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Sojourn of Ancient Empires - Shanghai to Athens

10th April 2024 FOR 56 NIGHTS | Seabourn Sojourn

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This fly cruise holiday is financially protected by SEABOURN under ATOL 6294

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WHY WE RECOMMEND Mediterranean CRUISES

From historic capital cities to charming coastal towns dotted across a sun-soaked shoreline, there is so much choice when it comes to picking your perfect Mediterranean cruise itinerary. Take your pick from a host of voyages taking in the Western Mediterranean across Spain, Portugal and the French Riviera, or the Eastern Mediterranean including Italy, Greece and Croatia.

See all Luxury Mediterranean Cruise Deals


Whichever side of the Mediterranean you decide to explore, from the enchanting east to the legendary west - or even both - you will experience the warm climate, captivating culture and fascinating history for which the region is renowned. A Mediterranean cruise offers the opportunity to explore a different city every day - enjoying famous museums, pavement cafes and stunning scenery as you go. Why not book a Cruise and Stay holiday and extend your stay in a city such as Barcelona?

Mediterranean cruises are most popular during the summer months of June, July and August. The hot weather and warm sea make this the ideal time to visit the coastal town and cities. The spring and autumn are also good times to cruise, particularly if you wish to avoid the hustle and bustle of the summer season.

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itinerary

1

Shanghai, China

"Paris of China" and "Pearl of the Orient," the vibrant city of Shanghai is a shining symbol of the economic emergence of the world's largest nation. A comfortable jumble of old and new, it is a city in seemingly unstoppable transition. Like the rest of China, Shanghai is undergoing one of the fastest economic expansions the world has ever seen, yet has striven to retain its historical roots. Today's Shanghai is a montage of stunning architecture, mixed with noble reminders of long-gone eras. Shanghai, as you soon discover, has many faces.

10 Apr 2024

2

Zhujiajian Island08:00 - 18:00

A short way offshore lies one of China’s most important Buddhist sites, which has attracted pilgrims for over a thousand years. The island of Putuoshan is named for Mt. Putuo, the highest peak in the archipelago. The mountain is one of four peaks in China sacred to Buddhists, and the island is a picturesque treasury of temples, over 80 monasteries and gardens that embody every nostalgic image of China one could hope for. The slopes rise from a shoreline boasting two lovely sand beaches; Hundred Step Beach and Thousand Step Beach, divided by a rocky promontory topped by a temple. The island’s main temple is dedicated to Guanyin, sometimes called Avalokitesvara, the Goddess of Mercy and Hearer of Cries, beloved of the common folk. On Longwu Hill stands a remarkable 33-meter statue of the Goddess, crafted of bronze and gold and erected in 1997, which continues to draw pilgrims from around China and the wider world.

11 Apr 2024

3
4

At Sea

12 Apr 2024 - 13 Apr 2024

5
6

Hong Kongundefined - 23:00

The Hong Kong Island skyline, with its ever-growing number of skyscrapers, speaks to ambition and money. Paris, London, even New York were centuries in the making, while Hong Kong's towers, bright lights, and glitzy shopping emporia weren't yet part of the urban scene when many of the young investment bankers who fuel one of the world's leading financial centers were born. Commerce is concentrated in the glittering high-rises of Central, tucked between Victoria Harbor and forested peaks on Hong Kong Island's north shore. While it's easy to think all the bright lights are the sum of today's Hong Kong, you need only walk or board a tram for the short jaunt west into Western to discover a side of Hong Kong that is more traditionally Chinese but no less high-energy. You'll discover the real Hong Kong to the east of Central, too, in Wan Chai, Causeway Bay, and beyond. Amid the residential towers are restaurants, shopping malls, bars, convention centers, a nice smattering of museums, and—depending on fate and the horse you wager on—one of Hong Kong's luckiest or unluckiest spots, the Happy Valley Racecourse. Kowloon sprawls across a generous swath of the Chinese mainland across Victoria Harbour from Central. Tsim Sha Tsui, at the tip of Kowloon peninsula, is packed with glitzy shops, first-rate museums, and eye-popping views of the skyline across the water. Just to the north are the teeming market streets of Mong Kok and in the dense residential neighborhoods beyond, two of Hong Kong's most enchanting spiritual sights, Wong Tai Sin Temple and Chi Lin Nunnery. As you navigate this huge metropolis (easy to do on the excellent transportation network), keep in mind that streets are usually numbered odd on one side, even on the other. There's no baseline for street numbers and no block-based numbering system, but street signs indicate building numbers for any given block.

14 Apr 2024 - 15 Apr 2024

7

At Sea

16 Apr 2024

8
9

Ha Long Bayundefined - 15:00

A visit to the north is not complete without a trip to Halong Bay, where placid waters give way to more than 3,000 limestone karsts and wind-sculpted limestone formations that jut from foggy lagoons. Dotting the bay are tiny islands bordered by white sandy coves and hidden caves, adding to the majestic landscape of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Adding to this naturalist’s dream is the biodiversity of islets, grottos, and Cat Ba Island National Park. The bay, however, shows tourism’s impact: the clearing of mangrove forests to make way for jetties and piers, marine life threatened by game fishing, and garbage from passenger boats and fishing villages washed up on the shores.Beyond its geological uniqueness are activities like hiking, kayaking, rock climbing, or exploring one of the many floating villages where fishermen bring in their daily catch. The downside to all this allure is the large number of unlicensed boats it draws to the bay each day.Boat trips out onto the bay are the main tourism stock in trade farther north, but a more multifaceted side of the area can be experienced at Cat Ba Island. The largest island in Halong Bay, Cat Ba is very much its own entity. Its national park offers incredible biodiversity, with more than a thousand species of plants having been recorded here. Animal life is slightly thinner on the ground, but alert visitors may spy inhabitants such as the endangered golden-headed langur, wild boar, deer, civets, and several species of squirrel. Trekking through the wilderness is a highlight with a number of fascinating trails to follow.Cat Ba Island has also become a firm favorite with the adventure sports set. Indeed, along with Railay Beach in Thailand, it is recognized as one of the top spots in the region for rock climbing. Other outdoor pursuits include sailing and kayaking around the karsts. Although Halong Bay has arguably been tainted by over-exposure, Bai Tu Long Bay farther east toward China, retains all the majesty of Vietnam’s premier bucket-list natural attraction but sees a fraction of the traffic of its immediate neighbor to the west. Here, visitors will find islands of substantial size with deserted beaches and untamed jungle. Halong Bay's 3,000 islands of dolomite and limestone cover a 1,500-square-km (580-square-mile) area, extending across the Gulf of Tonkin nearly to the Chinese border. According to legend, this breathtaking land- and seascape was formed by a giant dragon that came barreling out of the mountains toward the ocean—hence the name (Halong translates into "descent of the dragon"). Geologists are more likely to attribute the formations to sedimentary limestone that formed here between 300 and 500 million years ago, in the Paleozoic Era. Over millions of years water receded and exposed the limestone to wind, rain, and tidal erosion.Today the limestone formations are exposed to hordes of tourists—but don't let that discourage you. Hundreds of fishing trawlers and tour boats share space on these crystal waters, yet there seems to be room for everyone. Most people use the main population center, Halong City, as a base from which to venture into the bay. Although it's now officially one municipality, Halong City was, until 1996, two separate towns: Bai Chay is now Halong City West, where Halong Road winds its way around the coast and past the lifeless central beach; Hon Gai is the grimier Halong City East, where a coal transportation depot dominates the center of town and covers nearby roads and buildings with a sooty film. Locals still refer to the towns by their old names, but they are now inexorably lassoed together by a bridge. Boat trips through Halong Bay are the main attraction. Little of the majesty of this region can be found in the city, so head out onto the water and start exploring. Countless 10- and 30-foot fishing boats have been converted into Halong Bay's formidable tourist-boat fleet. Hotels or travel agencies in Halong City or Hanoi can arrange boat trips for you (often they are part of organized tours from Hanoi). It is still possible to go down to the wharf and bargain yourself onto a boat for the day, but you are likely to be charged (sometimes significantly) more than you would pay for a prebooked tour, so this is not advised. Self-sufficient travelers have fallen victim to the old bait-and-switch: they've arranged a next-day boat tour with local fishermen, only to be told in no uncertain terms the following morning that they could not board their chosen boat, but they could take a different one for quite a bit more money. You may have no choice in the end. Usually travel agencies, however, have their tried-and-true favorites.

17 Apr 2024 - 18 Apr 2024

10

Sanya10:00 - 18:00

Hainan is the largest island administered by the People’s Republic of China, and comprises the lion’s share of the nation’s smallest and southernmost province. Warm and tropical, it has earned a reputation as “China’s Hawaii.” In fact most of the island is given over to facilities and services catering to visitors. The Serenity Coast, DadongHai, Yalong Bay and Haitang Bay all are filled with restaurants, resorts and hotels, and shopping malls suited to serve tourists from Asia, Russia and all over the world. One of the island’s top attractions is the 20 square-mile Nanshan Park, developed in 1988 to celebrate 2,000 years of Buddhism in China. There is a large Nanshan Temple, and numerous smaller pagodas and temples, as well as the world’s tallest Buddhist statue, a three-sided depiction of the Bodhisattva Guan Yin rising from the sea. Further afield, the newly developed Yanoda Rainforest Park has boardwalks winding through huge ancient trees and lush tropical vegetation.

19 Apr 2024

11

Da Nang08:00 - 18:00

Da Nang is the third largest city in Vietnam with the land area of 1283 square kilometre and the population of approximately 1million people. Da Nang is growing into one of the most organized urban area, with attractive beach front villas on the one side and Han River flowing on the other. Of the few attractions that belong to the city, Museum of Cham stands out with its rich collection of Cham artefacts. For those who crave for more outdoors activities, My Khe beach is a good place to spend time, either by yourself or with your loved ones. Da Nang is in close proximity to Hue- 3 hours North and Hoi An- 30 minutes south, which makes it a perfect stop point for those who need a break from touristy areas. Hue was once the Royal Capital of Viet Nam. The city represents the outstanding demonstration of the power of the vanished Vietnamese feudal empire, including a complex of monuments, tombs and pagodas that attract tourists coming from all over the world. Hoi An has to this days well preserved its most sacred treasure, the centuries-old architecture. The town used to harbour foreign traders back in the 17-18th, and once is an important heavily-frequented trading port in Southeast Asia.

20 Apr 2024

12

At Sea

21 Apr 2024

13
14

Ho Chi Minh Cityundefined - 16:00

Romantically referred to by the French as the Pearl of the Orient, Ho Chi Minh City today is a super-charged city of sensory overload. Motorbikes zoom day and night along the wide boulevards, through the narrow back alleys and past vendors pushing handcarts hawking goods of all descriptions. Still called Saigon by most residents, this is Vietnam's largest city and the engine driving the country's current economic resurgence, but despite its frenetic pace, it's a friendlier place than Hanoi and locals will tell you the food—simple, tasty, and incorporating many fresh herbs—is infinitely better than in the capital.This is a city full of surprises. The madness of the city's traffic—witness the oddball things that are transported on the back of motorcycles—is countered by tranquil pagodas, peaceful parks, quirky coffee shops, and whole neighborhoods hidden down tiny alleyways, although some of these quiet spots can be difficult to track down. Life in Ho Chi Minh City is lived in public: on the back of motorcycles, on the sidewalks, and in the parks. Even when its residents are at home, they're still on display. With many living rooms opening onto the street, grandmothers napping, babies being rocked, and food being prepared, are all in full view of passersby.Icons of the past endure in the midst of the city’s headlong rush into capitalism. The Hotel Continental, immortalized in Graham Greene's The Quiet American, continues to stand on the corner of old Indochina's most famous thoroughfare, the rue Catinat, known to American G.I.s during the Vietnam War as Tu Do (Freedom) Street and renamed Dong Khoi (Uprising) Street by the Communists. The city still has its ornate opera house and its old French city hall, the Hôtel de Ville. The broad colonial boulevards leading to the Saigon River and the gracious stucco villas are other remnants of the French colonial presence. Grisly reminders of the more recent past can be seen at the city's war-related museums. Residents, however, prefer to look forward rather than back and are often perplexed by tourists' fascination with a war that ended 40 years ago.The Chinese influence on the country is still very much in evidence in the Cholon district, the city's Chinatown, but the modern office towers and international hotels that mark the skyline symbolize Vietnam's fixation on the future.

22 Apr 2024 - 23 Apr 2024

15

At Sea

24 Apr 2024

16

Sihanoukville07:00 - 20:00

Sihanoukville, also known as Kampong Som, is located in southern Cambodia on the Gulf of Thailand, and is Cambodia's only international marine port. Its beaches are the most prominent natural feature of the city, spanning most of the surrounding coastline. Sihanoukville has several cultural sites, including Victory Monument built to symbolize friendship with Vietnam, and Independence Square, constructed in honor of independence and the Cambodians that lost their lives defending their country.

25 Apr 2024

17

Koh Kood08:00 - 17:00

Koh Kood, also known as Ko Kut, is an island in the Gulf of Thailand. The island is administrated as part of the Ko Kut District in Thailand's Trat Province.

26 Apr 2024

18
19

Laem Chabangundefined - 18:00

There are two Bangkoks, the ancient soul of Thailand with its long and fascinating history and the frantic, modern metropolis that embraces the latest trends both Eastern and Western. The two blend together remarkably well—even the most jarring juxtapositions of old and new somehow make sense. Bangkok is not only the biggest city in Thailand, but also the most mesmerizing, with some of the country's most beautiful temples and shrines. The city's energy is palpable, especially at night, when traffic opens up a bit, its famous markets get going, and everything seems lit up—from its proudest monuments to its seediest streets. When Ayutthaya was besieged and pillaged by the Burmese in 1766, Thonburi became Thailand's capital. The Thais call Bangkok Krung Thep (City of Angels), and in 1782 King Rama I moved his capital here, just across the Chao Praya River. Laem Chabang is approximately 130 km (81 mi) from Bangkok.

27 Apr 2024 - 28 Apr 2024

20
21

At Sea

29 Apr 2024 - 30 Apr 2024

22
23

Singaporeundefined - 15:00

The main island of Singapore is shaped like a flattened diamond, 42 km (26 miles) east to west and 23 km (14 miles) north to south. Near the northern peak is the causeway leading to West Malaysia—Kuala Lumpur is less than four hours away by car. It is at the southern foot where you will find most of the city-state’s action, with its gleaming office towers, working docks, and futuristic "supertrees," which are solar-powered and serve as vertical gardens. Offshore are Sentosa and over 60 smaller islands, most uninhabited, that serve as bases for oil refining or as playgrounds and beach escapes from the city. To the east is Changi International Airport, connected to the city by metro, bus, and a tree-lined parkway. Of the island's total land area, more than half is built up, with the balance made up of parkland, farmland, plantations, swamp areas, and rain forest. Well-paved roads connect all parts of the island, and Singapore city has an excellent, and constantly expanding, public transportation system. The heart of Singapore's history and its modern wealth are in and around the Central Business District. The area includes the skyscrapers in the Central Business District, the 19th-century Raffles Hotel, the convention centers of Marina Square, on up to the top of Ft. Canning. Although most of old Singapore has been knocked down to make way for the modern city, most colonial landmarks have been preserved in the CBD, including early-19th-century buildings designed by the Irish architect George Coleman.

01 May 2024 - 02 May 2024

24

Port Klang08:00 - 18:00

Kuala Lumpur, or KL as locals refer to it, intrigues visitors with its diversity and multicultural character. The city's old quarter features stretches of shop houses that hint at its colonial past, while modern buildings—including the iconic Petronas Towers—give a glimpse of its modern financial ambitions. The city is filled with culturally colorful quarters dedicated to Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities. New shopping malls with designer labels, five-star hotels, and top-notch restaurants also proliferate in this bustling city of 1.6 million.

03 May 2024

25

Georgetown, Penang10:00 - 23:00

An island off the northwest coast of peninsular Malaysia, Penang is blessed with a multicultural history that's led to a fascinating fusion of East and West. Claimed by the British East India Company in 1786, the island's city center of Georgetown—listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site—is filled with colonial architecture, temples, and museums. The island has also attracted many Chinese immigrants, who now make up the majority of the population. On Penang you'll find an exciting mix of jungle, coast, farmland, and fishing villages, along with the country's largest Buddhist temple.

04 May 2024

26

Langkawi Island08:00 - 17:00

On Malaysia's west coast, Langkawi is an archipelago made up of 99 islands. The only real settlement is on the main island, Pulau Langkawi. This popular beach destination attracts divers from around the world to explore the sea life, and after being declared a duty-free zone back in the '80s, it has become a favorite shopping spot for visitors seeking cheap booze. You'll find sightseeing attractions—such as national parks, a cable car ride, and a large aquarium—throughout this island of lush rainforests. However, it's the long stretches of sandy beach that attract most visitors to this tropical paradise.

05 May 2024

27

Phuket08:00 - 21:00

Though few tourists linger here, Phuket Town, the provincial capital, is one of the more culturally interesting places on the island to spend half a day. About one-third of the island's population lives here, and the town is an intriguing mix of old Sino-Portuguese architecture and the influences of the Chinese, Muslims, and Thais that inhabit it. The old Chinese quarter along Talang Street is especially good for a stroll, as its history has not yet been replaced by modern concrete and tile. And this same area has a variety of antiques shops, art studios, and trendy cafés. Besides Talang, the major thoroughfares are Ratsada, Phuket, and Ranong roads. Ratsada connects Phuket Road (where you'll find the Tourism Authority of Thailand office) to Ranong Road, where there's an aromatic local market filled with fruits, vegetables, spices, and meats.

06 May 2024

28
29
30

At Sea

07 May 2024 - 09 May 2024

31
32

Colomboundefined - 23:00

Sri Lanka's capital and largest city, Colombo offers fine restaurants, a buzzing nightlife scene, and good museums, parks, and beautiful Buddhist temples that are all worth visiting. The beach resort of Mt. Lavinia is only a short taxi ride from the downtown area and offers a golden, sandy beach and sunset views to die for. As an exciting blur of colors and cultures, Colombo presents a neatly packaged microcosm of this island nation.

10 May 2024 - 11 May 2024

33

At Sea

12 May 2024

34
35

Maleundefined - 17:00

There are many nations around the world with bragging rights to miles of pristine white coral sand and balmy turquoise seas but few can take it to the same level as the Maldives. Its 1,200 islands are spread out over 26 coral atolls; the combined land of all the islands is little more than 100 square miles. That means you are rarely more than a few steps from the beach. Many of the villas are actually built on stilts out over the water, so you may actually have to walk onshore in order to get to the beach. Besides curling your toes in the sand, many people come here to sample the Maldives enviable world-class dive spots. Others simply snorkel among the endless coral reefs. There are so many coral atolls here that our English word derives from the Maldivian name atholhu.

13 May 2024 - 14 May 2024

36
37
38

At Sea

15 May 2024 - 17 May 2024

39

Salalah07:00 - 17:00

The lush landscape around Salalah is the intriguing result of a quirk of nature. Since it is uniquely situated in the path of the Khareef, or South Western Monsoon, this stretch of the Dhofar Coast is covered in fine mist and frequent rain from mid-June through mid-September. By the time the monsoons cease, the entire coastline is a verdant stretch. Waterfalls, rolling grasslands, and thickly wooded wadis (riverbeds) thrive alongside rapid mountain streams. Unique in this desert region, Salalah attracts many visitors from the surrounding Arabian Gulf countries who are anxious to experience a rare lushness in a region where rain and greenery are in short supply. Once a stop on the ancient trading routes that connected the Levant to India and China, Salalah has a rich history that goes back centuries. Traders from Mesopotamia, the Persian Empire, and beyond passed through Salalah in their search for frankincense, making it a major center for trade in the coveted exotic ingredient. Pre-Islamic tombs and grave sites, some believed to be up to 2,000 years old, are scattered all over the nearby mountainsides and the present-day city, which has an estimated 195,000 inhabitants.

18 May 2024

40
41
42
43

At Sea

19 May 2024 - 22 May 2024

44
45

Safagaundefined - 22:00

Port Safago has been undergoing a transformation, slowly metamorphosing into a holiday rsort. Like other cities on the Red Sea, the commercial port town sits close to great offshore dive sites. Unlike others, however, tourist development hasn't taken off in a meaningful way. But if the mass tourism in Hurghada is a turnoff, Safaga offers a small-scale and much more low-key alternative, though the best dive sites can still be seen on a day trip from Hurghada. Safaga is also the closest beach resort to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings, which lies 200 km (124 mi) to the southwest; when cruise ships offer land excursions to Luxor, they often do so through Safaga.

23 May 2024 - 24 May 2024

46

Sharm El Sheikh05:30 - 20:00

The port and town of Sharm-el-Sheikh lies near the southernmost tip of the Sinai Peninsula where the Straits of Tiran meet the Gulf of Aqaba. With its strategic position, the Sinai posed a desirable target for various rulers over the centuries. In recent times, the last battle for the Sinai was fought between Egypt and Israel from 1967 to 1979, ending with a peace treaty signed in Washington, D.C. Since the withdrawal of the Israelis, more and more Egyptians have settled in the Sinai, taking advantage of the booming tourist trade. However, vast interior regions are still sparsely populated. Many Bedouins have been affected by the advent of the 21st century, which is rapidly changing their age-old customs and nomadic lifestyle. As tourism and hotel projects continue to spring up along the Sinai coast, contact with Bedouins not involved in tourism is becoming increasingly rare. Once their nomadic life kept them on the move with their tents; today many Bedouins cultivate grain, vegetables and dates in addition to catering to the tourists. Sharm-el-Sheikh was initially developed by the Israelis during the Sinai occupation. Na'ama Bay, a short drive from the port, has grown from virtually nothing into a sizeable resort since the early 1980s. Between the two towns, a string of hotels line a once-untouched coastline. Resort hotels offer great opportunities for swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Glass bottom boat trips are available for those preferring to view the exotic marine life of the Red Sea without getting their feet wet.

25 May 2024

47

'Aqaba07:00 - 20:00

The resort town of Aqaba, on the Red Sea at the southern end of Jordan, is a popular spot for divers with some of the best coral reefs in the world. Snorkeling and other water sports are popular, and it's easy to hire a boat for a day or half-day, including lunch.Aqaba has become quite a bustling destination, with several large luxury hotels and a large shopping area. There are many jewelry stores selling pearls, gem stones, and gold and silver jewelry. It's worth noting that although it's an international beach resort, Aqaba is quite conservative—certainly much more so than Amman—and North Americans tend to be more comfortable at the private hotel beaches.

26 May 2024

48

At Sea

27 May 2024

49

Enter Suez Canal

28 May 2024

50
51

Haifaundefined - 20:00

Spilling down from the pine-covered heights of Mount Carmel, Haifa is a city with a vertiginous setting that has led to comparisons with San Francisco. The most striking landmark on the mountainside is the gleaming golden dome of the Baha'i Shrine, set amid utterly beautiful garden terraces. The city is the world center for the Baha'i faith, and its members provide informative walking tours of the flower-edged 100-acre spot, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At the top of the hill are some small but interesting museums, the larger hotels, and two major universities. At the bottom is the lovingly restored German Colony, a perfect area for strolling.Israel's largest port and third-largest city, Haifa was ruled for four centuries by the Ottomans and gradually spread its tendrils up the mountainside into a cosmopolitan city whose port served the entire Middle East. The climate is gentle, the beaches beautiful, and the locals friendly.You don't see the religious garb of Jerusalem or the tattoos and piercings of Tel Aviv in this diverse but fairly conservative city. In fact, you can't always tell at a glance who is part of an Arab or Jewish Israeli family, or if someone is a more recent immigrant from the former Soviet Union.

29 May 2024 - 30 May 2024

52

At Sea

31 May 2024

53

Agios Nikólaos, Kríti08:00 - 18:00

This charming village of white houses climbing up the slopes is beautifully situated on the sparkling Gulf of Mirabello. The attractive Venetian harbor is surrounded by restaurants, outdoor cafes and clusters of shops selling everything from necessities to souvenirs. The ship docks in the center of town, and you are able to wander at will and enjoy the atmosphere of Crete's foremost resort.

01 Jun 2024

54

Mykonos08:00 - 21:00

Although the fishing boats still go out in good weather, Mykonos largely makes its living from tourism these days. The summer crowds have turned one of the poorest islands in Greece into one of the richest. Old Mykonians complain that their young, who have inherited stores where their grandfathers once sold eggs or wine, get so much rent that they have lost ambition, and in summer sit around pool bars at night with their friends, and hang out in Athens in winter when island life is less scintillating. Put firmly on the map by Jackie O in the 1960s, Mykonos town—called Hora by the locals—remains the Saint-Tropez of the Greek islands. The scenery is memorable, with its whitewashed streets, Little Venice, the Kato Myli ridge of windmills, and Kastro, the town's medieval quarter. Its cubical two- or three-story houses and churches, with their red or blue doors and domes and wooden balconies, have been long celebrated as some of the best examples of classic Cycladic architecture. Luckily, the Greek Archaeological Service decided to preserve the town, even when the Mykonians would have preferred to rebuild, and so the Old Town has been impressively preserved. Pink oleander, scarlet hibiscus, and trailing green pepper trees form a contrast amid the dazzling whiteness, whose frequent renewal with whitewash is required by law. Any visitor who has the pleasure of getting lost in its narrow streets (made all the narrower by the many outdoor stone staircases, which maximize housing space in the crowded village) will appreciate how its confusing layout was designed to foil pirates—if it was designed at all. After Mykonos fell under Turkish rule in 1537, the Ottomans allowed the islanders to arm their vessels against pirates, which had a contradictory effect: many of them found that raiding other islands was more profitable than tilling arid land. At the height of Aegean piracy, Mykonos was the principal headquarters of the corsair fleets—the place where pirates met their fellows, found willing women, and filled out their crews. Eventually the illicit activity evolved into a legitimate and thriving trade network. Morning on Mykonos town's main quay is busy with deliveries, visitors for the Delos boats, lazy breakfasters, and street cleaners dealing with the previous night's mess. In late morning the cruise-boat people arrive, and the shops are all open. In early afternoon, shaded outdoor tavernas are full of diners eating salads (Mykonos's produce is mostly imported); music is absent or kept low. In mid- and late afternoon, the town feels sleepy, since so many people are at the beach, on excursions, or sleeping in their air-conditioned rooms; even some tourist shops close for siesta. By sunset, people have come back from the beach, having taken their showers and rested. At night, the atmosphere in Mykonos ramps up. The cruise-boat people are mostly gone, coughing three-wheelers make no deliveries in the narrow streets, and everyone is dressed sexy for summer and starting to shimmy with the scene. Many shops stay open past midnight, the restaurants fill up, and the bars and discos make ice cubes as fast as they can. Ready to dive in? Begin your tour of Mykonos town (Hora) by starting out at its heart: Mando Mavrogenous Square.

02 Jun 2024

55

Kusadasi07:00 - 23:00

Whilst the busy resort town of Kusadasi offers much in the way of shopping and dining – not to mention a flourishing beach life scene, the real jewel here is Ephesus and the stunning ruined city that really take centre stage. With only 20% of the classical ruins having been excavated, this archaeological wonder has already gained the status as Europe’s most complete classical metropolis. And a metropolis it really is; built in the 10th century BC this UNESCO World Heritage site is nothing short of spectacular. Although regrettably very little remains of the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), the superb Library of Celsus’ façade is practically intact and it is one of life’s great joys to attend an evening performance in the illuminated ruins once all the tourists have left. The history of the city is fascinating and multi-layered and it is well worth reading up on this beforehand if a visit is planned. Another point of interest for historians would be the house of the Virgin Mary, located on the romantically named Mount Nightingale and just nine kilometres away from Ephesus proper. Legend has it that Mary (along with St. John) spent her final years here, secluded from the rest of the population, spreading Christianity. An edifying experience, even for non-believers. For the less historical minded amongst you, Kusadasi offers plenty in the way of activities. After a stroll through the town, jump in a taxi to Ladies’ Beach (men are allowed), sample a Turkish kebap on one of the many beachfront restaurants and enjoy the clement weather. If you do want to venture further afield, then the crystal clear beaches of Guzelcamli (or the Millipark), the cave of Zeus and the white scalloped natural pools at Pamukkale, known as Cleopatra’s pools, are definitely worth a visit.

03 Jun 2024

56

At Sea

04 Jun 2024

57

Piraeus

It's no wonder that all roads lead to the fascinating and maddening metropolis of Athens. Lift your eyes 200 feet above the city to the Parthenon, its honey-color marble columns rising from a massive limestone base, and you behold architectural perfection that has not been surpassed in 2,500 years. But, today, this shrine of classical form dominates a 21st-century boomtown. To experience Athens—Athína in Greek—fully is to understand the essence of Greece: ancient monuments surviving in a sea of cement, startling beauty amid the squalor, tradition juxtaposed with modernity. Locals depend on humor and flexibility to deal with the chaos; you should do the same. The rewards are immense. Although Athens covers a huge area, the major landmarks of the ancient Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods are close to the modern city center. You can easily walk from the Acropolis to many other key sites, taking time to browse in shops and relax in cafés and tavernas along the way. From many quarters of the city you can glimpse "the glory that was Greece" in the form of the Acropolis looming above the horizon, but only by actually climbing that rocky precipice can you feel the impact of the ancient settlement. The Acropolis and Filopappou, two craggy hills sitting side by side; the ancient Agora (marketplace); and Kerameikos, the first cemetery, form the core of ancient and Roman Athens. Along the Unification of Archaeological Sites promenade, you can follow stone-paved, tree-lined walkways from site to site, undisturbed by traffic. Cars have also been banned or reduced in other streets in the historical center. In the National Archaeological Museum, vast numbers of artifacts illustrate the many millennia of Greek civilization; smaller museums such as the Goulandris Museum of Cycladic Art Museum and the Byzantine and Christian Museum illuminate the history of particular regions or periods. Athens may seem like one huge city, but it is really a conglomeration of neighborhoods with distinctive characters. The Eastern influences that prevailed during the 400-year rule of the Ottoman Empire are still evident in Monastiraki, the bazaar area near the foot of the Acropolis. On the northern slope of the Acropolis, stroll through Plaka (if possible by moonlight), an area of tranquil streets lined with renovated mansions, to get the flavor of the 19th-century's gracious lifestyle. The narrow lanes of Anafiotika, a section of Plaka, thread past tiny churches and small, color-washed houses with wooden upper stories, recalling a Cycladic island village. In this maze of winding streets, vestiges of the older city are everywhere: crumbling stairways lined with festive tavernas; dank cellars filled with wine vats; occasionally a court or diminutive garden, enclosed within high walls and filled with magnolia trees and the flaming trumpet-shaped flowers of hibiscus bushes. Formerly run-down old quarters, such as Thission, Gazi and Psirri, popular nightlife areas filled with bars and mezedopoleia (similar to tapas bars), are now in the process of gentrification, although they still retain much of their original charm, as does the colorful produce and meat market on Athinas. The area around Syntagma Square, the tourist hub, and Omonia Square, the commercial heart of the city about 1 km (½ mi) northwest, is distinctly European, having been designed by the court architects of King Otho, a Bavarian, in the 19th century. The chic shops and bistros of ritzy Kolonaki nestle at the foot of Mt. Lycabettus, Athens's highest hill (909 feet). Each of Athens's outlying suburbs has a distinctive character: in the north is wealthy, tree-lined Kifissia, once a summer resort for aristocratic Athenians, and in the south and southeast lie Glyfada, Voula, and Vouliagmeni, with their sandy beaches, seaside bars, and lively summer nightlife. Just beyond the city's southern fringes is Piraeus, a bustling port city of waterside fish tavernas and Saronic Gulf views.

05 Jun 2024

(This holiday is generally suitable for persons with reduced mobility. For customers with reduced mobility or any medical condition that may require special assistance or arrangements to be made, please notify your Cruise Concierge at the time of your enquiry, so that we can provide specific information as to the suitability of the holiday, as well as make suitable arrangements with the Holiday Provider on your behalf).

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