You Can Now Get a Smithsonian-Level Education at Sea on These Enriching Global Cruises

Travel has the potential to serve as an effective tool for lifelong learning. The Smithsonian Institution has curated a collection of cruises that include lectures and discussions from sought-after experts in order to provide passengers with a deeper and more comprehensive understanding of the destinations the ship visits.

Traveling on board a Smithsonian Journeys cruise is an opportunity to learn about the history and culture of the places you’re visiting, both on and off the ship, with the help of the French small-ship expedition line Ponant.

This year’s cruises to Iceland, Norway, southern Spain, Portugal, the Arctic fjords, Tahiti, and the Great Lakes will be the first since the program’s original announcement in 2021 was delayed by COVID.

In September 2022 and October 2023, passengers on Great Lakes cruises will hear from Frederick Stonehouse. Author of more than 30 books on maritime history, including best-seller The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, about a notorious Great Lakes shipwreck. He is an experienced mariner.

In addition to the insightful discussions, the bespoke shore excursions that are included in each port of call are a major selling point. They include a total solar eclipse in northwestern Australia, a private after-hours visit to Spain’s Alhambra fortress complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and a tour of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s extensive art collection. Even more impressive is the fact that Ponant ships have a maximum capacity of just 200 passengers, so guests will never feel like they’re in a sea of strangers.

This year Smithsonian Journeys plans to offer 21 trips to destinations around the world. Ones that really stand out.

From Dubai to Muscat, a voyage along the Arabian Sea.

The Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, home to more than 600 works of art displayed in 23 galleries, are just two of the highlights of this eight-night itinerary in January 2023. Oman’s Musandam Peninsula is known as the “Norway of the Middle East” for its dramatic limestone cliffs and aquamarine waters in the fjords of the Musandam Peninsula. From $7,290 per person, you can book this cruise.

Discussions on the Middle East will be led by former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, in an effort to give passengers a deeper understanding of the region.

Indonesia to Australia’s Kimberley in 2023: a solar eclipse

The only place in the world where a total solar eclipse will be completely visible will be off the northwest coast of Australia in April 2023, when this voyage will set sail. With stops in Bali, Komodo Islands, and Kimberley, Australia, the 15-night voyage includes a stop in Indonesia and a stop in the Kimberley. Fares begin at $20,480.

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Associate Director of Science Alex Young, a solar astrophysicist, will be onboard to provide additional educational opportunities.

Cruising from Morocco to the Andalusian coast of Spain

Sail from Casablanca to Lisbon in April 2023 and see the coastlines of Portugal, Morocco, and Spain up close. A visit to the Alhambra in Granada after hours is a must-do while on land. In Seville, the Real Alcázar de Sevilla, a former royal palace, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Starting at $4,530, you can book a seven-night cruise.

In addition to Alia Kate, a North African international relations expert who founded Kantara, an ethical design company that specializes in women’s weaving cooperative Moroccan rugs, and Rafael Chacon, an art historian who has twice walked the ancient Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route that spans France and Spain, cruisers will benefit from their insights into the cultures of the places they visit during their time onboard.

A journey around Sicily

Spend a week learning about Sicily from the perspective of a renowned archaeologist. Agrigento, one of Sicily’s oldest cities and home to well-preserved Greek ruins, will be a stop on the tour’s itinerary. Segesta, the site of a Doric temple that was never finished, is next on the itinerary. The ancient Greek theater in Taormina and the Byzantine Arab mosaics in Palermo are both open to passengers. The Stromboli Volcano is currently erupting lava as you sail through the night sky. The starting price for this eight-day cruise is $5,370.

Travelers will have the opportunity to speak with renowned archaeologist Albert Leonard, who has directed excavations all over the Mediterranean during his three decades in the field.

An epic journey from Quebec to the Canadian Maritimes: Symphony on the St. Lawrence

In October 2023, set sail from Toronto to Gloucester, Massachusetts, for a 14-night musical voyage through eastern Canada and northern New England. Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island (home of Anne of Green Gables) and Arcadia National Park in Bar Harbor, Maine are among the ports of call on this cruise. On top of that, Keith Lockhart, conductor of the Boston Pops, will be on board to perform. Prices start at $11,860.

Lockhart has curated a musical program that includes four performances by six musicians, all conducted by the maestro, as well as a lecture.