Wild Earth Travel’s new Communications Specialist, Amy, recently had the exciting opportunity to visit the French cruise ship L’Austral.
L’Austral is fitted with every bell and whistle under the sun. You can expect nothing less than travelling in true style when experiencing cruising on L’Austral.
With personal intimate touches such as butlers in every cabin on Deck 6, wheelchair access conveniently located on every staircase and personable, friendly staff. This ship is designed to make everyone feel like a guest rather than a passenger.
Embarking on the L’Austral was made a breeze thanks to the shallow stepped gangway, the welcome made even more pleasant with a warm 'bonjour!' as staff greeted us all as if we were off on our own real voyage! My first impression was the vertically suspended crystal art ‘fountain’ in the lobby- this is how I knew this ship does nothing by halves.
The visit kicked off with a presentation by the operations team in the theatre, a lavish space for expeditioners to enjoy lectures, shows and other live entertainment. The company pride themselves on their expert team, guides and naturalists who are experienced in expedition cruising and extremely knowledgeable with their remote destinations that are typically inaccessible via big liners.
A charming French host took us on a tour of the rest of the ship where we passed by the lobby, excursion desk and reception, down to the Gastronomy Restaurant. Inspired by French Brasserie cuisine, French chefs create A’ la carte meals for guests every night. The more formal dining setting of the two, the venue is dressed in classic neutral tones and flaunts top-shelf French cru wines in a glass wall-sized shelf.
Passing the impressive oceanic themed artwork in the halls we made our way through to the lounge areas. The main lounge located on Deck 3 neighbouring the ship’s shop is a sophisticated, contemporary space with a bar and piano area. Quite an ambient spot for a nightcap.
The second lounge, the Panoramic Lounge, accommodates the best views in the house backing on to the panoramic terrace located on Deck 5 and has plenty of prime seating and another bar area (no lack of drink depots around here).
I noted while being on the L’Austral it was a pleasant surprise to see that even though you may be in the company of potentially 130 other guests you can easily still find your own mindful space. Be it for work or to dive into a good book- there are a lot of ‘nooks’ on board for guests to escape into their own downtime.
We made our way up to Deck 5 where there is a photo studio. Photographers on board capture individual moments from each trip and then guests have the option of purchasing these pictures (a rather nice touch to take the pressure off those who don’t rate their own camera handy work). Another handy addition in this area is the ‘Kids Zone’ stacked with books, movies, entertainment and games galore that should suffice for a couple of hours to give Mum and Dad some Rn’R. Please note: L’Austral normally doesn’t have very many children on board.
We continued through the photo desks to Sothy’s Spa derived from the French beauty house. Complete with a hair salon, steam room, fitness centre and spa treatments you can rest assured that you have the option to experience the ultimate pampering treatment- nautical style.
We arrived up at the pool deck hosting plenty of sun lounges that then follows through to the outdoor tables of the Grill Restaurant and on to the second dining venue. The Grill Restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere with gourmet & varied cuisine. Themed lunch and dinner buffets are organised for guests every day.
From the top, you can certainly expect to have your own ‘movie moment’ as there is an impressive spiralling staircase straight from the open-air bar to the pool area.
The top deck is expedition ready with zodiacs, and the open air bar doubles up as a piano bar come dusk and a second sunning area waits at the back for those who just can’t get enough vitamin c!
Over far too soon we enjoyed a quick glass of Veuve before disembarking back to earth (literally) and watching L’Austral voyage on with its lucky guests bound for Sydney…