Written by our advisor Debra Stern at our San Jose, CA location, this blog recaps her trip aboard Ponant Le Laperouse, their newest ship in Iceland. She sailed earlier this fall from Reykjavik and had a wonderful time!
Iceland has become a very HOT destination the last couple of years so it made sense for me to go! I decided to take Tauck’s Small Ship Cruise on Ponant on the newest ship in their fleet – Le Laperouse. I booked the trip over a year prior – before the ship was even built. It was a restricted tour so I could not use any agent discounts or rewards.
We flew United to Reykjavik via Newark from San Jose and arrived one day prior to the cruise start. Reykjavik is a very nice city with a lovely waterfront, interesting looking Opera House, average hotels and coastal climate. We stayed at the Hilton, one of two hotels Tauck uses. The rooms were nice but minimalistic. The water in the bathroom sink was too cold to brush your teeth in! As a fun side note, Iceland is 90% energy efficient using their Geothermal energy. The restaurant for breakfast was nice and we walked to the downtown area easily about 2 miles. Tauck clients were broken up into 2 groups at each hotel for the welcome lunch and our transfer to the ship.
Our ship was brand new this season. It holds only 180 passengers with 110 crew members. The ship was beautiful! The cabins had ample storage space and were nicely appointed. The food onboard was French influenced. Breakfast was a buffet with cooked to order egg dishes, lunch was either served in the dining room or pool side which had 3 or 4 items cooked to order with accompaniments.
Our ports included: Grundarfjordur, Grimsey (Artic Circle), Akureyri, Isafjordur, and Heimaey. We only had to tender once for Grimsey. We even saw an iceberg around midnight one night. The Captain announced this at dinner and if you wanted to be woken up you left your cabin number at the desk and they called you. We stayed up and it was worth it! Captain said it had broken off from Greenland. We circumnavigated it so all could see and they put a spotlight on it to light it up!
Tauck now offers choices of excursions in some ports. I chose more active excursions that included hiking. It is a physical trip so while you don’t have to be an endurance athlete, you should be able to walk between 3 and 5 miles a day. The lectures were given by the Tour Directors and were always followed by a BBC vignette either about what we had seen or what we would be seeing the following day.
Evening entertainment was varied and included a piano playing comic who was really good, musical numbers by the troop and a classical pianist. Most guests went to all of the events offered. The bar had a singer, piano/guitar player that entertained before dinner as well. There was also an underwater bar – Blue Eye Lounge, which is the first of its kind. The dress code was country club casual at night but half were dressed more formally.
Wi-Fi was complimentary and was pretty good. I had no connection issues although I overheard others having issues. If you ran out of minutes, all you had to do was go to the desk and they gave you more.
A few facts: there are no cows in Iceland – only sheep and horses. The horses there have 5 gates whereas most others have only 3, there are no trees (other than a few planted here or there). The country is VERY energy self-sufficient using geothermal energy for heating. There are pipelines visible in many places. Almost everything has to be imported (like Hawaii and Alaska). It is one of the most expensive countries in the world.
To learn more about this sailing or if you have other questions about Ponant, or would like to book this trip for yourself, please reach out to me!