Palermo Cathedral, Sicily
Piraeus (for Athens), Greece
Palma Cathedral, Palma, Majorca
Hop aboard Marella Dream and let her carry you away to the Eastern Mediterranean and its ancient isles. Sunshine, natural beauty and historical landmarks define this blissful region, so grab a camera, put on your sunscreen and embark on the holiday of a lifetime.
* The order of the itinerary may differ depending on your chosen departure date and airport.
Day 1 - Palma, Majorca
Marella Cruises' Eastern Mediterranean Cruises leave from Palma, the capital of balmy Majorca. If there's time, stop here for a wander through the streets of the Old Town, where you’ll find the cathedral, the Royal Palace of Almudaina (home of the current monarchy) and vintage shops selling anything from books to antiques. It’s about a 40 minute walk from the town to the port or a 5 minute ride in a taxi, always consider your timing and leave plenty to get to the ship.
Day 2 - At sea
Time to relax in the on-board luxury of Marella Dream. With two pools, nine bars, a casino and two games rooms, you won’t be short of things to do. Stick to your fitness regime with an early morning session at the gym before having a leisurely breakfast at the Orion Restaurant.
Afterwards, pull up a day bed in the Sun Lounge and soak up some rays before popping down a deck and cooling off in the main pool. Head back inside to enjoy a pre-dinner apéritif, and listen to a pianist tinkling the ivories in Tides bar. Try the pan-Asian cuisine of the Kora La Restaurant, then get front seats at the Broadway show Lounge to catch one of the two nightly performances.
Day 3 - Palermo, Sicily
Time in port: 08:00 - 16:00
Get up and at ‘em early today, it's your first stop on your Ancient Isles itinerary. Palermo, as well as being Sicily’s capital, is also its economic and cultural centre, with a broad range of historical attractions and buildings to explore.
Here you'll find the cathedral, with its ornate columns, a Renaissance clock tower and a treasure chamber inside, where religious artefacts are housed. The sheer beauty of the Palatine Chapel, one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture in Europe, is evident in the intricate mosaics of its ceilings and the artwork that adorns its walls.
The Catacombe dei Cappuccini offers a whole different experience. Delve into history among the vast underground graves of over 8,000 people whose bodies were so well preserved by Capuchin Monks that they're still on show today.
Day 4 - Valletta, Malta
Time in port: 08:00 - 18:00
Step straight from the port on to the lovely promenade of Valletta’s waterfront. Loaded with colourful shops, restaurants and cafeterias, it's the perfect place to fuel up with a coffee and a pastry before heading into town. Visit St John’s Co-Cathedral, one of the most opulent churches you’ll ever see, with its gilded rooms and ceiling painted by the Grand Masters. For something different, take the family to the Toy Museum. Here, the kids can marvel at the toys of yesteryear, while the adults recall fond memories of their childhood play-things.
If you want a wider view of Malta, book an Ancient Isles cruise shore excursion to take you around Valletta, then to the ancient city of Mdina, with its fortifications and St Paul’s Cathedral. A stop at nearby Rabat for some serious souvenir shopping and it's back to the ship.
Day 5 - At sea
Kick back on-board with a visit to the spa and a mud wrap, or while away a few hours reading in Browsers’ Corner. Indulge in the duty free heaven that is the Broad Street Shops, where you easily pick yourself up a bargain, before dressing to the nines and experiencing the gastronomic delights of Mistral’s Restaurant. Have a post-dinner cocktail at The Water’s Edge before hitting the dance floor with your best Anton du Beke impression.
Day 6 - Heraklion, Crete
Time in port: 08:00 - 18:00
Steeped in history, Heraklion, the capital of Crete, is awash with archaeological ruins and artefacts. Knossos, the palace of the Minoan civilisation is not to be missed. Built around 2000 BC, mythological figures such as the Minotaur and King Minos are associated with this place.
Examine the impressive Koules Fortress, which guards the Venetian Harbour. And if there's time, visit Lions Square, a lively spot in the old town centre where you can sip on a Raki (a brandy similar to Grappa) while admiring the Morosini Fountain.
Day 7 - Piraeus (for Athens), Greece
Time in port: 08:00 - 16:00
It’s a big day, as you'll be heading to the ancient city of Athens in Greece. Dubbed ‘the cradle of civilisation', if you do one thing on your visit, go to the Acropolis and see the world-famous classical landmarks that sit above the city. Take your pick from the Parthenon, the Temple of Athena Nike, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Olympian Zeus.
A relatively recent monument, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, by the Old Royal Palace on Syntagma Square, is a cenotaph for Greek Soldiers and is guarded by the Presidential Guard. If you fancy a break from the history tour, head for Plaka, a delightful district full of independent shops jammed into tight alleys.
Day 8 - Rhodes Town, Rhodes
Time in port: 09:00 - 15:00
It’s a tough decision on what to do when you get to Rhodes. Head first for the blue-green waters and watersports of Faliraki Beach, or choose the scenic city, with its alfresco cafes and UNESCO-listed medieval old town.
Or visit the impressive Lindos Acropolis, with its panoramic views across Rhodes Town. Its numerous landmarks and monuments, such as the Castle of the Knights of St John and the ruins of the Doric Temple of Athenia Lindia, which paint a picture of ancient times and civilisations.
Day 9 - Limassol, Cyprus
Your final destination, where you’ll catch your flight back home, is Limassol in Cyprus. If you have time for some tourist action, or have booked an extra couple of days here, there are several places of archaeological importance to see. Paphos and Aphrodite's Rock, where legend says Aphrodite rose from the sea, the Greek Temple at Curium, and the Yermasoyia quarter where you can quench your thirst with a brandy sour in a bar and say ‘Yá mas!’ to your Ancient Isles cruise.