A new cruise line, Voyages to Antiquity, takes aim at the well-traveled, well-heeled history-buff crowd with a series of 2010 sailings tracing the people and cultures of the "cradles of civilization" in the Mediterranean.
Cruises on the 350-passenger Aegean Odyssey will begin in May, with itineraries inspired by British historian John Julius Norwich's book "The Middle Sea," which chronicles the development and impact of the three prominent ancient cultures in Rome, Egypt and Greece.
The cruise line is a project of Gerry Herrod, who also brought the industry Ocean Cruise Line, Orient Lines and Discovery World Cruises. The ship is the former Aegean I, which Herrod acquired from Greek shipping interests. The 11,563-ton vessel, built in 1973, has undergone an extensive refurbishment.
It will operate 16, 16-day departures to the Mediterranean, North Africa and the Red Sea, all with a sense of "fun and style." But the line's concept of style does not stretch to nightclubs, casinos or black-tie receptions. A statement from Herrod about the new line calls it "smart casual," but that doesn't mean there aren't any special events. One, for instance, will take passengers to "a private evening" in the Doge's Palace at St. Mark's in Venice and another to a cocktail reception at the Palazzo Gangi in Palermo, Sicily.
The open-seating dining experience will feature continental cuisine augmented by regional foods obtained during each voyage.
Nine itineraries are offered. The Athens to Rome cruise focuses heavily on Sicily, with explorations of the Graeco-Roman Theater, Mount Etna, Syracuse and the Tomb of Archimedes, Ortygia and the Temple of Apollo, Agrigento and the Valle Dei Templi, the Sicilian coast and the Eghade Islands, to name a few destinations. Departures are May 17, July 26 and Sept. 20.
Cruise fares on all sailings range from $3,695 for a standard inside cabin to $7,995 for a deluxe balcony stateroom. Fares include some shore excursions in each port of call, wine at dinner and shipboard gratuities. Free air is offered from select East Coast gateways and air add-ons are offered from more than 70 gateways.
Additionally, a number of special offers apply for the 2010 inaugural season. There is no supplement for single occupancy on most sailings and a $1,000 or $500 savings (per stateroom) applies on select departures throughout the summer.
Agents can get brochures and more details at www.voyagestoantiquity.com or email [email protected].