By paul motter
I am writing to you from aboard The Aegean Odyssey, the first ship for the brand new cruise line Voyages to Antiquity on a cruise from Rome to Sicily.
Voyages to Antiquity was started by Gerry Herrod, the same visionary who created and managed Orient Lines for fifteen years. For those who do not know, Orient Lines was one of the first cruise lines to focus on port-intensive, themed itineraries for travelers; meaning the ship docked in a new and exciting port of call almost daily and offered extensive shore excursions guided by experts in the region. The line went everywhere from Norway to New Zealand, rarely repeating an itinerary.
Voyages to Antiquity has the same destination-oriented goals, but the focus is more refined. The ship limits its cruises to the cultures of the ancient Mediterranean. You get shore tours by expert local guides backed up by onboard presentations by highly qualified lecturers back onboard. Meanwhile the cruise staff sees to your dinner and sleeping arrangements.
The first thing Gerry Herrod needed for his new cruise line was a ship. The one he found is now the Aegean Odyssey. The vessel is completely refurbished, after gutting several smaller staterooms to make room for larger suites. The ship's passenger capacity was reduced from 550 to 370, although they expect to average about 350 passengers per cruise. The upgrade includes 16 cabins of different categories built especially for singles that will be sold with no singles supplement charge. There are 14 different stateroom categories on the ship. All of the finishes, furniture, mattresses and decor are brand new. Each stateroom also has a completely new bathroom.
Each cruise this ship takes has a different itinerary, but the over-riding theme is always the significant place in history held by the Mediterranean Sea. This entire 2010 season the ship will explore the Med from Spain to Egypt - both the northern and southern coasts.
This is the focus of Voyages to Antiquity. Not the entire sea at once, but a series of never repeating 14 to 16-day voyages, some focusing on the Aegean Sea, some on Italy and Sicily, some on the Greek Isles and Asia Minor, or Turkey as we know it today. Some of the cruises explore Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Two itineraries focus on the mysterious nations of North Africa; Libya and Tunisia. But on all the cruises the focus is the same; antiquity. This is for fans of world history; people like me who need to know where the alphabet came from, who wonder about the other age of enlightenment on earth separated from our own by a dozen centuries of Dark Ages.
Our cruise is entitled "Pompeii is Something So Wonderful." Our itinerary begins in Rome, days two and three are in Sorrento, arriving there at 7:00 AM on Wednesday and leaving at 5:00 PM Thursday night. Friday we have several hours in Amalfi at leisure before we sail on to Salerno for an afternoon tour of Paestum, an ancient Greek city founded in 700 B.C.
I admit I have never even heard of Paestum, but I am looking forward to it. There is far less Greek antiquity in the world than Roman. The Greeks did not have concrete, only stone, and their empire pre-dated the Roman's.
Next we sail past the active volcano at Stromboli to Cefalu, Sicily. I leave the cruise in Palermo the next day although the rest of the passengers get to continue along the Dalmatian Coast finally departing in Venice 10 days later.
With all gratuities, wine with dinner, a daily shore tour and even your airfare included in the price, not only is this cruise line's unique concept of a major attraction, but the surprisingly low cost for lower category cabins makes it very appealing.
Long story short, not only are these cruises incredibly focused - they start as low as $3495 for 16 days of cruising including food, wine with dinner, shore tours, gratuities and airfare.
My recommendation is that you book this cruise line early - the big publicity push is going to start next month and each of these cruises is limited to 370 passengers. My guess is that once this cruise line catches on the prices will go higher. There is no reason why they shouldn't. I will be on the Aegean Odyssey for a seven day sailing, part of a longer cruise, from June 1st through June 6th.
Read more: Voyages to Antiquity Preview.