunchtime to head for Percy Island. To fill in the morning, they were going tobe having 3 hikes! Longest was a 4 hour, then 2 others of shorterlengths........ummmmm nope......not for us thanks!

While we were getting ready for breakfast, I hear thatdreaded “oh oh”....... John pointed to the floor, and it looked like an axemurder had taken place in our suite! Blood everywhere! Afterinvestigation, I found a bleeding blister under Johns big toe.......he only HAS one big toe, as the other one got choppedoff after a similar occurence a few years ago. The blister must have opened upduring his shower, and he has no feeling in his feet so didnt have aclue......naturally we travel with a full kit of emergency supplies. After I had taken care of the toe with adozen bandaids, he had to go off and find the Butler! At last we had a job forthe Butler! The carpet is a real mess.

Back from breakfast to a nice smelling room with freshlycleaned carpets! Dont think we will be going walking anywhere now. He certainlywont be going swimming anywhere, especially with coral around.
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Drink Prices.

If you want a cocktail using certain brand name spirits,they will cost you 10 Euros.

Whisky.....Glenmorangie 10 years, Ardberg 10 years, (9Euro) Glenfiddich 12 years. (12Euros) Lagavulin 16 years ( 14 Euros)Glenfiddich 18 years ( 16 euros) Glenmorangie 18 years (16 euros)

Johnnie Walker Black (10 euros) Johnnie Walker Blue (25euros) Balantines 30 years ( 28 euros)

Jack Daniels (11 euro) Blantons Original (14 euros)

Bushmills Irish 21 years (22 euros)

J.M. White Run (7 euros) Havana Club 7 years ( 8 euros)Appleton Estate (11 euros)

Belvedere Vodka, (9 euros) Grey Goose (9 euro)

Patron Tequila (9 euros)

Bombay Saphire Gin (9 euros) Tanqueray (12 euros) Hendricks( 11 euros)

Hennessy XO Cognac (18 euros) Hennessy Paradise Extra (50 euros)

Beers.....Leffe, Corona, Grolsch, Guinness, Hoegaardenblanche, (4 euros)

Smoothies ...... 8 euros

Drinks that are onthe INCLUDED list.



Rum.....Bacardi White, Havana Club, Myers

Tequila....Jose Cuervo

Whisky....Johnnie Walker Red, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam,Talisker

Beers... Heineken, Busweiser, local beer and beer withoutalcohol.....but ONLY Heineken seems to be available.

Wines are just....Red wine....white wine, rose wine......noidea of brands....
Washington, DC, USA
69 Posts
Joined Dec 2003
Enjoying your trip report! So sad the weather isn’t cooperating. Quick question- is there a House Champagne that is included? We do like our bubbles!
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Originally posted by PBfromDC
Enjoying your trip report! So sad the weather isn’t cooperating. Quick question- is there a House Champagne that is included? We do like our bubbles!
There is a house champagne that is included, but no idea what brand it is. I will try to find out today. I have only had it once, but some people seem to be having it a lot!
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Day 6 March 11

Today we are at Middle Percy Island, which is somewhere offMackay....a long way off..... We have been told that both the air and the watertemperature is 28 degrees C. They may have trouble getting everyone back on theboat, with water temps like that! That is even warm enough for me to jump in!

Middle Percy is not the sort of island I was expecting. Itsquite big, and hilly, and lots of vegeatation. Think I was expecting more of asandy lump with a couple of scraggly bushes! We are still in a bit of anexposed area, and a fair bit of wind, so the sea is not quite flat, so, we wontbother about a Zodiac ride to the beach!

Those who are going on shore, will have a choice of a coupleof hikes, snorkeling, aqua gym, or just lazing on the beach. From the ship, thewater and the beach look beautiful, so hopefully those who have come from faraway will get a better idea of what Queensland is all about.

We have been watching people taking off in the zodiacs, andare not at all envious.....we are more than happy to have the ship almost toourselves!

Our carpets however still remain a concern to is taking them a lot of work to clean Johns stains! They have beenback twice this morning, and I think it is almost right time Iwill just leave John home!
216 Posts
Joined Jun 2014
Day 7 March 12

Hardy Reef is todays excursion, but when we arrived at theanchorage area at 6.30am. it was grey, wet and very choppy seas. There was anannouncement that a decision would be made later as to whether the excursionwould be able to go ahead. Some of the Expedition Team had already gone out tocheck the conditions. Not long after the CD came back on the loudspeaker andreported that the day would go ahead as planned, but the zodiac trip across toHardy Reef pontoon was going to take longer than anticipated. We had alreadydecided that these conditions werent for us, and we had been to Hardy Reefbefore anyway. Last time we were there, we stayed overnight, just us and thestaff so no need for us to do a scary zodiac trip!

The excursions were also leaving very early....too early forus....our group was going at 7.45....the earliest group was going at 6.45! Theyhave to leave the pontoon by 11am.

People we spoke to later in the day, said the zodiac tripwas very rough and very wet! The seas were also very choppy out at the pontoon,so many didnt bother with the swimming or snorkeling either. Very happy we madethe decision not to bother going.

Day 8 March 13

Today is really just a sea day, although we did drop anchorfor an hour or so way out at Willis Island. We also saw a weather balloon beinglaunched from there.

We have just returned from a Disembarkation talk, and theone thing we didnt have a clue about on this Cruise Line was the expectationsof Gratuities. They suggest 15 euros per day, to be put into an envelope andthen into a box at I suppose similar to the “Crew WelfareFund” we have on Seabourn. What I dont like about this method, it that NOT ALLthe crew share in this fund! It is only for the crew members “who are entitledto gratuities” other words just the front line people, hotel staff,reception etc......NOT the below decks crew. I dont think that is fair at all.You can also tip individuals if you wish, so again Ponant is not ALL Inclusive.

Today I will start the dreaded task of packing....only oneday more, and we will be sent home!