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September 05, 2012

A Classical Music Cruise Through Greece

By Sarah Gold | Travel

A Classical-Music Cruise Through Greece
Courtesy Compagnie du Ponant

It’s hard to imagine a more culturally rich destination than the storied isles of Greece. But for a group of guests traveling with French cruise line Compagnie du Ponant this fall, hiking among the architectural relics of Santorini, exploring the Byzantine monasteries of Patmos and Chios and visiting the white-washed villages of Rhodes and Sifnos is just the daytime activities of their itineraries. In the evenings, they will experience another kind of cultural immersion—one in classical music.

Ponant’s eight-day classical music cruise (which departs from Athens on September 28 and ends in Istanbul on October 5) brings aboard members of the renowned U.S.-based Rose Colored Glasses Chamber Ensemble, who have played with the likes of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra and the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra. The musicians will host a series of onboard concerts, performing works by Beethoven, Brahms, Liszt and Dvorák; they will also host lectures on topics like the oeuvre of Debussy and nationalism in music.

“The program we’ve put together is a serious one, one that we hope will invite discussion,” says Joel Pitchon, the ensemble’s violinist and a music professor at Smith College. “But it’s also meant to inspire. After all, traveling through a gorgeous physical environment, listening to gorgeous music—it’s the most beautiful combination of experiences imaginable.”

Performances will take place in the state-of-the-art, 250-seat theater on Ponant’s megayacht, L’Austral, which also features two restaurants serving haute and classic French cuisine; a Sothys spa with swimming pool and fitness studio; and 132 opulent staterooms with marble baths and private balconies. Who says high culture can’t coexist with high comfort? Cruises start at $3,451 (guided excursions of port destinations available at extra cost); 888-400-1082; en.ponant.com.