Ponant Je T’aime
When you think of nautical stripes, an image of French sailors should pop into your mind. There are 21 blue-andwhite horizontal stripes on their jersey, and it is as iconic and French as the Eiffel Tower. French sailors have believed throughout history that their bold stripes make them easier to spot should they ever fall overboard. But for now, let’s stay on board and turn our focus to the luxury French yacht Ponant’s Le Lyrial, which has the black-andwhite striped flag of Brittany on its forward mast. Everything about Ponant, and its Le Lyrial , is quintessentially French.
Think about the elegance and comfort of your favourite French boutique hotel, add to that cuisine from Michelin-starred chefs and a healthy dose of adventure, and you’re sailing on-board a Ponant yacht, billed as the newest fleet on the seas. The seemingly small ship delivers big-hearted service from the French officers and the international crew. Even in the elegance of the fine-dining restaurant, the service is warm and never makes guests feel out of place. It remains a mystery how our roomservice attendant, Michael, was as cheerful before dawn when he brought our coffee on a silver tray, as he was when we pass him in the corridors after a late dinner. With 144 crew members and a maximum of 244 guests, Le Lyrial may have one of the highest guest-to-staff ratios of any cruise ship on the seas, which would account for the perfect service. On leaving Cape Town, we got a taste of why the port is called the Cape of Storms. We were quite confident and felt very safe on board as this explorer-class ship was built to navigate the Polar regions, and was designed with two more anti-roll stabilizers than most pleasure vessels. If, like me, you’ve cruised on larger ships, you will know first-hand the confusion of finding your way around the ship, more akin to a small town. Le Lyrial is tiny by comparison to the giants that sail the seas, with just 122 cabins, 114 of which have balconies, so it hardly took a moment to find our way around. Our Prestige Stateroom was perfectly comfortable with the benefit of individual climate control, a state-of-the-art smart TV and vast selection of music and movies, plus an iphone docking station. When you open up the screens across the windows, you are treated to a grand view of the sea. Decor in the stateroom, and throughout the ship, is in contemporary hues of blue and white with wonderful linens, fabrics and feather-filled decorative cushions. As you’d expect in a fine five-star hotel, here too there is a selection of pillow types from a dedicated menu.
Although the majority of guests on our cruise from Cape Town to Durban were French speaking, all announcements were made in both French and English. There were two guest lecturers on board, a South African art expert, Desmond Colborne, and Luc Ferry, the former French Government Minister of Education, a published author and celebrated philosopher.
The first question when noting the over 1,800 km distance the ship will travel, is how the journey is eight days, but by air it’s a mere two hours. The answer is simple – a Ponant