Cities of ancient trade routes
Trace the routes of the earliest merchants from Greece to India, stopping to meet caretakers of history. Explore the historic treasures of Greece and Israel, and head into the desert landscapes of Egypt and Jordan as you unveil ancient civilizations. Hear legends of the frankincense route of Salālah and browse some of the world’s oldest souks in Muscat, Oman’s capital. Overnights in Athens, Haifa and Mumbai bring even greater depth to your journey.
Athens, Greece / Mumbai, India
2024 Sailings on October, and on December
2025 Sailings on January, and on April
* Please check with us for dates & pricing
Cruise fare from $11,699.0 per person
* Please check with us for dates & pricing
Embark your ship and settle into your stateroom. Athens has been called the “birthplace of democracy.” Its legacy looms large from atop Acropolis Hill, the pinnacle of ancient Greece. This open air museum is an astonishing repository of once-mighty structures. From its colonnaded Parthenon—more than 2,600 years ago—revered Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle formulated new ideas of government and debated its role in civic life to captivated audiences. Remnants of spiritual life are also here in the several temples to Athena and Zeus.
Sail along one of the world’s most beautiful coastlines, known for its azure waters and picturesque islands. As you sail today, attend an informative lecture or watch a film in our state-of-the-art theater. A range of insightful TED Talks and destination-inspired seminars are offered daily.
Haifa is one of Israel’s most important and beautiful cities, built on the slopes of Mount Carmel and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Pilgrims of the Bahá’í faith flock here to visit the Hanging Gardens of Haifa, a series of breathtaking terraces on the hillside. Mount Carmel also holds significance to Jewish, Christian and Islamic faiths. Most notably, this was the spot of Elijah’s sacrifice by fire by which he miraculously ended a drought. Nearby, the ancient city of Acre, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
High above Haifa, brilliant blooms spill down the side of Mount Carmel, a site significant in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This place is also meaningful to those of the Bahá’í faith, who travel here from afar to see the Hanging Gardens of Haifa. The beautifully landscaped swath of flowers and topiary, arranged around wide, elegant mountainside stairways and plazas, creates stunning geometric designs. From Mount Carmel’s tabletop summit, visitors take in the breathtaking terraced gardens against the expansive backdrop of the city below and the Mediterranean beyond.
It has been said of Egypt’s exhilarating capital, “He who has not seen Cairo has not seen the world.” Certainly, the heart of the nation beats with an unbridled passion in this city made prosperous over millennia as a stopover for Sahara caravans on trade routes to Byzantium. Amid the stimulating strum, the insistent beauty of everyday life reigns here, with the serene Nile sliding through like an entrancing serpent. Cairo’s very age mesmerizes; its monuments have stood here for more than 5,000 years.
An engineering marvel, the Suez Canal was completed in 1869. The sea-level, single-lane waterway has no locks, and only two lakes allow north- and southbound ships to pass each other: Ballah Bypass and Great Bitter Lake. Along this historic waterway, stark desert sands stretch into Egypt and an occasional giant mound of sand appears on its banks, dug from the canal. Small patches of swaying palms are fed by canal waters. Nearby lies the town of Ismailia, known as the “City of Beauty and Enchantment,” which was built to serve the canal’s construction and maintenance.
Luxor is set on the east bank of the Nile River and once served as the capital of Egypt’s New Kingdom. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site lined with beautiful colonial hotels and some of the world’s most ancient and significant ruins. Many consider this city, watched over by graceful single-sailed feluccas plying the Nile, one of the world’s great open air museums. The sprawling Temples of Luxor and Karnak on the east bank are linked by the ancient Avenue of the Sphinxes. On the west bank, in the Valley of the Kings, lie the tombs of Egypt’s great pharaohs.
Egypt’s seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh is often called the “City of Peace” for the number of international peace conferences held here. Its location, where major bodies of water meet, has transformed from a modest fishing village into a major port. However, “Sharm,” as it known by locals, is renowned for its unrivaled scuba diving among vibrant coral, dramatic rock formations and reef walls. The surrounding desert, too, though less colorful, exudes its own stark beauty. A Jeep safari is the ideal way to explore beyond the scenic jagged mountains that hug the town.
Jordan’s only coastal city, Aqaba is set amid coffee-colored desert hills. With its central location between Africa and Asia, it has played a significant role in the region’s trade for thousands of years. Today, its prosperity rests in its position as the sole port of the nation and in its pristine dive sites. The city’s history, too, draws inquisitive travelers. In 1917, T. E. Lawrence (known as Lawrence of Arabia) led troops here in the Battle of Aqaba. The white-robed English ally helped the Arabs run the Turks from the city’s fortress during a camel charge.
Follow in the footsteps of early explorers who sailed the waters of the Red Sea as long ago as 2500 BC. History and legend are rich in this narrow stretch of sea between Asia and Africa. As you sail today, savor a range of international cuisine on board. Choose from a variety of international flavors at the World Café, enjoy al fresco dining on the Aquavit Terrace, or regional specialties in The Restaurant.
Saudi Arabia’s second-largest city, Jeddah has played a dual role throughout its history. Located on the eastern shores of the Red Sea, it was a major port for Indian Ocean trade routes starting in the seventh century. It also became a historically important gateway for Muslim pilgrims arriving by sea on their journey to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina—a role that continues to this day. A modern multicultural city, Jeddah’s heritage can still be experienced in the distinctive architecture and bustling souks of its historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Trace the coastlines of Africa and Saudi Arabia as you sail the Red Sea, one of the world’s most legendary seaways. Moses is said to have parted its waters and Egyptian Queen Hatshepsut led trade missions here on ancient vessels. Meet fellow guests and listen to the soothing sounds of classical music in The Living Room, an ideal setting for relaxation. Enjoy a cup of coffee or sip on a refreshing cocktail.
Follow the centuries-old trade route linking the Red Sea to the Arabian Sea. This historic waterway was named for the former British Crown Colony city of Aden, an adjacent port in today’s Yemen. As you sail today, attend an informative lecture or watch a film in our state-of-the-art theater. A range of insightful TED Talks and destination-inspired seminars are offered daily.
The Omani city of Salālah is situated on the southeastern edge of the Arabian peninsula and was a major port on the 13th-century frankincense route. This fascinating cultural history was supported by several sites around the city, such as ancient towns and caravan oases, some of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites today. Salālah is often called the “Garden City” for the greenery and coconut trees that line its streets and boulevards. One of its most impressive sites is the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, with its richly adorned Islamic architecture.
Cross the Arabian Sea, originally called the Erythraean Sea, after King Erythras of Greek mythology. Its modern-day moniker derives from the Arab sailors who dominated trade on its waters from the 9th century onward. Admire the views as you sail today and enjoy an al fresco dining experience. The Aquavit Terrace serves a range of International fare and casual dining favorites, as well as a range of superb cocktails inspired by our destinations.
Muscat enjoys a stunning setting between the Arabian Sea and the rocky Western Al Hajar Mountains. A rich and romantic canvas of low whitewashed buildings watched over by traditional dhow fishing boats bobbing in the harbor, the city is also a trove of royal and Islamic treasures. The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque was named for the beloved leader who has bolstered the country’s economy; a dazzling expanse of white marble, intricate wooden panels and magnificent stained glass windows. Hints of the country’s past as a Portuguese outpost can be found in Old Muscat.
Sail the Arabian Sea, an important marine trade route since Antiquity. During the Age of Sail, all manner of spices, metals and precious stones were carried back and forth across these waters by industrious traders. As you sail today, savor a range of international cuisine on board. Choose from a variety of international flavors at the World Café, enjoy al fresco dining on the Aquavit Terrace, or regional specialties in The Restaurant.
Mumbai is spread over seven islands and is a major cultural capital of India. Bombay, as it was known until 1995, still enjoys its magnificent seaside setting and is home to some of India’s most beloved landmarks. Perhaps none is as glamorous as the Taj Mahal Palace hotel. Overlooking the Arabian Sea, it has hosted celebrities and presidents. Adjacent, the impressive Gateway of India was built to salute the arrival of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911. Mumbai also hosted the headquarters of Mahatma Gandhi.
Mumbai encompasses every element of humanity and is a striking blend of cultures and traditions. Millionaires and laborers rub shoulders on bustling streets. Bollywood film directors create big-budget films among a culture of fashionistas and financiers. The city’s streets reflect every subculture, religion and cuisine of India, as people migrated here from all over the country. And the city’s festivals honor both Western and Indian traditions, from Good Friday to the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, a celebration of local music, dance, theater and film. After breakfast, disembark your ship and journey home.
* One shore excursion included per port; all others available at an extra charge.