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Le Champlain Review

Find a Le Champlain Cruise from £2,971

Le Champlain
4.0 / 5.0
6 reviews

Ultramodern design and decor with quality dining and classy service.
Bathrooms are smaller than you'd expect on a luxury ship.
Bottom Line
Superbly comfortable, modern boutique expedition vessel.




Passenger to Crew


Shore Excursions
Sails To
Alaska, Caribbean, South America, Baltic Sea, Western Mediterranean
Ponant Cruise Deals
Roderick Eime
Cruise Critic Contributor

Le Champlain Overview

With Le Champlain, Ponant has distilled the essence of its style of adventure cruising into a purpose-built vessel that is modern and comfortable. As such, passengers can expect superior dining, accommodations and public spaces when compared to the current crop of dedicated expedition vessels. This translates to a luxury-level spa, included drinks, Wi-Fi, butler service in suites and niceties like airline-style in-cabin screen entertainment. 

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Le Champlain is particularly well-suited for passengers easing into expedition cruising who may have held back because of the lack of suitable vessels to match their upscale comfort expectations. While not super luxurious -- and many would argue such opulence unnecessary -- Ponant has nevertheless elevated the bar for upscale expedition cruising with Le Champlain.

Le Champlain is the second in the planned fleet of six "Explorers" ships for French small-ship cruise line Ponant. All ships in the Explorers Class are smaller than the previous Le Boreal Class (184 vs. 264 passengers) and have a relatively light PC6 ice rating, restricting it to the gentler, summer season in polar regions. 

Technically, the ship is a marvel, with state-of-the-art features that include power-saving energy systems and efficient, non-discharge wastewater treatment. Passenger spaces include the revolutionary, below-the-waterline Blue Eye Lounge and three-position, retractable marina for simplified Zodiac operations. Besides the many technical features, comfort and luxury are not ignored with ample space for leisure and relaxation.

Despite Le Champlain's compact size, there is more than adequate space even when the ship is full, and you are unlikely to feel crowded or cramped -- even at mealtimes or when disembarking for excursions.

Visually, the ship mirrors the design essentials of the larger Ponant vessels with Scandinavian accents and French flair that speak of elegance without being overly extravagant. Ponant has kept its tradition of maintaining onboard entertainment, something unusual in strict expedition cruising, so passengers can enjoy a pianist with their after-dinner drinks and the occasional dance production in the high-tech, 188-seat theater, the same venue that is more commonly used for enrichment talks.

Top Le Champlain Itineraries

Le Champlain
9 night caribbean cruise

Colon (Cristobal), Cartagena (Colombia), Bonaire, Grenada, Mayreau, St. Lucia, Martinique

9 NIGHT Caribbean CRUISE

Le Champlain

View All Ponant Le Champlain Itineraries (21)

Fellow Passengers

Despite several years in the international market, Ponant's primary clientele remains French, although that mix is slowly changing and incorporating more passengers from English-speaking (and other) countries. Ponant is making a clear effort to be friendly to non-French speaking cruisers with bilingual announcements and crew members.

Irrespective of nationality, the makeup is mature couples and singles who clearly enjoy a sophisticated lifestyle and comfortable living standard. Passengers tend to be well-traveled with high expectations, but are still prepared for a muddy jungle trek or to exit a Zodiac in knee-deep water on a beach with no jetty. Some like silver service and fine wine, while others are quite happy at the buffet in shorts and sandals.

There tends to be a greater international contingent on the more expeditionary voyages (Arctic, Antarctic) as opposed to the Grand Voyages or those in the Mediterranean or Caribbean. It must also be remembered that Ponant frequently charters these vessels to other large travel companies, which may significantly alter the mix of passengers aboard.

Ponant Le Champlain Dress Code

Expedition cruising dictates a more practical approach to one's wardrobe aboard any ship, but aboard Ponant you tend to see many of the well-known adventure logos on jackets and clothing. Leave your parka at home for polar voyages as Ponant supplies a gorgeous red jacket for cold-climate travel, but if you are traveling in the snow and ice, bring waterproof pants and rugged walking shoes. Ponant’s dress code can best be described as resort casual, and many of the gentlemen will wear slacks, collared shirts and loafers (often without socks) with the signature cardigan around the shoulders. One semi-formal gown is a good idea for ladies with perhaps a little bling, but one shouldn't consider any event aboard a Ponant sailing black-tie formal.

Le Champlain Inclusions

During expeditions, as is normal in the industry, all shore excursions, interpretation, enrichment, Zodiac cruises/transfers, etc. are included in the fare. Voyages aboard all Ponant vessels are designated either "cruise" or "expedition." For the latter, a specialist staff comes aboard to provide lectures, enrichment and excursions and these activities are included in the fare. Outside of the expedition format (usually in more on-the-beaten-path places, such as Europe or the Caribbean), passengers may be required to pay for certain shore excursions, but often one per day is complimentary.

Charter companies have their own set of inclusions (and exclusions) so be sure to check with your booking agent if you are not booking with Ponant directly. Gratuities are always included in your fare, as are drinks unless you want premium beverages, so no need to tip. All other tipping is at your discretion. The onboard currency is the euro.

Wi-Fi is complimentary and available throughout the ship, but may be slow or patchy depending on your sailing region. 

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Le Champlain Ratings

Fitness Recreation2.8

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Cruises on Ponant Le Champlain start from £2,971 per person.

Awards and Recognition

Ponant Le Champlain Member Reviews

Le Champlain
Sail Date: Dec 2019
Le Champlain is a lovely ship with only ninety-two cabins, 165 passengers and 115 crew members.... Read More
Le Champlain
Sail Date: Apr 2019
Le Champlain is a beautiful, small, expedition ship. We sailed on her from Cayenne to Lisbon-had a wonderful time!... Read More
Le Champlain
Sail Date: Dec 2018
On Le Champlain, this collaboration was noticeable and fantastic.... Read More
Le Champlain
Sail Date: Apr 2019
This ship is beautiful. It’s like being on a private yacht, especially when it is nowhere near full. It’s so easy to get everywhere and the decor is very soft aqua with neutrals. Our cabin was lovely and... Read More

Ponant Fleet

Le Ponant
10 reviews

The 64-passenger Le Ponant is a three-masted sailing ship that sails for Ponant, and is also chartered by other cruise lines, including Tauck.

View All Le Ponant Cruises
Le Boreal
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Launched in 2009 and ice-strengthened for Arctic and Antarctica itineraries, Le Boreal was the first in a series of 264-passenger cruising yachts commissioned by Ponant.

Ponant Le Boreal Cruises to Antarctica Ponant Le Boreal Cruises to South America View All Ponant Le Boreal Cruises

Launched in 2011, L'Austral was the second in a series of 264-passenger, ice-strengthened cruising yachts commissioned by Ponant; it's also often chartered by other lines such as Tauck.

Le Soleal

A luxury expedition yacht with an ice-strengthened hull, two restaurants, swimming pool and spa, as well as a marina for watersports; strong French influence.

Le Lyrial (Ponant)

A beautifully appointed luxury yacht with two restaurants, swimming pool and spa, as well as a marina for water sports; strong French influence.

Le Laperouse

Launched in 2018, Le Laperouse is the first of Ponant's six Explorer-class expedition ships. It is named for French explorer Jean-Francois de La Perouse.

Le Champlain
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Measuring just 430 feet, the luxury expedition ship Le Champlain features 92 cabins and suites with a crew complement of 110.

Le Bougainville

Featuring two restaurants and a special "underwater lounge," this luxury expedition yacht has an infinity pool and watersports marina.

Le Dumont d'Urville

This luxury expedition yacht features two restaurants, infinity pool, watersports marina and a special "underwater" lounge.

Le Jacques Cartier

Filled with airy public rooms and well-appointed suites, this hybrid 184-passenger luxury-expedition vessel will offer Ponant’s trademark French cruising flair when it debuts in 2020.

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