This summer, Ponant revealed 21 of its itineraries will be led by experts from Smithsonian Journeys in 2023 to shed new light on a destination and deepen travelers’ immersion in a place - an art historian, a solar astrophysicist or an international relations expert, for instance.
Ponant will deliver the co-branded sailings next year and in 2024.
Departing from Valletta, Malta
Departing from Valletta in Malta on April 14, 2024, Le Champlain will make its way to the smaller Maltese island of Gozo to see the megalithic temples of Ġgantija and an adjoining archaeological museum, the sea and red-sand beaches. Then it’s on to the southwestern coast of Sicily, home to the commune of Porto Empedocle and the UNESCO-recognised Temple Valley - an archaeological site with temples dedicated to Zeus and other mythological gods.
Rounding the western tip of the island, the ship will arrive in Trapani for an excursion into the countryside, the ancient Doric temple of Segesta and the medieval hilltop commune of Erice.
Passengers will then move on to Sicily’s capital Palermo where Byzantine mosaics and baroque churches exist alongside artisan studios and modern restaurants. Activities there range from a tour of the Capella Palatina, a Byzantine-Arab-Norman structure with mosaics and inlaid marble floors and walls, or a drive to nearby Monreale to explore its famed Norman cathedral.
Views of Stromboli
The vessel will subsequently voyage to Lipari north of Sicily, which is the largest of the Aeolian islands and characterised by lava stone quarries, a dramatic coastline and a castle within a fortified citadel. Then, passengers will sail north to Stromboli, taking in panoramic vistas of the active volcano, before crossing through the Strait of Messina to arrive at Taormina. A visit to a winery on the slopes of Mount Etna — the largest active volcano in Europe— or a tour of Taormina town with its historic Greek Theater can be taken from there.
The final port of call is historic Syracuse where those joining the cruise will visit the Roman Amphitheater of Augustus and the 15,000-seat Greek theater.
The vessel returns to Valletta April 22, 2024.
Rates start at $6,500 per person.