Threading the Islands to Troy and Istanbul

Eastern Mediterranean: From Piraeus to Istanbul 12 Day Expedition Cruise
SH Diana
11 Nights
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From Athens’ most famous ruins at the Acropolis, set sail on this adventure exploring Ancient Greek and Roman ruins on this Ancient Cities of the Eastern Mediterranean cruise on board our five-star boutique ship. Stand in the stadium that first hosted the Olympic Games in 776 BC and discover the excavations at Akrotiri on Santorini and decide whether this was indeed the Lost City of Atlantis. We follow in the footsteps of Minoans, Venetians and Turks who all left their legacy on these ancient lands, and walk the ancient streets of Roman cities, such as Ephesus in modern-day Turkey. This captivating cruise takes you to some of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, from the Temple of Zeus to the Colossus of Rhodes and Temple of Artemis. Learn more about the region’s history as we sail through, before concluding this remarkable voyage where the ancient and modern worlds collide in vibrant Istanbul. 

Trip Highlights

Seek answers from the god Apollo at the Ancient Greek sanctuary at Delphi
Explore the ancient stadium that sat 45,000 at the first Olympics in 776 BC
Uncover the location of the Lost City of Atlantis at Akrotiri in Santorini
Wander the main street at Ephesus, one of the ancient world’s most legendary cities
Learn more about three of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World from our onboard experts


Day 1
Greece's cosmopolitan capital, Athens, connected by Piraeus port, is an exciting blend of ancient and modern. The Grand Promenade seamlessly links the city's main archaeological sites, and a visit isn't complete without exploring the Acropolis—a hill housing ancient ruins, including the iconic Parthenon. For deeper insights, the Acropolis Museum awaits, and a marble path ascends Filopappou Hill, offering majestic views of the 'high city.'
Cruising Corinth Canal
Day 1
The Corinth Canal links the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. Cutting through the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, it divides the Peloponnese from the Greek mainland. At 6.4 km long and 21.3 m wide at its base, it's impassable for most large ships. Commissioned by Greek tyrant Periander in the 7th century BC, it stayed incomplete until the late 19th century, when modern engineering techniques finally completed it.
Day 2
An important historical place, the harbour town of Itea sits below Mount Parnassus, home to the mythical Muses and the winged horse Pegagus. It's near the ancient Greek sanctuary of Delphi where Pythia, the Oracle, prophesied the words of Apollo Pegasus. In 1827, Itea witnessed the Battle of Agali during the Greek War of Independence. The mountain region hosts one of the oldest and largest olive groves.
Day 3
Preveza, at the mouth of Amvrakikos Gulf in Western Greece, is a charming city with a characterful old town. Further afield, the Ancient City of Nikopolis, founded in 31 BC by Emperor Octavian to celebrate his victory over Antony and Cleopatra, thrived During the Roman and early Byzantine eras, as the capital of Old Epirus, leaving behind well-preserved archaeological features, including Roman city walls, an odeum, a theatre and thermal baths.
Day 4
Olympia, the birthplace of the Olympic Games is a short drive away from the pretty Greek harbour town of Katakolon. The ancient stadium sat 45,000 at the first Olympics in 776 BC, and then every four years, to honour the god Zeus. Even the marble starting blocks remain. At the Temple of Zeus, a 12m-tall gold statue of Zeus once stood, one of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world.
Rethymnon, Crete
Day 5
First inhabited by the Minoans, the Venetians and then the Turks, this romantic port, called Rethymno in Greek, on the island of Crete is a testament to its multicultural history. The town's charming Venetian-Ottoman quarter features ancient mansions with floral canopies, ornate monuments and enchanting, colourful lanes. The well-preserved medieval Venetian fortifications of the imposing Fortezza castle stand guard over the town.
Day 6
Famed for its sunset views, whitewashed homes clinging to the cliffside and churches with blue-painted domed roofs, the Cyclades island’s capital of Fira overlooks a submerged volcanic caldera. Santorini is also believed to be the location of the Lost City of Atlantis. Findings at the nearby preserved ruins of Akrotiri - thought to be the location - buried nearly 4,000 years ago by a volcanic eruption in 1650 B.C., seem to back up the claim.
Despotiko Island
Day 7
Despotiko, with untouched beaches, is a tiny uninhabited Greek island in the Cyclades with a thousand resident goats. Important archaeological remains at Mandra show evidence of a huge 6th-century B.C. temple complex. Further ancient ruins in the south of the island have since confirmed that this was a place of worship for Apollo, his twin sister Artemis, and Hestia devotees. Excavations show temples, a dining hall and even an aqueduct.
Parikia, Paros
Day 7
The capital of Paros, Parikia is home to the 4th-century church of Panagia Ekatontapiliani, known as the church of 100 doors. Considered one of the most important Byzantine monuments, it is one of the best preserved Orthodox churches in Greece. The typical Cyclades island town is awash with cobblestone alleyways lined with blue-and-white houses, a striking Venetian castle, bustling old market, tavernas, quaint shops and archaeological sites.
Day 8
Rhodes Town, one of Europe's best medieval walled towns, is known for the 14th century UNESCO-listed Old Town constructed by the Knights of St. John and the 100-foot Colossus statue that once stood in the harbour. Highlights include the bustling Turkish district, Grand Masters' Palace adorned with marble mosaics and Gothic Street of the Knights. Nearby Lindos offers whitewashed streets and an Acropolis with views over St. Paul's Bay.
Day 9
Kusadasi is the gateway to 11th century BC Ephesus, a well-preserved ancient site. This UNESCO-listed treasure was a vital Roman capital and religious hub from 129 BC. It features marble streets, the Temple of Hadrian, mosaic-adorned Terrace Houses, the Library of Celsus and the amphitheatre where St. Paul spoke. Nearby stood the Temple of Artemis/Diana, once among the Seven Wonders. The Seljuk archaeological museum displays Ephesus artefacts.
Day 10
The birthplace of Greek poet Homer, Chios island In the Aegean Sea, is known for mastic production and medieval villages. Fortress-like mastic villages were built under Genoese rule in the 12th century. Highlights include Olympi and medieval Pirgi with its intricately patterned geometric house decorations, Mesta with its fortified alleyways and central Taxiarches Church, and the mastic tree groves used to produce the unique resin.
Day 11
The culturally significant seaport of Çanakkale is the gateway to the Dardanelles, connecting the Sea of Marmara to the Aegean Sea. This historic city in northwestern Turkey, on the Asian side of the Dardanelles Strait, is renowned for its role in the poignant Gallipoli Campaign during World War I, commemorated at the Gallipoli Peninsula Historical National Park. The ancient city of Troy, immortalised in Greek mythology, lies nearby.
Day 12
Istanbul bridges Europe and Asia, shaped by Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans. This diversity infuses the city's architecture, cuisine, music and arts. Sites include the Hagia Sophia museum, a former church and mosque, the stunning Blue Mosque with six minarets, Topkapi Palace, the former residence of the Ottoman sultans, and the Grand Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world.