The best part of the Le Boreal was Captain Patrick Marchesseau. He loved wildlife and would often stop the ship for whales. (Read about it here). I saw a picture of our path when chasing whales and it looked like a 3 year old sketched a bunch of random, connected circles on a map. The ship has amazing maneuverability and we were able to approach the animals without scaring them or interrupting their activities.
The Captain was personable and available. I feel like we saw him at least once every day whether it was at dinner and when he would get off on land with the guests to explore the landscape. It could also have been the fact that the bridge had an open door policy. You could go visit anytime. We happened to be on the bridge when we spotted the killer whales in the middle of the ice pack. The ice captain wanted to continue on course but the captain wanted to go see the whales (or, um, dolphins). So we maneuvered through the ice – the two captains shouting out directions and got to have an up-close look.
Our captain also had an interesting brush with pirates while taking a ship through theGulf of Adren in 2008 (read about it here and here). I would travel about another boat with this Captain in a heartbeat.
The runner up in this competition was the Ice Captain. He was unique and had a lifetime of experience in the icy waters of the artic and antarctic. Most noteable, he was involved in the 1985 search for the titanic and was the captain on theBremenwhen it was hit by a 100 foot rogue wave in 2001
The boat behaved beautifully in the crazy ocean surroundingAntarctica. I can’t imagine making that trip on a boat that doesn’t have stabilizers! And we got to take tours of the gallery and engine rooms. Because the Le Boreal is designed for adventure cruises, the ship is prepared with its own desalination plant so it will never run out of water.
We loved our Cabin Steward, Harso. I feel like he was constantly cleaning our room. The second we left, he slipped in and straightened our towels and bedding and wipes down the bathroom. I want him to come home with me. Seriously.
We also loved some members of the restaurant staff – especially William in the restaurant andKrishnain the café.
William had our table set to our preferences. He put a reserved sign on it so that it was ready and waiting for us when we arrived (which is usually late, go figure). And hds three cheese plates with our favorite, blue cheese and a loaf of French bread instead of just the standard rolls. He included red chili flakes, balsamic dressing for dipping bread, and knew at least one of us will be getting vanilla ice cream after dinner.
Krishnaworked in the café upstairs and whisked your food away the second you lay down your fork. And he sang while working. He swore that someday he was going to be famous. Drat. I forgot to get his autograph. It might have been a good investment.
However, the wait staff is not informed of the ingredients of each menu item and if you want more specifics, you have to wait for them to run back to the kitchen to ask the cook. Even worse, the food is often served cold and you can’t make any modifications to any of the ingredients because everything is prepared in advance. And the wait staff (other then a few exceptional members mentioned above) are very slow.
The food overall has been more of an “eh” and “blah” then an experience you would expect on a French boat. To be fair, it got a little better but we don’t know if that is because it is actually getting better or if our expectations were lowered.
One Indian cruiser requested Indian food and the kitchen staff gave it a go even though they didn’t have some of the required spices or ingredients. It was really good and the cooks had to be creative and improvise. But the kitchen can even screw up spaghetti. I had it four times (because nothing else looked good) and it was good once, edible twice, and absolutely horrid once.
We were involved in several of the events on board the ship. My FIL was invited to dine at the Captain’s Table, we have been included in Marco Polo receptions with the Captain, and had several meals with members of the expedition team.
Let’s see. Our cabins – the Prestige Balcony Suite – were fine. They could have used more drawer space but that’s a flaw in the design. The location was fantastic – we considered the Panoramic Lounge to be our personal living room and the bartender, Teddy to be our best friend. Oh – and ladies, don’t worry about the hair dryer. It worked just fine.
Finally, I had a poor experience in the spa but once it was brought to the spa manager’s attention, I was offered a free massage and I’m happy to report, that one was much better! Although I wish you good luck scheduling or canceling appointments because the ladies of the spa speak very little English.