I chose Ponant to travel to the Antarctic as it offered the longest amount time that I would be on board. And I really liked the pleasant look and design of the Ponant vessels.
I was also impressed with the locations that we were intending to visit.
But unfortunately things happened that was well below satisfactory. And the voyage ended up almost being a total disaster.
The ship had been damaged on a previous voyage and basically was not ready for any passenger on the designated time.
When we finally boarded at around 2300 hr, nearly one and half days late. And apart from ridiculous hour of the day, the crew were very pleasant and they tried hard to make us all welcome.
As the voyage was my second one with Ponant, I was very happy with the cleanliness and décor of the vessel.
Both of the restaurants were open so we all could have a meal.
But because of the hour I went straight to my cabin. Which was the same as the Le Boreal. Very comfortable, quiet and clean. As I was travelling by myself I found the cabin exceptionally good.
So the first night was spent along side the wharf as the ship needed fuel. We finally left the port of Concepcion at just before lunch the following day.
So now we all had 4 days travelling down the west coast of Chile instead of leaving from Ushuaia, which is at the bottom of Sth America, where we should have left from.
But I have to say the dinning and the choice of food, along with the crew were all fabulous. With the vast majority of the crew being very pleasant and made us all feel very welcome.
So I was trying hard to see the glass half full rather than half empty which helped me enjoy the company of some great people from a number of countries around the world. We also enjoyed the enthusiasm of the expedition team with their great lectures on a number of topics.
But when we finally arrived at Cape Horn we had basically lost nearly six days of our voyage. And because of this, the time lost had to be made up somewhere else. While we were all offered 35% refund on our fair. That did not replace the hurt and disappointment that we all experienced by firstly only having less than 24 hours at the Falkland Islands. And we also missed out on going to the South Georgia Isl.,all together.
But when we finally arrived on the Antarctic Peninsula the weather was perfect for the days we were there. That part of the trip was fabulous and was everything I expected the Antarctic to be like.
But then it started going wrong again because of the inexperience of some of the expedition crew, and unfortunately the arrogance of the expedition leader himself.
On our first shore landing on the RIB ( zodiac ) which I was on, was nearly tipped over when making the approach to the shore. The inexperience of the RIB driver ( coxswain ) was being directed by the expedition leader on the shore. This stupidity caused the RIB to nearly tip over, and flinging two passengers into the water, one under the zodiac, and the other 8 passengers nearly going in as well. Luckily the 2 men that went into the water managed to recover and scramble out of the water to the shore.
But the disbelief didn't stop there. The ships captain and ponant did not conduct any investigation into the near miss drowning. Which they are meant to do under IMO regulation. To our disappointment, they also refused to discuss the incident with anybody. Which we only wanted to contribute something to maybe help them put things in place to help prevent it ever happening again. I am very disappointed in the voyage as a whole and the arrogance of the Ponant.
As I have written. The only thing that made my voyage enjoyable. Was the great crew. The very good dinning with a good amount of choice of food in the two very good restaurants. And the fact that we got fantastic weather while we were in the Antarctic Peninsula.The disembarkation for me went perfectly. As I was staying in Ushuaia for an extra two days. I had booked my own private driver.
The cabin was very good and the cleaning staff great.
Our Ushuaia excursion was cancelled as we didn't start our voyage in Ushuaia. We started the voyage 4 days up the west coast of Chile.