The luxury French cruise line Ponant has teamed up with Smithsonian Journeys to offer a series of co-branded, destination-immersive sailings, one of which will feature the Arabian Gulf.
One of the cruise line’s newest ships, Le Bougainville, will sail a 9-day voyage from Dubai to Doha, and Abu Dhabi, as well as lesser-known regional jewels like the island of Sir Bani Yas, and Oman’s “Norway of Arabia,” the peninsula of Musandam.
The cruise will depart on January 6th, 2023, and will be one of 21 such voyages offered by Ponant and Smithsonian Journeys. Each sailing will feature Smithsonian Journeys Experts such as art historians, NASA solar astrophysicists, or international relations experts, whose expertise and knowledge will shed new light on the destination.
The 9-day Arabian Gulf cruise for example will feature Karl Eikenberry, the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, among its experts.
Ambassador Eikenberry will lead discussions centered on Middle East affairs and help travelers develop a more nuanced understanding of the region as Le Bougainville makes her way across the Gulf toward Fujairah, the southernmost city in the UAE, and Muscat, the capital of Oman, where the cruise will end.
Smithsonian Journeys is the travel program of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education, and research complex. It conducts holidays and cruises to more than 350 destinations each year, offering excursions and land-based experiences led by true experts.
“Drawing on Smithsonian’s resources dating back 175 years, the sailings feature notable experts and experiences that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife,” the company says.
“Picture visiting Santiago de Compostela on Easter Sunday with a European historian,” it added. “Or traveling even further back in time as you stand on the ancient basalt rock of an Icelandic fjord with a geologist. Or touring the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute with an ecologist studying the very same Panamanian rainforest that you will hike the next day.”
Highlights of the Arabian Gulf voyage:
Architecture and Design: Delve into an enthralling concoction of futuristic design and Arabian tradition. Ascend Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, and experience Masdar City, an experiment in sustainable urban design in the heart of Abu Dhabi. In Doha, Qatar, visit museums and other buildings built by some of the world’s foremost architects.
Dubai: Meander through the aromatic spice souk and the glittering gold souk, and visit the Dubai Museum, housed within a historic fort. Then explore Emirati culture at the Sheikh Mohammed Center of Cultural Understanding, and sit down to a Bedouin-style lunch.
United Arab Emirates: In cosmopolitan Abu Dhabi, trace the evolution of world art at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and stroll beneath archways and marble domes in the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Explore the wildlife reserve of Sir Bani Yas Island by 4×4. Later, visit the 16th-century fort and museum of Fujairah, and see a mud-and-stone mosque in the Al Bithna oasis.
Qatar: Visit the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, designed by IM Pei. Learn about Qatari history and heritage at the new National Museum, and delve into the colorful bustle of Souk Waqif, built on the site of an ancient marketplace.
Oman: From Khasab, Oman, sail a traditional dhow into the fjords of the Musandam Peninsula, and end your voyage in the historic capital, Muscat.