Ask any frequent cruiser and they will tell you a journey by sea is only as good as the ship and the itinerary. By that exacting standard, our upcoming sailing of Italy, Montenegro and Croatia aboard Ponant’s Le Lyrial is truly as good as it gets. This is due in large part to the intimate and luxurious experience Le Lyrial offers its 260 guests. Ponant was founded by Jean-Emmanuel Sauvée in 1986 to showcase “the art of traveling at sea in the finest French tradition.” The ship’s 140-person crew brings that dream to life, reflecting the indulgence, passion, and luxury of the French in every aspect of its five-star guest service.
Your five-star experience begins the moment you step onto this refined vessel and take note of the stunning main lobby in which each port destination is harmoniously reflected in the furnishings and décor. With intense deliberation and care, Jean-Philippe Nuel, designer of the Sofitel and Taj Hotels, has crafted a stunning visual masterpiece aboard Le Lyrial. Particularly striking is the two-story centerpiece sculpture depicting the rhythmic movement of a school of fish. With soft tones of grey and tan, mirrored surfaces, and inviting accent lighting, this space feels incredibly welcoming, similar to a boutique French hotel. In the main lounge, the muted colour palette gives way to contrasting brilliant and icy shades of blue, reminiscent of the ship’s Arctic and Mediterranean destinations.
Meals aboard Le Lyrial are an equally elevated affair. In the restaurant Le Celeste, breakfast is accompanied by champagne, while lunch and dinner are paired with the finest French wines available at sea. You are presented with rich and delectable course options, including octopus carpaccio, lamb tenderloin and a wide selection of desserts, such as Earl Grey panna cotta or pineapple carpaccio with lemon sorbet. On days when you’d rather do away with the pomp and circumstance, the buffet in La Comete offers an array of delicacies around the clock, including succulent meats from the carving station. The real treat of La Comete, however, is the open-air dining, allowing you to feel as though you are along the shore of the surrounding destination.
On a ship such as Le Lyrial, with countless amenities for you to enjoy, days at sea provide a variety of adventures to enjoy. In the spa, Ponant has partnered with beauty company Sothy to offer rejuvenating massage services, facials and scrubs. If you would prefer to cool off, select a refreshing cocktail from one of the ship’s many bars on board and adjourn to the pool for the afternoon. At night, the ship comes alive, with countless forms of entertainment across the decks. Whether you take in a show in the 250-person theatre, enjoy the crooning of a singer and his piano in the lounge bar, watch a performance by the talented and tantalizing dancers, or savour a premium tasting of the finest spirits aboard, there is something for everyone to appreciate.
Le Lyrial is our chosen vessel for the journey to Italy, Montenegro and Croatia because of how effortlessly the ship complements the rich travel itinerary. The journey begins in Italy, exploring the world-renowned flavors which have made Italy the envy of the culinary world. First we visit Lake Garda, followed by lunch and wine tasting in Franciacorta. We step through pristine gardens into a private villa in Isola del Garda to enjoy an aperitif. Dinner is in small, local restaurants to ensure that you have the opportunity to sample the most authentic Italian fare available.
Following our time in Italy, we board Le Lyrial in Venice and embark due southeast to explore the many small Croatian towns that line the shores of the Adriatic. Beginning with Korčula, we absorb the history of St. Mark’s Cathedral before sampling the delicious wares of local vintners: Posip, Grk and Rukatac. From there we travel on to the picturesque walled towns of Šibenik, Trogir and Split to experience the life of a Croatian firsthand. No itinerary in the Adriatic would be complete without visiting Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was once the hotly contested pearl of several empires. Finally, we let the scent of lavender overwhelm us in the aromatic port town of Hvar, enjoying the relaxing and reflective bookend to a journey full of exceptional experiences aboard Le Lyrial.
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