Ponant Cruises has released the “Quintessential Collection,” a series of themed cruises with exclusive experiences and special guests that include notable American artists, authors and experts. Launching May 2019, the sailings include speakers and performances aboard the ship, and excursions ashore that embrace the local culture and theme.
Green and Gentle Lands: Exploring Gardens and Historic Sites, May 14-22, 2019: Guest speaker, Holly Shimizu, retired executive director of the United States Botanic Garden and well-known horticulturist, will lead discussions onboard while sailing to the British Isles, Belgium, and Norway. Guests will enjoy special access at Kew Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site home to more than 40,000 plants; Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanical garden founded in 1621; and the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, for a luncheon hosted by the grounds’ director. Sails on Le Boreal.
Sicilian Food and Wine Experience, June 28-July 6, 2019: The circumnavigation of Sicily includes guest lecturer, Mary Taylor Simeti, travel and food writer for The New York Times and the Financial Times, who has lived in the region for more than five decades. Outdoor markets, street food and ancient Greek Temples from 3600-2500 B.C. are all part of the excursion. Guests will enjoy dishes paired with wines carefully chosen by Wine Spectator – all under the guidance of local wine ambassador and educator, Marco Scapagnini. Sails on Le Bougainville.
Treasures of the Mediterranean World: A Family Learning Adventure, July 15-22, 2019: While traveling from Rome to Athens, Kathleen M. Lynch, professor of classics at the University of Cincinnati and Greek archaeology/mythology expert, and Jason Weiser, host of the “Myths & Legends” podcast, will lead discussions about the region’s history, literature and culture. Activities include photo workshops and a mock-Olympics competition on the original grounds—both of which are part of the Young Explorers children’s program. Sails on Le Lyrial.
History, Art, and Architecture Along the North Sea, August 23-September 1, 2019: The journey is accompanied by Till-Holger Borchert, general director of the Municipal Museum of Bruges. Copenhagen is the first port of call with a visit to the Louisiana Museum, offering a collection of art from World War II to present day, which is followed by six days on shore exploring exhibits in Holland and Belgium. Guests will visit the Groninger Museum, discover the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh at his namesake museum, and learn about Michelangelo’s Madonna, a marble sculpture crafted in the early 1500s in Bruges. Sails on Le Dumont D’urville.
A Musical Odyssey in the Mediterranean, September 18-27, 2019: An exploration of Greece’s landmark sites along the Aegean, Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas. Travelers visit Delphi, an archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see the third-century Ancient Theater in Taormina. Michael Parloff, former principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for more than 30 years, will lead a series of private recitals from musicians like flutist Jasmine Choi, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and pianist and composer, Michael Brown. Sails on Le Bougainville.
World War II History – From Hong Kong to Japan’s Inland Sea, September 27-October 10, 2019: This itinerary follows in the footsteps of American General Douglas MacArthur, who sailed from China to Japan to accept the Japanese surrender in World War II. Guests can walk along Okinawa’s beaches, hike Mount Fuji, and see the “floating” torii gate as part of the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima. James Bradley, expert World War II historian and son of John Bradley, who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, will lead discussions onboard. Sails on Le Laperouse.
World Affairs Cruise – Origins of Greek Civilizations, October 9-18. 2019: This voyage travels into the heart of the ancient Greek world with ports of call in Athens, to explore the ruins of the Acropolis and Parthenon, and Crete, home to the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. The voyage will be accompanied by Fareed Zakaria, CNN host and Washington Post columnist; Michael V. Hayden, retired U.S. Air Force general and former director of the CIA; and Daniel Mendelsohn, internationally best-selling author and columnist for Harper’s. Sails on Le Bougainville.