Join us on the world’s most luxurious cruise ship for a sparkling six-star luxury World Heritage Exploration cruise from Venice (Trieste) to Athens, including three nights in Verona and best seats for a sensational Franco Zeffirelli production of the opera ‘Carmen’ in the world famous Arena di Verona.
This is a luxurious 10-night world travel and arts event of opera, 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 and opera of Verona to the Split Riviera, to the Greek warrior state of Sparta and one of the world’s favourite islands, Santorini, plus the beaches of Corfu and one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis, with up to 47 free port excursions: all these and more aboard Regent Seven Seas Explorer.
This will be an exceptional experience, an exclusive chance to combine the finest Italian opera in one of Italy’s great venues alongside the beauty of the Mediterranean and the Adriatic Coast, and explore classical Greece and Turkey, its history, archaeology and culture, enriched with glorious summer sun and seascapes, gourmet food, wine and elegant style in high season.
Everything is first class: best seats for Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ in the Arena Di Verona for an acclaimed classical production by Zeffirelli and a three-night stay in Verona, precursor to a palatial seven-night cruise from Venice (Trieste) to Athens aboard the 375-suite Regent Seven Seas Explorer, enveloped by 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 Mediterranean from our luxurious private veranda and suite on this magnificent cruise ship which is breathtaking: the art gallery alone is worth a fortune, containing original works by Picasso, Chagall and Miro among others. This will be an experience to dream of for ever.
The dates are August 10 to 20, 2022. Everything is included: your luxurious suite with private veranda, return flights and transfers, excellent and unlimited wines, fine dining in gourmet speciality restaurants, private dining in your suite, up to 47 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 as part of a three-day stay in Verona before your cruise, but your exclusive all-inclusive price starts at only £4,839 per person (instead of the cruise-only rate of from £5,599)! For full details, read on . . .
We are thrilled to resume our World Travel and Arts Events by inviting you to join us on this fabulous 2022 voyage. We shall enjoy a 10-night, all-inclusive holiday, opening with a three-night stay in Verona which includes best seats for the sensational Franco Zeffirelli stage production of Bizet’s ‘Carmen’ in the famous Arena di Verona, seven nights on the most luxurious cruise ship in the world, Regent Seven Seas Explorer, sailing this summer from Trieste in Italy to Athens by way of Croatia and Montenegro, visiting the Greek islands of Santorini and Corfu, and the classical sites of Sparta and Turkey’s Ephesus, enjoying a feast of music, art, culture, gastronomy, history and one of the Seven Wonders of the World: life doesn’t get much better than this!
The opera will be a breathtaking performance by a large cast of international operatic stars led by the fabulous, world famous mezzo soprano Elina Garanca and American tenor Brian Jagde in one of the most remarkable ancient buildings and spectacular open-air venues in the world, directed and designed by the Maestro. Zeffirelli is renowned for works of emotion and unprecedented beauty. And to have three blissful nights in the wondrous Italian city of Verona, culminating in magnificent ‘Carmen’, what could be more wonderful, or more memorable?
The itinerary begins on Wednesday, August 10, 2022, when we fly from the UK to Verona for a three-night pre-cruise stay. From the airport we shall be whisked to this 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 spectacle of the much loved Maestro Zeffirelli’s ‘Carmen’. And we shall stay for three luxurious nights in one of the city’s historic hotels, the Grand Hotel Des Arts, complete with its own art collection, a few minutes stroll from the Arena.
On the second day—the day of the opera—after breakfast we are invited to 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 8:45pm, to arrive sooner will be to soak up the atmosphere of this historic Italian opera house on this special night. To see Zoffirelli’s brilliant production of ‘Carmen’ and its cast of thousands flooding the stage, from flamenco dancers to soldiers—even donkeys—will be unmissable.
After this amazing opera night, the following day is our own to enjoy. Verona is just an hour’s drive from Venice, so if you wish to take the chance to visit Venice you can easily take a day trip there—or remain in Verona to relax and explore the city further at your leisure. The next day, Saturday, August 13, we shall be driven to Trieste to board Explorer (in line with Venetian policy designed to protect the city, Explorer will no longer berth in the Venetian lagoon). After which, the dates and ports of call are: Sun, Aug 14, Split, Croatia; Mon, Aug 15, Kotor, Montenegro, Tue Aug 16, Corfu, Greece; Wed, Aug 17, Gythion (Sparta), Greece; Thu, Aug 18, Santorini, Greece; Fri, Aug 19, Ephesus (Kusadasi), Turkey; Sat Aug 20, Athens (Praeus), Greece. With a port call every day, the 47 free port excursions really come into their own. At each port 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.
Explorer will set sail from Trieste at 6pm, and we shall enjoy our first gourmet dinner and enchanting evening on board this magnificent ship as she sails through the Italian night. As sunrise casts a glow over the stunning coast of Croatia, we shall arrive at the enchanting city of Split—its coast known as the Split Riviera. It is here that Regent’s renowned excursions come into their own. You can explore the Split Riviera or the Unesco World Heritage Old Town; step back in time at the enthralling ruins of the ancient city of Salona and more; experience Croatian village life in Dalmatian Coast hamlets; see vestiges of the Ottoman Empire in the Dalmatian hinterlands; take a leisurely drive to Trogir, an open-air architectural museum on a small island connected by bridges to the mainland; explore the true history of two Game of Thrones sites where the show was filmed; enjoy a Croatian feast while villagers entertain you with traditional music; or for a small extra charge, experience Krka National Park’s wonderland of dense forests, wild rivers and thundering waterfalls and savour a lunch bursting with authentic regional flavours and accompanied by Dalmatian wine. Croatia is dazzling in its bounty.
Then it’s back to Explorer to relax and savour all she has to offer in terms of luxury and finesse. Next morning, we awake to see our next port of call, Kotor, on the horizon: so enchanting that it 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 may revel in captivating classical music reflecting Montenegro’s rich culture. Or go farther afield for a little extra 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. Or sail a catamaran on Boka Bay and take a beach break at chic Movida Beach Club . . . the choice is yours!
Explorer awaits, ready to sail on to our first Greek island, legendary Corfu. On this lush and romantic island is Homer’s ‘rich and beautiful land’ of olive groves and rugged mountains, 20 miles off the west coast of Greece. The sunny beaches await, but this island has too a unique history and culture. Wander Venetian Corfu Town as the grand fortress lights up, visit the beach associated with Odysseus, or relax while reading the works of Lawrence and Gerald Durrell for a feel for the real Corfu. Temples, castles and a variety of architectural styles testify to the island’s long, often traumatic history, characterised by wave upon wave of invaders, including the Venetians, who stayed from the 13th to the 18th centuries and whose influence is still evident.
Here we can choose to enjoy the beaches or steep ourselves in history, wander the cobbled streets, journey through fertile landscapes of orange and lemon groves to view palaces and monasteries and wine estates, and of course enjoy the wine and cuisine. We might explore a centuries-old Venetian fortress overlooking Corfu’s Old Town, then savour traditional Greek delicacies at a waterfront restaurant. Or explore the famous sea caves near stunning Paleokastritsa in a small boat which allows access to their innermost reaches: Nafsika’s Cave, named for a royal daughter who found Odysseus and nursed him back to health. It features beautifully coloured water as does San Nicolas Cave, also known for its purplish rocks beneath the water’s surface. The Blue Eye Cave lives up to its name, boasting a patch of brilliant blue water resembling an eye. The naturally formed caves are at the bottom of sheer cliffs and couldn’t be more spectacular. To add to the enjoyment, we can swim in the waters off a nearby beach and stretch out on the sand at our leisure—or choose instead a full sand-and-sea day beside clear crystal waters near the enchanting coastal village of Barbati.
There follows a glorious night of relaxation aboard Explorer as she cruises on to ancient Greece. By now we shall have had 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 lobster and caviar as part of the delicious six-star cuisine in four exceptional restaurants and more.
As dawn breaks the following day Explorer arrives off the classically famous seaport of Sparta, the warrior society in ancient Greece which reached the height of its power after defeating rival city-state Athens in the Peloponnesian War. Who can forget the film based on these proud warriors, ‘Spartacus’? Known now as Gythion, a natural beauty-spot with a stunning coastline and white sand beaches, the entrance to the city reveals the Theatre, which still houses the ruins of the Temple of Athena and the Gates of Castorides. The Archaeological Museum of Gythion houses a vast collection which includes finds from excavations of the many ancient sites throughout the city. Be sure to enjoy a delicious seafood lunch al fresco in a traditional ouzerie.
Appreciate an authentic taste of Greece by browsing a museum devoted to the olive, stopping at a statue of ancient Sparta’s King Leonidas and sampling several local wines. After a drive in the shadow of the ruggedly beautiful Tavgetos Mountains, we shall discover the magnificent statue of near-invincible Leonidas, the famed king who led 300 Spartans against Xerxes’ massive army in the Battle of Thermopylae. At the Theodorakakos estate, a family-owned winery known for organic varietals such as kydonitsa and mavroudi, enjoy a tour and taste some of its most representative vintages, a delectable conclusion to an enriching day. Or wander among the architectural gems of Mystras, a mediaeval stronghold of churches and mansions that provide a glimpse of life in Greece centuries ago. Or, for an extra charge, experience an up-close look at life more than 5,000 years ago as we take a small boat through the underground chambers of Diros Caves.
Arrival at dawn into Santorini is an epic element of the voyage. For an island of unbridled romance, it is extraordinary to think that Santorini is responsible for the largest single volcanic eruption known to man. An eruption so enormous it created what is now The Caldera, the horseshoe-shaped lagoon around the island, ended the Minoan civilisation on Crete and quite possibly created the legend of Atlantis.
While this historic nugget might not conjure images of idyllic tranquil beauty, it does explain just why Santorini’s landscape is so breathtaking, her whitewashed villages clinging like limpets to the tops of her steep cliffs. We shall see how volcanic activity has altered the course of Santorini’s history, shaped the landscape and left the soil so abundantly fertile. The devastation of a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago will be evident in the village Akrotiri, the so-called Pompeii of the Bronze Age. Excavations have uncovered homes with colourful frescoes and streets lined with buildings that reveal urban life in the Minoan period. Another historical perspective awaits us in the village of Pyrgos, where we shall see a 13th-century Venetian castle. The vineyards surrounding neighbouring Episkopi have taken advantage of Santorini’s mineral-rich volcanic soil to produce extraordinary wines, a sampling of which we shall enjoy as a prelude to a traditional Greek lunch. And then we shall visit clifftop Oia, which offers spectacular views of an ancient caldera, lying on the northern tip of Santorini, with her landmark blue-and-white domed houses, all with wine and food tastings, music and more.
To sail out of Santorini harbour as the sun sets is in itself breathtaking—and we are bound for Europe’s classical metropolis, Turkey’s Ephesus, a port which adds even greater distinction to this World Heritage Exploration Cruise. One of the largest cities in all of the Roman Empire, boasting one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Temple of Artemis, it holds the ruins of its massive Theatre, the Temple of Hadrian and the magnificent Celsus Library. Discover the glory of Ephesus during a scenic and informative full-day tour of this remarkable ancient city. Depart the pier for the drive to the House of the Virgin Mary on Aladag Mountain. After discovering the house, the Archbishop of Izmir declared it a place of pilgrimage in 1892. On July 26, 1967, Pope Paul VI visited and prayed at this site.
From here, we can visit Ephesus, renowned for its sacred ancient shrines, including the Temple of Artemis, which is among the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. We shall see the beautiful Celsus Library, built in the beginning of the 2nd century AD, the Grand Theatre, one of Ephesus’s most impressive buildings, and the site where St Paul once preached, and the Temple of Hadrian. After lunch, it’s on to the Basilica of St John and the Ephesus Archeological Museum exhibiting two marble statues of Artemis and 25,000 artefacts found in the ancient city. Back in Kusadasi there’s a Turkish carpet-weaving demonstration. You will sip apple tea while watching a myriad of colours unfold before your eyes, and have an opportunity to purchase a carpet, if so desired.
After our final night aboard Explorer we arrive at Piraeus, gateway to the ancient city of Athens, known as the ‘Cradle of Western Civilization’ because of its immense impact on cultural and political achievements throughout the world. An historian’s delight, Athens is of course home to such wonders as: the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the atmospheric winding streets of the Plaka, Temple of Olympian Zeus and Temple of Athena Nike, and the Archaeological Museum with the world’s finest collection of ancient artefacts. It is here that our cruise ends, ready for the flight back to the UK—and if you wish you can add post-cruise nights in Athens, including visits to Delphi and the Acropolis.
YOUR EXCLUSIVE COUNTRYCLUBUK MEMBERS’ RATES
As a CountryClubuk Member you have special rates on this fly-cruise holiday, comprising the seven-night luxury World Heritage Exploration cruise from Trieste to Athens and three additional pre-cruise nights in Verona with best seats for Bizet’s opera ‘Carmen’ in the Arena di Verona, making 10 nights in all. The dates are July 10-20, 2022.
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, and pre-cruise three-night stay. Tickets to the Verona pre-cruise opera package are extremely limited, and some suite categories are already fully booked, so please don’t delay!