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Culture and Islands of the Mediterranean

Barcelona - Valletta - Example 12 Day Cruise aboard L'Austral
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Embark on a 12-day cruise from Barcelona to the Maltese coast aboard L’Austral, in partnership with Relais & Châteaux. This journey offers a blend of culinary and cultural experiences, with an included excursion per person at each port of call. Highlights include Menorca's rich history, Alghero's medieval fortifications, Cagliari's old town, Trapani's medieval streets, Palermo's vibrant markets and historical sites, Lipari's natural beauty, Catania's cultural richness, and Syracuse's historic Ortygia. The cruise concludes in Gozo, home to a UNESCO-listed complex, and ends in Valletta, Malta's historic capital.
barcelona buildingRelax on the sunny shores of SardiniaExplore the history of SardiniaExplore ruins in SicilyMount Etna looms over an ancient townTaormina port with planters seen commonly around SicilyThe rocky cliffs of Calabria, ItalyExplore Mediterranean architectureCoast of Ortigia island at city of SyracuseExplore the colorful city of Valletta
Highlights
  • Visit Balearic Islands and explore Mahon's rich history and large port
  • Explore Alghero's medieval fortifications and Cagliari's historic old town
  • Discover Trapani's medieval streets, Palermo's vibrant markets and Lipari
  • Experience Catania's cultural richness on Mount Etna's slopes
  • Explore Ortygia's historic streets in Syracuse
  • Conclude in Valletta and Gozo, explore its UNESCO-listed megalithic complex
Places Visited
Activity Level: Variable
Activity options vary depending on destination and operator. Activity level is determined by the range and intensity of activities you choose to participate in. Discuss with your Trip Planner which options are best for you.
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Barcelona | Embark

Nestled between the mountains of Montjuïc and Tibidabo along the coast, Barcelona provides visitors with a perfect mix of tradition and modernity. As an open-air museum, this "prodigious town" showcases an impressive array of artistic treasures and museums, featuring Roman ruins, medieval districts, and avant-garde elements from the 20th century. Influenced by renowned artists like Picasso, Miró, and Gaudí—whose works are largely recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites—Barcelona invites you to explore its vibrant culture. Take a leisurely stroll along the Ramblas and soak in the relaxed, typically Mediterranean atmosphere of Catalonia's capital.

Day 2: Mahon, Balearic Islands

You'll be greeted by Mahon's colorful houses, narrow streets, and charming squares as you explore this diverse city. Mahon showcases various neighborhoods with a mix of monuments, villas, and white buildings. Visit the Santa Maria church, a neo-Gothic inspired structure rebuilt in the 18th century, famous for its monumental organ with over 3,000 pipes and four keyboards. Nearby, around the Carmen church, discover a local market with stands selling avarcas, traditional Menorcan sandals originally crafted by peasants. Immerse yourself in the charm of this Mediterranean gem.

Included Excursions: 
Menorca and Talayotic Culture 
Discover Ciutadella
Menorca Natural and Cultural Delights

Day 3: Alghero, Sardinia

Located on the north-west coast of Sardinia, Alghero offers you traces of Sardinian culture combined with vestiges from a Catalan past. Here, many inhabitants speak the Algherese dialect, a variant of Catalan, as well as Catalan itself. A walk along the well-preserved medieval ramparts will give you a panoramic view of the town. The streets in the historical centre bear witness to its rich past, from Santa Maria Cathedral to numerous palaces dating from different eras.

Included Excursions: 
Alghero and Nuraghe 

Day 4: Cagliari, Sardinia

The capital of Sardinia, Cagliari, like Rome, is built on seven hills. Its Sardinian name means “castle”, in reference to the citadel, its historic centre, which dominates the city. The old ramparts are now pleasant panoramic terraces bordering picturesque streets. The city hosted the Nuragic, Phoenician, Roman and Byzantine civilisations before the rein of the Spanish Hapsburgs and the House of Savoy. The monuments of Cagliari bear the traces of these successive dominations, such as the Bastion of Saint-Rémy or the Sainte-Marie Cathedral. On the sea front, Art Nouveau-style public monuments give way to the Poetto beach, a magnificent stretch of sand that is 8 kilometres long.

Included Excursions: 
Cagliari and the Ancient Roman City of Nora 
San Sperate, the Museum-Village 

Day 5: Trapani, Sicily

Bathed in the cobalt waters of the Tyrrhenian sea, Trapani is the former port of the Greek city of Erice, boasting a privileged natural position in western Sicily. As you wander through its little streets, you will discover a secular cultural heritage, bearing witness to the many influences of civilisations that came here: San Lorenzo Cathedral, Maria Santissima Annunziata sanctuary, the fountain of Triton. On the shaded restaurant terraces, savour some fresh fish from the morning’s catch. Or else you can opt for a seafood couscous, a culinary legacy from their Arab neighbours.

Included Excursions: 
Erice 
Segesta 

Day 6: Palermo, Sicily

Off the coast of Split, Hvar will surprise you with its traditions that haven’t changed since Antiquity. The country’s oldest town, Stari Grad, is here on this Dalmatian Island. The town nestles by a cove on the northwest coast, surrounded by dry stone wall structures on the Stari Grad plains. These have been designated UNESCO World Heritage sites because they were built in the time of the Ancient Greeks.  From these parcels of land come wines and olive oil manufactured manually. In the upper part of town, it is possible to discover hams and cheeses made by local producers.

Included Excursions: 
Cefalu 
Palermo & Monreale 

Day 7: Lipari, Aeolian Islands

Of the seven Aeolian islands, this is the largest and the most populated. Lying off the north coast of Sicily, in the Tyrrhenian sea, Lipari is one of UNESCO’s marvellous World Heritage sites. Its lava stone quarries and obsidian flow of Rocce Rosse are indications of its volcanic nature. The town, the largest urban area in the whole archipelago, proudly houses its citadel and its castle, both rooted in Antiquity. If you head further into the centre, you’ll be surprised to come across a Norman cathedral, complete with a magnificent baroque façade.

Included Excursions: 
Panorama of the Aeolian Islands 

Day 8: Reggio di Calabria

At the southern tip of the Italian boot, Reggio di Calabria guards the eastern shore of the Strait of Messina. From the lungomare, the sea front promenade, there are magnificent views over Sicily, a little over 3 km away, and Etna. Rebuilt after the 1908 earthquake, Reggio is set out in a grid pattern and has Art Nouveau and Belle Époque architecture that add to its charm. And the fragrance of bergamot, the citrus fruit that dominates the region’s confectionery and perfumery. A visit to the National Archaeological Museum is a must. It is one of the most important in Italy and among its collections are the famous Riace Bronzes, the stunning Greek statues dating from the 5th century BC that were found off the coast in 1972.

Included Excursions: 
Bronzi di Riace & Scilla
 

Day 9: Catania, Sicily

Sicily’s second city Catania is dominated by the majestic silhouette of Mount Etna. Nourishing and devastating at the same time, this giant crowned with smoke rings brought about the destruction of the city at the end of the 17th century. Catania was then rebuilt in the late Baroque style, and the many monuments of this epoch have earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The baroque churches of the harmonious Via dei Crociferi perfectly illustrate the riches of this architectural heritage. During your stop, be sure to visit Saint Agatha Cathedral with its apses made of lava stones, and its square decorated with a fountain of the Elephant, the animal which allegedly has the power to calm the fury of Mount Etna 

Included Excursions: 
Taormina & the Ancient Theate

Day 10: Syracuse, Sicily

Its undulating rocky coastline, the endless sandy beaches, the menacing form of Mount Etna which surveys its island like a patriarch, the flowery gardens on the hillside... Sicily lays out its varied landscapes like a shopkeeper displays his wares. Described by Cicero as “the most beautiful city in the world”, Syracuse was one of the most prestigious cities in Sicily and at her height was even a rival for Athens. A central city of Ancient Greece, it was home to a succession of civilisations, each of which has left their mark. The blend of Arabic, Roman, Norman, Byzantine and Spanish cultures makes Syracuse a town that is extraordinarily rich in fragrances, colours and flavours.

Included Excursions: 
Archaeological Site & Ortygia

Day 11: Gozo

Located to the north of Malta, a lot less urbanized than its larger sibling and protected from mass tourism, the small island of Gozo has managed to remain natural and authentic. Lush hills and valleys alternate with a mosaic of cultivated fields. The buildings, some of which are medieval, are built from honey-colored limestone and blend in perfectly with the surrounding scenery. Gozo also boasts a unique historic site that is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: the megalithic temples of Ggantija near the town of Xaghra. An archaeological museum adjoining the site presents a number of objects that were found there. Red-sand beaches and a crystal-clear sea add to the calm and serenity of Gozo.

Included Excursions: 
Ggantija Temples & Wine Tasting 

Day 12: Valletta | Disembark

  • 1 Breakfast
The whole of the Maltese capital Valletta is UNESCO World Heritage listed and occupies a peninsula in the north-east of the island. From the fountain of Tritons to Saint-Elme fort, there are as many majestic streets as there are narrow staircase vennels to explore. The painted loggia and carved corbels on the tall houses will accompany you in your explorations, and you’ll rarely be bothered by traffic. You can visit the Grandmasters palace decorated with coats of arms and frescoes. Saint-John’s cathedral and the ramparts which have guarded the city since the 16th century are also among the most emblematic sites of the city. Arranged in terraces, the Barrakka Gardens will punctuate your promenade with a green and floral experience.

Ship/Hotel

L'Austral

Enjoy a gourmet meal at the Gastronomic Restaurant.
Stunning views from the bar and lounge
Relax on the sun deck.

Dates & Prices

My Preferred Start Date

Per person starting at
$7,370 2-3 travelers
Rates are dynamic and fluctuate based on capacity. Contact us for a specific quote.
Superior Stateroom
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Superior Stateroom
8 cabins, 226 sq ft, located on Le Champollion Deck. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area and private bath.
Deluxe Stateroom
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Deluxe Stateroom
28 cabins, 200 sq ft with private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 4
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 5
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Prestige Stateroom
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Prestige Stateroom - Deck 6
200 sq ft with 43 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, private bath.
Deluxe Suite
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Deluxe Suite
3 suites, 290 sq ft with 54 sq ft private balcony, located on the Le France Deck. A/C, king or twin beds, seating area, desk, minibar, private bath.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite - Deck 5
398 sq ft with 86 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living area, private bath.
Prestige Suite
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Prestige Suite - Deck 6
398 sq ft with 86 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living area, private bath.
Owner's Suite
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Owners Suite
484 sq ft with 97 sq ft private balcony. A/C, king or twin beds, communicating cabins available. Separate living, dining areas, private bath with large tub and shower, minibar, 2 flat screen TVs, DVD, CD, and IPOD, Video on demand, Satellite phone

Notes

Please note:
Fares are based on double occupancy and are capacity controlled. Rates may increase at any time as the ship sells out and subject to change without notice.
Included
  • 11 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, 11 Dinners
  • 11 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Access to a 24-7 Emergency line while traveling
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Wifi
  • Onboard Entertainment 
  • Captain’s Welcome Cocktail and Gala Dinner
  • Gratuities to Onboard Crew
  • “Open Bar” (pouring wines, house champagne, alcohol except premium brands...list available upon request)
  • 24h Room Service (special selection)
  • English-Speaking Lecturer 
  • Highly experienced and bilingual (French-English) expedition staff
  • Park Entry Fees into Protected Areas
  • Water sports activities (except scuba diving) using the ship’s equipment, when permitted by local authorities and confirmed by ship Master according to safety and sea conditions onsite. 
Excluded
  • Travel Insurance
  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • Optional Excursions - Ponant allows you to pre-book your excursions approximately six to two months prior to the cruise* departure. Please note that this is subject to change. Please contact us for more details.
  • Any ground services before and/or after the cruise other than the ones mentioned
  • Luggage Handling 
  • Laundry Services, Hair Salon, and à La Carte Spa Treatments
  • Pre or post cruise programs, overland programs or shore excursions 
  • Beverages other than the ones mentioned in inclusions
  • CDP recommends that every Traveler has full and adequate travel insurance covering the risks of cancellation, assistance being required, repatriation, damages to and loss of baggage, and medical expenses

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Everything was amazing! The planning with Adventure Life went smoothly. The actual trip was fantastic! One of the best trips I have experienced. The cruise staff members were knowledgeable and attentive. I will be writing more about this on the blog!
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