Le Levant
Le Levant - one of Compagnie du Ponant's world class ships

We spoke to Claire Hancer Sales Director for the UK at Compagnie du Ponant for advice and information.About the ship

What is, in your opinion, special about the ships?
Each of our four ships has its own personality and have a different look and feel, we offer cruising ‘a la Francais’.  We will be launching our next fifth ship soon.

Where do the ships visit?
Our ships sail all over the world from the Med to Caribbean, Antarctica, Amazon, Orinoco, UAE, Japan, Asia etc

What are the most popular destinations and attractions?
Asia, Med and Antarctica are our most popular destinations

What are fellow passengers typically like?
Passengers are typically 55+, well travelled, like the small ship experience, good food and wine and want to visit off the beaten track, unusual destinations – which we offer due to the size of our ships.

What’s new for 2011 and 2012?
We have a dedicated brochure for Le Diamant’s amazing Asia itineraries for 2011 featuring Japan, Vietnam, Singapore etc. We have one of our ships, Le Diamant, sailing from the UK, for the first time ever – we are offering round Britain itineraries in July and August 2011. In addition we have ships sailing to the Baleric Islands, Baffin Land & Hudson Bay; Labrador & Newfoundland; Canada & St. Laurence River, Greek Isles, North and West Africa

Life on board Compagnie du Ponant?
Very relaxed and low key. All crew are bilingual and menus, daily programmes, excursions etc are in English and French

What type of meals do you offer?
International menus with a French flair!

Do you cater to vegetarians and special diets?
Absolutely!

What are the dress codes onboard?
Informal, you are on holiday. We don’t ask guests to wear black tie for the formal dinners, we just ask men to wear jackets and ladies seem to put the style on regardless!

How should I tip on board staff?
We suggest 10 Euros per day as a flat rate and this is put into an envelope and given to the reception staff on the last evening

What entertainment is on board Compagnie du Ponant ships?
On the smaller ships (Le Ponant, Le Levant) where there is no theatre, evening entertainment revolves around the lounge/bar area where we have a resident pianist and offer quiz evenings, Trivial Pursuit evenings, quite low key events. On the larger ships (Le Diamant, Le Boreal) we have a theatre and offer a stage production each evening, normally singing and dancing. There are also musicians/singers performing in the lounge where there is a dance floor.

What is inclusive of the price of booking, and what would I need pay extra for?
We include all meals plus coffee, tea, mineral water and wine with all meals. Captains Cocktail Party, Gala Dinner, Entertainment, 24 hour room service, English speaking lecturer (dependant on itinerary)

Not included are: Port charges, Shore Excursions, Beverages other than those mentioned, Personal expenses, Laundry service, visa expenses (if applicable)

How can I stay in touch with friends and family?
We have internet areas on all ships – charged at 5Euros per half hour. We also have wifi on all ships

Is Internet access available from the ships?
Yes

Are hair-dryers provided in the cabins?
Yes

What electrical voltage is offered onboard?
European voltage (two pinned plug)

What is your smoking policy?
One can smoke outside on deck only

Do your cabins have soap, shampoo, and conditioner?
Yes all toiletries on board the ships are L’Occitane and in the suites on board Le Boreal – Carita of Paris

Do you offer room service?
Yes – 24 hour free room service

Are ATM machines available onboard?
No

Can I bring my own alcohol?
No

How can I celebrate special occasions (Birthday cakes etc)?
Inform the reservations staff when making the booking and we can arrange something

Families

Do you allow children and young families on board with Compagnie du Ponant?
We do not allow any children under 8 years old on board and between 8-12 years on request basis only

Can babies cots and cribs be provided in my cabin?
No

What facilities are available for entertainment of young children?
Generally we do not cater for children but we do offer a themed Family Cruise where we offer a full range of child friendly activities, baby sitting service, menus etc

Getting there
We offer cruise only fares in the brochure but can book flights through our reservations department if required

Which ports do the ships leave from?
We do not have a ‘home port’ as such – we sail from a huge number of ports around the world

How do I get to the ship?
We can arrange transfers or clients can arrange their own transport to the ship

How early do I need to leave?
N/A

Is there parking available at the pier, and is there a charge?
N/A

Safety & Insurance
We recommend that all guests arrange their own travel insurance

What safety features do you have onboard?
Life jackets, lifeboats etc

Is my baggage protected?
Baggage is delivered to your cabin and picked up on the night before departure and stored in secure storage

What is security like onboard?
As all cruise lines we take security very seriously and have a number of security facilities on board. Photo ID is issued to each guest and checked by computer and human on embarkation and disembarkation at all ports of call etc

Medical care on Compagnie du Ponant
We have a doctor and medical facility on each ship

What if I get sick on board?
As above

Is there licensed medical staff onboard?
Yes

Can I store insulin in my cabin?
Yes there is a mini bar in each cabin

Is the water on the ship safe to drink?
Yes

What facilities are available for disabled and handicapped passengers?
We can only cater for disabled guests on board Le Boreal and L’Austral (launching April 2011) as they offer disabled cabins, lifts and electric stair lifts

Problems

Can I change my cabin?
Yes subject to availability – one would have to request at reception

Can my itinerary change?
If so, what happens?
Occasionally an itinerary may change

What if my flight is delayed?
Unfortunately the ship is unable to delay departure due to late flights but we always suggest that when guests book flights they take into account any potential delays.
Claire Hancer has been Sales Director for the UK at Compagnie du Ponant since 2009.  She is also responsible for building the Compagnie du Ponant brand in the UK.