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The stunning blues and scattered islands of the Mediterranean

Splendors of the Western Mediterranean

Athens - Valletta - Example 8 Day Cruise aboard Le Jacques Cartier
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Embark on Le Jacques-Cartier for an 8-day voyage between Greece and the majestic Maltese coast, departing from Athens. Explore the monastery and cave where Saint John received his visions on the island of Patmos. This itinerary also includes a tour to Hydra, a lovely island with no motorized traffic. You then cross the Corinth Canal and visit Itea, near Delphi. Next, depart Katakolon for Italy and sail to Syracuse, a UNESCO World Heritage site on the island of Sicily. Unspoiled Gozo has a megalithic site designated by UNESCO. Your cruise concludes in Valletta, the capital and former Knights' stronghold of Malta.
Explore ruins in SicilyThe whitewashed walls of GreeceVisit the ruins of the MediterraneanEnjoying gelato with friendsThe stunning blues and scattered islands of the Mediterranean
Highlights
  • Visit Valletta, Malta's capital voted European Capital of Culture for 2018
  • Admire the picturesque village of Katakolan stretches along the Ionian sea
  • Discover Sicily and its treasures, such as Taormina
  • Experience an unforgettable crossing of the Corinth Canal
Activity Level: Relaxed
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Full Itinerary

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Day 1: Athens, Greece| Embark

The Greek capital city is located on the edge of the Saronic gulf, in the east of the country. It bears a plural name about the first villages that surround the Acropolis. Be enchanted by the rocky plateau presided by its monuments listed as UNESCO World Heritage. In the city below, you can visit some of the liveliest districts in Athens: Plaka, with its maze of colorful streets, and wherein the evenings, the drifting aroma of moussaka and garlic prawns will tickle your taste buds. The National Archaeological Museum and the Cycladic Art Museum are also some of the city’s key attractions and allow visitors to discover Athens’ cultural past.

Day 2: Patmos, Greece

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Patmos is one of the legendary must-see islands in the Dodecanese. This is where Saint John resided, presumed author of the last book in the Bible. The cave of the Apocalypse and the Saint John Monastery is dedicated to him. These sites, which are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage, are located at the top of a hillside planted with vines and orchards. On the shore, the crystalline coves of Kambos and Lampi offer gorgeous swimming areas.

Optional Excursion:

The Byzantine Heritage - board your coach for a drive to the Saint John Monastery. Overlooking Skala port and the island’s southern region this medieval monastery looks more like a fortress than a house of prayer. It was built to repel attacks by pirates. In the year 95 AD, Saint John the Evangelist was banished from Ephesus and exiled to Patmos, which in the days of the Roman Empire was where those who were exiled were sent. In 1088, the Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos authorized Saint Christodoulos, an abbot from Asia Minor, to erect a monastery in memory of Saint John. The whole island was yielded to the monastery. The adjoining Theotokos Chapel has frescoes dating back to the 12th century. Other Byzantine treasures are found in the monastery. Today this holy place is a veritable museum of Byzantine art thanks to the countless frescoes, icons, holy objects and manuscripts contained within its walls.

Saint John Monastery & Apocalypse Cave - After visiting the monastery, a short drive away, will take you to the Apocalypse Cave where the final chapter of the New Testament was revealed to John the Apostle. The Book of Revelation prophecy came to him through a symbolic vision and was written in Greek. This cave was the house of the evangelist and now is surrounded by a monastery and school of theology. You can see the resting place outlined in beaten silver where St John laid his head every night. To the right the rock is shaped like a pulpit and is where the disciple, Prochoros, wrote the revelation as dictated by John.

Photo Safari in Patmos - From the pier, board your minibus to the old village of Chora, the island’s capital and a photographer’s paradise! Your first experience is a panoramic view right over the island and over the 11th century monastery built like a fort, standing with proud dominance. You will be guided through Chora’s labyrinth of winding cobbled streets and maze of arched alleyways. The settlement of white-washed houses dating from 16th century, reflects the light casting shadows and creating geometric patterns. The alleys, arches and doorways display a harmonious balance revealing subtle architectural details which, through your lens, can become exciting atmospheric images trapped in time. You will continue with a short drive to the top of Profit Illias Mountain, the highest point of the island - 880 feet (269 m) above sea level. Continue to Diakofti stopping off to photograph the view of the mystical rock of Petra and then go to a boatyard. Here you will have the opportunity to photograph the local islanders at work and the streamline shapes of vessels in dry dock.

Day 3: Hydra, Greece | Crossing Corinth Canal

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This unusual gem belonging to the Saronic islands is located to the east of the Peloponnese. There are no cars here. Named after the island, the harbor town is layered up the slopes of a mountainous bay. You may be surprised to see beautiful stone mansions. These are traditional here, as are the multi-colored caïques along the quays. Further along the shore, you will discover the Historical Archives Museum. Collections from Athens National History Museum are exhibited in the elegant villa Koundouriotis.

The Corinth Canal cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth, turning the Peloponnese into an island as it separates the region from the Greek mainland. Inaugurated in 1893, the canal is a little over six kilometers long and enables merchant vessels and passengers to avoid a long 400-km detour around the peninsula. The two sides of the canal reach a height of approximately fifty meters. From the exterior decks, don’t miss this unique opportunity to watch the ship as it navigates along the narrow strip of water encased between tall, ochre cliffs. What an experience!

Available Excursion: 

History of Hydra - The charm of Hydra town certainly lies in her rich history, port and waterfront unspoiled by motorised vehicles. This island offers a rugged charm and many scenes to discover. From the pier, follow your guide on a walking exploration through the island's historical landmarks. Your first stop will be the Hydra Museum - Historical Archives where you may admire 19th century paintings of considerable artistic value as well as rich documental and photographic material detailing the long maritime tradition and history of the island. Continuing your walk around the port, you will visit the Church of the Dormitian, which houses icons, chandeliers and other offerings from the wealthy seafarers of the island. It is even said one of the chandeliers was stolen from Louis XIV and given to the church. Enjoy a coffee or a refreshment together with Hydra's local sweet " amygdaloto" at a promenade local coffee shop. Next, take the road uphill to reach Koundouriotis Mansion, one of the finest examples of the traditional 18th and 19th century architecture of Hydra. Built in 1780 by the ship owner Lazaros Koundouriotis, it now houses various items from the National Historical Museum of Athens, such as traditional costumes, jewellery, fine embroideries, pottery and wood-carvings.

Day 4: Itea, Greece

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
Tucked away in the Gulf of Corinth, this little port is situated in continental Greece, northwest of Athens. Take an easy stroll along the old cobblestone quays, while gazing at the summits encircling the Bay of Itea and be tempted by a visit to the Delphi Sanctuary. The sanctuary is located on a plateau on the slope of Mount Parnassus, just ten kilometers from Itea. A listed UNESCO World Heritage site, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The ancient ruins are surrounded by steep mountains, and their Archaeological Museum is chock-full of cultural delights.

Optional Excursions: 

The Monastery of St. Lucas & Arachova Village - From the pier embark your coach for the one-hour drive to the St. Lucas Monastery. On the way, pass by Delphi and Arachova villages. The historic walled monastery is one of the most important monuments of Middle Byzantine architecture and art, and is listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in Greece. Continue your journey with the visit of Arachova village. From the first moment feel a different wind blowing up here, and understand why the locals work so hard to upkeep the area's natural beauty. This town is famous for its carpets and blankets woven by hand and for its wines and cheeses. After a short walking tour and time to browse through the narrow streets with the numerous souvenir and local product shops, return to the ship.

Sacred Site of Delphi - Leave the pier by bus and enjoy a picturesque drive through olive groves before reaching the Archaeological Site. Take the Sacred Way that was followed by ancient pilgrims and visitors to the site. The path begins at the southeast corner of the site and winds its way up the hillside, past ancient treasuries and monuments, to the Temple of Apollo. The exterior was decorated with shields captured from the Persians at Plataea. This temple was also of the Doric order and had 6 columns at the front, and 15 columns at the flanks. Today, you can see one complete column of the facade and portions of five more columns. Also visible are the foundations of the outer colonnade and the interior sekos. Continue your walk and pass the spare ruins of the Senate of Delph by a pile of rocks, marking the site of the early Delphi Oracle which according to legend was guarded by the snake Python. For those who wish to visit the Theatre, continue for another 15 minutes walk. At the end of your visit, join your coach and enjoy magnificent views over the Bay of Itea before reaching the charming town of Delphi. There is free time left to browse the shops before your return.

Day 5: Katakolon, Greece

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
This picturesque village stretches along the Ionian Sea in the west of the Peloponnese. Its main harbor offers a vast panorama of the coastline’s wooded hillsides. Dazzling white, the church of Saint-Nicolas houses a selection of sumptuous icons. You can also pay a visit to the archaeological site of Olympus on the slopes of Mount Kronos.

Available Excursion: 

Olympia & It's Museum - you will board your coach for a drive to the site of Olympia, in the Alpheus valley on the slopes of Mount Cronion. Entering the Olympia sanctuary is like going back nearly 2,800 years in time, when the first edition of the Olympic Games took place in the 7th century BC. With every step, you will discover Olympia's numerous treasures: temples, altars, theaters, and marble and bronze statues. The location is an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1989. The Altis enclosed a leveled space about 200 meter long and 177 meter wide, dedicated to the main center of worship and the buildings associated with the organization of the games. The oldest of the great Greek temples is the Temple of Hera, which is probably the first known Doric building, built around 600 BC. It houses the table on which garlands for the winners were prepared. The most celebrated of the temples of Zeus is located here in Olympia, and once featured an ivory and gold statue of the god, a masterpiece by the sculptor Phidias made in 436 BC. The temple was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Next to it is the Zeus altar where offerings were made in honor of the god. The votive temples comprised a row of chapels referred to as the "Treasure houses", which received the Greek people's offerings. Below the terrace of Treasure houses you will note the presence of a row of 16 statues of Zeus, paid for with money from heavy fines imposed by the Olympic judges on athletes who cheated or attempted to win by devious means. Outside to the east of the Altis were the access tunnel to the stadium, which had a large racetrack of 192.25 meters, and the hippodrome where the sporting events took place. The terraced seats of the stadium could accommodate 40,000 spectators.

Day 6: Syracuse, Sicily

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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 civilizations, each of which has left its mark. The blend of Arabic, Roman, Norman, Byzantine and Spanish cultures makes Syracuse a town that is extraordinarily rich in fragrances, colors, and flavors.

Optional Excursions: 

Nato, Baroque Town - Depart by coach from the port through the countryside, passing through villages and almond groves as you make your way to Noto, the second largest town in Syracuse province and the best example of Sicilian Baroque architecture on the island. You will cross on foot the Public Gardens, where it is possible to admire the busts of the artists who contributed to Noto’s urban culture and style. Besides the 18th century Cathedral, currently under restoration after damage suffered during 1990 earthquake, other impressive buildings are the Churches of St Domenico and of St Charles (del Colleggio), the “Ducezio” Palace and “Villadorata” Palace.
Noto has been declared a Heritage site by UNESCO, who also provides financial support for the reconstruction of monuments destroyed during 1990 earthquake.

Archaeological Site & Ortygia - Depart the pier by coach and drive to the archaeological area, which you will reach after a short drive. Visit the Roman Amphitheatre of Augustus, used for fights between gladiators and wild beasts, the Altar of Hieron, constructed in the 2nd century BC to celebrate the “Eleutherian Feast”, the Latomie of Paradise, huge caverns once used as prisons, the Ear of Dionysius, an enormous grotto with extraordinary echo and the Greek Theatre, one of the largest in the Hellenic World, constructed in the 5th century BC and successively enlarged. Upon completion of the visit, re-board your coach for the short drive to Ortygia, which you will visit on foot. On Ortygia Island discover the Piazza Pancali (the ruins of the Temple of Apollo of the 6th century BC), Corso Matteotti, Archimede’s Place, Piazza Duomo. Visit the Cathedral in Baroque style, erected over the remains of the Doric Temple of Minerva: in the interiors, see the undamaged twelve Doric columns. Then visit the fountain of Arethusa, the nymph praised by Pindar and Virgilio in one of the most touching and fine myths. Several nobility palaces – majority of them originating in the 15th and 16th centuries – will be seen from outside during the walking tour.

Day 7: Mgarr, Gozo Island| Valleta

  • Ship
  • 1 Breakfast, 1 Lunch, 1 Dinner
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.

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.

 

Day 8: Valleta | 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.

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Le Jacques Cartier - Panorama View

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Included
  • 7 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
  • 7 Nights Accommodations
  • Accommodations as listed
  • Ground transportation as listed
  • Excursions and activities as listed
  • Meals as listed
  • Port Fees
  • Unlimited Free 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. 
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  • Personal Expenses
  • Flight costs (please request a quote)
  • Additional excursions during free time
  • Fuel and transportation surcharges (when applicable)
  • Visa Fees
  • 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

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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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