Cruise the Mediterranean aboard Le Ponant

Overview

Pristine nature, idyllic beaches, enchanting port cities, secret coves, and rocky headlands: the Mediterranean will enchant you with the beauty of its landscapes. Aboard the elegant three-masted Le Ponant, set sail on a journey through this shimmering sea, calling at such places as the island of Elba, where Napoleon resided during his exile, and Corsica, the renowned “Ile de Beauté.” Bonifacio, the jewel of Corsica, is a veritable fortress sculpted by the wind and spray, and the Greek heritage of the small coastal city of Cargèse is still very much in evidence. Your last stop in Corsica is at Calvi, a city combining charm and beauty, where you'll come ashore to stroll through the streets of the old citadel before returning to Nice.

Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.

Itinerary

Day 1, Jul 25, 2019
Nice, France / Embark

Arrive in Nice, capital of the Cote d’Azur. Embark on Le Ponant in the late afternoon and cruise overnight to the isle of Elba.

Day 2, Jul 26, 2019
Portoferraio, Elba

In the elbow of a creek on the northern coastline of Elba Island, a small corner of paradise awaits in the form of Portoferraio. As you approach its coastlines, you will make out the powerful and majestic contours of its Medici fortresses. Napoleon Bonaparte spent many of his 300 days in exile here. You can walk in his footsteps at his first imperial residence, the Palazzina dei Mulini, whose gardens offer outstanding views of the sea. Historical treasures are followed by another kind of treasure, namely white-sand beaches, and equally tempting local specialities including gurguglione and rice with cuttlefish ink.

An optional excursion brings you to Napoleon’s Museum in the Villa San Martino, also known as Napoleon’s Residence. Surrounded by vineyards, the Villa has been rebuilt by the Prince Demidoff, parent of the Emperor, who bought it in 1851, changed it in a neoclassical house, and finally turned it in a museum. You will also stop at several magnificent bays along the coast, great opportunities for photographers. At Porto Azzurro you will have time to browse along the charming streets of this town dominated by an ancient medieval fortress. The town also boasts a pretty fisherman’s harbor and numerous shops selling minerals and crystals. The tour ends with a stop at a country wine-farm for a sampling of local wines.

Day 3, Jul 27, 2019
Porto Santo Stefano, Italy

Cruise to Porto Santo Stefano, a charming town with a seafaring tradition on the Tuscan coast. Here you'll find the remains of Roman ruins, including the baths of Domitian, and a beautiful seaside promenade, ideal for a leisurely walk. There's also an ancient Spanish fortress to explore, and nearby beaches offer a relaxing interlude.

Day 4, Jul 28, 2019
Gulf of Sant'Amanza, Corsica / Bonifacio

An overnight cruise brings you to the Gulf of Sant'Amanza, whose beach is among the most beautiful in Corsica. Arrive in the evening in the spectacular town of Bonifacio. Located on the very tip of southern Corsica, Bonifacio clings to a narrow promontory of white rock overhanging the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean.

Days 5-6, Jul 29-30, 2019
Bonifacio

Admire Bonifacio's limestone cliffs hewn out by the wind before setting off on a tour of its cultural treasures. From the little paved streets in the ancient Haute Ville, to the promenade on the open-air medieval chemin de ronde, this stunning town will take you on a journey back in time. Frequented or secluded, there are numerous beaches to choose from, all in keeping with the high standards of the “Île de Beauté”.

An optional excursion includes a cruise aboard a local boat that brings you along the coast of Bonifacio for a spectacular view of the citadel and upper town. You'll explore marine caves that are home to numerous birds including falcons, puffins, and swifts. Continue to the Lavezzi Islands, which make up one of Corsica's two marine reserves and offer sanctuary to marine wildlife and plants. These uninhabited barren islands of granite rock lie seven miles southeast of Bonifacio, seemingly adrift on a turquoise-emerald sea, the color of which varies with the skies overhead. There are many magnificent beaches, and you will be at leisure for an hour to enjoy the fine sand and sea. There are also numerous paths leading to coves for exploring this unique landscape. The island is home to several rare species of wildflowers, including the yellow horned poppy and white sea daffodil, and was declared a nature reserve in 1982.

Day 7, Jul 31, 2019
Cargese, Corsica / Calvi

A picturesque South Corsican fishing port and marina port located very close to Ajaccio, Cargèse is known as “the most Greek of Corsican villages.” In fact, during the 17th century, it sheltered a large Greek colony, seeking refuge from the Turkish invasion in Corsica, which, at the time, was under Genoese control. The town preserves the heritage of this historic event. Besides the Saint-Spyridon Greek church, which faces the Baroque-style Latin church, the town’s traditional houses are white and their shutters blue. The town’s Genoese towers, the Tower of Orchinu and the Tower of Ormigna, also reflect its Genoese cultural heritage.

An optional coach tour reveals the picturesque villages of the Balagne region, with a stop for a visit of a donkey-driven olive oil mill complete with an olive oil tasting. Or, you may wish to explore the town of Calvi. Walking along the town's narrow lane and the ancient ramparts, this tour will give you the opportunity to learn more about Calvi's history, from its beginning as a fishing village to its century as a Genoese stronghold, until its current status as a picturesque vacation getaway.

Day 8, Aug 1, 2019
Nice, France / Disembark

Le Ponant arrives back in Nice. Bid farewell to your crew and transfer to the airport on your own for departure on homeward-bound flight, or stay on a few days in this incredibly beautiful city. You may want to explore the Promenade des Anglais, where you can sit on one of the famous blue chairs laid out opposite the shoreline of the Baie des Anges, or explore the Château hill. This is the entrance to the old city, with its bustling markets and regional products along the main street, the Cours Saleya. If you want to plunge into Nice’s diverse cultural heritage, visit the Lascaris palace with its baroque decorations. The museums dedicated to painters Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall are an absolute must.

Highlights

Highlights

Sail the Mediterranean aboard Le Ponant, a luxurious three-mast yacht
Discover the most beautiful places in Corsica, including the Nature Reserve of the Strait of Bonifacio, with its exceptional sea life, and Calvi and its citadel with its Genoese houses
Explore Cargèse, a former Greek colony, and the Orthodox church of Saint Spyridon
On the isle of Elba, visit Napoleon’s former home
Option of diving with an experienced instructor and swimming from the ship’s marina platform or on spectacular beaches

Details

Length: 8 days
Cost From: $5760  
Arrive: Nice, France
Depart: Nice, France
Lodging: 7 nights aboard a 64-guest vessel
Meals: All meals aboard ship, with most beverages included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Diving, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

7-night cruise, cultural exploration and walking tours
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