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Here’s your chance to discover this region on the inaugural season of Vantage Deluxe World Travel's new 5-star small ship, the Ocean Odyssey. Your days will be filled with historical revelations, sun-kissed shorelines, and archaeological wonders from Petra to the Acropolis. You’ll have access to intriguing destinations like Cyprus, where UNESCO treasures abound, and the seaside desert oasis of Sharm El Sheikh, which Jacques Cousteau called a “corridor of marvels.”
Discover the most premier Greek isles, including Santorini and Mykonos, plus the lesser-visited gem Rhodes, just off the coast of Turkey. Cross the legendary Suez Canal, with live narration. In all, 27 included features and Cultural Discoveries will help you unpack the riches of each destination. Plus, performances and an exclusive lecture series — with a few guest speakers! — will further enhance your understanding of past and present life in the eastern Mediterranean.
Our ship’s small size also lets you navigate to exclusive ports larger ships can’t reach, with minimal tendering where you will be required to have the physical agility to maneuver getting on and off of tenders/Zodiac boats. And with fewer travellers on board, you’ll have more impactful interactions and Cultural Discoveries with locals, Tour Directors, lecturers, and more.
When you’re not exploring, enjoy the 5-star amenities that await you aboard the Ocean Odyssey. Spa, salon, fitness center — and that’s just the beginning. Personalized service is at your fingertips thanks to a small passenger-to-crew ratio and the assistance of our worldwide Concierge service, while onboard kayaks give you another way to stay active.
If you're interested in this itinerary and want to revel in even more Cultural Discoveries and immersive experiences, check out our combination cruises Across the Eastern Hemisphere: Singapore to Croatia and Glories of the Adriatic, Aegean, and Mediterranean Seas. Explore more and save.
Immerse yourself in the exoticism, fascinating history, and resplendent architecture of Istanbul, where Europe meets Asia along the bustling Bosphorus Strait. You’ll step into the world of Ottoman sultans at the Topkapi Palace, marvel at the towering domes and minarets of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia, and roam the endless passageways of the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Market, teeming with colorful carpets, leather goods, jewelry, and lanterns. Your three nights in this intoxicating cultural capital are the perfect way to round out your ocean expedition.
Board an overnight flight to Greece
Today, board an overnight flight to Athens, arriving on Day 2.
Welcome to Athens
Arrive in Athens today. If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, you’ll be met at the airport by a representative who will assist you with your hotel transfer. Tonight, gather with your fellow travelers for a Welcome Briefing and Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
Uncover the classical wonders of Athens
Today, embark on a thrilling tour of Athens, the sophisticated capital of Greece where mythology and ancient history come alive. You’ll visit the iconic Acropolis, where it was said that Poseidon and Athena fought over who would be patron of the city. This was the architectural pinnacle of Athens, crowned by its breathtaking Parthenon. You’ll also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Parliament House on Constitution Square, the Panathenaic Stadium, and the Presidential Palace. Along the famed Panepistimiou Avenue, pass the Catholic Cathedral, Academy of Athens, the University of Athens, and the National Library. Enjoy lunch on your own, perhaps seeking out a restaurant in the charming Plaka district, nestled at the foot of Acropolis Hill.
The rest of the afternoon is at your leisure. Remember: you can always contact your Concierge in advance to help you plan your time in Athens.
Peel back the rich layers of Athens on your own, then embark the Ocean Odyssey
You'll have a day to explore Athens anyway you see fit — your Vantage Concierge can provide plenty of tips and recommendations for what to see, do, and eat!
If you stay in Athens, set out to uncover some of the Cradle of Civilization's lesser known gems. If you’re looking for a deal, head over to the Monastiraki flea market, an atmospheric agora of secondhand Athenian treasures. While you’re there, seek out a traditional sandal-maker sure to have your size.
This afternoon, you’ll embark the Ocean Odyssey! Get settled in your cabin and take a walk through the ship, checking out the luxurious amenities offered, then gather for a port talk to hear about tomorrow’s exciting destination. In the elegant dining room, savor a special Captain’s Welcome Dinner, giving you just a glimpse of the curated fine dining you'll experience throughout your expedition. The ship leaves port later for Santorini in the evening.
Be dazzled by Santorini and visit the archaeological site Akrotiri
Santorini has been called the most magnificent of the Greek Isles. With its soaring cliffs tumbling into turquoise waters, you’re sure to agree. You will tender ashore and take a scenic drive to the ancient site of Akrotiri, a Minoan village frozen in time by the ash of a devastating volcanic eruption. This wonder has been compared to Pompeii both for its fate and for its incredible preservation. Explore its beauty with a guide, then continue to the charming clifftop village of Oia. This vision of whitewashed and pastel houses clinging to dark volcanic rock was once home to wealthy seafarers. Its narrow streets are a paradise for walkers, as you will experience firsthand. Then, move on to Fira, perched high over the Aegean on more cliffs. You many explore here on your own and return to the ship at leisure via a dramatic cable car and your waiting tender.
This afternoon, an onboard lecturer adds more enlightenment to your knowledge of the Aegean, followed by onboard entertainment after dinner.
Fall for breathtaking Mykonos
Mykonos is big on discovery and beauty, and is renowned for its pure-white houses, tidy churches with blue domes, charming windmills, and pristine beaches. See what captivated Jackie Onassis and other celebrity yachters during a driving tour to some of its most stunning beaches: Agios Ioannis, Ornos, Kalafatis, and Agia Anna.
Then, visit the magnificent white-washed village of Ano Mera. After stopping at its unique 1542 Panagia Tourliani Monastery, enjoy a tasty bite and a sip or two of ouzo in the square. A guided walking tour reveals the narrow passages and cobbled lanes of Mykonos before you return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure. You can relax in Mykonos on your own, perhaps exploring by bike or arranging a 4x4 rental with your onboard Concierge.
Your day is further enlightened by another onboard lecture this evening.
Uncover the rich biblical past of Ephesus
Discover the historical country of Turkey today. Step into the ancient past during a half-day visit to Ephesus, once the most important trading center in the Aegean. These breathtaking ruins are steeped in biblical history, as you will learn during a guided stroll down the Arcadian Way, once lined with colonnaded buildings and adorned with mosaics. Pass the impressive amphitheater and marvel at the towering façade of the Library of Celsus. This third largest library in the ancient world was built to house 12,000 parchment scrolls. You will also view the Temples of Hadrian and Diana before returning to the ship for lunch.
This afternoon you’ll enjoy an afternoon at leisure in Kusadasi, which offers great walks, restaurants, and shops.
Back on board, there’ll be ample opportunities to immerse yourself in Turkish culture. Get into the rhythms of traditional song and dance during a performance by locals. Gain more insight into the past when you sit in on a lecture. And savor the creations of a Turkish master chef, who we have invited into the kitchen to prepare your mouthwatering dinner.
Rhodes, island of the Knights of St. John
Spend this morning exploring Rhodes, Europe’s largest inhabited medieval town. See the old port of Mandraki. Traverse the heights of Agios Stefanos, or Monte Smith, for sweeping views. In the Old Town, visit the vast Grand Masters Palace, home to the Knights of St. John crusaders, and stop by the Archaeological Museum, once the Knights’ hospital. If you wish, you may linger on your own to explore more of this remarkable enclave of medieval treasures, perhaps strolling the cobbled Street of the Knights. Back on board, learn more about the rich history that has shaped the Aegean.
Relax on board with a day at sea
Enjoy a day at sea as the Ocean Odyssey makes its way out of the fabled waters of the Aegean Sea. Visit the spa, get in a workout at the gym, relax on the sun deck catching up with a great book, and enjoy the fabulous cuisine the chefs are creating just for you!
Today’s onboard lecture provides more fascinating context to this legendary part of the Mediterranean.
Witness the history and traditions of Cyprus with your choice of tours
After breakfast, you'll arrive in Cyprus. The people of this island country enjoy a warm Mediterranean climate, dramatic coastal vistas, the pine-wooded Troodos Mountains, and some of the finest ancient mosaics in the world. You will join them today as you choose from two included afternoon tours.
During a half-day tour to Paphos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its natural and cultural treasures, stop to view Aphrodite’s Rock, said to be the spot from where the goddess of love and beauty rose from the sea. Visit the Chrysopolitissa Church, built on the remains of a Byzantine basilica, and St. Paul’s Pillar. At the Paphos Archaeological Park, view the remarkably preserved floor mosaics at the Houses of Dionysos, Aion, and Theseus. Enjoy free time to take in the relaxed atmosphere at the Harbor of Paphos.
Or, you may choose a half-day tour to the UNESCO-listed traditional village of Choirokoitia, where our local friend Petros reveals the secrets behind making Halloumi and Anari cheeses at his home. Settle in for a visit and delightful tasting of farm-fresh cheeses with honey, olives, home-baked bread, and salad. Petros will also show you how he weaves the island’s distinctive baskets. After a walk around the village, enjoy a scenic coastal drive back to the ship.
Lunch is back onboard and the rest of your afternoon is at leisure. This evening, learn more about this fascinating island during an onboard lecture. And after our port talk, some Cypriot performers join us on board for a lively folklore show.
Uncover a biblical past in Haifa
Arrive in Haifa this morning, the picturesque northern Israeli port in the shadow of Mt. Carmel. Today’s full-day tour features many places from the life of Jesus. First head to Nazareth, where Jesus lived with Mary and Joseph after his birth. Marvel at the mosaic-filled Basilica of the Annunciation. Next, view the Wedding Church where Jesus turned water to wine. In the ancient fishing village of Capernaum, see the ancient synagogue where Jesus used to teach. After a local St. Peter’s fish lunch, embark a boat to cross the legendary Sea of Galilee, believed to be where Jesus walked on water. Then visit Tabgha, site of the miracle of the fishes, and the Mount of the Beatitudes, topped by the stunning church with its octagonal dome representing the 8 Beatitudes.
Enjoy your choice of full-day tours in Israel
Arrive in Ashdod, one of the oldest cities in the world, this morning. Then, choose your Israel experience during one of our included tours, ideal for travelers who have visited Israel before and may be looking for new opportunities. Join a full-day tour to Jerusalem, starting at the Mount of Olives so you can take in the ancient city from a breathtaking viewpoint. Proceed to the Gardens of Gethsemane, where Jesus and his disciples slept the night before his crucifixion and whose olive trees may date back as far as Christ. After stopping to see the Church of all Nations, enter the UNESCO-listed Old City for an unforgettable walking tour that includes the Western Wall. After lunch, browse the Arab Bazaar, then follow the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, site of Jesus’ tomb.
Alternately, choose to spend the day on a full-day tour to Masada and the Dead Sea, with an included lunch. Begin at the famed desert fortress where a band of Jewish rebels chose the ultimate act of resistance against a siege by Roman soldiers. A short cable car ride to the top will show you the full scope of the desert and Dead Sea below. Then head down to its famously curative saltwater, where you can test how buoyant they really are. (Don’t forget your swimsuit!)
Following your tour to Jerusalem or Masada, you'll enjoy a port talk that will fill you on what’s happening tomorrow.
Cross the Suez Canal
Prepare yourself for today's travel milestone and settle in on the sun deck as you traverse the Suez Canal toward Egypt.
While at sea, an onboard lecturer will offer poignant lectures on the Suez Canal and the history of the region. You'll also listen to an onboard musician.
These two days provide the perfect opportunity to savor the easy pace and camaraderie that small ship cruising affords. Bring binoculars for a closer view of the desert hills and sands unfolding all around while our inviting lounge area and elegant common spaces offer ideal settings to get to know your fellow adventurers.
During your cruising, take advantage of your expedition ship’s many amenities, and see how days on board can be just as exciting as days offshore. Perhaps enjoy a spa treatment, curl up with a book on deck, or pop into the boutique for any items you may need. Your meals will bring a taste of Egypt to your experience.
Marvel at dramatic landscapes and religious heritage of Sharm El Sheikh
Catch the sunrise from the ship's multilevel observation lounge before enjoying breakfast on board as the Ocean Odyssey arrives in Egypt. Situated near the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, Sharm El Sheikh is a seaside desert oasis for Egyptians and travelers alike. Its waters are renowned for their diverse marine life and crystalline visibility. Jacques Cousteau called it a “corridor of marvels” and, depending on conditions and timing, you may have time to take out one of the ship’s kayaks or snorkeling equipment and see this underwater world for yourself. But first, you can join an included morning tour. Visit the magnificent Mustafa Sheikh Mosque with its soaring minarets flanking an impressive dome and marble façade. Marvel at the biblical artwork of the Coptic Orthodox Church, spiritual home to the largest Christian denomination in Egypt. After a stop at Soho Square, Sharm’s modern entertainment and shopping complex, and a perusal of the vibrant, energetic market, return to the ship in time for lunch.
Your afternoon is at leisure in Sharm El Sheikh, or perhaps you'll explore the spectacular coral reef and colorful fish here. If you're looking for something more adventurous, your onboard Concierge can help you set up an excursion.
Disembark the Ocean Odyssey and journey to the Lost City of Petra and Aqaba
Today, you’ll disembark the Ocean Odyssey — we hope you enjoyed your time on this inaugural voyage! — and set out for Aqaba to meet your expedition ship. But first, visit one of the world’s most magnificent archaeological treasures — awe-inspiring Petra. Dating back to approximately 300 BC, this prehistoric city was carved into the pink sandstone cliffs of Jordan’s southwestern desert by the ancient Nabataean people. As you explore Petra’s Great Temple and tombs, you will listen to some of this magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site’s long and intriguing history. Then, enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
Afterwards, continue to Aqaba, Jordan’s only coastal city, to check into your hotel. Dinner is there tonight.
Explore historic Amman
This morning, get acquainted with this multifaceted Arab metropolis during a guided tour. Amman was originally built across seven hills but today spreads out over 19, creating an undulating city canvas. Throughout your tour, the impressive Jebel Amman Citadel watches over you from its hilltop perch as the hauntingly beautiful call to prayer echoes off ancient buildings. After an included lunch at a local restaurant, enjoy the afternoon to explore on your own, perhaps discovering the bustling Al Balad downtown area surrounding the splendid King Hussein Mosque. This evening, join us at your hotel for a discussion with a local about life in Jordan before heading to our Farewell Dinner. Depending on your home city, you may be departing for home this evening on a late flight, or some time tomorrow.
After breakfast, transfer to the Amman airport for your return flight home, or continue here on our optional Dead Sea post-trip extension.
Jordan is rich in biblical history, breathtaking natural beauty, and a vibrant culture that has a long tradition of welcoming others with open arms. Round out your journey with this discovery-packed extension and experience firsthand what others have only dreamed of. Visit the legendary sites of Bethany, where Lazarus was raised from the dead, and Mount Nebo, from where Moses first laid eyes on the Holy Land. Explore the ancient Roman ruins of Jerash, legendary outpost of the Empire. Float on the Dead Sea’s famously buoyant waters and meet a local artisan to learn about the region’s renowned mosaics. And with extra time, you can even see more of the remarkable “White City” of Amman, a fascinating blend of Roman-era monuments, busy souks, and urban sophistication. Plus, enjoy the use of your hotel room right up until your evening departure!
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.