This remarkable itinerary, in collaboration with Smithsonian Journeys, takes you on a trip to experience the cultural and ecological gems of the Cyclades and the Dodecanese. Depart from Athens on the Le Jacques Cartier for an 8-day voyage through the most picturesque Greek islands of the southern Aegean Sea. Visit ancient sacred sites in Patmos, explore the caldera in Santorini, and sample fresh local cuisine throughout your journey. Your trip ends in Athens, a legendary city dominated by the Acropolis and monuments that show the rich history of the Roman civilization.
Find stunning natural beauty in the islands of the Aegean Sea
Explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Athens, Patmos, and Delos
Experience exceptional sailing in the Santorini caldera
Wander through picturesque whitewashed Cycladic villages
The Greek capital city is located on the edge of the Saronic gulf, in the east of the country. Its plural name references the first villages that surrounded the Acropolis. Explore the enchanting rocky plateau, topped with ancient monuments, temples, and gathering spaces. In the city below, visit some of the liveliest districts in Athens to wander its maze of colorful streets and get a taste of the delicious local cuisine. The National Archaeological Museum and the Cycladic Art Museum are also some of the city’s key attractions and allow visitors to discover Athens’ cultural past.
Explore this incredible city before boarding your ship in the afternoon and embarking on your journey.
Patmos is one of the legendary must-see islands in the Dodecanese. This is where Saint John, presumed author of the last book in the Christian Bible, resided. The cave of the Apocalypse and the Saint John Monastery is dedicated to him. These sites, which are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage, are located at the top of a hillside planted with vines and orchards. On the shore, the crystalline coves of Kambos and Lampi offer absolutely gorgeous swimming areas.
A hidden gem in the Dodecanese, Symi is located north-west of Rhodes. This island hosts cypress forests, vineyards and olive orchards, and possesses a capital city of the same name that is as colorful as the surrounding countryside. The charm of the port district of Gialos is not to be missed: its quaysides are lined with picturesque houses with multi-colored facades. Reach the upper town by car or climb the 500 steps up the Kali Strata ramp for superb viewing points of the coast and its gorgeous turquoise waters.
Fall under the charm of this island as your ship edges closer. Amorgos is the most easterly island in the Cyclades, and is known for its rocky inlets with crystal-clear water and its small, picturesque villages. This port of call will be your chance to visit Chora, one of the prettiest villages in the Cyclades. Explore its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses overlooked by a castle. Byzantine churches, windmills, and courtyards brimming with flowers complete this typical tableau of timeless Greece.
Day 5: Sailing in the Santorini Caldera | Folegandros
Sailing in the waters of the Santorini caldera is simply breathtaking and one of the highlights of the cruise. The gigantic scale of the caldera and the white, grey, and red hues of the volcanic rocks against the blue of the Aegean Sea form a spectacular view. Marvel at the immaculate villages perched on the high cliffs, surrounding this volcanic crater that collapsed and flooded around 3600 years ago,
Folegandros is a treasure concealed in the Cyclades archipelago. Approach this mountainous island from the south-east side of continental Greece. Here, explore the blue and white houses built on a steep plateau, enjoying the picturesque village and stunning sea views.
The legendary Cyclades island of Delos stands just a few miles southwest of Mykonos. More than half the island is occupied by a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which encompasses the Terrace of the Lions, the Stoa of Antigonos, multiple holy sites, a preserved theater, and so much more, all set against expansive views of the glittering blue Aegean sea.
This afternoon, visit Mykonos. Nicknamed “little Venice,” the island is famous for its Alefkandra district where houses are built right on the water’s edge. Their multi-colored loggias are emblematic of this Cyclades island, as are the pelicans and windmills. In the cobbled streets of the pedestrian center, bougainvillea bedecks immaculate facades. As you weave in and out of the little streets, snatches of coastline will undoubtedly call you to the island’s beaches, the quietest of which can be found on the northern coast.
This gem in the Saronic islands is located to the east of the Peloponnese. Named after the island, the harbor town is layered up the slopes of a mountainous bay and includes beautiful traditional stone mansions. Stroll through the charming harbor to admire the distinctive architecture and multi-colored caïques along the quays. Further along the shore, within the walls of the “Monastery of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary” is a museum of Byzantine art. Collections from Athens National History Museum are exhibited in the elegant villa Koundouriotis.
Day 8: Athens | Disembark
Your cruise concludes in Athens, a bustling modern city full of the myths and history of the ancient world. Disembark after breakfast and continue on your independent travels, or begin your journey home.
For full cancellation policy details, please contact us for a quote.
7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
7 Nights Accommodations
Accommodations as listed
Ground transportation as listed
Activities as listed
Meals as listed
Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
Gratuities to Onboard Crew
“Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
24h Room Service (special selection)
Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite.
Arrival & Departure Transfers
A program of onboard enrichment provided by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts
Luggage handling from the airport to the ship on the day of embarkation.
Flight costs (please request a quote)
Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
Optional Excursions - Ponant allows you to pre-book your excursions approximately six to two months prior to the cruise* departure. Please note that this is subject to change. Please contact us for more details.
Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions
Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!