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The Smithsonian custom designs these luxury cruise ships

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TRavel can truly be a form of continuing education. For those lifelong learners among us, the world-renowned Smithsonian Institution has created a cruise collection enhanced with curated discussions and requested expert lectures intended to give passengers a deeper and richer understanding of the destinations the world visits. boat.

Smithsonian Journeys cruises were developed in collaboration with French small-ship expedition line Ponant, resulting in a slate of purpose-built voyages that promise to embrace local cultures and immerse themselves in destination discussions, both on and off the ship.

The programme, originally announced in 2021, was delayed by COVID but is up and running this year with cruises to Iceland, Norway, southern Spain, Portugal, the Arctic Fjords, Tahiti and the Great Lakes.

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As an example of who will be on board, during the Great Lakes cruises in September 2022 and October 2023, passengers will hear from Frederick Stonehouse. He is an experienced sailor and the author of more than 30 books on maritime history, including the best-selling The wreck of the Edmund Fitzgeraldabout a notorious shipwreck in the Great Lakes.

In addition to the illustrated talks, another big draw is the included tailored shore excursions at each port of call. They include the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse in northwestern Australia, explore the extensive art collection at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and a private after-hours tour of Spain’s Alhambra fortress complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. the UNESCO. Add to that the fact that Ponant’s ships carry fewer than 200 passengers, so experiences will be intimate and personalized—guests will never feel lost in a crowd.

By 2023, Smithsonian Journeys will sail 21 sailings to destinations around the world. These are some of the most prominent.

Sailing along the Arabian coast from Dubai to Muscat

This eight-night January 2023 itinerary stops at seven ports of call during which passengers will visit sites like the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and explore the Louvre Abu Dhabi, with more than 600 works spread across 23 galleries. Passengers will also cruise to a spectacular natural attraction, where limestone cliffs meet aquamarine water in the fjords of Oman’s Musandam Peninsula, which has been called the “Norway of the Middle East.” The rates for this navigation are from $7,290 per person.

Enrichment: Karl Eikenberry, former US Ambassador to Afghanistan, will lead discussions focused on Middle Eastern issues, with the goal of helping passengers develop a more nuanced understanding of the region.

A Solar Eclipse of 2023: From Indonesia to the Kimberley in Australia

Visit Australia's Kimberley region on this solar eclipse-themed cruise.

This sailing in April 2023 will offer the opportunity to witness a total solar eclipse at sea off the northwestern coast of Australia, the only place in the world where the eclipse will be 100 percent visible. The 15-night sailing is from Bali to the Komodo Islands, home to famous dragons, and then to Australia’s rugged Kimberley region. Rates from $20,480.

Enrichment: On board will be Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist who serves as associate director of science at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center outside Washington, DC.

Sailing from Morocco to the Andalusian Coast of Spain

A visit to the Real Alcázar of Seville is a highlight.

Explore the Portuguese, Moroccan and Spanish coasts in April 2023, sailing from Casablanca to Lisbon. Highlights on land include a trip to Granada for an exclusive private tour of the Alhambra after hours. From Cádiz, guests will travel to Seville, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, a former royal palace. Fares for the seven-night trip start at $4,530.

Enrichment: Alia Kate, international relations expert from North Africa and founder of Kantara, a fair trade design company specializing in Moroccan rugs from cooperatives of women weavers, and Rafael Chacón, an art historian who has walked the Camino de Santiago twice, the ancient pilgrimage route that stretches more than 500 miles through France and Spain, will illuminate the cultural aspects of the places for cruisers.

A circumnavigation of Sicily

An archaeologist will be on hand to provide details about the ancient theater in Taormina.

Spend a week getting to know Sicily in depth through the eyes of a leading archaeologist. The exploration will include a visit to the well-preserved Greek ruins at Agrigento, one of the oldest cities in Sicily, dating back to 581 BC. C. Then continue to Segesta, home to the unfinished Doric temple. Passengers will also have access to the ancient Greek theater in Taormina and see the Byzantine Arab mosaics in Palermo. On an overnight sail, glimpse lava flowing from the active Stromboli volcano. Fares for this eight-day voyage start at $5,370.

Enrichment: Passengers will have the opportunity to discuss the sites they are visiting with Albert Leonard, an archaeologist who has led excavations throughout the Mediterranean during his 30-year career.

Symphony on the Saint Lawrence: From Quebec to Canadian Maritimes

Canada's allure is enhanced by music with Keith Lockhart.

Sail from Toronto to Gloucester, Massachusetts in October 2023, and spend 14 nights exploring eastern Canada and northern New England, with a musical twist. This cruise visits Canadian coastal cities, including Charlottetown, on Prince Edward Island (of Anne of Green Gables fame) and Arcadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine. Added bonus: Legendary Boston Pops manager Keith Lockhart will be performing on board. Rates from $11,860.

Enrichment: The musical program is curated by Lockhart and features four exclusive performances by six musicians and directed by the maestro himself.

>> Next: The case for sailing the Middle East, one of the most underrated cruise destinations

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