French 'Savoir Vivre' at Sea: Open Jaw on PONANT

Open Jaw Québec was invited to sail aboard PONANT’s Le Champlain, and discovered that it is a ship that thinks it is a... ship.

A member of the PONANT Explorers series, Le Champlain has no climbing walls, no race cars and no Broadway shows. Passengers are invited to be thrilled and charmed by the sea.

The Champlain evokes yachting, with sunbathing, teak platforms and balcony staterooms that make you reluctant to leave your room.

In both the private and public spaces, the decor is not bling-bling. The lighting is cocooning and the tones are soothing white, blue/turquoise and natural wood.

Pre-dinner aperitifs call for German microbrews and Veuve Clicquot as the captain mingles with his guests. And when it's time to sit down to dinner, half the seating is outdoors."You are on a yacht,” he reminds us.

Small Ships Have Their Privileges

Our Barcelona-Valencia-Palma de Mallorca-Mahon-Palermo-Trapani-Valletta itinerary didn’t put it to the test, but PONANT’s small ships can call in ports that larger ships can’t access. Even so, the yacht-sized Le Champlain was able to drop us off at the foot of the host cities, enabling us to wander off and on at our pleasure.

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And there’s another experience only a small ship can offer: a spontaneous swim in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, more than 100 miles from the coast of Sardinia, off the ship’s marina.

PONANT Advantages

  • Quality over quantity: fewer than 200 guests
  • All meals (and all ice cream emergencies...)
  • 24-hour in-suite service
  • Mini bar with alcohol in the cabin (refilled daily)
  • Drinks and wine included (at the bar as well as in the dining room, at all times, with the exception of certain premium brands and a la carte wines)
  • A la carte menu available at each meal + small buffet here + wok there
  • One-of-a-kind Blue Eye Lounge that evokes whales and offers a view underwater
  • Unlimited access to good Wifi (even at sea)
  • Mercedes coach transportation during land excursions

And Service 

  • Sommelier on duty on board (who doesn't mess around with the perfect temperature of the wines, even to the point of chilling your wine in hot weather and keeping a discreet eye on your table to ensure service without the guest asking for it)
  • Live music perfectly timed to the time of the performance and the location of the artist
  • ‘Surprise and delight’ moments: during our cruise, it was a swim off the marina in the heart of the Mediterranean
Le Champlain's 'Blue Eye Lounge' that evokes whales and sealife, and offers a view underwater.


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