A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT 

Set sail from Malta to voyage all the way around Sicily, encountering captivating towns from Palermo to Taormina, simmering volcanoes, and important Greco-Roman archaeological sites from Agrigento to Syracuse.

Starting at: $6,360 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The Greek temple of Segesta
 Valletta harbor, Malta
 Harbor scene in Valletta, Malta
 Temple of Concord, Agrigento, Sicily
 View from Erice
 Church in Erice
 Church interior, Erice
 View of Palermo from the water
 Palermo Cathedral
 The Palatine Chapel, Palermo
 The renowned cathedral at Monreale
 Stromboli island
 View of the bay and Mt. Etna from Taormina
 San Giuseppe church on the square Piazza IX Aprile, Taormina
 The Greek theater of Taormina with Mt. Etna in the background
 The Old Town of Ortygia in Syracuse
 The baroque cathedral of Ortygia, Syracuse
 Piazza near cathedral on Ortygia
 The Greco-Roman Theater at Syracuse

A Circumnavigation of Sicily

Round-trip from Malta aboard Le Bougainville or Le Champlain

8-9 days from $6,360

A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT 

Set sail from Malta to voyage all the way around Sicily, encountering captivating towns from Palermo to Taormina, simmering volcanoes, and important Greco-Roman archaeological sites from Agrigento to Syracuse.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

Step into antiquity as you cruise all the way around Sicily, discovering the extraordinary ruins of cities that flourished in the Greco-Roman era. On a voyage that begins and ends in Malta’s walled capital, explore numerous World Heritage sites, including the ancient Greek cities of Agrigento and Syracuse, the baroque town of Noto, and gem-like Ortigia. Sample local wines on the slopes of Mount Etna and on the island of Lipari, and enjoy a range of excursions to choose from along the way.

The Smithsonian Journeys / PONANTExperience: Each cruise will be accompanied by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts. An excursion or activity is included in each port of call. You may have a choice of excursions in many ports, so that you can delve more deeply into subjects that interest you.

Highlights Include

  • Valletta, Malta: Sail out of one of Europe’s most stunning harbors, the fortified city of Valletta. Be on deck to photograph the golden-hued city as you take to the Mediterranean Sea.
  • Archaeological Wonders: Explore the classical temples and colonnades of Agrigento, and see the impressive ruins at Segesta or Selinunte. Visit ancient Syracuse, where several millennia of history can be traced amid temples and vast theaters.
  • Palermo: Discover the World Heritage-listed Arab-Norman sites of Palermo. Admire the mosaics in the Capella Palatina in the Norman Palace, and travel into the orchard-covered hills to see the spectacular cathedral of Monreale.
  • Taormina: Take a walking tour of charming Taormina, and visit its Greek amphitheater. Or sample local wines on the slopes of Mount Etna, another World Heritage site, and peer into its volcanic craters.
  • Lipari and Stromboli, Italy: Tour the Aeolian Island of Lipari, and visit the Aeolian Archaeological Museum to see an excellent exhibit of ancient artifacts. Or enjoy a tasting tour at a unique island winery that uses ancient technology. Cruise by Stromboli in the evening, watching for activity from its active volcano.

2023 Itinerary

Map - A Circumnavigation of Sicily

Day 1 — Valletta, Malta

Arrive in Valletta, and enjoy a chance to see its baroque architecture on your own before boarding the ship. Settle into your cabin and find a spot on deck to photograph the golden-hued city as Le Bougainville cruises out of one of Europe’s loveliest harbors. (D)

Day 2 — Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

Your first stop in Sicily is Porto Empedocle on the southern coast. From here, travel inland to the World Heritage site of Agrigento, once one of the most powerful cities in the Mediterranean.  Here, seven remarkably preserved temples built in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. line a picturesque ridge in the Valley of the Temples. On a guided tour, learn about the purpose and mythology of the various temples; then spend time at the Museum of Agrigento, which houses one of the best collections of ancient artifacts on the island. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Trapani, Erice and Segesta, or Selinunte

Anchor in Trapani and choose from three excursions. Journey into the hills to the beautiful village of Erice, once a retreat for Trapani’s wealthy families. Explore its medieval streets on foot, admiring lovely homes, castles, and gardens and taking in views of the Sicilian coast far below. Continue to the ancient city of Segesta to see its magnificent Doric temple, standing alone amid grassy slopes, and the hillside Greek theater. Or choose to delve into Trapani’s 2,000-year-old tradition of sea salt production, following the Via del Sale to saltworks, windmills, and wetlands and visiting the Salt Museum. Later discover the dramatic history of Marsala on a walking tour, and sampling its namesake dessert wine during a traditional lunch at a local winery. Alternatively, venture to Selinunte, a vast archaeological site with an Acropolis that affords incredible views. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Palermo

Spend today in Palermo, a city that still bears the vestiges of its many rulers, including the Carthagians, the Romans, the Arabs, and the Normans. On a panoramic city tour, discover its unique Arab-Norman architecture, built at the height of the city’s prosperity in the 12th century and recognized as a World Heritage site. Then set off on one of three excursions. Follow a guide through the mosaic-clad Capella Palatina, then travel the orchard-covered hills to see the spectacular Norman cathedral of Monreale. Or stroll Piazza Bellini to the Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio Monreale to see its Byzantine mosaics, then delve into Palermo’s celebrated gastronomy at one of the city’s oldest food markets. Tour the Palazzo Conte Federico, where you’re hosted by Countess Federico herself, and enjoy a tasting of typical local street food. Or travel to the medieval port town of Cefalù for a walking tour including its Cathedral, covered in splendid painting and gold mosaics, and the excavations of Osterio Magno, where ancient edifices and ceramics from early Roman times have been discovered. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Aeolian Islands

Just north of Sicily lie the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago where evidence of human habitation goes back to the Neolithic era. Go ashore on the main island of Lipari, and explore the island, taking in volcanic vistas from a variety of viewpoints. Continue on a walking tour of the town of Lipari, dominated by an ancient castle, and visit the Aeolian Archaeological Museum to see artifacts from many centuries found on the archipelago. Or experience the island’s long winemaking traditions on a tour of the fascinating Tenuta di Castellarro vineyards, where excellent vintages are produced using ancient techniques. Enjoy a tasting accompanied by charcuteries and cheeses. In the evening, glide by the island of Stromboli where glowing lava can often be seen sliding down the slopes of an active volcano. (B,L,D) 

Day 6 — Taormina, Sicily

Poised on the Ionian Sea against a backdrop of craggy headlands, beautiful Taormina has long drawn writers and philosophers to its piazzas and winding lanes. Discover the town’s cathedral and the Palazzo Corvaja on a guided walking tour and visit the Greek Theater, where live performances still take place today. If you wish, take a longer tour of Taormina that includes an excursion to the hilltop village of Castelmola,  built around an ancient fortress overlooking the city. Alternatively, travel to the slopes of Mount Etna, another World Heritage site, passing through historic towns and villages.  See Etna’s inactive volcanic craters before heading to a mountainside winery with extraordinary coastal views for a tasting tour and a typical Sicilian lunch. (B,L,D) 

Day 7 — Syracuse and Ortigia, Sicily

Your final stop is Syracuse, an ancient city once so powerful it rivaled Athens and Rome. Follow in the steps of Aeschylus and Archimedes as you explore the archaeological park, which includes a Greek theater and one of the world’s largest Roman amphitheaters. Enter the Ear of Dionysius cave and and see the extraordinary collections of the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum. Instead, choose to discover stunning churches and palaces in the 5th-century town of Noto, a gem of Sicilian baroque architecture and a World Heritage site.  Or immerse yourself in the charms of Ortigia on a half-day excursion to this World Heritage-listed island. Delve into the island’s mythology and history as you explore its temples and piazzas, and stroll through the local market to get a glimpse of everyday life. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Depart from Valletta, Malta

After breakfast, disembark in Valletta and transfer to airport for your onward flight. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

2024 Itinerary

Map - A Circumnavigation of Sicily

Day 1 — Valletta, Malta

Arrive in Valletta, and enjoy a chance to see its baroque architecture on your own before boarding the ship. Settle into your cabin and find a spot on deck to photograph the golden-hued city as Le Bougainville cruises out of one of Europe’s loveliest harbors. (D)

Day 2 — Gozo Island, Malta

Just north of the main island of Malta, tiny Gozo is a harmonious combination of limestone villages, megalithic sites, lush valleys, and cultivated fields. Take in views of the island from the belvedere at Qala, then visit the village of Xewkija, where craftsman and masons produce Malta’s iconic golden stone. Enter the Rotunda of St. John the Baptist, home to one of the world’s largest unsupported domes. Continue to the Ta’ Mena winery to sample locally produced wines and typical Maltese snacks while overlooking the hills and coastline of Gozo. Or choose to take an island tour that includes the megalithic Ggantija Temples, a World Heritage site that predates Stonehenge. At Dwejra, admire views of the inland sea and Fungus Rock, then continue to the capital city of Victoria to visit the medieval basilica and the Gozo Museum of Archaeology. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Agrigento, Sicily, Italy

Your first stop in Sicily is Porto Empedocle on the southern coast. From here, travel inland to the World Heritage site of Agrigento, once one of the most powerful cities in the Mediterranean.  Here, seven remarkably preserved temples built in the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. line a picturesque ridge in the Valley of the Temples. On a guided tour, learn about the purpose and mythology of the various temples; then spend time at the Museum of Agrigento, which houses one of the best collections of ancient artifacts on the island. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Trapani, Erice and Segesta, or Selinunte

Anchor in Trapani and choose from three excursions. Journey into the hills to the beautiful village of Erice, once a retreat for Trapani’s wealthy families. Explore its medieval streets on foot, admiring lovely homes, castles, and gardens and taking in views of the Sicilian coast far below. Continue to the ancient city of Segesta to see its magnificent Doric temple, standing alone amid grassy slopes, and the hillside Greek theater. Or choose to delve into Trapani’s 2,000-year-old tradition of sea salt production, following the Via del Sale to saltworks, windmills, and wetlands and visiting the Salt Museum. Later discover the dramatic history of Marsala on a walking tour, and sampling its namesake dessert wine during a traditional lunch at a local winery. Alternatively, venture to Selinunte, a vast archaeological site with an Acropolis that affords incredible views. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Palermo

Spend today in Palermo, a city that still bears the vestiges of its many rulers, including the Carthagians, the Romans, the Arabs, and the Normans. On a panoramic city tour, discover its unique Arab-Norman architecture, built at the height of the city’s prosperity in the 12th century and recognized as a World Heritage site. Then set off on one of three excursions. Follow a guide through the mosaic-clad Capella Palatina, then travel the orchard-covered hills to see the spectacular Norman cathedral of Monreale. Or stroll Piazza Bellini to the Chiesa di Santa Maria dell’Ammiraglio Monreale to see its Byzantine mosaics, then delve into Palermo’s celebrated gastronomy at one of the city’s oldest food markets. Tour the Palazzo Conte Federico, where you’re hosted by Countess Federico herself, and enjoy a tasting of typical local street food. Or travel to the medieval port town of Cefalù for a walking tour including its Cathedral, covered in splendid painting and gold mosaics, and the excavations of Osterio Magno, where ancient edifices and ceramics from early Roman times have been discovered. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Aeolian Islands

Just north of Sicily lie the Aeolian Islands, a volcanic archipelago where evidence of human habitation goes back to the Neolithic era. Go ashore on the main island of Lipari, and explore the island, taking in volcanic vistas from a variety of viewpoints. Continue on a walking tour of the town of Lipari, dominated by an ancient castle, and visit the Aeolian Archaeological Museum to see artifacts from many centuries found on the archipelago. Or experience the island’s long winemaking traditions on a tour of the fascinating Tenuta di Castellarro vineyards, where excellent vintages are produced using ancient techniques. Enjoy a tasting accompanied by charcuteries and cheeses. In the evening, glide by the island of Stromboli where glowing lava can often be seen sliding down the slopes of an active volcano. (B,L,D) 

Day 7 — Taormina, Sicily

Poised on the Ionian Sea against a backdrop of craggy headlands, beautiful Taormina has long drawn writers and philosophers to its piazzas and winding lanes. Discover the town’s cathedral and the Palazzo Corvaja on a guided walking tour and visit the Greek Theater, where live performances still take place today. If you wish, take a longer tour of Taormina that includes an excursion to the hilltop village of Castelmola,  built around an ancient fortress overlooking the city. Alternatively, travel to the slopes of Mount Etna, another World Heritage site, passing through historic towns and villages.  See Etna’s inactive volcanic craters before heading to a mountainside winery with extraordinary coastal views for a tasting tour and a typical Sicilian lunch. (B,L,D) 

Day 8 — Syracuse and Ortigia, Sicily

Your final stop is Syracuse, an ancient city once so powerful it rivaled Athens and Rome. Follow in the steps of Aeschylus and Archimedes as you explore the archaeological park, which includes a Greek theater and one of the world’s largest Roman amphitheaters. Enter the Ear of Dionysius cave and and see the extraordinary collections of the Paolo Orsi Archaeological Museum. Instead, choose to discover stunning churches and palaces in the 5th-century town of Noto, a gem of Sicilian baroque architecture and a World Heritage site.  Or immerse yourself in the charms of Ortigia on a half-day excursion to this World Heritage-listed island. Delve into the island’s mythology and history as you explore its temples and piazzas, and stroll through the local market to get a glimpse of everyday life. (B,L,D)

Day 9 — Depart from Valletta, Malta

After breakfast, disembark in Valletta and transfer to airport for your onward flight. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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