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, Siracusa
 Piazza near cathedral on Ortygia
 The Greco-Roman Theater at Syracuse

A Circumnavigation of Sicily

Round-trip from Malta on the 184-guest Le Bougainville

8 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

2023 Valletta Optional Pre-Cruise Extension - 2 Days, 1 Night

Day 1 — Valletta, Malta

Arrive at Malta International Airport. You will be met at the exit of the arrivals hall. Look for the PONANT-SMITHSONIAN JOURNEYS sign or a sign with your name on it. Transfer from the airport to The Phoenicia Malta (or similar) and check in. Official check-in time is 3:00 p.m.

A local representative will be present at the hospitality desk in the afternoon to welcome you and answer any questions you may have.

Join your fellow travelers for a welcome cocktail reception this evening. An independent dinner is at your leisure.

The Phoenicia Malta

Day 2 — Valletta / Embarkation

Enjoy breakfast at the hotel. After check-out, depart on a walking excursion of World Heritage-listed Valletta, Malta’s fortified capital city located on a hilly peninsula between two natural harbors. Visit the Upper Barrakka Gardens to enjoy panoramic views over the Grand Harbor. Proceed to the 16th-century St. John’s Co-Cathedral and view Carravaggio’s famous masterpiece, The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, during an inside visit. Walk to the Magisterial Palace, today serving as the office of the president of Malta. Here, visit the state rooms and the tapestry chamber.

Board your coach and drive to a local vineyard. At the Meridiana Winery, enjoy a wine tasting of some of the country’s most delicious wines.  Proceed to a historic local restaurant for a lunch of traditional Maltese specialties. The chef will speak to you about Maltese cuisine and introduce the dishes that you will eat. After lunch, reboard your coach and drive to the Hagar Qim Temples, a World Heritage site. The temple complex dates to 3600 B.C. and is in a beautiful location on a cliff overlooking the sea. After a guided visit, transfer to the ship for embarkation.

Optional Extension Accommodation - The Phoenicia Malta

The Phoenicia Malta, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, is Malta’s most iconic hotel with a storied history spanning over 60 years. Surrounded by beautifully landscaped gardens, the hotel is situated in an ideal location just outside the walled city of Valletta and its 16th-century bastions. From the hotel’s front door, the historic wonders of Valletta, including St. John’s Co-Cathedral, are all within easy walking distance. The hotel boasts 136 rooms and suites combining old-world elegance and a fresh style. Its modern conveniences ensure a comfortable and luxurious stay.

Your program includes:

  • 1 night at The Phoenicia Malta (or similar), including breakfast
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the airport to the hotel on the scheduled program arrival day
  • Transfer and luggage handling to the pier on embarkation day
  • Welcome cocktail reception on Day 1
  • Breakfast and lunch on Day 2
  • Sightseeing and programming as noted in the itinerary
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Gratuities for the drivers and local guides

Your program does not include:

  • Transfer from the airport to the hotel on any day other than the scheduled program arrival day
  • Personal expenses and other services and meals not mentioned as included in the program

Please note:

  • It is imperative that your flight arrival details are communicated at least 30 days prior to the beginning of your cruise in order to secure your transfer from the airport to the hotel.
  • Early check-in and/or late check-out are available depending on availability and at a supplement. An additional night is possible, upon request and depending on hotel availability. Please, contact reservations or your travel agent for further details.
  • The official currency is the Euro. Credit cards are largely accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants.
  • The duration of the visits is given as a guide only, and the order of the visits may change.
  • This pre-cruise program is offered as a package. There will be no refunds for unused accommodations, meals, or excursions.
  • Program is offered on a space available basis and is subject to change without notice.

Itinerary

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)

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