This 10-night voyage is dedicated to the exploration of two fiercely independent islands–Sardinia and Corsica. These islands share many historic elements through millennia of empires and civilizations, but still, maintain their identities and independent attitudes from their governing nations of Italy and France respectively. The platform for our exploration is the incomparable and legendary square-rig sailing yacht Sea Cloud. Plenty of time is built in to enjoy the sailing action of Sea Cloud under sail and all the other comforts of this historic vessel and its congenial crew, as well as the expert National Geographic staff. The voyage departs and returns to Naples, Italy, allowing the time and space for ample sailing around these spectacular and intriguing islands.
Discover Sardinia’s spectacular capital city of Cagliari
Visit the Archaeological Park of Santa Cristina and Nuraghe Losa
Enjoy the medieval city of Alghero and its Catalan influence
Admire Bonifacio, one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful towns
Fly overnight and arrive in Naples. Board the legendary Sea Cloud and cast off from Naples’ active harbor. We’ll pass by the rugged coast of the island of Capri at sunset as we enter the Tyrrhenian Sea.
Join the expedition leader for a play-by-play description of the crew in the rigging and the action of the setting of square sails, staysails, and jibs as Sea Cloud shows her full glory. Bask in the comfort and intrigue of this legendary and historic square-rigger—enjoy delicious meals, complimentary drinks, and talks by the expedition staff as we sail toward Sardinia.
We dock in Sardinia’s capital of Cagliari on the south end of the island, dominated by its hilltop medieval Castello. In the morning we drive inland to the archaeological centerpiece of Su Nuraxi in Barumini, which is the most well-preserved of the Bronze Age nuraghi, or stone fortresses, that characterize both Sardinia and Corsica from the enigmatic civilizations that inhabited these islands over 3,000 years ago. Su Nuraxi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the largest and most well preserved of them all, and the morning will serve as an introduction to the history, culture, and landscape of Sardinia.
Return to Sea Cloud for lunch, and in the afternoon visit the impressive Roman Amphitheater in Cagliari, which is carved into the sloping limestone hill at the edge of the city. Continue to the outstanding National Archaeological Museum in the medieval Castello before taking a walking tour of the old town.
We set sail again for the full morning, then enter the large western bay of Oristano to dock for the afternoon. Visit the Archaeological Park of Santa Cristina and Nuraghe Losa before enjoying some local food and entertainment. Dinner is served on board Sea Cloud as we sail to our next destination.
Anchor this morning off the northwest medieval city of Alghero, which reveals its historic Catalan influence and is still sometimes referred to as “Barceloneta.” The attractive old town is a joy to explore on foot, as are the protective sea walls. Local guides will give us a walking orientation to the old town to start the day. Next, travel to nearby Ledà d'Ittiri estate for a wine tasting and tour. In the afternoon we’ll take a local boat out to the dramatic Capo Caccia peninsula to visit the colorful and expansive cave of Neptune’s Grotto. Return to Sea Cloud and sail by the dramatic cliffs of Capo Caccia in the golden sunset light on our way toward Corsica.
Wake up to the sunrise over the layered cliffs of Bonifacio. Enter the small and spectacular narrow harbor to dock and enjoy the day in one of the Mediterranean's most beautiful towns. Begin with a walking orientation to the Citadel, established by the powerful margraves of Tuscany in the 9th century. The rest of the morning is devoted to enjoying one of the most beautiful towns of the Mediterranean.
In the afternoon we’ll offer an option to drive inland to some of the menhir standing stone alignments of the Sartène region of Corsica, or to experience the characteristic Corsican maquis, the herbal scrubland with stunning fragrances.
The rock formations of Les Calanques de Piana are some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the Mediterranean. Les Calanques de Piana are karst limestone rock ravines that have been shaped by wind and water erosion, and the Calanques de Piana in Corsica are deservedly designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our morning is devoted to this landscape and the delightful town of Piana, set in the midst of this disorienting labyrinth of rock formations.
We access Les Calanques via Arone Beach or via the port of Ajaccio, depending on weather conditions. In either instance, the scenery and the accompanying fragrance of the maquis and the pure, clean air are unforgettable highlights.
The gorgeous crescent bay, with its narrow white sand beach and the prominent Genoese citadel have made the northwest Corsican town of Calvi a renowned summer resort destination for the last century. In the shoulder seasons it is a very pleasant town in a lovely setting to explore on foot, starting at the hilltop citadel with its ethnographic museum and medieval shops and alleys. Work your way back down to the Port de Plaisance waterfront, where you will board Sea Cloud. This afternoon, we sail north around Cap Corse.
With hopes for an overnight sail, we keep the morning free to continue sailing on the northeast side of Corsica toward the port of Bastia, where we dock for the afternoon. Explore Bastia, made up of the upper Terra Nova citadel and the lower working district of Terra Vecchia with its lively food and fish markets. Or, opt to drive north to explore the wild nature of Cap Corse, which is the protruding mountainous peninsula of north Corsica, before returning for an evening in Bastia. (B,L,D)
We spend the final full day on Sea Cloud, hopefully enjoying the ship under full sail, reflecting on our visits to the unique and extraordinary islands of Sardinia and Corsica, and sorting our photos for the evening’s “guest slide show” of favorite photos contributed by all of our shipmates.
Day 11: Naples | Disembark
Disembark in the port of Naples this morning and transfer to the airport for your flights home.
Our guide and driver were very good with their knowledge and were very helpful with our questions. It was a very pleasant visit that would have been impossible to do on our own. Hotels and restaurants were fantastic. The special places we got to go to, like the kitchens, were great. Enjoyed the entire trip!