Sail across the glorious southern Mediterranean, starting with the best of Ancient Greece, via Malta, to the fascinating island of Sicily.
Departing 17th October 2017
You should arrive at the airport for your flight to Athens, where we stay one night at the modern four-star Metropolitan Hotel with breakfast.
Today we enjoy a walking tour in Athens, visiting the Acropolis, so fittingly one of the great wonders of the ancient world. We experience the remarkable Parthenon, its blindingly white marble columns with their perfect symmetry completely dominate the skyline. We visit the Acropolis Museum with its amazing glass floor, displaying ancient houses, streets and even an olive press below. There is free time for lunch and exploring the picturesque old district of Plaka. In the afternoon we leave for the port of Piraeus, where you board Aegean Odyssey for nine nights of spectacular cruising.
This morning, we witness one of the Aegean’s most wondrous sights – the majestic white cliffs of Santorini rising from a massive half-moon caldera. We transfer from the ship by a local boat, then drive to the northern tip of the island and the village of Oia with its whitewashed, bluedomed churches and shops carved in the cliffs.
We continue to the southern end of the island and a highlight of today’s tour – the newly reopened Minoan settlement of Akrotiri, one of the area’s most important archaeological sites, where you can walk amidst the well-preserved streets. Then we continue to tiny Pyrgos, once the capital, with a view of a Venetian castle in the distance. Here we sit down to lunch at a local taverna, included with the excursion. Our adventure concludes in Fira, the scenic capital, where you have the option of exploring the town or returning to the ship by cable car.
We arrive early morning in vibrant Heraklion, Crete’s largest city, and take a guided tour of the Palace of Knossos, a magnificent palace complex with flamboyant decoration and impressive courts. We explore the sprawling five acres, where everything from the throne room to royal living quarters is reconstructed with meticulous care. We then visit the Heraklion Archaeological Museum, one of the greatest museums in Greece and the best in the world for Minoan art, famous for the most notable and complete collection of Minoan artefacts.
You have a full day to enjoy the activities on board Aegean Odyssey. Why not listen to one of the thought-provoking talks by a celebrated guest speaker? Or head to the Lido Deck and simply soak up the Mediterranean sunshine by the pool.
Prepare for a breathtaking sight this morning when we sail to beautiful Malta, leaving the vastness of the Mediterranean Sea, and gracefully enter the impressive Grand Harbour of Valletta, a fortress city founded by the Knights of St John in 1566. Here we take a sightseeing tour that includes a visit to the Baroque St John’s Co-Cathedral and the impressive Grand Master’s Palace. We depart this evening for the island of Sicily.
Our first port of call in Sicily is its capital, Palermo, where we have a guided tour of the resplendent Palatine Cathedral and Chapel, the perfect illustration of that miraculous Norman combination of Latin, Byzantine and Arab culture. Our walk continues to nearby San Giovanni degli Eremiti, a Norman church with Arabic Domes. Next we take a drive to Palermo Cathedral, site of the huge porphyry tomb of Roger II, the 12th-century King of Sicily, plus the silver urn containing remains of Palermo’s protector, St Rosalia. The ship remains moored overnight, so why not explore this attractive city at leisure?
A short drive out of Palermo takes us to Monreale Cathedrale, considered by many to be the most beautiful Norman church in Italy. The large nave with its side aisles and grey granite columns draws the eyes up to 12th-century gold mosaics covering more than 1.5 acres of wall space. We also visit the Benedictine cloisters, a magnificent synthesis of Romanesque and Arab architecture. Later, enjoy free time in the main square before we return to the ship.
A morning drive an hour away takes us to Segesta, once a centre of the Elymian civilisation and now boasting the remains of many other times and cultures. Presiding in splendid isolation on a mountain plateau is a stunning archaeological jewel – an extraordinarily preserved Greek theatre and elegant 5th-century Doric temple with 36 columns. There is a shuttle bus to take you up the steep hill, but the stunning views are worth the walk if you can manage it.
Make the most of your last full day at sea as Aegean Odyssey gracefully cruises across the azure-blue waters of the Mediterranean. After nine days of outstanding sightseeing, a day of pampering treatments at the Athena Health Spa would be a most welcome and well-deserved indulgence. Or take to the observation deck for unhindered panoramic views.
This afternoon we sail into the scenic port of Cartagena for the grand finale of our cruise. We transfer at the appropriate time for our flight home to the UK after a most memorable journey.
The price of the holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a cabin/room.The price includes return flights, overseas transfers, 1 night in a hotel in Athens with breakfast, 9 nights aboard Aegean Odyssey all meals and all tours and visits as detailed in the itinerary. Includes the services of an experienced Rivera tour manager throughout. Single prices are shown for a single bedded cabin aboard the Aegean Oddyssey and a twin room for sole use in Athens. Twin cabins for sole occupancy may be available at a supplement on request.
Just returned from the Deep South USA plus Texas Tour, and would like to say how pleased we were with this great experience. Much planning obviously went into covering so many interesting places in the time. Particular mention mus...
John and Valerie Nicholls
I have been asked by my mum and dad (Mr and Mrs J Nicholls) to write to you as they do not have a computer. They would like to thank you very much for another fantastic holiday they have just arrived back from - Switzerland and t...