|Ponant Cruises||Oceania Cruises|
|Where do they cruise?|
|What type of ships do they have?||Small & Expedition Ships||Small & Mid-Sized Ships|
|How many passengers are on board?||184 - 270||R-Class: 684 / O-Class: 1250|
|What type of cruise line are they?||Luxury||Premium|
|What are they known for?|| || |
|What is the average cost per day?|| || |
|Are fares all inclusive?||Ponant position themselves as an all-inclusive line, however, shore excursions on classic cruises are not included and top shelf premium spirits and champagne are not included in the Open Bar. Gratuities are also not included||No|
|Are gratuities included?||No. Tipping the staff is customary but is completely at guest discretion. Guests will find an anonymous envelope in their stateroom which they can drop in the box provided at reception. Ponant guide that this is generally in the range of €10-12 per day per passenger||Yes|
|Are there any additional gratuities payable on board?||No. Gratuities are at guest discretion||Yes. 18% gratuity added to spa services, bar bills, & the bill for extra-charge eatery La Reserve|
|Can I get any reciprocal loyalty club benefits?||No. Ponant Yacht Club only||No. Guests only accrue Oceania Club benefits|
|What is the onboard currency?||EUR||USD|
|What language is spoken on board?||French & English||English|
|Who cruises with them?|| || |
|What is the average passenger age?||Primarily 50+||Primarily 50+|
|Are they good for families?||Children must be three years of age to embark on Ponant ships. Children must be six years of age for Polar Expedition cruises. Children must meet height requirements and the ability to receive and respond to instructions on Zodiac excursions and have their own parkas for polar excursions||Children are accepted from 12+ months, however, Oceania does not provide for the care, entertainment or supervision of children on most cruises. Select journeys offer the Alaska Explorer Youth Program for 5 – 12 years|
|Are there children’s programs?||Every Sister Ship and Explorer Ship has a space dedicated to children called Le Kids Club. However, there are no planned activities or babysitting services except on select themed Ponant Kids Club sailings in the Mediterranean where staff run organised children’s activities||No, except on select Alaska sailings where the Alaska Explorer Youth Program is available|
|Is there childcare and/or babysitting?||No||No|
|What are the accommodation options?|| ||Interior, Oceanview, Balcony & Suites|
|Are there accessible staterooms?||Yes||Yes|
|Are shore excursions included?|| ||No. However, guests can select ‘Free Shore Excursions’ as their chosen benefit under Oceania’s OLife Choice Program (the number of ‘free excursions’ depends on length of sailing). A complimentary shuttle is also offered in select ports|
|What types of onboard activities are available for free?||Guest lectures and naturalist specialist lectures, live music in lounges such as piano and duets, dance shows, and film screenings||Guest lectures, seminars, and destination-focused activities|
|Are there any onboard activities that I need to pay for?||No. All onboard activities are included||Specialty onboard seminars, classes in the Culinary Centre (available on select ships) incur additional charges|
|Is there free evening entertainment?||Yes||Yes|
|Is there any paid evening entertainment?||No||No. All shows and entertainment are included in the cruise price|
|Are there complimentary dining options?||Yes||Yes|
|Are there specialty restaurants?||No||Yes. Complimentary. A surcharge applies only to La Reserve and private dining in Privee|
|Are there dining packages for purchase?||No||No|
|Are non-alcoholic beverages included?||Yes. Mineral water, soft drinks, coffee and tea||Yes. Bottled water, soft drinks, fresh juices, specialty coffees and teas|
|Are alcoholic beverages included?||Yes. There is an Open Bar for beer, wine and spirits – excludes premium label spirits and champagne||No. However, guests can select a ‘Free House Select Beverage Package’ as their chosen benefit under Oceania’s OLife Choice Program|
|Can I purchase a beverage package?||No. A wide range of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available in the Open Bar. Guests pay for premium alcoholic beverages||Yes|
|Is there room service?||Yes. Complimentary 24/7||Yes. Complimentary 24/7|
|Is there Wi-Fi on board?||Yes. Complimentary||Yes. Free internet is included as part of the OLife Choice Program (one login per stateroom)|
|Can I purchase Wi-Fi packages?||No||Yes|
|Is there a Spa?||Yes. Access to the steam room is complimentary||Yes|
|Are spa and salon services available?||Yes. Charges Apply||Yes. Charges Apply|
|Is there a gym?||Yes||Yes|
|Are there group fitness classes?||Yes. Occasional group fitness sessions may be offered and may incur charges||Yes. Included complimentary. Some specialised training programs may incur additional charges|
|Is there personal training available?||No||Yes. Charges Apply|
|Is there a self-service laundry?||No||Yes. Complimentary|
|Is a laundry service available?||Yes. Charges Apply||Yes. Charges Apply|
|Is there a casino on board?||No||Yes. Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises share the same Casinos At Sea rewards program|
Please Note: There may be additional inclusions and privileges for select stateroom and suite guests or select loyalty member tiers. Activities and entertainment vary by ship, itinerary and departure and are a guide only.
Ponant has a fleet of luxury small ships which double as expedition vessels in remote destinations. These accommodate 184 – 270 guests in an intimate setting and are designed to feel like being aboard your very own private yacht. Guests will find understated elegance across the fleet with neutral tones and sophisticated touches. Being a French company, there are bilingual lectures and announcements (English and French) as well as little additions such as macarons for afternoon tea and Veuve Clicquot champagne served at gala dinners (for which guests will don formal attire).
On board, guests can expect two complimentary dining options and high end French inspired menus, with the Gastronomic Restaurant serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner in an elegant setting, while the grill has a more relaxed atmosphere hosting breakfasts, buffet lunches and themed dinners. Designed as small expedition vessels, Ponant’s ships have fewer traditional facilities (such as dining and entertainment venues) than Oceania offers. They do however have some unique spaces and features.
There are a few lounges to relax in or mingle with fellow guests, including the standout Blue Eye Lounge found on Ponant’s Explorer ships. This venue gives a nod to the line’s focus on discovery and comes complete with underwater windows that resemble the shape of a whale’s eye to take in the underwater world around you. There are also screens that project the surrounding marine life into the room, and Body Listening sofas which discreetly vibrate to transmit sound waves captured from the water around the ship through the body for a multi-sensory experience.
Ponant entertainment varies depending on the itinerary and destination, however, will generally consist of live music in the lounges such as piano and duets along with dance shows and film screenings in the theatre. There are also guest lectures on select sailings, with specialist presentations more common on expeditions or other themed itineraries.
Oceania’s ships are considerably larger than Ponant’s, with four R-Class and two O-Class vessels accommodating roughly 700 and 1,250 guests respectively. Despite the higher passenger number, both lines have roughly two staff for every three passengers to deliver professional and personalised service. Oceania sits at the high end of the premium bracket, and while there are luxurious touches across the fleet, ship life is less formal than on board Ponant cruises. Oceania markets a ‘Country Club Casual’ atmosphere, and jackets or ties are not required on any sailing.
Having larger ships than Ponant, Oceania can offer guests more dining and entertainment options. Oceania prides itself on its culinary program which is highly regarded, attracting food and wine aficionados to the line. Guests will find four to six complimentary dining options, depending on the ship, most of which are complimentary. When cruising on R-Class ships guests can dine in all venues free of charge, including specialty restaurants. There are two additional for-fee specialty venues on O-Class ships, with La Reserve wine pairing dinners and Privee private dining incurring a surcharge.
Guests have more lounges to choose from on Oceania ships than on the Ponant fleet, along with a Casino on every ship (a feature not found on the French line). O-Class ships also come with a couple of extra bells and whistles like The Culinary Centre cooking school and the Artist Loft where guests can get crafty and build on their skills, thanks to the artists in residence on board.
While neither Ponant nor Oceania is designed for all night extravaganzas, there is usually more entertainment to choose from on the latter. There is live music in the bars and lounges, from piano recitals and dynamic vocalists to a string quartet, and there are also production shows which vary by ship and sailing. Oceania also hosts guest lecturers hailing from different backgrounds, from naturalists and historians to prominent figures.
Choosing between Ponant and Oceania will depend greatly on the style of journey you are looking for, and the destination you are considering. Ponant specialises in luxury expeditions, with their most popular itineraries visiting Antarctica, Australia’s Kimberley Coast, and the Arctic. If you are looking for an expedition cruise complete with Zodiac excursions in remote destinations such as these, then Ponant may be the line for you. Oceania doesn’t try to compete in the niche expedition cruise space, nor does it offer cruises to these regions.
While Ponant has more on offer in these remote pockets of the globe, Oceania has a wider range of itineraries available in classic destinations such as the Caribbean along with Europe and the Mediterranean, which is the largest collection for the line. Oceania also offers more Transatlantic crossings than Ponant, as well as longer worldwide voyages which are not available on the expedition-centric line.
Despite each having a different focus, Ponant and Oceania overlap in many destinations, both exotic and more mainstream. The biggest difference in experiences between the lines is found where Ponant operates expedition style cruises. This includes destinations such as the South Pacific, the Caribbean, Alaska, and South America. In these destinations (and more) an expedition style experience is made possible by Ponant’s smaller ships.
Ponant’s expedition ships are equipped with their own Zodiac fleet and other facilities, such as a marina where guests can set off on their daily excursions, jump straight into the water for a swim, or try their hand at water activities such as paddle boarding. As excursions on expedition cruises are generally operated with Ponant’s own equipment and dedicated team, these are included in the cruise fare.
Where Oceania offers a similar itinerary to Ponant’s expeditions, the experience won’t be the same. While their ships can still access places larger liners can’t, Oceania aren’t able navigate to the remote reaches that Ponant ships can, nor do they have the equipment to deliver expedition excursions. For example, when cruising the Chilean fjords, Ponant offers outings and shore excursions by Zodiac accompanied by naturalist guides. Ponant’s smaller ships can navigate narrower waterways than Oceania’s vessels, getting their guests up close to glaciers along the way. With an on-ship marina, there is no need to make port to facilitate excursions.
In the same region, Oceania will offer scenic cruising around the fjords, so the guest experience is at more of a distance. Excursions will depart from ports such as Punta Arenas and Puerto Chacabuco with sea days and no excursions in between. Where excursions are offered, they are tailored to the destination and deliver active adventures such as kayaking on the Strait of Magellan or a trip to Torres Del Paine National Park.
There are also more traditional options, such as a tour of Punta Arenas city complete with museum visits and photo stops. Oceania uses local operators for their excursions, and all onshore experiences come at an additional cost.
In mainstream cruise destinations, the experience delivered by both lines is far more similar. In regions such as Mediterranean where there are more established ports, Ponant does not operate their cruises as expeditions. Instead, they offer more traditional luxury small ship cruises with themes focussing on art and museums, gastronomy and wine, music, or theatre and literature. Day trips are curated to highlight the culture, cuisine, history and local traditions of each region. These onshore experiences are similar for both Ponant and Oceania here, and are offered at a cost for each line.
In places like Northern Europe and Scandinavia, Ponant offers both expeditions as well as classic cruise itineraries. In such destinations, guests can opt for the style of journey that suits them best. The decision might be just as much about the cruise style that you prefer as it is about the brand.
Deciding which line provides better value for you comes down to the items that are most important to you in your cruise experience, the fare inclusions, and the offers available with each line at the time of booking.
Ponant is a luxury line and this is reflected in the cruise price, with higher fares particularly where they operate expedition itineraries. Most Ponant accommodation comes with a private balcony, whereas guests can opt for an oceanview or inside entry level fare with Oceania which will bring the cost down further. Here are some other features to consider when you are weighing up the best value option.
If you are on an expedition cruise with Ponant, Zodiac excursions and shore visits are included in the cruise fare. In some destinations, additional optional excursions may also be available for purchase. Oceania does not include shore excursions in their price, so if you are comparing an Oceania cruise to a Ponant expedition, you’ll have to allow for the cost of onshore experiences with Oceania. On traditional style cruises, shore excursions also come at a cost with Ponant.
Oceania includes gratuities for Australian and New Zealand guests, however, Ponant does not include any gratuities. While there is no obligation to tip on Ponant cruises, guests have the option to leave an envelope in the box at reception at the end of their cruise should they choose. The gratuity (if any) is entirely at guest discretion, however, Ponant guide that this is usually in the vicinity of €10-12 per day per passenger.
Ponant includes an open bar for beer, wine and spirits complimentary. This does not include premium label spirits and champagne which guests can purchase at additional cost when cruising with Ponant. Oceania doesn’t offer alcoholic beverages as a standard inclusion, however, read on for their bonus offers that may see a beverage package included in your cruise fare.
Oceania’s OLife Promotion is a staple for the brand and allows guests to pick an additional perk to be included for free in their cruise fare. Guests can choose from three added bonuses, from complimentary shore excursions (number varies by cruise duration), a house beverage package, or bonus shipboard credit. Sometimes this promotion will include all three perks for eligible stateroom categories. Oceania also offers single supplement discounts on select itineraries, so keep an eye out for these if you are planning to cruise solo.
Ponant deals may also include complimentary excursions on select classic itineraries and single passengers can get some generous savings, with no single supplement payable on a considerable number of voyages. Cruise fares are also released at a 30% discount as part of the Ponant Bonus, and this tiered saving will become 25%, 20% and so on as spaces fill. Booking early will often give you the best cruise fare, and also means you won’t miss out on your dream cruise (whatever that may be!).
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