Crossroads of Empires: Cyprus, Israel, Egypt, and Jordan

Holy Lands and Ancient Ruins aboard the Caledonian Sky

Overview

Storied lands of holy sites, ancient civilizations, impressive ruins, and incredible natural wonders await on this expedition cruise. Accompanied by a world-class team of historians and naturalists, visit the Sea of Galilee and the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the “Sermon on the Mount,” the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, and Capernaum. Tour the city of Tel Aviv, including city hall and the Diaspora Museum, and explore the treasures of ancient Jerusalem in the Old City where you’ll witness the Dome of the Rock, the greatest monumental building from early Islamic history. You’ll also see the Stations of the Cross, and the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall, and follow in the biblical footsteps of Jesus to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Resurrection Tomb, thought to be the actual site of the crucifixion. In Luxor, stroll the Avenue of the Sphinx, walk through the Great Hypostyle Hall, and witness the striking Temple of Luxor. Transit the legendary Suez Canal, ride through the dramatic scenery of Wadi Rum made famous by the epic film Lawrence of Arabia, and stop for snorkeling expeditions along the way. In the evenings, enjoy the Caledonian Sky’s excellent amenities, and attend informative lectures about the places you’ll visit during this fascinating voyage through historic empires.

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

Days 1-2, Oct 22-23, 2021
Depart / Larnaca, Cyprus

Board your independent flight to Cyprus. Arrive in Larnaca on October 23rd and check in to the Radisson Blu Hotel Larnaca for dinner and overnight.

Day 3, Oct 24, 2021
Larnaca, Cyprus / Embark the Caledonian Sky

This morning, visit the ruins of Kourion, one of the island’s most important city-kingdoms in antiquity. Take a stroll through the extensive site to view the magnificent theater dating from the 2nd century BC, the Roman forum, public baths, a palace complex, stately villas with well-preserved mosaics, and an early Christian basilica. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before embarking the Caledonian Sky in the late afternoon.

Days 4-5, Oct 25-26, 2021
Haifa, Israel / Sea of Galilee / Acre / Caesarea

Spend two full days exploring from your anchorage in Haifa. Highlights include the Sea of Galilee for a visit to visit the Mount of Beatitudes, the site where Jesus delivered the “Sermon on the Mount.” Visit the Byzantine-style church, and admire the beautiful gold mosaics that decorate the interior. You’ll also visit the Church of the Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes and make a stop at Capernaum, where Jesus preached and performed several miracles, and view the remains of a famous 2nd-century synagogue. More history unfolds in Acre, a subterranean city and former capital of the Crusader kingdom. Today it is one of Israel’s nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites. While there, enjoy a tour of the British fortress. A drive along the scenic Mediterranean coast brings you to the ancient city of Caesarea. Originally an ancient Phoenician settlement, the city was given as a gift from Augustus Ceasar to Herod the Great in 30 BC. Explore the fascinating ruins, including the Roman theater still in use today as a venue for musical performances. In Haifa, ascend the slopes of Mount Carmel for breathtaking views of the city. Marvel at the gleaming golden dome of Baha’i Shrine and continue to the 19th-century Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery, located on the slopes of Mount Carmel.

Days 6-7, Oct 27-28, 2021
Ashdod / Jaffa / Tel Aviv / Jerusalem

From the port of Ashdod, explore some of Israel’s most famous sites. In Old Jaffa, one of the world’s oldest ports, take a stroll along the winding cobblestone streets lined with handicraft shops and art galleries to visit the vibrant Jaffa Flea Market. A walking tour of Tel Aviv includes city hall and the Diaspora Museum, which tells the ongoing story of the Jewish people. You’ll also discover the treasures of ancient Jerusalem on a tour of the Old City, including the Dome of the Rock, the greatest monumental building from early Islamic history. Walk along the Via Dolorosa to see the Stations of the Cross and follow in the traditional footsteps of Jesus to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Resurrection Tomb, thought to be the actual site of the crucifixion. Explore the city’s Jewish Quarter, and experience Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall. You’ll also take a drive up to the Mount of Olives for a picturesque, panoramic view of Jerusalem and visit the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of All Nations, Mt. Zion, and The Israel Museum to view the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Day 8, Oct 29, 2021
Port Said / Suez Canal Transit

An extraordinary experience awaits as the ship slips into a convoy of vessels for the southbound transit of one of the world’s greatest engineering feats: the 101-mile-long Suez Canal. Its completion in 1869 marked the severing of the African and Asian continents, providing a convenient shortcut for ships that formerly made the arduous and lengthy journey around the Cape of Good Hope. Learn the history of the canal and the ancient trade routes that preceded it and our vantage points on deck afford up-close views of the contrasts in landscape: rugged terrain on one side and lush greenery on the other.

Day 9, Oct 30, 2021
Snorkel among Coral Reefs

Today, board a local boat for a delightful snorkeling expedition. Experience the colorful coral reefs of the Red Sea.

Days 10-11, Oct 31-Nov 1, 2021
Safaga / Luxor

Disembark in Safaga and depart overland for Luxor, the site of the ancient city of Thebes. Check in to the Hilton Luxor Resort, the ideal base from which to explore the ancient culture of the Nile Valley. Visit the Temple of Karnak, featuring the Temple of Amun and the amazing Avenue of the Sphinx. Walk through the Great Hypostyle Hall; its expertly aligned columns, the largest of which is 80 feet high with a 33-foot circumference, are an amazing sight to behold. At the striking Temple of Luxor, view the three large statues of Ramses II along the front of the temple pylons; the Courtyard of Ramses II behind the East Tower; and the Colonnade of Amenhotep III, with its 14 papyrus-headed columns, some towering up to 50 feet in height. The Temple of Hathor at Denderah is one of the best-preserved temples in Egypt. View its massive stone roof, dark chambers, underground passages, and columns inscribed with hieroglyphs. Return to the ship on November 1, arriving in time for dinner.

Day 12, Nov 2, 2021
Sharm el Sheikh

From the coastal town of Sharm el Sheikh, take a scenic cruise to Ras Mohammed, where the Gulf of Aqaba meets the Gulf of Suez, for a day of snorkeling.

Day 13, Nov 3, 2021
Aqaba, Jordan / Disembark / Wadi Rum / Amman

Disembark this morning and board 4x4 vehicles for a ride through Wadi Rum, the majestic valley made famous by T.E. Lawrence and featured in the epic movie Lawrence of Arabia. Enjoy tea with a Bedouin family before tucking in to a sumptuous lunch surrounded by dramatic sandstone formations that tower over the desert floor strewn with immense boulders. Continue overland along the King’s Highway through the Jordanian countryside, passing the spectacular canyon of Wadi al-Mujib en route Amman. Check in to the Intercontinental Amman for dinner and overnight.

Day 14, Nov 4, 2021
Amman / Depart

Board your independent homeward-bound flight.

Highlights

Highlights

Discover seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites that recall the glory of ancient civilizations
Wander through the impressive ruins of Kourion, set on a high bluff overlooking the Mediterranean
Meander down the sphinx-lined entrance of Luxor and bask in the grandeur of the Luxor Temple at twilight
Visit important historic sites in Israel including the Sea of Galilee, Tel Aviv, Old Jaffa, Acre, and Jerusalem
Transit the Suez Canal and learn about its construction and ancient trade routes
Explore the majestic Wadi Rum Valley and have lunch surrounded by dramatic desert scenery

Details

Length: 14 days
Cost From: $11,990  
Arrive: Larnaca, Cyprus
Depart: Amman, Jordan
Lodging: 2 nights hotel, 10 nights aboard a 100-passenger expedition vessel
Meals: All onboard meals and group meals ashore, including soft drinks, beer, and wine with lunch and dinner
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures, Snorkeling, Walking, Special Interest, Photography, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

14-day cruise, cultural explorations, walking tours, optional snorkeling