Discover the beauty, history, and culture of the Loire Valley on this new, unique small boat experience, featuring spectacular châteaus, wineries, and farmsteads. And as you ply the Loire and its tree-lined canals, enjoy the pleasures of small villages and rustic charm of the countryside. Plus, savor delicious regional cuisine and wine.

Starting at: $5,790 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Chateau de Chambord, Loire Valley  Chateau de Chenonceau, River Cher  Loire River Canal, Briare   View of Sancerre, Loire Valley  Vineyard near Sancerre  Chateau de Trousse-Barriere  Castle Acre Priory, Loire Valley

Loire Valley Canal Cruise

Aboard the 22-guest MS Deborah

10 days from $5,790

Discover the beauty, history, and culture of the Loire Valley on this new, unique small boat experience, featuring spectacular châteaus, wineries, and farmsteads. And as you ply the Loire and its tree-lined canals, enjoy the pleasures of small villages and rustic charm of the countryside. Plus, savor delicious regional cuisine and wine.

or Call 855-330-1542

Accommodations

* Click on hotel name to visit hotel web-site.

Hotel Le Choiseul

Amboise, France

The Hotel Le Choiseul Amboise is an elegantly-styled small luxury hotel beautifully situated on the Loire River. The hotel is a cluster of three 16th and 18th-century houses nestled together at the foot of the Chateau Amboise. Surrounded by Italian-style gardens, Hotel Le Choiseul promises a delightful stay in an exceptional location. Guestrooms are appointed with traditional furnishings and bright floral fabrics that create an ambiance evocative of a French country estate. In Restaurant Le 36 you’ll savor traditional French cuisine while overlooking the Loire. Guestrooms boast modern amenities that include air conditioning and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The room block is comprised of run-of-house guestrooms with twin or double beds. Single rooms are not offered on the program. Some rooms may not have elevator access.

Number of nights: 2

Hotel Jardins du Marais

Paris, France

This boutique four-star hotel is located in the delightful Marais neighborhood between the Place des Vosges and the Opera Bastille. This hotel offers elegant public spaces, a peaceful courtyard garden, and modern amenities with outstanding service. Guest rooms are luxurious and vary in size and outlook. Free Internet access is provided throughout the hotel. 

Number of nights: 2

Activity Level

Activity Level 2: Moderate 

Land program plus canal cruise that pulls into a pier for disembarkation. Morning, afternoon, or full-day excursions at a moderate pace. Standing and walking for long periods of time during village walks, chateau visits, and/or outdoor activities. Walking over sometimes difficult terrain (e.g. cobblestones, city hills, stairs without handrails, absence of elevators); some longer walks to get to city centers where coaches are prohibited. Optional biking opportunities available.

Appropriate for: Travelers who are physically fit and comfortable with longer days of touring (both walking tours and coach time).

Paris Post-Program Extension

Day 10 – Nevers / Paris

Disembark the canal boat and travel from Nevers to Paris via Fontainebleau where you’ll stop and tour the Chateau Fontainebleau, a World Heritage site. After the tour, enjoy lunch at a popular local restaurant. Continue to Paris and check-in at the Hotel Les Jardins du Marais located in the historic and fashionable Marais district. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available at the hotel with suggestions regarding local sights, restaurants and independent activities. The evening will be at leisure. (B, L)

Hotel Les Jardins du Marais

Day 11 - Paris This morning, meet a local guide for a walking tour that will take you through the heart of the fascinating Marais district, a renowned artistic and cultural mecca. Marais translates to “marsh,” but the neighborhood is much more upscale than its name suggests. Afterward, let your interests be your guide, and set-out to explore the city on your own. This evening, gather for a farewell reception at the hotel. (B, R)

Hotel Les Jardins du Marais

Day 12 – Return to the U.S.

This morning, depart the hotel and transfer to the Charles de Gaulle Airport to begin your journey home. (B)

About Hotel Les Jardins du Marais

Les Jardins du Marais is an upscale boutique hotel named for the legendary Marais district of Paris known for its tangle of medieval streets, chic boutiques, charming restaurants and galleries. Nearby you’ll find cultural and historic highlights like the Place des Vosges, the Musee Picasso, the Hotel de Ville, Paris’ City Hall, and the historic Place de la Bastille. After a day of touring, relax in the bar with a glass of chilled champagne or a cocktail. The restaurant offers a menu features inspired French specialties. Guest rooms are well-appointed and welcoming with amenities that include complimentary WiFi. The room block will be comprised of run-of-house guestrooms with twin or double beds. Single accommodations are not offered on this program.

Special Air Rates/Services

FlexAir is designed to provide you with the flexibility and choice you need to personalize your air travel experience. Explore a wide range of flight options in consultation with our experienced travel professionals to select the flights, routing, class of service, and dates of travel that most fit your needs. Our partner tour operator has negotiated contracts with a wide variety of carriers that allow them to hold flight reservations and then issue your ticket close to departure without additional fees. This protects you from the need to purchase published-fare tickets, which must be ticketed within 24 hours of purchase. FlexAir reservations provide the flexibility to adjust reservations without penalty and to accommodate extensions and upgrades right up until ticketing time, usually around 45 days before departure. We look forward to providing you with more choice and the best possible itinerary for your air travel plans.

Program Includes:

  • Guaranteed transfers between the airport and your overseas accommodations upon arrival and departure (in most cases). We will provide you with all of the details you need to guarantee your transfer.
  • Air schedule change and delay assistance. Book FlexAir to ensure assistance should schedule changes or delays impact your air travel plans.
  • Flight insurance worth up to $250,000, subject to policy terms, is automatically included.
  • Confirmed airline seat assignments at the time of booking (in most cases).
Ship

MS Deborah

Launched in 2016, MS Deborah is a 22-guest canal barge cruiser that will take you into the heart of charming canal-side towns and villages. Savor French cuisine with breakfast and lunch buffets, and enjoy regional specialties and cheeses served with beer, wine, or soft drinks at lunch and dinner. Dinner is plated with a set menu, however, dietary restrictions can be accommodated. At the end of each day, return to your cozy cabin, that features a modern bathroom with a shower. Wi-Fi is complimentary, but access may be limited at certain times during the trip. All cabins are outside facing and include a desk, individual climate control, personal safe, and luggage storage with features like above-headboard storage and USB ports next to the beds. Cabins on the Main Deck are accessed by a spiral staircase and there is no elevator service aboard ship. Every cabin has two twin beds that are fixed to the floor (meaning that couples will need to sleep apart) and a small desk with stool. There's a closet with ample space for hanging clothes. Electric voltage is 220 volts (European plugs only) and one has two USB ports. While most of the TV channels are French, you can get English news channels such as CNN and the BBC. Enjoy breakfasts at leisure and casual single seating for lunches and dinners. The upper deck includes the dining room, a small bar area, lounge with picture windows and a sliding glass door that opens to a charming outdoor area with café tables and a Jacuzzi. Lectures and discussions will be held in the lounge most evenings. The sun deck has umbrellas and lounge chairs to read and take in the scenery.

While most of our European river cruises accommodate between 120-140 travelers, on our French barge canal cruiser we’ll take a maximum of just 18 participants in 9 cabins, plus your Smithsonian Journeys Expert, Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director, and the ship’s crew to assist you. While our larger river cruises cover longer stretches of river and move at faster speeds and many times visiting several European countries, our barge cruiser moves at a much slower pace. And because of the barge’s small size, we’ll visit small waterways inaccessible to the larger river vessels which allows even greater immersion into the region. While our larger river ships have been compared to deluxe hotels with more amenities and greater choice, our barge cruise can be compared more to a manor house, with a distinct character, familial ambiance and more intimate/attentive service.

MS Deborah

Launched in 2016, MS Deborah is a 22-guest canal barge cruiser that will take you into the heart of charming canal-side towns and villages. Savor French cuisine with breakfast and lunch buffets, and enjoy regional specialties and cheeses served with beer, wine, or soft drinks at lunch and dinner. Dinner is plated with a set menu, however, dietary restrictions can be accommodated. At the end of each day, return to your cozy cabin, that features a modern bathroom with a shower. Wi-Fi is complimentary, but access may be limited at certain times during the trip. All cabins are outside facing and include a desk, individual climate control, personal safe, and luggage storage with features like above-headboard storage and USB ports next to the beds. Cabins on the Main Deck are accessed by a spiral staircase and there is no elevator service aboard ship. Every cabin has two twin beds that are fixed to the floor (meaning that couples will need to sleep apart) and a small desk with stool. There's a closet with ample space for hanging clothes. Electric voltage is 220 volts (European plugs only) and one has two USB ports. While most of the TV channels are French, you can get English news channels such as CNN and the BBC. Enjoy breakfasts at leisure and casual single seating for lunches and dinners. The upper deck includes the dining room, a small bar area, lounge with picture windows and a sliding glass door that opens to a charming outdoor area with café tables and a Jacuzzi. Lectures and discussions will be held in the lounge most evenings. The sun deck has umbrellas and lounge chairs to read and take in the scenery.

While most of our European river cruises accommodate between 120-140 travelers, on our French barge canal cruiser we’ll take a maximum of just 18 participants in 9 cabins, plus your Smithsonian Journeys Expert, Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director, and the ship’s crew to assist you. While our larger river cruises cover longer stretches of river and move at faster speeds and many times visiting several European countries, our barge cruiser moves at a much slower pace. And because of the barge’s small size, we’ll visit small waterways inaccessible to the larger river vessels which allows even greater immersion into the region. While our larger river ships have been compared to deluxe hotels with more amenities and greater choice, our barge cruise can be compared more to a manor house, with a distinct character, familial ambiance and more intimate/attentive service.

Testimonials

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

I think the name Smithsonian says it all. 

- Wade, C.
Reading List
The Road from the Past: Traveling through History in France
By: Ina Caro
Caro takes us on an unforgettable driving tour of France, from Provence to the Loire Valley to Paris. With Caro as an epicurean, knowledgeable, and delightfully opinionated guide, we can always be sure to find the most breathtaking vistas, the most extraordinary châteaux, the most inspiring cathedrals, and the very best meals.
DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Loire Valley
By: DK Eyewitness
DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photography, and illustrations of any guide.DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Loire Valley is your in-depth guide to the very best of the Loire Valley in France.Whether you're on the hunt for a bike ride through the valley, a visit to fortresses and cathedrals, or a relaxing afternoon shopping at local markets, our DK Eyewitness Travel Guide has everything you'll need to experience the best of the Loire Valley. Explore old world villages and storybook chateaux, try local delicacies and superb wines, or take a walking tour and experience stunning views: We have everything you'll need to make the most of a trip to the Loire Valley on any budget.Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Loire Valley   • Detailed itineraries and "don't miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations. With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Loire Valley truly shows you the Loire Valley as no one else can.Recommended: For an in-depth guidebook to France, check out DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: France, which offers the most complete coverage of France, trip-planning itineraries, and more.
Lonely Planet French Phrasebook & Dictionary
By: Lonely Planet, Michael Janes, Jean-Bernard Carillet, Jean-Pierre Masclef
Lonely Planet French Phrasebook & Dictionary is your handy passport to culturally enriching travels with the most relevant and useful French phrases and vocabulary for all your travel needs. Ask about tucked-away vineyards, bargain with local farmers at the market or order wine like a professional; all with your trusted travel companion. With language tools in your back pocket, you can truly get to the heart of wherever you go, so begin your journey now!Get More From Your Trip with Easy-to-Find Phrases for Every Travel Situation! Feel at ease with essential tips on culture, manners, idioms and multiple meanings Order with confidence, explain food allergies, and try new foods with the menu decoder Save time and hassles with vital phrases at your fingertips Never get stuck for words with the 3500-word two-way, quick-reference dictionary Be prepared for both common and emergency travel situations with practical phrases and terminology Meet friends with conversation starter phrases Get your message across with easy-to-use pronunciation guides Inside Lonely Planet French Phrasebook & Dictionary: Full-colour throughout User-friendly layout organised by travel scenario categories Survival phrases inside front cover for at-a-glance on-the-fly cuesCovers Basics - time, dates, numbers, amounts, pronunciation, reading tips, grammar rules Practical - travel with kids, disabled travellers, sightseeing, business, banking, post office, internet, phones, repairs, bargaining, accommodation, directions, border crossing, transport Social - meeting people, interests, feelings, opinions, going out, romance, culture, activities, weather Safe Travel - emergencies, police, doctor, chemist, dentist, symptoms, conditions Food - ordering, at the market, at the bar, dishes, ingredients The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet French Phrasebook & Dictionary , a pocket-sized comprehensive language guide, provides on-the-go language assistance; great for language students and travellers looking to interact with locals and immerse themselves in local culture.About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet is the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, and has been connecting travellers and locals for over 25 years with phrasebooks for 120 languages, more than any other publisher! With an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community, Lonely Planet enables curious travellers to experience the world and to truly get to the heart of the places they find themselves.
The Loire: A Cultural History (Landscapes of the Imagination)
By: Martin Garrett
Gustave Flaubert called the Loire "the most French of French rivers." It is the longest river in France and the most varied in scenery and moods. Beginning as a mountain stream in the Ardèche, it issues, 630 miles later, into the Atlantic beyond the great modern port of St.-Nazaire. Small and rapid at first, the Loire runs through dark volcanic hills; further downstream it becomes the broad, slower river of sandy islands, poplars, and châteaux and of the vibrant cities of Orléans, Blois, Tours, and Nantes (the former capital of Brittany). It is lined with vineyards, forests, medieval fortresses, and flamboyant Renaissance palaces. It is fed by countless tributaries, from rivulets to mighty rivers like the Allier, Cher, and Vienne, each with their own remarkable sights.Martin Garrett follows the Loire's course through cities and countryside, tracing its dramatic history from the days of feuding warlords and barons to the battles of 1940. Looking at the wide range of literature, art, and architecture created along its banks, he considers works from Du Bellay and Balzac to Virginia Woolf, from Renaissance palace builders to Le Corbusier.
The Most Beautiful Villages of the Loire
By: Hugh Palmer, James Bentley
Usually associated with splendid Renaissance cha teaux and historical monuments, the Loire valley is in fact a place of even greater interest than the image of popular perception. The Loire River itself is the longest in France and passes through a succession of landscapes, many of them of a richness that proves this is truly "the garden of France." And there is variety too, reflected in the buildings and settings of the beautiful villages so stunningly illustrated in this book. Traveling west, James Bentley and Hugh Palmer take us first to the communities around Orleans, the villages of the Loiret and Cher departements. We then progress to the lands around Blois and Tours, where, it is said, the purest French is spoken. Here begin the villages with the great chatea ux, such as Chambord, Cheverny, and Azay-le-Rideau, reached by long roads lined with poplars or lying beside the banks of one of the many tributaries of the Loire. The slopes here are frequently vine-clad, producing the delicious white wines that make such a fine accompaniment to the traditional fish cuisine of the region. And finally we arrive at the villages around Angers and Nantes where willow-lined rivers divide a landscape of quiet opulence, and green fields alternate with market gardens growing vegetables, flowers, and fruit. Over thirty villages of the Loire valley are described and beautifully photographed in this book, which is completed by special sections on wine and food and abbeys and churches. As with all the volumes in The Most Beautiful Villages series, there are appendices listing the most important sites, markets, hotels, and restaurants. 275 color illustrations.
Traveller's History of France
By: Chastleton Travel
Leonardo da Vinci: The Amboise Connection
By: Pamela Shields BA
This book was written to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death in 1519 at Clos Lucé, Amboise, France. This is where he and his painting of the Mona Lisa spent his last three years. Leonardo’s life began with his illegitimacy in Florence, fame and success in Milan, public humiliation in Rome and ended as the close friend of the most powerful king in Europe. When François I met Leonardo in Italy in 1515, he invited him to live near him in Amboise. Here, Leonardo found a security incomparable with his previously precarious existence. He entered old age basking in the gentle climate of the Loire Valley with no more financial insecurity, no more wars on his doorstep, no more jealous rivals. No longer forced to take commissions, Leonardo spent his days editing notebooks filled with his scientific studies and treatises on painting and anatomy. He had with him his paintings of The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, St. John the Baptist and the Mona Lisa. Leonardo was a tourist attraction. He still is. Fans can see where he lived, where he died and where he is buried. In Close Lucé, they can even see working models of some of his visions. The book contains many interesting, little known facts. For example. Did you know that Leonardo designed and made elaborate wigs for his models as seen in his (lost) painting of Leda and the Swan? That he dissected thirty corpses? Or that to dissect an eye ball he first immersed it in egg white then boiled it? When François I decided to move his capital from Paris to Romorantin, his childhood home, he asked Leonardo to design a new town to include two new châteaux, one for himself and one for his mother. The plans for his mother’s château is now part of the Royal Collection in Windsor Castle in England.
Leonardo da Vinci
By: Walter Isaacson
The #1 New York Times bestseller from Walter Isaacson brings Leonardo da Vinci to life in this exciting new biography that is “a study in creativity: how to define it, how to achieve it…Most important, it is a powerful story of an exhilarating mind and life” (The New Yorker).Based on thousands of pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s astonishing notebooks and new discoveries about his life and work, Walter Isaacson “deftly reveals an intimate Leonardo” (San Francisco Chronicle) in a narrative that connects his art to his science. He shows how Leonardo’s genius was based on skills we can improve in ourselves, such as passionate curiosity, careful observation, and an imagination so playful that it flirted with fantasy. He produced the two most famous paintings in history, The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa. With a passion that sometimes became obsessive, he pursued innovative studies of anatomy, fossils, birds, the heart, flying machines, botany, geology, and weaponry. He explored the math of optics, showed how light rays strike the cornea, and produced illusions of changing perspectives in The Last Supper. His ability to stand at the crossroads of the humanities and the sciences, made iconic by his drawing of Vitruvian Man, made him history’s most creative genius. In the “luminous” (Daily Beast) Leonardo da Vinci, Isaacson describes how Leonardo’s delight at combining diverse passions remains the ultimate recipe for creativity. So, too, does his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. His life should remind us of the importance to be imaginative and, like talented rebels in any era, to think different. Here, da Vinci “comes to life in all his remarkable brilliance and oddity in Walter Isaacson’s ambitious new biography…a vigorous, insightful portrait” (The Washington Post).
Chambord: Five Centuries of Mystery
By: Jean-Michel Turpin
Chambord occupies a special place among French Renaissance châteaux. Designed by Francis I as a hunting lodge for his friends and family and subsequently transformed into an immense residence, Chambord is an astonishingly bold architectural creation. To mark the 500th anniversary of this prestigious piece of French heritage, Jean-Michel Turpin invites us into the château, and especially into lesser-known and mysterious wings of Chambord, and throughout its beautiful grounds in the Loire Valley. The story spans five centuries and is illustrated by archival and contemporary photographs, many never before published.  
The Geography of Wine: How Landscapes, Cultures, Terroir, and the Weather Make a Good Drop
By: Brian J. Sommers
Wine is more than taste, smell, and appearance—it is a reflection of a place and its people. Why is Bordeaux a great place for red wines? Why do some places produce Rieslings and others produce Chardonnay? A fun and fascinating examination of terroir (the French word for the geography of a vineyard) this book takes connoisseurs—and potential connoisseurs—on a tour of wine regions, and explains the principles geographers use to understand the critical factors that make up the “wine character” of a place.From the Loire Valley to Napa Valley, Madeira to South Africa, Australia to Chile, The Geography of Wine is an entertaining and informative introduction to viticulture for worldly wine lovers everywhere.
Gone with the Wine: Living the Dream in France's Loire Valley
By: Rosanne Knorr
In charming and whimsical detail, Gone with the Wine shares the delights of France's Loire Valley where the climate is mild, the people are hospitable, and wine is so plentiful it's pumped from vats like a service station for winos. With their pate-loving dog, this American couple trades long work hours, traffic jams and fast food for art, biking and goat's cheese direct from the supplier. They garble French but learn how to earn the best baguettes. Besides being a delightful story, Gone with the Wine provides fascinating and fresh insights on everyday life, history and the people of the earthly paradise called the 'Garden of France.' Joyful reading for real-life voyagers and armchair travelers alike!
Chocolat: A Novel (A Vianne Rocher Novel)
By: Joanne Harris
Even before it was adapted into the Oscar-nominated film starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp, Joanne Harris' New York Times bestselling novel Chocolat entranced readers with its mix of hedonism, whimsy, and, of course, chocolate.In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne's uncanny perception of its buyer's private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. Chocolat's every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It's a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.
24x36 World Wall Map by Smithsonian Journeys - Tan Oceans Special Edition (24x36 Paper Folded)
By: Smithsonian Journeys
Swiftmaps is proud to partner with Smithsonian Journeys to bring a new and exciting World Map series to the American marketplace. Featuring eye-catching bold and vivid colors complemented with rich vintage tan ocean tones that will make this the perfect reference piece --- sure to stand-out and highlight any home or business wall. The precise detail and digital accuracy shows color-matching visual shaded 3D relief and other physical features without sacrificing the maps readability. Now printed on high-quality 80 lb. paper and professionally FOLDED in a compact 8x10 inch size. FEATURES: 1) Africa centered allowing viewers to see continents complete and intact 2) Clearly labeled country and city names for easy location 3) Latitude and longitude indications 4) Shaded relief of ocean and land topography 4) Desirable Miller Projection. The Smithsonian Journeys wall map series serve not only as a handy reference piece, but as an eye-catching accent for any room or office. NOTE: each map is professionally folded to 8x10 inches and when unfolded the map is 24 inches high and 36 inches wide.
Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Travel Guard provides an on-tour Insurance Plan. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details.

Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.

Terms and conditions

Our Mission

Smithsonian Journeys engage travelers in the mission of the Smithsonian – “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” Like the Institution, our tours enrich our guests’ lives and satisfy their curiosity about the world around them. Your participation benefits the work of Smithsonian’s 19 museums, national zoo, and nine research centers, helping to preserve our national treasures and shape the future through science, research, and exhibitions.

What Is Provided With Your Tour

  • Expertise of a Smithsonian Journeys Expert
  • An experienced Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director throughout the program
  • Shipboard accommodations (based on double occupancy only)
  • Meals as noted in the itinerary (B - Breakfast; L-Lunch; D-Dinner; R-Reception
  • Welcome and farewell receptions
  • Shore excursions, sightseeing, lectures, and visits as outlined in the itinerary
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list
  • All on-tour transportation, unless otherwise noted
  • Airport transfers, luggage handling and gratuities (when applicable) for both Flex Air participants and participants who are able to meet the scheduled group departure times. Reservations are required
  • Pre-tour information, including a reading list 
  • Personal VOX listening device
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi. Please note service may be intermittent during the cruise portion of the program
  • All applicable VAT and sales taxes
  • Gratuities for tour staff; airport and ship porters for luggage handling, local guides and drivers, waiters and maîtres d’ at group meals as indicated in the itinerary.

 What is Not Provided With Your Tour

  • Passport and all visa fees and photos; immunization(s); and any other travel documentation fees as required
  • International and in-country airfare and departure taxes
  • Optional travel insurance
  • Personal items, unless otherwise stated, such as wine, liquors, a-la-carte orders, meals other than specified
  • Expenses incurred by our tour operator in making any individual travel arrangements in conjunction with the tour.
  • Other items noted as optional or not specifically mentioned as included
  • Gratuities for ships staff and crew. Suggested gratuities are €10 per person; per night. Suggested that gratuities be made in cash; US$ or Euros
  • Port dues, embarkation fees, and taxes
  • Any internal flights not a part of this program

Registration 

To submit a reservation request, please use our secure online system at SmithsonianJourneys.org or call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Reservations Specialist, Monday-Friday 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (Eastern Time). Submitting an online request does not guarantee space on a tour.  You will be notified by a Reservation Specialist of your status once your request has been received and processed. 

To complete your reservation, the following information is required.

In accordance with the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) Secure Flight program, for all international tours, passport information is required, including the following:   Full name as it appears on your passport, Date of birth, and Gender (for further information, please visit www.tsa.gov).

For tours that include round-trip international airfare: If you provide incorrect information to the ticketing agent, or if you use a different passport than originally cited, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

Payments

A deposit of $1,000 for a cruise reservation, unless otherwise noted, is required to reserve a space on a tour.  All payments may be made by credit card or check to the tour operator.  Deposits are applied to final payment of the tour price.

Final payment is due 95 days prior to departure, unless otherwise noted.  Balance is due upon invoicing.  If full payment is not received by the final payment due date, your place cannot be guaranteed on the tour.

Late Registration

Any registration received within 95 days of departure is considered “on-request” and is subject to specific confirmation. Some tours are more restrictive. Payment in full must be made immediately by credit card, or by check sent by overnight mail to the tour operator, before confirmation is possible.

Once confirmed, cancellation penalties apply as set forth below. If confirmation is not possible, all payments made will be refunded in full. Late registration confirmation procedures apply to any participant who is transferred from the wait list to the tour within the designated late registration period for that tour.

For additional information, please call 855-330-1542 to speak with a Cultural Travel Specialist, Mon-Fri 9 am – 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), at SJReservations@si.edu or SmithsonianJourneys.org.

A Note About Costs

All prices are based on two persons sharing a room/cabin. All prices are quoted in U.S. dollars. Tour costs are based upon current airfares, tariffs, currency values, and on the basis of a presumptive minimum number of participants. While we will do everything possible to maintain the listed prices, they are subject to change.   Due to fluctuations in oil prices, a fuel surcharge may be added to your tour fee (e.g. internal flights, cruises, etc.).  Details and costs will be advised prior to departure.

Wait List

If the tour of your choice is fully subscribed, you may choose to be placed on a waitlist by contacting a Reservation Specialist at 1-855-330-1542 Mon-Fri 9 am - 7 pm; Sat 9 am – 4 pm (Eastern Time), or SJReservations@si.edu. Individuals on the wait list will be contacted if space becomes available and can inquire about tour status by contacting a Reservation Specialist. If you choose to withdraw from a wait list, please notify us.

Cancellation and Refund Policy

Following enrollment, a participant’s withdrawal from the tour for any reason, including, but not limited to, illness, injury, family engagements, work-related issues, or geopolitical concerns, etc., will be deemed a cancellation. Please understand that there will be no exceptions to our cancellation policy.

Per person cancellation fees are based on date of written notice to Smithsonian Journeys. Tour operator will refund on the following basis:

  • Cancellations within 7 days of booking:  Full Refund (unless it is within final payment date, 95 days before departure)
  • Cancellations after 7 days of booking:  Full Deposit Retained
  • Cancellations made within final payment date, 95 days before departure:  No Refund
  • Cancellation by Smithsonian Journeys:  Full Refund or Credit

If your flights are delayed or if for any reason you are prevented from joining the tour on the scheduled departure date and time, or if you choose to leave the tour early, we cannot provide a full or partial refund or credit toward a future tour.

Smithsonian Journeys reserves the right to cancel any tour due to low enrollment and when a U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory is issued for the destination.

Changes to Your Reservation

We will not charge a fee for any changes made to your reservation outside 95 days (final payment) of departure. From 94 to 30 days before departure, if you make any changes to your reservation, a $100 per person administrative fee will apply, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by airlines, hotels, or other third parties.  Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason or at any time, you will be charged the single supplement.

Please note that no changes to your departure date and no name changes are allowed within 95 days of departure. No changes to your reservation can be made within 30 days of departure.

Air Service

For tours that include round-trip international airfare, rates are based on economy class from designated departure cities as shown. Airfares from other cities are available upon request.  Airline upgrades at additional cost may be available on request for the international portion of your flight.  If an air schedule requires an overnight stay in a gateway city, the cost of the overnight will be at your expense.  For tours that include round-trip international airfare, we will be happy to help with arrangements.

Individual Arrivals and Group Transfers

A designated group flight is not included on most tours. Your first tour bulletin will thoroughly explain the details of the options available for your individual flights. Airport transfers (when applicable) are complimentary for both Flex Air participants and participants who are able to meet the scheduled group departure times. Reservations are required.

Air Service/Tickets Purchased Independently of the Tour

International and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time. If you make your own airline reservations, we recommend that you do not purchase nonrefundable tickets or tickets with high penalties for changes. 

We urge you to check airline cancellation penalties before purchasing airline tickets since international departure times and flights can change. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator accepts liability for cancellation penalties related to domestic or international airline tickets purchased independently in conjunction with a tour.

Travel Insurance

For the convenience of our travelers, Travel Guard provides an on-tour Insurance Plan. On-tour emergency evacuation insurance (up to $100,000), medical expense coverage (up to $25,000), dental expense coverage (up to $500), travel medical assistance and worldwide travel assistance (U.S. Residents only). It also includes up to $25,000 medical and up to $500 dental expense coverage, and 24-hour worldwide travel and medical assistance. Please click here to view complete coverage details. 

Please visit www.TravelGuard.com/SmithsonianJourneys or call Travel Guard at 1-800-208-6142 to learn about additional (optional) coverage.

Travel Documents and Information

Participants are responsible for obtaining any documents required for their participation in the tour such as a valid passport, all visas, vaccination certificates, and any other documents. If your tour requires a visa or other entry documents, we will send you the appropriate information after you make a reservation.  Failure to obtain documents does not negate the terms and conditions, and any extra costs incurred for rerouting or delay due to travel without the necessary documents will be the participant’s responsibility. If you are not a U.S. citizen, please contact your embassy or consulate to ensure you obtain the proper documentation.

For all international departures, a passport valid for at least six months after the completion of your tour, and with at least six blank visa pages, is required for U.S. citizens on all tours. The U.S. Department of State will no longer add visa pages into U.S. passports beginning January 1, 2016. The decision to discontinue this service was made to enhance the security of the passport and to abide by international passport standards. Beginning January 1, 2016, applicants in need of additional pages in their valid passports must obtain a new passport. For more information on how or where to apply, please visit Travel.State.Gov/ApplyEarly or call the National Passport Information Center toll-free at 1-877-487-2778/1-888-874-7793 (TTY/TTD).

For more information about traveling to destinations abroad, we recommend the “Learn about your destination” section on the U.S. Department of State travel website www.travel.state.gov.  For medical information, we recommend contacting the Centers for Disease Control at (877) FYI-TRIP or www.cdc.gov/travel

Physical and Medical Considerations

To enjoy the travel experience, participants should be in good physical and mental health. All tours require an element of walking (up to two miles per day over uneven terrain) and of climbing stairs, often without handrails. Participants should have sufficient stamina to keep pace with an active group of participants on long days of touring. If you have any questions about your ability to participate in a tour, please call us at 855-330-1542. Any physical condition, diet, or special request for accommodation must be identified in writing on the Personal Information Form when the reservation is made. Some tours have additional information regarding physical and medical considerations, which may be discussed with the Reservation Specialist at 855-330-1542.

Please be aware that health care standards, facilities, and services abroad may be different or even inadequate for treating certain health conditions.  It is essential that you inform us in writing (on the provided Personal Information Form) of any existing condition for which you may require medical attention or accommodation during the tour. We will make reasonable efforts to accommodate the needs of our participants; however, services of a personal nature cannot be expected or guaranteed. By forwarding the deposit for pre-registration or registration in full, you affirm that you do not have any physical or other limitations that would create a hazard for yourself or other participants or would require adjustments to the tour for other participants.

Itinerary or Tour Modifications

Smithsonian Journeys strives to improve tour itineraries and their features. If improvements can be made, or unforeseen circumstances beyond our control make changes necessary, at our sole discretion, we reserve the right to vary itineraries and to substitute elements of the tour.  These elements include, but are not limited to:  hotels, staff, speakers, experts, and services for any stated in the itinerary.

Every effort will be made to carry out the tour as planned but alterations may still occur after the final itinerary has been sent to you. Please note that weather and other conditions may force changes to the advertised sailing schedule on cruise tours. The ship’s captain has the authority to change the ship’s schedule. Smithsonian Journeys and the tour operator reserve the right to substitute motorcoach transportation using hotels, inns or lodges for cruise accommodations if necessary due to weather, water conditions or levels, other events of force majeure, mechanical, or other conditions beyond their control.

Hotel Accommodations

Smithsonian Journeys chooses hotels based on a combination of location, service, atmosphere, and price. On adventure tours and tours in out-of-the-way places, best-available hotels are used.  Tour prices are based on two persons sharing a room with a bath.

Singles and Roommates

Hotel rooms are always reserved for single participants, however, the number of single rooms available on a tour may be limited. Therefore we recommend that you register early. Please note that a single supplement will most likely apply for a single room.  If you are traveling alone and wish to share a room/cabin, we will do our best to find someone of the same gender and smoking preference to share with you. If you are matched with a non-smoking roommate, it is mutually agreed that you cannot smoke in your hotel room/cabin. When a roommate cannot be found, a single supplement will be charged. Please note that the single rooms in many foreign hotels may be smaller than those to which you are accustomed.

Children

All tours except family journeys, are designed for adults. Some may be suitable for children 16 and older. Regardless of age, children must pay full price unless otherwise noted, moreover, a parent or guardian must accompany those under 18.

Special Travel Arrangements

Participants may wish to extend their stay in the group hotel either before or after the tour. Our tour operators will work with you on these arrangements, dependent upon space availability.  Your pre-tour bulletins will further explain all options.

Should you decide not to participate in certain parts of the tour or use certain goods included in the tour, no refunds will be made for those unused parts of the tour or goods.

Dispute Resolution

If a complaint arises, the participant should first inform a member of the on-tour staff, so that the staff can attempt to rectify the matter. If the issue remains unresolved, the individual should submit the complaint in writing to Smithsonian Journeys within 30 days of the completion of the tour.

The Smithsonian Journeys staff will make a good faith effort to resolve any dispute.  In the event that the parties are unable to resolve the dispute, the parties may agree to use a method of non-binding Alternative Dispute Resolution to resolve the dispute.  In the event that the parties are unable to agree on the method of Alternative Dispute Resolution to use, or in the event that either party is dissatisfied with the outcome of that alternative dispute resolution method, such efforts shall not constitute a waiver by either party of the right to file suit.

Photography and Video

Participants on tour may be photographed or recorded (audio and video) for the educational and promotional purposes of the Smithsonian Institution and Smithsonian authorized third parties.  This content may be used in marketing publications and posted on websites to promote Smithsonian Journeys without compensation to the participant. Participants who prefer that their name, voice and/or image not be used must notify us in writing prior to the beginning of the tour.

Smoking Policy

 For the comfort of all participants, we ask that there be no smoking during all group activities, including excursions and meals. On certain cruises, there is no smoking aboard the ship. Your pre-tour bulletins will provide further information.

READ CAREFULLY: RESPONSIBILITY STATEMENT AND LIABILITY DISCLAIMER

Smithsonian Journeys tours are organized and administered by professional tour operators hired as independent contractors. The use of designated tour operators allows the Smithsonian to offer participants a wide array of educational travel opportunities. The tour operator acts only as an agent for the respective suppliers by making arrangements for transportation, accommodations, and other services. Neither the Smithsonian Institution nor the tour operator shall be held liable for personal injury, death, property damage or accident, delay or irregularity arising out of any act or omission of these suppliers. The Smithsonian Institution and the tour operator reserve the right, without penalty, to make changes in the published itinerary whenever in their judgment conditions warrant, or if they deem it necessary for the comfort, convenience, or safety of tour participants.

The Smithsonian Institution and its designated tour operator also reserve the right, without penalty, to withdraw the tour announced, to decline to accept any person as a participant in a tour, or to require any participant to withdraw from the tour at any time (including, but not limited for inappropriate, or offensive behavior) when such action is determined by tour staff to be in the best interests of the health, safety or general welfare of the tour group or the individual participant.

Dates, schedules, tour details, and costs, although provided in good faith based on information available at the time of publication on the website, in the brochure or catalog, are subject to change and revision.

AS A CONDITION OF ACCEPTANCE OF ANY APPLICATION, EACH APPLICANT MUST AGREE TO THE STATEMENT SET FORTH BELOW:

The undersigned has read carefully the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer set forth above, the schedule of activities for this tour, as well as the terms and conditions of application and participation as set forth in the tour materials, and recognizes and accepts any risk associated with the tour and the conditions, including the refund policy, set forth in the tour materials. The undersigned further acknowledges that there are many risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature including, but not limited to, weather, flooding, and high/low water levels, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war or insurrection, theft, illness, bites from or attacks by animals, insects, or pests, and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff or others. In consideration of, and as part payment for, the right to participate in the tour, the undersigned, on behalf of himself, his dependents, heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, agrees to release the Smithsonian Institution, its Regents, officers, employees, representatives or agents, the United States, and the tour operator and its officers, employees and agents, from liability for personal injury, death, property damage or loss suffered by any person in connection with this tour, even if caused by the negligence (but not the reckless, willful, or fraudulent conduct) of tour staff or other related persons or entities. In addition, by registering for this tour, the applicant certifies that he or she is mentally and physically capable of full participation in this tour. By registering for a Smithsonian Journey, the participant agrees to the Responsibility Statement and Liability Disclaimer and the Terms and Conditions herein.

By Registering For A Smithsonian Journey, The Participant Agrees To The Responsibility Statement And Liability Disclaimer And The Terms And Conditions Herein. Updated August 2019. ©2019, Smithsonian Institution