Ponant, Smithsonian Journeys Announce 2023 Small Ship Expeditions

Ponant, in partnership with Smithsonian Journeys, has announced its 2023 itineraries. The sailings will feature archeologists, scientists, anthropologists and historians, besides offering immersive experiences that embrace local cultures, cuisine, language, environment and wildlife. This is the second year Ponant and Smithsonian Journeys will offer co-branded sailings.  

There will be 21 departures, with several new itineraries exploring the Arabian Coast, Australia’s Kimberley, the Mediterranean, the St. Lawrence River and Northern Africa in 2023. As part of the itineraries, Ponant will sail to ports of call never previously visited, including Ploče, Croatia and Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Among the new itineraries is Le Bougainville’s nine-day “Cruising the Arabian Coast” departing January 6, 2023. While traveling from Dubai to Muscat, Karl Eikenberry, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, will lead discussions centered around Middle East affairs. With seven ports of call, highlights ashore will include a visit to the Burj Khalifa; a tour of the Louvre Abu Dhabi; and the opportunity to discover Sir Bani Yas Island’s wildlife sanctuary. The ship will also sail through the fjords of Oman’s Musandam Peninsula, the “Norway of the Middle East,” where the walls of limestone cliffs plunge into aquamarine waters.

On-board the Le Lapérouse, guests opting for the 16-day “Solar Eclipse 2023: Indonesia to Australia’s Kimberley” itinerary departing April 9, 2023, will witness the total solar eclipse out to sea off the northwest coast of Australia—the only area of the world where the solar eclipse will be 100 percent visible. On April 20, 2023, guests will witness the natural phenomenon, which will be one of only five total solar eclipses remaining worldwide this decade. Accompanying the expedition will be Alex Young, solar astrophysicist who serves as an associate director of Science at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center located outside Washington D.C.

On the eight-day “Cruising from Morocco to Spain’s Andalusian Coast” journey departing April 20, 2023, aboard Le Dumont-d’Urville, guests can explore the Portuguese, Moroccan and Spanish coasts, traveling from Casablanca to Lisbon with a stop in Tangier, along the Strait of Gibraltar. A highlight includes a trip to Granada for an after-hours visit of the Alhambra.  After a visit to Marbella, the ship will continue to Cadiz, from which guests can travel to Seville, home to the oldest royal palace in use in Europe, the Alcázar de Sevilla. Discussions will be hosted by Alia Kate, North African international relations expert and founder of Kantara, a fair-trade design business specializing in Moroccan rugs woven in women’s weaving cooperatives; and Rafael Chacon, art historian who has twice walked the Camino de Santiago, the ancient pilgrimage route stretching over 500 miles across France and Spain.

On the eight-day itinerary “A Circumnavigation of Sicily” aboard Le Bougainville, guests will be joined by Albert Leonard, an archeologist who has directed excavations at sites around the Mediterranean during his career spanning three decades. Travelers will visit the Greek ruins in Agrigento, one of the oldest cities is Sicily dating back to 581 B.C., before continuing to Segesta, home to the unfinished Doric Temple. Guests can meander through the ancient (but still used) Greek theater from the third century B.C. during a stop in Taormina and see the Byzantine-Arab mosaics while visiting Palermo. The itinerary offers the opportunity for an evening sail around the Stromboli Volcano. The fiery crater spews fountains of glowing red lava every few hours and is best seen at night. The cruise departs May 4, 2023.

The 15-day “Symphony on the St. Lawrence: From Québec to the Canadian Maritimes” itinerary on-board Le Bellot starts in Toronto and ends in Gloucester, Massachusetts, exploring the waterways of eastern Canada and northern New England. Ports of call include the Canadian coastal towns of Tadoussac, Percé, Charlottetown, and Lunenburg, before heading south to explore the wildlife-rich ecosystem of Acadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. A musical program curated by Boston Pops Conductor, Keith Lockhart, will be performed by six musicians. Maestro Lockhart will conduct four exclusive performances throughout the sailing. The cruise departs October 16, 2023.

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