Setting sail from Athens (Piraeus)
Athens is a city awash with historical and cultural significance. Towering over the city are the gleaming columns of the Parthenon, surely one of the most iconic sights in the whole of Europe. And yet Athens is much more than an open air museum; this is a dynamic, bustling metropolis, and a place where history is still very much unfolding. For all its faults, the Greek capital possesses an energy and an optimism that are manifest in everything from the burgeoning art scene to the restaurants and bars that continue to pop up on a regular basis.
Once you have seen the essentials, explore further afield and you will immediately escape the tourist crowds. Visit Kerameikos cemetery, for example, or Mount Lycabettus.
Nafplion is one of the most beautiful cities on the Greek mainland, situated on the Argolic Gulf overlooked by the imposing Palamidi Fortress. The narrow streets of the old town are home to a beguiling mix of Venetian, Turkish and Greek architecture, while just offshore is the little island castle of Bourtzi.
Greece: Katakolon (Olympia)
The little seaside town of Katakolon, on the western coast of the Peloponnese, is the gateway to ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Games and the place where the Olympic flame begins its journey every four years. Make the most of your visit with a guided tour of the ruins, and don’t miss the treasures of the Archaeological Museum.
Corfu, known as Kerkyra in Greek, is a beautiful island of verdant hills and rocky coves, and away from the more crowded resorts it remains a sleepy and idyllic place. Don’t miss the picturesque Venetian architecture of Corfu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Calabrian city of Crotone was once an important Greek colony, home to the mathematician Pythagoras, and some ruins still survive at Capo Colonna, to the south of the modern city. Another popular excursion is a visit to the fishing village of Le Castella, where a fairytale castle sits on an island at the end of a narrow causeway.
Italy: Siracusa (Sicily)
The picturesque little town of Amalfi was once a major Mediterranean naval power, but a devastating earthquake in 1343 cut the city down in its prime and destroyed most of its historic buildings. These days, of course, Amalfi is best known for the eponymous stretch of stunning coastline on which it sits.
Italy: Rome (Civitavecchia)
One of the world’s great cities, Rome continues to dazzle and delight visitors with a potent mix of architectural marvels, continent-defining history and buzzing nightlife. The Colosseum, the Vatican and the Forum are among the big ticket items, with the crowds to match, though in truth you will find history around almost every corner.
Italy: Portoferraio (Elba)
The island of Elba, just off the Tuscan coast, is where Napoleon Bonaparte was famously forced to live in exile between 1814-15. It’s hard to feel too sorry for him, though; the views from his plush Villa dei Mulini, situated high above the town of Portoferraio, are quite spectacular.
The UNESCO World Heritage-listed centre of Naples rewards exploration, and in addition to the many cultural treasures waiting to be unearthed Neapolitans are rightly proud of their food; this is where you’ll find the best pizza in Italy. The city also acts as a gateway to the fascinating remains of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the beautiful Amalfi coast.
Taormina enjoys a truly spectacular setting on Sicily’s east coast, perched on a mountainside looking out towards the smouldering Mount Etna. The medieval streets are pleasant but often crowded in high season, so we’d recommend getting out and exploring the surrounding countryside.
Gozo is Malta’s laid back little sister, a sleepy island characterised by ruggedly beautiful coastline, medieval citadels and prehistoric temples. It’s also a popular destination for divers, with some of the most spectacular underwater scenery anywhere in the Mediterranean.
Malta’s tiny capital, established by the Knights of St John, packs in an awful lot of history considering its diminutive size. The atmospheric old streets, bathed in Mediterranean sunshine, are full of attractive honey-golden buildings, along with an impressive selection of bars and restaurants.
Bonifacio sits atop brilliant white limestone cliffs on the southern tip of Corsica, with the harbour down below filled with fishing boats and glitzy yachts. The town's history as a Genoese stronghold, along with its proximity to Sardinia, means that the Italian influence is strong here.
Arriving in Barcelona
Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia, is one of our favourite ports of call. From the warren-like medieval streets of the Barri Gòtic to the fantastical modernist architecture of Antoni Gaudí, from the dizzy heights of Mount Tibidabo to the golden sands of Barceloneta, there's never a dull moment in this most beguiling of cities. Take a stroll along the Ramblas, soak up the wonderful art of Picasso and Miró, or watch Lionel Messi work his mesmerising magic at the Camp Nou. Barcelona is truly a city with something for everyone.
Gaudí’s crowning masterpiece, the church of La Sagrada Familia, is an utterly unique building, a soaring structure that’s rich in bizarre little details. It’s also still not finished; despite the fact that construction began in 1882, the current completion date is scheduled for 2026!
Your home from home
Once again Seabourn leaps ahead, expanding the most modern luxury fleet with the innovative Seabourn Encore and Ovation.
What we love
When Seabourn introduced the three sisters, they changed the face of luxury cruising. Seabourn Encore (and her sister Seabourn Ovation, due to be completed in 2018), with 604 guests on board, will take things a step further, with lots of new thinking and special additions, continuing Seabourn's magical ability to surprise and delight.
The contemporary décor appeals to a sophisticated and cosmopolitan crowd. With lots of outside space, you can enjoy an al fresco experience if you choose.
|Year launched||2016 (Seabourn Encore) / 2018 (Seabourn Ovation)|
Tailor-make your trip
Extend your stay in Athens
At Mundy, we have long been hunting for the perfect Athenian hotel - our favourite so far is the Electra Palace in Plaka.
Excursions from Athens
Delphi is an absolute must – you’ll need a full day though, it’s quite a drive.
Where to stay in Barcelona
The lovely Hotel Arts on the sea front is perfectly located for a pre- or post-cruise stay, and has great restaurants too.
Take a day trip to the attractive city of Girona, with its fascinating mix of Gothic, Moorish and Modernist architecture, as well as an exceptionally well preserved Jewish Quarter.