25% Ponant Bonus
In alliance with Smithsonian Journeys.
This cruise is part of a collection of PONANT voyages that are specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers who want to engage with the world. In addition to the usual elements of the PONANT experience, the listed price for these voyages includes transfers to and from the ship, talks and discussions aboard ship by world class experts, and a shore excursion or activity in each port of call that encourages guests to embrace the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the local environment and culture.
This voyage in the heart of the Mediterranean explores four islands that, despite their differences, share a history of successive waves of civilizations that have washed over them from prehistoric times to the present. Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Byzantines, French, and Italians—all have left their mark on the language, art, architecture, and cuisine of Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, and Elba.
From Valletta, Malta, your discovery of these very special islands begins with three days on the largest of them, Sicily, as you visit the cities of Syracuse, Taormina, and Palermo. In Syracuse, which rivalled Athens as one of the most powerful cities of the ancient world, you may choose to explore the Roman Amphitheater of Augustus and the 15,000 seat Greek theater, or join a walking tour of Ortygia, Syracuse's old town. Or you may choose to travel to nearby Noto, a Baroque World Heritage site, now rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in 1990.
The beautiful resort town of Taormina, perched high on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, is home to a stunning Greek theater, an Odeon from Roman times, buildings blending Arab and Norman cultures, and villas built by European aristocracy in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is also a gateway to Mt. Etna and the vineyards that thrive in the rich volcanic soils of its slopes.
Palermo, Sicily's capital and your final port of call on the island, was founded by the Phoenicians in 827 BC and became one of Europe’s greatest cities in the 12th century, when the Normans took control. Here you may combine Roger II's Cappella Palatina, featuring dazzling mosaics and magnificent inlaid marble floors and walls, with a drive to nearby Monreale to explore its famed Norman cathedral. Or you may choose to focus on Palermo's famous markets and street food, or decide to travel along the coast to the resort town of Cefalù.
Cagliari, Sardinia's capital, is your gateway to the archaeological site of Nora. Founded by Phoenicians in the 8th century BC, it was subsequently taken over by Carthaginians, then by Romans. Explore the remains of Carthaginian warehouses, buildings from the time of the Roman Republic, a Carthaginian-Roman temple, large baths with splendid mosaics, and a theater, almost intact, dating to the time of the Empire.
You will want to be on deck as your ship navigates the narrow waterway that leads to Bonifacio, perched high on cliffs on Corsica's southern coast. Board a mini-train to transport you to the oldest part of the city, where you can stroll through winding medieval lanes of brightly colored houses and admire their fine Gothic architecture. Or you may prefer to explore the small archipelago of the Lavezzi Islands, a nature reserve famous for the Grotte du Sdragonatu (Dragon's Cave) accessible only by sea.
Portoferraio is the main harbor of the island of Elba, the last of the four islands on your journey. Most famous as the site of Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile in 1814-15, Portoferraio was founded by the Medicis in the 16th century. A walking tour of the town includes a visit to Villa dei Mulini, Napoleon’s home during exile, and is followed by a wine tasting and sampling of Tuscan mezze at a local vineyard.
Your voyage ends in Nice, France.
A voyage specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers including discussions with experts, transfers before and after your cruise, and an included excursion in each port of call. Engaging discussions...
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*Price is per person, based on double occupancy, based on availability, and subject to change at any time. The category of stateroom to which this price applies may no longer be available.
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Important trip details
Boarding conditions and passenger travel abilities
We invite you to read our boarding conditions and passenger travel abilities by clicking here.
Any new reservation implies the acceptance of these conditions.
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
Warning about the use of drones: the use of drones aboard PONANT ships, whether they are sailing at sea, at a port of call or anchored, is strictly forbidden. The use of drones on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is also strictly forbidden by international polar regulations. In other regions, it may be possible to use drones on land if permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities of each country and each region travelled through, as well as a pilot’s licence that should be obtained from your home country. Passengers are responsible for obtaining these permits; they should be able to present them at all times. Passengers who do not obtain these authorisations expose themselves to the risk of legal proceedings.
Ideal clothes for life on board:
During the days spent on board, you are advised to wear comfortable clothes or casual outfits. The entire ship is air-conditioned, so a light sweater, a light jacket or a shawl may be necessary. When moving about in the public areas of the ship and the decks, light but comfortable shoes are recommended.
In the evening, you are advised to wear smart-casual attire.
For women: simple dress, skirt or trousers, blouse, polo
For men: pleated trousers or chinos, sports jacket, shirt, polo
OUTFITS ON BOARD:
In your hand luggage, remember to bring any medicines that you need, and possibly a small spare bag of toiletries (in case of delay in the delivery of your baggage by the airline). Remember to always have your travel documents with you in case you need them: hotel vouchers, cruise vouchers, return flight tickets... Never leave them in your hold luggage.
All our cabins have a safe. We recommend not to go ashore with valuable jewellery.
Smithsonian Journeys is the travel program of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 21 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers, and libraries. Drawing on Smithsonian's resources dating back 175 years, these sailings will feature notable experts and experiences that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife. For more than 50 years, Smithsonian Journeys has been rooted in and focused on cultural immersion and discovery – with a goal of inspiring guests to become global citizens through travel.
Subject to withdrawal in case of force majeure
Embarkation 15/05/2024 from 16:00 to 17:00
Departure 15/05/2024 at 18:00
The whole of the Maltese capital Valletta is UNESCO World Heritage listed and occupies a peninsula in the north-east of the island. From the fountain of Tritons to Saint-Elme fort, there are as many majestic streets as there are narrow staircase vennels to explore. The painted loggia and carved corbels on the tall houses will accompany you in your explorations, and you’ll rarely be bothered by traffic. You can visit the Grandmasters palace decorated with coats of arms and frescoes. Saint-John’s cathedral and the ramparts which have guarded the city since the 16th century are also among the most emblematic sites of the city. Arranged in terraces, the Barrakka Gardens will punctuate your promenade with a green and floral experience.
Arrival 16/05/2024 early morning
Departure 16/05/2024 evening
Its undulating rocky coastline, the endless sandy beaches, the menacing form of Mount Etna which surveys its island like a patriarch, the flowery gardens on the hillside... Sicily lays out its varied landscapes like a shopkeeper displays his wares. Described by Cicero as “the most beautiful city in the world”, Syracuse was one of the most prestigious cities in Sicily and at her height was even a rival for Athens. A central city of Ancient Greece, it was home to a succession of civilisations, each of which has left their mark. The blend of Arabic, Roman, Norman, Byzantine and Spanish cultures makes Syracuse a town that is extraordinarily rich in fragrances, colours and flavours.
Arrival 17/05/2024 early morning
Departure 17/05/2024 late afternoon
Located on Sicily’s eastern coast, in the province of Messina, the seaside town of Taormina is Sicily’s Saint-Tropez, boasting heritage sites, secluded beaches and luxury shopping. You can visit its medieval centre, suspended 300 metres above sea level, where terraces offer a spectacular view of the Mediterranean Sea. Another vestige from its past are the ruins of the Greco-Roman theatre. This extremely well-preserved site attracts visitors who are fascinated by the natural beauty of the area which overlooks a turquoise bay.
Arrival 18/05/2024 early morning
Departure 18/05/2024 mid afternoon
Palermo is the guardian of the Sicilian soul. Many have been attracted to this city, the largest capital of the Italian islands. Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Normans... Palermo is a rich culmination of so many cultural influences as seen in the Moorish designs on the cathedral, and the Byzantine mosaics of the Palatine chapel, which is itself housed within the precincts of the Norman palace. You will fall under the spell of the palaces, baroque splendours that grace the town with their obsolete beauty. It is thrilling to stumble upon one of those fabulous markets, high in colour, and headily picturesque.
Arrival 19/05/2024 midday
Departure 19/05/2024 late afternoon
The capital of Sardinia, Cagliari, like Rome, is built on seven hills. Its Sardinian name means “castle”, in reference to the citadel, its historic centre, which dominates the city. The old ramparts are now pleasant panoramic terraces bordering picturesque streets. The city hosted the Nuragic, Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine civilisations before the rein of the Spanish Hapsburgs and the House of Savoy. The monuments of Cagliari bear the traces of these successive dominations, such as the Bastion of Saint-Rémy or the Sainte-Marie Cathedral. On the sea front, Art Nouveau-style public monuments give way to the Poetto beach, a magnificent stretch of sand that is 8 kilometres long.
Arrival 20/05/2024 midday
Departure 20/05/2024 early evening
The spectacular town of Bonifacio located on the very tip of southern Corsica, clings to a narrow promontory of white rock overhanging the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean. You can admire its limestone cliffs hewn out by the wind, before setting off on a cultural tour of its cultural treasures. From the little paved streets in the ancient Haute Ville, to the promenade on the open-air medieval chemin de ronde, this stunning town will take you on a journey back in time. Frequented or secluded, there are numerous beaches to choose from, all in keeping with the high standards of the “Île de Beauté”.
Arrival 21/05/2024 early morning
Departure 21/05/2024 mid afternoon
In the elbow of a creek on the northern coastline of Elba Island, a small corner of paradise awaits in the form of Portoferraio. As you approach its coastlines, you will make out the powerful and majestic contours of its Medici fortresses. Napoleon Bonaparte spent many of his 300 days in exile here. The Palazzina dei Mulini, his first imperial residence, whose gardens offer outstanding views of the sea, is a must-see. Historical treasures are followed by another kind of treasure, namely white sand beaches, and equally tempting local specialities including gurguglione and rice with cuttlefish ink.
Arrival 22/05/2024 early morning
Disembarkation 22/05/2024 at 08:00
Capital of the Cote d’Azur, Nice is surrounded by an amphitheatre of hills and mountains that protects it from the wind. You will probably want to explore the Promenade des Anglais, where you can sit on one of the famous blue chairs laid out opposite the baie des Anges. The Château hill is also a very pleasent place to walk. This is the entrance to the old city, with its bustling markets and regional products along the main street, the Cours Saleya.
PONANT has organized the following included program for you, which starts the day of embarkation.
Aboard your ship, an English-speaking lecturer will enlighten you about the culture and history of your destination to deepen your knowledge of the origins of local traditions, the history of emblematic sites, and stories involving famous personalities and those of major historical significance. During on-board lectures or on your shore visits, this expert will be there to share their precious knowledge with you throughout your PONANT cruise.