We shall also receive private views of both the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana, museums which hold the world’s most important contemporary art collection, accompanied by Pinault Collection art experts. For lovers of fine art, travel and mega-yachts, we can hardly think of anything more inspirational!
We shall be sailing as if on a private yacht, with the luxury French cruise specialists Ponant—another jewel in the Pinault Collection crown—aboard the latest state-of-the-art Explorer class cruise yacht of only 92 staterooms and suites, the luxuriously chic Le Bougainville. Launched in 2019, Le Bougainville is herself a work of art as well as of sophisticated maritime engineering. She is what the yacht specialists call ‘eye sweet’, with sleek exterior lines and a refined, open-to-the-sea design which is perfect for summer in the Med. Her interior décor is exquisite.
Furthermore, Le Bougainville features one of the latest maritime wow factors—two ‘blue eyes’ set into her hull, revealing the marine life below as she sails—not only sight, but sound. The crystal waters of the Adriatic offer ideal viewing conditions. This is a yacht combining luxury and cutting-edge marine engineering with discovery of Art and Nature.
We shall enjoy a luxurious stateroom or suite, fine French cuisine, excellent and unlimited Champagne, wines and spirits—all that is left for us to do is relax and enjoy the experience.
Even the ports of call have been selected for their incomparable cultural and environmental treasures, which will be highlighted in advance by the art experts onboard with us.
Our itinerary begins on Mon, Jun 17, 2024, with our flight from London to Malta, boarding Le Bougainville in Valletta from 20:30, ready to sail on the evening tide; Tues, Jun 18, Syracuse, Sicily; Wed, June 19, Otranto, Puglia, Italy; Thur, Jun 20, Dubrovnik, Croatia; Fri, Jun 21, Kotor, Montenegro; Sat, Jun 22, Hvar, Croatia; Sun, Jun 23, to Tues, Jun 25, Venice.
The choice is then ours: to fly back to London, or to stay extra nights in a palazzo in Venice to fully absorb the sights and sounds of Venice during the Biennale and then fly back to London—or take the Belmond Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, departing on Jun 29 for Paris, connecting with the Eurostar to London, adding perhaps the apogee of sophisticated indulgence to our journey.
First, the cruise: As we relax and enjoy our first four-course dinner with wines in Le Bougainville’s restaurant we shall leave Valletta, Malta’s capital, bound for Sicily. Our first port of call is a worthy first course to the cultural feast which awaits us: Syracuse, named by Cicero as ‘the most beautiful city in the world’.
As one of the oldest cities in the Mediterranean, Syracuse is a thrilling, marvellous collection of historical treasures from ancient Greek and Roman times and beyond. At her height Syracuse rivalled Athens as a power centre, and became home to a succession of civilisations: Arabic, Roman, Norman, Byzantine and Spanish. All make this city extraordinarily rich in sights, sounds, fragrances and flavours, from its stunning Duomo to its Greek and Roman ruins, archaeology park and flowering gardens.
Early next morning, we shall awake to see a vision of historic Otrante, scene of ancient fortress walls, a beautiful castle and cathedral, an historic lighthouse, crystal clear waters and sandy beaches. Inhabited since antiquity, this seaside town is filled with history, still visible as we meander along the narrow cobbled streets of its old centre. With its magnificent 12th century ornamental mosaic tiling, the cathedral is one of its most exquisite treasures. Stroll along the ramparts, sit and relax at a café . . . or take a ride to famous Lecce, the ‘Florence of the South’, considered one of the most beautiful cities in Italy.
As we return to Le Bougainville to relax as she sails into the night, there is time also to explore the elegant pleasures of what is almost a private super-yacht, suffused with French flair. We shall enjoy classic French cuisine, dining on an ever-changing menu, expertly created by leading French chefs under the auspices of Michelin Star chef Alain Ducasse, and with fine French wines and sommelier service: and remember, all but premium drinks are included—if you enjoy good Champagne and wine, this is for you!
It is too soon to know the exact menus on board, but a sample would be an appetiser of Cep and chestnut velouté, starter of Lobster, celery ‘rémoulade’ and truffle. For the main course there may be Langoustines with pepper and tender fennel; or perhaps Beef Rossini, Anna potatoes and candied shallots, served with sauce Périgueux. And for puddings, we may enjoy Ponant’s speciality chocolat-praliné. And when the evening’s enjoyment is over, we shall retire to our sumptuous suites, ready to wake to a new dawn in Dubrovnik, Lord Byron’s ‘Pearl of the Adriatic’.
Dubrovnik juts like a silver finger into the blue sea, beneath green, cypress-clad mountains, warmed by long hours of sunshine. Beautifully restored after the war damage inflicted in the early 1990s, it is one of the most spectacular fortified cities in the world, filled with honey-coloured houses, cobbled mediaeval streets, aristocratic palazzi and Baroque churches, surrounded by that azure sea. Here in this Croatian city, without a car in sight, you really do feel as if you have stepped back in time: Dubrovnik is the Mediterranean as it used to be, yet not without a modern vision: Croatia’s finest modern and contemporary art is here.
Back on board Le Bougainville, we shall wine and dine, enjoy the pool, the beauty salon, spa and hammam, perhaps music or a show—or take in Nature’s show in Le Bougainville’s relaxation lounge, watchingthe sea life below us through the ‘blue eyes’ and listening, thanks to the sound system. Bottlenose dolphins perhaps; turtles, leatherback, green and loggerhead; seahorses, groupers and sharks. And of course, the pleasures of a relaxing evening in your own private suite and on your balcony, taking in the long balmy twilight and sea air. An evening cocktail perhaps, or more Champagne, and then to sleep, awaking next morning to the unforgettable cruise into magical Bay of Kotor, Montenegro.
The impressive gap between two mountain ranges is home to a veritable inland lake with a magical atmosphere; the mediaeval city of Kotor and its many historical monuments are its jewels. Kotor is indeed one of the most beautiful cities in the Balkans, its old town a maze of cobbled narrow streets, stone churches and terracotta-roofed houses, surrounded by a fortification wall and set against the backdrop of those towering mountains.
In this the night of the Summer Solstice, we shall slip through the crystal clear seas to Hvar, the most famous and beautiful of the Adriatic islands, known for its lavender, which turns whole swathes of land into a fragrant riot of colour in this, the early summer. Off the coast of Split, Hvar will surprise you by its traditions which have not changed since Antiquity. The country’s oldest town, Stari Grad, is here on this Dalmatian Island. The town nestles by a cove on the north-west coast, surrounded by dry stone wall structures on the Stari Grad plains. These have been designated a Unesco World Heritage site as they were built in the time of the Ancient Greeks. From these parcels of land still come the local wines and olive oils, traditionally made by hand.
The grandest of finales, our sleek luxury yacht will enter Venice the Serenissima via its lagoon. We are timed to be here for the 60th edition of the most prestigious and oldest-running art biennial, showpiece of art from around the world. We shall be free to take our own line to explore the pavilions and the riot of art which throngs the city—and we shall benefit in particular from private views of the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana, accompanied by our Pinault Collection art experts.
We shall have two glorious nights in Venice aboard Le Bougainville, to appreciate the Biennale and also explore Venice at our leisure: Saint Mark’s square, the basilica, Doges Palace, the Grand Canal and the gondolas, the small interlacing streets, canals and squares all await us during this awe-inspiring event, which will undoubtedly live in the memory for ever.
YOUR EXCLUSIVE CLUB RATES START FROM ONLY £3,969
This nine-day event includes economy flights from London to Malta; the eight-night, nine-day Ponant ‘The artistic Adriatic and the Pinault Collection—Palazzo Grassi’ cruise from Valletta to Venice, all meals while on board ship, complimentary ‘open bar’ including pouring wine, house Champagne, alcohol except premium brands; private views of the Palazzo Grassi and the Punta della Dogana; economy flight, Venice to London, and all airport-ship-hotel transfers. The dates are June 17 to 25, 2024.
All staterooms and suites can be booked at exclusive advantageous Club rates. Below are just some of what is available, but space is now very limited. Rates are per person, for two sharing, including all the above (subject to availability at time of booking).
Deluxe Stateroom on Deck 3, approx 204 sq ft, private balcony 43 sq ft: Non Members from £5,350pp plus flights and transfers. CCUK Members from £3,969pp. Now limited availability. Click here to register your interest and request details
Prestige Stateroom on Deck 5, approx 204 sq ft, private balcony 43 sq ft: Non Members from £6,240pp plus flights and transfers. CCUK Members from £4,797pp. Click here to register your interest and request details
Prestige Stateroom on Deck 6, approx 204 sq ft, private balcony 43 sq ft: Non Members from £6,600pp plus flights and transfers. CCUK Members from £4,997pp. Click here to register your interest and request details
Deluxe Suite, Deck 6, approx 290 sq ft, private balcony 64 sq ft. Non Members from £8,280pp plus flights and transfers. CCUK Members from £7,297pp. Category now sold out.
Grand Deluxe Suite, Deck 6, approx 484 sq ft, private balcony 323 sq ft. Non Members from £17,100 plus flights and transfers. CCUK Members from £10,379. Category now sold out.