greece traditional church woman

From Sicily to Athens

Aboard the Diana


Cruise the coast of magical Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean, explore some of the most iconic archaeological sites in Greece, and discover the mystique of Crete, one of the gems of the southern Aegean. The cruise begins in Palermo with a visit to the wondrous Cappellal Palatina, a 12th century royal capital, and Monreale, where you can view the golden mosaics of its Norman cathedral, a World Heritage Site. Circling the rugged Sicilian coast, visit Agrigento, with its breathtaking Doric temples, and ancient Siracusa, once a powerful city-state. Crossing the sea to Greece, explore Olympia, the original site of the Olympics, and Sparta, known for its epic battles with the city-state of Athens. On rugged Crete, largest of the Greek islands, you’ll explore the labyrinthine Minoan Palace of Knossos, with a final stop at Mycenae, the legendary home of Agamemnon, before disembarking in Piraeus.

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.


Day 1
Palermo, Sicily

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

Day 2
Palermo / Monreale / 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’ll also travel to nearby Monreale to visit its famed Norman cathedral and elegant cloister before embarking Diana in the late afternoon.

Day 3
Porto Empedocle / Agrigento

Arrive in Sicily’s Porto Empedocle for an excursion to the fabled temples of Agrigento. Set on a ridge facing the sea, Agrigento’s series of superb Doric temples are among the most captivating Greek ruins in the entire Mediterranean. Visit the Temple of Hercules, constructed in the 6th century BC; the remarkably well-preserved Temple of Concord; and the Temple of Juno, noted for its graceful proportions. Also visit the Archaeological Museum, whose extraordinary collection is devoted to finds from the surrounding area.

Day 4

Colonized by Greeks in the 8th century BC, Siracusa became one of the most powerful cities of the ancient world, rivaling even Athens. Tour the 15,000-seat Greek theater, among the most impressive to survive from antiquity, the Roman amphitheater, and the Archaeological Museum. A walking tour of Ortygia, the old town, reveals the remains of the Temple of Apollo, the Fountain of Arethusa, and the Cathedral, which incorporates the Temple of Athena.

Day 5

The ship calls at Crotone, founded by Achaeans in 710 BC and eventually becoming one of the most prominent Greek cities in southern Italy. In the mid-6th century BC, Pythagoras made it the center of his famed school of philosophy. Visit the National Archaeological Museum, whose exhibits chronicle the development of the city from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. Then drive to the charming medieval hilltop village of Santa Severina, a center of learning and culture under the Byzantines and the Normans. Visit the Byzantine baptistery, dating from the 8th-9th centuries, the old cathedral (10th century), and the imposing castle.

Day 6
Katakolon / Olympia

From the port of Katakolon, drive to nearby Olympia, located in a beautiful setting in a river valley covered with evergreen poplars, oaks, and pines. Coupled with its importance throughout antiquity, and its rich remains, Olympia is one of the most significant archaeological sites in Greece. A sacred precinct dedicated to Zeus, it was here that the Panhellenic games were held every four years from 776 BC to AD 393, giving rise to the modern Olympics. Tour the site and see the temples, secular public buildings, and the stadium where the games were held. Also visit the Archaeological Museum, which displays some of the best sculpture from the Classical to the Roman periods.

Day 7
Gytheion / Sparta / Mystras

Gytheion is the port for both ancient and modern Sparta. Drive inland to Mystras, the most well-preserved Byzantine town in Greece, built on a rocky spur overlooking Sparta. Once a great center of learning, art, and culture, Mystras is dominated by its ramparts and palaces, and by the graceful domes of its churches, many of which contain wonderful frescoes. In Sparta, you will visit the excellent Archaeological Museum.

Day 8
Rethymnon / Knossos

The largest of the Greek islands, Crete was the home of the Minoans, who created Europe’s earliest advanced civilization. From the port of Rethymnon, drive to Knossos to explore its fabled Minoan Palace. Clustered around a courtyard, the palace contains a maze of rooms, passages, and stairways that probably inspired the concept of the labyrinth. Many myths have their origins on Crete, including the legend of the Minotaur. Continue to the Heraklion Museum, whose exhibits will reinforce the impression gained at the palace of the brilliance and refinement of Minoan civilization.

Day 9
Nafplion / Mycenae / Epidaurus

From Nafplion, travel to Mycenae, an important center of the extraordinary civilization that flourished here in the second millennium BC. Homer described Mycenae, the legendary home of Agamemnon, as “rich in gold.” A tour of the citadel includes the imposing Lion Gate and other remains of the acropolis, as well as the impressive beehive-shaped tombs set outside the walls. Continue to Epidaurus, the ancient shrine of the healer Asklepios, whose ruins are dominated by a 4th century BC theater, one of the finest in Greece.

Day 10
Piraeus / Disembark

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

2024 Itinerary-in-Brief

Day 1 Overnight Palermo
Day 2 Tour Palermo and Monreale. Transfer to ship.
Day 3 Reggio di Calabria, Italy
Day 4 Gallipoli and Lecce, Italy
Day 5 Saranda, Albania for ancient Butrint
Day 6 Itea, Greece for Delphi
Day 7 Plyos, Greece for Mycenaean Palace of Nestor and Methoni
Day 8 Rethymno, Crete
Day 9 Nafplion, Greece for Mycenae and Epidaurus
Day 10 Disembark Piraeus. Transfer to Athens airport for departure



Visit the superb Doric temples of Agrigento, among the best Greek ruins in the entire Mediterranean
Tour Siracusa's 15,000-seat Greek theater
In Greece, explore Olympia, site of the original Olympic Games, and Sparta
See the fabled Minoan Palace of Knossos on Crete


Length: 10 days
Cost From: $7990  
Arrive: Palermo, Italy
Depart: Athens, Greece
Lodging: 8 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: Archaeology, Small Ship Cruising
Trip Level:

8-day cruise, cultural explorations and walking tours