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Scientific Cruising Returns: Smithsonian Partners With Ponant For Global Expeditions

Smithsonian Journeys, the Smithsonian Institution’s travel program, has tapped expedition cruise line Ponant for a select series of voyages for 2022. As the the world’s largest museum, education, and research organization, the Smithsonian’s travel programs present an unequalled opportunity for elevated, mindful, global-citizen-enhancing travel, offering notable ship-board experts, experiences that embrace local cultures and a distinctly deeper dive into each destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife. And Ponant, a cruise operator created in 1988 by officers from the French Merchant Navy to develop a new kind of luxury cruise/exploration option that takes science and sustainability as seriously as it takes luxury, is the first outside operator the Smithsonian has ever chosen to work with.

Nineteen departures exploring Antarctica, Japan, Iceland, the Mediterranean, the British Isles, the Great Lakes, Norwegian fjords and beyond, will debut from the partnership next year, and will provide opportunities to engage with a variety of experts, ranging from archaeologists and scientists to anthropologists and historians. 

Some highlights of the new program:

Panama and Costa Rica by Sea: The Natural Wonders of Central America, (Aboard the the 430-foot, Norwegian-built Le Champlain Explorer Vessel ) An eight-day cruise from Colón, Panama to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica, passing through the Panama Canal. Ports of call include UNESCO World Heritage site Darién National Park for treks through the wilderness; an exclusive hosted visit at the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City; and Carara National Park, home to over 10,000 species of plants, 300 species of birds and 200 species of butterflies. Departure on January 24, 2022 / 7 nights, 8 days; Starting from $4,410 per person

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Treasures of Japan by Sea (Aboard the glamorous 466-foot, Italian-built Le Soléal Cruise Ship) Sail from Kobe to Japan’s second-largest city of Osaka to explore how its rich heritage blends with the country’s industrialization and modernization. Highlights of the itinerary include an Udon-noodle master class at a Takamatsu cooking school; a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park; and a tour through Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens in Okayama. Departure on April 15, 2022 / 7 nights, 8 days; Starting from $6,180 per person

 Cruising Southern Spain and Portugal (Aboard the 430-foot Norwegian-built Le Bougainville Explorer Vessel and the 430-foot Norwegian-built Le Champlain Explorer Vessel) Explore the Iberian coasts from Lisbon to Barcelona, including a stop in Cádiz to visit the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. A highlight of this voyage is a private after hours visit to the Alhambra. Guests will continue to Palma de Mallorca for an island escape before stopping in Valencia, where its history meets modernity with stops at both the UNESCO World Heritage site La Lonja de la Seda and the cultural complex The City of Arts and Sciences. Departures on May 3 and October 30, 2022 / 7 nights, 8 days; Starting from $4,280 per person

Iceland Voyage: Land of Fire and Ice, (Aboard the 430-foot, Norwegian-built Le Bellot Explorer Vessel) This roundtrip cruise from Reykjavik includes five ports of call that show-off Iceland’s gorgeous, varied landscapes of glaciers, fjords, volcanic rock, basalt pillars and soaring geysers. Guests will head to Grimsey, the nation’s northernmost territory to experience the midnight sun phenomenon, before stopping at Heimaey, encased in a fortress of lava and home to 8,000 puffins, for an exclusive visit to the world’s first Beluga Whale Sanctuary. Departures on June 6 and August 8, 2022 / 7 nights, 8 days; Starting from $6,010 per person

The full list of Smithsonian/Ponant cruises can be viewed here.

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