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Ponant: Le Boréal

Le Boréal Review

A unique megayacht carrying 264 passengers, Le Boréal boasts a history of fine design by Jean-Philippe Nuel with superb exterior and interior detailing. The ship’s sleek silhouette and large arched windows, not to mention the interior, ooze elegance. The ship has

132 spacious staterooms (many have private balconies) with personal safe, hair dryer, and Wi-Fi. Dance floors, live music, library, and large terraces extending toward the sea or overlooking the outdoor heated swimming pool create an upbeat ambience. Leisure facilities include a well-equipped fitness center, full-service salon, hammam and balneo room, and two massage and relaxation rooms.

Ponant operates three designer ships for all-season premium yet unpretentious yacht cruising in places inaccessible to larger cruise ships. At this writing, a fourth ship was expected for delivery in July 2013. With distinctively French flair, the cruise company strikes an appealing balance between destination choice and price point on luxuriously refurbished modern sailing vessels that feature French gastronomy, elegant styling, and unique voyages with all-inclusive packages. Travel is privileged yet unpretentious aboard a small majestic three-masted sailing yacht or larger megayacht.

For experienced cruisers or newcomers, the fantasy of having one’s own private yacht to sail the seven seas comes closer to reality with exotic itineraries on upscale, uncrowded ships operated by Ponant, which was begun in 1988 by CMA CGM, the world’s third-largest container shipping company. In 2008, Ponant made international headlines when its smallest sailing yacht was hijacked by Somali pirates off the coast of the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean. That incident had a very positive ending, and the company has since offered solid years of safe, luxury maritime travel and good reviews from discerning passengers, most of whom are European, American, and Australian globetrotters. Expectations for substantial entertainment, perfect service, and regal accommodations should be kept realistic since these ships are limited in size. Nevertheless, Ponant’s ambitious agenda is to provide impeccable, five-star cruising to its affluent clientele. The ships offer fine dining, outstanding attention to interior design, expedition-style cruising on eco-friendly, state-of-the-art vessels, and a sophisticated feel reminiscent of a hip boutique hotel, and these expectations are more than met for offbeat journeys draped in contemporary prestige.

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