PONANT, a leader in luxury polar expeditions and the only cruise line carrying the French flag, has announced the “Quintessential Collection,” a series of themed cruises designed to inspire travelers in destinations. Launching May 2019, the sailings include speakers and performances aboard the ship, and excursions ashore that embrace the local culture and theme.
Among the offerings are:
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 internationally recognized horticulturist for more than four decades 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 gala luncheon hosted by the grounds’ director.
Sicilian Food and Wine Experience (pictured above), June 28-July 6, 2019: Embark on a circumnavigation of Sicily joined by 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. Meander through the outdoor markets and enjoy the street food of Palmero, famous for its specialties including focaccia; and see ancient Greek Temples from 3600-2500 BC. Guests will enjoy dishes paired with wines carefully chosen by Wine Spectator – all under the guidance of local wine ambassador and educator, Marco Scapagnini.
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 “Myths & Legends” podcast will lead discussions designed for all generations about the region’s history, literature and culture. Flexible cabins are available to accommodate families, and activities including photo workshops and a mock Olympics competition on the original grounds are also on offer as part of the Young Explorers children’s program.
A Musical Odyssey in the Mediterranean, September 18-27, 2019: Explore Greece’s landmark sites along the Aegean, Ionian, and Tyrrhenian Seas. Visit Delphi, an archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage Site; and see the third-century Ancient Theater in Taormina aboard the new Le Bougainville. Michael Parloff, former principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for more than 30 years will lead a series of private recitals from world-class musicians, including flutist Jasmine Choi, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and pianist and composer, Michael Brown.
World War II History – From Hong Kong to Japan’s Inland Sea, September 27-October 10, 2019: Follow in the footsteps of American General Douglas MacArthur, who sailed from China to Japan to accept the Japanese surrender at the conclusion of the war. Walk along Okinawa’s beaches; hike the snow-capped 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.
World Affairs Cruise – Origins of Greek Civilizations, October 9-18. 2019: Travel into the heart of the ancient Greek world with ports of call in Athens, to roam 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 US Air Force general and former Director of the CIA; and Daniel Mendelsohn, internationally best-selling author and columnist for Harper’s.