Wonders of the Ancient World (Serenissima)

Wonders of the Ancient World (Serenissima)

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The seas between Malta and Athens offer access to a wealth of ancient sites. Join us aboard the MS Serenissima in October and take advantage of comfortable temperatures and the absence of high season crowds. As we journey from Malta across the Mediterranean, our small ship will take us on a voyage through the playground of the Greek Gods learning of the myths and legends before our arrival in Athens, the cradle of Western civilisation.

We will visit some of the Ancient World’s most fascinating sites including Olympia, the principal shrine of Zeus and Hera and the site of the original Olympic Games, set in a lush mountain valley beside the River Kladeos. We also visit Mycenae, the home of Agamemnon which stands atop a remote hill in the southern Peloponnese and Epidaurus, one of the most renowned of Greece’s ancient sites. In addition to these we visit the equally interesting Byzantine town of Mystras, a Medieval ghost town set on a cliff overlooking the site of ancient Sparta and one of the best preserved Byzantine towns in Greece, with excellent examples of 14th and 15th century architecture. Our penultimate port of call is the town of Nafplion, one of the most beautiful towns on mainland Greece where we have the advantage of an overnight mooring.

Our custom-made itinerary focuses mainly on many places that the mega cruise ships cannot access and, in addition to our included guided excursions, we will visit vineyards in both Greece and Italy to sample the local wines and enjoy ample time at leisure for some independent exploration.

Trip Name
Wonders of the Ancient World (Serenissima)
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. Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the MS Serenissima moored in Valletta. Enjoy welcome drinks and dinner on board 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 and rivalled Athens as the largest and most beautiful city in the Greek world. 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. The afternoon is free to explore independently before we sail tonight.
Day 3 - Day 3 Crotone, Italy.
After a morning at sea we arrive in Calabria and the port of Crotone which is on the site of the ancient Greek City of Kroton. Whilst little remains of the Greek city it was one of the most important settlements of Magna Graecia, where Pythagoras set up a school in 530 BC and whose athletes were very successful at the Olympic Games. We will take a scenic drive inland this afternoon to Santa Severina, one of Italy’s prettiest towns overlooking the Neto River valley. We will explore the majestic Carafa Castle which was built by the Normans in 1076 and is surrounded by strong, crenellated walls with a moat on three sides and contains intricate underground labyrinths and stables, with the remains of Medieval frescoes. Also see the cathedral, the beautiful Byzantine baptistery and wander the town’s tangled streets. As we return to the ship we will stop at one of the vineyards that produce famous Calabrian wine, Ciro, for a tasting accompanied by typical Calabrian food.
Day 4 - Day 4 Otranto & Lecce.
From the port of Otranto we will drive to Lecce, often referred to as the ‘Florence of the South’ with its amazing collection of Baroque architecture including an abundance of churches and noble palaces decorated with the ‘Leccese stone’, a chalky stone ranging in colours which became the local style due to its ease to work with. A guided tour will include a visit to the beautifully decorated Santa Croce Basilica and Piazza Duomo, considered one of the finest and most impressive squares in southern Italy. After the tour, there will be an exclusive, private visit to the 15th century Palazzo Tamborino-Cezzi. The owner of the palazzo will personally take us on a tour, sharing interesting stories and anecdotes regarding his family and the palazzo itself. Enjoy a light lunch of local specialities before a concert of traditional music of the Salento region called La Pizzica, a popular Italian folk dance, originally from the Salento peninsula which later spread throughout the Puglia region. Return to Otranto for some free time to explore the town before we sail this evening.
Day 5 - Day 5 Sarande for Butrint, Albania.
Our morning in Albania sees us discover the archaeological and ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Explore the ruins that feature the remains of many eras and cultures. From the Hellenistic period there are temples, the promenade and the 4th century BC theatre. From the Roman era are the public baths, gymnasium and fountains. From the Byzantine era we see chapels and the large Basilica of St Peter and St Paul, whilst the Venetians are represented by a watchtower and a small castle with commanding views over the Straits of Corfu. Return to the MS Serenissima for lunch and spend the afternoon at sea.
Day 6 - Day 6 Olympia, Greece.
The port of Katakolon will be our base today for our excursion to Olympia. Pastoral and lush, Olympia’s plentiful ruins Mystras 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. After our visit either choose to return to the ship for lunch and a free afternoon or stay for an independent lunch in Olympia and have an afternoon to explore further and maybe visit the Olympic Museum, before returning to the ship this afternoon.
Day 7 - Day 7 Kalamata & Mystras.
Arrive this morning in Kalamata which grew from the ancient city of Farai to the second largest city on the Peloponnese due to the fertile soils producing olive oil and figs. This morning we drive inland to 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. The afternoon is free to explore Kalamata at your own pace.
Day 8 - Day 8 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 enjoy a scenic drive through the Argos Plain to Nemea, the site of a religious sanctuary which hosted the pan-Hellenic athletic games every two years from 573 BC until 271 BC. Nemea was not a town or settlement but a venue where festivities were held during the games and our tour will include the Temple of Zeus, the bath house and the stadium before spending time in the small but excellent on site museum. Nemea is also famous for its red wines and we will enjoy a wine tasting at a local vineyard before we continue 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 Artreus (also known as the Tomb of Agamemnon) will add to our understanding and appreciation of the sights. We will enjoy lunch in a local restaurant before returning to Nafplion this afternoon where we will remain moored overnight.
Day 9 - Day 9 Nafplion.
This morning we will visit 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 Aesclepius, 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. Built into the ground, rather than above it, it is known for its fantastic acoustics, which we will observe during our visit. Return to Nafplion and have the afternoon at leisure to wander the twisting labyrinthine streets and view the Venetian and Turkish architecture.
Day 10 - Day 10 Athens to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.
Day 11 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type


    • Discover Syracuse, Sicily
    • Explore Crotone, Italy
    • Enjoy Olympia, Greece
    • Visit Nafplion, Greece