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L'Austral Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
106 Reviews

Worst travel experience ever

L'Austral Cruise Review by PRL1314

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Jun 2019
  • Destination: the Arctic

We chose the cruise to the Arctic because the ship was supposed to be small. I made a mistake and thought it was 128 passengers. It was 128 cabins. In the arctic and antarctic only 100 passengers can be on shore at any time so ships should be no more than 100 passengers to get the experience. All shore experiences except one were worthless wastes of time. More on that later.

We called Ponant a week and a half before the trip began to get the flight itinerary because they neglected to send it to us in advance. They neglected to include the last page which had the flights from Paris to Spitsbergen. We discovered that the day before the flight and went nuts trying to find the flight because Ponant was closed as it was Saturday. We finally found the flight because there was only one flight from DeGaulle that day.

The ship needed a refit. Paint was missing and it just was a bit worn out.

The first day we had a safety briefing. They brought everyone into the theater and said if we had to abandon ship we would be told what to do. BAD

The food was tasteless although it really looked nice on the plate. The service was not very good. Many of the wait staff were trained to not look at you so if you wanted something it did not happen for a while. We think they put sleepy dust in the food because there was virtually nothing to do on the ship except watch the scenery go by. After every meal we were so tired we went to our cabin and slept even after breakfast. The few other english speaking passengers agreed. There were 30 english speakers and 200 non english speakers. The crew spoke marginal Franglish and the Captain was not even good at Franglish. The few english speaking crew agreed.

There we about four lectures two which were by english speakers. They were OK.

The excursions off the ship were very short as there were so many passengers that we had to go in groups and there was not much to see. We expected animals and birds but there was not much of either.

The piece de resistance was the film that they were peddling about the things we saw. What the crew did was send video crews on zodiacs when animals were sighted and they took videos up close to the animals to sell to the passengers as a memento of the trip. We did not get closer than a mile from the animals but the video showed them up close. A huge waste of a week. There are no guarantees of seeing animals in the arctic but to sell that video was a big huge fraud. We did see walrus but the crew kept us far away on the shore excursion. Nothing like going to the Antarctic.

The cabin was OK. We have had much better elsewhere.

After the second day we were so upset about the cruise that my wife went to the cruise director and was not given much satisfaction. We wanted to leave but that was not possible. Even the english speaking crew said she was a witch.

Many of the excursions off the boat were to small towns with not much to see. Others were just a walk on the sea ice and champagne and then back on the ship.

If you want to go on an expedition go on a small ship, one hundred passengers or less. We have been to the Antarctic on a 75 passenger ship and it was spectacular. Shore excursions were as long as we wanted to stay. We have been on other small ship expeditions in Chile and Galapagos and plan one in Western Australia.

This ship was a bust and a waste of $20,000. You can be sure we will never travel with Ponant again. Be careful. They have a new icebreaker ship which is even more expensive but it has over 300 passengers. It will be a boat ride and nothing more.


PRL1314's Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Cabin Balcony 429

The cabin was OK but small. IT was hard to squeeze by the bed and there was only one chair and we spent a lot of time in the cabin. Nothing else to do. The outside door to the balcony did not work properly and it was fixed once but still did not work well.


Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Svalbard museum

It was a time waster til the ship was ready to take the new passengers

View All 3 Svalbard museum Reviews

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PRL1314
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