International dining and destinations stand out on this newer yachting vessel, amenity-wise identical twin to Le Boréal. Child-friendly cabins, a knowledgeable crew, friendly staff, and excellent food and service are hallmarks of this ship. Having earned the international
“green ship” label (like Le Boréal), L’Austral consistently receives rave reviews from demanding, experienced voyagers for its first-class accommodations and service. The majority of the 132 cabins and suites measure a comfortable 200 square feet and have a small, private balcony.
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.