Today I had the privilege of L ‘Austral which is part of the Ponant fleet, a French owned Cruise line that has been in operation for just over 30 years. She was touching into Sydney having just completed a circumnavigation of Australia.
She was built in 2011 and holds 220-230 passengers at full capacity. She has a 1C ice strengthened hull which allows her to travel into all regions from the med to the Arctic, Antarctic Islands, Caribbean and Asia.
I embarked the ship on deck 4 and you automatically have a real sense of sophistication. The décor is understated in Gray, white, red, beige tones.
We were ushered straight into the theatre where we were given a presentation of the brand, itineraries they offer and the exciting future of Ponant.
Having 6 ships in their fleet there is an additional 4 expedition ships in production with an Icebreaker to come out in 2024 which will be a first for the industry as the only luxurious Cruise line to come out with an icebreaker. This will allow them to take on itineraries further into the polar region that no other luxury Cruise lines can currently. As the newer ships are built the smaller they will become we were told today. Their aim is to give the passengers a sense of cruising on a super yacht.
On their 4 newer ships they will feature another industry first, an underwater lounge (blue eye lounge) which will be situated in the hull with a glass viewing window you can watch the marine life. It will also have microphones outside which capture a 5 mile radius so you can hear wales or dolphins. Such a brilliant and exciting concept!
Once that concluded we went on an inspection of the ship. For a small ship it is designed extremely well and gives you a sense of space. The lounge areas were a great size and cozy for when your cruising through the colder regions and you don’t want to brave the cold.
The ship has an open bar and will include most of the excursions. They operate Zodiacs so you are able to get into some of the remote areas. They have 2 dining rooms on board the more traditional restaurant and the relaxed buffet.
Leading out from the buffet area is a lovely deck with a good size pool where we were told has many uses. From BBQ’s to nightly entertainment it’s a really lovely space. The rooms were well appointed with coffee machines, good size bathrooms with a glass wall which looked into the room. The wardrobes were spacious and the room so well furnished.
We finished off the tour with champagne and canapes in the back lounge area another lovely space so modern and stylish I really was impressed.