Almost entirely surrounded by land, the Mediterranean comprises not only the familiar Adriatic, Aegean, Balearic, Ionian, Ligurian and Tyrrhenian seas but also the lesser known Alboran and Levantine Seas, the Seas of Crete and Sardinia, and even a Sahara Sea.
It makes sense then to explore seas and surrounding lands with a local, familiar with the very best bays, beaches and historic ports, many inaccessible to large ships.
Marseille-based Ponant luxury expedition cruises has been sailing these waters for almost 30 years.
Ponant offers an extensive range of Mediterranean cruises. There are 31 departures scheduled between April and November 2018, with a range of seven- to nine-night itineraries visiting eight countries that include many UNESCO World Heritage sites. Itineraries showcase a diversity of destinations endowed with layers of civilisation reflected through history, art, music, architecture, language and culinary temptations.
Monique Ponfoort, vice president Ponant Australasia, expands on the options: “From Gibraltar to Athens, Venice to Corsica, enjoy the many facets of the Mediterranean including Zodiac landings on secluded beaches or in the heart of small ports.
“Pass through the narrows of the Corinth canal connecting the Adriatic and Aegean Seas. At just over 21 metres wide it is hard to conceive of a larger vessel than one of Ponant’s sister ships managing to squeeze its way through this historic waterway.
“Or visit the diminutive mythological Greek island of Delos in the Cyclades archipelago, sanctuary to the god Apollo and birthplace of Artemis.
Nearby, explore the island of Mykonos with its waterfront cafes, restaurants and bars. Donkey-power transport and picturesque whitewashed windmills are backdrops to this modern iteration of Mediterranean lifestyle. Casual, relaxed and above all, stylish.”
Whether it be observing active volcanoes or sipping Sicilian wine, marvelling at the extraordinary mosaics of Monreale or photographing the bronze horses in Piazza San Marco, guests can select from Ponant’s Mediterranean collection of voyages confident that they will enjoy life on board and ashore discovering the charms of the Mediterranean with a local.
Ponant itineraries in 2018 include Italy, Spain, Croatia, Montenegro, Malta, Greece, Corsica, Morocco and Egypt, venturing off the main marine highway to often explore smaller, less visited ports-of-call in Sardinia, the Balearic Islands and Corsica.
Some voyages are specially themed to appeal to those who have specific interests, for example gastronomy, music (jazz, classics and opera) or playing a round of golf on some of the Mediterranean’s stunning courses, while other guests may enjoy discovering the underwater world of the Mediterranean, scuba diving while on three-masted sailing ship, Le Ponant.