L’Boreal is one of the Compagnie Ponant’s new 5-star small cruise ships, she has a tasteful and discreet elegance and décor combined with exterior and interior lines to reflect a nautical style. I loved the neutral tones and splashes of red throughout the ship. The ship is pure luxury with a French touch but not stuffy. The type of surrounds that are more upbeat and draw a younger clientele.
I had a standard balcony stateroom and for a small ship the stateroom was spacious and very comfortable. I was quite impressed when I started checking out the closet and drawer space how much room they have. The closet was large enough for all my clothes and more, plus something that you don’t always get…. Plenty of hangers! One thing that I have not seem before unless I was in a suite, you have a separate room for your toilet and a separate room for the very large shower and sink area. There are two other features that I experienced that evening and one is very important, the large mirror over the sink does not fog up no matter how hot you make the shower water… trust me I tried! The other is the non-slip flooring in the entire bathroom. You can walk out of the shower without the fear of slipping.
The bedding is fantastic along with bathrobe and slippers that really fit. A full bathroom amenity package from L’Occitane is included plus the standard- hairdryer, hi-fi radio, safe, stocked mini bar, flat screen satellite TV, iPod station, Video On Demand, WIFI internet access and direct line telephone. Room service is also available and the balcony is large enough to enjoy morning coffee and breakfast or a cocktail before dinner. I was quite pleasantly surprised the first morning I had room service coffee. The coffee was really hot, I hate warm coffee, the cream was warm too but not just plain cream is was “Clouded Cream”. Talk about being spoiled, I drank the entire pot! Just a note on how informed the cabin stewards are. I did not mention to mine that I was getting off the ship in Marigot Bay. When he brought my morning coffee he wished me safe travels and hoped to see me again. Very nice touch!
On-board cuisine, this is a French Cruise Line and they are very proud of their culinary expertise. The food was excellent and this is coming from someone that doesn’t eat a lot of French foods.
Breakfast in the Le Grill was excellent. I was very impressed with all the fresh fruits, cold meats and cheeses. A hot buffet is also available as well as omelets and eggs made to order. Don’t miss stopping at the pastry table with all the fresh baked breads and croissants or the dessert station. Worry about your waistline when you get home.
The lunch buffets were also a special treat. A wide selection of salads and fruits, soup of the day and a hot buffet. Depending on the itinerary they offer many themed buffets too such as seafood, Spanish, Indian and not to be left out French. Mediterranean style BBQ lunch is available at the pool area grill. Hold on to your palate because you won’t find hamburgers and fries here!
Dinner in the main dining room is mainly open seating and the menu is “a la carte”. While we were on the ship there were two evenings the entire ship dined at one time. The menu was more limited but it was excellent. Wines are included with lunch and dinner. Be careful, I don’t think the wine stewards likes to see an empty glass!
On the last night of a normal sailing the Captain has a “Farwell Reception and Dinner”. As many cruise lines do Lobster is one of your entrée selections. The Hotel Manager knew we were getting off the ship a day early and would not be able to experience the Farewell dinner. When the waiter gave us our menus on our last night we had the option to order lobster. Ok picture this, we are a party of four and the dining room is almost full. The waiters brought out our lobster entrée’s that wasn’t t just a one or two tails but almost half a lobster. Talk about being spoiled. We were asked by many people sitting around us why we have lobster and they didn’t? We laughed as we were enjoying our dinner but this shows you how accommodating the ship can be. Just FYI the lobster was amazing!!
The entertainment needs a little more work but I understand that improvements are coming. There is always live entertainment playing in one of the lounges during day which is a pleasant change. The ship offers a main show on many nights and the main show lounge has live music and a disco for the evening. If you have a chance stop in for a fun time at the Piano Bar.
I mentioned we embarked the ship in Curacao but by the time we got settled in toured the ship and had our life boat drill it was time to leave. Our next port was Los Roques, Venezuela. We anchored off of Madrisqui Island for an afternoon at the beach. The only way to get to the Island was by Zodiac’s. Now I know how to swim and not afraid of the water but I have never been on a Zodiac. The boat seats about 12-14 plus staff. You sit on the sides of the boat and have ropes to hold on to. I was a little nervous about this venture but didn’t want to be a wimp. The ride over wasn’t too bad, the water was calm and not many waves. The Island was nice but with very limited amenities. There wasn’t a real bar but the staff did serve punch and fruit juice and water off a float in the water however there were no toilet facilities available. Kind of put a damper on how much you drank! We stayed for a while and enjoyed the beach and the water. Now it’s time to go back to the ship via the Zodiac. I am now an experienced Zodiac sailor and ready to go! Well the current had changed and we hit a lot of waves. Needless to say by the time we got back to Marina I looked like a drowned rat! I was soaked to the skin. Would I do it again…. sure because it was fun!
Our next port was St. Georges, Grenada known as the “Spice Island”. We hired a private car and had a great tour of the Island and of course stocked up on the local spices.
From there we went to Bequia, St. Vincent & The Grenadines. We decided to do our own walking tour and find a restaurant that served lobster since it is so common in this area. We found a quaint little local place that had open air seating and a gorgeous view of the bay area. We watched the locals and enjoyed the lobster that was prepared Island style with local spices and cooked to perfection. We were getting ready to leave when a very gentlemen stopped at are table and asked how the lunch was and where we were from and about the ship. We was a very interesting man to talk and a lot of fun too! During the conversation we found out that he was the retired” Prime Minister”. This is one for the book!
We were on the ship for four nights but it was enough time to get a good feel of the product. Even though the ship is small compared to what I was used to she felt big. With the electric diesel engines I hardly felt any vibrations, the cabins are very quiet and I didn’t hear any of the normal hallway noise. The ship has two 150 passenger tenders which load at the stern of the ship for quick and safe disembarkation for tender ports. They also have a fleet of Zodiacs for guest use that load at the stern as well.
The ship has 4 areas that can hold the entire ship for meals, cocktails and meetings. Excellent French-inspired and International gourmet cuisine, attentive yet discreet service from a bilingual (French-English) crew, ability to visit global destinations that your larger ships cannot. A Unique, Authentic and Exceptional style of sailing. The ship is perfect for groups or charters.