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Do you have to speak French to cruise on Pontant


wwinfl91
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My wife and I like the sizes of the Pontant fleet and the line gets good reviews for its food and service. But we are both American English speakers and neither of us speaks or understands French. Would we be comfortable on a Pontant cruise?

Thanks

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Most definitely, though you may very much be in the minority if American English is your preferred flavour of language - there were only half dozen U.S. passengers on the cruise I took 2 years ago, and there were 11 Canadians (9 from Québéc).  I've heard Australia is said to be the 2nd largest market for Ponant (has been aggressively marketing in Australia) after France. The hotel crew (the ones who are not French are usually Filipino - usually cabin attendants, most of the wait staff and the line cooks, etc.) converse better in English than French anyway, and the French hotel crew (chefs of the various kitchen department, speak English if not at least one other language.  The chef of the restaurant and the cruise director were bilingual Canadians on the last cruise. Most if not all of the ship's officers (French, naturally) speak at least basic English.

 

I was watching a couple of shows about a Ponant Arctic/NW passage transit and the captain of the ship was speaking to the crew in English.

Edited by cruising cockroach
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Ponant partners with some US-based tour operators who put groups on their ships.  Check Tauck and Backroads – if they have a group on a particular sailing, you could book direct and be sure that there will be lots of other English-speakers on that sailing.  You wouldn't get the group's CD and special shore excursions if you book direct, but you wouldn't have to pay the premium they charge either.  [Or you might decide to book with them, because their shore excursions are well curated.]

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I have been looking at the ships Ponant has and I really like their size and the fact that most of them are new and were built for them. Don't know if I can convince my wife to try this line but I think I am going to try.

Have a great next cruise.

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Our first cruise with Ponant back in 2011 was very French - even a bit snooty.  But we persevered and Ponant has learned very quickly.  All cruises that we have been on in the last 5 years have had a good number of English speakers, and some more English than any other.  In most cases, lectures and excursions have been divided up between English and French groups.  It's only the general annoucements and things like Captain's dinners that have dual language.  In 2019 we ended up booking through Tauck and it was 100% English, mostly from the USA.  So, don't let the language thing put you off.  The French DO have a slightly different way of doing things. Enjoy the culture.

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We did Antartica with Ponant, approx 50% were English speaking (30% Aussie, 10% UK and 10% US).

groups for zodiacs were divided into English/French speaking.

We found the majority of staff (from Phillipines) preferred speaking English.

We had a great time.

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  • 2 months later...
On 3/24/2021 at 2:38 PM, wwinfl91 said:

My wife and I like the sizes of the Pontant fleet and the line gets good reviews for its food and service. But we are both American English speakers and neither of us speaks or understands French. Would we be comfortable on a Pontant cruise?

Thanks

We were on a Ponant Cruise, Costa Rica to Panama in January 2020 and loved it! We just booked our second cruise with them, Lisbon to Barcelona 10/2022. I don't speak nor understand any French & it was not an issue at all! Everyone on board was lovely, we were able to converse in Frenglish with the other passengers & in English with the crew. I think the small ship cruise experience is perfect for those of us leery about a giant ship!

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We went to Antarctica with Ponant in 2014.  We were the only English speaking people not with the Tauck group.  But no problems  Announcements were in two languages, it is a culture shock for the English announcement to be second.  We were in a zodiac group with English speakers.

One interesting thing was the buffet.  We divided our time between the dining room and the buffet.  There were many. many interesting vegetables on the buffet, we just loved that.  We did hear several Americans complain about the French food, but we found it all very good, wherever we ate.

 

When we did our first landing on Antarctica (not an island) I had forgotten our sign that said " The 7th Continent, Antarctica".  We were loaned the one Tauck was using, which worked out and when we got home I just photoshopped away the word Tauck from the picture.

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