Q – Thank you for the opportunity to ask a question involving our 40th Wedding Anniversary and, potentially, our first cruise. We have twice traveled with Tauck Tours and everything folks say about them seems to be true. But now, we are looking at several programs Tauck is doing in Europe that are using Ponant ships for a cruise and tour combination. It sounds ideal but we don’t know Ponant, are they in business for a long time and what kind of track record do they have? I imagine Tauck would not use them if they were not good but would appreciate any reassurances before we make this decision. Very few people seem to know this line and any insights would be truly appreciated.
A – You are about to make a wonderful decision. And, yes, Ponant Yacht Cruises and Expeditions is not a well-known company but is it one of our personal favorites. Tauck has partnered with Ponant since 1993 and their collaboration has created some of the fastest selling series of tour programs in the world.
Ponant has five yachts and will be introducing four more in the next 24 months. There are expansion plans beyond 2020. The company is owned by the French Luxury brand company Artemis and the line has a new partnership with famed Chef Alain Ducasse. One of the things that Ponant is doing, which runs counter to cruise industry trends, is reducing the number of guests each yacht holds from 260 guests to only 184. They are doing this without reducing the size of their new vessels. Ponant is inclusive and sleek. The crew is mostly French and we love the fact that there are actual French chefs on-board. Decor tends toward the modern, minimalist with sharp lines. These truly are large yachts. They are also true expedition vessels so among the 81 countries the line visits Antarctica, Greenland and the Arctic, and Europe are among their most popular programs.
We do not mean to sound gushy – that is not why people come to Cruisetruth. But the fact is that this is a relatively unknown luxury small ship company with an outstanding product and steady, well-funded leadership. The non-Tauck partnered programs will feature a higher percentage of European guests. The Tauck programs enable hassle-free sightseeing with full Tauck staffing and tour quality in some fascinating parts of the world. The biggest problem with the Tauck-Ponant itineraries in that they often sell out as much as a year in advance. Book immediately and don’t ask questions is our advice. This one is that good. Sorry again for the gush. For a moment there, we were concerned we were starting to read like those other sites that have never seen a ship they have not liked.