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Sicily & the Barbary Coast (Serenissima)

Sicily & the Barbary Coast (Serenissima)

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Description

Located in Sicily and on the North African coast, betwixt the desert and the sea are some of Rome’s most magnificent sites which we will discover during this fascinating voyage from Malta to Casablanca. Our cruise begins with three days of exploration in Sicily, an endlessly fascinating island which lends itself beautifully to discovery by small ship as most points of interest are close to the sea.

We will visit the magnificently sited Doric temples of Agrigento, the Imperial Roman Villa of Casale, regarded as one of the finest Roman sites on the island and Segesta, one of the grandest Doric monuments to survive.

Like Sicily, North Africa’s Barbary Coast is best explored by sea and after a morning in the Sardinian capital of Cagliari we will sail south to Algeria where the favourable desert influenced climate has been remarkably kind to the historic sites. During our three days in Algeria we will visit Bejaia from where you can discover the Roman ruins of Djemila, some of the finest preserved in North Africa. We also spend a morning exploring the ancient city of Tipaza which was probably founded by the Phoenicians but really came into being under the Romans. Our final day in Algeria focuses on Medieval Tlemcen, one of country’s finest cities. For those who enjoy exploring the ancient world, this itinerary has it all. The magnificent sites provide an unparalleled experience of life in classical times which with the help of our knowledgeable Guest Speaker and local guides, will be brought vividly back to life.

Trip Name
Sicily & the Barbary Coast (Serenissima)
Days
11
Overview
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. 

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 London to Valletta, Malta.
Fly by scheduled flight. Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the MS Serenissima moored in Valletta. Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner on board as we set sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 Licata for Piazza Armerina, Sicily.
From the port of Licata we travel inland to what is regarded as the finest Roman site in Sicily, the Imperial Roman Villa of Casale, which is 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 wine making 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 the 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.
Day 3 - Day 3 Agrigento & Valley of the Temples.
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 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 leisure.
Day 4 - Day 4 Trapani.
Trapani was the landing point for Peter of Aragon in 1282 to start the Spanish occupation of Sicily and is our base for the day. This morning we will travel to the nearby town of Erice, famed in antiquity for its temple dedicated to the goddess of love, the Phoenician Astarte, Greek Aphrodite or Roman Venus. A tour will take us to this stunning site high above the sea and to the beautifully preserved Medieval town characterised by its winding cobblestone streets and beautiful courtyards. Alternatively travel inland to explore Segesta, one of the grandest Doric monuments to survive. See the unfinished temple dating from 424 BC as well as the theatre from which you can enjoy excellent views of the countryside and distant coastline. Return to the ship for lunch and a relaxing afternoon at sea.
Day 5 - Day 5 Cagliari, Sardinia.
Arrive over breakfast in the Sardinian capital of Cagliari, an ancient city which dates back to the Phoenicians and Romans. During our 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. Return to the ship for lunch as we sail this afternoon towards the North African coast.
Day 6 - Day 6 Bejaia, Algeria.
Bejaia is built on a beautiful bay protected by mountains which give the city a splendid backdrop. A minor port in Roman times it was named Saldae having been founded by the Roman Emperor Vespasian and is our base for a choice of options today. Maybe choose a full day tour to Djemila which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981 due to its unique adaptation of Roman architecture to a mountain environment. In a remarkable setting the ruins are some of the finest preserved in North Africa. We will drive along a very scenic route and traverse spectacular scenery as we climb from little Kabilya towards the high plateau of Setif where the Roman ruins are located. View the Arch of Caracalla, the Forum, the Basilica and the Temples before viewing the mosaics which are displayed in the museum, representing the best collection in Algeria. This is a long but rewarding excursion. An alternative excursion will be a drive through the valley of the Soumman, the legendary meeting place of the leaders of the Freedom Fighters. It was here that they launched the revolution of the 1st November 1954 which lasted for seven years until they gained independence for Algeria on the 5th July 1962. Afterwards visit a Berber village in Kabylia where we visit a typical house and various workshops where things are still made in the old-fashioned unhurried way. Enjoy a “dégustation” of Berber olive oil whilst tasting the different types of bread and other local produce and we gain an insight into Berber culture and history.
Day 7 - Day 7 Algiers.
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 At Sea.
Spend the day at sea, maybe join a lecture or find a spot on deck.
Day 9 - Day 9 Ghazaouet for Tlemcen.
This morning we reach the western side of Algeria and the port of Ghazaouet located close to the border with Morocco. From here we drive approximately 50 miles inland to Tlemcen, an interesting and cultured city. Our visit will include the 11th century Great Mosque and the deconsecrated Sidi Bel Hassan Mosque which was transformed into a museum in 1901 and houses a selection of mosaics, carvings and pottery. After a local lunch we will continue to El Mansourah to see the remains of an old minaret and El Mechouar, which was built as a citadel in 1145 before it became the royal residence of the Zianide dynasty in the 13th century.
Day 10 - Day 10 Tangiers, Morocco.
Having passed the Straits of Gibraltar this morning we arrive in Tangier at lunchtime. Since Tangier was founded in the 4th century BC, Carthaginians, Romans, Phoenicians, Vandals, Arabs, Spaniards, Portuguese and the English have jealously fought for the right to control it. On an afternoon walking tour we will explore the Medina, see the views from the Kasbah situated at the highest point of Tangiers, visit the museum and then wander through the Grand Souk. Alternatively drive across the beautiful Rif Mountains to Tetouan. Visit the unique School of Art Dar Sanaa which is situated in a former palace and teaches the most traditional of Moroccan crafts to its students before we continue to the Medina which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient medina is full of narrow alleys and streets with vendors selling local handicrafts, foods and spices. Our tour will end at the old Royal Palace, a 17th century building which is itself a reflection of the Hispano-Moresque architecture, and the nearby Hassan II square. Stop to savour the Moroccan tea and fresh pastries at a local Riad in the heart of the Medina before returning to Tangiers.
Day 11 - Day 11 Casablanca to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect flight to London.
Day 12 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type

Inclusions

    • Discover Agrigento & Valley of the Temples.
    • Explore Cagliari, Sardinia.
    • Sail through Morocco & Algeria.

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