Ponant L'Austral Cruise - Papeete to Hanga Roa

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3 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
My husband and I are considering an October 2018 cruise with Ponant from Papeete to Easter Island that includes the Pitcairn Islands (home of the Bounty's mutineers). I'm interested in hearing about others' experiences aboard L'Austral, particularly with this itinerary. We also have concerns as to how comfortable/included we'll feel as English only speakers! Thanks in advance for any information and/or advice you can offer!
914 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Sean - I regard this as the best cruise I have ever done. I've not sailed with Ponant but their ships look impressive - we were berthed beside two of them in Ushuaia earlier this year. However, I will say this about the itinerary you are considering -

The best itineraries also include the Marquesas Islands and yours doesn't. Also, the best itineraries schedule landings on three or sometimes all four islands in the Pitcairn group. You are seriously missing out if your ship does not intend to land on Henderson Island (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Ducie Island. Both are utterly amazing places to land. Your Ponant cruise only intends to cruise past Ducie and ignores Henderson altogether. That counts it out as far as I am concerned. I'm afraid the Austral is too big to visit these islands. If you don't mind that, fair enough, but to get the best from this route you need to look at smaller expedition ships equipped with zodiacs. On a ship like Austral landing on Pitcairn would not be guaranteed.
New Jersey
104 Posts
Joined Aug 2012
As far as I know, L'Austral has zodiacs, so that part shouldn't be a problem.
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3 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
Fletcher and surfcitygirl - thank you for your responses. I'm new to Cruise Critic, so I hope I'm responding to you appropriately!! We had been booked on Cruise West for a similar cruise years ago, but Cruise West declared bankruptcy two weeks before our departure, so the journey was put back on the wishlist until now. We are waitlisted for the Tahiti - Easter Island cruise on Silversea, but when we found the Ponant cruise we thought it would be good to lock in a cruise to avoid disappointment should Silversea not have availability. As you mention, Fletcher, we'll miss some things, but our biggest goal is following the wake of the Bounty and seeing Easter Island. I'm happy to hear that you've done a similar cruise and loved it. My understanding is, as surfcitygirl mentions, L'Austral does have zodiacs, so hopefully we'll have no problems getting to Pitcairn. We are concerned that because Ponant is a French ship that, as English speakers, we'll feel out of place and would like to hear from anyone who has sailed with Ponant - as well as from those of you who have sailed a similar route! Thanks!
914 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Sean - scroll down a few threads and you'll find 'First Time with Ponant' which deals with a cruise on the L'Austral. I understand your disappointment about the old Cruise West thing. Ponant's ship seems quite luxe but read up about the language issue. Pitcairn is an extraordinary place to visit - I'm quite the Bounty addict as well so it was quite something to wander around the island.
Edinburgh, Scotland
125 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
We have booked this trip, but in the opposite direction, for March 2019. This was based on a two week trip to Antarctica with Ponant last year, which we loved. We’ve sailed Silversea, Seabourn, Crystal, etc before, but Ponant felt like the right fit for us. In terms of language, I’d say 50% of the passengers were French, but Ponant did a good job of ensuring there were no language barriers for English-speaking guests.

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3 Posts
Joined Jan 2018
Scott1sh - thank you for sharing your experience with Ponant. We are booked for the trip from Tahiti to Easter Island and are looking forward to the cruise. We went to Antarctica with Silversea a few years ago and were wait listed for their upcoming Tahiti Easter Island cruise, but decided we wanted an assured booking and that we shouldn't be intimidated by the language barrier, so we went ahead and booked the Ponant cruise. Your words are encouraging and we are looking forward to the adventure!