L'Austral - French Chic at its' Elegant Best
Cruise Specialist, Janette Wall, recently experienced the best that luxury French cruising has to offer, when she cruised on board Compagnie du Ponants' L'Austral.
In May 2011, l'Austral joined Compagnie du Ponant's fleet. This beautiful mega-yacht has 132 cabins, and is the result of the Italian Fincantieri shipyard and French sophistication, as interpreted by designer Jean-Philippe Nuel. I recently had the opportunity to cruise on board l'Austral, and I found her to have a unique atmosphere, combining subtle luxury and intimacy, which makes you feel like you are on your own personal yacht.
I found the cabins on this sleek, elegant boutique yacht to be well-appointed, even though they are a little compact. My cabin had a separate bathroom and toilet, and the bathroom was stocked with L'Occitane products. My mini-bar was replenished as required, and bottled water, provided on a complimentary basis, was replenished daily. My cabin furnishings were very sleek, in beautiful white and beige colours.
The cuisine on board l'Austral is loyal to the French tradition. There are two restaurants on board, which offer breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Grill Restaurant offers a buffet for breakfast and lunch, and themed dinners, which change daily.
The Gastronomic Restaurant is situated on Le Liberte' Deck, and serves both French and International cuisine, accommpanied by fine wine. Gourmet coffees and teas are also served with breakfast, lunch and dinner. However, I did find that there were limited meal options for guests with special dietary requirements.
Outside of restaurant hours, you can order room service from a limited menu.
The public areas of l'Austral add to the feeling that you are on your own private yacht, as everything has a personal touch. There are lounges for lectures and shows, a spa in partnership with Sothys Offering beauty treatments, a hair salon etc.), a library and an internet corner. There is also a games area, with Wii consoles, which will please children.
For the health-conscious among us, there is a well-equipped gym for a vessel of its size. It is fitted with the latest equipment, including a Kinesis Wall and running machine.
A daily programme, in both French and English, is shows on screens around the ship, and all announcements were made in French and English.
I found l'Austral to be a fabulous cruise, and think it is suited to well-travelled cruisers not looking for a large cruise ship experience. She offers unique itineraries, ports of call that are inaccessible to large ships, and a chic and elegant yacht-like ambience, that is complimented by personalised service and gastronomic French cuisine.
Janette is the Assistant Manager at Crusieabout Turramurra in NSW, and has thirteen years of travel industry experience. For more information on cruising with Compagnie du Ponant, contact her on 1300 837 681, or email her at email@example.com.