Get Ready

APR 16-26, 2023


Our journey to Jordan and beyond begins in:


We’re often asked, “What should we expect from a VACAYA Luxe experience?” Our Luxe vacations are an unapologetically exclusive celebration of the wonders of our planet – welcoming to all, of course, but built for discerning travelers seeking intimate experiences, splendid accommodations, and unparalleled service. They’ll reach the far corners of the globe – giving VACAYA guests an opportunity to expand their horizons in completely new ways.

The VACAYA Luxe rhythm is… Bold. Refined. Intimate. Exotic. Treasured. Calm. Cool. Grand. A chance to live life to the absolute fullest.


As a VACAYA guest, discounts are available to you with various air carriers when booking your flights using our Group Codes/Links. Those codes/links, as well as the instructions for booking, can be found HERE.


Most guests will fly into Aqaba’s AQJ Airport. Others may elect to fly into Amman (AMM), sightsee, and then make their way to Aqaba to board Le Jacques Cartier on April 16.

Returning home from Athens, you’ll use Athen’s International Airport, ATH. We recommend flights home or onward at noon or later.


We should have the April 16 docking location for Le Jacques Cartier in Aqaba by the end of February.


On April 26 at the conclusion of our cruise, Le Jacques Cartier will dock at P3 West (Terminal A – Mioulis) – Akti Miaouli, Pireas 185 38, Grèce. 


There’s no question, the Middle East certainly isn’t the most welcoming to LGBT+ travelers, but…

LGBT+ adventurers have been exploring this region successfully for millennia. They’ve done that by being culturally respectful along the way.

We understand the fears of traveling through this area, and we’re happy you’ve overcome those to join us. We are working hand-in-hand with all of our tour operators to ensure a safe and educational experience for all of our guests. We have requested additional security coverage in Egypt (not only because we’re LGBT+, but because we’re mostly Americans, as well). For Egypt specifically, although the tour operators know we’re a “gay group” and special security accommodations are being made because of that, our day in Egypt will be done without any pomp or circumstance. We are simply “a group of businessmen/women on holiday together” to any outsiders.

While we won’t tell you that you must go “back in the closet” for this trip, there will be moments where that advice is actually prudent.

Israel, Cyprus, and Greece will be beacons of light regarding you being your authentic self, but Jordan and Egypt require a bit more deliberate caution. Jordan is certainly more “gay tolerant” than Egypt, but we’d like to provide you with a few success tips that will help you navigate the start of our journey together:

  • No public displays of affection. Any type of overt public affection between people is frowned upon culturally – gay or straight. That being said, you might see Egyptian men walking hand-in-hand or with their arm around the waist of their good male friends or family members, but that display has no connection with being gay. As tourists, we do NOT recommend following that lead; simply refrain from touching publicly to avoid any misconceptions.
  • There’s no need to announce you’re gay. Simply don’t talk about it.
  • Wear clothes in colors that are muted and help you blend in. Do not wear any clothes with rainbows or iconic gay imagery. Instead, think subtle tans, whites, greens, blues… earth tones.
  • Women should wear scarves over their heads. Culturally, women’s hair has been said to “drive men wild” and covering it with a scarf eliminates that “distraction” as you walk the streets.
  • Because we’ll be visiting religious sites, pants are almost required daily until we get to Cyprus and Greece. Wearing pants shows cultural respect. So be sure to have several comfortable lightweight pairs with you.
  • Do not use ANY hook-up apps in Jordan or Egypt. Undercover police often “work the apps” and have been known to entrap gay men for what they label as “deviant behavior.”
  • If harassed at any point, simply remove yourself from the situation as quickly as you can and do NOT confront your harasser in any way – physically or verbally. Just say nothing and walk away. If you’re followed, walk into a market or restaurant, and wait it out. Typically, the harasser will give up and walk away.

We will be traveling through this region during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim calendar and the holy month of fasting. It begins and ends with the appearance of the crescent moon. Because the Muslim calendar year is shorter than the Gregorian calendar year, Ramadan begins 10-12 days earlier each year, allowing it to fall in every season throughout a 33-year cycle. It is a time for Muslims to practice self restraint. From dawn till dusk each day of Ramadan, Muslims refrain from food, drink, sexual activity, and immoral behavior, including impure or unkind thoughts. Thus, false words or bad deeds or intentions are as destructive of a fast as is eating or drinking. We share this with you so you have a full understanding of what’s going on behind-the-scenes with our Muslim hoteliers, guides, drivers, and crew members. 

Our travel insurance partner, AIG Travel Guard, has provided some great recommendations and links to articles that will help you “Travel With Pride.” That page can be found HERE.

Friend to VACAYA Meg Cale has written, “Egypt is far from alone in their anti-LGBT policies. Most people have a perception that the world is divided into groups of “gays are welcome” and “death to gays” when in reality the issues are much more complex. Nearly half of the world’s cultures and wonders – or to be exact, 42.3% – are in areas with anti-LGBT laws.”

This is simply a fact of traveling our world. Do we wish the Great Pyramids were in Ptown? Kind of. But they are where they are. And to see them, you must embrace a bit of fearless adventure. For those who’ve never traveled through the Middle East, you will soon discover that its people are among the kindest and most welcoming on earth when their culture is respected. So, please… be conscientious, kind, and most importantly aware of your behavior and your surroundings at all times.


You’ll encounter the following currencies on this voyage (these are the exchange rates as of Feb 1, 2023):

Jordan – Dinar
1 US Dollar = 0.71 Dinar
1 Dinar = 1.41 US Dollars

Egypt – Egyptian Pound
1 US Dollar = 30.19 Egyptian Pounds
1 Egyptian Pound = 0.03 US Dollars

Israel – Israeli Shekel
1 US Dollar = 3.45 Israeli Shekels
1 Israeli Shekels = 0.29 US Dollars

Cyprus & Greece – Euro
1 US Dollar = 0.92 Euro
1 Euro = 1.08 US Dollars

At street markets, cash is king and you’ll definitely want lots of small bills if you plan to barter (and you should). In brick and mortar establishments, American Express, MasterCard, and Visa are widely accepted throughout the region. You’ll find that ATMs are also readily available. Exchange facilities are available at the airports as well as at banks throughout the region.


All emails to our Booked Guests are available here:

February 1, 2023 – Last Call for purchasing our Pre-Cruise Add-On

January 17, 2023 – Last Call for purchasing our Pre-Cruise Add-On

September 21, 2022 – Pre-Cruise Program to Petra and Wadi Rum Announced


A visa is required of all travelers to enter Egypt. It will be handled onboard by PONANT. The cost is currently 25 Euro, and is subject to change until issuance. For those who plan to travel to Egypt before our cruise, typically any visa you’ve secured on your own is good for 30 days and will cover you for our cruise stop. If you’re going back to Egypt after our cruise, this visa will cover you for 30 days after issuance. 


To enter Jordan, all guests need to complete the online form found HERE. This form can be completed within 72 hours of your departure flight into Jordan. Once completed, an individual QR code will be generated and that QR code must be shown to local authorities when entering the country.

A visa is mandatory for all travelers to Jordan and can be secured upon arrival. The current cost is 40 JOD (or about $56 USD). This visa is included for all guests participating in our official pre-cruise add-on to Petra and Wadi Rum.


We’ll preview your entertainment here approximately 30 days before our cruise.


Excursions will be sold onboard Le Jacques Cartier. On Day 1, the Shore Excursions Manager will present all the available options and booking will take place shortly thereafter.

HERE is a preview of the excursions that will be available for purchase onboard. 


You have pre-paid basic gratuities. However, if someone goes above and beyond for you, you are more than welcome to offer them a few dollars (or more if appropriate) as an extended note of appreciation and grace. Collectively, those small thank yous add up and can make all the difference in the lives of these hard-working crew members.


If you’re not taking part in our 2-night pre-cruise experience at the Kempinski, we recommend the Al Minara, A Luxury Collection Hotel or the Hyatt Regency Aqaba Ayla.

Our recommended budget hotel for Athens is the Radisson Blu Park Hotel, Athens. You’ll be able to book discounted VACAYA rates by following these instructions:

  • Go to
  • Choose your destination and travel dates
  • Under “Special rates” select “Travel agency ID” from the dropdown menu
  • Enter code 33584202
  • Click SEARCH
  • You’re now on your way to SAVINGS as you take advantage of the best rates you’ll find anywhere!


Please note that in general, hotels in Athens aren’t great. The Radisson Blu Park Hotel, Athens is an eclectic mix of design styles, but provides a comfy place to sleep at a reasonable price. If you’re looking for true luxury, we recommend the Hotel Grand Bretagne, A Luxury Collection Hotel or The King George, A Luxury Collection Hotel.


Standard drinks are included for all guests. That’s house spirits, beer, select wines by the glass, sodas, juices, bottled waters, and specialty coffee drinks/teas.

Wines by the bottle are available for purchase from any of the bars or from your sommelier in the main restaurant.

PONANT sells a premium beverage package onboard that gives guests access to several available top-shelf alcohols (as designated in their bar menu onboard). That upgrade is 20 Euro per person per day (subject to change up until our sail date) and can be purchased from any bartender on Day 1.


With this being a long cruise, you’ll be happy to know that laundry services are available aboard Le Jacques Cartier.

You’ll find laundry pricing, bags, and slips inside your stateroom. During your entire cruise, your steward or stewardess will be available for laundry and ironing services, which will be completed within 48-72 hours. You can contact PONANT for specifics on pricing at 888.400.1082.


Lost & Found is located at Reception on Deck 3. If you’re missing anything, be sure to check there first. And of course if you find anything, be sure to turn it into Reception so they can get it back to its owner with haste.


Monkeypox has been making its way through the LGBT+ community over the past year and has become somewhat problematic for gay men in some areas of the world. Monkeypox is a virus that includes a painful rash, which may look like pimples or blisters, and flu-like symptoms. Monkeypox spreads through close, personal, skin-to-skin contact.

We advise that you take all necessary preventive measures to avoid contracting or spreading the infection, including vaccination if currently available in your area. While the monkeypox vaccination can be hard to come by in some regions, we’re seeing an increase in production and availability that should continue to expand over the coming months.

The CDC says that if you were vaccinated against smallpox as a child that that inoculation offers someprotection against monkeypox. You can learn more about monkeypox and monkeypox vaccinations HERE.

If you’re experiencing symptoms suggesting you may have monkeypox, please see your healthcare provider immediately for treatment and be sure to limit your close contact with others.


PONANT is renowned to have health care’s latest generation of equipment onboard their ships.

They also go beyond industry standards with the following additional provisions:

  • The onboard Medical Team consists of one Physician and one Nurse, but the team can be scaled up at any time, if required. The inhouse Medical Team is available 24/7.
  • Rapid diagnostic medical equipment in an isolated environment, with mobile laboratory terminals, allowing to test all common infectious diseases, potentially dangerous or contagious, tropical diseases, as well as cardiac distress syndromes.
  • “Shore-hospital-like” professional diagnostic equipment: ultrasound, radiology, and blood biological analysis.
  • Facilities for the management of respiratory distress
    • 3x 40ltr bottles of O2 to last 80 hours to 5 ltr/min or 200 to 2 ltr/min distributed in fixed general circuit
    • 5 portable 5-l bottles to last 6 hours to 2 ltr/mm
    • 1 O2 extractor
    • 2 respirators
    • Intubation kits
    • Intubation drugs
    • Resuscitation solute
  • Pharmacy, which has been leveled up with specific Covid-19 dotation
  • Specific training and drills performed regularly
  • EVASAN (evacuation) plan ready at all times in case of emergency
  • Infrastructure
  • 1 resuscitation bed
  • 1 intra-hospital isolation room
  • Additional COVID Considerations

Continuous Control of Temperatures: Two thermic cameras will check the body temperature of all passengers and crew when passing by. Both will be placed at maximum transit points of guests and crew.

Two PCR Test Biologic Devices available onboard, with enough reactant for testing all guests.

The PCR testing of guests and crew will be implemented only if necessary. The doctor will be in charge for conducting the sampling and use of machine for testing. The positive results of diagnosis will be shared with CCMM (Maritime Medical Coordination Center in Toulouse, France), who will decide the next steps for managing the patient and their evacuation.


For each of our adventures together, VACAYA hosts an Official Facebook Group. This group is your chance to connect with other Ancient Wonders cruisers before we meet each other in-person. You can join the group HERE.


We’re excited to announce an exclusive 2-night pre-cruise add-on from our friends at PONANT that will give you the opportunity to discover the treasures of Jordan! Read on for details and booking instructions…

DAY 1 – APRIL 14, 2023 – AQABA


  • Meet at Aqaba Airport’s Arrival Hall. You’ll be greeted by PONANT’s local representative and then transferred to the 5-star Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea.
  • Check-in
  • Evening at leisure
  • Overnight in Aqaba

The Hotel:

The Kempinski Hotel Aqaba Red Sea is gracefully situated on the sandy beaches and azure waters of the Red Sea in a location embedded with a dynamic fusion of history, nature, and city life. All rooms are spacious and feature dramatic sea views, cutting edge modern fittings, and luxurious bathrooms.

DAY 2 – APRIL 15, 2023 – PETRA


  • After breakfast, you’ll depart Kempinski by bus to tour the ancient rose-red city of Petra, which was built by the Nabataeans more than 2,000 years ago. It’s an 800 meter (1/2 mile) walk to the entrance of the old city. Petra covers an area of approximately 100 square km (38 square miles), where over 800 monuments can be found. You’ll recognize the Khazneh (Treasury) of Petra from the blockbuster film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. It’s here where Harrison Ford and Sean Connery faced the challenge of choosing the Holy Grail. At the end of your visit to Petra, enjoy a lunch in a local restaurant inside the site. After lunch you’ll proceed back to Aqaba (2-hour drive).
  • Dinner at Kempinski
  • Late evening at leisure
  • Overnight in Aqaba

DAY 3 – APRIL 16, 2023 – WADI RUM


  • After breakfast, you’ll travel by coach to Wadi Rum (1-hour drive). Upon arrival in Wadi Rum, you’ll board a 4-wheel drive Bedouin truck driven by a local Bedouin and begin your 2-hour exploratory drive through the beautiful desert. The landscape of Wadi Rum, also known as “Valley of the Moon,” features awe-inspiring shapes and colors, which create an almost supernatural atmosphere. This iconic desert was the setting for the film Lawrence of Arabia, as well as the location where T. E. Lawrence wrote The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which was named after the seven natural columns located en route to Wadi Rum. Bedouin camps are evident in the Wadi, which is still home to many Bedouin families, who welcome visitors with the hospitality and generosity for which the Bedouins are known.
  • Lunch in a Bedouin camp
  • Drive directly to and embark Le Jacques Cartier in Aqaba

This Program Includes:

  • Accommodation in a Deluxe Room at Kempinski Aqaba Red Sea Hotel for 2 nights
  • Meals as mentioned above
  • Beverages during included lunches and dinners (mineral water + 1 soft drink + 1 coffee or tea)
  • Transfers, visits, and entrance fees as mentioned above
  • Services of a local English-speaking guide

Additional Expenses: 

  • Tips for the drivers and local guides
  • Meals not listed above
  • Other services not mentioned in the program

Please Note:

  • Flight details must be provided to VACAYA using MY TRIPS‘s ENTER FLIGHT DETAILS feature no later than 40 days before April 14, 2023 (that’s a deadline of Sunday, March 5). This information is necessary to arrange your airport-to-Kempinski transfers.
  • This program involves extensive walking over sandy and uneven terrain and is not suitable for guests with walking difficulties. No motorized vehicles are allowed within Petra; you must be able to walk to navigate the rock cliffs and sandy terrain.
  • The vehicles used at Wadi Rum are simple all-terrain vehicles owned and operated by local Bedouins through their cooperatives. The drive will be bumpy as you travel over uneven desert terrain.
  • Deviations from this set program (like additional nights, alternate transfer arrangements, etc.) are not possible.


  • $1,397 per person, based on double occupancy

To Book:

  • Log into MY TRIPS
  • Look for your 2023 Ancient Wonders Cruise reservation
  • Click the Big Pink VIEW/MODIFY Button
  • Activate the dropdown menu for ADD MORE OPTIONS (the small arrow on the right side of that button)
  • Select ADD TOUR
  • Click the SELECT button for the Pre-Cruise Aqaba Add-On
  • You’ll see a breakdown of the additional cost on the next screen.
  • Click the CHECK OUT button
  • Follow the prompts through the payment section
  • Once you’ve successfully made payment, you’ll see this Add-On as part of your final reservation

We have 40 rooms available to us at this time. If these 40 rooms sell out, we have the possibility of adding additional rooms, but that is likely to take a couple weeks after initial sell out. Please note that this Add-On is non-cancellable once payment is made in full, but it istransferrable (to someone else on the cruise or if you sell your room). We are able to do name changes through February 28.

Please let us know if you have any questions by emailing and we’ll get back to you as quickly as possible with answers.


On our Luxe Cruises, the destination is the star and main focus of the voyage. However, we still like to have a good time! Recognizing this is a long 10-night cruise and considering most of our guests are traveling extraordinary distances to be here, we don’t want you to feel overburdened by having to bring many costumes. So, we’ve tried to keep it nice and easy. Feel free to go as big or as small as you’d like costume-wise for the following onboard cocktail parties:

Our signature Night 1 cocktail party brings all our guests together for the very first time. This is your chance to meet, mix, and mingle with fellow travelers. Wear a little somethin’ somethin’ to let us know where you’re from.

In one of our favorite VACAYA Luxe traditions, you’ll throw on the bathrobe from your stateroom at 6pm and wear it all night long – to pre-dinner drinks, to our gala dinner, to the show, and to our after-party!

Think pharaohs and mummies – disco, 80s, or 90s grunge style – as DJ JoJo takes us from the 70s to today’s greatest hits.

As we sail away from The Holy Land, strip down to something a little hole-ier than thou and enjoy that fresh Mediterranean air!

We’re heading to Greece, so let’s turn back the clock 3,000+ years to a time when Zeus, Athene, and Poseidon ruled from high on Mount Olympus!

We’ll also have a couple late-night gatherings in Blue Eye. For those, underwear or jocks work best.



Your onboard magnetic card (we point out it’s magnetic to warn against placing it too close to your mobile phone, which could erase the information), which will be handed to you upon boarding is your room key. It’s also your onboard charge card and you’ll be asked for it to make onboard purchases. Whenever you leave the ship or re-board it in our ports of call, you’ll show your card to Security when leaving/returning.

When you board, you’ll want to register a credit card with Reception to cover any onboard purchases. You’ll receive a final invoice in your room on the last evening of your cruise. Assuming all of the charges are correct (and if not, be sure to speak with Reception), your card on file with PONANT will be automatically charged the morning of disembarkation. If you’d prefer to pay cash to close out your account, you will need to do that on our last night before they charge your card the following morning.


ALL GUESTS ARE REQUIRED TO BE VACCINATED AND BOOSTED AGAINST COVID-19, with your last shot at least 14 days before we board.

All of PONANT’s current protocols can be found HERE and they are, of course, subject to change at any time. Wearing a mask onboard is not required, but if wearing one makes you feel more comfortable, by all means… you do you.

MOST of these protocols are happening behind the scenes to minimize interruptions to the experience. So know that whatever the protocols end up being on our cruise, we are going to have a great time exploring together. #AdaptToLive 


Le Jacques Cartier is a NON-SMOKING ship. Smoking – including eCigarettes & Vape Pens – is not permitted in staterooms, on balconies, or in any public rooms. A small smoking area will be available onboard and we’ll point that out during our Day 1 Orientation.

And of course NEVER throw cigarette butts overboard. They can easily get sucked into the ship’s ventilation system and cause a fire.


The Spa’s beauticians and massage therapists are at your service on Deck 7 and offer a wide range of treatments that can be booked once onboard. The Spa is typically open 9am to 8pm, but that could change slightly depending on our time ashore. Check your Daily Program (delivered to your stateroom each night with the following day’s schedule) for exact times.

Le Jacques Cartier’s Fitness Center, also on Deck 7 near the Spa, is open 24 hours a day and contains several cardio machines for your use. There are no free weights in the ship’s Fitness Center. We recommend packing lightweight stretch bands that are great for resistance training, if needed.


VACAYA is all about connections. To help strengthen the bonds between our guests, we’re creating a “This Is Me” Community Board where pictures and fun facts of each of our guests will be featured. We’re hoping this new board will be a welcome addition to your VACAYA Luxe experience.

While participation is certainly not compulsory, we hope each of you will choose to join us. If you’d like to be included, please send the following to us prior to Friday, March 24:

  • A Photo of you as an Individual or as a Couple (the orientation of the pics will be portrait, so think about that as you choose the best pic). Be sure the photo you choose is a clear face pic and no larger than 5MB.
  • Your Name (or Names if a couple. Please indicate who’s who in the pic.)
  • Your Hometown
  • Your Relationship Status
  • Occupation
  • Family Info (children, pets, etc.)
  • Interest/Hobbies
  • Social Media Handle

You can send your photo and the above information to V Team Member Jen at Simply click on that pink link to connect with Jen.

Please note that we won’t be able to add anyone to the board after the deadline. Shortly after March 24, the information we’ve received will be laid out by a graphic designer and the boards completed. Also, each This Is Me board is independent from past boards. So even if you’ve sent in your information for a past cruise, it won’t carry forward to this one. So, you’ll need to send it in again.

This Community Board will be posted in the ship’s Lobby on Deck 3.

Here is an example of what your entry will look like on the board:



In today’s ever-shifting world, it’s imperative to protect your hard-earned vacation dollars. You can do that by insuring your investment. VACAYA partners with Travel Guard.

If you ever need to make an adjustment to your Travel Guard policy (for example, if your travel dates have shifted or you’ve added to your travel plans beyond our cruise), you can submit a policy modification request via Travel Guard’s online modification form. Modification requests must be submitted prior to your travel dates. Through this form, you can also change or add any pre- or post-cruise travel days or add additional trip costs (flights, hotel, etc.). Adding coverage for other items beyond your cruise (if that’s all that was covered in your original policy) may incur additional premium costs.

If you have questions, we encourage you to visit Travel Guard’s Resource Center, where you’ll find answers to many frequently asked questions. You can also speak with a licensed Travel Guard insurance agent by calling 800.826.5248.

If you’ve not purchased trip interruption insurance (that helps defray costs of hotel accommodations in case of a positive test result at the end of the trip), there’s still time to add it to your existing policy or originate a policy with most travel insurance carriers. Although we can’t consult on insurance, we are pointing out that these policies offer peace of mind for a reasonable price.


PONANT ships have a state-of-the-art sewage treatment plant onboard, which helps preserve the pristine waters through which we sail. To assure it can properly do its job, we need your full cooperation.


  • Only use the biodegradable toilet tissue provided.
  • Do not flush facial tissues, sanitary wipes, feminine hygiene products, condoms, cigarettes (you shouldn’t be smoking in your bathroom anyway), or any other materials, as they can affect the entire system and may cause embarrassing backups in your room AND in your neighbors’ rooms.
  • Keep the toilet lid closed when not in use, and be careful not to drop towels, wash cloths, or personal grooming articles (including floss and Q-tips) into the toilet while flushing.


Even in April, it’s likely to be hot and sticky. Dress in loose and comfy clothes. Please keep in mind that to enter many of the religious sites, pants are required. In some cases, shorts that go well beyond the knee are ok, but we don’t recommend pushing it; the guards at the entrance to each site have final say and will make the determination as to whether what you’re wearing is satisfactory. Pants will always be ok. Typically, shoulders must also be covered, so tank tops are not a good choice on days where religious sites are visited. 


Complimentary WiFi is included. However, please keep in mind that the speed is more akin to old-school dial-up.

When you check in, you will receive ONE WiFi passcode for one device. This is done to ensure there’s enough bandwidth for all guests. If you need access on multiple devices, simply log out of one and log in to the other.

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