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Ancient Wonders of the Classical World

Ancient Wonders of the Classical World

From £3,720 GBP

Description

The seas between Athens and Sardinia offer access to a wealth of ancient sites, unspoiled islands and traditional towns. Join us aboard the Panorama II in May and take advantage of comfortable temperatures and the absence of high season crowds. As we journey through the Aegean and Mediterranean, our small ship will take us on a voyage through the playground of the Greek Gods learning of the myths and legends which surround the enchanted islands.

From Athens, the cradle of Western civilization, we will sail through turquoise waters, call into charming villages, admire some wonderful scenery and see some of the Ancient World’s most fascinating sites including Mycenae, the home of Agamemnon which stands atop a remote hill in the southern Peloponnese. We also visit 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. In addition to ancient sites, we visit some equally interesting Byzantine towns such as Mystra, 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 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
Ancient Wonders of the Classical World
Days
12
Overview
Vessel Type: Sail Cruiser Length: 54 metres Passenger Capacity: 49 Built / refurbished: 1993 / 2008 / 2012 / 2015 Launched in 2004, fully renovated in 2012 and upgraded again in 2015,  the two-masted Panorama II is a 164 foot motor sailer accommodating just 49 guests. If you find large resort style vessels accommodating many thousands of passengers attractive then of course this isn’t the vessel for you. However, if you prefer an informal and warm atmosphere more akin to a private yacht combined with an itinerary dedicated to both discovery and relaxation then you need look no further.  All the cabins on board Panorama II are designed for comfort and have a nautical feel with light fabrics and wood trimmings. Cabins range in size from 97 to 173 square feet and those located on the Upper and Main Decks are equipped with windows, while those on the Lower Deck have portholes. Cabins either have twin beds or fixed double beds. (Cabins  A1, 1, 2, 3, 4, 14, 15, 16, 17). Facilities include en suite bathrooms with showers, cabin TV (for DVD only), mini-fridge, safety deposit box and hairdryer. The public areas include a main lounge and bar with comfortable sofas, a restaurant located on the Lower Deck and the Upper Deck al fresco dining area where meals can be enjoyed when weather permits. There is also a swimming platform enabling guests to swim when weather and anchorage conditions permit and the Upper Deck provides a generous semi covered or sun exposed space with sun loungers and chairs, ideal for relaxation and fantastic views.  Located on the Lower Deck, the indoor dining room seats all passengers in a single, unassigned seating and offers generous buffet space. The aft area on the Upper Deck provides a generous semicovered area where guests can enjoy meals al fresco with wonderful views, weather permitting. Food is served at the table or displayed on the hot and cold buffets stands. The menu is Greek and international, with a focus on local specialties. On each itinerary, we have included the opportunity for you to dine ashore independently allowing you to experience the local flavours.  During the day, life on board focuses around the indoor lounge area, and the indoor dining room, as well as the open and inviting deck areas. These are natural gathering places and perfect for enjoying your meals al fresco, settling into a comfortable chair with a good book or socialising with your fellow passengers and enjoying the views. The swimming platform on Panorama II’s stern enables you to swim off the yacht when weather and anchorage conditions permit. (only applicable for voyages around Greece).  Deck plans vary depending on cruise operator, please check for details.

Itinerary



Day 1 - Day 1 - London to Athens, Greece.
Fly by scheduled flight. Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the Panorama II moored in Piraeus. Enjoy Welcome Drinks and Dinner as we sail this evening.
Day 2 - Day 2 - Nafplion
Nafplion’s sheltered location below a rocky headland and large natural fortress crowned by a Venetian castle is perhaps unrivalled in Greece. From here we will enjoy a choice of morning excursions, either take a scenic drive through the Argos Plain, once ruled by Agamemnon, conqueror of Troy, to the famous citadel of Mycenae. High above the confluence of two boulder-strewn ravines, Mycenae is entered 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. Alternatively visit one of the most renowned of Greece’s ancient sites. Situated on the cool 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, who restored health to the sick and sometimes (it was said) life to the dead, 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. Return to Napflion for lunch and a free afternoon to wander the twisting labyrinthine streets and view the Venetian and Turkish architecture. Tonight take the chance to dine independently in one of the harbour side restaurants.
Day 3 - Day 3 - Kythira
Situated between the Peloponnese and Crete, the island of Kythira was, according to mythology, the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite. After a relaxing morning cruising we spend the afternoon in this picturesque mountainous island where we will explore the villages, see the beautiful beaches and drive through the countryside. Visit the Medieval village of Mylopotamo where we will see the little church, the abandoned castle and enjoy some local delicacies in the town square. In Katolivadi we will visit the Byzantine museum which houses a collection of Byzantine and Post Byzantine art including murals from the old Early Christianic years to the post Byzantine, works of religious painting and objects of religious rituals. In Livadi we will see the Great English stone bridge built during English rule before ending in the capital of Chora where we view the Venetian castle, old mansions and enjoy the traditional architecture.
Day 4 - Day 4 - Gythio & Mystras
We arrive in picturesque Gythio this morning and head north towards Mystras, a remarkably intact Byzantine town that once housed a population of 20,000 people. Here we visit the Cathedral of Agios Dimitrios. On the floor of the church is the twoheaded eagle, the symbol of the Palaeologos Dynasty, carved into a plaque. According to tradition, this is where Constantine XII stepped when he was crowned king. Strolling through the narrow lanes of the dead city, you will 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 taverna located just beneath the site offering sweeping views over the local terrain. After lunch on board enjoy some free time to wander in the town before we sail in the late afternoon.
Day 5 - Day 5 - 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 that houses some fine sculptures and artefacts from the site. After our visit there will be some free time for lunch and to explore Olympia independently. Return to the ship later this afternoon and sail this evening.
Day 6 - Day 6 - Kefalonia
The largest of the Ionian Islands, Kefalonia is immortalised in the novel Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and has great charm. We will arrive this morning in the capital Argostoli and see the famous lighthouse before driving to the nearby Botanical Gardens which were founded in 1998 to display and preserve the wild and endemic plants of the island including orchids and olive groves. We end our tour at one of the local vineyards which create the island’s famous Robola wines. Learn about the growing techniques and enjoy a tasting before returning to the Panorama II for lunch and a relaxing afternoon sailing to Italy.
Day 7 - Day 7 - Crotone, Italy
Arrive this morning 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 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. Enjoy lunch on board and an afternoon at sea as we continue our journey to Sicily.
Day 8 - Day 8 - 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. 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 ‘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. After lunch on board enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore independently before dining independently in a local restaurant this evening.
Day 9 - Day 9 - Valletta, Malta
Over breakfast we will sail into the grand harbour of Valletta and enjoy a city tour of this 16th century ‘Fortress City’ built by the Knights of St John. Our morning tour will include the highlights of Valletta with its stunning views across the harbour from the Barakka Gardens. We will explore Merchants Street containing the surviving auberges built by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, together with the palace where Napoleon Bonaparte is believed to have stayed in 1798. Our final stop will be at St John’s Cathedral. Return to the ship for lunch and this afternoon is free to return to Valletta and explore independently or spend time in Mdina, originally given the name of ‘Citta Nobile’ and now known as the ‘Silent City’, at the heart of the island. Mdina is Phoenician in origin and was the fortified capital of the island, before the arrival of the Knights.
Day 10 - Day 10 - Piazza Armerina, Sicily
From the port of Licata we travel inland to what is regarded as the finest Roman site on 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 these vineyards and enjoy a chance to sample some wine over a Sicilian lunch. Return to the Panorama II in the late afternoon and sail.
Day 11 - Day 11 - Trapani
Over breakfast we sail into Trapani, our base for a morning tour 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. Our 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. Return to the ship for lunch and spend the afternoon at sea cruising to Sardinia.
Day 12 - Day 12 - Cagliari, Sardinia to London
Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London.

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
07-05-201818-05-2018£4,710Main Deck Cabin Sole
07-05-201818-05-2018£4,050Lower Deck Forward Cabin Sole
07-05-201818-05-2018£4,710Upper Deck Cabin
07-05-201818-05-2018£4,270Main Deck Cabin
07-05-201818-05-2018£4,050Lower Deck Cabin
07-05-201818-05-2018£3,720Lower Deck Forward Cabin

Inclusions

    • Discover the island of Kythira, that was, according to mythology, the birthplace of the goddess Aphrodite.
    • Visit the Cathedral of Agios Dimitrios.
    • Explore pastoral and lush Olympia.
    • Enjoy Syracuse, the largest and most beautiful city in the Greek world.
    • Sail into the grand harbour of Valletta and enjoy a city tour of this 16th century ‘Fortress City’ built by the Knights of St John.

Map