Join us on the world’s newest, most luxurious cruise ship for a sparkling luxury Secret Isles cruise from Rome to Venice, and see, as a fitting finale, Franco Zeffirelli’s sensational production of Verdi’s ‘Aida’ in the world famous Verona Opera Festival.
This is a luxurious nine-night world travel and arts event of opera, art, history, archaeology, culture, Nature, fine wine, gourmet cuisine, elegance, style and beauty: Enjoy some of Europe’s most beautiful and ancient places, from the treasures of Verona, Rome, Zadar, Kotor and Valletta to awesome Mount Etna, the romance of Italy’s Amalfi Coast and the Isle of Capri, with up to 37 free port excursions: all these and more aboard Regent Seven Seas Splendor, now on her maiden voyage.
This will be an exceptional experience, an exclusive chance to combine the finest Italian opera in one of Italy’s great venues, alongside the rich beauties of the Southern Mediterranean, its history, archaeology and culture, enriched with glorious summer sun and seascapes, gourmet food, wine and elegant style in high season on the Italian Riviera.
Everything is first class, and everything is included: best seats for Verdi’s ‘Aida’ at the world famous Arena Di Verona in a world acclaimed classical production by Zeffirelli; during a two-night stay in Verona; concluding a palatial seven-night cruise from Rome to Venice, enveloped by the summer sun and ocean breeze. We shall swim in warm crystal clear turquoise seas, drink Champagne and fine wine, dine on gourmet cuisine, and gaze on the beauties of the Amalfi Coast and Dalmatia from our luxurious private veranda and suite on a magnificent cruise yacht which is breathtaking: the art gallery alone is worth a fortune. This will be a holiday to dream of for ever.
We shall see Europe’s idyllic landscapes, seascapes, towns and cities, while being pampered on this fully inclusive, six-star cruise aboard Regent Seven Seas Splendor, launched this month in a blaze of publicity.
The dates are July 6 to July 15, 2020. Everything is included: your luxurious suite with your private veranda on the 375-suite Regent Seven Seas Splendor, return flights and transfers, excellent and unlimited wines, fine dining in gourmet speciality restaurants, private dining in your suite, up to 37 free port excursions, all-inclusive gratuities and more. And as a CountryClubuk Member you not only have the opportunity to also enjoy this special opera performance in Verona as part of a three-day stay in Verona after your cruise, but your exclusive all-inclusive price starts at only £3,999 and saves you over £2,000! For full details, read on . . .
We are thrilled to continue our World Travel and Arts Events for 2020 by inviting you to join us on a fabulous trip. We shall enjoy a nine-night, all-inclusive holiday, opening with seven nights on the most luxurious new cruise ship in the world, Regent Seven Seas Splendor, sailing this summer from Rome to Venice by way of the Dalmatian and Amalfi coasts, visiting the Isle of Capri, and with a fitting climax—a two-night trip to Verona with best seats for the sensational Franco Zeffirelli stage production of Verdi’s ‘Aida’ in the world-famous Arena di Verona. Art, culture, gastronomy and history: life doesn’t get much better than this!
The opera will be a breathtaking performance by international operatic stars in one of the most remarkable ancient buildings and spectacular open-air venues in the world, directed and designed by the Maestro. Now aged 97, Zeffirelli is renowned for works of emotion and unprecedented beauty. And after seven nights aboard our luxurious yacht, Seven Seas Splendor for our six-star Secret Isles cruise on the Italian and Dalmatian Riviera, we shall have two blissful nights in the wondrous Italian city of Verona, culminating in magnificent ‘Aida’. What could be more wonderful, or more memorable?
Also wonderful are the exclusive Club rates, which start at £3,999 per person for the whole holiday, fully all-inclusive, and on the world’s newest, most luxurious cruise ship. To put this in perspective, the full value starts at more than £6,000 per person for the cruise alone, so our Members will save more than £2,000 per person. For details, read on …
The itinerary begins on Monday, Jul 6, when we fly from the UK to Rome to board Splendor, ready to embark at 6pm, after which the dates and ports of call are: Jul 7, Sorrento/Capri, Italy; Jul 8, Taormina, Sicily; Jul 9, Valletta, Malta; Jul 10, Cruising the Ionian Sea; Jul 11, Kotor, Montenegro; Jul 12, Zadar, Croatia; Jul 13, Venice, Italy. With just a single full day at sea, the three-day post-cruise visit to Verona and the 37 port excursions really come into their own. At each port of call you can partake in as many shore excursions as you wish—and have energy for!—among the variety of visits and events, historic insights, entertainment, wine and food tastings, dancing and discovery.
Rome: an achingly beautiful city of eternal chaos, rich history, and life’s pleasures, is where the beautiful new ship Splendor awaits to transport us through the Italian night, in time for lunch on the Isle of Capri.
We shall set sail for Italy’s glittering Amalfi Coast. Famously known as ‘heaven on earth’, the Amalfi Coast is one of the great natural beauties of Italy. As dawn breaks on July 7, we shall arrive at lovely Sorrento. The lemon-scented Sorrento Peninsula, lying within sapphire seas overlooking the Bay of Naples, is among the most beautiful in the Mediterranean. Magnet for poets, artists and lovers over generations, the rocky peninsula with its sun-drenched citrus groves offers a panorama of enchanting views and a wealth of historic Renaissance palazzi and Romanesque churches to give depth to its lively holiday atmosphere. Sorrento has earned many alluring names: Land of Mermaids and Land of Colours, to name but two. And from here you can take a jetfoil to the blissful Isle of Capri. It’s all included: who could resist?
During a night of gourmet dining and pleasures on board Splendor, we sail for Sicily, and Taormina, the stunning resort town dominated by the majestic silhouette of the great Mount Etna. Europe’s highest and most active volcano, Etna was named by the Ancient Greeks ‘Pillar of Heaven’, and now the locals refer to it as ‘A Muntagna’. Etna is a sight to behold, with statistics at which to marvel. It has erupted 300 times since the first recordings 3,000 years ago.
The best views of Mount Etna are from the gorgeously sited Greek Theatre in Taormina, and so it is from here that we shall view Etna in all her glory. Taormina clings to the side of Mount Tauro, giving superb views, splashed with the vibrant colours of bougainvillea and oleander, of the Mediterranean, Isola Bella and a snow-capped Etna. We shall explore Taormina, its historic monuments and baths, as well as Teatro Antico, built by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC and used by the Romans as a gladatorial arena.
Having viewed Mount Etna from afar, we can, if we wish, explore her, taking the scenic road that winds around the slopes of the mountain. Along the way, we’ll pass towns and villages, orchards, vineyards and woods, driving across the remnants of past and recent eruptions—and see the streams of solidified lava cascading down from the top of the mountain. During our awe-inspiring visit, we’ll see the dormant Silvestri craters and remnants of lava streams from the 2001 and 2002 eruptions. Stand atop one of Nature’s most powerful agents of change, contemplate the indelible impact of Mount Etna’s wrath on the civilizations of the Mediterranean. The impact is stunning—as is the quality of wines on Mount Etna: also on the itinerary here, fabulous wine tasting events!
As the sun rises on the following morning, Splendor sails into the dramatic Grand Harbour of Malta’s Valletta, renowned for its architectural beauty, mediaeval relics and ancient monuments. Malta’s major port and capital, the entire city of Valletta is designated a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Knights of St John of Jerusalem, later the Knights of Malta, established a base here in the 16th century under the auspices of Charles V, and Valletta owes much of its charm and character to this religious order. Explore the Palace of the Grand Masters and the National Museum of Archaeology, Saint John’s Cathedral, with its splendidly ornate gilding, the Grandmasters Palace decorated with coats of arms and frescoes, not to mention the ramparts which have guarded the city since the 16th century.
Here you can enjoy the history, see the scenic coastline—especially the fantastic cliffs of Dingli—and visit the Three Cities, take a harbour tour of Valletta, and tour the Mosta Dome, the famous 19th century church: afterwards, a wine and food tasting and Ta’ Qali crafts. Malta is famous for its gardens—you can see the exotic flora of San Anton Gardens, built and established by Grand Master Antoine de Paule, who ruled the island in the 1600s.
And if you wish you can go to Gozo—the beautiful island is perfect for a day on the beach, but there is more to explore on Gozo, visiting a legendary cave, a temple that predates the Great Pyramids and the island’s alluring capital. Enjoy time on your own before savoring a traditional Maltese lunch. Perhaps you’ll stroll Xlendi’s inviting seaside promenade during free time as a fitting end to a Gozo Island adventure.
There follows a glorious night and day of relaxation aboard Splendor as she cruises the Ionian Sea. We shall have time to explore the ship—which is exceptionally large for the small number of passengers she carries. We shall wine and dine to our hearts’ content, in gourmet restaurants and in our own private suite and veranda whenever we prefer, remembering that on board Regent Seven Seas Cruises we can simply leave our wallets behind—everything we need is complimentary, from sundowner Champagne cocktails to foie gras and caviar and delicious six-star cuisine in four exceptional restaurants and more.
Next day, our port of call is Kotor, which caused George Bernard Shaw to proclaim, ‘I have heard that the road to Cetinje via Kotor is one of the most beautiful in the world, and that is the reason I have come.’ We can follow in Shaw’s footsteps and take that road, or enjoy a leisurely walking tour of Kotor’s walled Old Town, a Unesco World Heritage site; see the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, built in homage to the city’s patron and protector, and stroll in Kotor’s Arms Square, where Venetians once made munitions.
We may instead prefer to cruise the winding cobalt-blue Bay of Kotor to alluring Prcanj, where we can revel in a performance of captivating classical music reflecting Montenegro’s rich culture. Or go farther afield to visit a natural highlight of the region, Skadar, the largest lake in the Balkans and one of Europe’s largest bird habitats. Huge flocks of migrating birds can be seen here: more than 280 species and up to 200,000 birds including the rare and endangered Dalmatian Pelican and Ferruginous Duck. It’s a magnificent sight—and we shall sail on the lake and enjoy the delicious local wine with exceptional food pairings.
As sunrise casts a glow over the stunning northern Dalmatian coast of Croatia, we shall arrive at Zadar. Ruled at various times by the Romans, Ostrogoths, and Byzantium, the city is rich with thousands of years of history, a hub of commerce and naval power rivalling Venice. Here we can simply enjoy exploring the old town, the architecture and the tiny shops, sampling the local food and wine along the way. Or we can visit a traditional Croatian farm. Or take a trip to famous Krka, to navigate the wilderness of dense forests criss-crossed by wild rivers and thundering waterfalls. Here we can lunch in a village before taking a cruise upriver to see the wildlife at close quarters. With luck we’ll watch otters play and Cleopatra butterflies dance—as golden eagles soar above our heads.
Or discover the alluring coastal town of Sibenik and its treasures before moving on to the bountiful terrain around Nadin, home to the renowned Skaulj Winery, one of the most important wine producers of North Dalmatia. The organic grapes used to produce their outstanding eco-certified wines include cabernet sauvignon, merlot and marastina. Bring your day to a delightful close as you sample these wines alongside a delectable buffet of smoked ham, cheeses and organically grown olives.
After our final night aboard Splendor, Venice beckons, and as dawn breaks we see Europe’s most romantic city . . . Drifting like a mirage within its watery realm, Venice is certainly the world’s most unreal city: beautiful, mysterious, an assault on the senses, itself assaulted by water. Thronged with palaces, churches and courtyards, it is a vast museum whose landscape changes with the tides and the ebb and flow of people. As Henry James said, a visit to Venice becomes a perpetual love affair. Like a scene from Canaletto, every aspect of this city is a work of art.
And then we shall be whisked away to Verona, an elegant, historic city of picturesque streets and stunning architecture, world famous as the ‘home’ of Romeo and Juliet, and of the amazing Arena di Verona. Built by the Romans more than two centuries ago, it is a beautiful and enthralling city. It’s a wonderful place in which to see Italian opera in general—and this opera in particular: the ampitheatre at Verona is the most breathtaking venue for the massive spectacle of the much loved Maestro Zeffirelli’s ‘Aida’. And we shall stay for two blissful, nights in one of the city’s historic hotels, the Grand Hotel Des Arts, complete with its own art collection, and a few minutes stroll from the Arena.
On the day of the Opera, after breakfast we can take a dedicated walking tour of Verona, to include Piazza Bra, Juliet’s House and Piazza Erbe, after which the day is our own in which to relax before the thrilling highlight of our stay, the performance at the Arena di Verona, where we shall have best seats, the Gold Poltronissima. Doors open from 7.30pm, and though the performance is not until 9pm, to arrive sooner will be to soak up the atmosphere of this historic Italian opera house.
This will be a special Opera night. Known as the Queen of the Arena di Verona’s operas, ‘Aida’ will be staged in the impressive production created in 2002 by the genius of Franco Zeffirelli, who recreates an ancient Egypt that is magnificent and multi-coloured, on a set dominated by a huge golden pyramid, specially designed for the Arena’s vast space. One of the most magnificent of Verdi’s operas, the soaring choruses and massed performers vividly depict the extravaganza of the Egyptian court, and the emotional roller-coaster that is ‘Aida’. It is one of Verdi’s most dazzling showcases. To be here in person to witness all this, together with Zoffirelli’s bewitching production, will be unmissable.
The stars include the meteoric soprano María José Siri, fresh from opening at La Scala, alongside Teresa Romano, winner of the BBC World Singer of the Year title among other major awards. Starring with the powerful bass ‘Aida’ specialist Romano Dal Zova, they will lead a vast and impressive international cast (including Anna Netrebko’s husband, Yusif Eyvazov) and the superb Daniel Oram will conduct.
YOUR EXCLUSIVE CLUB RATES
As a CountryClubuk Member you have special rates on this fly-cruise holiday, including the seven-night luxury Secret Isles cruise from Rome to Venice and two additional nights in Verona with best seats for Verdi’s opera ‘Aida’, making nine nights in all. The dates are July 6-15, 2020.
Below are some of the suites and Club savings. All rates are per person for two sharing, with all the same all-inclusive benefits of passengers paying full fare, including flights and transfers. Tickets to the Verona post-cruise opera package are extremely limited, so please don’t delay!