Updated: Jan 1
Ponant. Very french.
1 @ 64 pax true yacht
4 @ 264 - 7 @ 200 true expedition ships
Founded in April 1988 by Philippe Videau, Jean-Emmanuel Sauvé, and other officers of the French Merchant Navy Ponant was launched as the first French cruise line. The smallest and most boutique of the major lines. A fleet of 6 uber stylish ships with aesthetics and service that you'd expect of a top-line French hotel.
Rarely seen in Australia, until this year, except for Kimberly expedition voyages where they are the only ships that cruise this route with a pool. Which is a big plus with croc-infested waters.
They tend to seek out exotic ports that the big lines can't reach in bigger ships and offer incredible itineraries such as Easter and Pitcairn islands. Being French they do not like to offer Le Discount. Contact us for one-off pricing.
FAB: Highly recommended but don't expect big discounts.
1 @ 300
Talk about boutique - they only have one 300 pax ship. Perminately based in Tahiti and as such they know and do Tahiti better than most. After Ponant purchased the brand, this one lone ship underwent a very french refit and is now one of the most beautiful afloat and looks and feels like an expensive Noosa beach house. The one disappointing aspect of the Ponant purchase is that heavily discounted fares have Le Vanished. However definitely one for your bucket list, milestone birthdays, and especially honeymoons. There is no better place on earth.
Tahiti is one of the most expensive places on the earth. With overwater bungalows starting at $2500 USD per night. A cruise is actually a much better way to experience Tahiti and we can get you on PGC for about the cost of two nights in an overwater bungalow.
FAB: Highly recommended. Everyone should aim to cruise Tahiti on PGCs but not everyone will be able to afford to do so.
4 @ 2700 - 4 @ 2600
4 @ 3500 + 2 @ 5000
1 @ 6000 pax
The Mediterranean Shipping Company is the third-largest in the industry.
Traditionally their fleet of big ships has been in equal measure both dated, and tacky. Think of a bad Eurovision music video. That is changing with some great new ships with slick design features without the Eurotrash glitz. Based in Italy they have some of the best itineraries in the world around the Med. They are Italian centric meaning most if not all PAs are in Italian as are the shows. To me, that is not a problem. That is why I travel. And as you are in the most amazing ports each day, who would care about that?
They really could be, should be the best around the Med. Sadly they aren't, simply because when things go wrong, you are on your own. Not just onboard. But back home via their call center. Either before you leave. Or after you get home. We've had some happy pax. But at present, they are hit-and-miss. And personally, I think that is too big a risk to take with your hard-earned holiday dollars.
FAB Hit and miss. Book with eyes open.
3 @ 900 - 2 @ 1250
Anyone who has been to one of their theme parks knows that what they do, they have no peers. As such they have legions if fans and because of this their ships always sell out and as such very few bargains. As happened when they opened sales to their entire first season in Australia sold out within 24 hours.
FAB: Highly recommend but their price points will rule them out for most families. Royal Caribbean is a better more affordable option for families with kids.
3 sailing yachts @ 150-220 pax
3 traditional ships @300
Small boutique beautiful Windstar.
If you dream of six stars but can't afford it. Windstar should be top of your shortlist. Like Azamara, they are a bridge between 5 and 6-star lines. Their ships were actually built for Seabourn and to this day they still feature many of the same Seabourn signatures and their cabins, which are all suites, still have the same Seabourn layout and feature a separate bedroom, lounge area, marble bathrooms, and walk-in robes but their ships are half the size of the new Seabourn fleet. You will be delighted at how intimate they feel and it is an experience so much better suited for the small ports of Croatia, Tahiti, and Italy.
Once you sail on a small ship it is very hard to go back. Windstar also has three true sailing yachts, which although have smaller cabins and no balconies offer something extra special and very romantic.
Tahiti should be on your bucket list. If you can't afford $7-9K for Paul Gauguin then Windstar can offer you exactly the same ports and almost the same level of food and service, at closer to $2/3K on a sailing yacht, which many actually prefer. Not all-inclusive but for only $89 per day you can upgrade to a six-star experience with tips/wifi/drinks/min bar included.
FAB: Highly recommended. Their traditional ships will give you a Seabourn-like experience. The yachts are smaller with less dining and entertainment - but are super romantic.
Read the next post in this series.
FAB - Step by step guide to find your perfect cruise
FAB Last Minute and Interline Cruises