Western civilization was born in the lands that border the Eastern Mediterranean. Our springtime voyage begins in Kourion, on the island of Cyprus, which preserves beautiful ancient Greek and early Christian works of art. We then set forth for Israel, exploring in Jerusalem – or, if you prefer, the fascinating archaeological sites of Caesarea and Megiddo or Ein Gedi. Then we turn south – to spend two days in Egypt, birthplace of the most magnificent of all ancient civilizations. We continue to Turkey to explore ancient sites that are rarely included in Mediterranean cruises, such as Silifke, Olba-Diocaesarea, and Antioch. A highlight is our sojourn to the interior of Anatolia, where for two days, we will explore fabled Cappadocia, which presents an extraordinary lunar-like landscape carved out of a plateau from lava and mud in the ancient past. Though Cappadocia has been inhabited since the Neolithic period, it rose in prominence during Christianity’s early years, when it became a center of monasticism and churches were “built” into the tufa caves. We end our voyage exploring the early Christian monuments of Antioch, where Christianity was established by the apostles St. Peter and St. Paul. The beautiful coastal scenery, the ancient lost cities, and Cappadocia combine to make this a most memorable and rewarding travel experience. Join us aboard the all-suite Corinthian II and explore the places where civilization was born.
The Ancient Shores of the Eastern Mediterranean itinerary:
Day 1: LIMASSOL, Cyprus
Arrive in Cyprus and transfer to the Amathus Beach Hotel, located on a private beach near Limassol.
Day 2: LIMASSOL | KOURION and KOLOSSI or NICOSIA | LIMASSOL | EMBARK
Cyprus’s position as a stepping-stone between the East and West has left an unusually rich legacy of the many civilizations that flourished on the island. Visit Kourion, with its mosaics depicting Achilles and gladiators near the Paphos Gate, the ruined 5th-century Basilica and adjoining Baptistery, and the restored Sanctuary of Apollo Hylates. Also visit the Kolossi Castle, built in 1454 by the Hospitallers. Alternatively, take an excursion to picturesque Nicosia, the capital of Cyprus, and one of the world’s oldest cities. Known in ancient times as Ledra, it combines Eastern and Western architecture. Enjoy a tour of the city and visit the Archaeological Museum and Byzantine Museum. Sail in the evening.
Day 3: ASHDOD | JERUSALEM or CAESAREA and MEGIDDO and EIN GEDI | ASHDOD, Israel
From Israel’s port of Ashdod, take a full-day excursion to Jerusalem. A tour of this extraordinary city begins at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, built over the site that tradition identifies as the tomb of Jesus. Then follow the Via Dolorosa, the ancient web of arcaded streets along which Jesus carried the cross. Also visit the Western Wall, the only remnant of the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70. Alternatively, take an excursion to the archaeological site of Caesarea, the Roman capital of Judea for 600 years. Continue to Megiddo, in the Carmel Mountains, where excavations have uncovered 20 cities and the stables of Solomon. Also visit the ruins of ancient Ein Gedi, one of Israel’s most important archaeological sites.
Day 4: PORT SAID | CAIRO | GIZA | PORT SAID, Egypt
From Port Said, located at the entrance to the Suez Canal, travel to Cairo and Giza for a full-day excursion. Known as Memphis in ancient times, Cairo has been Egypt’s most important city since 3100 B.C. Visit the renowned Egyptian Museum, a repository of the finest antiquities, including finds from the tomb of Tutankhamun. In Giza, see the famed Sphinx and Pyramids, still among the wonders of the world. As an alternative, spend the day exploring Cairo’s main Islamic and Coptic sites. Beginning in Tahrir Square, visit the Coptic Museum and the Museum of Islamic Art, which respectively house the world’s largest collection of Egyptian Christian artifacts and most extensive collection of Islamic art; and the 12th-century Citadel. Also enjoy time to explore the Khan El-Khalili Bazaar, which dates to the 14th century.
Day 5: ALEXANDRIA
Founded by Alexander the Great in 332-331 B.C., Alexandria became the paramount city of the Hellenistic period and a great center of learning, culture, and science. In the morning, tour Alexandria’s ancient ruins, including the site of the famous lighthouse of Pharos, now occupied by a fort; the Anfushi tombs, a 3rd-century B.C. necropolis cut in the limestone; Pompey’s Pillar, a red granite column erected in honor of Diocletian, emperor of Rome (284-305); the Ptolemaic theater; and the Greco-Roman Museum, whose exhibits include many of the finds from the recent excavations in the city’s harbor.
DAy 6: PAPHOS, Cyprus
Land at Paphos and tour the city’s ancient remains, including the Roman houses with their spectacular mosaics. Notable is the House of Dionysos, probably the villa of a wealthy merchant, which is decorated with a series of superb mosaics. Also, visit the Tombs of the Kings, carved out of the rock, and the church of Aghia Kyriaki, built in the 11th century on an earlier foundation.
Day 7: TASUCU | OLBA-DIOCAESAREA | SILIFKE/MERSIN, Turkey
From the port of Tasucu, drive through beautiful agricultural country to Olba-Diocaesarea, a superbly sited ancient city. Of the many monuments that have survived, the imposing and well-preserved Temple of Zeus Olbius, with its elegant Corinthian columns, stands out. Other remains include the theater, the Colonnaded Street, and the Monumental Arch. On the return to the ship, stop at Silifke, a picturesque town built along the banks of a river, founded in the 4th century B.C. as Seleucia ad Calycadnum. This evening, arrive in Mersin.
Day 8: MERSIN | NEVSEHIR | KAYMAKLI | NEVSEHIR
Disembark in Mersin and drive through the impressive scenery for an overnight excursion to fabled Cappadocia. Accommodations will be at the Anatolian Houses, a luxury hotel created out of caves. Cappadocia was covered by volcanic ash that hardened into a porous stone called tufa that was then slowly eroded by the wind, water, and sand into elaborate shapes. Since the 6th century, Christians have carved hermitages, churches, and entire monastic complexes into the rock, making Cappadocia one of the main centers of Byzantine monasticism. In the afternoon, tour the underground city of Kaymakli.
Day 9: NEVSEHIR | THE VILLAGES OF CAPPADOCIA | MERSIN
Visit the open-air museums at Goreme, whose churches house impressive frescoes, and Cavusin, site of the Church of St. John the Baptist. Stroll through the villages of Urgup and Ushicar and see the renowned Fairy Chimneys, a fantastical landscape populated with conical formations of volcanic tufa. Continue to Zelve, spectacularly set at the head of two canyons and the site of a now deserted monastic retreat. Return to Mersin in the evening and reboard the ship.
DAy 10: ISKENDERUN | ANTIOCH | ISKENDERUN
Drive from Iskenderun to modern Antakya, or ancient Antioch. Founded in the 4th century B.C. by Seleucus I—a general under Alexander the Great and one of his successors—Antioch was destined to rival Alexandria during the Hellenistic period, and later, as a powerful seat of Christianity. Our visit to the ancient site includes the magnificent collection of Roman mosaics in the Archaeological Museum and the Grotto of St. Peter, which is cut out of a hillside.
Day 11: LIMASSOL, Cyprus | DISEMBARK | USA
Transfer to the airport for return flights to the U.S.
The deluxe Corinthian II is an all-suite yacht accommodating up to 114 guests. Built in 1992 and refurbished and redecorated in 2005, it has 57 suites, each with:
• Sea view
• Queen-sized bed separable into two twin-sized beds
• Sitting area
• Satellite TV, DVD/CD player
• Marble-appointed bathroom with fine toiletries
• 225 square feet or more
• Plush terry robes and slippers
• Fresh flowers and fruit basket
• 24-hour room service
The Penthouse Suites and Veranda Suites (400 and 300 square feet, respectively) feature private balconies accessed via sliding-glass doors, as well as white glove butler service.
Corinthian II’s superb Continental cuisine is created by master chefs who select fresh local ingredients at many ports of call. Meals are served either in the stately restaurant or al fresco on the umbrella-studded sun deck. Fine regional wines are complimentary with lunch and dinner, and beginning in 2008 open bar service will be available throughout the day.
BESPOKE SMALL-SHIP AMENITIES
Returning from excursions, guests enjoy complimentary refreshments, afternoon tea and all-day coffee in The Club, a gracious space for relaxation, surrounded by panoramic windows. Before or after dinner, cocktails are served to live music performed by the ship’s pianist.
Other Corinthian II features include:
• Library with Internet access
• Lounge with audiovisual facilities
• Dining room
• Wraparound sun deck with Jacuzzi
• Exercise Room
• Beauty salon
• Medical facilities with available doctor
• Elevator serving all passenger decks
• Swimming platform
Corinthian II complies with the latest international safety regulations and is outfitted with the most current navigational and communications technology as well as with retractable fin stabilizers for smooth sailing, an ice-strengthened hull, and a fleet of Zodiacs. Corinthian II’s 75 officers and crew ensure gracious personalized service and a convivial atmosphere akin to a private club.