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Ancient Ruins & Modern Marvels: Dubai to Athens - 2021

Dubai • 24-night expedition cruise with Khasab, Sur, Salalah, Safaga (Luxor), Hurghada, Eilat, Aqaba, Sharm El Sheik/Suez Canal, Ashdod, Haifa, Limassol, Rhodes, Kusadasi, Mykonos, Santorini, Piraeus • Athens
  • CRUISE ON THE OCEAN EXPLORER, AN AGILE AND STATE-OF-THE-ART EXPEDITION VESSEL THAT CAN NAVIGATE TO PLACES LARGER SHIPS CAN’T
  • WALK ALONG THE CEREMONIAL AVENUE THAT JOINS LUXOR TEMPLE TO THE TEMPLE OF KARNAK, BOTH TREASURES OF ANCIENT THEBES
  • SEE THE PALM JUMEIRAH AND DUBAI’S OTHER MAN-MADE MARVELS
  • STEP INTO POSTCARD-PERFECT SCENES OF SANTORINI, ICON OF THE GREEK ISLES
  • STROLL AROUND WHAT REMAINS OF ANCIENT EPHESUS AND LEARN ABOUT ITS GLORIOUS PAST
DATES & PRICES
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$15,499
  • $516
    PER DAY
  • 30
    DAYS
  • 54
    TOURS
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31 DAYS FROM $15,499
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Istanbul, Turkey

4 DAYS FROM $1,699

Abu Dhabi & Dubai

4 DAYS FROM $1,399

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Behold thousands of years of civilization in this 31-day journey dedicated to the feats of humankind — from Dubai’s soaring Burj Khalifa to the resilient ruins of Luxor, Jerusalem, and Athens. On this thought-provoking journey across eight nations, you’ll hear the captivating stories of major faiths, relive the rise and fall of empires past, and perhaps lose yourself in the beauty of our planet as you wander along the softly glowing walls of the Siq to Petra, or catch glimpses of Aegean blue along the mazelike streets of Santorini.

You’ll be cruising on the inaugural season of the 5-star Ocean Explorer, a state-of-the-art expedition vessel that will take you closer to unique ports like Khasab and Rhodes. During relaxing days at sea, an intimate experience awaits: Admire the views along the Suez Canal while soaking in the infinity pool, refresh your senses with a treatment at the onboard spa, or watch a movie under the stars. . . the choice is yours.

On this cultural expedition, you’ll enjoy 54 included features and Cultural Discoveries — including an overnight stay in Luxor to fully explore the legendary temples of ancient Thebes. Plus, elevate your experiences with our array of expert lectures, local entertainment brought onboard, and exquisite meals prepared by guest chefs. Can’t get enough of this enthralling voyage? Let our complimentary worldwide Concierge delight you with additional tours and special reservations during your trip, and make it the journey of a lifetime.

Dubai to Aqaba

Pre-Trip Extension

Abu Dhabi & Dubai

FROM: $1399 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $350 PER DAY
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DAY 1:

Fly to Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Your magic carpet ride begins today! You’ll fly overnight from the U.S. to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Or, depart earlier for your pre-trip extension to Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Please note: If you're taking advantage of the pre-trip extension to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, you will follow the pre-trip itinerary until Day 3, when you'll join your fellow base travelers for the rest of the adventure. All activities and inclusions will be covered; please see the pre-trip extension itinerary for details.

DAY 2:

Arrive in Dubai

If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, upon arrival at the airport a Vantage representative will meet you and arrange transfer to your centrally located hotel. Settle in, relax and take the rest of the day to enjoy a veritable treasure trove of luxurious pools, beaches, shops, spas and fine restaurants in and around your hotel, located in the Deira neighborhood, which is Dubai’s historic center, near the waterfront Corniche. Dinner is on your own tonight.

DAY 3:

Discover Dubai’s man-made wonders

This morning you’ll meet your fellow travelers at a Welcome Briefing, then enjoy a panoramic Dubai city tour. Two of the most iconic landmarks will be the Palm Atlantis on its crescent-shaped man-made island, and the Burj al Arab, a sailboat-shaped hotel that stands more than 1,000 feet high, which you'll be able to see from a distance. But it’s not the tallest structure in Dubai…That honor goes to Burj Khalifa. Spiraling 2,717 feet into the air like a giant twisting needle, it is the tallest building in the entire world. You’ll also see the Frame, a giant, picture-frame shaped structure built to provide unique city views from each of its four sides. The marvels of Dubai are not limited skyward. You’ll also see some of the amazing, man-made luxury islands that have been created in the Persian Gulf, such as Palm Jumeirah, shaped like a palm tree. It’s studded with elegant villas, marinas, parks, and malls selling interesting jewelry, artwork, Islamic calligraphy, and more.

Lunch will be on your own in downtown Dubai and then the afternoon is free. Perhaps you’ll do some shopping at the Dubai Mall, replete with its own shark tank; get an eyeful at the Museum of Illusions; or get a nose full of beautiful floral aromas at the Dubai Miracle Garden. This evening you’ll convene with your fellow travelers for a Welcome Dinner at the hotel.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day panoramic Dubai city tour

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4:

Be dazzled by Dubai’s culture; embark the Ocean Explorer

After a leisurely breakfast you’ll check out of your hotel, and enjoy a Dubai Cultural tour.

Get a feel for Dubai’s roots as you explore some of its historic icons. You’ll pause for photos at the magnificent, modern Jumeirah Mosque, before visiting the Dubai Museum, housed in the 18th-century Al Fahidi Fort; the Old Town with its gypsum and coral houses; and the wealthy mercantile Bastakia neighborhood. On Dubai Creek you’ll take a traditional abra water taxi to the Gold Souk, where you won't believe your eyes; and the Spice Souk, where you won’t believe your nose! You’ll have time to enjoy lunch here on your own.

This afternoon you’ll transfer to the pier at Port Rashid, and come aboard the Ocean Explorer where the luxury continues. Get settled into your cabin, then check out the ship's many amenities, including a multilevel lounge, spa, fitness center, and more. The captain looks forward to seeing you at tonight’s Welcome Dinner, featuring live local entertainment!

Included Feature:

  • Cultural Dubai city tour

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit the Dubai Museum
  • Abra water taxi ride to the Gold and Spice Souks
  • Evening onboard entertainment: Welcome Dinner with live performance

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 5:

Take a dhow cruise to Oman’s Musandam Fjords and Telegraph Island

After breakfast you’ll disembark in Khasab, Oman, to see something you most likely have never imagined to find in this part of the world . . .

A wooden dhow awaits to take you along the Straits of Hormuz to a spectacular, fjord-fringed region that is known as the “Norway of Arabia.” The Musandam Peninsula is carved by a series of inlets called khors, lined by mountainous jebels and sheer cliffs that plummet into the turquoise waters below. You may have an escort of seabirds or dolphins as we sail into the awesome Khor Al Sham, heading towards Telegraph Island, so-called for the telegraph cables that the British laid here in 1864. Bring your bathing suit in case you want to go for a swim in the clear cool waters, or just sit back with an iced tea as you admire the backdrop of 2,000-foot Hajar Mountains rising in the distance.

You'll return to the ship for lunch and an afternoon at leisure as the Ocean Explorer sets sail — grab a book and head to the sun deck for the ultimate relaxation, or perhaps you'll get in a workout at the gym.

Later, head to the lounge for an illuminating talk from the onboard lecturer before dinner on board. 

Included Feature:

  • Dhow cruise to Musandam fjords and Telegraph Island

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • You may have an escort of seabirds or dolphins as we sail into the awesome Khor Al Sham, heading towards Telegraph Island

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 6:

Discover Oman’s maritime heritage in Sur

Enjoy a leisurely morning on board as you sail to Sur, on the Gulf of Oman, arriving in the early afternoon. Join the onboard lecturer for another scintillating talk highlighting the culture and history of your destinations. 

After lunch, you will embark on a tour of ancient Sur, first stopping along the way to see hilltop Sunaysilah Fort, a square castle with round watchtowers that was constructed in 1648. It overlooks Sur below and the gulf to the east.

Chances are Sinbad the Sailor made most of his seven fantastical voyages on board a wooden dhow made right here in Sur, which has been a premier shipbuilding center for nearly 2,000 years. An example of the city’s shipbuilding prowess is the Fatah al Khair, a restored, 70-year-old dhow that weighs 220 tons and now stands on dry land as a monument. It was made by hand without nails, using handmade ropes to shore up the joints. Many dhows are still made this way and you will see several under construction as you tour the shipyard. Before heading back to the ship you’ll also enjoy a walk around the old fishing village of Al Ayjah, with its lighthouse, fort, and old merchant houses with intricately carved doors.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Sur city tour

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Lecture on Omani history and culture
  • Tour of a dhow-making shipyard in Sur

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 7:

Cruising the Arabian Sea

Enjoy a full day to relax on board. Perhaps you’ll enjoy a workout in the gym, followed by a swim in the infinity pool. Relax with a cocktail in the multilevel lounge, or take in the expansive sea views from your very own balcony. Feel like browsing? There are dozens of books you may borrow from our library, or get a massage or facial treatment at the spa. Later in the day you will enjoy a port talk.

Enjoy another eye-opening discussion with our guest lecturer.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 8:

Choose your included tour in Salalah: Khor Rori or the Frankincense Trail

Spend the morning sailing toward Salalah, enjoying breakfast on board. Another informative talk with the lecturer will contextualize your discoveries today. 

Salalah is the capital of Dhofar province and has been long associated with the production and trade of frankincense. This aromatic resin of the native boswellia sacra tree has been prized for centuries for its medicinal and fragrant properties. Several sites around Salalah were important to the incense trade that began flourishing between the Middle East, Mediterranean, India and China around the 4th century BC. For that reason, they are collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site called The Land of Frankincense. After lunch on board you’ll have a choice of two included tours showcasing different aspects of it. Both tours conclude at the Haffa souk, but begin as follows:

Khor Rori & East Salalah begins with a visit to the pretty white fishing village of Taqah, famous for the dried sardines produced here. Visit Taqah Castle, the former governor’s residence that is filled with art and household artifacts reflecting the traditional Omani way of life. From here you’ll visit the ancient ruins of Sumhuram, also known as Khor Rori, the name of the freshwater lagoon that was Sumhuram’s vital link to the sea. The ruins here include smooth limestone blocks that once lined the city’s gate, fort, well, and storage rooms.

The Frankincense Trail Tour begins with a visit to Nabi Ayoub. It is reputed to be the tomb of the biblical Job, who is considered a prophet in Islam and is also revered for his patience and devotion to God. It is set in the lush green mountains of the Salalah plains, a land of plantations. You’ll stop to taste a fresh coconut water drink at one of the fruit stalls lining the road. Also included is a visit to the Museum of the Frankincense Land at Al Baleed Archaeological Park. If you’re wondering what frankincense smells like, you’ll find out when your tour concludes with a visit to the old Haffa souk, the best and largest in town. The scent of frankincense fills the air as you wander among the many colorful shops selling different grades of the resin, essential oils, decorative burners, and jewelry, handicrafts and more. Riding back to the ship you’ll have a photo stop at Salalah Sultan Qaboos Mosque, as well.

You'll return from your half-day tour in time to re-embark the ship for dinner on board as the ship departs Salalah.

Included Feature:

  • Excursion to East Salalah or The Frankincense Trail

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Visit Taqah Castle and a local souk
  • Sample fresh coconut water from a fruit stall
  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Prepare to be amazed as Oman’s dramatic, rocky coastline opens up to Salalah’s white sand beaches

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAYS 9-12:

Cruise the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea

Enjoy the next few days relaxing on board your floating resort at sea. This is the perfect opportunity to indulge in some spa treatments, do laps in the infinity pool, watch a movie under a canopy of stars on the sun deck, or meet friends for drinks in the lounge. But that’s just the start;

During your time on board there will be an ongoing schedule of enrichment programs featuring cooking classes with special guest chefs, expert lectures on a variety of topics relevant to your exploration, classes, games, and more. Your days ahead will be filled with plenty of discoveries, so think of these sea days as necessary downtime before the excitement to come. 

Vantage Onboard Enrichment:

  • Cooking classes with special guest chefs
  • Expert lectures on various topics
  • Activity classes and games

Included Meals:

4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 Dinners

DAY 13:

Arrive in the Land of Pharaohs

Today you will continue cruising through the Red Sea, arriving around dinner at Safaga.

Prepare for your overnight journey tomorrow into Egypt’s pharaonic past as our expert lecturer delivers a fascinating talk on ancient Egyptian culture.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Lecture on ancient Egyptian culture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 14:

Stay overnight in Luxor, the site of ancient Thebes

You’ll get an early start as we ride across the desert to Luxor, the modern city that straddles the Nile and was once the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes. Inhabited since about 3200 BC, it is still defined by its antique treasures, which include the temples of Karnak and Luxor, and the vast Necropolis of Thebes. Together, they comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site and you will see them all today, with an expert Egyptologist to guide you.

As you approach Luxor you will enter the Necropolis and explore its most famous section, the Valley of the Kings. Here, for some 500 years, more than 60 pharaoh’s temples and burial chambers were cut deep into imposing rock cliffs, decorated with elaborate hieroglyphics, and filled with treasures and royal household implements. You’ll enter some of these magnificent tombs, including those of the powerful King Ramses and the famous boy-king Tutankhamun. You’ll also visit the Valley of the Queens, where archaeologists have unearthed more than 90 tombs of pharaohs’ wives and children.

Perhaps the most beautiful monument of all is the elegant Temple of Hatshepsut at Deir al-Bahri. Carved directly into a rock cliff, it is flanked by symmetrical, colonnaded wings and entered via a long, terraced processional walkway. Hatshepsut was Egypt’s longest-reigning female pharaoh, whose mostly peaceful rule was characterized by prosperity, prolific building, and the establishment of new trade routes. She is considered one of Egypt’s most successful rulers. Leaving the Necropolis you’ll stop at the famous Colossi of Memnon, two gigantic sandstone statues that served as sentries before the (now destroyed) tomb of Amenhotep III. Legend has ascribed oracular powers to them and they have been known to emit a curious whistling or moaning sound under certain conditions. From here you’ll return to the hotel for lunch and respite before the tour continues this evening. 

Achieve another travel milestone this evening when you explore the Temple of Karnak, the world’s second-largest religious structure. Built over 2,000 years, it is still being excavated and of its four known sections, only one is open to the public and that alone encompasses some 61 acres of temples, avenues, obelisks, pylons, sanctuaries, lakes and more. Among its highlights is the Great Hypostyle Hall, supported by a forest of 134 79-foot-high columns set in 16 rows. From here you will check into your deluxe hotel, where dinner will be served.

Learn the history of Karnak, and the fascinating legends of the kings, queens, gods, and goddesses it was dedicated to, at tonight's spectacular Sound & Light show. You’ll wander among the beautifully illuminated temple grounds and the sit beside the Sacred lake as the past comes alive through light, music, story and imagery.

After, you'll enjoy an evening off the ship as you check into your hotel and enjoy dinner there. 

Included Features:

  • Guided tour of the Valley of Kings and Temple of Queen Hatshepsut
  • Visit the Temple of Karnak

Cultural Discovery:

  • Karnak Sound & Light show

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 15:

Explore Luxor Temple and travel overland to meet the Ocean Explorer

Check out of the hotel after breakfast this morning, and then head to the fascinating Luxor Temple.

More compact than Karnak, Luxor was mainly built by Amenhotep III and the great Ramses II, but also boasts shrines built by Tutankhamun and Greece’s Alexander the Great. Later it served as a Roman legionnaire fortress. Luxor was once connected to Karnak by a long, ceremonial avenue lined with sphinxes, many of which still stand.

After exploring the temple you’ll enjoy lunch en route while traveling overland back to our ship, which awaits in the seaside resort of Hurghada. This evening you will be our dinner guest at the Alf Leila Wa Leila, and enjoy its popular Fantasia 1001 extravaganza. Set in a grand theater, this celebration of Egyptian culture covers thousands of years of history through elaborate costumes, music, dance, lights, water works, acrobatics and more. There’s even a display of whirling dervishes and Bedouin horsemanship!

Included Feature:

  • Tour of Luxor Temple

Cultural Discovery:

  • Dinner at Alf Leila Wa Leila with Fantasia 1001 Egyptian cultural show

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 16:

Experience Eilat: Israel Kibbutz or Dolphin Reef tour

Enjoy breakfast this morning as you sail through the Red Sea. Another interesting lecture preludes lunch on board today.

Cruising into the Gulf of Aqaba, you’ll disembark at Eilat, the Israeli seaside resort known worldwide for its desert beauty, clear waters, and excellent diving and snorkeling. You’ll have the chance to enjoy the best of it with a choice of two afternoon sightseeing tours;

Your Kibbutz Yotvata & Hai Bar Safari option takes you into the Negev Desert and the Arava Valley’s Yotvata Hai-Bar animal reserve. Here, endangered and regionally extinct species are being bred and reintroduced into their native habitat. You might see Arabian oryx, Nubian ibex, red-necked ostriches, wild ass, Arabian leopards, griffon vultures and more. Next, ride to Kibbutz Yotvata and experience a slice of life one of the communal settlements that was vital to the formation of modern Israel. Its main industry is a dairy that is famous around Israel for its high-quality yogurt, milk, and ice cream, which you'll get to sample.

If swimming with dolphins is on your bucket list, choose our Dolphin Reef option. You’ll ride to a secluded, horseshoe-shaped lagoon where bottlenose dolphins maintain their daily routine of hunting, playing, courting, and socializing. They are friendly and curious about humans and you can swim and snorkel with them, or watch their antics from various observation piers and platforms. Other denizens of this turquoise lagoon include angelfish, cuttlefish, butterflyfish, and blue- or black-spotted stingrays.

Included Feature:

  • Israel Kibbutz experience or swimming and snorkeling at Dolphin Reef

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Morning sailing into the Gulf of Aqaba

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 17:

Discover the “Rose Red City” of Petra

Today you will accomplish yet another travel milestone. It begins as you enter Jordan in historic Aqaba, where T.E Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) led local Bedouin tribesmen in a historic revolt against their Turkish occupiers. Then, crossing the beautiful desert wadis, you will come to the town of Wadi Musa, home of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Petra that was built by the Nabataen civilization around 300 BC.

Imagine walking along the Siq, a winding, sandy pathway flanked by red rock walls so high and curvy they nearly block the sky. Suddenly, you approach a large, keyhole-shaped opening that reveals a broad plaza and Al Khazneh, the elaborately carved, tiered Treasury building hewn into a cliff wall. Like the other ruins you will see here in Petra, its color shifts from fiery red to soft coral to amber gold depending on the light.


Included Feature:

  • Guided tour of Petra

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 18:

Discover the 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 Explorer 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, perhaps to Cairo. A port talk lets you know what to expect during our upcoming crossing of the astonishing Suez Canal.

Included Feature:

  •   Guided tour of Sharm El Sheikh

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Enjoy the stunning sight of the Red Sea lapping against shores of desert sand as you depart Sharm El Sheikh and circle the Sinai Peninsula

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAYS 19-20:

Crossing the Suez Canal

Prepare yourself for today's travel milestone, and settle in on the sun deck as you traverse the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean Sea.

While at sea, an onboard lecturer will offer poignant lectures on the Suez Canal and the history of the region. You'll also enjoy some onboard entertainment, which has been curated to give you a glimpse of the region's art and culture.

These two days provide the perfect opportunity to savor the easy pace and camaraderie that small ship cruising affords. Your included binoculars will give you 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. A port talk will give you a glimpse of what’s ahead once you reach the Mediterranean.

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, relax by the infinity pool, 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 and the Levant to your experience. We’ll make a brief stop in Port Said before cruising into the Mediterranean.

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Lecture on the Suez Canal
  • Lecture on the history of the Sinai Peninsula
  • Evening onboard entertainment

Scenic Sailing:

  • In between your informative onboard lectures, join your fellow adventures at the inviting lounge areas and use your included binoculars to get a closer view of the desert hills and sands unfolding all around

Included Meals:

2 Breakfasts, 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners

DAY 21:

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 salt waters, where you can test how buoyant they really are. (Don’t forget your swimsuit!)

Following your tour to Jerusalem or Masada, you'll have the opportunity to explore Ashdod with a bit of free time this afternoon. 

Enjoy a pre-dinner lecture about Israel from an expert. Then a port talk fills you on what’s happening tomorrow.

Included Feature:

  •   Full-day excursion to Jerusalem or to Masada and the Dead Sea

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 22:

Uncover a biblical past from 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 taught. 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.

This afternoon’s onboard lecture will illuminate some of what you have seen today. And today’s port talk prepares you for the next unforgettable stop, the fabled island of Cyprus.

Included Features:

  • Full-day Galilee excursion
  • Visit Tabgha and the Mount of the Beatitudes

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 23:

Witness the history and traditions of Cyprus with your choice of tours

Your morning is at leisure today, another ideal opportunity to take a swim, catch up on a book in the sun, or simply sleep late in preparation for a day of discovery. After an early lunch on the ship, 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.
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.

Included Feature:

  •  Half-day tour of Phaphos or Choirokoitia

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Onboard lecture
  • Evening onboard entertainment: Cypriot folklore show

Scenic Sailing:

  • You may also wish to relax on the deck and enjoy the view as Limassol’s sun-kissed coast appears on the horizon

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 24:

Relax on board with a day at sea

Enjoy a day at sea as the Ocean Explorer makes its way into the fabled waters of the Aegean Sea. Visit the spa, get in a workout at the gym, lounge in the swimming pool, relax on the sun deck catching up with a great book, and enjoy the fabulous cuisine the chefs are offering.

Today’s onboard lecture provides more fascinating context to this legendary part of the Mediterranean. And this evening’s port talk previews your next incredible destination; the remarkable island of Rhodes.

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 25:

Explore 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. Your onboard Concierge may suggest a scenic ride to Lindos, where an ancient Acropolis sits atop an ancient rock mound overlooking the sea.

Back on board, learn more about the rich history that has shaped the Aegean. And though nothing can prepare you for the breathtaking sights of our next destination, Ephesus, our port talk will try!

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Rhodes
  • Onboard lecture

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 26:

Step into 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. If you’d like to learn more about Ephesus, seek out your onboard Concierge for a possible excursion to the Basilica of St. John and the House of the Virgin, believed to have been Mary’s last home.

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 you dinner.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day historical tour of Ephesus

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Onboard lecture
  • Dinner prepared by a Turkish master chef
  • Evening onboard entertainment

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 27:

Wander the streets of 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 afternoon, followed this evening by some fun onboard entertainment. Today’s port talk prepares you for the wonders of Santorini, tomorrow’s beguiling destination.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day Mykonos scenic drive & walking tour

Cultural Discoveries:

  • Onboard lecture
  • Evening onboard entertainment

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 28:

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 wonders with a guide, then continue to the beautiful 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. 

If you’re a wine enthusiast, our onboard Concierge may also recommend a visit the Santo Winery or the Prehistoric Museum.

This afternoon, an onboard lecturer adds more enlightenment to your knowledge of the Aegean. Later, a port talk fills you in on what you can expect from our visit to the Cradle of Civilization: Athens. Savor your final dinner on board, with ample options of locally inspired cuisine.

Included Feature:

  • Half-day tour of Akrotiri and Oia

Cultural Discovery:

  • Onboard lecture

Scenic Sailing:

  • Savor your final dinner on board, with ample options of locally inspired cuisine and a stunning last view of Santorini as we navigate past sheer cliffs and the volcanic island of Nea Kameni

Included Meals:

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

DAY 29:

Tour the classical wonders of Athens; disembark the Ocean Explorer

This morning, you’ll arrive in Piraeus and disembark the Ocean Explorer — we hope you enjoyed your time on Vantage's first small ship ocean cruising expedition vessel!

Get ready for 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 Pan Athenian 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.

Included Feature:

  •  Athens sightseeing and walking tour

Included Meals:

Breakfast

DAY 30:

Peel back the rich layers of Athens on your own

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.  

Tonight, celebrate your expedition together during a Farewell Drink and Dinner.

Included Meals:

Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 31:

Return home

After breakfast, transfer to the Athens airport for your return flight home, or continue to Istanbul, Constantinople of old, on our optional post-trip extension.

Please note: Arrive to your destination rested and refreshed! Convenient gateway city stopover options mean you can break up longer flights easily — just ask our Flight Experts for assistance.

Included Meals:

Breakfast

Post-Trip Extension

Istanbul, Turkey

FROM: $1699 PER PERSON | 4 DAYS | $425 PER DAY

Important Notice: The above day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Vantage Cruise Director or regional expert.

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Ancient Ruins & Modern Marvels: Dubai to Athens - 2021

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