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Ponant Le Bougainville Review: French Elegance on the High Seas

Ponant Cruise Le Bougainville

If the luxury and elegance of Paris were embodied in a cruise line, it would be Ponant. This French-based cruise line brings French cuisine, style, and service with you anywhere in the world their numerous ships sail. 

We set sail on Ponant’s Le Bougainville, one of the cruise line’s explorer ships. Here’s our detailed review.

Ponant Le Bougainville: The Cabins 

Dressing room on Ponant Le Bougainville

Le Bougainville has 92 staterooms and suites that accommodate 184 guests. All rooms are equipped with private balconies from which to admire the changing scenery. 

All rooms include:

  • Inclusive WiFi 
  • Individually controlled air conditioning
  • Spacious dressing room with shelves and closet
  • Dressing table and hairdryer
  • Dyptique Paris toiletries
  • Minibar
  • Nespresso coffee maker and tea kettle
  • Bose Bluetooth speaker
  • 110V American and 220V European sockets

Room sizes are spacious, starting at 204 for a Deluxe Stateroom and expanding to 484 square feet for the top-level suites. The Owner’s Suite, on deck five, is the best of the best, namely due to the private terrace with a jacuzzi and outdoor lounge area. 

Ponant Le Bougainville: The Ship

Built in 2019, the ship still looks sparkling new. The elegant French feel extends to the decor, outfitted in calming and bright beiges and whites. Le Bougainville’s marina makes it easy to get in and out of the ship’s zodiac inflatables during expeditions. 

One of the highlights of Le Bougainville is The Blue Eye, an underwater lounge where you can sip cocktails and watch fish swim by through the large glass portholes. 

During the day, the pool deck is the place to be. Lounge on the sundeck or take a dip in the pool, which features a counter-current system. 

If you’d rather workout indoors, Le Bougainville’s gym is equipped with Technogym treadmills, and exercise bikes,  along with strength training machines and freeweights, all of which overlook wide floor-to-ceiling windows.

At the spa, guests can enjoy the sauna while gazing out at the water, or indulge in one of the many treatments available. There’s also a hair salon to help you look your best.

Ponant Le Bougainville: Food and Drink

Champagne on Ponant Cruise

You’ll find French-inspired cuisine, along with local delicacies of the destination, no matter where you sail on Le Bougainville. Ponant says that they are “Faithful to our commitment to spreading the French way of life around the world.” Menus are constantly revised based on the route sailed.  

On our cruise on Le Bougainville, for example, guests were treated to macaroons from Ladurée, served on the white sand beach at one of our ports of call. 

Breakfast on Le Bougainville is available as a buffet or via room service. A continental breakfast is available for early risers. 

Lunch is always a buffet, however, if you’d rather order from the menu, that is also available. 

For dinner, there is the choice between a formal à-la-carte dinner in the restaurant, or a buffet.  

Guests won’t go hungry, as snacks are served in the morning and during afternoon tea-time, and room service is available 24 hours per day. 

Unlimited drinks are available throughout the cruise. 

Ponant Le Bougainville: Service

Ponant Cruise Floating Bar

There are 118 crew members onboard, for an excellent guest-to-crew ratio of 1.5. From the waitstaff to the reception, the crew is well-trained in the art of warm hospitality. Expect the bartender to remember your name and favorite drink from day one, and your waiter to remember what type of water you like (and have it waiting for you each night).

Where Does Le Bougainville Sail?

There are a wide variety of itineraries to choose from if you want to take a trip on Le Bougainville. Current destinations include Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Ocean, and the Mediterranean. 

What’s Included on a Ponant Cruise?

Ponant cruises are all-inclusive and include:

  • All meals and snacks
  • Open bar (mineral water, soft drinks, wine, beer, Champagne, spirits, coffee, and tea.) Certain premium alcoholic beverages are additional.
  • Free WiFi
  • Activities offered during expedition cruises
  • Fitness room
  • Steam room
  • Swimming pool

Ponant FAQ

Is Ponant a luxury cruise? Prices on Le Bougainville start at around $5,000, making this a luxury cruise. 

What is the average age for a Ponant cruise? The average age of a Ponant cruiser is around 60 years old. 

Are drinks free on Ponant cruises? All drinks (except for premium options) are included on Ponant cruises. 

Is English spoken on Ponant cruises? All of the staff on Ponant cruises speak English (and most speak multiple other languages as well.)

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