Passage from the Peloponnese to Sicily

Passage from the Peloponnese to Sicily

From GBP £5,195

Description

Join us aboard the MS Serenissima for a relaxing and informative voyage exploring the wonders of the Peloponnese and Sicily and the abundance of fascinating historical and archaeological sites on offer. The month of April, with comfortable temperatures and relatively crowd-free sites is the perfect time to cruise this region and we have planned a comprehensive itinerary with time to learn of the rich heritage as well as to take in the magnificent scenery.

Sailing from Athens, our first calls will include visits to the picturesque port of Nafplion, the Byzantine city of Mystras and Olympia with its sporting history. Witness the tangible traces of the many civilisations which have at one point over the course of history called this region home as we visit classical temples, Mycenaean Palaces and Byzantine cities, and learn of the numerous myths and legends. Leaving the charms of Greece behind us we head to Sicily for a comprehensive exploration of the island and its incredible wealth of treasures. Sicily, owing to its benevolent climate and superb strategic position, has been coveted, fought over and colonised numerous times with the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Byzantines and Bourbons having all made their mark on the island. During our time here we will visit timelessly beautiful Syracuse, the stunning Greek theatre at Taormina, the Norman Royal Palace and Palatine Chapel in Palermo, Valle dei Templi and the Roman mosaics of Villa Romana di Casale.

The combined effect of the natural beauty of the islands and coast with the intriguing history and stunning architecture of the towns and cities make for a fascinating voyage and, in the company of less than 100 fellow travellers, we can be thankful that we are able to visit atmospheric ports and towns which the big ships cannot access. In addition, local guides and our knowledgeable Guest Speaker will contribute greatly to our enjoyment and understanding of all that we will see.

Trip Name
Passage from the Peloponnese to Sicily
Days
12
Overview
Vessel Type: Small Ship Length: 87 metres Passenger Capacity: 95 Built / refurbished: 1960 / 2013 / 2018 MS Serenissima is a charming vessel and one of her best known and loved features of this vessel is its unique style. During a major refit the then owners commissioned Swedish interior designers to create a Gustavian style interior. This bright Swedish 18th century influenced, country house style works particularly well on a vessel of this vintage, providing intimacy and classic nautical sensibility often lacking in larger vessels. The vessel is equipped with a fleet of Zodiac landing craft allowing us to visit remote places where normal tender arrangements are not possible. The European Captain, Officers, Expedition Staff, and crew offer a first class service and have been selected for their professionalism and caring attitudes. The atmosphere on board is warm and welcoming and dedicated to discovery and relaxation. AIR-CONDITIONING The ship is air conditioned throughout. Please note that only the Serenissima Suites have individually controlled air-conditioning. DAILY PROGRAMME A Daily Programme, detailing the following day’s arrangements as well as any specific information about the day’s activities is produced onboard and delivered to your cabin each evening during the turn down service. DINING, DRINKING AND DIETARY REQUIREMENTS The Venice Restaurant onboard serves international cuisine and accommodates all guests at a single open seating. Tables seat 4 to 10 diners. In addition, there is an outside dining area for when the weather and itinerary permit. Breakfast and lunch are both buffet style, dinner is waiter service only. Complimentary (red and white) house wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner. Bar drinks and other beverages with meals are not included; these may be purchased onboard and paid for at the end of your cruise. Complimentary tea and coffee are available between 07:00 hours and 23:00 hours at the tea and coffee station located in the Andrea lounge. Please advise of any special dietary requests in advance. DISABLED FACILITIES The ship can accommodate passengers with mobility restrictions and wheelchair dependent passengers in cabin 407, which has a wider door and no step into/out of the bathroom and shower area. There is a lift serving decks 3 to 6, but there is no stair lift. DOCTOR A medical doctor is available on board 24 hours a day. A fee is charged for any consultations and medication prescribed. Please ensure you carry adequate supplies of any regular medications you may require.  ELECTRICITY The electrical outlets in the cabins and public areas are 220V and take a two-round-pin plug (as in continental Europe). There is a 110/220V, 60Hz outlet for electric shavers in the bathroom. We recommend that you bring an international adaptor. GRATUITIES Gratuities to crew and whilst on excursions are included in the cost of your holiday. INTERNET The onboard library has a computer equipped for email/internet access and Wi-Fi access is available in public areas, although you will require your own laptop, tablet or smartphone, and charges apply – 100mb for €15 Euros, or 500mb for €25 Euros. Please note that connection is dependent on weather conditions and location. LANGUAGE All members of the crew speak English. MONEY The following payment methods are accepted for settlement of shipboard accounts: Cash (Euros or British Pounds), Credit Card (MasterCard, Visa, American Express), Debit Card (MasterCard and Visa). Please note that personal cheques and Travellers’ Cheques are not accepted. PUBLIC AREAS • Andrea Lounge (on Deck 5). The bar is open from 11.00 until 24.00. • Harald Jarl Lounge (on Deck 5). There is a small library here with books and games. There is also a computer for public use (charges apply for internet access) • Lido area (on Deck 5) with a Jacuzzi and fitness room with two running machines • Observation Deck (access from Deck 5 lido area) • Deck 5 and Deck 6 outside seating areas SNORKELLING Snorkelling equipment is kept onboard. Please note that there is no snorkelling from Zodiacs. All snorkelling stops will operate from a beach.  TELEVISION The ship is equipped with a satellite TV system which receives 15 channels. TV reception depends on the satellite dish and on occasion it may not be possible to receive a signal. There is one central video channel on which it is possible to listen to the lectures delivered in the Andrea Lounge. There is also a channel for the ship’s camera located in front of the ship. ZODIACS Some destinations may require the use of Zodiacs to go ashore. These are usually on expedition cruises though may sometimes be used on destination cruises. 

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 - London to Athens, Greece.
Fly by scheduled flight. On arrival transfer to the MS Serenissima for embarkation. Enjoy Welcome Dinner and Drinks as we sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Nafplion.
Looking out across the translucent water of the bay towards the Arcadian Mountains, Nafplion’s sheltered location below a rocky headland and large natural fortress crowned by a Venetian castle is perhaps unrivalled in Greece. After breakfast we will head to the famous citadel of Mycenae which is located high above the confluence of two boulder-strewn ravines and accessed by way of the Lion Gate. Once inside the gate, we will explore the Royal Palace, the shaft graves and the remains of the city walls. An archaeological briefing within the Treasury of Atreus (also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon) will add to our understanding and appreciation of the sights. After lunch on board you may choose to spend the afternoon in Nafplion wandering the twisting labyrinthine streets and admiring the Venetian and Turkish architecture of this charming town. Alternatively, join a tour to one of the most renowned of Greece’s ancient sites. Situated on the slopes of a beautiful and wooded valley, Epidaurus was known throughout the Hellenic world for its unique medical facilities and healing treatments. Dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing, the city was filled with curative spas and baths and only priests had access to certain secret rites. Most of the ruins of Epidaurus have been reduced to their foundations, with the exception of the astonishing theatre. Still used for special performances, the theatre is in an admirable state of preservation. We sail late tonight for anyone who wishes to take an after-dinner stroll.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Kalamata for Mystras.
Spend the morning at sea as we sail to Kalamata arriving over lunch. Our destination today is Mystras, a remarkably intact Byzantine town that once housed a population of 20,000 people. Here we visit the Cathedral of Agios Dimitrios, where the two-headed eagle, which is the symbol of the Palaiologos Dynasty, is carved into a plaque on the floor. According to tradition, this is where Constantine XII stepped when he was crowned king. Strolling through the narrow lanes of the dead city, we will also visit the Church of Agia Sophia, the Palace of the Despots and the Monastery of Pantanassa, with its brilliant frescoes. Before returning to the vessel, refreshments will be served at the picturesque tavern located just beneath the site offering sweeping views over the local terrain.
Day 4 - Day 4 - Olympia.
The port of Katakolon will be our base today for our excursion to Olympia. Pastoral and lush, Olympia’s plentiful ruins are shaded by Aleppo pines and olive trees. The fame of Olympia rests upon the Olympic Games. During the celebrations that accompanied the Games, competitors, while not forgetting that they were Athenians, Spartans or from other city states, remembered that they were Greeks and regarded an Olympic victory as the highest honour. We will see the gymnasium, the stadium and the palestra or wrestling school. We will also explore the Altis, or sacred precinct of Zeus, which houses structures including the Temple of Zeus, one of the largest temples on the Greek mainland and the Archaeological Museum which houses some fine sculptures and artefacts from the site. Return to the MS Serenissima for lunch and an afternoon at sea as we begin our journey to Sicily.
Day 5 - Day 5 - Syracuse, Sicily.
Syracuse was founded by the Greeks in 734 BC and by the 5th century was a political and military power throughout the Mediterranean and rivalled Athens as the largest and most beautiful city in the Greek world. After a morning at sea we will arrive in our central berth over lunch. This afternoon we will visit the Neapolis Archaeological Park where we find a well-preserved Greek theatre with seats carved from limestone. Paradise Quarry, now an attractive garden and orange grove, was the primary source of that limestone and is the site of the curious ‘Dionysus’ Ear’ - a vast grotto with an amplifying resonance. We will continue to explore the island of Ortigia where we find the Temple of Apollo, considered to be Sicily’s most ancient Doric temple and the Baroque Cathedral, erected over the remains of the Temple of Minerva. We will moor overnight for anyone who wishes to dine ashore or take an after-dinner stroll in this beautiful city.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Noto & Syracuse.
After breakfast we will drive to the beautiful antique town of Noto which was built in 1703. Here we will see numerous 18th century palaces of incredible architectural value including the Duomo, the Museo Civico and the Convento dei Francescani. Return to the ship for lunch and enjoy a free afternoon to relax on board or explore Syracuse and the island of Ortygia at your own pace. Maybe wander around the sea promenade, see the Aretusa Fountain or the noble houses of the Jewish Quarter. Return to the ship for dinner as we sail tonight.
Day 7 - Day 7 - Taormina & Tindari.
From the nearby port of Messina we will visit Taormina, a walled town lying in the shadow of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest volcano. The town has been a popular tourist destination since the 19th century and our guided tour will include walking the characteristic alleys before visiting the 15th century Palazzo Corvaja and the impressive Greek Theatre from where there are marvellous views over the town and coast. Return to the MS Serenissima for lunch and this afternoon is free to enjoy free time in Messina or maybe join an excursion to Tindari a town which was founded by Syracusan merchants during the war against Carthage in 396 BC. The ruins of the ancient city are relatively wellpreserved and the structure that astounds above all others is the 4th century Greek Theatre which is a marvel of acoustic engineering. However the foremost attraction is the Sanctuary of the Madonna Nera containing the sculpture of the Virgin and Child, in citron wood, and which is said to have reached Tindari in an attempt by the faithful to keep it safe from the 8th century Byzantine Iconoclast movement. After our visit we return to Messina and sail tonight.
Day 8 - Day 8 - Palermo.
Arrive this morning in the Sicilian capital of Palermo. After breakfast we will explore the city, famous for its jumbled and picturesque streets punctuated with ornate Baroque churches, domed Arab mosques and the glittering Byzantine mosaics that reveal a unique and diverse heritage. We visit the impressive 12th century cathedral which houses the royal tombs of Henri VI and King Ruggiero. Return to the MS Serenissima for lunch and this afternoon either enjoy some time to explore independently or join an excursion to Monreale Cathedral, said to be the most beautiful Norman Church in Italy, designed and completed by William the Good in 1174. With its thick walls and powerful towers, the exterior looks like an austere fortress yet it is the interior of this great cathedral which is its crowning glory. Here the large nave, with its side aisles and grey granite columns set off the exquisite Byzantine mosaics on the walls above the arches.
Day 9 - Day 9 - Mazara del Vallo.
Founded in the 9th century BC by the Phoenicians, Mazara del Vallo was used as a strategic location for their trans-Mediterranean trading interests. Mazara soon became part of Magna Graecia, when it served as a port for the nearby city of Selinunte and by the 9th century was the island’s second city behind Palermo. It is the impressive remains of the ancient city of Selinunte which is our destination this morning. Once one of the most eminent cities of Magna Graecia it was ransacked by the Carthaginians, led by Hannibal, who sent 100,000 soldiers to attack in 409 BC, massacring thousands of the inhabitants with the remainder being taken into slavery. The city was destroyed and forgotten until 1823 when excavations began. Situated on a high plain overlooking the sea it is a lovely place to walk and our guided tour will explore the Acropolis, the eastern temples and the ancient city. Return to the vessel for lunch and enjoy a free afternoon in the old town to see the bustling fishing harbour, the picturesque Piazza del Republica and take time to see the famous bronze statue of the Dancing Satyr hauled up from the sea by a local fisherman.
Day 10 - Day 10 - Agrigento.
Although handsome in its own right and awash with Medieval atmosphere, Agrigento is not our main reason for calling at this southern coast port. Close by is the Valle dei Templi, a series of Doric temples and the most captivating of Sicilian Greek remains and a grouping unique outside Greece. Surrounded in the greenery of olive and almond trees, admire the Temple of Hera, the Temple of Concord, the Dioscuri Temple, the Temple of Olympic Jove and the Temple of Hercules. After lunch on board the afternoon is free to explore Agrigento and shuttles will run from the port to the town and the excellent archaeological museum where you can explore at your leisure. We will sail this evening the short distance to Licata where we moor overnight.
Day 11 - Day 11 - Licata for Piazza Armerina.
Founded in 280 BC, Licata has grown into an important commercial centre. The main reason for this stop, however, is to drive inland to what is regarded as the finest Roman site on Sicily, the Imperial Roman Villa of Casale, located close to Piazza Armerina amidst wooded rolling countryside. This huge villa was built in the 3rd century and has some stunning floor mosaics. Our return drive takes us through the province of Caltanissetta, recognised today as one of the best winemaking regions in Italy thanks above all to its production of high quality, prestigious red wines including Nero D’Avola. We will break our journey at one of these vineyards and enjoy a chance to sample some wine over a Sicilian lunch. Return to the MS Serenissima in the late afternoon and sail tonight to Malta.
Day 12 - Day 12 - Valletta, Malta to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
15-04-202026-04-2020GBP £5,195Standard Stateroom
15-04-202026-04-2020GBP £5,395Standard Single
15-04-202026-04-2020GBP £5,795Superior Stateroom
15-04-202026-04-2020GBP £5,995Deluxe Stateroom
15-04-202026-04-2020GBP £6,395Junior Suite
15-04-202026-04-2020GBP £6,695Owners Suite

Inclusions

    • Travelling with You
    • Dr Steve Kershaw. Dr. Steve Kershaw is a tutor in Classics for Oxford University Department for Continuing Education, an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society (ex-NADFAS), and lectures for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Early Medieval: 300
    • 1250 and The Classical World and Classical Revivals courses. His publications include The Penguin Dictionary of Classical Mythology, A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths, A Brief Guide to Classical Civilization, A Brief History of the Roman Empire, and A Brief History of Atlantis: Plato’s Ideal State. He is the author and tutor for Oxford University’s on-line courses in Greek Mythology and The Fall of Rome. In 2016 he appeared as an Expert Contributor to The History Channel’s ‘Barbarians Rising’ series, and he has travelled widely in the world of the Greeks and Romans, both physically and intellectually.

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