Le Lyrial, the newest ship in France-based cruise line Ponant's fleet, had her inaugural sail in May 2015. The mega-yacht has only 122 staterooms, yet all the facilities of a larger vessel: theater, spa, fitness center, and open-air bar. The décor is white, silver, and blue — inspired by Mediterranean hues and the constellation Lyra, after which the ship was named.
What We Love
All Ocean-View Staterooms: Every one of Le Lyrial’s staterooms and suites offers sea views, and most have balconies with floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors.
Dining Choices: Some smaller ships only keep one restaurant open for most meals, but on Le Lyrial, passengers have a choice of casual or formal dining for breakfast, lunch, and dinner almost every day — plus 24-hour complimentary room service.
Best Known For
French Flair: From the wine list and menus to the textiles and luxury product partnerships, this cruise ship is French in every way. It looks and feels chic, and fits in perfectly with the stunning mega-yachts in ports like Monaco and Corsica.
Antarctic Expeditions: As lovely as Le Lyrial is, she’s designed for heavy seas and extreme conditions. After spending her inaugural summer cruising the Mediterranean, the ship repositioned to sail the South America-Antarctica route from mid-November through early January.
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Who It's Best For
Francophiles: If you like the style and joie de vivre of French culture, you’ll enjoy this ship. A sophisticated party atmosphere pervades, with kids in the cocktail lounge at 7 p.m. and 60-year-olds — looking stunning in little black dresses — dancing to EDM after midnight.
Health-Minded Cruisers: The blocks of French butter served with every meal notwithstanding, this ship does make it possible to be healthy while cruising. There’s a decent-sized fitness center and a full-service spa, relatively small portions at formal meals, and plenty of activities that don’t involve eating or drinking.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Set Menus: During formal dinners in the gastronomic restaurant, you pretty much can't veer away from the options on the set menu. Although Ponant says its restaurant managers are happy to assist with special dietary needs, a request for a grilled chicken breast and to mix and match the vegetarian and regular menus were both met with “No, it's not possible.” The casual restaurant on deck six is far more accommodating.
Be Wary of the Wi-Fi: It's expensive, unreliable, and uses an archaic login/password system. Avoid it or use it sparingly — no matter how much you want to stay in touch with people back home.
Lena Katz is a New York-based contributor to ShermansCruise who has also written for Brides.
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Le Lyrial at a Glance
- Line: Ponant
- Number of Passengers: 264
- Ship Size: Small
- Launch Date: 2015
- Chobe River
- Eastern Mediterranean
- Repositioning Cruises
- Southeast Asia
- The Black Sea
- The Canary Islands & Azores Islands
- Trans-Atlantic Crossings
- Western Mediterranean