Jerusalem and the Treasures of the Aegean

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Journey into the classical civilizations of the Southern Mediterranean with Voyages to Antiquity and explore the history of the Crusades, classical Greece and the iconic city of Jerusalem on two Spring 2014 voyages offering a unique synergy of destination-focused itineraries, included land tours led by expert guides, and an onboard enrichment series featuring Jonathan Phillips, Professor of Crusading History at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The Voyages to Antiquity experience is more than just a cruise – it is an exploration, by land and by sea, into the rich history, magnificent art and fascinating cultures of the ancient world.  Sailing on 380-passenger Aegean Odyssey, guests are treated to the highest caliber of personal service, amenities including flexible open-seating dining and a selection of restaurants serving regionally-inspired cuisine and wines and, at the heart of it, the very best of cultural travel.

Both of these Spring voyages delve into the history of ancient Haifa and the fabled city of Jerusalem.  An overnight stay in Haifa includes the UNESCO World Heritage site of Acre, founded over 4,000 years ago.  Here, guests explore the underground headquarters of the Knights of St. John.  A three-night hotel stay in Jerusalem includes guided sightseeing featuring the Dome of the Rock, biblical sites of Nazareth, Bethlehem, Cana and Tabgha, and the Sea of Galilee, as well as plenty of time to explore independently.

Yet these two voyages diverge beyond Israel, each delving into a unique aspect of classical history.  The aptly named “A Journey to Jerusalem” cruise-tour concludes in this ancient city after sailing the coast of Sicily and the Aegean Sea, exploring the legacy of the Minoans, Greeks, Romans and the Crusades.

The journey begins with a two-night hotel stay in Athens, touring the magnificent sites of the “Golden Age of Athens.”  Next on to Sicily, with a tour of the Greek and Roman ruins of historic Syracuse and scenic cruising through the dramatic Strait of Messina before an overnight stay in Palermo.  Here, guests will visit the Palatine Chapel, Palermo Cathedral and the superbly well-preserved Greek temples of Segesta.

The UNESCO World Heritage site of Valletta, Malta is Aegean Odyssey’s next stop, touring the Baroque St. John’s Co-Cathedral, home of Caravaggio’s masterpiece The Beheading of St. John, and the magnificent Palace of the Grand Masters.

Next, a call at Crete and a tour of the impressive Minoan site at Knossos, the five-acre palace complex from which King Minos held court.  From here, the voyage ends with an exploration of Haifa and Jerusalem.

Alternatively, the “Jerusalem and the Treasures of the Aegean” voyage starts where the previous cruise left off, in the ancient city of Jerusalem.  Then, departing from Haifa, Aegean Odyssey sails the Turquoise Coast and enchanting isles of Greece.  Crusader highlights include Mamure Castle in Tasucu, Turkey and the Citadel in the medieval city of Rhodes, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Aegean Odyssey then calls at Antalya to tour the Hellenistic city of Perge and the amphitheater at Aspendos.  The Greek islands of Santorini, Delos and Mykonos are next, with tours of the Minoan site of Akrotiri and the Sanctuary of Apollo.

A call at Izmir takes guests to visit ancient Ephesus, and scenic cruising through the Dardanelles tops off this spectacular voyage, as guests disembark in Istanbul for a two-night hotel stay. Constantinople, Byzantium, Istanbul – this city has stood at the very center of things for centuries.  Guided tours of the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace are the perfect way to conclude this journey.

For more information on Voyages to Antiquity cruise-tours, contact your travel professional or Exclusive Tours today: