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The Leader in Small Ship and River Cruising Worldwide

Worldwide Discovery at Extraordinary Value Since 1958

New! 2018 Mediterranean Cultures & Islands: A Voyage from Barcelona to Athens

Spain: Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca • Sardinia: the Barbagia • Sicily: Trapani, Erice, Siracusa, Agrigento • Malta: Valletta • Greece: Zakynthos Island, Delphi, Corinth Canal crossing, Athens

EXPLORE IN SMALL GROUPS OF 25 ABOARD OUR PRIVATELY OWNED 89-PASSENGER M/V CLIO—OPERATED BY GRAND CIRCLE CRUISE LINE

19 Days from only $6395 including international airfare

Activity Level:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Discover the M/V Clio

See how our 89-passenger small ship—the M/V Clio—will enhance your cruise experience from the Suez Canal to the Red Sea.

NEW Itinerary

Discover the experiences that await from Spain to Greece.

Courtesy of Michael Paulis
Life in Malta

From a peaceful pace to friendly neighbors, hear why locals love living in Malta.

Courtesy of Silvia Santamaria and Ian Cross
Metropolis: Barcelona

Witness Barcelona's ancient neighborhoods and modern highlights—and learn the history that shaped them.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Athens and the Peloponnese

Get to know iconic Athens and discover the legendary locales beyond its borders with travel expert Rudy Maxa.

Courtesy Small World Productions
Sicily

Join travel expert Rudy Maxa for a tour of Sicily’s timeless treasures, from the ancient temples of Segesta to Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano.

Courtesy of Matt Devir
Spain & the Basque Country

Take a journey through Spain and the Basque country, from its coastal marinas to its architecturally-rich city streets.

New Stories, New Inspiration

Take a look at the films that inspire filmmaker David Conover—and preview the stories to come.

Climate Change & Travel

Travel with David Conover to see how people—from street protesters to Heads of State—respond to a changing climate and ocean.

Produced for CuriosityStream
Big Picture Earth Trailer

David Conover's newest television series takes us from Stonehenge to Petra, from Iceland to the Oracle at Delphi ... and beyond.

Sharing Travel Moments

Hear why visual storytelling helps to build a conversation about the world from filmmaker David Conover.

Harriet Lewis: Traveler to Traveler

Hear what real travel means to Harriet—unique experiences, connecting with others, and learning about yourself .

Solo Traveler Experience

Hear about one solo traveler’s experiences in Turkey and Greece.

The Grand Circle Cruise Line Experience

Travel aboard Grand Circle Cruise Line’s selection of river and small ships—from the Adriatic Sea to the Danube River.

Travel Protection Plan

Learn about the benefits of Grand Circle's plan—and how you can protect your entire trip investment.

FROM
$6395
19 DAYS
$337/DAY
including international airfare
18 DAYS FROM $5595 Small Ship Cruise Tour Only
Extend Your Trip
 

NEW 2018 Small Ship Adventure
Dive into the history and myths
of the western Mediterranean

 

ATTENTION
This trip features long flights and/or multiple connections. Learn More »

 

You can extend your discoveries in Madrid, Spain.
See More Options »

NEW: Activity Level

Our NEW Activity Level rating system ranks our trips on a scale of 1 (easiest) to 5 (most difficult) to help you determine if a trip is right for you. The information below is a general guide to our rating system, but see our itineraries for much more detailed physical activity information about each trip.

Activity Level 1:

1 2 3 4 5

Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 25 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 1-2 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last at least 1-2 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 2:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Easy

Travelers should be able to climb 40 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 2-3 miles over some uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for at least 2-3 hours at a time. Altitude can range from zero to 5,000 feet.

Activity Level 3:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderate

Travelers should be able to climb 60 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 3 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 3 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 5,000 to 7,000 feet.

Activity Level 4:

1 2 3 4 5

Moderately Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 80 stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 4 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Activity Level 5:

1 2 3 4 5

Strenuous

Travelers should be able to climb 100 or more stairs consecutively, plus walk at least 8 miles over some steep slopes and loose or uneven surfaces without difficulty. Walks typically last for 4 or more hours at a time. Altitude can range from 10,000 feet or more.

Itinerary Overview

Set sail into the waters of the western Mediterranean, where myth and history have swirled together for millennia. Spend a night in elegant Barcelona, where the wild dreams of Antoni Gaudi laid the foundation for architectural masterpieces, and then climb aboard the 89-passenger M/V Clio. In small groups of no more than 25, we’ll journey first to the sparkling shores of Palma de Mallorca, and then discover a secret world of prehistoric traditions in the Sardinian countryside. Our voyage continues in the playground of ancient Greeks, Romans, and Phoenicians in Sicily, and then in Malta, where we’ll meet a real-life knightly order. We'll conclude our voyage in Greece, where, from the turquoise beaches of Zakynthos, we’ll navigate the legendary Corinth Canal on our way toward Athens.

Make It Your Adventure

Personalize your trip to meet your individual needs, from preferred flights and air routing, to “breaking away” to spend more time in a destination.

  • O.A.T’s team of Adventure Specialists makes every effort to provide you with non-stop flights and acceptable connection times to and from your destination. You also have several other options for personalizing your air itinerary, which include:

    • Choose your departure city and airline: We list the most popular gateway cities on our website, but not all of them. If you don’t see yours listed, or there’s one that better suits your needs, let us know. You can also tell us if you have an airline preference and we will try to accommodation your request.
    • Depart from one city and return from another: Just because your flight leaves from one city doesn’t mean you have to return there. Maybe you flew out of Boston and wish to visit friends in Los Angeles after your trip is over. Tell us where you want to go and we’ll do our best to get you there.
    • Fly the way you want to: We’ll gladly arrange a flight upgrade to business or premium economy class if it’s available. And when you fly economy class, we’ll do our best to see that you get your choice of seating preference or even add a special meal request if you have dietary restrictions or needs.
  • You can extend your time abroad and "break away" anywhere you'd like to do more exploring on your own. Consider arriving a few days early for a fresh start in Barcelona or stay for a day, a week, or even a month in Athens after your Small Ship Adventure. Our Travel Counselors can provide you with information on the accommodations we will use at the beginning of your trip so that you can make your own arrangements. That way, you'll know that you will be exactly where you need to be to meet your group.

  • Many of our travelers choose to take another trip directly after their first one ends. Think about it: If you’re already overseas, why not see more of the region and avoid the expense and length of another international flight? Many of our travelers have taken two or three consecutive trips before returning home. Consider combining this trip with our Suez Canal Crossing: Israel, Egypt, Jordan & the Red Sea Small Ship Adventure and cross the Mediterranean all the way to Haifa, Israel. And now you’ll save an additional $250-$350 per person when you reserve two trips right after one another.

  • Many of our travelers simply don’t want their trips to end. With an array of pre- and post-trip extensions to choose from, you have the chance to experience more of the places you’ve traveled so far to see, including Barcelona & Girona, Spain and Ancient Glories: Olympia, Nafplio & Athens. Plus, you lower your average per-day costs because you’re taking advantage of your already included international airfare.

Day-to-Day Itinerary

  • Depart today on your flight to Barcelona, Spain. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times. Or begin your discoveries early with our optional Madrid, Spain pre-trip extension.

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    Arrive in Barcelona today, where you’ll meet your Trip Leader and be escorted to your hotel. Later in the day, join your Trip Leader for a quick orientation walk to acquaint yourself with the city, and then join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink and briefing. Dinner tonight is included at your hotel.

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    After breakfast, set out for a morning tour of Barcelona, the capital of Spain's autonomous Catalonia region. Spain’s second-largest city has been a vital cultural hub since the Middle Ages, and it retains a unique and independent character which you’ll experience on your tour today.

    The city streets feature an elegant blend of old and new architecture. In the heart of the city, the winding lanes of the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) provide a glimpse into medieval Barcelona, with some structures dating as far back as Roman times. And scattered elsewhere throughout the city, you’ll find the works of Barcelona’s most celebrated architect, Antoni Gaudi, whose trademark Catalan modernist style has made the city famous around the world.

    Your city tour will take you to Gaudi’s most exemplary masterwork: The Sagrada Familia basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While construction of the church began in 1882, the colossal structure isn't scheduled for completion until 2026. Originally started by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, Gaudi took over in 1883 and then devoted his entire life to its construction. When he died in 1926, after nearly 43 years of work on the cathedral, the project was only 15 percent completed. At first blush, the breathtaking mixture of Gothic and geometric Art Nouveau forms appear to be dripping in melted wax, but closer inspection reveals a meticulous stone tapestry covering every inch of the gargantuan façade depicting the life and acts of Jesus Christ. Once completed, the church will accommodate some 13,000 worshipers.

    This afternoon, join your fellow travelers for an included lunch in a local restaurant where you’ll sample a classic Spanish tradition: tapas. Choose from a variety of small plate dishes and sample the cornucopia of cuisine that the city has to offer, including fresh fish from the Mediterranean and delicate, melt-in-your-mouth slices of cured ham.

    After lunch, you’ll head to the port and climb aboard the Clio, your home for the next two weeks as you make your way across the sea toward Athens. After meeting the crew and captain, you’ll set sail for the first destination on your voyage, Mallorca.

    This evening, your Trip Leader will present the first in a nightly series of Port Talks, in which you’ll learn about the discoveries you can expect to make tomorrow. After the talk, adjourn to the ship’s dining room where you’ll enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers.

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    Today, our journey takes us just over 100 miles from the coast of mainland Spain to Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands archipelago. The largest of the four islands in the chain, Mallorca is a popular holiday destination for international visitors, owing to its glittering beaches and sculpted cliffs.

    Upon arrival, we’ll set off for a walking tour of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the islands and the preferred summertime getaway of the Spanish royal family. Our walk will culminate at the impressive Palacio de la Almudaina (the Royal Palace of La Almudaina). After exploring the fortified palace, we'll have some time for independent discoveries—perhaps stopping to see Palma’s Gothic Cathedral.

    Next, enjoy a striking introduction to the rich traditions and cultures here, with a visit to the La Granja de Esporles, a sprawling 17th-century estate in the Mallorcan countryside that today serves as the island's museum. Here we’ll tour the grounds and watch an entertaining horse show, as well as enjoy an included lunch.

    Return to our ship in Palma, where dinner is included onboard this evening.

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    Spend a full day at sea today as your ship makes its way toward Sardinia, your next destination. This morning, join your Trip Leader for the first of a two-part Crossroads of Cultures discussion, for some historic context to the discoveries that you’ll be making throughout your trip. Today’s discussion focuses on ancient history: particularly the trade routes of the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans who plied these waters thousands of years ago, and the eternal legacy they left behind that you’ll encounter during your voyage.

    After your discussion, enjoy an included lunch, and then take advantage of the Clio’s amenities as you continue your voyage.

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    Today, you’ll dock in the city of Oristano on the island of Sardinia. Sardinia is known for its beautiful beaches, and most travelers who come here don’t go much further than that. This morning, however, you’ll board a motorcoach for a long but worthwhile drive deep into the Sardinian countryside to visit a world that most Americans have never heard of, much less traveled to.

    Together with your Trip Leader, you’ll explore the Barbagia, Sardinia’s remote and rustic heartland, where the insular locals stick to old traditions that can be traced back to prehistoric times. In fact, your tour here begins in the Stone Age with a visit to a nuraghe, or a megalithic stone tower that dates back to hundreds, possibly thousands of years before the common era. These towers can be found all over the Sardinian countryside, a testament to the age-old traditions of the region.

    You’ll then get to know the people of the Barbagia, and learn more about their old and isolated culture, with strong ties to sheep herding and farming. Many locals will only speak Sardinian, rather than Italian (or, needless to say, English) and dress in traditional outfits. In some cases, you may even encounter widows that have been dressed in black mourning garb for 20 or 30 years. It’s a culture that has deliberately closed itself off from the outside world for a long time—in fact, as late as the 1980s, there have been instances of wealthy travelers to the region who have been kidnapped by local bandits in exchange for ransom money.

    Today, however, the people are receptive to travelers, and they’ll welcome you in to show you their unique way of life. You’ll join some local shepherds as they guide you through the daily tasks involved with tending their flocks—you’ll even have the opportunity to try your hand at milking the sheep and making pecorino cheese yourself.

    Your discoveries continue with a hands-on cooking lesson, in which you’ll learn to create traditional Sardinian country dishes including music sheet bread (paper-thin crispy flatbread), fregola (bead-shaped pasta, like couscous but thicker), malloreddus (a local variant of gnocchi), and seadas (a sweet and salty dessert dumpling filled with honey and pecorino cheese). After working up an appetite, you’ll sit down for a farmhouse lunch with a shepherd family and sample the local Sardinian fare over lively conversation.

    After lunch, you’ll enjoy another glimpse into the ancient culture of Sardinia during a Mamuthone folk show; a festive presentation of singing, dancing, heavy fur-lined costumes adorned will bells, and masks, an understated cousin of carnival back on the Italian mainland. The origins of the Mamuthones aren’t fully known, but they almost certainly date back to prehistoric times and are probably tied to pagan fertility rites.

    Then bid farewell to your Barbagian hosts, and head back to Oristano, where the Clio awaits. Enjoy dinner as you sail to Sicily, your next destination.

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    Spend another full day at sea as our ship cruises toward Sicily. For centuries, the Mediterranean has been the backdrop for the dramas of human history: From epic myths like The Odyssey and The Aeneid, to the larger than life real histories of ancient empires, this sea has seen unforgettable stories unfold. And at the heart of it all has been the island of Sicily.

    Pass the time this morning with part two of our Crossroads of Cultures discussion, this time with a focus on the modern era, about the plights of migrant populations around the present-day Mediterranean. During today’s discussion, we’ll learn about the controversies surrounding the migration of people from North Africa to Europe, and about the difficulty that European governments—and people—are facing with regard to the proper course of action to accommodate them. 

    All meals are included onboard today.

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    The Clio docks in Trapani, Sicily this morning, where you’ll disembark and board a cable car to Erice, a wonderfully preserved medieval town that towers over Sicily's western coast. Here, enjoy a short discovery walk of the ancient mountain-top town, followed by free time to explore independently.

    Then, climb back aboard the cable car and return to Trapani, where you’ll tour the Sicilian port town with your Trip Leader before returning to the ship for lunch.

    After lunch, you’ll have time to explore Trapani on your own before participating in an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about the Fortuna, an Italian schooner that departed Trapani with a cargo of coal bound for New York, only to run aground in the aptly named town of Ship Bottom, New Jersey. You’ll learn more about the Fortuna’s legacy from the last living relative of the captain.

    Return to the Clio for dinner this evening.

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    After breakfast, drive out to Stagnone Lagoon, where we’ll board small boats for an included tour of Mothya Island. Nearly 3,000 years ago, Mothya was one of the most important Phoenician ports, and served as a bustling hub of trade for the old inhabitants of the Mediterranean. In ancient times, Roman engineers constructed a mile-long road connecting the island by land with the rest of Sicily to facilitate commerce.

    Today, the road is underwater, but we’ll still be able to see it as our boats glide toward the island along the ancient causeway’s path. Once we land, we’ll walk among the ruins of the settlement, and then visit the Whitaker Museum, which houses artifacts from Mothya’s past—including an elegantly carved Greek statue of a charioteer, one of the finest pieces of sculpture to ever be rescued from the Mediterranean’s depths. Please note: Today's walking tour is approximately one mile long, and takes place on flat, unpaved, dusty terrain.

    After our tour, we settle down for a picnic lunch on the island and then drive back to the port at Trapani to climb back aboard the Clio.

    This evening, gather for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion with a local expert about the Mafia: Between Fact and Fiction. Most Americans are familiar with La Cosa Nostra through the lens of popular fiction like The Godfather and Goodfellas, but how closely does the lore match the reality? Discuss this controversial topic with a local expert on the Sicilian mafia today and learn more.

    Enjoy dinner onboard as the Clio cruises through the night.

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    Dock in the port town of Porto Empedocle this morning, and board a motorcoach for a short drive to Agrigento, home to the extraordinary Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are among the greatest Greek ruins in the world, and the splendor of the temples—seven in the Doric style, built during the fifth and sixth centuries BC—rivals those in Athens. Here we'll see the Temple of Juno, with its excellent views of the entire valley, and the Temple of Concordia, beautifully preserved. The oldest ruin is traditionally named the Temple of Heracles, which includes the remnant of a large altar. Please note: Today's walking tour is approximately two-thirds of a mile long, and takes place on downhill, unpaved, rocky terrain.

    After our tour of the site and museum, we’ll return to the ship for lunch, and then set sail for Malta.

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    Our small ship docks in Valletta this morning, where we’ll head out for an included walking tour of the Maltese capital. From our ship, we'll walk to the base of the Old Town, where we'll ride a glass elevator to the Upper Barracca Gardens, a beautiful display of Romanesque architecture overlooking the city's Grand Harbor. Other highlights of our tour (which involves more than two miles of walking on paved roads, including some steep hills) include St. John’s Co-Cathedral, a high Baroque church that hosts the painter Caravaggio's masterpiece, The Beheading of St. John, in its oratory.

    After our tour, return to the ship for lunch onboard, and then enjoy a free afternoon to explore Valletta. Perhaps you’ll elect to discover the area known as “The Three Cities,” for the three historic fortified towns of Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa.

    This evening, gain a unique perspective on local life and tradition during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion, The Knights of Malta Yesterday & Today, as a member of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta joins us aboard our ship. The world’s oldest surviving chivalric order, the Knights of Malta founded the city and continue to serve the community today. Malta’s cultural identity is entwined with that of the Knights; the order originated during the Crusades and over the centuries found its way to Malta where it defended the island—and Europe at large—from attacks by the Ottoman Empire. Without the protection of the Knights, European history would be very different than it is today.

    After the discussion, we'll gather in the ship’s dining room for dinner.

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    Today you may enjoy a full day to explore Valletta on your own. Enjoy the convenience of our small ship’s proximity to the city’s sights as you venture out into the city, or even ferry across the bay to spend some time exploring the stylish town of Sliema. This afternoon, lunch is included onboard.

    Or, join an optional full-day tour to the island of Gozo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After breakfast, transfer to the pier, located on the opposite side of the island, for our ferry ride to Gozo. In contrast to the densely-populated hustle and bustle of Malta's main island, Gozo is a small fishing and farming island with green, flat-topped cultivated hills, rugged cliffs, and beautiful inlets and beaches. The island’s name means “joy” in Castillian, a name we’ll understand when you experience the relaxed pace of life and legendary friendliness of its residents. 

    On arrival, we’ll tour the Ggantija Neolithic Temples. This group of two temples, set side-by-side on the Xaghra Plateau, date to about 4000 BC, making them older than Egypt’s Pyramids. The temples are believed to be the site of a fertility-based religion. Archaeologists believe that the numerous figurines and statues found at the site are connected with that cult. According to local Gozitan folklore, a giantess (ggantija) built the temples and used them as places of worship. The size and scope of the stone temples become especially impressive when one considers that they were built without the benefit of metal tools or the wheel. 

    After lunch in a local restaurant, we’ll discover Gozo’s modern-day culture with a visit to a bocce club. Here, we’ll have the opportunity to chat with some local players and learn more about the game’s popularity in Malta.

    Then, ferry back to Valletta and join our fellow travelers back aboard the Clio. Enjoy dinner onboard and set sail for Siracusa, Sicily.

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    This morning, the Clio docks in Siracusa, Sicily. Of all the Greek cities of antiquity that flourished outside of Greece, Siracusa was the most important in all of the Mediterranean, and a formidable seafaring power nearly equal to Athens. In the heyday of its power, it dared to take on both Carthage and Rome. At one time, its wealth and size were unmatched by any other city in the ancient world, and today it is one of the richest historical sites in Europe.

    Your guided tour of Siracusa begins in Ortygia, the historical gem of Siracusa. Admire the architectural splendor of ancient medieval streets, Baroque structures, and the cathedral—which was fashioned out of an ancient Greek temple. You’ll also tour the Giudecca, or Jewish quarter, where Sicilian Jews lived harmoniously alongside their neighbors until the Spanish decree of expulsion in 1492.

    After your tour, you’ll have some time to explore on your own before lunch. You might join your Trip Leader for a short visit to the mikveh, or underground baths in the Jewish quarter, one of the oldest ritual baths in Europe.

    Return to the ship for lunch onboard, and then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to make your own discoveries. You may visit remarkable Greek and Roman ruins, including the cave called "the Ear of Dionysius," because of its unusual shape, resembling a human ear. The cave is more than 200 feet long, and has such good acoustics that the ripping of paper can sound like a gunshot. It is said that the tyrant Dionysius forced his prisoners into the cave at night and was able to hear every word they said.

    Return to the Clio this evening, where dinner is included in the dining room.

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    Today is yours to explore Siracusa on your own. Perhaps you'll visit the Temple of Apollo, the oldest known Doric temple in western Europe, or the legendary Fountain of Arethusa. Maybe you'll take the day to stroll and see where your discoveries take you. Lunch is included onboard the ship.

    Or discover the Baroque Heritage of Sicily on a full-day optional excursion, where we'll witness some of the best examples of the Sicilian Baroque in Val di Noto (southeast Sicily)—part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our day begins with a visit to the Ragusa Ibla (Ancient Ragusa), where we'll tour the majestic Church of Saint George. This afternoon, our journey continues in the city of Modica, where we'll entice our taste buds with local chocolates during a tasting. After an included lunch, we’ll return to Siracusa and board our ship.

    Dinner is included onboard the ship tonight. Later, the Clio sets off toward Greece.

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    Spend a full day at sea as we make our way across the Mediterranean toward Greece.

    Take full advantage of the unique experiences small ship cruising has to offer. Perhaps you’ll spend time in the Clio’s dining room, relax at the bar, lounge on the Sun Deck, or soak in the whirlpool on the Sky Deck. Or simply admire the vast beauty of the sea as we sail.

    All meals are included onboard today.

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    We begin our Greek discoveries today as our ship docks on the island of Zakynthos, where a dramatic chapter of Jewish history unfolded. In 1944, the Nazis sent a demand to the bishop and mayor of Zakynthos to surrender the names of every Jewish resident on the island. Instead, the courageous city officials sent warning to the locals of the impending danger, and the community came together to hide their Jewish neighbors from the Nazi soldiers. For months, the Nazis searched the island but the community was defiant, and in the end, not one of the 275 Jewish residents of Zakynthos was surrendered or abducted.

    As we explore the town on our walking tour, note the Venetian influence still visible in the local architecture—the town was once controlled by the Serene Republic, and its legacy can still be seen.

    After our tour, we return to the ship for lunch, followed by an afternoon at leisure on Zakynthos. The island is known for its gorgeous beaches, and you may decide to pay a visit during your free time. The island is also home to several historic monasteries, as well as a Byzantine Museum, where you can view artifacts from this medieval empire.

    This evening, enjoy dinner on board, and then set sail late tonight toward Itea, our next destination.

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    This morning, disembark in Itea for a 30-minute drive to Delphi. Here we'll spend half a day discovering this archaeological site where the oracle once prophesied. This ancient sanctuary is beautifully set in a landscape fit for a god, at the foot of a mountain with a vista over olive groves to the Bay of Itea.

    Then enter the nearby Delphi Archaeological Museum. The unmatched holdings here include the larger-than-life bronze Charioteer, dating to about 470 BC, one of the finest surviving works of antiquity. The museum is filled with other masterpieces from the Archaic, Classical, and Roman periods, including scenes of the gods watching the Trojan War, a nine-statue family monument from the fourth century BC, and a sculpture of Roman Emperor Hadrian's son Antinous. Please noteThis walking tour includes steep ground, unpaved trails, and several sets of stairs without handrails (up to 150 stairs, uphill and downhill).

    Return to the ship for lunch, and then, after a few hours of sailing, we begin our scenic passage through the legendary Corinth Canal, gateway to Athens. Construction of the Corinth Canal was originally initiated by the Roman Emperor Nero as a way to link the Aegean with the Gulf of Corinth. But the four-mile-long ribbon cut through solid rock proved too difficult and the project was quickly abandoned. Since digging didn't begin again until 1881, in ancient times ships were simply dragged across the isthmus along a paved road. Please note: Ship traffic through the Canal can be unpredictable; as a result, our crossing may take place after dinner. 

    We’ll exit the canal this evening and sail on toward Athens, our ship’s final port of call. Enjoy one last meal aboard the ship during tonight’s Captain’s Farewell Dinner.

  • Bid a final farewell to your ship’s crew this morning and disembark in Athens. A fascinating city of mythology, antiquities, lively outdoor cafes, and modern bustle, Athens stands as a bridge to the ancient world and a feast to any history buff.

    This morning, enjoy a city tour, beginning with a visit to the ancient Acropolis, crowned by the majestic ruins of the Parthenon. The Greek word acropolis means “top of the city” or “upper city,” and many of the ancient Greek cities are built around a higher acropolis where the inhabitants could flee during invasions and sieges, and where most temples and other important structures are located.

    Pericles, the ancient Greek leader noted for advancing democracy, ordered the building of the Parthenon and other main buildings on the Acropolis of Athens in the fifth century BC. The immense Parthenon took 15 years to complete, and was designed to house a giant statue of Athena. It began as a temple to the goddess, then in later eras spent time as a Christian church and a Muslim mosque. Soldiers of the occupying Ottoman Empire used it to store gunpowder, and the structure was blown up when Venetians bombarded it in 1687. Although still technically a “ruin,” much of the great building has been restored or pieced back together, and it is an impressive sight, boasting a commanding view of the city below.

    Your tour continues at the Plaka, the oldest part of the city. This area contains many archaeological sites, including the famous Tower of the Winds that is a part of the ancient Roman Agora. Your discoveries of the Plaka end at Monastiraki, a district of the city famed for its bustling flea market.

    Following your tour, join your fellow travelers for an included lunch at a local restaurant and head to your hotel. After checking in, orient yourself with the surrounding neighborhood with your Trip Leader on a short orientation walk.

    Dinner is included at your hotel tonight.

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    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return home. Or, begin our Ancient Glories: Olympia, Nafplion & Athens post-trip extension.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Madrid, Spain

    4 nights from only $1395

    Life pulses through the heart of Spain in Madrid where an appreciation for world-class art, innovative cuisine, and historic architecture is part of the cultural fabric. Legends like Diego Velazquez, El Greco, and Miguel de Cervantes found inspiration in Spain’s capital city, and while Madrid doesn’t boast one defining architectural piece, it’s home to a plethora of spectacular architectural treasures—from the baroque Basílica de San Francisco El Grande to the extravagant Royal Palace. Discover why this vibrant city inspired the phrase, de Madrid al cielo, or “Madrid is next to Heaven.” 

    View Extension Itinerary
  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Ancient Glories: Olympia, Nafplion & Athens

    5 nights from only $895

    Journey far back in time to the Peloponnese—a peninsula south of mainland Greece steeped in ancient myths and enveloped in rugged scenic beauty. Discover the Neo-Classical splendor of Nafplion, the Bronze Age culture of ancient Mycenae, and the sanctuary of Zeus in Ancient Olympia, home of the first Olympic Games. Discover the ancient Greek world with a two-night stay in Athens.

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  • 5 nights from only $895

    Journey far back in time to the Peloponnese—a peninsula south of mainland Greece steeped in ancient myths and enveloped in rugged scenic beauty. Discover the Neo-Classical splendor of Nafplion, the Bronze Age culture of ancient Mycenae, and the sanctuary of Zeus in Ancient Olympia, home of the first Olympic Games. Discover the ancient Greek world with a two-night stay in Athens.

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  • Depart today on your flight to Athens, Greece. Please refer to your individual air itinerary for exact departure and arrival times. Or begin your discoveries early with our optional Ancient Glories: Olympia, Nafplion & Athens pre-trip extension.

  • Arrive in Athens today, where you’ll meet your Trip Leader and be escorted to your hotel. Later in the day, join your Trip Leader for a quick orientation walk to acquaint yourself with the city, and then join your fellow travelers for a Welcome Drink and briefing. Dinner tonight is included at your hotel.

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    After breakfast, set out for a morning tour of Athens. A fascinating city of mythology, antiquities, lively outdoor cafes, and modern bustle, Athens stands as a bridge to the ancient world and a feast to any history buff.

    Your tour begins with a visit to the ancient Acropolis, crowned by the majestic ruins of the Parthenon. The Greek word acropolis means “top of the city” or “upper city,” and many of the ancient Greek cities are built around a higher acropolis where the inhabitants could flee during invasions and sieges, and where most temples and other important structures are located.

    Pericles, the ancient Greek leader noted for advancing democracy, ordered the building of the Parthenon and other main buildings on the Acropolis of Athens in the fifth century BC. The immense Parthenon took 15 years to complete, and was designed to house a giant statue of Athena. It began as a temple to the goddess, then in later eras spent time as a Christian church and a Muslim mosque. Soldiers of the occupying Ottoman Empire used it to store gunpowder, and the structure was blown up when Venetians bombarded it in 1687. Although still technically a “ruin,” much of the great building has been restored or pieced back together, and it is an impressive sight, boasting a commanding view of the city below.

    Your tour continues at the Plaka, the oldest part of the city. This area contains many archaeological sites, including the famous Tower of the Winds that is a part of the ancient Roman Agora. Your discoveries of the Plaka end at Monastiraki, a district of the city famed for its bustling flea market.

    After an included lunch at a local restaurant, you’ll head to the port and climb aboard the Clio, your home for the next two weeks as you make your way west across the Mediterranean toward Barcelona.

    This evening, your Trip Leader will present the first in a nightly series of Port Talks, in which you’ll learn about the discoveries you can expect to make tomorrow. After the talk, adjourn to the ship’s dining room where you’ll enjoy a Captain’s Welcome Dinner with your fellow travelers. Tonight, the ship pushes out to sea.

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    This morning, enjoy a scenic passage through the legendary Corinth Canal, gateway to the Peloponnese. Construction of the Corinth Canal was originally initiated by the Roman Emperor Nero as a way to link the Aegean with the Gulf of Corinth. But the four-mile-long ribbon cut through solid rock proved too difficult and the project was quickly abandoned. Since digging didn't begin again until 1881, in ancient times ships were simply dragged across the isthmus along a paved road. Please noteShip traffic through the Canal can be unpredictable; as a result, our crossing time may vary.

    In the afternoon, after an included lunch onboard, the Clio docks in Itea, where we’ll step off the ship for a 30-minute drive to Delphi. Here, enjoy a half-day of discovery of this archaeological site where the oracle once prophesied. This ancient sanctuary is beautifully set in a landscape fit for a god, at the foot of a mountain with a vista over olive groves to the Bay of Itea.

    Then enter the nearby Delphi Archaeological Museum. The unmatched holdings here include the larger-than-life bronze Charioteer, dating to about 470 BC, one of the finest surviving works of antiquity. The museum is filled with other masterpieces from the Archaic, Classical, and Roman periods, including scenes of the gods watching the Trojan War, a nine-statue family monument from the fourth century BC, and a sculpture of Roman Emperor Hadrian's son Antinous. Please note: This walking tour includes steep ground, unpaved trails, and several sets of stairs (up to 150 stairs, uphill and downhill).

    Ride back to Itea after your tour, where we’ll board your ship early this evening. Enjoy dinner onboard and then set sail for your next port of call.

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    Our Greek discoveries continue today as our ship docks on the island of Zakynthos, where a dramatic chapter of Jewish history unfolded. In 1944, the Nazis sent a demand to the bishop and mayor of Zakynthos to surrender the names of every Jewish resident on the island. Instead, the courageous city officials sent warning to the locals of the impending danger, and the community came together to hide their Jewish neighbors from the Nazi soldiers. For months, the Nazis searched the island but the community was defiant, and in the end, not one of the 275 Jewish residents of Zakynthos was surrendered or abducted.

    As we explore the town on our walking tour, note the Venetian influence still visible in the local architecture—the town was once controlled by the Serene Republic, and its legacy can still be seen.

    Afterwards, we’ll return to the ship for lunch, followed by an afternoon at leisure on Zakynthos. The island is known for its gorgeous beaches, and you may decide to pay a visit during your free time. The island is also home to several historic monasteries, as well as a fascinating Byzantine Museum, where you can view artifacts from this medieval empire.

    This evening, enjoy dinner on board, and then we'll weigh anchor late tonight and cruise toward Sicily, our next destination.

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    Spend a full day at sea today. For centuries, the Mediterranean has been the backdrop for the dramas of human history: From epic myths like The Odyssey and The Aeneid, to the larger than life real histories of ancient empires, this sea has seen unforgettable stories unfold. And at the heart of it all has been the island of Sicily, your next destination.

    This morning, join your Trip Leader for the first of a two-part Crossroads of Cultures discussion, for some historic context to the discoveries that you’ll be making throughout your trip. Today’s discussion focuses on ancient history: particularly the trade routes of the Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans who plied these waters thousands of years ago, and the eternal legacy they left behind that you’ll encounter during your voyage.

    After your discussion, enjoy an included lunch, and then take advantage of the Clio’s amenities as you continue your voyage.

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    This morning, the Clio docks in Siracusa, Sicily. Of all the Greek cities of antiquity that flourished outside of Greece, Siracusa was the most important in all of the Mediterranean, and a formidable seafaring power nearly equal to Athens. In the heyday of its power, it dared to take on both Carthage and Rome. At one time, its wealth and size were unmatched by any other city in the ancient world, and today it is one of the richest historical sites in Europe.

    Your guided tour of Siracusa begins in Ortygia, the historical gem of Siracusa. Admire the architectural splendor of ancient medieval streets, Baroque structures, and the cathedral—which was fashioned out of an ancient Greek temple. You’ll also tour the Giudecca, or Jewish quarter, where Sicilian Jews lived harmoniously alongside their neighbors until the Spanish decree of expulsion in 1492.

    After your tour, you’ll have some time to explore on your own before lunch. You might join your Trip Leader for a short visit to the mikveh, or underground baths in the Jewish quarter, one of the oldest ritual baths in Europe.

    Return to the ship for lunch onboard, and then enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to make your own discoveries. You may visit remarkable Greek and Roman ruins, including the cave called "the Ear of Dionysius," because of its unusual shape, resembling a human ear. The cave is more than 200 feet long, and has such good acoustics that the ripping of paper can sound like a gunshot. It is said that the tyrant Dionysius forced his prisoners into the cave at night and was able to hear every word they said.

    Return to the Clio this evening, where dinner is included in the dining room.

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    Today is yours to explore Siracusa on your own. Perhaps you'll visit the Temple of Apollo, the oldest known Doric temple in western Europe, or the legendary Fountain of Arethusa. Maybe you'll take the day to stroll and see where your discoveries take you. Lunch is included onboard the ship.

    Or discover the Baroque Heritage of Sicily on a full-day optional excursion, where we'll witness some of the best examples of the Sicilian Baroque in Val di Noto (southeast Sicily)—part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our day begins with a visit to the Ragusa Ibla (Ancient Ragusa), where we'll tour the majestic Church of Saint George. This afternoon, our journey continues in the city of Modica, where we'll entice our taste buds with local chocolates during a tasting. After an included lunch, we’ll return to Siracusa and board our ship.

    Dinner is included onboard the ship tonight. Later, the Clio sets off toward Malta.

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    Our small ship docks in Valletta this morning, where we’ll head out for an included walking tour of the Maltese capital. From our ship, we'll walk to the base of the Old Town, where we'll ride a glass elevator to the Upper Barracca Gardens, a beautiful display of Romanesque architecture overlooking the city's Grand Harbor. Other highlights of our tour include St. John’s Co-Cathedral, a high Baroque church that hosts the painter Caravaggio's masterpiece, The Beheading of St. John, in its oratory. Please note: today's tour involves more than two miles of walking on paved roads, including some steep hills.

    After our tour, return to the ship for lunch onboard, and then enjoy a free afternoon to explore Valletta on your own. Perhaps you’ll elect to discover the area known as “The Three Cities,” for the three historic fortified towns of Cospicua, Senglea, and Vittoriosa.

    This evening, gain a unique perspective on local life and tradition during an exclusive Discovery Series discussion, The Knights of Malta Yesterday & Today, as members of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta join you aboard our ship. The world’s oldest surviving chivalric order, these Knights of Malta founded the city and continue to serve the community today. Malta’s cultural identity is entwined with that of the Knights; the order originated during the Crusades and over the centuries found its way to Malta where it defended the island from attacks by the Ottoman Empire. Without the protection of the Knights, Malta’s history would be very different than it is today.

    After the discussion, we'll reconvene in the ship’s dining room for dinner.

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    Today you may enjoy a full day to explore Valletta on your own. Enjoy the convenience of your small ship’s proximity to the city’s sights as you venture out into the city, returning to the ship in the afternoon for an included onboard lunch.

    Or, join an optional full-day tour to the Island of Gozo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After breakfast, transfer to the pier for a ferry ride to Gozo, a small fishing and farming island with green, flat-topped cultivated hills, rugged cliffs, and beautiful inlets and beaches. The island’s name means “joy” in Castillian, a name we’ll understand when we experience the relaxed pace of life and legendary friendliness of its residents.

    On arrival, we’ll tour the Ggantija Neolithic Temples. This group of two temples, set side-by-side on the Xaghra Plateau, date to about 4000 BC, making them older than Egypt’s Pyramids. The temples are believed to be the site of a fertility-based religion. Archaeologists believe that the numerous figurines and statues found at the site are connected with that cult. According to local Gozitan folklore, a giantess (ggantija) built the temples and used them as places of worship. The size and scope of the stone temples become especially impressive when you consider that they were built without the benefit of metal tools or the wheel.

    After lunch in a local restaurant, we’ll discover Gozo’s modern-day culture with a visit to a bocce club. Here, we’ll have the opportunity to chat with some local players and learn more about the game’s popularity in Malta.

    Then, ferry back to Valletta and join our fellow travelers back aboard the Clio. Enjoy dinner onboard and set sail for your next destination.

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    Dock in the port town of Porto Empedocle this morning, and board a motorcoach for a short drive to Agrigento, home to the extraordinary Valley of the Temples, a UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are among the greatest Greek ruins in the world, and the splendor of the temples—seven in the Doric style, built during the fifth and sixth centuries BC—rivals those in Athens. Here we'll see the Temple of Juno, with its excellent views of the entire valley, and the Temple of Concordia, beautifully preserved. The oldest ruin is traditionally named the Temple of Heracles, which includes the remnant of a large altar. Please note: Today's walking tour is approximately two-thirds of a mile long, and takes place on downhill, unpaved, rocky terrain.

    After our tour of the site and museum, we’ll return to the ship for lunch, and then resume our cruise.

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    The Clio docks in Trapani, Sicily this morning, where you’ll disembark and board a cable car to Erice, a wonderfully preserved medieval town that towers over Sicily's western coast. Here, enjoy a short discovery walk of the ancient mountain-top town, followed by free time to explore independently.

    Then, climb back aboard the cable car and return to Trapani, where you’ll tour the Sicilian port town with your Trip Leader before returning to the ship for lunch.

    After lunch, you’ll have time to explore Trapani on your own before participating in an exclusive Discovery Series discussion about the Fortuna, an Italian schooner that departed Trapani with a cargo of coal bound for New York, only to run aground in (the aptly named) town of Ship Bottom, New Jersey. You’ll learn more about the Fortuna’s tale from the last living relative of the captain.

    Return to the Clio for dinner this evening.

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    After breakfast, drive out to Stagnone Lagoon, where you’ll board small boats for an included tour of Mothya Island. Nearly 3,000 years ago, Mothya was one of the most important Phoenician ports, and served as a bustling hub of trade for the old inhabitants of the Mediterranean. In ancient times, Phoenician engineers constructed an artificial land bridge connecting the island by road with the rest of Sicily to facilitate commerce.

    Today, the road is underwater, but you’ll still be able to see it as your boats glide toward the island along the ancient causeway’s path. Once you land, you’ll walk amongst the ruins of the settlement, and then visit the Whitaker Museum, which houses artifacts from Mothya’s past—including an immaculately preserved Greek statue of a charioteer, one of the finest pieces of sculpture to ever be rescued from the Mediterranean’s depths.

    Join your fellow travelers for a picnic lunch on the island after your tour, and then return to Trapani, where you’ll explore a little more of the town during a short discovery walk with your Trip Leader.

    This evening, gather for an exclusive Discovery Series discussion with a local expert about the Mafia: Between Fact and Fiction. Most Americans are familiar with La Cosa Nostra through the lens of popular fiction like The Godfather and Goodfellas, but how closely does the lore match the reality? Discuss this controversial topic with a local expert on the Sicilian mafia today and learn more.

    Tonight, your ship sets sail again.

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    Spend another full day at sea as your ship cruises toward Sardinia, your next port of call.

    Pass the time this morning with part two of our Crossroads of Cultures discussion, this time with a focus on the modern era, about the plights of migrant populations around the present-day Mediterranean. During today’s discussion, we’ll learn about the controversies surrounding the migration of people from North Africa to Europe, and about the difficulty that European governments—and people—are facing with regard to the proper course of action to accommodate them. 

    All meals are included onboard today.

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    Today, you’ll dock in the city of Oristano on the island of Sardinia. Sardinia is known for its beautiful beaches, and most travelers who come here don’t go much further than that. This morning, however, you’ll board a motorcoach for a long but worthwhile drive deep into the Sardinian countryside to visit a world that most Americans have never heard of, much less traveled to.

    Together with your Trip Leader, you’ll explore the Barbagia, Sardinia’s remote and rustic heartland, where the insular locals stick to old traditions that can be traced back to prehistoric times. In fact, your tour here begins in the Stone Age with a visit to a nuraghe, or a megalithic stone tower that dates back to hundreds, possibly thousands of years before the common era. These towers can be found all over the Sardinian countryside, a testament to the age-old traditions of the region.

    You’ll then get to know the people of the Barbagia, and learn more about their old and isolated culture, with strong ties to sheep herding and farming. Many locals will only speak Sardinian, rather than Italian (or, needless to say, English) and dress in traditional outfits. In some cases, you may even encounter widows that have been dressed in black mourning garb for 20 or 30 years. It’s a culture that has deliberately closed itself off from the outside world for a long time—in fact, as late as the 1980s, there have been instances of wealthy travelers to the region who have been kidnapped by local bandits in exchange for ransom money.

    Today, however, the people are receptive to travelers, and they’ll welcome you in to show you their unique way of life. You’ll join some local shepherds as they guide you through the daily tasks involved with tending their flocks—you’ll even have the opportunity to try your hand at milking the sheep and making pecorino cheese yourself.

    Your discoveries continue with a hands-on cooking lesson, in which you’ll learn to create traditional Sardinian country dishes including music sheet bread (paper-thin crispy flatbread), fregola (bead-shaped pasta, like couscous but thicker), malloreddus (a local variant of gnocchi), and seadas (a sweet and salty dessert dumpling filled with honey and pecorino cheese). After working up an appetite, you’ll sit down for a farmhouse lunch with a shepherd family and sample the local Sardinian fare over lively conversation.

    After lunch, you’ll enjoy another glimpse into the ancient culture of Sardinia during a Mamuthone folk show; a festive presentation of singing, dancing, heavy fur-lined costumes adorned will bells, and masks, an understated cousin of carnival back on the Italian mainland. The origins of the Mamuthones aren’t fully known, but they almost certainly date back to prehistoric times and are probably tied to pagan fertility rites.

    Then bid farewell to your Barbagian hosts, and head back to Oristano, where the Clio awaits. Enjoy dinner as you sail to Mallorca, your next destination.

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    Spend a full day at sea as we ply the waters toward Mallorca.

    Take full advantage of the unique experiences small ship cruising has to offer. Perhaps you’ll spend time in the Clio’s dining room, relax at the bar, lounge on the Sun Deck, or soak in the whirlpool on the Sky Deck. Or simply admire the vast beauty of the sea as we sail.

    All meals are included onboard today.

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    Today, our journey takes us just over 100 miles from the coast of mainland Spain to Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands archipelago. The largest of the four islands in the chain, Mallorca is a popular holiday destination for international visitors, owing to its glittering beaches and sculpted cliffs.

    Upon arrival, we’ll set off for a walking tour of Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the islands and the preferred summertime getaway of the Spanish royal family. Our walk will culminate at the impressive Palacio de la Almudaina (the Royal Palace of La Almudaina). After exploring the fortified palace, enjoy some time for independent discoveries—perhaps stopping to see Palma’s Gothic Cathedral.

    After an included lunch, we'll enjoy a striking introduction to the rich traditions and cultures here, with a visit to the La Granja de Esporles, a sprawling 17th-century estate in the Mallorcan countryside that today serves as the island's museum. Here we’ll tour the grounds and watch an entertaining horse show.

    Return to Palma later this afternoon, and return to our ship, where dinner is included onboard this evening. Set sail to Barcelona late tonight.

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    Bid a final farewell to your ship’s crew this morning and disembark in Barcelona, the capital of Spain's autonomous Catalonia region. Spain’s second-largest city has been a vital cultural hub since the Middle Ages, and it retains a unique and independent character which you’ll experience on your tour today.

    The city streets feature an elegant blend of old and new architecture. In the heart of the city, the winding lanes of the Barri Gotic (Gothic Quarter) provide a glimpse into medieval Barcelona, with some structures dating as far back as Roman times. And scattered elsewhere throughout the city, you’ll find the works of Barcelona’s most celebrated architect, Antoni Gaudi, whose trademark Catalan modernist style has made the city famous around the world.

    Your city tour will take you to Gaudi’s most exemplary masterwork: The Sagrada Familia basilica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While construction of the church began in 1882, the colossal structure isn't scheduled for completion until 2026. Originally started by architect Francisco de Paula del Villar, Gaudi took over in 1883 and then devoted his entire life to its construction. When he died in 1926, after nearly 43 years of work on the cathedral, the project was only 15 percent completed. At first blush, the breathtaking mixture of Gothic and geometric Art Nouveau forms appear to be dripping in melted wax, but closer inspection reveals a meticulous stone tapestry covering every inch of the gargantuan façade depicting the life and acts of Jesus Christ. Once completed, the church will accommodate some 13,000 worshipers.

    This afternoon, join your fellow travelers for an included lunch in a local restaurant where you’ll sample a classic Spanish tradition: tapas. Choose from a variety of small plate dishes and sample the cornucopia of cuisine that the city has to offer, including fresh fish from the Mediterranean and delicate, melt-in-your-mouth slices of cured ham.

    After lunch, check in to your hotel, and acquaint yourself with the surrounding neighborhood with your Trip Leader on a short orientation walk.

    Dinner is included at your hotel tonight.

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    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return home. Or, begin our post-trip extension in Madrid, Spain.

  • POST-TRIP EXTENSION:
    Madrid, Spain

    4 nights from only $1395

    Life pulses through the heart of Spain in Madrid where an appreciation for world-class art, innovative cuisine, and historic architecture is part of the cultural fabric. Legends like Diego Velazquez, El Greco, and Miguel de Cervantes found inspiration in Spain’s capital city, and while Madrid doesn’t boast one defining architectural piece, it’s home to a plethora of spectacular architectural treasures—from the baroque Basílica de San Francisco El Grande to the extravagant Royal Palace. Discover why this vibrant city inspired the phrase, de Madrid al cielo, or “Madrid is next to Heaven.” 

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Click below to read our Travel Planning Guide on Mediterranean Cultures & Islands: A Voyage from Barcelona to Athens

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