A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT
Set sail on the Aegean Sea, exploring important World Heritage sites from Patmos to Delos and visiting gem-like isles in three different island groups: the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and the Saronics.  

Starting at: $4,520 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Village atop the cliffs of Santorini  The Acropolis of Athens  The Parthenon, on the Acropolis   The caryatids on the Temple of Erechtheion on the Acropolis   Ancient lion statue on Delos  The lions of Delos  The port area on Mykonos  Traditional houses on Mykonos  Santorini, Greece.  Credit: Zachary Duffy  The view from the cliff-top on Santorini  View from the village of Fira on Santorini.  Credit: KJ DiLuigi

Cruising the Greek Islands of the Southern Aegean

Round-trip from Athens Aboard the 184-guest Le Jacques Cartier or Le Bougainville

8 days from $4,520

A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT
Set sail on the Aegean Sea, exploring important World Heritage sites from Patmos to Delos and visiting gem-like isles in three different island groups: the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and the Saronics.  

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Extension

Pre-Cruise Program2 Days, 1 Night

Athens is the birthplace of democracy and philosophy and home to the most enduring symbol of classical civilization—the Parthenon. Join this specially designed program to explore the incomparably rich legacy of this amazing city.

Day 1 – Athens, Greece

Arrive at Athens International Airport, where you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Grande Bretagne. A local representative will be present at the hospitality desk in the afternoon to welcome you and to offer suggestions for dining and independent exploration. Join fellow travelers this evening for a welcome cocktail reception. Dinner is on your own.

Hotel Grande Bretagne

Day 2 – Athens | Embark

After breakfast at the hotel, your first visit will be at the New Acropolis Museum, opened to the public in 2009 and designed to house and showcase all of the artifacts found on the Acropolis since archaeological work at the site began. The result is the exhibition of some 4,000 objects dating from the Greek Bronze Age through the Roman and Byzantine periods. Your tour of the Acropolis itself includes the Propylaea, which serves as the entrance to the complex, the Temple of Athena Nike, or Wingless Victory, and the Erechtheum with its classical Porch of Maidens. And of course, there is the Parthenon, the most perfect example of classical architecture in the world, designed as a shrine to Athena and at one time housing a massive gold and ivory statue of the warrior goddess. At the end of this tour, enjoy time at leisure to stroll the pedestrian walkways of the Plaka, the ancient neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis, where you will find a variety of shops and cafés where you can browse and have an independent lunch before boarding your coach for the transfer to the pier to embark your ship.

Your hotel:

Located in historic Syntagma Square, the 5-star Hotel Grande Bretagne is the perfect venue for a visit to Athens. Within walking distance of exclusive shopping areas, museums, and the business district, the hotel boasts 320 rooms and suites, two restaurants, and a spa. Its views of the city center, from the Parliament building to the Parthenon, are unrivaled.

Your program includes:

  • 1 night at the Hotel Grande Bretagne (or similar)
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the airport to the hotel on the scheduled program arrival day
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the hotel to the ship on embarkation day
  • Welcome cocktail reception on Day 1
  • Breakfast 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 widely accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants.
  • 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.
  • Program is subject to change without notice.
Activity Level

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active


Ocean-going cruise that may pull into a pier for embarkation and shore excursions and may use tenders at some ports. Excursions will be at a moderately active pace during the morning or afternoon. Some days will require early morning departures (8:00 or 8:30 a.m.). Daily activities of two to three hours each day. Most touring is done on foot and include standing and walking for periods of time (up to two or three hours) during outdoor activities and tours, city tours, and museum visits. Walking two to three miles will be over sometimes difficult terrain, such as cobblestones in towns, steps at monasteries, and some archaeological sites.   

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit, lead active lives, are comfortable participating in several hours of daily activities, and expect some physical exertion. 

Ship

Le Bougainville

Launched in 2019, Le Bougainville is among a new fleet of luxury expedition ships launched by PONANT, along with sister ship Le Dumont d'Urville. These ships combine revolutionary design and a new standard of luxury.

Spacious, Ocean-view Suites and Staterooms
Each of the 92 elegant suites and staterooms features a private balcony, while Grand Deluxe Suites have a bay window and spacious private terrace. The deluxe, air-conditioned staterooms and suites (up to 484 square feet) have two twin beds that convert to one queen-size bed. Each cabin has a private bathroom with shower (bathtub in a limited number of staterooms) and the luxurious amenities of a fine hotel, including individual climate control, satellite flat-screen television, wireless Internet access, safe, minibar, full-length closet, writing desk/dressing table, and plush robes.

Chic and Casual Dining
International and regional cuisine is served in the stylish, spacious indoor-outdoor restaurant in a single, unassigned seating; at the casual pool deck grill; or from 24-hour room service. Continental and buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea, and a four-course dinner are served daily. Wine is served at your table during lunch and dinner and complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included throughout the cruise.

Spacious Public Areas, Intimate Atmosphere, and World-Class Service
The warm and inviting public areas accommodate all passengers comfortably. Enjoy sweeping views from the Observation Lounge and Main Lounge, both of which open to the outdoors, and lectures, cultural performances, or film screenings in the state-of-the-art theater. For your convenience, Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship.

The ship also features the first luxury underwater observatory, the Blue Eye, a multisensory underwater observation lounge that incorporates decor and technology to immerse you in the beauty of the ocean's ecosystem. Here, you can observe fascinating marine life through the large subaquatic windows while digital screens and the specially designed global listening system relay the sights and sounds beneath the ocean surface. 

Other amenities aboard ship are a Sun Deck, swimming pool, beauty salon, spa and sauna, fitness room, and two elevators. In addition, there is a three-level marina platform with complimentary kayaking and snorkeling equipment, as well as 10 easily accessible Zodiacs. 

The highly trained, English-speaking international crew are personable and attentive, and the ship has an infirmary staffed with a doctor and nurse.

Respect for the Environment
The newest additions to a fleet that has been awarded the prestigious "Clean Ship" designation, a rarity among ocean-cruising vessels, these expedition ships are designed with energy efficient, advanced eco-friendly features that protect fragile marine ecosystems while providing a safe and comfortable voyage. 

Le Jacques Cartier

Le Jacques Cartier, launched in 2020 by PONANT, ushers in a new generation of five-star small ships, combining revolutionary design and a new standard of luxury for unparalleled cruising. Dock in smaller ports inaccessible to larger ships and where authentic cultural experiences and majestic scenery await you.

Respect for the Environment

The newest addition to the Ponant “clean ship” fleet, a prestigious certification among ocean‑cruising vessels, Le Jacques Cartier is energy efficient and eco‑friendly, protecting fragile marine ecosystems while providing a safe and comfortable voyage.

Chic and Casual Dining

Dine indoors or alfresco on international and regional cuisine served in the stylish, spacious indoor‑outdoor restaurant, at the casual pool deck grill or from 24‑hour room service. Daily meals include continental and buffet breakfasts, buffet lunch, afternoon tea, and four‑course dinner.

92 Elegant Suites and Staterooms, 100% with Private Balconies

Each five‑star stateroom and suite (up to 484 square feet) features a private balcony. Grand Deluxe Suites have a bay window and spacious private terrace. Accommodations offer two twin beds or one queen bed, private bathroom with shower, individual climate control, and luxurious hotel amenities.

Life on Board

Enjoy sweeping views from the lounges, which open to the outdoors, and lectures, cultural performances, or film screenings in the state‑of‑the‑art theater. Relax in the spa and sauna or the Sun Deck’s infinity‑style swimming pool. There is a beauty salon, fitness room, and three elevators. Complimentary Wi‑Fi is available throughout the ship.

World-Class Service

The highly trained, English‑speaking crew are personable and attentive, and the ship has a medical center staffed with a doctor and nurse.

Le Bougainville

Launched in 2019, Le Bougainville is among a new fleet of luxury expedition ships launched by PONANT, along with sister ship Le Dumont d'Urville. These ships combine revolutionary design and a new standard of luxury.

Spacious, Ocean-view Suites and Staterooms
Each of the 92 elegant suites and staterooms features a private balcony, while Grand Deluxe Suites have a bay window and spacious private terrace. The deluxe, air-conditioned staterooms and suites (up to 484 square feet) have two twin beds that convert to one queen-size bed. Each cabin has a private bathroom with shower (bathtub in a limited number of staterooms) and the luxurious amenities of a fine hotel, including individual climate control, satellite flat-screen television, wireless Internet access, safe, minibar, full-length closet, writing desk/dressing table, and plush robes.

Chic and Casual Dining
International and regional cuisine is served in the stylish, spacious indoor-outdoor restaurant in a single, unassigned seating; at the casual pool deck grill; or from 24-hour room service. Continental and buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea, and a four-course dinner are served daily. Wine is served at your table during lunch and dinner and complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are included throughout the cruise.

Spacious Public Areas, Intimate Atmosphere, and World-Class Service
The warm and inviting public areas accommodate all passengers comfortably. Enjoy sweeping views from the Observation Lounge and Main Lounge, both of which open to the outdoors, and lectures, cultural performances, or film screenings in the state-of-the-art theater. For your convenience, Wi-Fi is available throughout the ship.

The ship also features the first luxury underwater observatory, the Blue Eye, a multisensory underwater observation lounge that incorporates decor and technology to immerse you in the beauty of the ocean's ecosystem. Here, you can observe fascinating marine life through the large subaquatic windows while digital screens and the specially designed global listening system relay the sights and sounds beneath the ocean surface. 

Other amenities aboard ship are a Sun Deck, swimming pool, beauty salon, spa and sauna, fitness room, and two elevators. In addition, there is a three-level marina platform with complimentary kayaking and snorkeling equipment, as well as 10 easily accessible Zodiacs. 

The highly trained, English-speaking international crew are personable and attentive, and the ship has an infirmary staffed with a doctor and nurse.

Respect for the Environment
The newest additions to a fleet that has been awarded the prestigious "Clean Ship" designation, a rarity among ocean-cruising vessels, these expedition ships are designed with energy efficient, advanced eco-friendly features that protect fragile marine ecosystems while providing a safe and comfortable voyage. 

Le Jacques Cartier

Le Jacques Cartier, launched in 2020 by PONANT, ushers in a new generation of five-star small ships, combining revolutionary design and a new standard of luxury for unparalleled cruising. Dock in smaller ports inaccessible to larger ships and where authentic cultural experiences and majestic scenery await you.

Respect for the Environment

The newest addition to the Ponant “clean ship” fleet, a prestigious certification among ocean‑cruising vessels, Le Jacques Cartier is energy efficient and eco‑friendly, protecting fragile marine ecosystems while providing a safe and comfortable voyage.

Chic and Casual Dining

Dine indoors or alfresco on international and regional cuisine served in the stylish, spacious indoor‑outdoor restaurant, at the casual pool deck grill or from 24‑hour room service. Daily meals include continental and buffet breakfasts, buffet lunch, afternoon tea, and four‑course dinner.

92 Elegant Suites and Staterooms, 100% with Private Balconies

Each five‑star stateroom and suite (up to 484 square feet) features a private balcony. Grand Deluxe Suites have a bay window and spacious private terrace. Accommodations offer two twin beds or one queen bed, private bathroom with shower, individual climate control, and luxurious hotel amenities.

Life on Board

Enjoy sweeping views from the lounges, which open to the outdoors, and lectures, cultural performances, or film screenings in the state‑of‑the‑art theater. Relax in the spa and sauna or the Sun Deck’s infinity‑style swimming pool. There is a beauty salon, fitness room, and three elevators. Complimentary Wi‑Fi is available throughout the ship.

World-Class Service

The highly trained, English‑speaking crew are personable and attentive, and the ship has a medical center staffed with a doctor and nurse.

Reading List

Highly Recommended

Ancient Greece: Art, Architecture, and History (Getty Trust Publications: J. Paul Getty Museum)
By: Belozerskaya, Marina, Lapatin, Kenneth
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea: Why the Greeks Matter (The Hinges of History)
By: Cahill, Thomas
DK Eyewitness The Greek Islands (Travel Guide)
By: DK Eyewitness
The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Greece
By: Morkot, Robert

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Greece: Biography of a Modern Nation
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Aegean Art and Architecture (Oxford History of Art)
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Dinner with Persephone: Travels in Greece
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No-Man's Lands: One Man's Odyssey Through The Odyssey
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Reflections on a Marine Venus: A Companion to the Landscape of Rhodes
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Orexi!: Feasting at the modern Greek table
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The King Must Die: A Novel
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24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Laminated)