Lost Empires of the Mediterranean

Lost Empires of the Mediterranean

From GBP £5,195


Join us for this relaxing and informative voyage to some of the greatest historic cities, ancient sites and charming islands as we explore the Mediterranean and all its wonders from aboard the MS Serenissima. Our journey is perfectly timed to take advantage of the gentle temperatures and for us to witness the coast and islands at their springtime best before the crowds of summer arrive. Sailing from Malta we make our way to Sicily with its incredible wealth of treasures and, over the course of three days we will visit timelessly beautiful Syracuse, the spectacular Greek theatre in Taormina and the Norman Royal Palace in Palermo. Following a day at sea to relax we have included some interesting calls on the North African coast including the ancient city of Tipaza in Algeria and Melilla, the fascinating Spanish city on the northern coast of Morocco. Continuing on to mainland Spain, we will visit the naval port of Cartagena with its fine Roman remains and the great maritime city of Cadiz from where we will explore the beautiful city of Seville.

The itinerary has been carefully designed to combine some ‘must see’ sites together with some smaller places that are totally unsuitable for vessels larger than ours. Owing to the fact that our small ship can moor centrally, we have the added advantage of being able to access the towns by foot in many ports of call and we have also included time at leisure for individual exploration enabling you to soak up the atmosphere at your own pace. We have the added benefit of excellent local guides and our knowledgeable Guest Speaker who will add much to your experience and knowledge of this fascinating region. Enjoy discovering ancient cities and sites, timeless islands with their aura of history and spectacular beauty which will capture our hearts as we travel a less well trodden path across the Mediterranean.

Trip Name
Lost Empires of the Mediterranean
Vessel Type: Small Ship Length: 87 metres Passenger Capacity: 95 Built / refurbished: 1960 / 2013 / 2019 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. 


Day 1 - Day 1 - London to Valletta, Malta.
Fly by scheduled flight and on arrival we will transfer to the MS Serenissima. Enjoy Welcome Dinner and Drinks as we sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 - 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 rivalling Athens as the largest and most beautiful city in the Greek world. On leaving the vessel we 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 ‘Dionysius’ 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. The afternoon and evening are free to explore independently before we sail tonight.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Taormina.
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 viewing the 15th century Palazzo Corvaja and the impressive Greek Theatre from where there are marvellous views over the town and coast. For those who wish to enjoy longer here, you will be able to take lunch independently in one of the local restaurants and spend an afternoon exploring at leisure before our coach returns to Messina. Alternatively, return to the MS Serenissima for lunch and enjoy free time in Messina before we sail this evening.
Day 4 - Day 4 - 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 sets off the exquisite Byzantine mosaics on the walls above the arches.
Day 5 - Day 5 - Cagliari, Sardinia.
Spend the morning at sea as we sail to Sardinia arriving over lunch. This afternoon we will explore the Sardinian capital of Cagliari, an ancient city which dates back to the Phoenicians and Romans. On a walking tour we will stroll around the old town with its narrow streets running along a steep hillside. See the terraced Piazza del Palazzo and the 14th century Cathedral of St Mary. Alternatively, drive along the south-western coast to reach Nora which was founded by the Phoenicians but also has Carthaginian and Roman ruins. After a period of Roman prosperity, there was a decline and in the 3rd century AD the city was engulfed by the sea. Still visible today are the remains of Carthaginian warehouses and various Roman buildings including the baths with splendid mosaics and the theatre.
Day 6 - Day 6 - At Sea.
Enjoy a lecture or spend some time on deck as we have a day of cruising.
Day 7 - Day 7 - Algiers, Algeria.
Depart this morning for the ancient city of Tipaza which was probably founded by the Phoenicians but really came into being under the Romans. The city was extended by Emperor Claudius and grew wealthy on Mediterranean trade. It was built on three small hills, which overlooked the sea. There are ruins of three Basilicas, two Cemeteries, the Baths, the Theatre, the Nymphaeum and the unusual oval shaped Amphitheatre. We will enjoy a typical Algerian lunch before continuing to the mysterious Mausoleum of Mauretania, which lies in the hills above the sea about 18 kilometres away from Tipaza. It is one of the most breathtaking sights in Algeria. The vast pyramid-like structure is named the Tomb of the Christian on account of the large crosses that decorate the tomb which predates Jesus Christ. We return to the ship via the Martyrs‘ Monument which offers spectacular views over the city.
Day 8 - Day 8 - Cartagena, Spain.
After a morning at sea we arrive at the Murcian port of Cartagena. We will enter the deep natural harbour through two fortified rocky headlands for an afternoon of exploration in this historic city that dates back to the Phoenicians. Hannibal used it as his capital city on the Iberian peninsula and named it after Carthage in North Africa whilst the Romans used it as a strategic port and administrative centre. The city walls remained intact until the 20th century, creating a dense historic centre which we will explore before taking the lift or walking up to Concepcion Castle where we will learn of the city’s past and enjoy amazing views of the city and harbour below. We will also see the Roman theatre which was able to hold up to 7000 people. For those wishing to explore further, perhaps visit the archaeological site of Molinete, where work continues to uncover the Roman city, the naval museum or simply enjoy a stroll along the tree-lined harbour promenade before we sail this evening.
Day 9 - Day 9 - Melilla.
This morning we visit a little bit of Spain in North Africa. Situated on the northern coast of Morocco, the Spanish city occupies a rocky peninsula which juts out into the Mediterranean. It has been in Spanish hands since 1497 and previous colonisers included the Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans. It is a fascinating place to spend a few hours observing the co-existence of Catholic and Muslim faiths, the influences of Spanish and Moorish architecture and the old walled city, fortress and busy market place. Return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at sea.
Day 10 - Day 10 - Cadiz for Seville.
Arrive this morning in Cadiz. Situated on a peninsula jutting out into a bay and almost entirely surrounded by water, it is amongst the oldest surviving cities in Spain having been founded by the Phoenicians in 1100 BC and later occupied by the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths and Moors. Choose to join a half-day guided panoramic and walking tour which will pass by the most beautiful monuments and landmarks of the city including Santo Domingo Church and the Santa Catalina Fortress and also visit the interior of the Cathedral of Cadiz and Diocesan Museum in the old city. After lunch on board the afternoon is free to explore independently. Alternatively, take a full day tour to Seville which will include time at the Alcazar with its exotic terraced garden. Built by Pedro the Cruel in the 14th century with the help of Moorish craftsmen, it is still used as a residence by the King of Spain. Also see the Christian cathedral, reputed to be the largest Gothic style church in the world.
Day 11 - Day 11 - Portimao, Portugal.
Over breakfast the MS Serenissima arrives on the Algarve Coast at the fishing port of Portimao on the banks of the Arade River. During a morning call we head west to explore the more rugged Algarve and discover its place in history. We visit the historic town of Lagos, its sturdy Medieval walls testifying to its importance as a 15th century shipbuilding and trading post. We then head to the wild headland of Cabo Sao Vicente, its 200-foot cliffs face the Atlantic waves and it lies at the extreme southwestern corner of Europe. At nearby Sagres, Henry the Navigator built his school of navigation and it was from here that many sailors set out to discover the New World.
Day 12 - Day 12 - Lisbon to London.
Disembark after breakfast and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
26-04-202007-05-2020GBP £5,195Standard Stateroom
26-04-202007-05-2020GBP £5,795Superior Stateroom
26-04-202007-05-2020GBP £5,995Standard Single
26-04-202007-05-2020GBP £5,995Deluxe Stateroom
26-04-202007-05-2020GBP £6,395Junior Suite
26-04-202007-05-2020GBP £6,995Owners Suite


    • Travelling with You
    • George Hart. After graduating with degrees in Classics and in Egyptian Art and Archaeology form University College London, George Hart joined the staff of the British Museum. His career involved lecturing on Ancient Egypt, the Levant and the Bronze-age and Classical civilisations of the Mediterranean world. His interests include the spread of Phoenician and Greek colonies, especially in Sicily and the Western Mediterranean. He has accompanied tours to many archaeological sites around the Mediterranean and North Africa. He is also an accredited lecturer for The Arts Society. He took early retirement from the British Museum to devote more time to writing and travelling.