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HISTORICAL GREECE CRUISE: ANTIQUITY TO BYZANTIUM

The ancient theatre of Epidaurus
LOCATION
TRAVEL PERIOD
22 Mar 2024 -
14 Nov 2025
BOAT
DURATION
8 days
PRICE
From €1485 / per person
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THE CRUISE
Untold secrets: discover Ancient Greece with Variety
A voyage through history dedicated to the Golden Age of Greek civilization and beyond, this cruise comes complete with a guest lecturer, Eugenia Alexiou. Eugenia has a Master’s degree in Byzantine Art, is an expert historian and, as a graduate of the Athens’ Tour Guide Academy, is the perfect tutor through all the classical sites and sights we visit. This journey to off-the-beaten track locales in the Peloponnese peninsula is a masterclass on the journey through classical antiquity and the Roman conquest, ending with the transition to the Christian empire of Byzantium.
Transit the amazing engineering feat that is the Corinth Canal, cut though solid rock in the 1880’s to join the Gulf of Corinth with the Aegean Sea.
ANTIQUITY TO BYZANTIUM
GALLERY
DAY BY DAY
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View of a ship anchored in Santorini
Day 1 | Friday
ATHENS, MARINA ZEAS (PIRAEUS) – ANCIENT EPIDAURUS
Welcome on board. Meet your fellow explorers and enjoy a welcome drink together before we sail back in time, into Greece’s fascinating past. Sail for Ancient Epidaurus. Evening arrival and dinner on board. Overnight in port.
Ancient Epidaurus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greece
Day 2 | Saturday
ANCIENT EPIDAURUS - NAFPLION
We leave our ship early in the morning to drive to Ancient Epidaurus for our optional excursion. Epidaurus was known throughout the Greek world as a healing sanctuary and it is reputed for its theater, which is once again in use today and is still marvelled for its exceptional acoustics from the stage to any of its 15,000 seats. Lunch onboard and afternoon sailing to Nafplion. Overnight in port.
The ancient ruins of Mycenae visited on a Variety Cruises excursion
Day 3 | Sunday
NAFPLION - MYCENAE - MONEMVASIA
After a short walking tour of Nafplion we will drive through the colorful city and the beautiful countryside of Argolis towards another major centre of Greek civilization, Mycenae (for an optional excursion). Visit the remains of the glorious ancient city including the Lion’s Gate, the Cyclopean walls, the Palace, the Agamemnon Tomb and the museum. Lunch on board and sailing towards Monemvasia. Early evening arrival and time at leisure for exploring this remarkable medieval fortified town and birthplace of one of the most important greek poets, Giannis Ritsos, who enjoyed international reputation and radiation. Overnight at sea to Gythion.
A view of the picturesque harbor of Gythio, Greece
Day 4 | Monday
GYTHION
Morning arrival in Gythion, the ancient naval base of Spartans. Optional excursion to Mani peninsula and Cape Tenaro, plus the spectacular Dirou Caves with their stalactites and stalagmites. Leaving Gythion we will cross the scenic Mani Peninsula to reach Diros and visit the spectacular cave, the entrance of which remained sealed for about 4.500 years until being discovered around the 60s. After visiting the cave, we will drive to nearby Areopolis for a short stroll through the town. Mani, which is at the tip of the Peloponnese, is a distinctive area and desolate region of underground lakes and rivers, windswept landscapes and towers, which keeps the spirit of the warriors once lived and fought here alive. Dinner onboard and late evening sailing to Pylos. Overnight at sea.
A view to a port with colourful buildings
Day 5 | Tuesday
PYLOS
Morning arrival in Pylos, a picture-perfect seaside town of the SW Peloponnese. Sitting on the backside of stately Navarino Bay, Pylos was site of several famous naval battles, one of which, occurred in 1827, led to the independence of Greece, in 1829. Today, our optional excursion takes us to Nestor's Palace. The remains of the prehistoric Palace occupy a scenic hilltop setting north of Pylos and was discovered in 1939 by the American archaeologist Carl Blegen. Highlights include the well-preserved royal apartments and a bathtub that archaeologists have speculated belonged to the old king himself. Following our visit to the remains of the palace, we will make a stop at the coast to sample a coffee or refreshments. We return to the ship for lunch. Late night sailing to Katakolon. Overnight at sea.
A Variety Cruises excursion group exploring the ancient ruins of Olympia
Day 6 | Wednesday
KATAKOLON FOR OLYMPIA
Early morning arrival in port of Katakolon, in Pyrgos, which in ancient times was the natural harbour for Ancient Olympia and in the Middle Ages was the site of the so called ''Pontikokastro'', or ''Beauvoir'' or ''Bel Vedere'' Castle. Katakolon is also known for being the birthplace of Yiannis Latsis, the Greek shipping multi-billionaire tycoon, who's paternal home operates today as Museum of Ancient Greek Technology as well as its historical lighthouse. Today, our optional excursion takes us by bus to Olympia, one of the most famous and important sites in the ancient world. Olympia is revered as the birthplace of the Olympic Games and the greatest Pan-Hellenic sanctuary for the worship of Zeus. The most thrilling site at Olympia is the very stadium, which looks much like it did more than 2,000 years ago. Explore the Temple of Hera, the magnificent temple of Zeus, the Philippeion, built to honour the family of Alexander the Great, and the Leonidion, lodging place for the athletes. We later visit the Olympia Museum, one of the most beautiful museums in the world, hosting many astonishing exhibits. Traditional lunch in the town of Olympia and optional visit to the museum of the History of the Olympic Games of Antiquity (provided it is open in the afternoon). Time at leisure and depart for Itea in the Gulf of Corinth. Overnight at sea.
Ruins of Delphi, Greece.
Day 7 | Thursday
ITEA FOR DELPHI - CORINTH CANAL CROSSING - MARINA ZEAS (ATHENS)
Morning arrival in Itea, the second largest city of the Municipality of Delphi. Proceeding to Delphi for our optional excursion, we will pass by the Corinth Canal. Unlike other archaeological sites in Greece, Delphi is built on the side of a mountain and the panoramic views are truly inspiring. Delphi was revered for hosting the most important oracle in the classical world and visitors from across the Greek world travelled here to consult with the oracle. We will walk around the ruins complex including the Sanctuary of Athena Pronaia, the Castalian Spring and the Gymnasium and visit the adjoining museum. Return to the ship for lunch and afternoon sailing. Later in the evening Captain’s Farewell Dinner and sail to Marina Zea. Overnight in Marina Zea.
View of a town and its port
Day 8 | Friday
ATHENS - MARINA ZEAS (PIRAEUS)
Breakfast and goodbyes at 9am. We hope to sea you again soon!
Antioquity to Byzantium crouise plan

In case of severe weather conditions our expertly designed routes are adjusted ensuring your safety & comfort by applying our rich marine knowledge, garnered since 1949. Stay flexible – Adventure on.

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    HIGHLIGHTS
    View from above of the Corinth Canal in Greece
    Corinth Canal Crossing
    A crossroads in time and space. Transit the amazing engineering feat that is the Corinth Canal, cut though solid rock in the 1880’s to join the Gulf of Corinth with the Aegean Sea. Under Periander in the 6th century BC, the ancients cut out a slipway that allowed ships to be dragged overland, but it took a lot of muscle power. The canal finally opened in 1893 after 11 years of digging. Six kilometers long, it slices through cliffs 90 m high and is a perennial favorite with sightseers.
    The ancient theater of Epidaurus visited on a Variety Cruises excursion
    4 UNESCO Heritage Sites Await
    Mycenae, Olympia, Delphi, Epidaurus... Enjoy guest lectures aboard and be part of small-group excursions to crowd-free sites, whilst in the company of like-minded travelers. Spring and Fall in Greece is the perfect time to unravel the wonders of Antiquity and the Byzantine Empire around the fascinating Peloponnese coast.
    A Variety Cruises excursion group admiring the view from the Mykines island in Greece
    Guest Review
    “Our trip around the Peloponnese was filled with sights we had only read about in history books. The crowds at the temples and ruins were very minimal, in fact we often were the only visitors which made for a much more pleasant visit. I would highly recommend going on the off season trips for this reason. What made our visits even better were the very knowledgeable cruise director and even more knowledgeable tour guide...”
    Wherever we sail, we do so with purpose. Our mission is to create life-enriching experiences at sea for our guests, and a better world for us all. We’re transparent about carbon emissions, always aiming to improve our footprint. Our journeys are designed to get you closer to the things that matter: whether that’s an island reachable only by boat, or by ensuring your adventure honours and gives back to local communities. We always have fun at sea, but we do it responsibly.
    A view of the Corinth Canal, Greece from a boat
    TRAVEL WITH
    PURPOSE
    Bio of guest lecturer Eugenia Alexiou
    With a degree in archeology and art history from the School of Philosophy in Athens, experience excavating historical sites, and a licence for guided tours in Greece, Evgenia is the perfect complement to our historical Antiquity to Byzantium cruises. Not only does she know everything there is to know about ancient Greek history in the Peloponnese, her passion and love for the topic is evident as her face lights up from the second she begins to talk about it.
    With 15 years experience at Variety Cruises, Evgenia has always felt connected to the historical sites we visit. She describes them as places with an energy that you can feel. Indeed, she points out that these historical sites are not here by chance, but that their locations were chosen by the ancient Greeks as they knew how special they were.
    The Variety Cruises Antiquity to Byzantium cruise is a fascinating way of exploring the Peloponnese, says Evgenia, as it docks in ancient harbours and offers an opportunity to visit the sites in the same way the ancient Greeks did many years ago. She also believes the cruise excursions achieve a great balance; small groups and ample time at each location means guests can soak up all the history, ask questions, sample the cuisine, and speak to locals.
    Born and brought up in Athens, Evgenia loves to show guests her country and gains satisfaction from seeing the country through a visitor’s eyes. She considers the reactions when someone sees a statue for the first time, or begins to understand the history of ancient sites, priceless.
    Outside of work, Evgenia loves to take part in Greek customs such as dance or carnival, and to travel. Her favourite places are those with history; Greece, of course, but also India. Her dream is to tour Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa - though she admits the latter is more for the wine tasting than the history!
    A picturesque view of Gythion, a small town in Greece with houses built on a hill
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