23587
Greece/Turkey

Odyssey at Sea: The Greek Isles, Ephesus & Istanbul

Join us for an adventure of grand proportions aboard Road Scholar’s favorite ship, the Aegean Odyssey, as you learn about iconic locales and hidden gems from Greece to Istanbul.
Program No. 23587RJ
Length
12 days
Starts at
3,799
Special Offer
Click on Dates & Prices below to see special offer details.
Flights start at
FREE
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12 days
11 nights
28 meals
10 B 8 L 10 D
DAY
1
In Transit to Program
In Flight
DAY
2
Arrive Athens, Transfer to Hotel, Orientation
Athens
D
Acropolis Select

Activity note: Diethnís Aeroliménas Athinón Elefthérios Venizélos — Athens International Airport Eleftherios Venizelos (ATH). Refer to your personal air itinerary for specific flight information. Transfer to your hotel.

Afternoon: After transferring to the hotel and checking in, take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: 6:00 p.m. The Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: In the hotel dining room, have what you like from the dinner buffet with beverage choices of wine, coffee, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
3
Athens, Acropolis, Acropolis Museum, Embark Aegean Odyssey
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking up to 4 miles up/down a winding trail with many well-worn steps to Acropolis; no handrails; uneven, rocky, sometimes slippery surfaces; standing up to 2 hours. At Acropolis Museum, walking and standing for more than an hour. Popular sites may be crowded at certain periods. NOTE: The “On Your Feet” activity level group will not climb to the Acropolis and will see it from the motorcoach followed by a slower paced visit to the museum.

Breakfast: At the hotel

Morning: After checking out of the hotel, we'll board a motorcoach. for a field trip to the city’s most iconic symbol, the Acropolis. From the UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription: “The Acropolis of Athens and its monuments are universal symbols of the classical spirit and civilization and form the greatest architectural and artistic complex bequeathed by Greek Antiquity to the world.” We will climb to the top of the rocky crag and stand in awe before ruins of the Parthenon and other temples. Built between 447-432 BCE, the Parthenon — named for the city’s patron goddess, Athena Parthenos — has been called “the supreme effort of genius in pursuit of beauty” and “the most perfect Doric temple ever built.” Its architectural proportions symbolize the ideals of Greek thought at the height of Greek civilization.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: The long-awaited Acropolis Museum was completed in 2007. During an expert-led exploration in the dramatic Gallery of the Slopes of the Acropolis, we will ascend floors of glass that seem to float above the excavations for an extraordinary perspective of the layers of Greek history that lie below. In addition to irreplaceable masterpieces, the exceptional collection includes items from everyday life and all historic periods. A recreation of the Parthenon’s frieze was based on existing original blocks as well as copies from museums in London and Paris. Late afternoon, we board the motorcoach to transfer to the port of Piraeus, approximately 30-minutes drive. Embark the Aegean Odyssey. After completing boarding procedures and getting your cabin, take some time to unpack, freshen up, and relax. Then begin to become familiar with this comfortable ship that will be our floating home for the duration of the program. The ship’s friendly and courteous staff are scrupulous about hygiene and you will find numerous dispensers with hand-sanitizer we are encouraged to use. Along with everyone on board, we will meet at muster stations when called for the ship’s safety drill. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. The extent and duration of elective walking and other free time activities is according to personal choice. In most ports, complimentary shuttle busses will be available for those who wish to explore independently.

Dinner: Aboard ship, have dinner in the venue of your choice: the à la carte Marco Polo restaurant, open for dinner as well as lunch on full days at sea; and the Terrace Café with its extensive buffet, open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Meals feature fresh local ingredients in tasty preparations. Both restaurants offer open-seating dining. All meals aboard ship are included, as well as afternoon tea and late night snacks. Non-alcoholic beverages plus select wines at dinner are included; other beverages are available for purchase.

Evening: On different evenings aboard ship, there will be activities to choose from such as a guest speaker, a performance by talented musicians, and opportunities for interaction with fellow Road Scholars. There is also a well-stocked library with daily newspapers received via satellite. Each evening, a briefing memo/daily journal will be placed in our cabins with highlights of the next day’s activities. Most mornings will begin with a group stretch session. On each full day of the program, we will gather with our Group Leader for an informal “port talk” about what’s ahead. The ship is scheduled to leave the port of Piraeus and begin our journey to Hydra.

DAY
4
Hydra, Free Time
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting in/out of tender vessels. Walking about 3 miles; narrow, cobblestone streets; standing up to 2 hours at a time. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café — and on the Lido Deck in nice weather — there are hot and cold dishes to choose from such as eggs, breakfast meats, cereals, fruits, breads, pastries, and a variety of healthy choices as well as milk, juice, coffee, tea, water. Meals feature fresh ingredients in tasty preparations.

Morning: We will anchor off the island of Hydra and board tender boats. Then set out on a walking field trip with our Group Leader to learn about local traditions and customs. Separated from the Peloponnese by a narrow strip of water, Hydra has developed a strong maritime culture around the many natural bays and harbors. It was around these harbors that towns grew into picturesque port towns along the steep hillsides. After the field trip, the Group Leader will accompany those who wish to return to the ship.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay on shore and dine on your own.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship or take advantage of the tender vessels available for independent exploration. Later in the afternoon, we will gather for a port talk.

Dinner: You may choose either the Marco Polo Restaurant that serves a variety of á là carte items or the Terrace Café with its buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to leave Hydra and begin our journey to Santorini.

DAY
5
Santorini, Akrotiri, Free Time
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off tenders and a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 3 miles including uphill; rough, winding paths with some steps, no handrails; standing up to 2 hours. Extent and duration of elective walking and other free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: What we call Santorini is really a group of islands born out of violent eruptions — often associated with the legend of Atlantis. The sea-filled caldera covers what is still an active, though currently dormant, volcano. We will step into tender vessels, then board a motorcoach to start our exploration of Santorini at Akrotiri. Here, archaeological excavations are uncovering the remains of this town destroyed during the eruption of the volcano in 1630 BCE. With our Group Leader, we will see the remains of three- and four-story buildings, houses that once had fresh running water, drainage systems, and wonderful frescoes. Pumice from the volcano enveloped everything but also preserved it until excavations began in 1967. Akrotiri is regarded as one of the most fascinating sites of prehistoric Greece.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time to do or see what interests you most in port or onboard the ship. The Group Leader is happy to offer suggestions. We will gather aboard ship late afternoon for a port talk.

Dinner: You may choose either the Marco Polo Restaurant that serves a variety of á là carte items or the Terrace Café with its buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to leave Santorini and begin our journey to Mykonos.

DAY
6
Mykonos & Little Venice, Free Time
Mykonos
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting in/out of tender boats. Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 4 miles including ship and port corridors and gangways; some steps; standing up to 2 hours. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: With our Group Leader, we’ll take a tender boat or shuttle bus into the old town. Explore Mykonos on foot. As we walk, we will see the three main highlights of Mykonos: the Church of Panagia Paraportiani, one of the most photographed churches in Greece; the iconic windmills that can be seen from almost every angle in the village; and “Little Venice” where the buildings are built perched over the water's edge. At the end of the field trip, the Group Leader will accompany those who wish to return to the ship.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay on shore and dine on your own.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship, including a lecture on topics relevant to our program, or take advantage of the ship tender service, or seabus available for independent exploration.

Dinner: You may choose either the Marco Polo Restaurant that serves a variety of á là carte items or the Terrace Café with its buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to remain in port overnight.

DAY
7
Mykonos, Sacred Delos, Free Time
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a local boat with steps up/down. Walking about 3 miles; some rough terrain, steps, no handrails; standing up to 2 hours. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: We will board local boats for a walking field trip in Delos, a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site. From the UNESCO inscription: “According to Greek mythology, Apollo was born on this tiny island in the Cyclades archipelago. Apollo's sanctuary attracted pilgrims from all over Greece and Delos was a prosperous trading port. The island bears traces of the succeeding civilizations in the Aegean world, from the 3rd millennium B.C. to the paleo Christian era. The archaeological site is exceptionally extensive and rich and conveys the image of a great cosmopolitan Mediterranean port.” We will return to port after the field trip where you are welcome to enjoy free time aboard ship or stay ashore and explore independently.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay in Mykonos Old Town and dine on your own.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship or take advantage of the shuttle busses available for independent exploration. We will gather aboard ship late afternoon for a port talk.

Dinner: You may choose either the Marco Polo Restaurant that serves a variety of á là carte items or the Terrace Café with its buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow. The ship is scheduled to leave Mykonos and begin our journey to Samos.

DAY
8
Samos, Free Time
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 3 miles, some steps; standing up to 2 hours. Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: Setting off the ship with our Group Leader, we’ll board a motorcoach for a field trip into Samos, a small island in the eastern Aegean Sea. In Vathi, the capital and main port, we will explore on foot and see where neoclassical architecture intertwines winding streets and small squares. We will also learn about Pythagoras, the influential philosopher and mathematician born here in the 6th century BCE. For a time, he lived in a cave apart from society where he developed and taught his theories. We will return to port at the end of the field trip where you are welcome to enjoy free time aboard ship or stay ashore and explore independently.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant, or you may choose to stay on shore and dine on your own.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities aboard the ship, or take advantage of free time for independent exploration. Back aboard ship, we will gather for a port talk in late afternoon.

Dinner: You may choose either the Marco Polo Restaurant that serves a variety of á là carte items or the Terrace Café with its buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow.

DAY
9
Ephesus, Terrace Houses, House of the Virgin Mary
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 5 miles; unpaved, winding trail with steps; no handrails; uneven and rough footpath; standing up to 2 hours exposed to sun, no shade. NOTE: The “On Your Feet” group will not visit the Terrace Houses.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: Upon arrival in the port of Kusadasi, we will step off the ship, board a motorcoach, and set out on a field trip to another UNESCO World Heritage Site, ancient Ephesus, where a local expert will lead our exploration. From the UNESCO inscription: “Located within what was once the estuary of the River Kaystros, Ephesus comprises successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements founded on new locations, which followed the coastline as it retreated westward. Excavations have revealed grand monuments of the Roman Imperial period including the Library of Celsus and the Great Theatre. Little remains of the famous Temple of Artemis, one of the ‘Seven Wonders of the World,’ which drew pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean.” Unlike her Greek counterpart, this Artemis was primarily a fertility goddess. We will also see ruins of what have been called the Terrace Houses, residential structures once inhabited by wealthy Ephesians.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch we will transfer to the Ephesus Archaeological Museum. This multi-room museum houses many findings from the Ephesus archaeological site. Originally built in 1929, it expanded over the years to accommodate the growing collection. The last expansion was in 1995. We will then board a motorcoach to take us to the House of the Virgin Mary. This Catholic pilgrimage site is believed to be where the mother of Jesus spent the last years of her life.

Dinner: You may choose either the Marco Polo Restaurant that serves a variety of á là carte items or the Terrace Café with its buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow.

DAY
10
At Sea, Lectures, Shipboard Activities
At Sea
B,L,D
Aegean Odyssey

Activity note: Extent and duration of free time activities according to personal choice.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship, including a lecture on topics relevant to our program.

Lunch: Your choice of the Terrace Café or Marco Polo Restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time. Enjoy the activities of your choice aboard ship. In the late afternoon, we will gather for a port talk.

Dinner: You may choose either the Marco Polo Restaurant that serves a variety of á là carte items or the Terrace Café with its buffet.

Evening: At leisure. Enjoy activities aboard ship, spend time with fellow Road Scholars, and be sure to check the briefing memo/daily bulletin placed in our cabins with highlights for tomorrow, when the ship will arrive in Istanbul.

DAY
11
Disembark, Istanbul, Topkapi Palace, Blue Mosque
Istanbul
B,D
Marmara Taksim

Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach with 4-5 steps up/down. Walking about 5 miles including steps at Palace; no handrails; standing up to 5 hours. NOTE: The “On Your Feet” group will not go inside the harem apartments. Check-in begins at 3:00 p.m.

Breakfast: In the Terrace Café or on the Lido Deck in nice weather.

Morning: We will disembark from the ship and then board a motorcoach and ride to the Topkapi Palace. Constructed from 1460-1478, it served as the residence of Ottoman sultans as well as their administrative and ceremonial center until the mid-19th century. A local expert will lead our exploration as we see aspects of the Imperial Treasury that holds riches of royal history including thrones, jeweled pendants, and precious stones, sacred items from the tomb of the Prophet Mohammed, decorated weapons, and much more. We will also see parts of the harem apartments that originally contained more than 300 rooms including living quarters for the sultan and his family, bath houses, courtyards, dormitories for concubines, a hospital, laundry, mosques, and pavilions.

Lunch: On your own.

Afternoon: Moving on, we will visit the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, known as the Blue Mosque for what were originally richly hued blue tiles decorating its interior. It was constructed from 1609-1616 facing Hagia Sophia. Still an active mosque, it is the only one in Istanbul with six minarets where a Muezzin calls the faithful to prayer five times each day. Beneath its multiple domes, there are more than 20,000 handmade ceramic tiles, some 260 stained glass windows, and verses from the Qu’ran displayed in calligraphic art. Late afternoon, we'll transfer to the hotel and check in.

Dinner: Enjoy a farewell dinner as a group.

Evening: At leisure. Prepare for departures in the morning.

DAY
12
Program Concludes
In Flight
B

Activity note: Transfer to the Istanbul International Airport. See your program’s "Transportation Information" regarding transfers. Check out is at 12:00 p.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel depending on departure times.

Morning: We will board a motorcoach and transfer to the Istanbul airport. This completes our program. If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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