A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Trace the Mediterranean coasts of France and Italy, exploring Provence, the Côte d’Azur, the Italian Riviera, and Cinque Terre. Venture to the medieval walled towns of Carcassonne and Lucca, and trace the legacies of great artists from Cézanne and Van Gogh in Provence to Michelangelo in Florence.

Starting at: $5,630 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The village of Portofino  Palais des Papes, Avignon, France  Panorama of Florence at dusk  Duomo at the historic center of Florence  The Tuscan hill town of Volterra  The village of Vernazza, along the Cinque Terre  The cathedral at Lucca  The legendary tower of Pisa  The village of Portofino on the Italian Riviera  Market square in Old Town, Aix-en-Provence  Medieval Carcassonne, France  The medieval city and castle of Carcassonne  The medieval fortifications of Carcassonne  The Rock of Monte Carlo with the Prince's Palace

Southern France and the Italian Riviera by Sea

From Barcelona to Civitavecchia on the 184-guest Le Champlain

9 days from $5,630

A new cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Trace the Mediterranean coasts of France and Italy, exploring Provence, the Côte d’Azur, the Italian Riviera, and Cinque Terre. Venture to the medieval walled towns of Carcassonne and Lucca, and trace the legacies of great artists from Cézanne and Van Gogh in Provence to Michelangelo in Florence.

or Call 855-330-1542

Activity Level

Activity Level 3:  Moderate / Active

Ocean-going cruise that will involve embarkation and disembarkation at piers for shore excursions as well as boarding tenders and other landing craft for some activities. Days can be full, with activities starting as early as 8:00 am and lasting four or more hours. Many activities, such as walking tours, museum visits, and site visits, necessitate standing and walking for extended periods of time (two or more hours). Participants should be prepared to walk up to two miles per day, sometimes on uneven terrain, such as cobblestones in towns, historic sites, and unpaved trails; and to climb or descend stairs with or without handrails, as elevators will not always be available. 

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

Pre-Cruise Extension

2023 Pre-Cruise Program — 3 Days, 2 Nights

Catalonia enjoys one of the richest cultural heritages in Spain. This specially designed program introduces you to two very different elements of that heritage: the 12th-century Benedictine monastery on Montserrat and the modernist city of Barcelona.

Day 1 – Barcelona, Spain

Arrive in Barcelona, where you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Almanac Barcelona. Check-in time is 3:00 PM. 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 reception at the hotel. Dinner is on your own. 

Hotel Almanac Barcelona

Day 2 – Barcelona / Montserrat

After breakfast, meet your guide for an excursion to the astonishing Monastery of Montserrat. A scenic drive through the countryside north of Barcelona brings you to a chain of serrated limestone mountains, where you board a cog railway for the steep climb up the mountain to the Benedictine monastery on a terrace near the summit. Your guided tour includes the ornate basilica, whose highlight is a wooden statue of the Virgin that has attracted pilgrims since the 12th century. You will also visit the museum, displaying pieces of art collected in the last century and containing important works of Monet, Rusiñol, Casas, and Picasso. Lunch will be served in the restaurant located in what were once the monastery's stables before you return to the hotel. The remainder of the day is at your leisure with time for independent exploration. Dinner is on your own. 

Hotel Almanac Barcelona

Day 3 – Barcelona, Spain / Embark

After breakfast at the hotel, join an excursion to the monuments and neighborhoods that define the extraordinary personality and vitality of Barcelona. Begin in the heart of the city with a visit to Antoni Gaudí's iconic Sagrada Familia. Begun in 1884 and still unfinished, this monument of spirituality awes and inspires visitors from around the world. Your guided tour will introduce you to Gaudí's vision and to the ongoing effort to achieve it. A short drive brings you to the Block of Discord to view Gaudí’s Casa Batlló and Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Amatller, icons of modernist Barcelona. After enjoying lunch, a leisurely stroll along elegant Passeig de Gràcia brings you to Barrio Gótico, the oldest part of the city. Explore this enchanting neighborhood of narrow streets, home to Barcelona's great 14th-century Cathedral and Plaça Sant Jaume. End at the pier to embark your ship in the late afternoon. 

Your hotel:

Hotel Almanac Barcelona, located on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes, is a new (opened in 2018) boutique hotel in Barcelona’s city center, featuring 91 rooms and suites. It is only a few steps from Passeig de Gràcia, where you can find stylish shopping, restaurants, bars, and museums. The hotel itself houses a restaurant and a rooftop bar, a wellness and fitness center, and a rooftop pool. 

Your program includes:

  • 2 nights at the Hotel Almanac Barcelona (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 Day 3
  • Welcome cocktail reception on Day 1
  • Breakfast on Days 2 and 3
  • Lunch on Days 2 and 3
  • 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.
  • 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. 
Post-Cruise Extension

2023 Post-Cruise Program — 3 Days, 2 Nights

This program is specially designed to orient you to the treasures of Rome and to introduce you to some of its most important monuments. 

Day 1 – Disembark / Civitavecchia / Rome

After breakfast aboard, join your guide for the 90-minute drive into Rome, where your exploration of the Eternal City begins with a panoramic tour of its major monuments—the Caracalla Baths, Tiberina Island, Circus Maximus, St. Angelo Castle, and Villa Borghese Park. Then, leaving the coach behind, follow your guide on a walking tour of some of the most famous piazzas and fountains in Rome, including the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and Navona Square.

After lunch at a local restaurant, continue your tour of Rome's ancient ruins, as your guide explains their relation to twelve centuries of cultural, political, and religious history. Your final stop will be at the Colosseum, iconic symbol of Imperial Rome, where you will enjoy VIP access to the floor of the arena where gladiators, Christians, and wild beasts once battled to the death before an audience of more than 50,000 spectators. Rejoin your coach for the short ride to the historic Sina Bernini Bristol, your home for the next two nights. Dinner is independent and at your leisure.

Sina Bernini Bristol

Day 2 – Rome

Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a specially crafted tour of the Vatican. Begin your discovery of this center of Catholic Christianity in the Vatican City Gardens, open only to VIP visitors. The gardens contain a variety of fortifications and monuments, dating from as early as the 9th century and set among vibrant flower beds, topiary, green lawns, and forest. See the Vatican Radio Station and the Academy of Science, and enjoy a singular view of St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel from the rear.  

Briefly visit the Vatican Museums before entering the world-famous Sistine Chapel, where you will see Michelangelo's fresco of The Creation of Adam. Continue to the interior of St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world, where Michelangelo's Pieta and the beautifully carved Bernini Pulpit are among the many works of art on display. The rest of day is yours to explore the city on your own or to enjoy the amenities of the hotel. Lunch and dinner are independent and at your leisure.

Sina Bernini Bristol

Day 3 – Rome / Home 

After breakfast at the hotel and check out, transfer to the airport for flights homeward.

Your hotel:

Located in heart of Rome, the historic Sina Bernini Bristol is one of the most renowned 5-star hotels in the Eternal City. Once the hotel of choice for Russian Tsars, Princes of Wales, the Rockefellers, and the Vanderbilts, the Bernini Bristol enjoys a privileged location between Piazza Barberini and Via Veneto, just a few minutes’ walk from the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. The bedrooms are well appointed in classic and contemporary style. Each room features an Italian marbled tile bathroom, satellite TV, a safe, minibar, and hairdryer. The hotel has a rooftop restaurant with panoramic views, as well as a spa and fitness center.

Your program includes:

  • 2 nights at the Sina Bernini Bristol (or similar)
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the pier to the hotel on Day 1
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the hotel to the airport on Day 3
  • Lunch on Day 1
  • Breakfast on Days 2 and 3
  • 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 hotel to the airport on any day other than the scheduled program departure day
  • Personal expenses and other services and meals not mentioned as included in the program

Please note:

  • It is imperative that your flight departure details are communicated at least 30 days prior to the beginning of your cruise in order to secure your transfer from the hotel to the airport.
  • Late check-out is 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 post-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. 
Ship

Le Champlain

Launched in 2018, Le Champlain is among a new fleet of luxury expedition ships launched by PONANT. 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 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 are 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, complimentary 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 sound 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 Champlain

Launched in 2018, Le Champlain is among a new fleet of luxury expedition ships launched by PONANT. 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 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 are 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, complimentary 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 sound 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. 

Reading List

Highly Recommended

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The Great Sea: A Human History of the Mediterranean
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DK Eyewitness France (Travel Guide)
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DK Eyewitness Italy (Travel Guide)
By: DK Eyewitness

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