Ponant in collaboration with Smithsonian Journeys has announced its new winter 2022 itineraries. The sailings, exploring Antarctica, Costa Rica and Panama, the Caribbean, and Japan, will be accompanied by a variety of experts, ranging from geologists and scientists to astrophysicists and historians, and will offer experiences that dive deeper into a destination’s culture, history, cuisine, language, environment and wildlife. 

Among the new itineraries will be L’Austral’s 11-day voyage “Antarctica: The White Continent,” departing January 22, 2022. Travelers will begin by crossing the Drake Passage, considered a “badge of honor” during an Antarctic voyage, before heading out on Zodiacs to explore the icy continent. Guests on this itinerary will also get an opportunity to get a close view of Gentoo and Adelie penguins and seals and witness the passing humpback whales. 

The cruise will be accompanied by Ponant’s team of naturalist guides and two Smithsonian Journeys experts, astrophysicist Michelle Thaller, who serves as the assistant director for science communication at NASA’s Goddard Space Center, and geologist Wayne Ranney, who has over 40 years of experience leading trips to Earth’s most spectacular landscapes. They will join guests on excursions to research stations, volcanic beaches, and along icebergs and ice floe.

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Looking to explore Central America by sea? Le Champlain will offer an eight-day “Panama and Costa Rica by Sea: The Natural Wonders of Central America” itinerary, departing January 24, 2022 from Colón, Panama to Puerto Caldera, Costa Rica via the Panama Canal.      

Ports of call include the UNESCO World Heritage site Darién National Park for treks through the wilderness; an exclusive hosted visit to the Punta Culebra Nature Center at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama City; and Carara National Park, home to over 10,000 species of plants, 300 species of birds and 200 species of butterflies. Guests will join engaging discussions onboard with Matthew Larsen, director emeritus of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, centered around the importance of ecosystems and Ralph Nurnberger, historian and expert in international relations.

The line’s eight-day “Cruising the Caribbean’s Windward Islands” itinerary departing February 13, 2022, on Le Dumont-d’Urville will see Caribbean historian Franklin Knight and geophysicist Carola Stearns, with experience in climate geomorphology, joining cruisers while discovering the most enchanting islands of the Caribbean Sea.

Departing from St. Lucia, the ship will travel to ports where larger vessels are unable reach. These will include Portsmouth, Dominica; Les Saintes, Guadeloupe; and scattered islands and uninhabited cays in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Along the way, there will be opportunities to snorkel and scuba dive in the crystal-clear waters to observe turtles, barracudas and parrotfish; birdwatch along nature trails; and spend days exploring private beaches.

Exploring Japan will be an eight-day “Treasures of Japan by Sea” itinerary on Le Soléal. The ship will begin its voyage on April 5, 2022 from Kobe, one of the first Japanese ports to open to international trade in the 19th century, to Japan’s second-largest city of Osaka, where rich heritage blends with the country’s industrialization and modernization.

The sailing will be accompanied by Jonathan Hall, Japanese film and literature expert with 20 years of experience as a Japanese-English translator, as well as Timon Screech, a specialist in the art and culture of early modern Japan. Highlights of the itinerary include an Udon-noodle master class at a Takamatsu cooking school; a visit to Hiroshima’s Peace Memorial Park; and a tour through Korakuen Garden, one of Japan’s Three Great Gardens in Okayama.

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