May 28-June 13, 2023

1. Sunday, May 28, 2023-Leave Washington Dulles on Aer Lingus Flight 116 (Airbus A321, Business Class) at 5:10 PM to Dublin, Ireland.

2. Monday, May 29-Arrive Dublin, Ireland, Terminal 2, at 5:15 AM (3,379 miles). Depart Dublin, Terminal 2, for Barcelona, Spain on Aer Lingus Flight 562 (Airbus A320) at 6:45 AM, arrive Barcelona at 10:25 AM (923 miles). Ohla Barcelona Hotel

3. Tuesday, May 30-Barcelona-Holland America Oosterdam sails at 5 PM.

4. Wednesday, May 31-Marseille, France (Provence)-Explore the wild and wonderful region of the Camargue, one third of which consists of wildlife-rich lakes and marshland. Located south of Arles, between the Mediterranean and the Rhône River delta, the largest river delta in Western Europe, it is home to numerous bird species, bulls, wild horses and special saltwater flora. This full-day adventure includes a guided tour of a wild-bird sanctuary, a walking tour and free time for lunch and shopping in the charming former fishing town of Saintes Maries de la Mer.

The day will begin with a scenic motorcoach ride through the countryside. Watch for the famous white horse breed specific to this region -- the Camarguais. These horses are the traditional steed of the gardians -- the local cowboys who herd the black Camargue bulls that are raised for "courses camarguaises" (bull run race).

Stop at the Parc Ornithologique de Pont de Gau -- a nature reserve that is home to thousands of birds, including the striking and graceful flamingo -- the iconic bird of the Camargue. Once on the verge of extinction, it now thrives in this region, which is one of only a few European habitats available for this bird. The park hosts a nesting ground built on a small island that was built specifically to support flamingo breeding and has helped to rebuild the local population. Other wading birds that can be found at the park include herons, egrets and storks.

The guide explains the park, which covers 150 acres of saltwater marsh, and the various species of birds, insects and plants that live here. Learn how injured birds are treated and released. A series of boardwalks (including a short, child-friendly inner loop) extend over the wetlands.

From here, it is a short and beautiful drive to the charming capital of the Camargue, Saintes Maries de la Mer. Along the way see a glimpse of herds of bulls and horses. The town's name means Marys of the Sea and refers to a local legend in which three biblical Saints arrived here from across the Mediterranean: Marie Jacobée, Jesus’ aunt; Marie Salomée, mother of Saint Jacques Major ; and Sarah patron saint of the gypsies also called "saint" Sarah but she is not canonized.
In town, the guide will conduct a brief walking tour of this former fishing village, now a popular seaside resort town, which is also a yearly pilgrimage destination for the Roma (Gypsy) people. Some free time will follow. Return to the motor-coach for the drive back to the port in Marseille. 

Marseille Area Photos

5. Thursday, June 1-Cannes, France (tenders from ship)-brief walk through Cannes with day primarily devoted to family reunion.

Cannes Photos

6. Friday, June 2- Livorno (Florence/Pisa) Begin the day with a scenic 90-minute motorcoach ride from Livorno to the historical center of Florence -- a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A guide will provide a tour of iconic landmarks including the duomo (the Florence Cathedral), the ancient baptistery with its famed bronze doors, and Giotto's Bell Tower. Walk a little further to discover La Ménagère -- a 120-year-old housewares store that is one of the hottest spots in Florence and is a favorite of Food & Wine Magazine. This multi-use space doubles as a concept café, dining room, accessories boutique, flower shop and cocktail bar. Gardens crawling up the walls and antique tables set with vintage plates and glasses lend a rustic-chic vibe. Expect the lunch experience here to feel like something out of a magazine photo shoot, thanks to artfully-designed dishes such as handmade spaghetti with cuttlefish, zucchini cream and mint; or roasted gnocchi with sheep's-milk cheese, lemon, green apple and fried couscous.

After the gourmet lunch, walk past the Piazza della Signoria adorned with magnificent statues, including a copy of Michelangelo's David. Then, reach Piazza Santa Croce -- the final resting place of Machiavelli, Galileo and Michelangelo -- and enjoy free time before returning to the ship in Livorno. 

Florence Photos

7. Saturday, June 3-Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy. Begin the tour with a drive to Tarquinia, founded in the 7th century BC, and now known as a magnificent Etruscan burial ground. See the Palazzo Vitelleschi -- an excellent example of early Renaissance architecture-its Archeological Museum houses the remains of the mysterious Etruscan population. Visit the necropolis, containing thousands of tombs dating from the 6th to the 1st century BC, many of which have not yet been explored.

Next, at Mandoleto Farm, sample typical agricultural products. The tasting includes canapés with pâté, bruschetta, honey marmalade, and several different local wines. 

Rome Area Photos

8. Sunday, June 4 Naples (Pompeii/Amalfi). Shore excursion was cancelled in Naples area because of limited sign-ups.  Day was spent on ship. 

Naples Photos

9. Monday, June 5-Cruising Strait of Messina before docking at Taormina, Italy. Situated between the Ionian Sea and the slopes of Mount Etna, Catania is Sicily's second city and has always had a close relationship with the volcano. In fact, most of the city's buildings are made from black lava and the entire city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. According to the historians, Catania was founded in 729 BC by Greek colonists from Chalcis. Since then it has been flooded with lava and shaken by earthquakes, most radically in 1693, when it was razed to the ground. The Catania of today is the result of an 18th-century rebuilding effort.

The Piazza Duomo boasts many fine Baroque buildings -- Palazzo del Municipio (the Town Hall), the former Chiesa Seminary, the cathedral and Porta Uzeda. The latter is the city gate, built in 1696 to connect Via Etnea with the port area. In the middle of town is the Fontana dell'Elefante -- a well-known fountain sculpted in 1736 by Giovanni Battista Vaccarini. The cathedral is dedicated to the city's patron saint -- Sant' Agata. On the second pilaster to the right is the Tomb of Vincenzo Bellini.

On the way back to Taormina, the coach will pass along the famous Ionian Coast. This coastline, with its citrus groves and a view of the summit of Mount Etna in the distance, is called the Riviera of the Cyclops, after the Homeric myth. According to the famous legend, it was here that jealousy drove the Cyclops (a one-eyed giant), Polyphemus, to kill a young man called Acis. Acis was then transformed by the compassionate gods into the river that still bears his name.

Pass through Aci Castello and stop for photos at the Norman castle, erected in 1076 and built entirely of black lava. 

Sicily Photos

10. Tuesday, June 6-Day at Sea

11. Wednesday, June 7-Kerkira, Nisos/Kerkira (Corfu). Set out with a small group to explore Corfu -- a wonderful blend of natural beauty, traditional villages and archaeological sites.

Traveling by motorcoach, pass olive, lemon, orange and cypress groves, and an old fortress, en route to the Paleokastritsa area. Visit Mons Repos, a palace where the late Philip was born and spent the first 18 months of his life.  Take photos from the Kanoni Viewpoint, whose name derives from the original gun placed here in 1810 by the French. The twin islets of Vlachernae and Mouse dominate the view.

A leading venue is the setting for a lunch of local delicacies.

Corfu's charming Old Town, best seen on foot, is a blend of medieval and modern. The old and new fortresses still bear the insignia of the Venetian Republic. View the Esplanade, planted with palms and eucalyptus by the French, see the English cricket pitch, and the Palace of St Michael & St George -- once home to Corfu's British rulers.

Wander along the narrow streets and through small plazas to the Church of St Spyridon, with its distinctive bell tower. It is dedicated to the Patron Saint of the island.

Enjoy some free time in town to explore. 

Corfu Photos

12. Thursday, June 8-Kotor, Montenegro (tenders). From the port, drive by coach to the Sveti Stefan area. The Old Town is located on an island connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus and is now privately owned. Nowadays it is a getaway village for a privileged few. The isthmus itself is quite lovely in that it is flanked by two pink sandy beaches. Take photos from the shoreline above Sveti Stefan.

Budva is one of the oldest cities on the Adriatic Sea. It is surrounded by ramparts dating from the 15th century, including a medieval fortification system complete with city gates, defense walls and towers. The ramparts of the citadel, once a powerful military fortress, are cleverly disguised as a stage festival theater in the summertime. Theatrical performances are also held in a smaller arena 'between the churches' so that the various saints -- St Mary, St Sava and St Trojica -- do their part to ensure that a fun time is had by all.

With a sense of the atmosphere of the Middle Ages, continue to the Djuric family farm in the village of Grbalj. This amazing estate includes a beautiful garden, a small vineyard and other typical Montenegrin architecture.

Explore the farm, meet the farm animals and pick vegetables from the garden before enjoying delicious local specialties such as smoked ham, cheese and wine. All the food is homemade from ingredients grown on the estate.

Return to the ship after this taste of Montenegro.

 Kotor Area Photos

13. Friday, June 9-Dubrovnik, Croatia-Romantic charm, homemade cuisine and exquisite scenery make the visit to the Croatian Riviera very memorable.

A drive along the Zupa Dubrovacka Riviera goes through the picturesque villages of the green and fertile Konavle Valley. The tour is headed to the famous Konavoski Dvori restaurant (visited here in 2001), perfectly situated in an old mill next to the cascading waters of the Ljuta River. A gracious host will offer a light snack consisting of local specialties such as smoked ham, cheese, homemade bread and a glass of local wine.

Further south, see the seaside resort town of Cavtat -- the ancient Roman city of Epidaurus -- set in a sheltered bay. Over the years, Cavtat has been a favorite destination for sailors and yacht enthusiasts. In fact, former-King Edward and American divorcée Wallace Simpson came here for their honeymoon. Take a pleasant stroll along the beautiful seafront promenade or relax over a coffee in one of many cafés along the coast.

Returning to Dubrovnik, visit Pile Square at the western entrance of the Old Town. George Bernard Show once wrote, "Those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik." Today, he might add that Dubrovnik is the place for all those who wish to renew their faith in human nature. Start a short tour at the beginning of the famous main street -- the Stradun. Explore Old Town of Dubrovnik -- a true Mediterranean beauty -- with an experienced guide before returning to the ship. 

Dubrovnik Area Photos

14. Saturday, June 10-Trieste (Venice), Italy-2 PM -Overnight in port.

Trieste Photos

15. Sunday, June 11-early AM-Disembark the ship for central Venice. Hotel Saturnia International

16. Monday, June 12-Venice, Italy Hotel Saturnia International

Venice Photos

17. Tuesday, June 13-Leave Venice, Italy on Aer Lingus Flight 423 (Airbus A320) at 12:20 PM to Dublin, Ireland, Terminal 2, arriving at 2:15 PM (996 miles). Connecting flight was cancelled. Overnight in Dublin, Ireland Fitzwilliam Hotel.

18. Wednesday, June 14-Leave Dublin, Ireland, Terminal 2, on Aer Lingus Flight 117 (Airbus A 321, Business Class) at 12:35 PM, arrive Washington Dulles at 3:40 PM (3,379 miles).