A Cruise to Ancient Greece and Turkey
Take part in an odyssey to the ancient windswept islands of Greece and the fabled coast of Turkey, where you will uncover the living legacy of the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations and witness the stunning architectural achievements of the Byzantines.
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Join us for an odyssey to the ancient windswept islands of Greece and the fabled coast of Turkey. Cruise from Athens to Istanbul aboard the recently launched Le Soléal , and discover sites associated with the cradle of Western civilization during excursions that showcase many World Heritage sites. You’ll visit some of the classic Greek islands, including Delos, the paramount religious sanctuary of the ancient Greek world; Mykonos, known for its iconic windmills; Santorini, with villages that perch above the volcanic caldera; Rhodes, featuring sites associated with the Knights Templar; and Patmos, with its Monastery of St. John. Along the Turkish coast, ports of call include Ephesus, the most spectacularly preserved Greco-Roman city in the world with marble-paved boulevards, and legendary Troy, boasting myriad layers of archeological marvels. Historian and classicist Jaclyn Maxwell enhances your experience with engaging commentary, while local residents offer an engaging personal perspective on contemporary Aegean culture. Optional extensions to Athens and Istanbul/Cappadocia are also offered.
Please call or Ask Us A Question to register your interest for our September 26 — October 4, 2016 program.
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Days 1 & 2 — U.S., Athens, Greece
Depart from the U.S. Arrive in Athens and embark the M.S. Le Soléal in Athens. The birthplace to democracy and the home to many of history’s greatest philosophers and poets from Socrates to Herodotus, Athens is unmatched in its contributions to early Western civilization. (D)
Day 3 — Delos, Mykonos
The mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos, a World Heritage site, is considered one of the most sacred islands in the Greek world and is as central to Greek spiritual life as Olympia and Delphi. Visit the Sanctuary of Apollo, a spectacularly rich archaeological site with remains of three separate temples from the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. Delos’ awe-inspiring ruins include an entire district of ancient houses dating from 700 B.C., the ancient theatre built in 300 B.C. and the House of the Dolphins built in the 2nd century B.C.
See the magnificent Terrace of the Lions and its legendary statues carved from Náxian marble that have withstood the blight of wind and sea water for nearly 2,600 years.
Visit Mykonos, where according to ancient legend, the craggy hills and clefts of were formed from the petrified bodies of giants defeated by Hercules. Mykonos’ iconic windmills, sugar-white, cube-shaped houses and azure bays epitomize the spectacular beauty of the Greek Isles. The “Little Venice” neighborhood resembles, in design, Italy’s famed canal city. Spend the afternoon at leisure. (B,L,R,D)
Day 4 — Santorini (Akrotiri)
Sail to Santorini, one of the most spectacular of the Aegean Islands, and into its perfect harbor, naturally created by the caldera, beneath which is believed to be the legendary Atlantis, possibly lost during a cataclysmic volcanic eruption in the 16th century B.C. A cable car descends to sea level from the elevated town of Fira, whose stunning white walled buildings stand in stark contrast against the dark volcanic cliffs. Visit the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. On the southern end of Santorini lie the phenomenal ruins of Akrotiri, which were excavated from volcanic rock in 1967. Held intact by layers of pumice and ash for over 3,500 years, Akrotiri’s streets reveal the artistry of its mysterious Minoan inhabitants.
This afternoon, join the optional C’EST BON! excursion, a specially arranged presentation of local foods followed by a tasting menu paired with native Santorini wines in Pyrgos. (B,L,D)
Day 5 — Rhodes
The island of Rhodes has been one of the most prosperous and strategic strongholds in the eastern Mediterranean since the Neolithic period. Walk through Rhodes Town, a World Heritage site and extraordinarily well-preserved medieval city, built over a great Hellenistic metropolis. A major Christian outpost during the Crusades, it is the site where the Knights of St. John erected the splendid 14th-century Palace of the Grand Masters.
Join the optional excursion to the ancient village of Lindos and enjoy breathtaking views from its acropolis, perched over 500 feet above the town. (B,L,D)
Day 6 — Pátmos
The small island of Pátmos looms large in the history of Christianity. Visit its Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John and the Cave of the Apocalypse, a World Heritage site. Built in 1088, the monastery is still inhabited by monks who continue to preserve it as a pilgrimage site and place of religious study. St. John the Apostle of Ephesus was known to have been exiled to Pátmos for 18 months and very possibly wrote the Book of Revelation here in A.D. 95. Meet residents of Pátmos and Aegina who will discuss contemporary daily life on these ancient Greek islands during the specially arranged ISLAND VILLAGE FORUM™. This evening, enjoy a Greek folklore performance by local musicians and dancers on board. (B,L,D)
Day 7 — Ephesus, Turkey (Kusadasi)
The Greco-Roman city of Ephesus is one of the world’s most dazzling architectural treasures. The guided tour features the Ephesus Museum and the beautifully restored façade of the Library of Celsus, along the Marble Way to the impressive 24,000-seat amphitheater where St. Paul addressed his Epistle to the Ephesians. According to legend, St. John the Apostle traveled with Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Ephesus, where he wrote his gospel and later died and was buried. On the lower end of the slopes of Bulbul mountain are the Terrace Houses where the wealthiest and most prominent families of 1st-century Ephesus once lived. (B,L,D)
Day 8 — Troy (Çanakkale)
Located on a windswept plain near Çanakkale, Troy was immortalized by Homer’s 13th-century B.C. Trojan War epic, The Iliad, and inspired the tales of ancient Greek mythology at the core of Western literature. Explore the remnants of the Bronze Age citadel and nine cities built over a span of millennia on the very site where Troy fell, now a World Heritage site.
This afternoon, join the C'EST BON! excursion and enjoy a special cooking demonstration by the ship's pastry chef. (B,L,R,D)
Day 9 — Istanbul, U.S.
Disembark in this legendary metropolis straddling the Bosphorus Strait. Continue on the Post-Cruise Option, or depart for the U.S. (B)
Pre- and Post-Cruise Options and Optional Excursions are available at additional cost. Details will be included with your reservation confirmation.