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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.
Alexandria was one of the great cities of antiquity, founded by Alexander the Great in 331 BC and home to the Pharos lighthouse, one of the original Seven Wonders of the World. The Pharos is long gone and the city has lost some of its lustre, but there are still plenty of reminders of Alexandria’s glorious past scattered around.
Egypt: Port Said (Cairo)
Port Said is the gateway to Egypt's capital, Cairo. Obviously the highlight of your visit may well be the Pyramids and Sphinx at Giza, but on no account neglect a visit to the Egyptian Museum, which has a truly stupendous collection of ancient artefacts, not least, of course, the Tutankhamen treasures.
Israel: Ashdod (Jerusalem)
It's difficult to overstate the spiritual significance of Jerusalem, a holy city to three different faiths: Christianity, Islam and Judaism. Whatever your personal beliefs, it's impossible not to be moved by sights such as the Wailing Wall, the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Haifa is Israel’s third city, a bustling and multicultural place where six different faiths live side by side. The city is the spiritual centre of the Baha’i Faith, and the beautiful Baha’i Gardens are a must-see. Many cruise visitors opt to skip Haifa and take an excursion to Jerusalem and Bethlehem, two to three hours’ drive away.
The buzzing city of Limassol is southern Cyprus’ main port, an important commercial hub that overflows with bars, restaurants and tavernas. It’s also home to a pleasant old town and medieval castle, and serves as an excellent base for exploring the nearby Troodos mountains.
Alanya has a reputation as a brash resort town, but there are still remnants of its fascinating history. This was a key bastion of the Seljuk Turks as they spread west into Anatolia, and you can visit the fortress and walls that they built to defend the city. Other sights include the Kizil Kule, an octagonal 13th-century tower by the harbour.
Antalya is the biggest and busiest city on the Turkish Riviera, though there’s more to this place than just roasting on a beach. The historic Kaleiçi district is full of lovingly restored Ottoman mansions, and top attractions include the superb collection of classical treasures at the Antalya Museum, with pieces from the nearby archaeological sites of Perge and Aspendos.
Busy, noisy and a little bit scruffy, Catania is Sicily’s second city, poised perilously in the shadow of Mount Etna. In recent years gentrification has taken hold, and the city’s many beautiful palazzi and baroque churches have been restored to their former glory. Eating out here is also a real treat.
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.
Arriving in 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. As the saying goes, the city wasn't built in a day, and if you want to make the most of Rome you'll need to spend at least a couple of nights here. 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.
The Via Appia - this ancient Roman road is now part of a national park, and closed to car traffic on Sundays. Take a picnic, stroll, and visit the extraordinary catacombs.
Your home from home
The Azamara Journey, Quest & Pursuit are excellent small ships that offer a welcoming and relaxed club-like atmosphere.
What we love
This trio of sister ships are focused on providing destination immersion by spending as much time in port as possible with itineraries designed to include overnight stays and late evening departures. Enjoy more time to discover the local culture and when back on board relax and enjoy a vibrant array of inclusions.
|Crew:||408 International staff|
|Style:||Relaxed club-like atmosphere|
|Year built:||Journey & Quest 2000, Pursuit 2001|
|Last refurbished:||Journey & Quest 2016, Pursuit 2018|
|Cruising speed:||18.5 knots|
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.
Extend your stay in Rome
There are so many great hotels but we particularly love the Campo de’ Fiori, for its great location in the centre of everything.
Beat the queues
Get a private guide to help you jump the queues into the Vatican who can whizz you through the galleries to see the essentials and ensure your best view of the Sistine Chapel.