This odyssey through the Adriatic and Ionain seas visits historic ports and fabled shores, tracing ancient trade routes and celebrating the legacies of powerful empires. History spans the millennia here—from Paleolithic times to Roman conquest, from Byzantine rule to Venetian dominance. Discover the architectural legacies of these powerful civilizations on this Adriatic tour with visits to superb Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque palaces, monasteries, and churches. A hallmark of Adriatic adventure travel, enjoy time to follow the winding lanes in ancient town centers, pause in fountain-splashed plazas, and savor the local scene in bustling marketplaces. Photographers will appreciate the glow of afternoon sun on red-tiled rooftops, along with sweeping views of quaint harbors and dramatic promontories.
Note: This cruise is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the ship operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the cruise line.
Days 1-2, May 30 - 31, 2016
Depart your hometown on your independent flight to Malta, arriving in Malta on May 31. Enjoy the afternoon at leisure, then gather for a welcome dinner and overnight at a hotel.
Day 3, Jun 1, 2016
Valletta / Embark Island Sky
Spend a full day exploring historic Valletta, a World Heritage Site. The Knights of St. John built Valletta in the 16th century, constructing an impregnable fortress-like town in a strategic harbor-ringed setting. Their auberges—large inns where they lived—remain intact. A city tour highlights the fortress, bastions, ramparts, churches, and the national museum. Continue to the Tarxien Temples, a series of monolithic edifices built between 2400 and 1800 B.C. This evening, board the Island Sky and set sail for Sicily.
Day 4, Jun 2, 2016
Agrigento, Sicily, Italy / Licata
This morning, enjoy a guided tour of Agrigento, a World Heritage Site. The exquisite architecture of the Valley of the Temples dates back to the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. and includes the Temple of Zeus—the largest Doric temple from Greek antiquity. A scenic drive through rolling countryside brings you to the Butera Winery and Villa for a lunch of delicious Sicilian fare, accompanied by local wines. Continue to Licata for a short tour of the town center.
Day 5, Jun 3, 2016
Dating from the 5th century B.C., Siracusa was one of the most powerful Greek cities—defending its sovereignty against rivals such as Carthage, the Etruscans, and the Romans, who later overcame the city in 212 B.C., followed by the Arabs. Tour the Saint John Catacombs, with their maze of underground passageways, and the Archaeological Park, a World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Roman Amphitheater of Augustus, the Ear of Dionysius, a grotto with an extraordinary echo, and the massive 15,000-seat Greek Theater. Return to the ship, at port in Ortygia, for lunch, before striking out for a walking tour of the old town. Highlights include the ruins of the 6th-century B.C. Apollo Temple—the oldest in Sicily—and the Piazza Duomo, built around the ancient Temple of Minerva.
Day 6, Jun 4, 2016
Catania / Morgantina
Visit the famous morning fish market in Catania’s town square where a colorful variety of local products are on display. An inland drive takes you through a series of photogenic villages to Piazza Armerina, famous for its superb Roman mosaics in the Villa Romana del Casale. Enjoy lunch at a Sicilian restaurant near the Greek site of Morgantina, then tour the ruins and visit the small, but excellent Aidone Museum. Return to Catania with free time before dinner on board, or choose to enjoy the local cuisine on your own, and perhaps sample some of the wines from the many vineyards nourished by the rich volcanic soil of Mt. Etna.
Day 7, Jun 5, 2016
Attend lectures and enjoy the ship’s amenities during a relaxing day at sea.
Day 8, Jun 6, 2016
Today visit the World Heritage Site of Butrint—a veritable chronological repository of its various inhabitants: Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians. Among its archaeological highlights are the baptistery with its colorful floor mosaics, superb amphitheater, and medieval fortress. From the ruins, take in the splendid views of the surrounding mile-high mountains.
Day 9, Jun 7, 2016
Kotor, Montenegro / Dubrovnik, Croatia
Historically, Dalmatia lay at the crossroads of empires—invaded by waves of conquerors from Illyrians to Austrians. In Kotor, witness the same beautiful scenery that captivated kings for centuries. At this World Heritage Site explore luxurious palaces, towers, and Romanesque and Gothic churches. Return to the ship for lunch and relax on deck as the magnificent Dalmatian Coast unfolds in scenic splendor. Dubrovnik has been a strategic seaport since the 13th century. Its Old Town—a medieval masterpiece surrounded by fortified walls—is a World Heritage Site. Arriving in the evening you have the chance to see the lights of Old Town reflecting off stones smoothed over by centuries of footsteps. Enjoy independent time for dining, strolling the labyrinthine streets, and participating in the lively evening scene.
Day 10, Jun 8, 2016
Dubrovnik / Cavtat
This morning, venture into the surrounding countryside, passing lovely traditional villages and farms en route to the charming town of Cavtat. Stroll along the harbor, browse the lively market, and enjoy views of photogenic red-roofed houses flanked by shimmering blue waters and green, forested mountains. Return to Dubrovnik for a city tour including the main square, the 14th-century Dominican Monastery, the Franciscan Monastery and its Romanesque cloister, and the Cathedral, completed in 1713. Or, walk along the city’s southern walls with beautiful views of the fortress and old Dubrovnik’s terracotta rooftops. Enjoy free time this evening to explore, or dine ashore on your own.
Day 11, Jun 9, 2016
Korçula Island / Split
Korçula, an exquisite Dalmatian island, boasts an intact medieval stone village that will dazzle photographers. On a walking tour, view several monasteries and enjoy a performance from a local a capella group. During lunch on board, cruise through Croatia’s lovely offshore islands to the port of Split, once an important center of the Roman province of Dalmatia. This afternoon, choose from two excursion options. The first is a tour to ancient Solin, the archaeological site of the ancient Roman settlement of Salona whose excavations have revealed temples, an amphitheater, early Christian churches, and Roman baths, illustrating centuries of both war and peace and great prosperity. Or, choose to remain in Split for a walking tour of the city built by the Emperor Diocletian and one of the Adriatic’s finest monuments from the Roman period— the 4th-century Palace of Diocletian, a World Heritage Site. This astounding complex was constructed of locally quarried white limestone, tufa from nearby river beds, and hand-shaped bricks. Marble from Italy and Egyptian granite were imported for columns and sphinxes, flooring, and details. Tour the palace, its cellars, the cathedral, and sprawling courtyards from which flow the streets and buildings of medieval Split that today remain the soul of its bustling daily life.
Day 12, Jun 10, 2016
This morning disembark in Sibenik, Croatia’s oldest settled town. A walking tour visits the town’s crowning glory and World Heritage Site, St. James Cathedral. A 15th-century masterpiece, it is adorned with a remarkable frieze of 71 finely sculpted faces of men, women, and children that highlight the superb blending of Gothic and Renaissance architecture. Or, enjoy a delightful hike in Krka National Park, following boardwalks amid travertine waterfalls, a water-sculpted gorge, and picturesque stone watermills.
Day 13, Jun 11, 2016
Venice, Italy / Disembark / USA
In the morning we sail into the shimmering lagoon of Venice. After breakfast, disembark and transfer to the airport for your independent flight, arriving in the USA the same day.
Unless otherwise noted, daily excursion options are included in the cost of the trip. In the spirit of expeditionary style of travel, the itinerary may deviate slightly to take full advantage of encounters with the destination and its people, culture, and wildlife.