PONANT, a world leader in luxury expeditions and itineraries to ports of call that only small ships can navigate, has announced a compelling World Affairs Cruise in the Baltic. Scheduled for July 17 to 25, 2021, the eight-night cruise is an offering within PONANT’s Quintessential Collection, a series of cruises that delve deeply into a subject and destination. The cruise, aboard the newly launched PONANT EXPLORER yacht, Le Jacques-Cartier, will travel to six countries, beginning in Stockholm, Sweden and ending in Copenhagen, Denmark. Fares start at $7,070 per person (inclusive of 20% PONANT Bonus Savings).
The itinerary will be matched by an equally captivating on-board experience with an opportunity to interact with leading thinkers and policy makers about the current state of U.S. relations with the rest of the world. The timely program will feature lectures and discussions by four distinguished speakers among which include:
Robin Wright is a foreign affairs analyst, author and highly decorated journalist who is noted for her coverage of wars, revolutions and uprisings. She has served as contributing editor to The New Yorker since 1988 and was previously a diplomatic correspondent for The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and CBS News. During her 40-year career, she has reported from more than 140 countries.
Ambassador Douglas Lute served as the U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 2013-2017. In 2007, President George W. Bush named him Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan. The New York Times referred to him as the “War Czar,” due to his senior advisory position overseeing the wars. Lute served six years in the White House having also worked under the Obama administration.
Jane Holl Lute is the Special Advisor to the Secretary-General of the United Nations where she has held several positions in peacekeeping. Lute also acted as Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009 to 2013. She was responsible for the U.S. department’s efforts to prevent terrorism, enhance security and manage the nation’s borders.
The cruise will visit the great cities that edge the Baltic Sea, a fascinating comingling of metropolitan life with centuries of rich history dating back to the Vikings. The ship will first dock in Helsinki, internationally recognized for its striking modern architecture, followed by two full days in St. Petersburg, where virtually the entire city is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. During a stop in Tallinn, Estonia, explore the 13th-century Dome Cathedral and see the “My Free Country” exhibit at Maarjamäe Palace, which takes visitors on a 100-year journey through the Liberation War, Soviet occupation and restoration of independence.
Ports-of-call also include Gotland, Sweden, the largest island in the Baltic Sea to tour the preserved medieval town of Visby with its 12th century defense wall – the oldest surviving non-religious building in the Nordic countries. The final stop is Szczecin, a city in Poland nearly destroyed during World War II, which has since been completely rebuilt. Here, guests will meet with the first democratically elected President of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize-winner, Lech Walęsa, for an exclusive discussion onboard the ship. Walęsa is known for leading the effort in 1989 to end the communist rule in Poland and ushering in the conclusion of the Cold War.
The 184-passenger Le Jacques-Cartier debuted in July 2020 offering a sleek, super-yacht feel with each of the 92 staterooms and suites outfitted with balconies or private terraces. The ship also offers an industry first: The Blue Eye – a multi-sensory lounge that allows guests to experience the sub-aquatic world through sight, sound and feel. Evocative of cetaceans and jellyfish with rounded furniture directed toward two large, eye-shaped portholes in the shape of whale eyes, the lounge features digital screens displaying feeds from three underwater cameras along with a collection of Body Listening Sofas that vibrate in unison to the sounds of the ocean. Guests enjoy attentive service, gourmet French-inspired cuisine under the direction of Ducasse Conseil, and a relaxed, congenial ambiance.
The ship is certified as a “CLEANSHIP” and meets the highest environmental standards for energy conservation and resource management.
In collaboration with the IHU (Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire) Méditerranée Infection of Marseilles, one of the world’s leading centers in the field of infectious diseases, and Bureau Veritas, PONANT has developed a “Covid-Safe” protocol based on health standards that exceed international regulations. Discover PONANT health protocol.
Created in 1988, by officers of the French Merchant Navy, PONANT offers worldwide itineraries to the Arctic, Antarctica as well as in the Atlantic and North Europe, Asia, Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, Eastern Asia, Oceania, Central and South America, visit www.ponant.com, call1-844-747-2873 or contact your travel advisor.
As the travel industry looks ahead, brands are preparing for how to promote a responsible recovery to Covid-19. Luxury travel advisor network Virtuoso, with over 20,000 advisors and 2,000 travel brands in more than 50 countries, is focusing on a ‘conscious comeback’ as hotels reopen in new and innovative ways. CREST (Center for Responsible Travel) and six other global nonprofit organizations have banded together to form the Future of Tourism Coalition with the belief that travelers will demand a more sustainable tourism marketplace. As people look for ways to reduce their footprint, work more responsibly with travel companies, travel to more sustainable communities and better understand the communities they interact with, we have rounded up leading destinations who are laying the groundwork for a more sustainable future – and how travelers can get involved.
If you want to invest in local communities…
Napa Valley, CA
Napa Valley Vintners (NVV), a nonprofit trade association leading the wine region since 1944, has partnered with UNCF to create a new scholarship program for people of color to pursue college degrees in subjects ranging from grape growing, winemaking, marketing, business and more, investing $1 million into the program. Each year over the next five years, NVV will invest $200,000 in scholarships and will encourage its members to bolster the scholarship program with donations to help even more students and to ensure the effort extends beyond five years.
UXUA recruits and trains locals with little to no prior experience in hospitality. Owner Wilbert Das has invested in providing language training and university tuition reimbursement as well as one-on-one mentorship for those who need help in certain subjects that might have prevented them from completing secondary education. Despite classes being one-hour bus ride each way, three staff members completed their degrees in 2019, with 10 currently enrolled. Under the name of U-2020 initiative, the goal is to have 20 staff (out of 85) to complete or enroll in a university program by end-of-year 2020. UXUA also offers life coaching, including financial planning. As a result, 35 employees have bought land in the past six years.
Belmond helped found the Q’omer Wasicha Project in 2015 to promote organic vegetable management and cultivation in local communities as well as fair trade practices. Several communities in the Cusco region are now trained in the production of vegetables and herbs; the sustainable greenhouses allow the harvest of organic crops that would not usually survive the high altitudes of the Andes, including tomatoes, squash and zucchini.
In collaboration with Africa Foundation, andBeyond offers a Conservation Lesson program for both children and adults living in communities close to wildlife areas. Through the initiative, over 1,600 students in East Africa were able to visit andBeyond’s properties, learning firsthand about the wildlife conservation that takes place so close to their home – partaking in game drives with rangers, swimming with dolphins and witnessing turtles hatch. For many, this is the first time in their life they have been exposed to fauna in a meaningful way. These conservation lessons and interactions with andBeyond guides have been a turning point in many participants’ lives; instilling the passion and knowledge of wildlife conservation and community development in them and playing a major part in influencing their careers.
Belmond Eagle Island Lodge has worked with the nearby community village of Xaxaba Island to ensure potable drinking water for the community. Previously unavailable, Belmond donated a Jojo water tank, a leading solution in South Africa to provide safe water, as well as a bowser water tank to ensure a clean water source. Water is then regularly transported from the lodge to the village. Belmond has also assisted with providing medical assistance to the community through mobile clinics. Guests also have the opportunity to visit the neighboring Nxhoga village to learn more about the Khotla from the elders, the meeting and administration system, the cultural relevance of basket weaving and the importance of the fishing industry, witnessing how fishing nets are made.
Dr Hla Tun has been the onboard doctor for Belmond Road to Mandalay, which has been traveling along the Ayeyarwady River since 2004. In addition to his service for guests, Dr. Tun disembarks the river cruise three days per week to lead Belmond’s free health clinic that launched in 2011 as a free service to locals as well as patients who travel for miles on foot to receive medical attention.
If combatting climate change is your passion…
Just 200 years after the first man stepped foot on Antarctica, PONANT is launching the first electric luxury polar ship in 2021. It will be able to cut through ice floe up to seven feet thick – meaning it can reach rarely visited places like Peter I Island, where fewer people have visited than have set foot on the moon. It will operate with a mix of liquified natural gas (the cleanest fuel on the market) and electric battery (zero emission and can operate for up to eight hours at a time). Le Commandant-Charcot will be fitted with the latest technology for minimizing environmental impact, as well as a scientific laboratory for conducting operational oceanography missions and research. Under the supervision of naturalist guides and onboard scientists, guests will be able to participate in the research and experiments during sailings, including helping set up a research station on an ice floe; deploying an Argos transmitter, a satellite-based system which collects and shares environmental data; and taking water samples.
In the 1970s and 80s, Costa Rica had one of the highest rates of deforestation in Latin America, but it has since reversed that trend and embraced reforestation. This was largely because of the government’s commitment to the cause, making it illegal in 1996 to chop down trees without approval from authorities. They also launched PES, a program that pays farmers to protect watersheds, conserve biodiversity, or capture carbon dioxide. This has positively impacted tourism. According to the tourism board, over 60% of visitors site nature as a reason for coming. The national parks and protected areas cover over a quarter of the country’s land. Nayara Resorts is committed to the cause. Their newest property, Nayara Tented Camp, sits on a hillside that was completely deforested by farmers over 50 years ago. Nayara hired a reforestation expert to rebuild the rainforest – which began with the planting of 40,000 indigenous trees.
Chris Blackwell’s Oracabessa Foundation is restoring the coral reef as a means to bring back marine life. In recent years, through the Foundation’s efforts, the Bay saw an increase of fish presence by 1,800 percent. Because of its success, the template is being replicated in other fish sanctuaries across Jamaica. New this year, Blackwell’s hotel GoldenEye in partnership with the Oracabessa Foundation opened a new dive shop that is open to locals as well as guests, offering coral planting opportunities, with profits going back into the foundation.
Coral bleaching from factors like climate change and El Niño has led to the death of 60-90% of the Maldivian reefs. As the only luxury property that is located both on the beach and on a coral reef, Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi offers guests the chance to adopt a coral frame ($175 USD per frame) during their stay. The coral frames are built using broken coral fragments found on local reefs, which are then rehabilitated in the property’s coral nursery and left to grow and regain their health.
If you want to save endangered animals…
Iguassu Falls, Brazil
When Belmond took over the Hotel dasCataratas in 2007, it not only invested in the hotel itself, but in the surrounding Iguassu National Park. The company committed 4 million Brazilian Reals to help update the park’s electricity supply, redesign the old park entrance and build a bicycle path from the gate to the hotel. It also donated 1.4 million Brazilian Reals towards the Projeto Onças do Iguaçu (Jaguars of Iguassu Project) to help preserve the last of the area’s jaguars. Ten years ago the population of these big cats was in sharp decline. The Jaguars of Iguassu Project installed night vision cameras around the park and used tracking devices fitted onto captured and released animals to study their behaviors and devise programs to improve their survival and breeding rates. Since the Jaguars of Iguassu Project began the number of jaguars has increased from around 9 to at least 28 (census of 2019). After exploring the national park, guests can stop by the hotel’s boutique and purchase a stuffed jaguar where a portion of the proceeds continue to support the project.
Pangolins are mini (and adorable) dinosaur-like mammals. While not commonly known in the U.S., these native African anteaters are covered in keratin scales, which are highly valuable to poachers, making them the most trafficked mammal in the world. The species used to roam freely in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, but have been locally extinct for decades. Private groups at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve can have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with these elusive creatures with andBeyond’s Pangolin Conservation Experience and assist in replacing tags and monitoring behavior.
If you want to lead by example…
Gregory Miller is a leader in responsible tourism, an expert in public-private partnerships and a trained environmental scientist who believes in working globally, acting locally, and protecting our precious natural and cultural resources. Greg joined CREST as Executive Director in 2019, bringing to the organization a global track record of high-impact results in sustainable travel and recreation, biodiversity conservation, and policy development. He is also a founder of the newly formed Future of Tourism Coalition, as well as the Outdoor Alliance, National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, and Parks in Peril program.
Joss Kent joined andBeyond in January 2012 and brought with him a passion for working with local communities and preserving land and wildlife. He came to andBeyond after several years as CEO of Abercrombie & Kent. Starting his career as a game ranger, Joss has gone on to champion leading sustainability and community initiatives including Ocean Without Border and Rhinos Without Border and continuing a partnership with the Africa Foundation to work with local communities to fill their needs, from building schools to creating water filtration systems.
Cindy Pawlcynis the chef behind Mustards Grill, a Napa Valley landmark for more than 30 years. She opened the restaurant when the region was still largely pasture, with few restaurants and even fewer chefs (none whom were women!). Then, at 28 years old, Pawlcyn was also among the first to plant an organic garden outside her restaurant. Today, Mustards is still a Napa favorite, and has served more than one million pork chops – her signature dish.
Charity Cheruiyotwas the first female safari ranger in Kenya’s Masai Mara. Having grown up in a small village as a member of the Kalenjin tribe, Charity paved her own way to a future in the bush. She now is a favorite ranger among guests of andBeyond Bateleur Camp, teaching the brand’s values of care of the land, wildlife, and people.
Wilbert Das, the former creative director at Diesel, founded UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa in Trancoso, Brazil. Today, Wilbert’s life in Trancoso extends far beyond the (unmarked) entrance of UXUA. As the town’s “unofficial mayor,” he is steadfast in his support of the community and proves that eco-conscious efforts and a propensity for high design are not mutually exclusive.
PONANT, a leader in
luxury expeditions, will continue to broaden its horizons in 2020 with the
addition of two new ships, a new partnership and 50 new itineraries through
destinations in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.
The PONANT EXPLORERS
fleet will total six ships with the launch of LeBellot in April 2020and LeJacques
Cartierin July 2020.Both vessels will feature an
innovative Blue Eye lounge located eight feet beneath the water line. The
industry-first, multi-sensory space will allow guests to experience the
subaquatic world through sight, sound and feel.
Space to watch: PONANT will also
launch Le Commandant Charcot in May 2021. As the first
luxury hybrid polar vessel, it will be powered by Liquefied Natural Gas and
electric battery. The ship will be able to reach the true North Pole at 90
PONANT announced a new partnership with the Musée du Louvre to bring Paris to the sea with two new sailings in the Adriatic and Persian Gulf departing in August and November 2020 respectively. In collaboration with PONANT, onboard programming will be carefully designed with curators and department directors from the Louvre for guests to discover the ancient lands that have inspired the museum’s collections.
NORTH AMERICA: PONANT will have a new eight-day itinerary from
Alaska to British Columbia. As the leader in
luxury polar expeditions, PONANT is the authority on traversing the
northern icy waters. On the July 22, 2020 departure, Le Soléal will travel along
the Tracy Arm Fjord, amidst dramatic cliffs that rise more than 3,000 feet on
either side. Travelers will then explore smaller inlets on the coast where
guests can see humpback whales, cascading waterfalls and neon blue
EUROPE: PONANT will have eight ships exploring Europe’s
coastline on more than 15 new itineraries. Among the highlights is a
nine-night, music-themed cruise in September 2020 that will cover the rich
cultural heritage of Northern Europe accompanied by world-class chamber
musicians performing an all-Beethoven repertoire. The sailing coincides with a
worldwide celebration of Beethoven’s 250th birthday. In warmer
waters, new Mediterranean sailings will include trips between Athens and Venice
and voyages through the Aegean Sea.
ASIA: Le Jacques Cartier – one of the line’s newest vessels – will
debut five Asia sailings in fall and winter 2020. The ship, which features the
industry-first Blue Eye lounge, is set to travel through the Persian Gulf and
Gulf of Oman on an eight-night journey that makes stops in Muscat, Dubai, Abu
Dhabi and Doha among other smaller ports, like Sur, Khasab and Sir Bani
Yas. Meanwhile a new itinerary on Le Lapérouse will
depart from Mumbai on December 28, 2020 and continue south to the atolls in the
Maldives before concluding in Sri Lanka.
AFRICA: Guests will be able to see the Seychelles like
never before as Le Bougainville and its underwater lounge
embark on a selection of new expeditions in the region beginning in December
2019. The ship will make a new port of call each day. Suspended in the
Indian Ocean, the atolls are only accessible by boat. In addition to exploring
UNESCO World Heritage sites, there will be opportunities to spot wildlife, like
the indigenous Aldabra tortoises, weighing up to 550 pounds.
WORLDWIDE: In 2020, PONANT will continue to offer a series
of themed cruises that feature onboard speakers and tailored shore excursions
that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into the history of the
destinations. Each of the six different itineraries will touch on a different
topic with highlights including a birding trip through Costa Rica, a culinary
sailing that circumnavigates Sicily, and a voyage through the Baltic Sea with
leading policy makers, including former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Admiral James Stavridis.
Established in 1988 by
Jean Emmanuel Sauvée and a dozen officers from the French Merchant Navy, PONANT
offers a style of sea travel which combines exceptional itineraries with luxury
hotel services aboard smaller-scale ships. In 2021 PONANT will launch Le
Commandant Charcot, the first electric hybrid cruise ship with luxury
appointments, yet another pioneering development in polar exploration. It
will be the first ship to reach the true geographic North Pole.
For more information on PONANT’s worldwide itineraries to the Arctic, Antarctica as well as in the Atlantic and North Europe, Asia, Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, Eastern Asia, Oceania, Central and South America, visit www.ponant.com, call l 1-844-747-2873 or contact your travel advisor.
PONANT, a leader in luxury polar expeditions and the only cruise line carrying the French flag, has just introduced its “Quintessential Collection,” a series of themed cruises. Launching May 2019, the sailings include speakers and performances aboard the ship, and excursions ashore that embrace the local culture and theme.
Green and Gentle Lands: Exploring Gardens and Historic Sites, May 14-22, 2019: Guest speaker, Holly Shimizu, retired Executive Director of the United States Botanic Garden and internationally recognized horticulturist for more than four decades will lead discussions onboard while sailing to the British Isles, Belgium, and Norway. Guests will enjoy special access at Kew Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage site home to more than 40,000 plants; Chelsea Physic Garden, London’s oldest botanical garden founded in 1621; and the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, for a gala luncheon hosted by the grounds’ director.
Sicilian Food and Wine Experience, June 28-July 6, 2019: Embark on a circumnavigation of Sicily joined by guest lecturer, Mary Taylor Simeti, travel and food writer for TheNew York Times and the Financial Times, who has lived in the region for more than five decades. Meander through the outdoor markets and enjoy the street food of Palmero, famous for its specialties including focaccia; and see ancient Greek Temples from 3600-2500 BC. Guests will enjoy dishes paired with wines carefully chosen by Wine Spectator – all under the guidance of local wine ambassador and educator, Marco Scapagnini.
Treasures of the Mediterranean World: A Family Learning Adventure, July 15-22, 2019: While traveling from Rome to Athens, Kathleen M. Lynch, Professor of Classics at the University of Cincinnati and Greek archaeology/mythology expert; and Jason Weiser, host of “Myths & Legends” podcast will lead discussions designed for all generations about the region’s history, literature and culture. Flexible cabins are available to accommodate families, and activities including photo workshops and a mock Olympics competition on the original grounds are also on offer as part of the Young Explorers children’s program.
History, Art, and Architecture Along the North Sea, August 23-September 1, 2019: The journey is accompanied by Till-Holger Borchert, General Director of the Municipal Museum of Bruges. Copenhagen is the first port of call with a visit to the Louisiana Museum, offering an extensive collection of art dating from World War II to present day; followed by six days on shore exploring exhibits in Holland and Belgium. See the modern and contemporary art of the Groninger Museum; discover the world’s largest collection of works by Vincent van Gogh at his namesake museum, and learn about Michelangelo’s Madonna, a marble sculpture crafted in the early 1500s in Bruges.
A Musical Odyssey in the Mediterranean, September 18-27, 2019: Explore Greece’s landmark sites along the Aegean, Ionian, and Tyrrhenian Seas. Visit Delphi, an archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage Site; and see the third-century Ancient Theater in Taormina aboard the new Le Bougainville. Michael Parloff, former principal flutist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for more than 30 years will lead a series of private recitals from world-class musicians, including flutist Jasmine Choi, cellist Nicholas Canellakis, and pianist and composer, Michael Brown.
World War II History – From Hong Kong to Japan’s Inland Sea, September 27-October 10, 2019: Follow in the footsteps of American General Douglas MacArthur, who sailed from China to Japan to accept the Japanese surrender at the conclusion of the war. Walk along Okinawa’s beaches; hike the snow-capped Mount Fuji; and see the “floating” torii gate as part of the Itsukushima Shrine in Hiroshima. James Bradley, expert World War II historian and son of John Bradley, who raised the flag on Iwo Jima, will lead discussions onboard.
World Affairs Cruise – Origins of Greek Civilizations, October 9-18. 2019: Travel into the heart of the ancient Greek world with ports of call in Athens, to roam the ruins of the Acropolis and Parthenon; and Crete, home to the earliest recorded civilization in Europe. The voyage will be accompanied by Fareed Zakaria, CNN host and Washington Post columnist; Michael V. Hayden, retired US Air Force general and former Director of the CIA; and Daniel Mendelsohn, internationally best-selling author and columnist for Harper’s.
PONANT was created in 1988 by Jean Emmanuel Sauvée and a dozen officers of the French Merchant Navy and is a fore-runner of a new style of luxury cruising, combining exceptional itineraries and luxury hotel services aboard luxurious smaller-scale ships. www.ponant.com