Arrive in Dubrovnik and transfer to your hotel with the afternoon at your leisure. Gather at the hotel this evening for a welcome briefing and dinner.
Spend the day exploring many of Dubrovnik’s highlights including the main square; the 14th-century Dominican Monastery; the Franciscan Monastery and its Romanesque cloister; and the Cathedral, completed in 1713. Or, walk along the city’s southern walls with beautiful views of the fortress and old Dubrovnik’s terracotta rooftops.
After lunch, enjoy free time on your own to get better acquainted with the city's lovely medieval center.
Venture into the surrounding countryside, passing lovely traditional villages and farms en route to the charming town of Cavtat. Stroll along the harbor, browse the lively market, and enjoy views of photogenic red-roofed houses flanked by shimmering blue waters and green, forested mountains. Return to Dubrovnik to board the Variety Voyager in the afternoon, and enjoy lovely sunset views of the city as the ship cruises through the stunning harbor.
Disembark in Sibenik, Croatia's oldest settled town, and enjoy a delightful nature hike in Krka National Park. Return to Sibenik for a walking tour and visit the town's crowning glory and World Heritage Site: St. James Cathedral. A 15th-century masterpiece, the cathedral is adorned with a remarkable frieze of 71 finely sculpted faces of men, women, and children that highlight the superb blending of Gothic and Renaissance architecture.
The port of Split was once an important center of Dalmatia. Take a walking tour of the city, which was built by the Emperor Diocletian. Tour the palace, its cellars, the cathedral, and sprawling courtyards from which flow the streets and buildings of medieval Split which remain the soul of its bustling daily life. Alternatively, visit ancient Solin, the archaeological site of the ancient Roman settlement of Salona, where excavations have revealed temples, an amphitheater, early Christian churches, and Roman baths. Return to the ship for lunch and cruise through Croatia's lovely off-shore islands to Hvar. Visit the beautiful town square and the Arsenal, which was built in 1612. Visit the Benedictine Nuns Museum to learn about lace made from the fibers of the agave plant, a tradition dating back to the Renaissance and unique to this island. Enjoy free time to explore, with the option to dine ashore on your own.
Relax on deck as the magnificent Dalmatian Coast unfolds in scenic splendor. Historically, Dalmatia lay at the crossroads of empires—invaded by waves of conquerors from Illyrians to Austrians. In Kotor, witness the same beautiful scenery that captivated kings for centuries. At this World Heritage Site explore luxurious palaces, towers, and Romanesque and Gothic churches. Enjoy time at leisure before re-boarding the Variety Voyager.
Begin your fascinating discovery of Albania, a land of splendid terrain and historical monuments. Disembark in the port of Durres and drive inland to Tirana, Albania's capital city. Visit the museum and the city's bustling quarters, an intriguing mix of Ottoman buildings, Christian cathedrals, and marketplaces. After lunch at a local restaurant, visit Kruja Fortress, a fortified citadel with nine observation towers built during the 5th and 6th centuries. Perched high on a mountain spur, the fortress is famed for the resistance of the Albanians, led by national hero Skanderbeg, against the Ottomans in the mid-15th century. Time permitting, explore Albania’s largest Roman amphitheater near Durres' seaport.
Today visit the World Heritage Site of Butrint, a veritable chronological repository of its various inhabitants: Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians. Among its archaeological highlights are the baptistery with its colorful floor mosaics, superb amphitheater, and medieval fortress. From the ruins, take in the splendid views of the surrounding mile-high mountains.
Attend lectures and enjoy the ship’s amenities during a relaxing day at sea.
Dating from the 5th century B.C., Syracuse was one of the most powerful Greek cities—defending its sovereignty against rivals such as Carthage, the Etruscans, and the Romans, who later overcame the city in 212 B.C., followed by the Arabs. Tour the Saint John Catacombs, with their maze of underground passageways, and the Archaeological Park, a World Heritage Site. Highlights include the Roman Amphitheater of Augustus; the Ear of Dionysius, a grotto with an extraordinary echo; and the massive 15,000-seat Greek Theater. Return to the ship, at port in Ortygia, for lunch, before striking out for a walking tour of the old town. Highlights include the ruins of the 6th-century B.C. Apollo Temple—the oldest in Sicily—and the Piazza Duomo, built around the ancient Temple of Minerva (Athena).
Disembark in Licata for a short tour of the town center. A scenic drive through rolling countryside brings you to the Butera Winery and Villa for a lunch of delicious Sicilian fare, accompanied by local wines. Then enjoy a guided tour of Agrigento, a World Heritage Site. The exquisite architecture of the Valley of the Temples dates back to the 4th and 5th centuries B.C. and includes the Temple of Zeus—the largest Doric temple from Greek antiquity.
Spend a full day exploring historic Valletta, a World Heritage Site. The Knights of St. John built Valletta in the 16th century, constructing an impregnable fortress-like town in a strategic harbor-ringed setting. Their auberges—large inns where they lived—remain intact. A city tour highlights the fortress, bastions, ramparts, churches, and the national museum. Continue to the Tarxien Temples, a series of monolithic edifices built between 2400 and 1800 B.C. Return to the ship for dinner, or choose to dine on your own at one of the many charming seaside restaurants.
Disembark the Variety Voyager in the morning and transfer to the airport for your independent onward flights.