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Church in Mani, Peloponnese.
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.
31 Mar 2023 -
8 Nov 2024
8 days
From €752.5 / per person
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View of a ship anchored in Santorini
Day 1 | Friday
Welcome on board. Meet your fellow explorers and enjoy a welcome drink together before we sail back in time, into Greece’s fascinating past. First we’re heading for Nafplion, the first capital of modern Greece. Known for forts, fortresses and castles, it’s also one of the most beautiful cities in the Peloponnese. Dinner on board and overnight in port.
Ancient Epidaurus, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Greece
Day 2 | Saturday
History lovers, rejoice. The past is your oyster today. We’ll spend a full day in Nafplion with various optional tours. Visit the famous healing sanctuary and theatre at Ancient Epidaurus, the Lion’s Gate and Agamemnon Tomb in the mythical kingdom of Mycenae, or meander through colourful Argolis with its neoclassical houses. Greece is our specialty, so tell us your interests and let our experts recommend tailored excursions. Dinner and overnight sail to Gythion.
The ancient ruins of Mycenae visited on a Variety Cruises excursion
Day 3 | Sunday
Spend the day in Gythion, the ancient base of Spartans. Feed your imagination by visiting the abandoned fortifications and underground lakes at Mani Peninsula - once a stomping ground for the native warriors. Or explore the Dirou Caves, dripping in stalactites and hidden for more than 4000 years until its discovery in the 60s. As evening arrives we’ll come together to share tales from the day and enjoy dinner on board. Overnight at sea.
A view of the picturesque harbor of Gythio, Greece
Day 4 | Monday
Morning arrival in Pylos, a picture-perfect seaside town. It’s the site of many modern history naval battles, one of which - the battle of Navarino in 1827 - led to Greek independence two years later. In the afternoon, join us on an optional tour to the Palace of Nestor, a spectacularly well-preserved Mycenaean Palace: it even houses a bathtub supposedly used by King Nestor himself. Nearby Chora is home to an archeological museum housing 3000 years of history. Dinner on board and an overnight sail to Katakolon.
A view to a port with colourful buildings
Day 5 | Tuesday
Katakolon is the perfect jumping point for an optional trip to one of the most important sites in ancient Greek history - Olympia. This is the site where the Olympic Games were born. Back then, they were pan-hellenic and a way to worship Zeus. The most thrilling site here is of course the ancient Olympic stadium, which stands much the same as it has done for 2000 years. But you’ll also discover the Temple of Zeus, The Temple of Hera, the palaestra - an ancient Greek wrestling stadium, and a wonderfully informative museum. Dinner on board. Overnight sail to Monemvasia.
A Variety Cruises excursion group exploring the ancient ruins of Olympia
Day 6 | Wednesday
Welcome to Monemvasia, a castle town nicknamed ‘Gibraltar of the East’. One look and you’ll understand why. Today, our on board archaeologist will reveal the secrets and history of the mediaeval fortified town, birthplace to Greek poet Giannis Ritsos. Explore the Byzantine and Venetian architecture in a setting flowing with natural beauty. Afternoon departure to Isthmia. Dinner on board and overnight at sea.
Ruins of Delphi, Greece.
Day 7 | Thursday
Breakfast on board before we head to land, more specifically to Isthmia. This was the home of the Isthmian Games held in antiquity to honour God of the sea, Poseidon. Athletic and musical competitions were held, including wrestling and pentathlon, equestrian and chariot, poetry and rhetoric. From Isthmia join our optional tour to Delhpi to learn about one of the most important oracles in the classical world. Oracles aside, Delphi is well worth the trip for the views - it’s carved into a mountain with panoramic views. Enjoy lunch at leisure before a bus ride to Marina Zea, where we rejoin the ship for our Signature Captain’s Farewell Dinner. Overnight in Marina Zea.
View of a town and its port
Day 8 | Friday
Breakfast and goodbyes at 9am. We hope to sea you again soon!
Variety Cruises tour map
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.
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
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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