This Napoleon Bonaparte-Themed Cruise Takes You Along the Emperor’s Journey into Exile
Looks like Napoleon Bonaparte now has his very own cruise.
Hot spots from the life of the cocky Corsican who almost conquered Europe (the Duke of Wellington sends his regards) are on the manifest on the new Napoleon Bonaparte: History and Heritage trip with French cruise company Ponant. The 20-night voyage aboard the ship Le Lyrial starts in the former French colony of Dakar, Senegal, and sails on to St. Helena, the British Overseas Territory in the middle of the Atlantic.
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Of course, St. Helena was never on Napoleon’s bucket list. He was banished there in 1815 after being captured in Belgium.
The cruise, which departs in October, follows the route taken by HMS Northumberland, the Royal Navy warship that escorted Napoleon, and the ride-or-dies who volunteered to join him in exile, to his new home. Two days at sea after leaving Dakar, you’ll get to kiss the ground at Georgetown on Ascension Island, the “island where nothing makes sense,” according to the BBC. It’s where a garrison was established in 1815 to prevent Napoleon’s escape from St. Helena.
Then it’s back on Le Lyrial, your floating five-star hotel, for a few more days before you see St. Helena on the horizon. In the island’s hub of Jamestown, you’ll discover conserved evidence of the emperor’s exile.
While the emperor-in-exile had a rather hellish time dying from what was likely stomach cancer in St. Helena, Ponant promises you’ll love this “natural fortress” that offers a “very diverse landscape, from steep cliffs to fertile lands covered with lush nature.” You’ll get to tour the Briars and Longwood House pavilions, where Napoleon was forced to live, and pay your respects at the Valley of the Tomb where his body lay for 19 years before being exhumed and sent back to France. His remains now reside at Les Invalides in Paris.
Two more days at sea and it’s time to say goodbye to the ghost of Napoleon and hello to Christ the Redeemer. Despite the fact the Frenchman never made it to the Americas, your cruise ends in Brazil where you’ll have a few days of free time to explore. If anyone asks what you’re going to do with it, you can quote from another famous figure who happens to share a name with the emperor: Napoleon Dynamite, who says “Whatever I feel like I wanna do. Gosh!”
Whatever you do, you’ll be smarter when you’re done. While at sea, live music is provided by Peter Hicks, a musician meets historian who specializes in songs that would have been on the Billboard Hot 100 during Napoleon’s reign. While Ponant has yet to reveal whether there will be a Napoleon impersonator on board, you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to rub elbows with experts well-versed in the who’s who of the Battle of Waterloo (don’t worry, you aren’t sailing there). You’ll learn about the war of 1812 (not to be confused with our War of 1812) where Napoleon tried, and failed, to invade Russia (never fear, you aren’t going there, either).
Some of the itinerary’s conferences and lectures will even be hosted by Thierry Lentz, director of the Napoleon Foundation. There will also be screenings of films and documentaries about the Napoleonic era.
There is also plenty of luxury to be found in the ship’s 144 staterooms and suites; the vessel is outfitted with a spa, a fitness center and two restaurants. You’ll also enjoy dinners inspired by the dishes and wines that were served to the emperor during his exile. Rates for the Napoleon Bonaparte: History and Heritage trip start at $13,080 for a Superior Stateroom and go all the way up to $58,280 for the Owner’s Suite.
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