Journey Through the Ancient World

Journey Through the Ancient World

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Come with us on a journey through the Near East as we visit a wealth of treasures including biblical landmarks, Byzantine settlements, Egyptian temples and tombs as well as impressive Greek and Roman sites. With the aid of our Guest Speaker and local guides, we will learn and reflect on the successive civilisations and a period of history spanning well over 2000 years.

Our journey begins with a five day escorted tour of Jordan, which from the grandeur of Petra to the desert sands of Wadi Rum and the mystical Dead Sea is a country steeped in history and awe inspiring beauty. Petra, a city set deep in the Edom mountains and lost to Western ‘civilisation’ for hundreds of years was hewn directly from the rock by the Nabataeans and is an amazing feat of engineering and construction. As you explore this vast and complex city, whose wealth came from its proximity to the ancient Middle East trade routes, you cannot help but be impressed by the industry and sophistication of this ancient civilisation. We embark the MS Serenissima in Aqaba for our twelve night voyage to Turkey’s coastal city of Antalya beginning with time spent exploring the wonders of Egypt. See the great temples of Karnak, the Valley of the Kings, the Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx and visit Cairo’s magnificent Egyptian Museum. Next will be our transit of the Suez Canal, a highlight for many, followed by a visit to Alexandria from where there is the option to travel out to the Western Desert to the Museum and graveyards of El Alamein.

After a leisurely day at sea we arrive in Cyprus where from Limassol we visit the Temple of Apollo and the ruins of Kourion with its Greco-Roman Theatre before continuing to the Turkish Riviera where we will explore several ancient sites including Side, Perge and the Amphitheatre of Aspendos. This unusual itinerary offers a fascinating mix of some of the world’s most impressive and historic sites, including the ‘Rose Red City’ of Petra, combined with time to relax on board the MS Serenissima, enjoying good food and informative lectures in the company of just 95 fellow travellers.

Trip Name
Journey Through the Ancient World
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 Amman, Jordan.
Fly by scheduled flight. Arrive in Amman this evening and transfer to our hotel in the Dead Sea area for our two night stay.
Day 2 - Day 2 Dead Sea & Bethany.
Enjoy breakfast in the hotel and a leisurely morning. You may wish to swim or float in the Dead Sea which, at 423 metres below sea level is the lowest spot on earth. The high salt content prevents the existence of any life forms but is also believed to provide healing properties with the mud on the seabed being rich in minerals. After lunch in the hotel restaurant we will drive to Bethany, the site where John the Baptist met and baptised Jesus Christ. The excavations conducted at Bethany in Jordan have uncovered a 1st century AD settlement with plastered pools and water systems that were used almost certainly for mass baptisms, and a 6th century Byzantine settlement with churches, a monastery and other structures most probably catering to religious pilgrims. This evening we will meet for dinner at the hotel.
Day 3 - Day 3 Kerak & Little Petra.
This morning we drive southward along the Dead Sea shore before heading to the imposing Crusader stronghold of Kerak where we visit the fortified castle which was built in AD 1142 and had witnessed many battles between the Crusaders and Saladin’s Muslim armies. See the network of the dimly lit vaulted rooms and long winding corridors, which lead into each other through heavy arches and doorways. After our visit we continue our journey south to the rose-red city of Petra. On the way we will stop at the spectacular site of Little Petra, where a modest gorge (Siq el-Barid) leads into the area of carved tombs and monuments. See the Painted Cave which is believed to have been a shelter for a sect focused on Dionysus, the ancient Greek god of wine, as it contains remains of Greek-style plaster artwork, quite unique for Petra, displaying tangled vines and flowers with brightly coloured birds and cupidlike figures. A kilometre further to the southwest of Siq el-Barid is one of the region’s most important archaeological sites, the 6800 BC Neolithic village of Beidha which was inhabited, long before the Nabateans, by the New Stone Age people where over 60 stone-built structures have been discovered among the ruins of this early farming community. After our visit we continue to our hotel where we enjoy dinner this evening.
Day 4 - Day 4 Petra.
After breakfast in the hotel we will explore the breathtaking Nabatean city of Petra which was carved out of the rose-red sandstone about 2000 years ago and has been voted as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Walk past the Obelisk Tomb and then through the Siq, the narrow 1.2 kilometre gorge that leads to Petra’s most impressive monument, the Treasury which was carved out of the pale reddish sandstone in the 1st century BC. Pass by the dozens of classical Nabatean ruins and tombs known as the Street of Facades, the remarkable 3000 seat Theatre, the Royal Tombs, the Colonnaded Street, the Byzantine Church, the Temple, the Monumental Arch and the mighty Qasr el-Bint Faroun. After lunch amidst the ruins of Petra you will have the option to return to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure or stay and explore the site further independently. Those feeling active may choose to climb about 900 steps up to the large, 1st century AD monument known as the Monastery with its remarkable views over Wadi Araba. Meet this evening for dinner.
Day 5 - Day 5 Wadi Rum & Aqaba.
This morning we will drive to Wadi Rum, also known as the Valley of the Moon where the desert landscape is mixed with awe-inspiring shapes to create an almost supernatural atmosphere. We will embark on an adventurous excursion by a Bedouin open top four-wheel drive vehicle. We begin at the visitor centre from where there is a view in the distance of the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, the famous landmark named after the book by T.E. Lawrence ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. During our excursion we will also see the Alameleh inscriptions which are a good example of ancient rock drawings, Siq Um Al Tawaqi, a short canyon containing a carving of the head of T.E. Lawrence and ruins of Allat (Goddess) Temple of the AAD tribe. We will have lunch in the desert before driving to Aqaba and embarking the MS Serenissima this afternoon.
Day 6 - Day 6 Aqaba.
Spend a relaxing morning in Aqaba. For those keen to spend time in the Aqaba Marine Park containing fringing reefs, over 100 species of hard coral and many species of fish, we will base ourselves at one of the beaches from where you can enjoy swimming or snorkelling in the clear waters. Alternatively explore the old town of Aqaba and take time to walk through the bustling souk. Return to the ship for lunch and relax on board as we spend the afternoon sailing through the Gulf of Aqaba.
Day 7 - Days 7 & 8 Safaga for Luxor, Egypt.
The port of Safaga will be our base for our overnight trip to Luxor. After driving through the desert our first call will be on the West Bank, one of the most famous and important archaeological sites in the world. See the Valley of the Kings, burial ground of the pharaohs for a period of 500 years. The tombs vividly depict the journey of the sun god and pharaoh through the dangers of the underworld. In the temple of Queen Hatshepsut you will discover scenes commemorating the reign of this exceptional monarch such as the ambitious voyage where she sent her ships on the Red Sea to the mysterious land of Punt. After our visit we transfer to our hotel in Luxor for some time to relax before meeting for dinner. Our second day will include the temples of Karnak, one of the most memorable and popular historical areas to visit in the world. Here you will witness the unbelievably vast array of monuments dedicated to Amun-Ra, king of the gods, his wife Mut and their son Khonsu. Just two of the highlights you will see are the great hypostyle hall with over 130 columns some 22 metres high and the obelisk of the powerful queen pharaoh Hatshepsut. We will have some time to explore the souk before continuing to the Nile for short cruise including lunch. In the afternoon we will board our coaches and return to the MS Serenissima in Safaga.
Day 8 - Day 9 At Sea.
Spend the day on board as we sail through the Red Sea and Gulf of Suez. Join one of our lectures or find a spot on deck as we sail to Port Tawfiq where we arrive this evening and moor overnight.
Day 9 - Day 10 Port Tawfiq for Cairo.
Today is a full day tour dedicated to the capital city of Cairo. We visit the impressive Pyramids of Giza and the Sphinx, the only survivor of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the tombs of the great Pharaohs and their queens. After lunch we visit the Egyptian Museum with 107 halls that are separated into seven sections. The museum houses statues, jewels and treasures of Tutankhamun. We will visit the Amarna Room and see the Fayoum portraits and monuments from the later periods from the Greeks and the Romans. Return to the MS Serenissima for dinner this evening.
Day 10 - Day 11 Suez Canal Transit.
Spend the day in transit of the Suez Canal and the Great Bitter Lake.
Day 11 - Day 12 Alexandria.
Our final day in Egypt finds us in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. Here we have a choice of excursions and you may spend the day exploring Alexandria with a visit to the new Library of Celsius, and the Archaeological Museum which contains recent finds of Cleopatra’s palace. Also see Pompey’s Pillar, the Coptic Cathedral of St Mark, the Catacombs, the Roman Theatre. Finally take in the views from the Citadel of Quit Bay, which stands where the famous Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria stood in antiquity. Alternatively take a full day tour into the Western Desert to visit the Museum and graveyards of El Alamein.
Day 12 - Day 13 Limassol, Cyprus.
Spend the day at sea as we sail to Cyprus arriving in Limassol in the early evening. Maybe take the chance for an after dinner stroll in the town.
Day 13 - Day 14 Limassol.
From our berth we take a morning tour which will include the Temple of Apollo, one of the main religious centres of ancient Cyprus where Apollo was worshipped as God of the Woodlands. It seems that the worship of Apollo on this site began as early as the 8th century BC and continued until the 4th century AD. We will continue to the ruins of Kourion, a city built in 1200 BC. Of particular interest are the public baths, the necropolis, the Fountain House, House of Gladiators and House of Achilles. The most spectacular site at Kourion is the Greco-Roman Theatre that has been completely restored and is used today for open air musical and theatrical performances. The afternoon is free for independent exploration.
Day 14 - Day 15 Alanya, Turkey.
Arrive this morning in Turkey and the pretty port of Alanya. After breakfast we will drive through the town, with views of the Taurus Mountains in the east, then towards Incekum along the Turkish Riviera to the west, where we pass citrus and banana plantations and visit Damlatas Cave which is a masterpiece of nature, known for its curative effect on asthma. Drive along the beautiful Turkish Riviera towards the ancient city of Side which was one of the leading Pamphylian cities on the south coast of Anatolia. Visit the Grand Theatre, a perfect example of a Roman theatre built on vaults on flat land. Walk through the town, view the old harbour and see the remains of the Apollo Temple. Return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon at leisure exploring the town of Alanya with its Medieval fort perched on a rocky peninsula.
Day 15 - Day 16 Antalya.
Today we explore the principal Roman ruins along Turkey’s southern coast. We pass the modern city of Antalya en-route to the ancient city of Perge which dates back to 1000 BC and was founded by Mopsus and Calchas after their retreat from Troy. See the Basilica of Perge, which played an important role in the spread of Christianity, the 2nd century AD stadium, the baths complex and two magnificent round towers of the Greek Gate. We drive further east for a visit to Aspendos, whose amphitheatre built in the 2nd century AD is considered the best preserved in the Mediterranean. After lunch in a local restaurant either return to the ship or make a stop in the city to visit the excellent Archaeological Museum.
Day 16 - Day 17 Antalya to London.
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London via Istanbul.
Day 17 - Please Note:
Itineraries are subject to change.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type


    • Enjoy Dead Sea & Bethany.
    • Discover Kerak & Little Petra.
    • Explore Wadi Rum & Aqaba.
    • Enjoy Luxor, Egypt.
    • Spend the day in transit of the Suez Canal and the Great Bitter Lake.