Vantage celebrates its 40th anniversary this year!
Uncover centuries of history among the ruins of Athens, delve into the wonders of UNESCO-listed Rome; discover Monte Carlo, Europe’s playground for the rich and the famous; and gaze upon the artistic genius of Antoni Gaudi while exploring enchanting Barcelona. You’ll do all this and more on an unforgettable small ship Mediterranean cruise aboard the 5-star Ocean Odyssey. Beyond Europe’s awe-inspiring southern coastline, lined with rolling vineyards, medieval villages, ancient landmarks, and scenic vistas, you’ll delve deep into the history and cultures of this region of the world with 12 included features and 5 UNESCO-designated World Heritage Sites and experiences.
Throughout the entirety of your luxurious Mediterranean cruise, you’ll indulge in the first-class amenities aboard your elegant small ship. Treat yourself to a pampering treatment at the spa, join an instructor-led class at the fitness center, savor gourmet cuisine at one of several onboard restaurants, pick up a page-turner at the well-stocked library, or simply relax on the top-level sundeck and take in the panoramic views with a cocktail in hand.
However you spend your time aboard the Ocean Odyssey, her staff will be there to ensure your satisfactions and comfort at every turn. This is luxury small ship cruising at its finest, with every amenity you can imagine. Your ship’s low passenger-to-crew ratio ensure that you’ll receive the best personalized service at sea and meaningful interactions while ashore. Plus, while tendering may be required in some locations, the small size of our ship will allow for berthing in many of the port cities we visit — meaning you’ll be able to walk right off the ship when we dock and spend more time in each destination!
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 start off your ocean expedition.
Fly overnight to Athens, Greece
Today you’ll board an overnight flight to Athens. Or, depart earlier for your optional pre-trip extension in Istanbul.
Behold the classical wonders of Athens
Welcome to Greece! If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, a representative will meet you at the airport to assist with transfers to your centrally located hotel.
Later, enjoy a panoramic tour of Athens, the sophisticated capital of Greece. Mythology and ancient history come alive here, as you’ll see at the iconic Acropolis, the architectural pinnacle of Athens, crowned by its breathtaking Parthenon. You’ll also visit the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Parliament House on Constitution Square, the Pan Athenian Stadium, and the Presidential Palace. Along the famed Panepistimiou Avenue, you’ll pass the Catholic Cathedral, Academy of Athens, the University of Athens, and the National Library.
Explore Athens on your own today
You have the morning and early afternoon at leisure to set out into the “cradle of civilization” to uncover some of its less-explored paths. If you’re looking to shop for a deal, head over to the Monastiraki flea market, the atmospheric agora of secondhand treasures. Or perhaps you’ll brush up on your ancient history at the Acropolis Museum or the Athens Archaeological Museum. Alternatively, you can relax in your hotel and enjoy its sumptuous amenities, from the rooftop swimming pool to the spa.
Embark the Ocean Odyssey
Today, we’ll embark the Ocean Odyssey in Piraeus. This 5-star small ship is designed to merge unmatched luxury with an authentic ocean cruise experience. Settle into your sumptuous stateroom, before taking time to explore the ship’s world-class amenities, including the onboard boutique, indulgent spa, and hot-rock cooking restaurant. Later, you’ll join fellow travelers for the first of your daily port talks to learn about the exciting destinations that await you on this small ship journey.
Make your way through historical Patras today
The bustling city of Patras is our primary destination for today. Located at the foothills of Mount Panachaikon, Patras has a long history spanning several millennia. Dating back to 280 B.C., Patras was formed when the Ionian towns of Aroe, Mesatis, and Antheia united. During the Byzantine era, the city became an important center for commerce, prompting the construction of Patras Castle, designed to protect its inhabitants from foreign invasions. Dubbed Greece's “gate to the west,” the port of Patras is an important hub for trade and communication with Western Europe. The city is notable for its large annual carnival, featuring colorful parades and extravagant balls. Patras is also well-regarded for supporting a community of local artists and literati. Today, you’ll have the opportunity to take in many of the city’s highlights during an included excursion.
Delight in your ship’s amenities during a day at sea
One of the true pleasures of a luxurious, small ship Mediterranean cruise is the onboard experience as you sail from one incredible destination to another. From indulgent spa treatments and soothing hot tubs to elegant dining and personalized service, you’ll find everything you need to feel relaxed, pampered, and entertained today.
Onboard Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional onboard experience. Enhance your time on board with one of our Vantage-exclusive activities, including wine and whiskey tastings, a multicourse Chef’s Table Dinner, or an exclusive wine-pairing dinner. Learn more
Explore tantalizing Taormina today
Today begins with a scenic 1-hour drive to Taormina, regarded as one of Sicily’s most popular summer destinations. Perched high on a mountainside overlooking the adjoining harbor, this chic resort town is known as much for its breathtaking views of the sea and nearby Mt. Etna as it is for its quaint medieval village atmosphere. Upon arrival, your guided walking tour will kick off with an outside view of Palazzo Corvaja. Sections of this historic palace date all the way back to city’s 10th-century Byzantine era. From here, you will continue towards the Teatro Greco, Taormina’s most impressive monument. Constructed in the 3rd century by the Romans, it has been used to host everything from gladiator games to musical performances, and is still in use today, most notably as the site of Taormina’s annual arts festival. Your tour will conclude with a visit to the Villa Comunale di Taormina, home to over 200 varieties of plants. These lush public gardens were cultivated by English noblewoman Lady Florence Trevelyan back in the late 1800s when she married Salvatore Cacciola, then-mayor of Taormina. The gardens were originally the site of their home and remnants of the house can still be found on the garden grounds. The gardens are also said to have the best views of Mount Etna and the nearby beaches.
Uncover the mysteries of Pompeii
Arrive this morning along the legendary Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where seaside villages and dizzying cliffs create a dreamy landscape. Today you will have an opportunity to visit the 2,000-year-old ruins of Pompeii. A private guided walking tour of this UNESCO World Heritage Site helps you step back 2,000 years into a world of cobbled lanes worn by horse-drawn carts, fascinating villas still adorned by colorful murals, Roman baths, the old forum, and more. You’ll also have incredible views of the still-active Mount Vesuvius.
Later, you’ll enjoy an afternoon visit to a local farm in Sorrento where you'll meet your hosts for a tour and a class in creating the perfect pizza, the famed cuisine of nearby Naples.
Take in the highlights of Rome by coach and on foot
Today, enjoy a guided panoramic tour of Rome’s historic center. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to many of ancient Rome’s significant sites, including the iconic Colosseum, which dates back to the 1st century AD; the ancient Roman Forum, where religious and social life took place; Palatine Hill, considered to be the birthplace of Rome; and Circus Maximus, the site of ancient chariot races.
Following your tour, you’ll have time for lunch on your own, giving you the opportunity to sample some authentic Italian cuisine from pasta carbonara to tiramisu. Ask your Destination Manager for recommendations!
Tonight, enjoy a special dinner, followed by tasty gelato at Trevi Fountain, during a Rome by Night excursion.
Enjoy a day to explore Rome on your own
You’ll have a full day to explore more of Rome on your own today. Dubbed the “Eternal City” by ancient Romans, you’re free to explore the city’s world-renowned landmarks, timeworn ruins, dramatic churches, and trendy neighborhoods at your own pace.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Enjoy a private tour of UNESCO-listed Vatican City — a Vantage exclusive! Learn more
A true Roman highlight awaits you on your Vantage Mediterranean journey: a private tour of the Vatican Museums in UNESCO-listed Vatican City! This Vantage-exclusive activity allows guests to fast-track entrance to these world-renowned museums, featuring an exceptional collection of classical sculptures, Renaissance art, and Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. After touring the museums, you’ll enter St. Peter’s Basilica — an Italian Renaissance-style church considered to be one of Christianity’s holiest sites.
Due to high call volume, we recommend you visit MyPortfolio to book this Destination Enhancement. Don’t wait — these optional experiences are limited to a select number of guests and are selling out fast!
Arrive in lovely Livorno today
Today, you’ll enjoy a half-day tour of Florence, the capital of Italy’s Tuscany region. Upon arrival, you’ll be met by your local guide to begin your walking tour of the city’s highlights, including the exterior of the domed cathedral of Piazza del Duomo and Piazza del Signoria. You’ll also have an opportunity to see the exterior of the Palazzo Vecchio, which is still considered Florence’s vibrant town hall and political center, before continuing on to the Ponte Vecchio. This historic bridge is lined with jewelry shops and cafés.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Add an additional half-day in Pisa, home of the famed Leaning Tower of Pisa, with time to explore the Piazza dei Miracoli (Miracle Square). Learn more
Extend your time in Florence with an additional half-day visit to the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the freestanding bell tower Pisa Cathedral. Constructed in the late 12th century, this iconic landmark has become a universally recognized symbol of Pisa. Standing at over 180 feet, and made entirely of marble and stone, the tower began to lean during its construction phase due to its weight and the soft ground on which it was built. The tower and its neighboring cathedral, baptistery, and cemetery were jointly named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. You’ll have plenty of time explore these architectural marvels up close, during your time at the Piazza dei Miracoli (formerly Piazza del Duomo).
Behold the glitz and glamour of Monte Carlo
Arrive this morning in Monte Carlo, capital of the tiny independent principality of Monaco. Playground to well-heeled Europeans, this sovereign nation has been ruled by the Grimaldi family since the 13th century.
Admire stunning sea views 200 feet below while strolling past the Prince’s Palace in the historic quarter of Le Rocher. Nearby, the neo-Romanesque Monaco Cathedral is a vision in white. Constructed in the late 19th century, this is the final resting place of Monaco’s royalty, including Grace Kelly, Princess of Monaco. You’ll also marvel at the world-renowned Belle Époque Grand Casino, a vision of extravagance and wealth, and see its lush gardens, before viewing the legendary Hôtel de Paris. After seeing the unique architecture of the Palace of Justice, you’ll head to the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco, another neo-classical gem founded by Prince Albert I more than a century ago.
You’ll return to the ship for lunch, then have the afternoon at leisure to spend as you wish.
Witness the magic of multi-faceted in Marseille
The beguiling city of Marseille has long been considered a cultural capital of Europe, thanks in large part to its diversity, sophistication, and history. Today, you’ll enjoy the sights of this charming region during a full-day tour of romantic Provence.
Beginning in Gordes, you’ll pay a visit to its namesake castle, located in the heart of this picture-perfect village. Continuing on to Roussillon, you’ll bask in the beauty of its rust-hued cliffs and ochre quarries. The contrasting emerald pine trees and vivid blue Provençal sky create a stunning canvas. You’ll be provided with lunch money to dine at the restaurant of your choosing, then it’s on to a walking tour of Aix-en-Provence’s Old Town, strolling past elegant mansions and under the lovely plane trees of Cours Mirabeau. If you wish, you may stay behind to visit the art studio of 19th-century Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne’s, or return to the ship for an afternoon at leisure on board.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Spend a full day in Camargue National Park, a UNESCO-designated biosphere reserve dedicated to the protection of local flora and fauna. Learn more
Head into Camargue National Park to explore the vast Rhône River Delta, a pristine region of swamps, river tendrils and ponds teeming with numerous bird species, including the pink flamingo. Throughout your safari, you will pause as opportunities arise to view the region’s wild Camargue horses and bulls grazing as manades, or free-roaming herds. You will visit a working farm to learn more about the horses and bulls and stop for lunch at a local restaurant.
Disembark the Ocean Odyssey in vibrant Barcelona
This morning marks the end of the cruise portion of your journey. You'll disembark the Ocean Odyssey in captivating Barcelona and transfer to your hotel, where you’ll have the rest of the day at leisure to relax or explore on your own.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Tonight, attend a rousing Flamenco performance at a local tablao. Learn more
An artistic form of expression that fuses song, dance, and musicianship, Spanish Flamenco has a long and deep-rooted history dating back several centuries. It is so ingrained in the culture of the country that it was added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2010. You will have the opportunity to witness the mastery and passion of this traditional art form during a special Flamenco performance at a local tablao.
Explore beautiful Barcelona today
Get to know the sophisticated capital of Catalonia on a panoramic tour that includes the hugely successful revitalization project of Port Vell, the Olympic Village that hosted the 1992 Games, before continuing on to La Barceloneta Beach. Next, you’ll ascend Montjuïc, from where you’ll enjoy panoramic views of the city and port harbor. Upon your descent, head to Plaza de España, one of Barcelona's most important historic squares, and Gran Via. Afterward, we'll have an outside visit to La Sagrada Família cathedral, Antoni Gaudí’s famous masterpiece and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll have free time for shopping at iconic Las Ramblas, arguably the most famous street in Barcelona. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a Farewell Dinner at your hotel.
Destination Enhancement: Customize your journey when you add an optional excursion. Join us for an extended, exclusive visit inside La Sagrada Familia Basilica and an included lunch. Learn more
Begin your discoveries with a guided visit of the Museo Nacional de Prado (Prado Museum). Housed inside a building originally constructed in 1785 to house the Natural History Cabinet, today the Prado Museum is Spain’s main national art museum. Visitors are able to get up-close to the works of master artists such as Francisco Goya, Hieronymus Bosch, El Greco, Peter Paul Rubens, Titian, and Diego Velázquez.
Designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in the late 19th century, the Basílica i Temple Expiatori de la Sagrada Família, is one of Barcelona’s must-see landmarks. This Catholic church — the largest one in the world to remain unfinished — was inscribes as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010, along with six other Barcelona properties built by Gaudí. Pope Benedict XVI consecrated the church, proclaiming it a minor basilica, in 2010. On this optional excursion, you’ll have an opportunity to visit the interior of the church and take in the beauty and artistry of this structure for yourself. Your tour concludes with lunch at a local restaurant.
Following breakfast this morning, you’ll transfer to the Barcelona airport for your flight home, or transfer by train to Madrid with our optional post-trip extension.
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.