Cruise the Mediterranean and explore ancient empires from southern Italy and Sicily to Malta.

Starting at: $6,695 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The essence of Capri  The port of Valletta, Malta  The port of Valletta, Malta  Panoramic view of Valletta, Malta  St. Angelo Fort in Valletta, Malta  Temple of Concord, Valley of the Temples, Agrigento  Mosaics at the Roman Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina  Mosaics at the Roman Villa del Casale, Piazza Armerina  The baroque cathedral of Ortygia, Siracusa  Greek amphitheater of Siracusa  Coastal view near Taormina  The famous Greek theater of Taormina  The World Heritage site of Stromboli, among the Aeolian Islands  The light display of the erupting volcano of Stromboli  Port on the island of Capri  Village of Positano, along the Amalfi Coast  Town situated along Italy's renowned Amalfi Coast  Wall painting found in Pompeii  Shop with counter and display area along a street in Pompeii  Remarkable Pompeii, with Mount Vesuvius in the background

Ancient Empires

Cruise the Mediterranean Aboard the 72-guest Variety Voyager

9 days from $6,695

Cruise the Mediterranean and explore ancient empires from southern Italy and Sicily to Malta.

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

For thousands of years, waves of civilizations have 
left their imprint on the Mediterranean. During this exceptional voyage, explore three destinations that are considered the crossroads of this complex history: Malta, Sicily, and southern Italy.

Highlights Include:

  • Malta: Trace the steps of the Knights Templar at the Grandmaster’s Palace and enjoy a tour of a private palazzo in Valletta.
  • Sicily: Visit the archaeological museum in Syracuse, as well as one of the best-preserved Greek theaters in the Mediterranean. In Agrigento, walk amid the Valley of the Temples
 and admire the exceptional Doric temples, and in Taormina visit the Greek theater, which features Mt. Etna as a backdrop.
  • Amalfi Coast: Enjoy time to discover the idyllic village of Positano, situated on a steep cliff along the Amalfi Coast, and take the breathtaking drive along the coastal road. During a guided tour, view the amazing remains of villas, shops, and streets of Pompeii, destroyed in A.D. 79 by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. 

Smithsonian surpasses any organized trip we have taken in the past several decades.

- Irving R.

To see itinerary, please click on an option below.

September 14-22, 2016 Itinerary

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Rome, Italy

Day 2 —Rome and Civitavecchia

Arrive in Rome and transfer to Civitavecchia to embark the Variety Voyager. The captain’s welcome reception and dinner are this evening. The ship departs Civitavecchia for Sorrento. (R,D)

Day 3 — Sorrento for Pompeii

From Sorrento, visit the incredibly well-preserved ruins of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city buried in A.D. 79. by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Discovered and excavated 17 centuries later, Pompeii, a World Heritage site, provides an intimate look at daily life during Roman times. See the impressive amphitheater, the house of the wealthy Vetti family and the extraordinary Temple of Jupiter.

Enjoy some time in Sorrento, an outpost of the ancient Roman Republic. Today, Sorrento is one of the most scenic towns in Italy and is the gateway to Mt. Vesuvius and the ancient ruins of Pompeii. This quaint seaside town features dramatic cliffs dotted with brightly hued buildings and abundant lemon and orange groves, making it the limoncello capital of the world.

The ship overnights in the glistening Bay of Naples, nearby the vibrant-hued city of Sorrento. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Sorrento for Amalfi Coast / Positano / Island of Capri

Drive along the stunning Amalfi Coast, a World Heritage site, featuring spectacular natural views along this winding cornice of Italy’s Mediterranean coastline that epitomizes the allure of the Italian seaside. Italy’s Amalfi Coast is legendary for its natural wonders and dramatic cliffs dotted with secluded villages, opulent villas, and sun-dappled beaches. Delight in a panoramic tour of this stunning coastline and enjoy time on your own in the lovely village of Positano—frequented by Picasso, Toscanini, and Bernstein, popularized by John Steinbeck, and now a favorite resort of international luminaries.

Return to the ship for lunch and then cruise to the famed Isle of Capri. Amidst the isle's dramatic scenery, lush vegetation, and subtropical climate, the Roman Emperors Augustus and Tiberius maintained elegant retreats. By small boat, visit Capri’s most famous site, the legendary Grotta Azzura (Blue Grotto), a sea cave whose interior is adorned with classical statues. Board a rowboat to cross the tranquil waters of the cavern and observe the sublime tapestry of blue hues that gave the grotto its name. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Cruise past Stromboli / Naxos, Sicily for Taormina

Be on deck early in the morning as the ship cruises in view of the most famous of the World Heritage designated Aeolian IslandsStromboli, the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean”—home to a volcano that has been mildly active for the past 2,000 years.

Arrive in the charming, medieval town of Taormina, which commands one of the most impressive settings on the island and is the 2,400-year-old center of Sicilian culture and commerce. Look for imposing, snow-covered Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest volcano and a World Heritage site, and enjoy stunning panoramic views of Calabria. Visit the remarkably preserved Greco-Roman Theater, built in the 3rd century B.C. and still in use today, perhaps located in one of the finest settings of any ancient Roman settlement on Earth. Admire the 14th-century Corvaia Palace, an ornate, Gothic-Catalan structure; the medieval baroque portal of the Cathedral of St. Nicola; and the Roman Odeon, known as the “small theater.” Stroll along Taormina’s famous Corso Umberto, the bustling shopping thoroughfare with a distinctive Mediterranean flair.

The Variety Voyager overnights in Taormina. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Syracuse / Piazza Armerina / Morgantina / Licata

Begin the day by discovering the beauty and grandeur of Syracuse, extolled from antiquity to the present. Tracing its origin to Greek colonists from Corinth who settled here in 734 B.C., Siracusa reached its zenith of wealth and power 350 years later under Dionysius the Elder, who fortified his city with 14-mile-long walls and made it a center of philosophy and the arts. Today, Syracuse is a World Heritage site and a virtual open-air museum of classical monuments. Walk through the historic quarter of Ortygia, the city’s maritime heart, and see the 6th-century B.C. Temple of Apollo, the finest example of Doric architecture in Western Europe. Presentations of plays by Aeschylus once stirred ancient Siracusans in the magnificent Greek Theater, while spectators in the Roman Amphitheater thrilled to the exploits of gladiators. On the Altar of Hieron II, devout citizens rendered offerings to Zeus, the chief of the gods, and in the limestone cave known as Ear of Dionysios, an ancient ruler once confined prisoners. Among Syracuse’s newest monuments is the baroque, 18th-century Duomo (Cathedral), built atop the foundation of a Greco-Roman temple.

Then, continue your full day excursion by enjoying lunch in a local restaurant in Piazza Armerina.  An afternoon tour of the small Italian town of Piazza Armerina features the opulent Villa Romana del Casale, a UNESCO World Heritage site built in the 4th century—it contains the richest, largest, and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world.

End this grand day of touring the island of Sicily by traveling a short distance to the impressive archaeological site of Morgantina. An ancient Iron Age settlement, the earliest excavations took place here in 1884 and uncovered the ruins of a necropolis, a terra-cotta drainpipe and two houses. Tour the site’s fascinating archaeological museum, featuring archaeological artifacts found at Morgantina and housed in a former 17th-century Capuchin monastery.   Rejoin the ship in Licata where you overnight. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Porto Empedocle, Sicily for Agrigento

From Porto Empedocle, visit Agrigento’s legendary Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples), a World Heritage site where classical antiquity comes alive. Here, no fewer than eight Doric Greek shrines dating from the 5th century B.C. dot the landscape, including the Temple of Hera, with its graceful northern colonnade, and the Temple of Concordia, a beautifully preserved Greek monument. There are temples dedicated to Zeus and Heracles and the Sanctuary of the Chthonic Divinities, ancient Greek lords of Earth and the underworld. Visit the Archaeological Museum and admire the momentous collection of Greek, Etruscan, Phoenician, Carthaginian, and Roman artifacts. The ship departs Porto Empedocle this evening for Malta. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Valletta, Malta

This morning, enjoy a walking tour of the magnificent fortified city of Valletta, which was founded in 1566 by the French Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St. John after their victory over the Ottomans in the Great Siege of Malta. This World Heritage site was one of the world’s earliest planned cities and today showcases architecture from the 16th century onward, including splendid examples of baroque, neoclassical, and modern styles. Walk through the colonnaded Upper Barracca Gardens, offering spectacular vistas of Valletta and its harbor, and the striking Grand Master’s Palace. Enjoy a private tour of Casa Rocca Piccola—an intimate, 16th-century palazzo and one of the last remaining residential palaces in Valletta—led by a member of the Marquis De Piro family, who currently live there. Visit the 16th-century St. John’s Co-Cathedral, commissioned by the Knights of St. John and remarkable for its Renaissance exterior and baroque interior exhibiting Malta’s greatest artistic treasures, including Caravaggio’s The Beheading of St. John.

Enjoy a farewell reception and dinner this evening on board in the harbor of Valletta. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Day 9 — Depart Valletta for the U.S.

Disembark the Variety Voyager in Valletta and continue on the post-cruise option, or transfer to the airport for your flight back to the U.S. (B)

September 21-29, 2016 Itinerary

For thousands of years, waves of civilizations have
left their imprint on the Mediterranean. During this exceptional voyage, explore three destinations that are considered the crossroads of this complex history: Malta, Sicily, and southern Italy.

Highlights Include:

  • Malta: Trace the steps of the Knights Templar at the Grandmaster’s Palace and enjoy a tour of a private palazzo in Valletta.
  • Sicily: Visit the archaeological museum in Syracuse, as well as one of the best-preserved Greek theaters in the Mediterranean. In Agrigento, walk amid the Valley of the Temples
 and admire the exceptional Doric temples, and in Taormina visit the Greek theater, which features Mt. Etna as a backdrop.
  • Amalfi Coast: Enjoy time to discover the idyllic village of Positano, situated on a steep cliff along the Amalfi Coast, and take the breathtaking drive along the coastal road. During a guided tour, view the amazing remains of villas, shops, and streets of Pompeii, destroyed in A.D. 79 by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. 

Day 1 — Depart the U.S. for Valletta, Malta

Day 2 — Valletta

Arrive in Valletta and embark the Variety Voyager. The Captain’s welcome reception and dinner are this evening. The ship overnights in Valletta. (R,D)

Day 3 — Valletta

This morning, enjoy a walking tour of the magnificent fortified city of Valletta, which was founded in 1566 by the French Grand Master of the Order of the Knights of St. John after their victory over the Ottomans in the Great Siege of Malta. This World Heritage site was one of the world’s earliest planned cities and today showcases architecture from the 16th century onward, including splendid examples of baroque, neoclassical, and modern styles. Walk through the colonnaded Lower Barakka Gardens, offering spectacular vistas of Valletta and its harbor, and the striking Grand Master’s Palace. Enjoy a private tour of Casa Rocca Piccola—an intimate, 16th-century palazzo and one of the last remaining residential palaces in Valletta—led by a member of the Marquis De Piro family, who currently live there. Visit the 16th-century St. John’s Co-Cathedral, commissioned by the Knights of St. John and remarkable for its Renaissance exterior and baroque interior exhibiting Malta’s greatest artistic treasures, including Caravaggio’s The Beheading of St. John. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Porto Empedocle for Agrigento, Sicily

From Porto Empedocle, visit Agrigento’s legendary Valle dei Templi (Valley of the Temples), a World Heritage site where no fewer than eight Doric Greek shrines dating from the 5th century B.C. dot the landscape, including the Temple of Hera, with its graceful northern colonnade, and the Temple of Concordia, a beautifully preserved Greek monument. There are temples dedicated to Zeus and Heracles and the Sanctuary of the Chthonic Divinities, ancient Greek lords of Earth, and the underworld. Visit the Archaeological Museum and admire the momentous collection of Greek, Etruscan, Phoenician, Carthaginian, and Roman artifacts. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Licata for Piazza Armerina, Morgantina, and Siracusa

Today, enjoy a full day excursion on the storied island of Sicily beginning with a morning tour of the small Italian town of Piazza Armerina. Visit the opulent Villa Romana del Casale, a World Heritage site built in the fourth century, which contains the richest, largest, and most complex collection of Roman mosaics in the world.

Enjoy lunch in a local restaurant, then travel a short distance to the impressive archaeological site of Morgantina. An ancient Iron Age settlement, the earliest excavations took place here in 1884 and uncovered the ruins of a necropolis, a terra cotta drainpipe, and two houses. Tour the site’s fascinating archaeological museum, featuring archaeological artifacts found at Morgantina and housed in a former 17th-century Capuchin monastery.

Conclude the day by discovering the beauty and grandeur of Siracusa, extolled from antiquity to the present. Tracing its origin to Greek colonists from Corinth who settled here in 734 B.C., Siracusa reached its zenith of wealth and power 350 years later under Dionysius the Elder, who fortified his city with 14-mile-long walls and made it a center of philosophy and the arts. Today, Siracusa is a World Heritage site and a virtual open-air museum of classical monuments. Walk through the historic quarter of Ortygia, the city’s maritime heart, and see the sixth-century B.C. Temple of Apollo, the finest example of Doric architecture in Western Europe. Presentations of plays by Aeschylus once stirred ancient Siracusans in the magnificent Greek Theater, while spectators in the Roman Amphitheater thrilled to the exploits of gladiators. On the Altar of Hieron II, devout citizens rendered offerings to Zeus, the chief of the gods, and in the limestone cave known as Ear of Dionysios, an ancient ruler once confined prisoners. Among Siracusa’s newest monuments is the Baroque, 18th-century Duomo (Cathedral), built atop the foundation of a Greco-Roman temple, in Ortygia. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Naxos for Taormina

Arrive in the charming, medieval town of Taormina, which commands one of the most impressive settings on the island and is the 2,400-year-old center of Sicilian culture and commerce. Look for imposing, snow-covered Mt. Etna, Europe’s highest volcano and a World Heritage site, and enjoy stunning panoramic views of Calabria. Visit the remarkably preserved Greco-Roman Theater, built in the 3rd century B.C. and still in use today, perhaps located in one of the finest settings of any ancient Roman settlement on Earth. Admire the 14th-century Corvaia Palace, an ornate, Gothic-Catalan structure; the medieval baroque portal of the Cathedral of St. Nicola; and the Roman Odeon, known as the “small theater.” Stroll along Taormina’s famous Corso Umberto, the bustling shopping thoroughfare with a distinctive Mediterranean flair.

This evening, the ship cruises in view of the most famous of the World Heritage-designated Aeolian Islands, Stromboli, known as the “Lighthouse of the Mediterranean” for the spectacular light display of its mildly active volcano. (B,L,D)

Day 7 — Capri, Amalfi Coast, Positano, Sorrento

Amidst the isle of Capri’s dramatic scenery, lush vegetation, and subtropical climate, the Roman Emperors Augustus and Tiberius maintained elegant retreats. By small boat, visit Capri’s most famous site, the legendary Grotta Azzura (Blue Grotto), a sea cave whose interior is adorned with classical statues. Board a rowboat to cross the tranquil waters of the cavern and observe the sublime tapestry of blue hues that gave the grotto its name.

Drive along the stunning Amalfi Coast, a World Heritage site, featuring spectacular natural views along this winding cornice of Italy’s Mediterranean coastline that epitomizes the allure of the Italian seaside. Admire the dramatic cliffs, secluded villages, opulent villas, and sun-dappled beaches. Enjoy time on your own in the lovely village of Positano, an exclusive and elegant retreat that was frequently visited by artists such as Picasso, Toscanini, and Bernstein, popularized by John Steinbeck, and now a favorite resort of international luminaries.

Reboard the ship in the vibrant-hued city of Sorrento overlooking the glistening Bay of Naples. (B,L,D)

Day 8 — Sorrento for Pompeii

Visit the incredibly well-preserved ruins of Pompeii, the ancient Roman city buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Discovered and excavated 17 centuries later, Pompeii, a World Heritage site, provides an intimate look at daily life during Roman times. See the impressive amphitheater, the house of the wealthy Vetti family, and the extraordinary Temple of Jupiter. Then enjoy time at leisure in Sorrento. Attend the Captain’s farewell reception onboard the ship this evening. (B,L,R,D)

Day 9 — Depart Rome for the U.S.

Disembark the Variety Voyager and continue to the Rome Post-Program option or transfer to the airport for your flight back to the U.S. (B)