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Odyssey at Sea: The Greek Isles, Ephesus & Istanbul

Join us for an adventure of grand proportions aboard the Aegean Odyssey as you learn about iconic locales and hidden gems from Greece to Istanbul.
Program No. 23587RJ
12 days
Starts at

Odyssey at Sea: The Greek Isles, Ephesus & Istanbul

Join us for an adventure of grand proportions aboard the Aegean Odyssey as you learn about iconic locales and hidden gems from Greece to Istanbul.
12 days
Starts at
12 days
Starts at
Program No. 23587RJ

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At a Glance

Join us for an adventure of grand proportions! Step aboard the Aegean Odyssey and learn about iconic locales and hidden gems from Greece to Istanbul. Beginning in legendary Athens, you’ll discover countless treasures across the Aegean — both ancient and modern — from the energetic local life of Mykonos to the romantic vistas of Santorini, ending in the historic Byzantine capital of Istanbul. Unlike most cruise ships that are briefly in port, you’ll have overnight stays in many locations, giving you plenty of opportunity for deeper exploration. We’ve taken care of every detail — and can’t wait for you to join us!

Best of all, you’ll…

  • Experience two of the most popular Greek Isles, Mykonos and Santorini.
  • Visit Istanbul’s legendary Hagia Sophia Mosque.
  • Discover the storied past behind the ruins of Ephesus, the jewel of Greek-Roman cities, during your time in Turkey.

General Notes

We’ll have up to 350 Road Scholar participants on the ship, divided into groups of 35 for shore excursions.
Featured Expert
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Ioanna Kopsiafti
Ioanna Kopsiafti is an art historian, professor and writer living in Athens for the past 20 years. She earned her master’s degree from St. Andrews University and her doctorate from Oxford. Ioanna currently lectures in Athens and Rome, primarily on ancient Greek and Roman art and civilization. Her publications include “Style City Athens” (Thames & Hudson 2006) and “Thinking Space, Advancing Art: Cassirer with Crowther” (Routledge 2015) on the philosophy of symbolic forms that explores language, myth, religion and art within the philosophy of culture.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

Profile Image of Ioanna Kopsiafti
Ioanna Kopsiafti View biography
Ioanna Kopsiafti is an art historian, professor and writer living in Athens for the past 20 years. She earned her master’s degree from St. Andrews University and her doctorate from Oxford. Ioanna currently lectures in Athens and Rome, primarily on ancient Greek and Roman art and civilization. Her publications include “Style City Athens” (Thames & Hudson 2006) and “Thinking Space, Advancing Art: Cassirer with Crowther” (Routledge 2015) on the philosophy of symbolic forms that explores language, myth, religion and art within the philosophy of culture.
Profile Image of Catherine Skokan
Catherine Skokan View biography
Dr. Catherine Skokan is a professor emerita at the Colorado School of Mines and the first woman to receive a graduate degree from that institution. Her technical interests include volcanoes, geothermal and energy resources, groundwater resources, and humanitarian engineering. Dr. Skokan has traveled extensively with student and adult groups and has led humanitarian engineering projects, visiting all seven continents and some 100 countries, sharing the beauties of this world with others.
Profile Image of Dina Statha
Dina Statha View biography
Dina Statha been leading groups in Greece as a licensed professional for twenty years. She has worked extensively throughout Greece with individuals and groups, assisting in the coordination of traditional land programs, cruises, walking and hiking programs, as well as programs centered on the topics of history, culture, and religion. Always interested in expanding her knowledge, Dina continually attends seminars centering on ancient Greek art, diet, and sport. In her free time, she enjoys reading, hiking, as well as traditional Greek music and folk dancing.
Profile Image of Maria Argyraki
Maria Argyraki View biography
Maria Argyraki, an experienced member of the Association of Greek Licensed Tourist Guides, joined the Road Scholar Group Leader team in 2011. Born and raised in Athens to a family of Ottoman Greek refugees, she has studied, traveled, and worked in the U.S.A, the U.K, France, Turkey, and Japan. Dedicated to sharing her knowledge of history and culture and hosting travelers in a most personable manner, Maria is also an awarded literary translator. She is currently working on two historical novels of her own.
Profile Image of Effie Soupourtzi
Effie Soupourtzi View biography
Eftychia “Effie” Soupourtzi feels lucky and blessed to be a licensed guide/lecturer since 2000 because this has been her dream job ever since she was a child. Back then, she was happy to show the sites and tell stories to friends and family visiting from abroad, today she's twice as happy and excited to meet interesting people, travelers of the world who wish to see, hear and learn about her beautiful country’s history and culture and share with them her passion and insight.
Profile Image of Marily Papadopoulou
Marily Papadopoulou View biography
Marily Papadopoulou is an exploration leader with specialties in archaeology and museology. Self-described as a “knowledge junkie,’’ she travels the world to learn about everything she can. Her curiosity about the world, its beauties, and her need to communicate and show others, led her to work as a Group Leader. According to Marily, “There is a whole world to be explored so let's get started!”
Profile Image of Antonis Zaglakoutis
Antonis Zaglakoutis View biography
Antonis Zaglakoutis is an Athenian. His studies in Greece and abroad turned traveling into a career. For 40 years, he has been introducing visitors to his homeland as a licensed guide, lecturer, and exploration leader: seeing it always as a fascinating learning experience, doing it always with unspoiled enthusiasm. In parallel, he has also worked on cultural and educational programs and projects in Greece as well as Italy and the Middle East. Antonis is fluent in English, French, and Italian.
Profile Image of Yasemin Akhun
Yasemin Akhun View biography
Yasemin Akhun began her career at Aegeon University, where she studied and became a licensed guide in 1998.Her specialties are archeological and cultural exploration. She is interested in Turkish classical music as well as cooking and tasting food from different cultures. Yasemin has worked with Road Scholar since 1998 and likes being a Group Leader Scholar because "Road Scholar’s reputation ensures high quality services for every element of the program, which in turn creates an advantage of being a group leader for these programs."
Profile Image of Sami Ozcini
Sami Ozcini View biography
Sami Ozcini has shared his love for Turkey and his home city of Istanbul with Road Scholars for more than 20 years. His on-site lectures bring a special perspective to understanding and appreciating Turkey’s rich history and legacy. A graduate of Marmara University, Sami has a degree in English literature. He also served as an instructor in two online Road Scholar programs in 2020. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and acting as a referee for amateur football games in Istanbul.
Profile Image of Averkios Vassalos
Averkios Vassalos View biography
Averkios Vassalos was born in Athens, but his origins are from the island of Santorini. He graduated from the University of Athens in history and archaeology. He worked as an archaeologist before deciding to become an exploration leader, sharing his knowledge and love for his country with people who want to learn about Greek history, mythology, and the civilization that has developed thousands of years ago. Averkios is a licensed guide and local specialist for Greece, and enjoys taking groups all over the country.
Profile Image of Volkan Yazici
Volkan Yazici View biography
Volkan Yazici was born in Milas, ancient Mylasa. In school, he majored in physics, but after graduating, he found out that he loves to be with people more. So, Volkan started to work in travel and has served as a group leader since 1999. He has expertise in a number of subjects involving the history and culture of Turkey.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Sailing the Wine-Dark Sea, Why the Greeks Matter
by Thomas Cahill
Cahill brings to life ancient Greek society and civilization through the lives and words of politicians, playwrights, a poet, a philosopher and an artist in this eloquent and absorbing tribute.
Tales from the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in Modern Turkey
by Anastasia M. Ashman, Jennifer Eaton Gokmen
As the Western world struggles to comprehend the paradoxes of modern Turkey, Tales from the Expat Harem reveals its most personal nuances. This illuminating anthology provides a window into the country from the perspective of thirty-two expatriates from seven different nations—artists, entrepreneurs, Peace Corps volunteers, archaeologists, missionaries, and others—who established lives in Turkey for work, love, or adventure. Through narrative essays covering the last four decades, these diverse women unveil the mystique of the “Orient,” describe religious conflict, embrace cultural discovery, and maneuver familial traditions, customs, and responsibilities. Poignant, humorous, and transcendent, the essays take readers to weddings and workplaces, down cobbled Byzantine streets, into boisterous bazaars along the Silk Road, and deep into the feminine stronghold of steamy Ottoman bathhouses. The outcome is a stunning collection of voices from women suspended between two homes as they redefine their identities and reshape their world views.
The Greeks, An Illustrated History
by Diane Harris Cline
This accessible photographic history of ancient Greece pays special attention to Greek innovations: great literature and architecture, war tactics, democracy, the Olympics, Socrates and much more. Cline laces the gripping story of the Greek empire with archaeological discoveries.
The World of the Ancient Greeks
by John Camp, Elizabeth Fisher
Featuring hundreds of illustrations and invitingly short chapters on topics from the first Greeks to the Heroic Age and classical Athens. With modern color photographs of great Greek cities from Athens and Delphi to Knossos, Ephesus, Pergamum and Priene.
The Greek Myths, Complete Edition
by Robert Graves
A new edition of Graves' classic collection with a cover by comic book artist Ross MacDonald. This expert retelling by Graves, a poet, memoirist and the author of I, Claudius (ITL429), still remains the seminal modern translation of the mythologies of Ancient Greece.
A Traveller's History of Athens
by Richard Stoneman
A brief history of Athens through the 1990's -- wide-ranging, accessible and effectively condensed. With a useful chronology and historical gazetteer, this book marches confidently through the centuries.
Greece, Land of Light
by Nicholas Gage, Barry Brukoff
Brukoff's dramatic color photographs are paired with incisive commentary by award-winning author Nicholas Gage for this striking portrait of the people, land and history of Greece and the islands
Harem - The World Behind the Veil
by Alev Lytle Croutier
The author left Turkey at age 18 for the US, returning 15 years later to visit her birthplace and family. Intrigued upon learning that her grandmother had lived in a harem, she interviewed aunts and other family members about their recollections. About that same time (mid 1970’s) the Harem of Topkapi Palace was opened to visitors. With thoughtful research and richly illustrated, Croutier pieces together a realistic description of daily life in the Sultan’s Harem. Her fascinating insights into customs, food and ceremony of the Palace through 450 hundred years, make this an enjoyable read. The addition of family photographs and an amusing chapter about Western misconceptions of the term “harem” sets this work apart from all other books of its kind.
Turkey: A Modern History
by Erik J. Zürcher
A revised edition looks at Turkey's modern day changes and continuations into a capitalist and modern world. Focuses on the 1950s and forward, Zürcher focuses on politics, military, human rights issues, Turkey's relationships with Europe and the West and their ambivalent relationship with the Middle East.
Ataturk: A biography of Mustafa Kemal - Father of Modern Turkey
by Lord Kinross
Kinross tells the story of Ataturk in such an engaging way that you stay glued to the page. Beginning with his birth in 1881 in Salonika, Greece, during the usual Balkan struggles, the book traces his youth through his early education and military service. Along the way Kinross reveals the experiences that formed Ataturk’s rebel spirit, leads you through the evolution of his hatred for the rich, the corrupt, and the abusive religious and political classes. He takes you onto the battlefield where Ataturk’s leadership and inspiration routs the Greeks who invaded Turkey in the aftermath of W.W.I. Kinross takes you step by step through the formation of a new, secular Republic, free of domination by Sultans, Moslem Caliphs or foreign countries, and describes how Turkey secured a place among nations. You’ll learn of Ataturk’s commitment to equality for all people, men and women alike, and how he lead the new Turkish nation westward by adopting the western alphabet overnight, creating a new Turkish language, and provided free education for all. A “must read” in order to understand present-day Turkey’s struggle to maintain the secular principles Ataturk established.
A Traveller's History of Greece
by Timothy Boatswain, Colin Nicolson
A nicely written survey from prehistory through the 1990s: wide-ranging, accessible and necessarily condensed.
Crescent and Star: Turkey Between Two Worlds
by Stephen Kinzer
A passionate love for the Turkish people and an optimism that its ruling class can complete Turkey's transformation into a Western-style democracy mark Kinzer's reflections on a country that sits geographically and culturally at the crossroads between Europe and Asia. Kinzer, the former New York Times Istanbul bureau chief, gives a concise introduction to Turkey: Kemal Ataterk's post-WWI establishment of the modern secular Turkish state; the odd makeup of contemporary society, in which the military enforces Ataterk's reforms. In stylized but substantive prose, he devotes chapters to the problems he sees plaguing Turkish society: Islamic fundamentalism, frictions regarding the large Kurdish minority and the lack of democratic freedoms. Kinzer's commonsense, if naeve, solution: the ruling military elite, which takes power when it feels Turkey is threatened, must follow the modernizing path of Ataterk whom Kinzer obviously admires a step further and increase human rights and press freedoms. Kinzer's journalistic eye serves him well as he goes beyond the political, vividly describing, for instance, the importance and allure of the narghile salon, where Turks smoke water pipes. Here, as elsewhere, Kinzer drops his journalist veneer and gets personal, explaining that he enjoys the salons in part "because the sensation of smoking a water pipe is so seductive and satisfying." Readers who want a one-volume guide to this fascinating country need look no further.
Travels With Epicurus
by Daniel Klein
Daniel Klein's witty meditation on the ancients, life in the Greek Islands, his favorite philosophers -- and growing old gracefully -- is also a delightful romp through the Aegean, primarily set on Hydra.
Istanbul: The Imperial City
by John Freely
Whether you call it Byzantium, Constantinople, or Istanbul, the “old Turkish hand” John Freely tells the story of each creation and decline up to today’s Istanbul under the Turkish Republic. Spirited and colorful, Freely gives his readers a lively account of the turmoil each incarnation brought. In addition to “page turning history”, Freely gives a complete listing of monuments & museums in the city - he has lived there for decades. This is the one to read on Istanbul if you have a short list of books and limited time to get into its history.
Greece, A Traveler's Literary Companion
by Artemis Leontis (Editor)
In this terrific anthology, 24 modern Greek writers offer a flavor of their nation, its culture and people, beautiful landscapes and rich history.
Ancient Greece: Art, Architecture, and History
by Marina Belozerskaya, Kenneth Lapatin
This informative handbook traces Greek art and architecture from the third millennium to the first century B.C.
It's All Greek to Me
by Charlotte Higgins
With timelines, a who's who, charts and maps, this handy little primer is a thoroughly entertaining introduction to everything Greek, from poetry and drama to philosophy, history and culture.
Eyewitness Guide Turkey
by Eyewitness Guides
Gorgeously illustrated and filled with excellent maps, this compact book is a thorough overview of Turkey, its history, traditions, cultures and sights. With hundreds of color photographs and illustrations.

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