Ancient Cities of North Africa

Aboard the Diana

Overview

From Palermo, Sicily’s lively capital, cross the blue Mediterranean to Tunisia, where the Phoenician stronghold of Carthage holds superb treasures, then contour along to Algeria, calling at Hippo Regius, whose Roman forum is the largest in North Africa, and World Heritage-listed Djemila, known as one of the world's most beautiful Roman sites. You’ll explore the Spanish fortress and traditional medina at Oran, then head to Tangier, Morocco, to walk the winding lanes of the ancient souks. Recrossing the Mediterranean to Seville, Spain, visit the labyrinthine streets of the historic Barrio Santa Cruz, where flamenco dancers whirl in the plazas. Before disembarking in Lisbon, your last stop is southern Portugal’s Algarve region, with its breathtaking coast and whitewashed villages of Arab and Moorish design.

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.

Itinerary

Day 1
Palermo, Italy

Arrive in Palermo and transfer to the elegant Grand Hotel Wagner, your home for the night.

Day 2
Palermo / Embarkation

Palermo is one of the Mediterranean’s most enchanting cities. Founded by the Phoenicians in 827 BC and conquered by the Saracens in the 9th century, Palermo became one of Europe’s greatest cities in the 12th century, when the Normans took control. Visit the Cappella Palatina, the royal chapel built by Roger II between 1132 and 1143. A wonder of Byzantine-Arab-Norman artistry, it features dazzling mosaics, an exquisitely carved wooden ceiling, and magnificent inlaid marble floors and walls. You will also travel to nearby Monreale to visit its famed Norman cathedral and elegant cloister before embarking Diana in the late afternoon.

Day 3
Tunis, Tunisia

From Tunis, travel to storied Carthage, a Phoenician stronghold from the 9th century BC. The site includes several Phoenician remains, including Tophet, the sanctuary of the gods Tanit and Baal, as well as many monuments from the Roman period. Returning to Tunis, explore the Bardo Museum, world-renowned for its spectacular collection of Roman mosaics, and enjoy time at leisure visiting the city's medina and its souks.

Day 4
Annaba, Algeria

Annaba is home to the ancient site of Hippo Regius, once ruled by Phoenicians, Romans, Vandals, and Byzantines, among others. Explore Hippo's Roman Forum, the largest and oldest in North Africa, and visit the Baths dedicated to Septimius Severus. At the nearby modern Basilica of St. Augustine, enjoy the hilltop view over the ruins and the rest of the city before visiting the basilica proper, which is dedicated to the author of the Confessions and The City of God, Bishop of Hippo, in the early 5th century.

Day 5
Bajaia / Djemila

From the port of Bejaia, a drive into the hills of the interior brings you to Djemila, which the UNESCO World Heritage convention describes as "one of the world's most beautiful Roman ruins." The site includes a Triumphal Arch to Emperor Caracalla, built in AD 216; Grand Baths; a market; and the Old Forum, featuring stunning friezes and a 3rd century altar. Also visit the local museum, exhibiting a superb collection of mosaics and other artifacts.

Day 6
Algiers / Tipasa

Located about 40 miles west of Algiers, Tipasa’s ancient temples and ruins overlook the Mediterranean to dramatic effect. Visit the Villa of Frescoes, a Roman mansion; the 2nd century Judicial Basilica; a 4th-century Christian Basilica; the site’s museum; and the Tombeau de la Chretienne, burial place of Mauritanian King Juba II and his wife, Cleopatra Selene. Time permitting, you will discover some of the delights of contemporary Algiers before returning to the ship.

Day 7
Oran

Oran, like much of North Africa, has been ruled by a variety of powers—Berbers, Arabs, Ottomans, Spanish, and French. Today, as the second largest city in Algeria, it is a center of commerce, industry, and culture. Explore several of Oran's highlights, including the 17th century Fort Santa Cruz that overlooks the city and the Sidi El Houari district. Also visit the Medina Jedida, a massive market selling flowers, textiles, jewelry, and souvenirs of every description. Here you will have the opportunity to sample Algerian street food, including kerentica, a cake made with chickpea flower and eggs that is a specialty of Oran.

Day 8
Tangier, Morocco / Tetouan

Founded by the Phoenicians in the 7th century BC, Tangier was ruled by Arabs in the early 8th century, when it and nearby Tetouan were used as bases for the invasion of southern Spain. Explore Tangier, a classic Moroccan town of narrow lanes and stepped passages, dominated by a kasbah. Then travel to Tetouan, which was rebuilt in the 15th century by Andalusian refugees who had been expelled during the Spanish reconquest. Although it is a small medina, Tetouan's is among the most authentic, having been largely untouched by later outside influences.

Day 9
Seville, Spain

Occupied by the Romans, conquered by the Moors, and ruled by a succession of Catholic monarchs, Seville is one of Europe’s most important and affluent maritime cites. After docking in the city along the banks of the Guadalquivir River, explore the Alcazar, the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Travel to the historic Barrio Santa Cruz, a neighborhood of labyrinthine streets and alleys dating to the Middle Ages, when it was the old Jewish Quarter. Enjoy some time at leisure, as the ship remains docked overnight.

Day 10
Seville

This morning, tour Seville’s large and fanciful Gothic Cathedral—the largest in the world and the burial site of Christopher Columbus. See the Cathedral's main points of interest, including the Capilla Mayor and La Giralda—the intricately detailed bell tower that is the city's most well-known symbol. Also visit Maria Luisa Park, once a private garden attached to the Palace of San Telmo, now Seville’s largest public green space. In the afternoon, reboard Diana and cruise down the Guadalquivir River on your way to Portugal.

Day 11
Portimao, Portugal

Portimao is your gateway to the Algarve and to Silves and Monchique. Silves is a typical Algarve village of cobblestoned streets lined with shops selling local handicrafts, many of them housed in buildings of Arab and Moorish design. Moorish Silves Castle, the best-preserved castle in the region, offers panoramic views of the town and the surrounding countryside. In Monchique, you will visit Caldas de Monchique, the hot springs famous since antiquity for their healing waters and among the most-visited places in the Algarve.

Day 12
Lisbon / Disembark

After breakfast aboard, disembark and transfer to the airport for flights homeward.

Note: The August 16-27 voyage from Lisbon to Palermo is preceded by an included one-night hotel stay in Lisbon.

Highlights

Highlights

Explore from Palermo, Italy, one of the Mediterranean’s most enchanting cities, to Lisbon, Portugal, with its winding lanes and pastel-colored buildings
Discover Djemila, a UNESCO World Heritage site and "one of the world's most beautiful Roman ruins
Sample wonderful local cuisine, including Algerian street food kerentica, a cake made with chickpea flower and eggs
Enjoy the on-board amenities—from the beauty salon and outdoor café to the heated swimming pool and sauna that includes an adjoining outdoor Jacuzzi

Details

Length: 12 days
Cost From: $10,590  
Arrive: Palermo, Italy
Depart: Lisbon, Portugal
Lodging: 10 nights aboard a 192-passenger vessel, 1 night hotel
Meals: All meals aboard ship, including wine, beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Walking, Special Interest, Photography, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

10-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours