The Mediterranean. It’s arguably the most illustrious region in the world, which is why legions of devoted holidaymakers line its shores every summer. On this NEW small ship ocean cruise into the Mediterranean with Vantage Deluxe World Travel, we’ve curated the best destinations and cultural insights in Italy, Croatia, and the tiny island nation of Malta. From Venice to Rome, you’ll discover Adriatic delights such as the Dalmatian Islands and the arid, romantic region of Puglia. Furthermore, this journey also circumnavigates Sicily, showcasing three of its most fascinating cities. And while it’s part of Italy, you’ll soon discover why Sicily is a world away from the mainland.
Spend some time in Venice and Rome, soaking in the iconic architecture, the cinematic ambiance, and the food! Designed with just 77 cabins onboard – including a landmark 15 solo cabins – the 5-star Ocean Odyssey seamlessly blends opulent luxury with intimate cultural discoveries. Our ship’s small size also lets you navigate to exclusive ports larger ships can’t reach, with some tendering where you will be required to have the physical agility to maneuver getting on and off of tenders/Zodiac boats. After a day of portside exploration, relax onboard with a pampering spa treatment, or a delicious meal cooked over a hot-rock grill. Have our Concierge make a reservation for you at the spa. You’ll be picture-ready in no time for these glamorous ports of call. Add on extensions to Florence and Stresa & the Italian Lakes for the ultimate, Italian experience. Discover the Mediterranean and live la dolce vita with Vantage!
If you're interested in this itinerary and want to revel in even more Cultural Discoveries and immersive experiences, check out our combination cruises Wonders of the World Cruise 2023: A 150-day Voyage from Australia to Sweden, The Suez to Southern Europe: A 47-day Voyage from Amman to Barcelona, Southern European Spoils: Venice to Barcelona, Mediterranean Relics: Ancient Wonders and Coastal Cities and Kingdoms and Cultures: A 68-day Voyage from Jordan to England. Explore more and save.
Discover the Italian Lakes on this thrilling and compact extension into one of the most illustrious regions of the world just oozing with showbiz appeal. Along the shores of Lake Como, absorb the scenery, staggering cliffsides, and natural beauty that draws both filmmakers and the famous, including the likes of George Clooney, Madonna, Richard Branson, and more. But you won’t need to be a celebrity to enjoy the finer things — this extension is chock-full of them. Embark on a private Borromean Islands tour, and stay in a hotel overlooking gorgeous Lake Maggiore. And discover Milan, the centerpiece of the Italian fashion world. Don’t miss this scenic and unforgettable journey through the best of Italy’s lakes!
Get under the Tuscan sun in Florence, the beating heart of Italy’s esteemed foodie region and the birthplace of the Renaissance. On tours of the city’s two premiere galleries — Uffizi and Accademia — you’ll get insights on the artistic masters who changed the world. You’ll also see Florence’s many corners on a guided tour, while having ample time to discover this magnificent city on your own, too. From the banks of the Arno to the stunning duomo overlooking the city, Florence is a feast for all the senses. Famous cuisine, unparalleled wine, and world-class leather products are all at your fingertips on this compact and enlightening extension. Uncover the beauty of Tuscany’s capital with Vantage!
Fly to Venice, Italy
Today your journey to Italy begins with an overnight flight to Venice. Or, depart earlier for your pre-trip extension to Stresa.
Arrive in Venice and attend a Welcome Briefing and Dinner
You’ll arrive in Venice today! If you purchased your airfare from Vantage, you’ll be met at the airport by one of our representatives who will assist you with your transfer by Venice’s famous water taxis to the hotel. Get settled in, and later, attend a Welcome Briefing and Dinner.
Tour Venice’s highlights
Get ready to discover this mesmerizing floating city — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — during today’s sightseeing walking tour, which takes you to St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace. Along the way, you'll take in views of Venice's canals, lined with gorgeous centuries-old palaces, churches, hotels, and other buildings in an eclectic array of architectural styles.
Enjoy the rest of the day to explore and dine on your own, perhaps seeking out a cicchetti bar (or two or three!) and sipping an Aperol spritz in one of Venice’s many scenic squares. Your Program Manager can point you in the right direction if you need suggestions.
Enjoy leisure time in Venice, then transfer to Trieste and embark the Ocean Odyssey
This morning you can take on Venice at your own pace — perhaps you’ll shop for some last-minute items or go for a sightseeing stroll with your camera. After lunch on your own, we’ll transfer by private boat to Venice’s train station and embark a high-speed train that will take us north to Trieste. (A luggage truck will transfer your luggage for the utmost in convenience and ease.) Trieste is located across the bay from Venice but is closer to Slovenia. Hear a bit more about the largest port in the Adriatic on a guided tour; then, embark the Ocean Odyssey at the pier. Thanks to the small size of your ship, in many ports we’ll be able to dock right onshore, giving you access easy access to your destination. However, please note that other ports may require anchoring offshore and tendering inland, which will require a certain level of agility. After a Welcome Briefing on board, followed by cocktail hour, we’ll begin sailing. Enjoy your first dinner onboard the ship this evening.
Cruise into Zadar, and discover its ancient and UNESCO-listed treasures
Over breakfast this morning, enjoy scenic sailing with views of the Kornati Islands National Park as we cruise to Zadar — another coastal gem that was named Europe's top destination in 2016 and was inducted as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017. You’ll also hear an interesting lecture while sailing.
This Roman-era city boasts a blend of ancient, renaissance, Romanesque, and medieval architecture. On a walking tour, you’ll see the UNESCO-listed Historic Defense Walls and explore Zadar’s ancient city center.
After dinner, some local entertainers come aboard to enthrall you.
Revisit the Roman era at Diocletian’s Palace in Split
Welcome to Split, one of the oldest cities in this historic region. Explore ancient Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which the emperor chose as his retirement home because of the area’s spectacular beauty. Your special tour also takes you into the mysterious passages in the lower levels of the palace’s massive structure — Game of Thrones fans will recognize it as one of the show's filming locations!
This afternoon, enjoy one of the most scenic stretches of ocean on this journey as the Ocean Odyssey departs Split. You’ll have marvelous views of several Croatian islands, so have your camera ready.
Uncover the charming trulli homes of UNESCO-listed Alberobello
The ship now has crossed the Adriatic from Croatia to Italy, specifically the region of Puglia, which comprises the heel of Italy’s famous boot. From the port city of Brindisi, you’ll head north to the commune of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its trulli — cone-shaped limestone homes that date back as early as the 14th-century. You’ll learn all about the history of these homes and how they survived after conflict between local peasants and feudal landlords. The walking tour will lead you to the old city, which holds more than 1,000 trulli, most still functioning as private homes. The tour ends at the Church of Saint Anthony, with its uniquely adorned façade and cone-shaped roof reaching 64 feet tall.
In the narrow streets of Alberobello, you can admire workshops with artisans at work. You’ll also have a chance to step inside a typical trullo house to see the architectural style and structure, and learn how people used to live in these iconic buildings. After, lunch in a typical masseria — or country estate — belonging to a local family. This will be a highlight of your day — pack the camera! A masseria is where local Italian families produce much of what they drink and eat — milk, cheeses, meats, vegetables, olive oil, and more — and you'll learn all about it during enlightening conversation and cultural exchange. Joyous and full, you'll return to the ship with a scenic drive through Puglia's countryside, lined with endless olive groves.
Your choice of tours: Uncover Taormina’s rich history or visit Etna for a wine tasting
This morning, you’ll anchor in Giardini Naxos where you’ll have your choice of tours. Head to Taormina, the historic city set on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea. This chic resort town offers splendid views of Mount Etna in the distance and a charming medieval ambience. You'll also visit its fantastic Greek Theater, originally built in the 3rd century by Romans, and marvel at its coastal vistas before heading to the Public Gardens, boasting some 200 species. Here, you’ll have time to sample a refreshing granita.
Your second option of tours is a visit to UNESCO-listed Mount Etna, where you’ll savor a tasting at a local winery. Sicily is famous for its Nero d’Avola grape, which grows bountifully in the island’s volcanic soil.
This evening, local entertainers come aboard.
See more of Sicily in Syracuse and Ortigia
More Sicilian discoveries begin today in UNESCO-listed Syracuse, where ancient Greek ruins and antique Italian charm fuse into one splendid island called Ortigia. On a walking tour, head to the Old Town with its narrow cobblestoned lanes and welcoming piazzas. You’ll visit an archaeological area to view the remains of the Temple of Apollo and the gorgeous Fountain of Arethusa, a natural spring with roots in Greek mythology. You’ll also get a look into Jewish life here — Judaism was present here long before the arrival of Christianity in Sicily. You’ll also see the oldest mikveh (ancient ritual bath) to survive in Europe, and one of the first few in what’s now known as Italy.
Return to the ship for lunch, then enjoy the afternoon at leisure to continue your explorations in Syracuse. Later, you'll have another lecture before dinner onboard.
Embark on a walking tour of Valletta, then experience Malta in 5D
Arrive in Malta this morning. After breakfast, you’ll go sightseeing in Valletta, the island’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Europe’s smallest capital, Valletta is an open-air museum of 16th-century buildings built by the Knights Hospitaller. Your private guide will regale you with Valletta’s history while leading you down the city’s charming narrow streets to visit the Valletta City Gate, Triton Fountain, the new Parliament building, and St. John’s Co-Cathedral, which was dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and is considered one of the finest examples of high Baroque architecture.
At the conclusion of your walking tour, take in a 5D show exploring the history and culture of Malta in an interactive and exciting way. Lunch is back on the ship; afterward, enjoy an afternoon at leisure to continue your Malta explorations.
Visit ancient Erice for a tour, wine tasting, and a drive down Sicily’s “salt road”
You’ll be cruising the southwestern coast of Sicily this morning, so head to the observation lounge or your own balcony for more incredible views of this region. After breakfast, hear another lecture highlighting the culture and history of your cruise destinations. You’ll arrive in Trapani around mid-morning and eat lunch before setting off on an afternoon tour.
Today’s explorations lead you inland to Erice, the supposed birthplace of the goddess Venus. While walking the town’s cobblestone streets, soak in the aromas emanating from the numerous pastry shops for which Erice is famous. Here, you’ll visit the ruins of the town’s hilltop Norman Castle, a 12th-century construct dedicated to Venus, and the 14th-century duomo with its 90-foot belltower. You’ll also visit a private winery for another tasting of local Sicilian offerings.
On your way back to the Ocean Odyssey, you’ll have better views of the area’s famous “salt road” — where salt is extracted from the ocean by the scorching sun and delicate Mediterranean sea salt, with its briny scent permeating the air, is left behind. The scenery here is particularly breathtaking, and you’ll have a chance to photograph numerous salt pans, marshes, inlets, and Dutch-style windmills.
Discover Lipari, the gem of the Aeolian Islands
It is only because of the small-ship size that you can pause for a day to explore the Aeolian Islands, Italy’s archipelago northwest of Sicily. Beauty greets you at every turn on these soaring, majestic volcanic islands. At the Rock of the Castle that is set high on a promontory, peer deep into the island’s past at an archaeological site and visit the Cathedral of Bartholomew, the island’s patron saint. Then, get a panoramic view of the island, visiting the villages of Quattrocchi and Quattropani. As you explore, enjoy splendid views of other Aeolian Islands, including Stromboli with its ever-active towering volcano. You’ll also stop to take in the vistas of Lipari Beach and observe the ubiquitous pumice stone deposited here by volcanic eruptions from millennia past. After lunch on board, you’ll have some leisure time in Lipari.
This afternoon’s onboard lecture provides more fascinating context to this legendary part of the Mediterranean.
Uncover the mysteries of Pompeii and Neapolitan pizza
Arrive this morning along the Bay of Naples, gateway to the legendary Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where seaside villages and dizzying cliffs create a dreamy landscape. No visit here is complete without a tour of Pompeii, the ancient city buried by the ash of Vesuvius in 79 AD. A walking tour with a private guide helps you step back 2,000 years into a world of cobbled lanes worn by horse-drawn carts, fascinating villas still adorned by colorful murals, Roman baths, the old forum, and more.
This afternoon, take part in something truly extraordinary — don't forget your camera! You’ll enjoy an afternoon lunch visit to a local farm, where you'll meet your hosts for a tour and a class in creating the perfect pizza, the famed cuisine of nearby Naples.
Back on board, a delectable Farewell Dinner celebrates the cruise porion of your journey and brings you even more flavors of this region.
Explore Rome’s grandeur on panoramic and walking tours
Your ship arrives to the coast of Lazio, the region home to the incomparable and romantic Rome. You’ll disembark the Ocean Odyssey in Civitavecchia for a guided panoramic tour (by motorcoach and on foot) of Rome’s historic center — a UNESCO World Heritage Site with highlights that include the iconic Colosseum, ancient Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, Circus Maximus, and more. We’ll have lunch at a local restaurant for some classic Rome specialties before checking in to our hotel.
Located on the fringe of Borghese Gardens, the hotel offers you a prime location to explore Rome during an afternoon at leisure. Dinner is on your own at any of the city’s celebrated dining establishments. Traditional Roman dishes include fried artichokes, spicy pasta all’amatriciana, and celebrated carbonara. When in Rome, splurge!
Visit Rome’s Vatican Museums and St. Peter’s Basilica
After breakfast, get ready for a true Italian highlight — A tour of the Vatican Museums in the UNESCO-listed Vatican City. Enjoy fast-track entrance to these world-renowned museums, featuring an exceptional collection of classical sculptures, Renaissance art, and the Michelangelo-painted Sistine Chapel. After the museums, enter St. Peter’s Basilica — an Italian Renaissance-style church among Christianity’s holiest sites. Lunch is on your own.
You’ll return to the hotel for another afternoon at leisure, which lets you make the most of your time in Rome. From shopping to sightseeing, there’s so much to do here.
This evening, you’ll convene in the hotel for a Farewell Dinner, recapping the highlights of your Mediterranean voyage.
Fly home or head to Florence on a post-trip extension
You’ll fly home from Rome today. Or, if you purchased our post-trip Florence extension, you’ll embark the high-speed train from Rome to this jaw-dropping Tuscan city.
Please Note: Ocean cruising is not the same experience as river cruising; as such, you may experience fluctuating tides and weather patterns that may involve some rocking of your vessel. Itineraries will include all activities as planned except in extreme cases that can’t be controlled by your shipboard crew. Day-by-day itineraries are preliminary and therefore subject to change. If changes occur while on tour, you will be notified by your Cruise Director or regional expert.