25% Ponant Bonus
In alliance with Smithsonian Journeys.
This cruise is part of a collection of PONANT voyages that are specially-tailored for English-speaking travelers who want to engage with the world. In addition to the usual elements of the PONANT experience, the listed price for these voyages includes transfers to and from the ship, talks and discussions aboard ship by world class experts, and a shore excursion or activity in each port of call that encourages guests to embrace the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of the local environment and culture.
Join PONANT and Smithsonian Journeys for an extraordinary 10-day voyage through the Baltic Sea featuring specially arranged, exclusive presentations and discussions aboard with former President of Poland and Nobel Peace Prize-laureate Lech Wałęsa while in Gdansk, Poland, and with former mayor of Copenhagen Bo Asmus Kjeldgaard while in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The Baltic Sea has been a thoroughfare of trade since the days of the Vikings. We will visit the great cities that ring its shores and experience a comingling of cosmopolitan life with centuries of rich history.
From Finland’s vibrant capital of Helsinki, Le Champlain sails first to Tallinn, an important hub for the Hanseatic League in the Baltic Sea around the 13th century. Its Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage site and retains remarkably well-preserved ramparts, public buildings, merchant houses, and warehouses.
Spend a full day in cosmopolitan Stockholm, whose lively Gamla Stan (old town) located on a compact island beckons you to explore its narrow cobblestone streets lined with 17th- and 18th-century buildings, including the Royal Palace.
On Gotland—the largest island in the Baltic Sea—you stop at the beautifully preserved medieval town of Visby, once a stronghold of the Hanseatic League.
Continue on to Latvia's capital, Riga, also a UNESCO World Heritage site, which combines the charms of its Old Town with an impressive array of Art Nouveau architecture.
Klaipeda is your gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Curonian Peninsula and an opportunity to learn the traditional art of beekeeping or to immerse yourself in the local food and folklore of Lithuania.
You sail next to Gdansk, a city with a 1000 year history whose shipyard served as the birthplace of the Solidarity Trade Union in 1980. The wave of dissent arising from the Solidarity movement helped lead to Polish independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.
Call at the small Danish island of Bornholm, whose lush farmland and rich herring fisheries share the land with the ruins of a medieval fortress and four of the ancient round churches for which Denmark is noted.
End with an overnight and full day to explore Copenhagen, which offers a chance to relive 800 years of royal history at the stunning Christiansborg Palace, once home to kings and queens and now home to the Danish Parliament. Here you will also have the opportunity to learn about the city’s commitment to sustainability and its goal to become the world’s first carbon neutral capital city by the year 2025.
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*Price is per person, based on double occupancy, based on availability, and subject to change at any time. The category of stateroom to which this price applies may no longer be available.
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Nina Khrushcheva is Professor of International Affairs at The New School in New York and an editor of and a contributor to Project Syndicate: Association of Newspapers Around the World. Her articles have appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, and other publications. Her books include Imagining Nabokov: Russia Between Art and Politics, The Lost Khrushchev: A Journey into the Gulag of the Russian Mind, and In Putin's Footsteps: Searching for the Soul of an Empire Across Russia's Eleven Time Zones (co-authored).
Language spoken : English
Lech Wałęsa is the legendary leader of the “Solidarity” movement and the author of its victory in 1989 over the communist regime in Poland.
Wałęsa was born on 29 October 1943. First mention of his activity in the anti-communist opposition originates from 1968 when Wałęsa, then a young electrician in the Gdansk Shipyard, tried to persuade his colleagues not to take part in the mass meetings organized by the Polish government to condemn student strikes. He then became actively engaged in public affairs, taking part in the work of the Strike Committee in December 1970.
After the death of many protesters shot by police forces suppressing strikes in December 1970, Wałęsa, realizing he cannot allow the situation to repeat itself, engaged himself in the Free Trade Unions. He was responsible for organizing workers and educating laborers on their rights.
In August 1980 Wałęsa was one of the organizers of the strike in the Gdansk Shipyard. His bravery resulted in unyielding negotiations and the struggle for the realization of protester demands. Wałęsa’s activity led to a bloodless victory and the foundation of “Solidarity,” the first independent and oppositional social movement in the Soviet bloc.
The success of “Solidarity” and Wałęsa as its leader, now recognized around the world, resulted in a fierce reaction by the communist regime. On 13 December 1981, in an attempt to suppress political opposition, martial law was introduced. “Solidarity” was quickly delegalized and Wałęsa interned.
Martial law caused many to lose hope for freedom, but Wałęsa did not consider surrender. His belief in the idea of solidarity was stronger than the repression of the regime. This commitment was recognized by the global community in 1983 when he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
In 1989 Wałęsa was the leader of the oppositional delegation during the Round Table Talks. Although relatively weak, the Polish regime was still dangerous. Wałęsa’s courage led to compromise with the communist authorities. The election of 4 July 1989 was a great success for the opposition and resulted in the formation of the first noncommunist cabinet in the Soviet bloc.
On 22 December 1990 Wałęsa was elected president of free Poland. During and after his presidency he remained engaged in public life as an advocate of Poland around the world. He strongly supported Poland’s accession to NATO and the EU. In 1995 he founded the Lech Wałęsa Institute. Its aim is to popularize the achievement of “Solidarity,” educate young generations, and support democracy and the creation of civil society in Poland and around the world.
Today Wałęsa continues his mission of promoting the idea of solidarity. Around the world, he speaks about Poland’s bloodless transition towards peace and democracy as a role model for different nations and calls for a world based on universal values and peaceful cooperation.
In 1989, Wałęsa was awarded the highest US decoration for foreigners, the Medal of Freedom.
Language spoken: Polish
Photo credit: Lars Møller
Subject to withdrawal in case of force majeure
Important trip details
The information below is current but subject to change at any time without advance notice from government authorities. Please consult your respective government agencies for visa and health information.
Passport valid for at least six (6) months beyond the completion of your trip. Passport must contain at least two completely clear, blank, unused visa pages for each visa required, not including any amendment pages. Visa pages with stains or ink from other pages in the passport are not usable. Guests who deviate from the scheduled embarkation or disembarkation port should research the foreign entry requirements for the port country. Due to government regulations, regrettably, Ponant will have to deny boarding to any guest who fails to obtain the appropriate travel documentation for this trip.
Russia: A group visa will be supplied only for those guests participating in PONANT organized tours or private arrangements and will cover you for their duration only.
If you want to explore St. Petersburg independently, you will need to obtain a visa prior to departure and at your own additional expense.
Warning about the use of drones: the use of drones aboard PONANT ships, whether they are sailing at sea, at a port of call or anchored, is strictly forbidden. The use of drones on land in the Arctic and Antarctic regions is also strictly forbidden by international polar regulations. In other regions, it may be possible to use drones on land if permission has been obtained from the relevant authorities of each country and each region travelled through, as well as a pilot’s licence that should be obtained from your home country. Passengers are responsible for obtaining these permits; they should be able to present them at all times. Passengers who do not obtain these authorisations expose themselves to the risk of legal proceedings.
Ideal clothes for life on board:
During the days spent on board, you are advised to wear comfortable clothes or casual outfits. The entire ship is air-conditioned, so a light sweater, a light jacket or a shawl may be necessary. When moving about in the public areas of the ship and the decks, light but comfortable shoes are recommended.
In the evening, you are advised to wear smart-casual attire, especially when dining in our restaurants where wearing shorts and tee-shirts is not allowed.
Depending on the itinerary and the program of your cruise, an Officer’s Evening with a white dress code may be organized. Therefore, we encourage you to bring a stylish white outfit for the occasion (otherwise black and white).
During the cruise, two gala evenings will be organised on board. Thus, we recommend that you bring one or two formal outfits.
A small shop is available on board offering a wide range of outfits, jewellery, leather goods and many accessories.
A laundry service (washing/ironing) is available on board, but unfortunately there are no dry cleaning services. For safety reasons, your cabin is not equipped with an iron.
OUTFITS ON BOARD:
In your hand luggage, remember to bring any medicines that you need, and possibly a small spare bag of toiletries (in case of delay in the delivery of your baggage by the airline). Remember to always have your travel documents with you in case you need them: hotel vouchers, cruise vouchers, return flight tickets... Never leave them in your hold luggage.
All our cabins have a safe. We recommend not to go ashore with valuable jewellery.
Smithsonian Journeys is the travel programme of the Smithsonian Institution, the world’s largest museum, education and research complex, consisting of 21 museums, the National Zoological Park, education centers, research facilities, cultural centers, and libraries. Drawing on Smithsonian's resources dating back 175 years, these sailings will feature notable experts and experiences that embrace local cultures and dive deeper into a destination’s history, cuisine, language, environment, and wildlife. For more than 50 years, Smithsonian Journeys has been rooted in and focused on cultural immersion and discovery – with a goal of inspiring guests to become global citizens through travel.
Subject to withdrawal in case of force majeure
Embarkation 24/07/2023 from 18:00 to 19:00
Departure 24/07/2023 at 22:00
Seated in the southern peninsula of Finland, Helsinki offers the buzz of a cosmopolitan city that has opted for both elegance and beauty. Explore its historical centre where the soft hues of neoclassical buildings are juxtaposed with spectacular modern constructions. The bustling Kallio district is teeming with boutiques and restaurants where you can taste some local specialities like graavilohi - a sweet, marinated, aromatic salmon dish. Keskuspuisto park, a stone’s throw from the centre, is a good place to sit and unwind.
Arrival 25/07/2023 early morning
Departure 25/07/2023 midday
Opening onto the Baltic sea, to the far north of Estonia, the town of Tallin will win you over with the picturesque charm of its architecture. You can meander through its little streets in the heart of the medieval centre where its gothic town hall has been standing since 1404. The Kiek in de Kök tower, the Orthodox Alexander Nevski cathedral, or Toompea castle give visitors a taste of this town’s rich past. The city was particularly active during the medieval period, as is demonstrated by the very beautiful monuments from this period that are still visible. Don't hesitate to lose yourself in the heart of Tallinn, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Arrival 26/07/2023 early morning
Departure 26/07/2023 late afternoon
The capital of Sweden occupies an archipelago in the east of the country at the junction of Mälar Lake and the Baltic sea. In Gamla stan, meaning “old town” in Swedish, you can stroll at your leisure in picturesque medieval streets until you reach the majestic Royal Palace. On the green island of Djurgården, you can visit several very different kinds of cultural centres: the Vasa museum is dedicated to a 17th century three-mast, the ecomuseum of Skansen presents traditional customs, and the ABBA museum is dedicated to the legendary pop group. For a fantastic, all-encompassing view of Stockholm, you can take a ride in SkyView, a glass-encased sphere gondola that takes you to the top of the world’s largest building, the Ericsson Globe, a Stockholm landmark.
Arrival 27/07/2023 early morning
Departure 27/07/2023 midday
This old Hanseatic city lies to the west coast of Gotland, a Swedish island in the Baltic sea. Pass through the spectacular Visby fortifications and visit the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. You’ll discover the grand Visby homes of rich merchants as well as the lovely low wooden houses in the little cobbled streets. Don’t miss Saint Mary’s cathedral with its octagonal steeples, as well as Powder tower along the fortifications. Make sure you stop over in one of the rose-adorned cafés; indeed roses abound in this town where you can taste one of the island’s specialities, namely saffron pancakes with red fruit.
Arrival 28/07/2023 early morning
Departure 28/07/2023 early afternoon
At the place where East meets West on the edge of the Baltic Sea, Riga, the capital of Latvia, will charm you with its contrasts. Although it is one of the oldest cities in the Baltic states, with a unique atmosphere that is imbued with the memory of its medieval past, Riga is also tangibly dynamic and modern. As you stroll through its old town, you will enjoy its exceptional architecture, its cathedrals, the remains of old walls and the typical narrow streets. Nicknamed “the Paris of the North” in the 1930s, this cosmopolitan city boasts a rich heritage.
Arrival 29/07/2023 midday
Departure 29/07/2023 early evening
Klaipeda was founded in the 13th century by Christian crusaders from the German Order of Teutonic Knights. Its strategic location on the edge of the Baltic Sea has made it a source of conflict between Germans, Poles, Lithuanians and even the French since its creation. Today, the legacy of Klaipeda’s rich history is a great multiculturalism. This is the main port of Lithuania and the country’s third largest city. The beautiful landscapes of the surrounding Baltic coast make it a popular tourist destination. The city centre is very pleasant to visit due to its architecture blending German and Scandinavian influences.
Arrival 30/07/2023 early morning
Departure 30/07/2023 early evening
This ravishing city on the Baltic sea is nicknamed “the golden door of Poland”, and you’ll understand why when you see its beautiful Hanseatic architecture. You’ll be charmed by the mouldings and gables that enhance the colourful façades of the houses. Along the Vistula Quays, you can take a pleasant stroll among the crafts shops. In elegant Mariacka street, the amber jewellers will most certainly tempt you into their boutiques. You can visit the church of Saint-Mary and its astronomic clock. Not far, the majestic Long Market square offers the famous Artus Court and the rich Gdansk History Museum.
Arrival 31/07/2023 midday
Departure 31/07/2023 early evening
To the south-west of the Baltic Sea, the small Danish island of Bornholm is a magnificent and light-filled setting for the charming town of Ronne, its capital. Close to Sweden, Poland and Germany and coveted many times for its strategic position, the island has managed to preserve its identity. Strolling its cobbled streets, fall under the spell of the colourful half-timbered houses and discover Denmark’s oldest theatre. The museum located in a former market hall retraces the traditional life of the island and its history. In the midst of landscapes alternating rocky coastlines and fine sandy beaches, maybe you will come across the medieval fortress of Hammerhus, or one of the remarkable round churches scattered over the island.
Arrival 01/08/2023 early morning
Disembarkation 02/08/2023 at 07:00
Connected to the far eastern side of Sealand island, a few kilometres away from the Swedish coasts, Copenhagen offers you the high colour of Scandinavian capitals. You can discover the city's riches that weaves through the canal networks through the historical districts of Christiansborg and Nyhavn. Many palaces provide an apercu of Danish history. For eating, you can try out the smorrebrod, traditional danish sandwiches made with ham, cheese or smoked fish.
PONANT and Smithsonian Journeys have organised the following included programme for you, which starts the day of embarkation.
Aboard your ship, an English-speaking lecturer will enlighten you about the culture and history of your destination to deepen your knowledge of the origins of local traditions, the history of emblematic sites, and stories involving famous personalities and those of major historical significance. During on-board lectures or on your shore visits, this expert will be there to share their precious knowledge with you throughout your PONANT cruise.