|Ponant Cruises||Silversea Cruises|
|Where do they cruise?|
|What type of ships do they have?||Small & Expedition Ships||Small & Expedition Ships|
|How many passengers are on board?||184 - 270||100 – 608|
|What type of cruise line are they?||Luxury||Luxury|
|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||Silversea positions themselves as an all-inclusive line. However, there are some benefits that incur charges, such as shore excursions which are not included on classic cruises, and some specialty restaurants where surcharges apply|
|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||Additional gratuities are payable on spa treatments|
|Can I get any reciprocal loyalty club benefits?||No. Ponant Yacht Club only||No. Venetian Club only|
|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 6+ months (12+ months on select cruises/ships). Children under the age of five years are unable participate in any expedition excursions or embarkations that require the use of a Zodiac. An adult family member will be required to remain on board with their child(ren) during Zodiac excursions|
|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||Only on Silver Muse which has an activities room for children when 12 or more children sail|
|Is there childcare and/or babysitting?||No||No|
|What are the accommodation options?|| ||Oceanview & Balcony Suites. Categories vary between Classic ships and Expedition ships.|
|Are there accessible staterooms?||Yes|| |
|Are shore excursions included?|| || |
|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|| |
|Are there any onboard activities that I need to pay for?||No. All onboard activities are included||No|
|Is there free evening entertainment?||Yes||Yes|
|Is there any paid evening entertainment?||No||No|
|Are there complimentary dining options?||Yes||Yes|
|Are there specialty restaurants?||No||Yes. Meals in La Dame, Seishin Restaurant and Kaiseki Restaurant attract a charge|
|Are there dining packages for purchase?||No||No|
|Are non-alcoholic beverages included?||Yes. Mineral water, soft drinks, coffee and tea||Yes. Soft drinks, water, tea and coffee|
|Are alcoholic beverages included?||Yes. There is an Open Bar for beer, wine and spirits – excludes premium label spirits and champagne||Yes. Premium wines and spirits and mini bar is stocked with guest preferences. Some premium champagne, premium wine and spirit selections are available to purchase at extra cost|
|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||No|
|Is there room service?||Yes. Complimentary 24/7||Yes. 24 hour in suite dining is an option and there is a butler service for every suite|
|Is there Wi-Fi on board?||Yes. Complimentary||Yes. Complimentary Wi-Fi for every suite for 1 device at a time. Premium suites are offered Wi-Fi for 2 devices at a time|
|Can I purchase Wi-Fi packages?||No||Yes. Upgraded premium access packages are available for purchase|
|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. All ships offer a Fitness Centre. These differ in size and equipment between ships|
|Are there group fitness classes?||Yes. Occasional group fitness sessions may be offered and may incur charges||Yes. Circuit training is complimentary while Pilates and Yoga classes may be offered and incur charges. Services many differ between Classic and Expedition ships|
|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||On classic ships only|
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 and Silversea offer a broad range of itineraries around the globe. They each deliver small ship luxury cruises in mainstream destinations such as Western Europe and the Mediterranean, Japan, Central America and the Caribbean (among others). They both also specialise in luxury expeditions to more remote destinations, such as the Polar regions.
In Antarctica and the Arctic, Ponant will boast their Polar Class 2 Icebreaker Le Commandant-Charcot from May 2021. This innovative vessel will have the capability to break through ice to reach the Geographic North Pole. While itineraries are designed to use existing channels in the ice to avoid forced passage in this pristine wilderness, Le Commandant-Charcot is powerful enough to navigate its way through dense sea ice if necessary. Reaching the Geographic North Pole is a feat not possible in Ponant’s other vessels or any Silversea ship (or any other luxury expedition line), making these unique itineraries in the market.
For guests looking to cruise from Australia, Ponant has a collection of expeditions along the Kimberley Coast while Silversea has both Kimberley Coast expeditions as well as classic small ship cruises that set sail from Australia to Asia and New Zealand. Additionally, Silversea has expedition sailings around the Galapagos, a region Ponant does not cover.
Depending where guests are cruising, and the style of itinerary they are on, they can expect a different onboard and onshore experience. There is great emphasis put on the destinations visited on every voyage, so onboard programming will reflect this when cruising with either line. On classic cruises guests can enjoy destination inspired film screenings and lectures, while on expedition cruises specialists such as naturalists and scientists will join the line up. Ponant has a selection of itineraries that run in collaboration with National Geographic, where two experts from the National Geographic team (a photographer and a specialist from another field) will also join the existing Ponant expedition team.
When visiting well established ports on classic cruise itineraries, guests can look forward to excursions that showcase the local culture, history, cuisine, and iconic sights. Expedition cruises offer more active explorations, from nature hikes to kayak adventures and Zodiac cruises.
Ponant and Silversea run their excursion programs in a similar way. They include experiences on their expedition style itineraries where ports are lacking the infrastructure for independent exploration, such as Zodiac cruises in Antarctica. There are also additional optional shore excursions for purchase on some expedition itineraries, depending on the port of call.
On classic cruises where there is easy access to ports, guests can opt to explore independently or take advantage of the range of onshore experiences available for purchase with each line. These may last a few hours, or a few days, with both Ponant and Silversea offering multi-day excursions to delve deeper and linger longer in some regions. Silversea also prides themselves on their longer stays in port, with late night departures and overnights in a considerable number of destinations.
To facilitate expedition style excursions in remote destinations, Ponant and Silversea have specially designed ships complete with Zodiac fleets. Ponant’s icebreaker, Le Commandant-Charcot, has some particularly unique features and facilities. Equipped with a laboratory on board, guests on these voyages will get the chance to join excursions led by scientists as they undertake their research throughout the voyage. Thanks to its wide range of expedition equipment, guests can also choose from hovercraft, tethered hot air balloon, or snowmobile experiences (depending on the destination).
Ponant has a fleet of 11 small ships which accommodate 184 – 270 guests. Most ships undertake both classic cruises and expedition sailings, and it is only the Le Commandant-Charcot Polar Explorer which sails primarily in the Arctic and Antarctic. The other vessels are classified as Ponant Sisterships (Le Lyrial, Le Soleal, L’Austral, and Le Boreal) and Ponant Explorers (Le Jacques Cartier, Le Bellot, Le Dumont d'Urville, Le Bougainville, Le Champlain and Le Laperouse), all of which are versatile enough to deliver a luxury small ship experience in traditional cruise destinations as well as expeditions sailings in both tropical and polar regions.
Guests will find the same elegant styling across the fleet, with a focus on maximising space and natural light. Ponant strives to replicate the feeling of being on a private yacht with a relaxed atmosphere on board. Cruising a la Française, there is a decidedly French influence on each ship, from the bath products to the gastronomy. Guests can enjoy macarons for afternoon tea and Veuve Clicquot champagne served at gala dinners. Lectures are hosted for guests in both English and French and announcements are bilingual.
Every ship in the Ponant fleet is equipped with two complimentary restaurants, a theatre to host performances, lectures and film screenings, a fitness centre, pool, spa and salon. There are comfortable lounges to unwind in, with the Ponant Explorers boasting the standout Blue Eye Lounge. This space is inspired by the life of the sea and sits below the waterline with glass panels to showcase the underwater world. Guests can enjoy a drink, watch marine animals play beside the ship, and soak up the sounds and vibrations of the ocean in the multi-sensory Body Listening sofas.
Le Commandant-Charcot also has some unique spaces not found on the other Ponant ships. Those interested in science can spend time in the research laboratory, while there is no better place to take in the views of the polar landscapes than from The Blue Lagoon outdoor area complete with a heated swimming pool and a large fire pit.
Silversea has dedicated ships for their expeditions. The two smallest vessels (Silver Origin and Silver Galapagos) accommodate 100 guests apiece, Silver Explorer welcomes 144 passengers, and Silver Cloud and Silver Wind welcome just over 250 guests.
On each expedition ship guests will find two complimentary restaurants, a fitness centre, salon and spa, and a lounge area to host presentations, lectures, film screenings and expedition briefings. Facilities vary across the fleet, and the larger ships are equipped with more venues including a shopping boutique, the Connoisseur’s Corner with a selection of cognacs and cigars for purchase, and a pool deck on Silver Cloud and Silver Wind. Silver Cloud and Silver Wind also have two additional dining venues including Italian fare at La Terrazza and La Dame where multi-course dining experiences are paired with fine wines (fees apply).
Silver Wind operates both expedition and classic cruises, while the remainder of Silversea’s classic luxury fleet are considerably larger and cruise through more mainstream holiday destinations. These six ships welcome roughly 400 – 600 passengers aboard to enjoy the elegant décor, refined touches, and ample amenities. Guests can enjoy musical revues, theatre performances and feature films in the dedicated entertainment venue, be pampered in the spa, or mingle in the lounges on board. There is also a casino on board Silversea’s classic fleet which you won’t find on Silversea expedition ships, or the Ponant fleet.
There are more dining venues to choose from on the classic fleet, with between four and eight options depending on the ship. Most dining is offered complimentary, however, there is one for-fee dining venue (La Dame) on every ship and a surcharge will also apply for the Seishin Restaurant and Kaiseki Restaurant on select classic ships.
The ambiance on board Silversea is more formal than on Ponant cruises, with the full white glove experience and butler service for every suite (only offered to select Ponant suite classes).
Both Ponant and Silversea are marketed as all-inclusive lines. Guests can enjoy complimentary non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, onboard dining (except a couple of for-fee restaurants on Silversea’s classic ships), and Wi-Fi included. On expedition itineraries shore excursions are also included, however, on classic style cruises these will incur additional costs on each line.
One notable difference between the inclusions of Ponant and Silversea is their gratuities policy. Silversea includes all gratuities in the cruise fare (except those payable for onboard spa treatments). Ponant does not include any gratuities in the cruise price, and these are not compulsory. When cruising with Ponant, gratuities are completely up to guest discretion. It is general practice on a Ponant cruise to find an envelope in your stateroom at the end of your cruise, and you can leave it along with your tip at the box at reception should you choose. Tipping is customary, and Ponant guide that this is usually in the realm of €10-12 per day per passenger.
When weighing up which line is the best value for you, it is important to consider the offers available at the time of booking along with the benefits offered by each line. Special deals with Silversea can include an early booking discount, fly deals, or bonus excursions included on select classic cruises. Ponant offers may also include excursions on a collection of classic itineraries, and they have some generous savings for single passengers with a considerable number of cruises charging no solo supplement. The Ponant Bonus sees cruise fares released with a 30% discount, and there is limited availability at that sale rate. As more people book on any given sailing, the fares increase in tiers.
It’s recommended to book as early as possible to get the best value cruise fare, as well as to avoid missing out on your dream luxury small ship cruise.
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