SHIP REVIEW: Le Lyrial of Ponant Yacht Cruises

Stepping on board the five star cruise ship the subtle hues and extravagant decor immediately set the tone of exclusivity and understated luxury.

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French cruise ship Le Lyrial is the complete package for those seeking intimate luxury aboard a cruise ship that feels like a private megayacht.

Launched April 2015, the 264-passenger Le Lyrial is the latest yacht in a four-ship series built for Ponant, a cruise line known for its remote and exotic itineraries.

Measuring 10,700 gross tons and built with an ice-strengthened hull, Le Lyrial is designed to navigate small ports, narrow waterways and icy conditions. The latter will come in handy on her northbound voyage from Durban, South Africa, on an itinerary that included port calls in Madagascar and the Seychelles.

Stepping on board the five star cruise ship the subtle hues and extravagant decor immediately set the tone of exclusivity and understated luxury. The ship’s small size is apparent as soon as you board, she feels more personal than the larger cruise ships common to the industry nowadays, but with just 264-passengers at maximum capacity, she is never cramped.

Le Lyrial reception


Le Lyrial main lounge

This is partly due to the surprising array of public spaces and facilities included in her design. Apart from two restaurants, Le Lyrial features three lounges, including the Panoramic Lounge and the Main Lounge, which functions as an evening entertainment venue. Daily lectures, cultural performances and movie showings take place in a separate onboard theater.

Le Lyrial also sports a sun deck and swimming pool, as well as a beauty salon, spa and fitness center. Other public spaces include an Internet cafe, a library, a marina for watersports, and an open-air bar by the pool.

Despite being built in 2015, this was the first time the ship, part of the Ponant Yacht Cruises and Expeditions brand, visited South Africa. It left Durban for Madagascar and the Seychelles on Sunday night after sailing from Ushuaia, Argentina.


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Her first port of call was Cape Town, then Port Elizabeth before making a stopover in Durban, where international guests spent their time exploring uShaka Marine World and stocking up on some South African souvenirs.

Known as one of the most rare and innovative yachts on the cruise market, Le Lyrial is able to navigate into little bays that bigger cruise ships cannot. The interior design has been inspired by various destinations that the ship visits, with colours ranging from the luminous delicate grey-blue of the Polar ice to splashes of the vivid turquoise blue found in Mediterranean coves.



Gym and boutique shops aboard Le Lyrial

Around 20 South African media guests were treated to fine French champagne and caviar on board as they explored the various decks, part of Ponant’s efforts to court the local South African cruise source market. Although the majority of passengers on her South African cruise itineraries were French, it is understood that several South Africans had forked out the R43 000 for a superior stateroom to R173 000 for an owner suite.

Le Lyrial’s suites are some of the largest available at sea, thanks to a design tweak to Deck 6 that gives greater priority to accommodation. As a result, she has fewer cabins than her sister ships in the fleet. All cabins offer ocean views, individually-controlled air conditioning, two twin beds (convertible into a king), writing desk, bathroom, closet, flat-screen television, minibar and complimentary French soaps. Balconies have two or more chairs, and some include a small end table.


Balconies aboard Le Lyrial are smaller than most luxury lines

If pushed for a criticism here, it must be noted that Le Lyrial’s balconies are somewhat cramped compared to even mass market cruise lines such as Carnival and MSC. It’s a different story for the Grand Delux and Owner’s Suite of course.

The eight cabin types aboard Le Lyrial

Superior: The superior is paradoxically named as it is the only cabin category without a balcony, but it offers more floor space than the deluxe; there are eight Superior cabins on Le Lyrial, each measuring 226 sq ft. Inside the room, you’ll find a chaise lounge, two bedside nightstands and a small table.


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Deluxe: There are 28 of the 199-square-foot Deluxe cabins, with interior floor space sacrificed for a 43 sq ft balcony instead. Each contains two bedside nightstands, closet and a small table, with the balcony where the chaise lounge would be in the superior.


Prestige: These cabins are nearly identical to the Deluxe rooms (except that the bathroom and closet are flipped here), but the 73 Prestige cabins are better located on-board and so cost more, despite offering all the same amenities, except the small table.

Deluxe Suite: The three 291 sq ft Deluxe Suites each have a 65-square-foot private balcony and a chaise lounge inside.

Prestige Suite: The 11 Prestige Suites offer two separate areas: The first functions as a bedroom, while the second is a living room with a sofa bed. This 388-square-foot suite also features two full bathrooms, two minibars, two closets, and two separate entrances to the 86-square-foot balcony.


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Privilege Suite: The Privilege Suite has a similar layout to the Prestige Suite, with two separate rooms, including a bedroom and a living room with a convertible couch and is the same size. Other amenities include a bathtub in the room’s only bathroom, a large closet, two televisions and two separate entrances to the 86-square-foot private balcony. There are eight Privilege Suites onboard the ship.

Grand Deluxe Suite: The 484-square-foot Grand Deluxe Suite on Le Lyrial includes one bedroom and one living room, complete with a convertible sofa and small dining area. It offers two entrances to the 109-square-foot balcony, plus two televisions, a mini bar and a large closet. The sole Grand Deluxe Suite also comes with two bathrooms, one of which has a ‘spa’ bathtub and double sinks.

Owner’s Suite: The single 581-square-foot Owner’s Suite is a series of three separate rooms, each with its own entrance to the 129-square-foot balcony. This suite comprises a bedroom, a living room with sofa bed, a dining room, two bathrooms (one with a “spa” bathtub and double sinks) and two large closets.

Dining aboard Le Lyrial

As mentioned, Le Lyrial has two restaurants neither of which have particularly appealing names: the Gastronomic Restaurant on Deck 2 and the Grill Restaurant on Deck 6. The food served in each, however, is as good as one would expect from a 5-star cruise line based in a country that gave the world some of the greatest cuisine ever known.


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On Deck 2, the Gastronomic Restaurant is the ship’s main dining room and serves up French cuisine and French-inspired international cuisine, with breakfast and lunch buffets. Dinners are full-service, with a dress code requiring country club casual to business formal.

The Grill Restaurant is the more casual of the two, serving breakfast and lunchtime buffets. It also offers al fresco dining with outdoor seating overlooking the pool (this area is also the only smoking area onboard Le Lyrial and other Ponant cruise ships). The Grill offers themed dinners nightly. The dress code at the Grill Restaurant is also country club casual to business formal.


Room service is also available 24 hours a day on-board Le Lyrial.

Categories: Reviews, Ship Reviews

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