By Kathy M. Newbern and J.S. Fletcher © 2011
Part 2 in a Series
Compagnie du Ponant’s Le Boreal has been turning heads at each stop. As frequent cruisers, we love the feeling of pride when “our” cruise ship pulls into port, and this one is easy to rave about when the locals ask.
When we first read she was a luxury mega-yacht, we were intrigued. Now, more than halfway through out 11-port journey from Boston to Montreal — most of it along the St. Lawrence River — we give her high marks inside and out.
She’s sleek in profile, with understated dark gray-and -white coloring and a bottom red stripe. The exterior matches the interior décor — modern and tasteful. That red accent color is featured throughout the ship from small touches in black-and-white sailing photographs as wall art to the napkins and glassware in the casual restaurant and chair pillows on the loungers on the pool deck.
The main lounge on Deck 3 is all white, including the baby grand piano where the nightly singer and pianist perform as guests mingle before dinner. There’s before- and after-dinner music also in Deck 6’s Observatory Lounge. By day, the floor-to-ceiling surround windows are perfect for watching our progress by sea and river. The lounge also features a small library/reading area to one side that’s stylishly decorated with objects d’art. Here, as on other decks, is a diaphanous red mirror-wall, which adds a warm, welcoming atmosphere.
The bar and library feature wide, low chairs in red or white, plus round gray ottoman stools. Meal service in the formal dining room, La Licorne (Deck 2) and the casual La Boussole (Deck 6) has been stellar.
The food, too, has garnered very positive reviews from us and other guests. Collectively, we applauded the fresh, local lobsters served our day in Perce, Canada. We also give kudos to the prompt room service, the perfect wake-up call for our morning excursions. We have gone minimalistic in our choices, but the quantity has been overwhelming with generous portions of everything. The joke we’ve shared with others on the ship is that you cannot order just one egg, as the standard delivery is two. We order two croissants and get a whole bread basket.
Evening performances are in the Theater French Line, Deck 4, with rows of red seating. The small but enthusiastic dance troupe Paris C’Show has been fun to watch. We eagerly await their can-can performance. There have been a couple of special performances, too, by the ship’s doctor, Daniel Roure, playing jazz.
Last night was a showing of the movie “Endurance” about Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Antarctic expedition, appropriate since this French cruise line also offers expedition cruising to The Great White Continent, one of Captain Jean-Philippe Lemaire’s favorite discoveries for passengers. He’ll be sailing there next season with L’Austral. “My job is to give the goosebumps to the passengers,” he says.
The captain’s affable personality has helped set the tone for this upbeat voyage. He is outgoing, likes to talk with passengers and welcomes them to his open bridge. We’ve spoken with crew members who smile and nod in agreement when we say how likeable he is. That pride of “our” ship is definitely shared by them concerning “their” captain.
We are eager to sample the Carita Spa on board, but so far, they’ve stayed fully booked. One problem — actually, the only one we’ve experienced so far — is that we could not book spa appointments just after embarking, as we would usually do, because of not knowing times of shore excursions. The excursion booking forms only list the duration of outings; departure times are then displayed on TV screens at reception only the day before. We’ve been assured this will be addressed for future cruises.
The excursions themselves have been outstanding. We’ll highlight some of them in upcoming stories on Boston, Bar Harbor, Halifax, Louisburg, Magdelene Islands, Perce, Havre St. Pierre, Tadoussac, Saguenay, Quebec and Montreal. But right now, we have to get prepared for today’s excursion – whale watching – in Tadoussac.
Thinking about our camera equipment, we ask Jose, the naturalist on board who lectured on whales, if we’ll get wet on the outing. “Yes, I hope so,” he said with a big smile.
If You’re Going: French cruise company Compagnie du Ponant operates the 64-passenger, masted sailing vessel Le Ponant; the 90-passenger Le Levant; L’Austral, and Le Boreal, (sister ships with 264 passengers each) plus the 226-passenger Le Diamant. A sixth ship is on order. For more, visit www.ponant.com or call 888.400.1082.
If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy:
• Other Stories by Kathy M. Newbern
• Stories by J.S. Fletcher, International Travel Examiner
Luxury Travel Examiner Kathy M. Newbern and spouse, J.S. Fletcher, report on luxury destinations, spas and cruising around the globe. They are award-winning members of the Society of American Travel Writers and created YourSpaReport.com and YourNovel.com, their personalized romance novel business.