The Smithsonian is partnering with Ponant cruise line for the epic sailings.

By Alison Fox
May 05, 2021
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Small ship cruise line Ponant is teaming up with the travel program of the Smithsonian Institution to bring explorers on over-the-top sailings steeped in history and focused on cultural immersion.

The brand new partnership, which the companies shared with Travel + Leisure, will focus on expeditions in 2022 traversing the globe from Antarctica and Iceland, to the Mediterranean and Japan. Onboard, experts like archaeologists, scientists, anthropologists, and historians will be on hand to enrich the experience in each destination.

"As travel begins to resume, we believe guests will be more interested than ever in meaningful and enriching experiences that help to better interpret and understand the places they're exploring," Lynn Cutter, the senior vice president for Smithsonian Travel, told T L.

Take an udon noodle master class in Japan before strolling through a garden constructed during the early Edo period, and visit Hiroshima's Peace Memorial Park from the 264-guest Le Soléal ship. Or keep your eyes peeled for polar bears and walruses as you head out along the Svalbard archipelago with naturalist guides from the Le Boreal ship.

PONANT ship
Credit: Courtesy of PONANT

Curious to explore more of North America? Head out along the Great Lakes on an 8-day journey from Lake Ontario to Lake Michigan, taking in the majesty of Niagara Falls along the way.

"PONANT has been a pioneer in immersing travelers in destinations in meaningful ways for more than 30 years," Navin Sawhney, the chief executive officer for the Americas for Ponant, told T L. "We are proud to launch a collaboration with Smithsonian Journeys, the enduring leader in cultural enrichment, to continue to deliver unparalleled experiences alongside guides that have traversed the globe for decades and top experts in their field."

These journeys aren't scheduled until 2022, but Ponant has implemented COVID-19 safety protocols in the meantime, including requiring all passengers and crew members over 16 years old to be vaccinated at least 14 days before boarding a ship. In addition, all passengers are required to show proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of embarkation and all luggage will be disinfected before bringing it on board.

Alison Fox is a contributing writer for Travel + Leisure. When she's not in New York City, she likes to spend her time at the beach or exploring new destinations and hopes to visit every country in the world. Follow her adventures on Instagram.