- BOARDING AND DISEMBARKING
- What documents will I need to present for boarding?
All passengers must have valid identification papers and the necessary visas in their possession, according to their nationality and the countries they will be visiting. When you arrive on board, you will be asked to present the identification you used when filling out your pre-departure information sheet. This will be kept until the end of the cruise, for the ship’s officers to present to customs officials in each port of call. Should you need your identification back to visit a port of call, it is at your disposal at Reception, where you will have to return it as soon as you are back on the ship.
- What is the disembarkation procedure?
Instructions and information regarding disembarkation at the end of your cruise will be communicated to you in the daily programme and at Reception. Please read them carefully.
- PORTS OF CALL & EXCURSIONS
- Where can I find the port-of-call schedule for my cruise?
Arrival and departure times for each port of call can be found in the daily programme on the day before we are due to stop there. Please note that the ship will not be able to wait for latecomers. We are counting on you to adhere to the scheduled times.
- What is the procedure when arriving in port?
When we arrive in a port, customs and immigration officials will board the ship. Once their checks have been performed, passengers and crew will be able to disembark. Due to a lack of infrastructure in certain ports, the ship may need to drop anchor offshore. In this case, you will be taken to shore aboard the ship’s dinghies or on local motorboats. Given the limited number of these, you will disembark in groups. Please pay close attention to announcements aboard your ship.
- Are the excursions compulsory?
Local excursions will be organised in different ports of call. These are not included in the price of your cruise. They are optional; you can choose not to participate or you can organise your own. However, do note that only the excursions organised by PONANT will guarantee that you are back on board the ship in time for departure.
- When can I book my excursions?
To book, see the Excursions Manager on the first days of your cruise.
- PRE- & POST-CRUISE PROGRAMMES
- What are pre- and post-cruise programmes?
Our pre- and post-cruise programmes enable you to anticipate or extend your trip. Ranging a from half-day to several days, these programmes allow you to discover a little more about the region through fascinating visits, without having to worry about logistical details such as flights, meals, hotels and guides.
- When can I book my pre- and post-cruise programmes?
Both pre- and post-cruise programmes must be booked with PONANT before your departure.
- How do I access my cabin?
You will be given one (or several) keycards. Use this to open your cabin or to lock it in your absence. On our sisterships (Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal, Le Lyrial), your cabin door will lock automatically when you close it, so remember not to leave your keycard inside when leaving your cabin.
- Is my cabin air-conditioned?
All of our cabins are equipped with individually-controlled air conditioning. Your steward or stewardess is at your service should you need help with adjusting the temperature.
- Is my cabin equipped with a television?
All cabins are equipped with a television and direct access to video on demand.
- Is my cabin fitted with a safe?
Each cabin is fitted with a personal safe for your valuables. For items of high value, we recommend you use the main safe. Please see Reception for this.
- CURRENCY EXCHANGE & PAYMENTS
- Can I exchange currency on board?
No, there is no foreign currency desk aboard our ships. We recommend exchanging your money at your bank or international airports.
- How do I pay for my expenses on board?
Upon boarding your ship, an account will opened for you and all expenses incurred on board, in the boutique, at the bar, or for laundry or excursion charges, will be added to your account.
We invite you to leave a credit card imprint at Reception. Your invoice and credit card receipt will be brought to your cabin on the eve of disembarking at the end of your cruise. Since all accounts for expenses incurred on board are closed for billing on the last night of the cruise, from 10pm that evening all payments must be made in cash. This also applies to passengers who have booked two or more back-to-back cruises.
- What is the currency used on board?
The currency aboard our ships is the euro, but the US dollar is also accepted.
- What are the payment methods accepted on board?
We accept credit cards (Visa, EuroCard/MasterCard and American Express), cash, travellers’ cheques, and personal cheques (euro currency only).
- LEISURE ACTIVITIES
- What leisure activities are available on board?
Aboard our fleet, you will find a Wii™ console, as well as a selection of books and games. The library area on Deck 6 of Le Boréal, L’Austral, Le Soléal, and Le Lyrial is also equipped with computers and a Wi-Fi connection. On the lower deck, an image and photography area has been set up. The cabins on all our sisterships are equipped with direct access to video on demand.
- Are any sport or fitness activities available on board?
To enable you to stay in shape during your cruise, gentle exercise sessions are organised around the port-of-call schedule. Our ships have direct access to the sea, so you will also be able to swim when conditions allow. In some ports of call you will be able to take part in activities such as tennis, golf and scuba diving for a fee. Remember to bring your licence, handicap card or dive log. There is also a gym aboard all our ships except Le Ponant.
- Are any activities organised on board?
Conferences are sometimes held during the day. Each evening, you can choose from a varied and entertaining programme of cultural and fun activities.
Click here for more information about the leisure activities and communal areas on board.
- ADVICE REGARDING CLOTHING
- Is there a dress code aboard the ships?
We advise you to wear elegant and relaxed clothes and formal attire to the Captain’s reception.
- What sort of clothing should I bring on an expedition cruise?
For an expedition cruise, bring practical clothing and comfortable shoes. For cruises to the Arctic or Antarctic, you will be provided with a polar parka in your size on board.
- What happens with meals?
You can enjoy a buffet breakfast in the restaurant, or in your cabin on request. Lunch is a buffet and in the evenings a French-style dinner is served. Room service is available 24 hours a day.
- Are snacks available outside of meal times?
Yes, when the restaurant is closed, coffee, tea and small pastries will be available. Details will be provided in the daily programme placed in your cabin each evening.
- What does Open Bar mean?
Once you have boarded the ship and throughout your cruise, drinks* will be complimentary and unlimited. That is what we mean by Open Bar. This applies to drinks from the minibar and from room service, too.
*Does not include à la carte premium alcoholic drinks
- HEALTH & ACCESSIBILITY
- Is there a doctor on board?
There is a medical centre on each of our ships. Consultation times will be included each day in your copy of the daily programme, however the doctor is available at all times for emergencies. On excursions, you will always be accompanied by either the doctor or the nurse.
- Do I have to pay for consultations on board?
There is a fee for consultations with the doctor or nurse aboard the ship. The price is likely to vary depending on the time and place of the consultation (hospital or cabin). You must also pay for any medicines dispensed or prescribed.
- Should I inform PONANT if I take any specific medications?
If you take specific medications, please let us know on the information sheet you fill in prior to departure, then inform our crew when boarding and ensure you have enough medication for the duration of your cruise.
- I get sea sick. Can I still take a cruise?
Our sisterships are fitted with fin stabilisers that adapt to the movements of the ship. This system compensates for the pitching and rolling to provide stability. Passengers who suffer from sea sickness usually have greatly reduced symptoms and are often surprised to find that the ship’s motion does not bother them.
- Do PONANT ships cater for people with reduced mobility?
Our sisterships were designed to accommodate passengers with reduced mobility:
- Three specially designed cabins (307, 407, 509)
- Access ramps allowing easy access to the communal areas
- Notices, signs and cabin numbers are also translated into Braille.
Note, however, that all passengers must be self-sufficient or travelling with a friend or relative who can provide any assistance necessary during the cruise.
If a person is not considered fit enough to travel safely, the company reserves the right to refuse to let them board the ship. To ensure the well-being and safety of the passenger, the Captain’s permission is required to disembark in difficult areas or to travel in a Zodiac®.
- I follow a special diet. Is it possible to accommodate this?
If you have specific dietary requirements (vegetarian, diabetic, low-kilojoule, gluten-free) or suffer from allergies, this must be clearly stated at the time of booking. Special menus will then be provided for you throughout your cruise.
- ON BOARD
- What languages are spoken aboard?
The crew are bilingual; they all speak French and English. Signs are all in French and English. On certain cruises, some of the crew members also speak other languages.
- Are children welcome on the ship?
Children under the age of three are not allowed aboard our ships.
For children aged three to eight, permission to board the ship must be requested by writing to PONANT. If permission is granted, a liability waiver must be filled out and returned to PONANT to confirm the booking. More specifically, during all expedition cruises, including to the Arctic and Antarctic, children must be completely autonomous during Zodiac landings, and they must immediately understand and respond to instructions given by the adults in charge.
Consequently, their participation in such landings will be subject to approval from the Captain and the Expedition Leader, based on sea conditions and how difficult it is to land at each site visited. In any case, both on board and on land, children and young minors are the sole responsibility of their parent(s) or guardian(s).
- Are pets allowed on board?
For safety and hygiene reasons, pets are not allowed on board.
- Do the power sockets on board comply with European standards?
Yes, 220V alternating current at 50Hz is supplied through power sockets that meet European standards. The electricity on board is 220 Volt AC (European standard) and 110 Volt AC (North American standard). For safety reasons, the use of irons and hair irons is not allowed in the cabins. Please note that on Le Ponant, 110 Volt AC power is only available in the cabin bathrooms.
- Is smoking allowed on board?
All enclosed areas (lounge areas, dining room, cabins, reception area, etc.) are non-smoking. Please smoke only in the ship’s outdoor areas.
- Is tipping compulsory?
Tipping the crew is customary aboard cruise ships and we leave this to your discretion. We put an anonymous envelope in your cabin at the end of your cruise. You may leave it at Reception, where you will find an urn for this purpose. Most people tend to leave around 10 to 12 euros per day and per passenger, but this is entirely up to you and you are under no obligation. The tip is divided up between the crew members.
- Is there a laundry service aboard the ships?
Yes, your steward or stewardess is at your disposal to take care of your laundry needs*. Washing and ironing of clothing takes 24 to 48 hours. Same-day service is only available for ironing*. Dry cleaning is not available, so please send us only clothing that can be washed in water.
- Can purchases be made on board?
Gifts and souvenirs can be purchased in our boutique on board. Please note that the law requires us to close the boutique while we are at a port of call.
*These services incur a charge and are billed directly to your cabin account.
- COMMUNICATION WITH THE OUTSIDE WORLD
- Can I send letters during my cruise?
You may leave letters and postcards at Reception and they will be posted for you. Please note your cabin number where you would normally place the stamp. The postage fee will be added to your account.
- Is a telephone service available on board?
A satellite telephone system is at your disposal for contacting anyone, anywhere in the world. The cost of the call is added to the cabin account (€6/minute).
Calls that you receive can be transferred directly to your cabin or to any other communal area on the ship. To receive or send faxes, please see Reception.
- Is internet access available on board?
Wi-Fi internet access is available on all of our ships, in both the cabins and the communal areas. One or several computers are at your disposal in the recreation centres.
Three Wi-Fi plans are available for purchase at Reception:
- Plan 1: 100 minutes for €30
- Plan 2: 240 minutes for €60
- Plan 3: 1,000 minutes for €180
Please note that the Wi-Fi connection may be slower or interrupted in certain geographic regions or due to circumstances outside of our control.