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Voyages to Antiquity: Cairo, Istanbul and the Ancient Middle East

Program Number: 20808RJ
Start and End Dates:
3/30/2013 - 4/18/2013;
Duration: 19 nights
Location: Greece/Israel/Egypt/Turkey/Jordan/Cyprus
Price starting at: $6,090.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; Ocean Cruises Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 53; 18 Breakfasts, 17 Lunches, 18 Dinners    
Meal Options: Low Fat; Low Salt; Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Incredible treasures await you on this voyage: soaring pyramids, rock-cut cities, Crusader castles, marvelous ruins and much more.

Activity Particulars

Walking up and downhill, up to two miles per day. Standing up to four hours per day, with breaks; uneven terrain and steep stairs without railings at historic sites.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Cairo (Egypt), 2 nights; Luxor, 1 night; aboard Aegean Odyssey, 12 nights; Istanbul (Turkey), 3 nights.

Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.

Days 2-3: Arrival Cairo (Egypt):

Experience a wonder of the ancient world, the Great Pyramids and Sphinx of Giza. Lodging: Five-star hotel with pyramid views.

Day 4: Flight to Luxor:

Venture to the ancient capital Thebes and the Valley of the Kings necropolis. Lodging: Five-star hotel on the Nile.

Day 5: Coach to Safaga / embark Aegean Odyssey:

Explore the Karnak Temple Complex then continue to the ship.

Day 6: Sharm el-Sheikh:

Journey to Mount Sinai to discover one of the world’s oldest Christian monasteries, St. Catherine’s.

Day 7: Aqaba (Jordan):

Take a field trip to Petra, carved into the rose-red rock of a desert valley by the Nabataeans.

Days 8-9: At Sea / Suez Canal Transit:

Sail 119 miles through the historic Suez Canal.

Day 10: Jerusalem & Bethlehem (Israel):

Begin in the Old City, a tiny area important to many religions, then continue to the town known as Jesus’s birthplace.

Day 11: Jaffa:

Go ashore in one of the world’s oldest ports — boats have bobbed in its natural harbor for millennia.

Day 12: Limassol (Cyprus):

Learn about the Knights Templar as you visit the Crusader stronghold Kolossi Castle.

Day 13: Antalya (Turkey):

Explore the ancient Greek city of Perga and the Roman trading town of Aspendos. Enjoy some time in lovely Antalya.

Day 14: Rhodes (Greece):

Discover Rhodes Old Town, built to suit the ideals of the Knights Hospitaller.

Days 15-16: Ephesus (Turkey) / At Sea:

Journey to this great site of the classical world to find the well-preserved ruins of temples, theaters and the library.

Days 17-20: Istanbul / disembark / departure:

Spend three days experiencing Istanbul including the Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace and the Spice Bazaar. Lodging: Four-star hotel.

Aegean Odyssey

The Aegean Odyssey is a premium-class ship especially rebuilt for sailing along shallow coastlines, among remote islands and into small, uncrowded harbors that larger ocean liners can’t reach. Public areas include several gourmet restaurants, library, Internet center, sweeping sun decks, outdoor pool, gym and spa.

Meals and Lodgings
   Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel - Cairo
  Cairo, Egypt 2 nights
   Sheraton Luxor Hotel
  Luxor, Egypt 1 night
   MV Aegean Odyssey
  MV Aegean Odyssey - At Sea, At Sea 12 nights
   Armada Hotel
  Istanbul, Turkey 3 nights
 Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel - Cairo
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: Le Méridien Pyramids, nestled between the city and the wilderness, boasts unparalleled views of the Giza Pyramids. The hotel is surrounded by landscaped gardens, providing a respite of greenery amidst golden sands. With a peerless choice of restaurants and cuisines, a Royal Club floor, a magnificent swimming pool, and spa amenities, Le Méridien Pyramids is a luxurious stay, and conveniently located only twenty minutes from Cairo’s city center.
  Contact info: El Remaya Square - Pyramids
PO Box 25 Pyramids
Cairo,  12561 Egypt
phone: +20 2 33 77 17 30
  Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, safe, bidet, mini bar, radio/alarm clock, air conditioning, 24-hour room service, High Speed Internet access (for a fee) and a hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers restaurants, bars, a swimming pool with waterfalls, floodlit tennis courts, shopping arcade, beauty salon, 24-hour currency exchange, safe, laundry services and High Speed Internet access (for a fee).
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior:  Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. (800) 241-1404

 Sheraton Luxor Hotel
Type: Five-Star Hotel
  Description: Sheraton Luxor Resort offers a memorable stay with the largest panoramic view of the Nile River in Luxor. Situated within walking distance of the city center and just seven miles from the airport, the hotel offers the ideal base to explore the city's history and antiquities, the Nile, and the surrounding countryside.
  Contact info: Al Awameya
P.O. Box 43
Luxor,  83951 Egypt
phone: +20952274544
  Room amenities: Each room has a television, telephone, mini bar, air conditioning, ironing board, wireless Internet access (for a fee) and a hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers a restaurant, bar, lounge, wireless Internet access (for a fee), two outdoor swimming pools (heated in winter), a jogging track in eight acres of riverside gardens, two floodlit tennis courts, volleyball court, table tennis, pool table, mini-croquet, laundry service, dry cleaning service, safe boxes and shopping arcade.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 MV Aegean Odyssey
Type: Cruise Ship
  Description: The MV Aegean Odyssey offers boutique-style cruising at its best. In contrast to the massive vessels cruising to and from major ports, it is a midsized ship adapted for island and coastal cruising. The Aegean Odyssey can visit smaller, less crowded harbors and sail closer to the coast enabling you to really appreciate the magical views.
  Ship Information: Ship’s Tonnage: 11,563 Length: 461 feet Beam: 67 feet Draft: 20.5 feet Cruising Speed: 18 knots Passenger Decks: 7 Stabilizers: 2 Passenger Staterooms/Cabins: 198 Passengers – lower beds: 378 Classification: Lloyd’s Register Society London Ship’s Registration: Malta
  Contact info: Voyages to Antiquity
1800 SE 10th Avenue, Suite 230
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33316 USA
phone: 877-398-1460
  Room amenities: All cabins are equipped with a flat screen TV, air-conditioning, and personal safe. Particular importance is placed on the standard of bedding in cabins. Luxury bedding, including fine duvets, covers and sheets, ample soft pillows and quality towels can be expected. Also, shampoo, bath and shower gel, soap, and shower cap are provided. Your cabin steward is always available. Cabins and suites feature outlets with 220 voltage, using the “European” two round pin plug. Hair dryers are provided in your cabin and electric rollers, curling irons, electric shavers and other small appliances can be used in your cabin. For safety reasons, travel irons are not allowed.
  Facility amenities: Dining: MV Aegean Odyssey offers many dining facilities: The Marco Polo Restaurant is the ship's more formal restaurant, providing casual country-club elegance for lunch or dinner; The Terrace Cafe offers a combination of indoor and outdoor seating where you can indulge in breakfast, lunch and dinner from the grill or the sumptuous daily buffet. In the evenings, enjoy breathtaking views over dinner at Tapas on the Terrace. *There is a complimentary choice of wine, beer, or soft drinks with your evening meal. There will be a string trio, pianist and casual dancing before and after dinner. You may also wish to partake in afternoon tea, served in the Observation Lounge. Or perhaps an evening snack and cocktail, available in the Lido and Rendezvous bars. A limited room service menu is available. Special Diets: Please advise us at the time of booking of any special dietary requirements. The ship can usually meet most general requests such as those made with an air carrier; however, this cannot always be guaranteed. Services: Library; outdoor pool; spa; health center, saunas, massage and beauty treatment rooms and early morning yoga on the Lido Deck; elevators; Internet center (open 24 hours and a charge of $18 for 4 non-consecutive hours is applied, no wireless available); beauty salon; medical center; laundry and pressing services (order form and laundry bag is provided in cabin); lecture theater and cinema and on board shop.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes

 Armada Hotel
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: The 4-star Armada Hotel is located in the historic peninsula of Istanbul, with views of two of the great masterpieces of world architecture; the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque. The hotel offers modern comfort and convenience discreetly incorporated into the Turkish-inspired architecture, and period engravings throughout the hotel provide an insight into Istanbul's by-gone eras. The name of the Armada Hotel is a tribute to the memory of the renowned Ottoman Admiral Hayrettin Pasha Barbarossa. Located in the heart of the Old City, the hotel is within walking distance of museums, churches and other major attractions.
  Contact info: Ahirkapi Street 24
Sultanahmet, Istanbul,  34122 Turkey
phone: +90 212 455 44 55
  Room amenities: Each room has a mini bar, hair dryer, bathrobes, telephone, LCD television, safe box, free wireless Internet, 24-hour room service and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: The hotel offers two restaurants, a bar, lounge, meeting rooms, business center with computers and printers, library, free WIFI Internet access throughout the hotel, laundry service and air conditioning. The rooftop restaurants offer magnificent views of the area.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: N/A Please contact Road Scholar Travel Services if you would like assistance making hotel reservations for additional non-program nights. 1-800-241-1404
  Check out time: 12:00 PM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
Cairo, Egypt. The program will begin at 8:00 PM with dinner at the hotel. You will be staying at Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel - Cairo that night.
  End of Program:
Istanbul, Turkey. The program will end after breakfast on the last day. You will be staying at Armada Hotel the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required. The Voyages to Antiquity Guest Registration Form is required.
  Parking availability:
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: see above.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Cairo
  Transportation to site: Take a taxi from the airport to the hotel; this will cost approximately $15-18 per car. If the taxi driver is not using a meter, make sure to determine the price of your journey before you get in. Alternatively, you may wish to pre arrange a car transfer through Road Scholar, this will cost $50.00 per car (up to 3 guests). You may arrange this by calling 413-253-9736.
  From End of Program
  Location:  Istanbul
  Nearest city or town:  In town
  Nearest airport:  Atatürk International Airport
  Transportation from site: The Armada Hotel is located about 10 miles from the airport. A taxi ride to the airport from the hotel costs approximately $30 USD and takes approximately 30 minutes. To book a private transfer, please contact
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Daily Schedule

Day 1: Departures
(Saturday, March 30)
 In Transit: Depart US/Canada on international overnight flight.

Day 2: Welcome
(Sunday, March 31)
 Afternoon: Arrival at the Cairo International Airport (CAI). Meet group inside the customs area. Transfer to hotel.
 Dinner: 8:00 PM Welcome Dinner at the hotel.
Accommodations: Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel - Cairo
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Cairo, Egypt
(Monday, April 1)

Note: Visit is to the exterior of pyramids only. If you wish to go inside, there is an additional charge, but this is not recommended for those with claustrophobia or with breathing, knee or back problems. Photography is not allowed inside the pyramids.

 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Welcome Orientation and Introduction to the program. Some free time to relax and recover from jet lag.
 Lunch: Lunch at the Mena House Hotel.
 Afternoon: Following lunch, we will have an excursion to Giza to visit the Pyramids. Although modern civilization has landed on the doorstep of this phenomenal site, it still remains an impressive affair. Dominating the site are the pyramid complexes of the kings of the 4th dynasty, Cheops, Chefren, and Mycerinos, surrounded by the tombs of their families and courtiers. The pyramids of Giza are the only survivors of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Cheops, the Great Pyramid, required the use of 100,000 men over a period of 20 years, hauling 2 to 3 million heavy stone blocks to complete. Its height today stands at 137 meters of its original 140 meters. Boat pits are found adjacent to the pyramids: one next to the great pyramid still contains a dismantled boat. The structure was originally faced with white limestone from the quarries at Tura but has since been striped away over time. Cheprens pyramid gives a false impression of being larger than its neighbor as it is built on slightly higher ground. A feature of the construction is the way the blocks have been fitted into position, rather than just piled up, some are rebated and others have the corners carved into them. The third and smallest pyramid is that of Mycerinos, son of Chefren and one of the last kings of the 4th dynasty. A short distance away is the Sphinx. Its name means terrible or wonderful one. Although its face depicts that of King Chefren it does not actually represent him but rather a guardian deity of the necropolis, a god known as Hwron. Being made of soft stone the sphinx has suffered considerably due to the elements. Although damaged by time his majestic presence is still inspiring. There will be time for shopping in the nearby oriental bazaars and papyrus institutes.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Le Meridien Pyramids Hotel - Cairo
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Luxor, Egypt
(Tuesday, April 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Transfer to the airport for an 8:25 AM flight to Luxor. Arrive in Luxor at 9:35 AM and transfer to hotel to settle in.
 Lunch: Lunch at the hotel dining room.
 Afternoon: Enjoy an afternoon excursion to the West Bank. Site of the ancient Egyptian capital of Thebes and the necropolis known as the Valley of the Kings, the West Bank is the burial place of the New Kingdom pharaohs (including Tutankhamun and Ramses the Great). The magnificence of these tombs and temples has attracted visitors since the time of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus. We also see the Valley of the Queens and Hatshepsut's Temple.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Sheraton Luxor Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Safaga, Egypt / Embark
(Wednesday, April 3)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Transfer from Luxor to Safaga. En route, enjoy a morning excursion to the East Bank where we will explore Karnak, including the magnificent Temple of Amun and the open-air museum. Built over a 1,300-year period, the 100-acre site comprises a magnificent array of archaeological treasures.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Embark the MV Aegean Odyssey. Road Scholar orientation to the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Aqaba, Jordan / Wadi Rum
(Thursday, April 4)

Note: This day includes heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain, with multiple uphill segments. This excursion is not recommended for participants with back or neck problems. Please wear a hat, sunscreen, lightweight clothing and comfortable, rubber-soled walking shoes.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. Enjoy the Observation Deck if the weather is nice. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Wadi Rum has been inhabited by many human cultures since prehistoric times, with many cultures–including the Nabateans–leaving their mark in the form of rock paintings, graffiti, and temples.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Overnight in Aqaba.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Aqaba, Jordan / Petra
(Friday, April 5)

Note: This day includes heavy walking for one or more hours over uneven terrain, with multiple uphill segments.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: One of the great moments in travel is when you emerge from the narrow winding Siq to encounter the extraordinary rose-red city of Petra. Once you arrive at Petra, this guided excursion is entirely on foot so you can more intimately interact with this UNESCO World Heritage Site, chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Together with your guide, start your walk from the main gate to the obelisk tombs. Then continue to the Siq, the sole entrance to Petra, a long winding path between two overhanging cliffs that acts as the city's main gate. As you proceed along this mile-long fissure, your guide will point out such details as Petra's ingenious water system where some of the original terracotta pipes are still in place. Your first sight will be the magnificent spectacle of Al Khazneh (The Treasury), carved out of the rock by Nabatean Arabs some 2,000 years ago. Continue along the Street of Façades taking in such sights as the amphitheater and the Royal Court, where recent excavations have revealed a public pool and gardens. Walk back to the main gate where the coach will be waiting to take you to lunch.
 Lunch: Lunch in Petra.
 Afternoon: After lunch drive back to Aqaba and the ship.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: At sea / Cruising the Red Sea
(Saturday, April 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: At sea. Treat yourself at the ship's spa or dive into a good book from the ship's library.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Suez Canal Transit
(Sunday, April 7)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: At sea. The daytime sailing through the 119 mile-long Suez Canal is one of the most spectacular sea passages anywhere.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: At sea. A time to relax, enjoy the sunshine and take in an inspiring talk or two by the shipboard lecturers.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Ashdod, Israel / Jerusalem and Bethlehem
(Monday, April 8)

Note: This field trip includes strenuous walking and some steep steps to sites not accessible by wheelchair. A visit to the grotto inside the Church of the Nativity is usually not possible due to time constraints. Modest attire is required when visiting holy sites. Order of visits may vary.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Within the walls of Jerusalem's old city lie some of the holiest sights known to man, while nearby Bethlehem is revered as the birthplace of Jesus. This full-day field trip starts with a drive to the panoramic Mount of Olives and continues to the Gardens of Gethsemane, where Jesus prayed, to visit the Church of All Nations. Your walking excursion of old Jerusalem plunges you into a world of narrow streets and stirring landmarks. Enter at the ancient Jaffa Gate to take in the sights of the Christian Quarter. Trace the path Jesus took carrying the cross along parts of the Via Dolorosa. At Golgotha, site of the crucifixion and resurrection, visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. See the splendid Islamic shrine known as Dome of the Rock and stand before the Western (Wailing) Wall, sacred to Judaism.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: After an included lunch, continue to Bethlehem, where the highlight is a visit to the Church of the Nativity, built over a grotto held to be the location of the stable in which Jesus was born. Along the town's streets, shops offer handicrafts in olive wood, an ancient tradition in this land where the Bible comes to life.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Ashdod, Israel / Jaffa
(Tuesday, April 9)

Note: Sights are not wheelchair accessible. There is slight up-hill walking to the art colony with wide, easy-to-access steps and cobblestone lanes. Lightweight clothing, hats and comfortable shoes are advised. Order of visits may vary.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Discover two faces of Israel: Jaffa, an ancient port city, and Tel Aviv, the thriving metropolis that is home to an extraordinary cache of Bauhaus architecture called "The White City," a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Start with a drive from the ship to Tel Aviv, the hub of the country's financial, business and cultural life. Along Rothschild Blvd., view the original Modern Movement buildings introduced in the 1920s and 30s by German-Jewish architects who fled the Nazis. See such landmarks as the Habimah National Theater and Mann Auditorium, as well as the Tel Aviv Art Museum, Golda Meir Center and the square where Prime Minister Itzak Rabin was assassinated. Continue along the Mediterranean coast to Jaffa, one of the world's oldest ports. Solomon had the cedars of Lebanon shipped here to build the Temple. Jonah sailed from this port to meet with a whale. Visit the old section, now an artist's colony. Amble along winding cobblestone lanes past art studios, galleries and even an exotic flea market. See the clock tower, mosques and churches. Get that perfect photo at the observation point overlooking Tel Aviv.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Early afternoon departure. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: At sea. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12: Limassol, Cyprus
(Wednesday, April 10)

Note: Entrance to castle museum is additional. With stairs and uneven surfaces at Kourion and the castle, this excursion is not suitable for wheelchairs.

 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Although five earthquakes shook the thriving city kingdom of Kourion during the 7th century BC, it took a tsunami – created by the last earthquake – to deliver the final blow. Today visit this remarkable Greco-Roman city founded by Mycenaen Greeks and a major cultural center of its time. The setting is superb, perched atop a hill just outside the modern city of Limassol with breathtaking views of cultivated lands stretching to the Mediterranean. A highlight is the fully restored Roman theater, built in the 2nd century BC. Once two thousand spectators watched gladiators in this arena, today the site's wonderful acoustics and stunning sea views make it ideal for musical performances. Also explore the House of Eustolios with its beautiful 5th-century mosaic floors, colonnaded courtyard and unique baths. Continue to the romantic remains of the Sanctuary of Apollo, a 7th-century shrine to the sun god that features stunning Corinthian columns. The stadium nearby was a venue for such Greek sports as wrestling, and you can still see the urns that provided water to the athletes. En route to Kourion, enjoy a short photo stop at the 13th-century Colossi Castle, a fine example of Crusader architecture. An opening above the entrance gate served as ornamentation and also allowed the castle occupants to pour boiling oil or tar over unwanted entrants. Besides being the best-preserved medieval castle on Cyprus, the site is where Coummandaria, the island's famous sweet dessert wine was first produced over 800 years ago. After visiting Kourion, return to Limassol and head to the center of old town and the city's medieval castle. This is where Richard the Lionheart married Berengaria of Navarre and crowned her Queen of England in 1191 before going on to conquer Cyprus. The castle was a prison under the Turks and a British Army head-quarters during World War II, and is today home to a medieval museum, which can be visited as an option.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Set sail for Antalya. Attend a talk by your Road Scholar Group Leader.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13: Antalya, Turkey
(Thursday, April 11)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: A few miles outside Antalya lie the isolated sites of Perge and Aspendos, once part of the ancient kingdom of Pergamon. Your adventure includes both destinations, beginning with a panoramic view of Antalya Castle and Old Town landmarks such as the fluted minaret and Hadrian's Gate, a triumphal arch built in 130AD. Your drive takes you east to the mountains outside the city and the site of Perge, whose impressive ruins date back to around 1,000BC. Visit the basilica where St Paul preached his first sermon in 46AD before heading out to spread the Word across the Eastern Mediterranean. The stadium here is one of the best-preserved in Anatolia, a huge arena where over 12,000 could watch athletic competitions. The vaulted areas under the seating once were shops and the owners' names are inscribed in the marble. Walk through the Roman Gate, the entrance to the city, and follow a fine colonnaded avenue that once took the ancients to the Nymphaeum, the Baths Complex, and the Agora. Note the round towers, the Hellenistic walls, and the chariot grooved streets. Climb up a scenic hilltop to discover the site of Aspendos located on the Eurymedon River and splendidly backed by the Taurus Mountains. This was a major port city in Roman times, and you'll see a marvelous aqueduct, an exemplar of Roman engineering, that brought water from the mountains to the city. To date, only parts of Aspendos have been excavated, but the well-preserved Roman theater was one of the most spectacular buildings of its time. The theater was built by two wealthy brothers during the reign of Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd century AD. The architect Xenon gave it a public entrance, dressing rooms, a colonnaded gallery, rows of marble seats and suites for the dignitaries, as well as a canopy to protect patrons from the weather. The founder of the Turkish republic, Ataturk, asked that the theater be used. The acoustics are so perfect that during performances, microphones are often not even needed.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Enjoy free time among the palm-lined boulevards, beautiful Old Town and excellent shops of Antalya. The ship will offer the optional excursion "A Walking Excursion of Antalya & Archelogical Museum" (additional cost, bookable on board). Please see the Optional Excursions page for a full description.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14: Rhodes, Greece
(Friday, April 12)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Leave behind the port where the Colossus once stood and discover a stunning ensemble of Gothic architecture just a short drive from the port. These World Heritage monuments testify to the role of Rhodes, the largest island in the Dodecanese group, as a strategic crossroads. Many structures date to the era of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem, who lived on the island from 1309 until 1522 when the Ottoman Empire finally dislodged the Knights. En route, you’ll visit a lookout named Mount Smith named after the British admiral Sir Sydney Smith who used this vantage point to scan the seas for French ships in the Napoleonic era. Then you enter the citadel of the Knight’s through the d’Amboise Gate and head for the restored Grand Masters Palace. The first building of the 14th-century Crusaders, the Palace was modeled on the great Papal Palace of Avignon. It served as a fortress in times of war, a residence for the Grand Master of the Knights, a meeting place for senior knights, and, in later times, a summer residence of both Mussolini and Victor Emmanuel II of Italy. Stroll the cobblestone Street of the Knights and admire the honey- colored stone buildings with their giant doorways and arched windows. Step into the 15th-century Knights Hospital, now an archaeological museum that counts the Aphrodite of Rhodes in flawless Parian marble among its treasures. At the conclusion of this field trip, you can return to the ship or stay to wander this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Free time. In the afternoon there is an optional trip to the Acropolis at Lindos (additional cost, bookable on board). Please see the Optional Excursions page for a full description.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15: Kusadasi, Turkey / Ephesus
(Saturday, April 13)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: Today will include a Road Scholar exclusive excursion to Ephesus, the ancient Roman capital of the province of Asia and today one of the greatest sites of the classical world. Explore the Terrace Houses of Ephesus.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: The afternoon will be spent at the Museum of Ephesus in Selcuk and the Temple of Artemis, one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of the World.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16: At sea.
(Sunday, April 14)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: A relaxing morning at sea to enjoy the sunshine as the ship makes its way to Istanbul. Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
 Lunch: Lunch on board.
 Afternoon: Enjoy the Observation Deck if the weather is nice, or dive into a good book from the ship's library. Enjoy a late afternoon, Road Scholar cocktail party.
 Dinner: Dinner on board.
 Evening: Attend a shipboard guest lecture.
Accommodations: MV Aegean Odyssey
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17: Disembark / Istanbul, Turkey
(Monday, April 15)
 Breakfast: Breakfast on board.
 Morning: This morning we disembark the MV Aegean Odyssey and begin the day with an excursion in the city of Istanbul. Explore the Topkapi Palace and the Harem. The Topkapi Palace was the seat of the Ottoman Sultans for 400 years and a great testimony to the wealth and power of the Ottoman Empire.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: In the afternoon visit the Chora Church/Kariye Museum to witness its exquisite mosaics and frescoes from the 14th century, a period of Byzantine reawakening in arts.
 Dinner: Dinner in the hotel dining room.
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18: Istanbul, Turkey
(Tuesday, April 16)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: We commence our second day in Istanbul at the amazing church of Hagia Sophia. Possibly the most important architectural monument in the city, Hagia Sophia has stood gracefully since 537 AD. Next enjoy a field trip to the Hippodrome, the civic center of ancient Constantinople, where chariot races were run between the four teams of Blues, Greens, Whites and Reds. Then visit the 17th century Blue Mosque, world renowned for its exquisite Iznik tiles surrounding the interior of this wonderful mosque.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: Explore the beautiful Underground Cisterns, built by the illustrious Byzantine Emperor Justinian in 532 AD to store water underground. A visit to the award winning Archeology Museum will broaden your horizons as you will witness an outstanding collection of artifacts spanning across millennia including the magnificent Sarcophagus of Alexander the Great.
 Dinner: Explore local fare on your own.
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 19: Istanbul, Turkey
(Wednesday, April 17)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: We embark on a private cruise on the Bosphorus to explore the stunning palaces, mansions, and fortresses dotted along the Asian and European shores of this marvelous strait. Next, we visit the Rustem Pasha Mosque, built by the famous architect Sinan, a small but gem-like mosque demonstrating the most stunning examples of 16th century Iznik tiles.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: On to the Spice Bazaar, where exotic aromas immediately capture its visitors. We then continue on to the Grand Bazaar to discover its maze-like streets and alleys boasting over 4,000 shops!
 Dinner: Farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Accommodations: Armada Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 20: Departures
(Thursday, April 18)
 Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel dining room.
 Morning: Transfer to Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IST) for departures.
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List

Death on the Nile

Author: Agatha Christie

Description: How could we resist? Christie wrote Egypt's most famous murder mystery on the terrace of the Old Cataract Hotel in Aswan.

Down the Nile, Alone in a Fisherman's Skiff

Author: Rosemary Mahoney

Description: Mahoney weaves the tale of her quest to row the Nile with deft portraits of the people she meets in this marvelously engaging chronicle.

Egypt Map

Author: Nelles

Description: The coverage of this easy-fold map -- with insets of Luxor, Valley of the Kings, Giza, the Nile River Valley, Cairo and other sites -- includes Petra, Jerusalem and most of Israel.

Eyewitness Guide Egypt

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: A visually rich guide to the history, culture and monuments of Egypt.

Eyewitness Guide Jerusalem: Israel, Petra & Sinai

Author: Eyewitness Guides

Description: This compact, illustrated guide provides a thorough overview of Israel and western Jordan, including Petra, Wadi Rum and Amman.

In a Desert Land, Photographs of Israel, Egypt and Jordan

Author: Neil Folberg

Description: A stunning collection of photographs of the desert Middle East, including the Sinai, Petra and Jerusalem.

In the Land of Israel

Author: Amos Oz

Description: In this compelling volume, Israeli novelist Amos Oz interviewed dozens of his fellow countrymen from all walks of life. A passionate, candid and diverse portrait of a people and their hopes, fears and prejudices.

Islam, A Short History

Author: Karen Armstrong

Description: Armstrong brings authority and experience to this vivid, clear-headed survey of the history and impact of Islam from the birth of Muhammad to present-day challenges. The best short introduction to the subject.

Israel, Palestine, Holy Land Map

Author: Freytag & Berndt

Description: A double-sided, indexed map at a scale of 1:150,000.

Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths

Author: Karen Armstrong

Description: A popular history by the author of A History of God. Armstrong tackles big subjects -- and this book is no exception. It's a comprehensive, concise portrait of the city over the last 5,000 years.

Lonely Planet Istanbul Encounter

Author: Verity Campbell

Description: With a section of not-to-miss highlights, pull-out map and a calendar of annual events.

Luxor Illustrated, With Aswan, Abu Simbel and the Nile

Author: Michael Haag

Description: The ideal companion to a Nile cruise, Haag introduces all the famous monuments and temples of Upper Egypt from Luxor, Karnak, Valley of the Kings and the tomb of Tutankhamun to the marvels of Aswan and Abu Simbel in full color.

Mediterranean Explorer

Author: Ocean Explorer Maps

Description: This handy color map of the Mediterranean from Spain to the Black Sea and the Levant puts ancient sites and historic ports into context. With notable people, a timeline and descriptions of dozens of places across the classical world, this map serves equally well for Mediterranean and Black Sea cruises.

Mediterranean by Cruise Ship

Author: Anne Vipond

Description: The best-selling, compact guide, featuring excellent local maps, hundreds of color photographs, concise background information and recommended excursions for ports-of-call throughout the Mediterranean.

Petra, The Rose-Red City

Author: Christian Auge, Jean-Marie Dentzer

Description: Jam-packed with color illustrations, archival material, maps and site plans, this shirt-pocket encyclopedia is our best-selling book on Petra.

Prospero's Cell

Author: Lawrence Durrell

Description: This classic tribute to Corfu, its long history, myths and resilient people, is drawn from the young Durrell's idyllic time as a newlywed on the island in the years before WWII.

St. Paul's Ephesus, Texts and Archaeology

Author: Jerome Murphy O'Connor

Description: Jerome Murphy-O'Connor transports us back to the ancient city of Ephesus during its heyday, including contemporary accounts from Roman to biblical times, and featuring a guided walk through the city as a center of Paul's teachings.

The Ancient Mediterranean

Author: Michael Grant

Description: Grant explores the realms of archaeology, geography, art and economics to sketch this classic portrait of the ancient world, from prehistory through the Roman Imperium, and the influence on western civilization.

The Fourth Crusade and The Sack of Constantinople

Author: Jonathan Phillips

Description: An absorbing, vivid account of terrible crusade against the Eastern Orthodox Church that resulted in the sack of Constantinople in 1202.

The Janissary Tree

Author: Jason Goodwin

Description: With beautiful descriptions of Istanbul and its palaces, this engaging and bizarre historical mystery will keep you reading. The Ottoman Empire mysteries continue with The Snake Stone (TKY156, $14.00) and The Bellini Card (TKY191, $25.00), set in 1840s Venice.

The Middle Sea

Author: John Julius Norwich

Description: A marvelous writer who has already tackled Byzantium, the Normans in Sicily and Venice, Norwich spins his magic in this story of culture, trade and politics, royalty and rulers, wars and religion in the Mediterranean.

The Penguin Historical Atlas of Ancient Egypt

Author: Bill Manley

Description: Ingenious color maps, site plans, photographs and accompanying essays trace Egyptian civilization from the founding of Memphis through the sacking of Thebes and the invasion by Alexander the Great in 332 BC in this authoritative, remarkably concise history.

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