A journey that combines the captivating allure of Turkey and Greece with the timeless beauty of Europe’s most cherished architecture and culture on the mesmerizing Gems Cruise. Traverse the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, immersing yourself in the rich tapestry of history, cuisine, and natural wonders that await at every port of call.
Turkey has for centuries been seen as the bridge between East and West as it straddles both the European and Asian continents. Its history mirrors its geographical importance, from the Hittites to the Romans to the Ottomans, the evidence of the many different periods of history are to be seen everywhere. The diversity of its history is more than matched by the range of scenery and sights offered.
During our comprehensive tour of Turkey, we explore this diverse land. Savour the excitement of Istanbul, contemplate the carnage endured by our forbearers at Gallipoli, imagine the once thriving city of Ephesus as you walk down Curetes Way and ponder the other-worldly vistas of Cappadocia.
- Istanbul – one of the most exciting cities in the world. Visit the Blue Mosque; the magnificent Topkapi Palace, once residence of the Sultans; wonder at the feats of Roman engineering at the underground Basilica Cisterns; get lost in the Grand Bazaar
- Gallipoli – a sombre yet now peaceful place so defining in our ANZAC history and just as important to the Turks
- Ephesus – once the second largest city outside of Rome during the Roman occupation. Seeing the preserved buildings, walkways and amphitheater and following in the footsteps of St Paul and St John will be a tour highlight
- Pamukkale – with its thermal pools and travertine terraces; Antalya, the coast resort where there is time to relax by the sea; Konya, home to the Whirling Dervishes
- Cappadocia – a land of moonscapes and underground villages, churches built into the cliffs
- Enjoy the intimacy of small ship cruising in a club-like atmosphere, Azamara Onward.
Take time to read through the itinerary which details the full programme of sightseeing and special events that are included.
It is important to emphasise, there is certainly some walking ability required for this tour, to access some of the sites. It doesn’t need to be at pace, but it is important that travellers do have good level of fitness & mobility.
Monday 29 April Home – Dubai
Late this afternoon, we report to the airport and join the flight to Dubai.
Tuesday 30 April Dubai (D)
We arrive in Dubai early this morning and after clearing Customs and Immigration formalities, we are met and transferred to our hotel for a two-night stay. There is time to rest up after the flight until mid-afternoon when we visit the Palm Jumeirah – one of the world’s most daring developments. Jutting out into the Arabian Gulf, this man-made archipelago was built in the shape of a palm tree, with a 3-mile-long trunk and a fan of fronds lined with luxury villas and five-star hotels. From water parks and wildlife encounters to beach clubs and restaurants, there is an array of different activities on offer. One of the first things that strike you when visiting the Palm Jumeirah is its size. This giant archipelago is visible from space and the outer crescent is more than 10 miles long. Afterward, we visit the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world at 160 stories high. We travel to the observation deck which will provide you with a breath-taking unobstructed 360-degree view of the city, desert and ocean. We return to the hotel where we have dinner this evening.
Wednesday 01 May Dubai (B,D)
This morning we take a sightseeing tour of the city – a fascinating historical excursion which takes you to the magnificent Jumeirah mosque and past modern palaces sprawled along the coast. In Bastakiya, see the old wind-towered houses built by wealthy merchants and the 150-year old Al Fahidi Fort. We continue our journey coach to the gold and spice souks, where we see bustling alleys with the aromas of the numerous spices and dazzling jewellery. Next up, we visit the area of La Mer – a new area nestled between Pearl Jumeira and the upcoming Jumeira Bay. There is time to explore this artsy community and to get some lunch at one of the trendy cafes before we return to the hotel to relax & freshen up prior to our evening activity – a four-wheel drive excursion over rolling dunes deep into the heart of the desert. Watch the sun cast its orange glow over the shimmering sand and enjoy dinner and entertainment under the stars in Bedu tents.
NB: For those who may have been to Dubai previously, there is the opportunity to join a tour to Abu Dhabi today, in place of the arrangements above. Price is available on request.
Thursday 02 May Dubai – Istanbul (B,D)
A morning transfer to the airport where we join the 5-hour flight to Istanbul.
Welcome to Turkey! On arrival, we will be met by our local representative and transferred to our hotel for 2-nights. This evening we enjoy a welcome tour briefing, with a drink before we have our first dinner together.
Friday 03 May Istanbul (B,D)
After breakfast in our hotel, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Istanbul which includes St. Sophia, the cathedral built by Emperor Justinian in 537 which was the largest church in Christendom for a thousand years, the Byzantine Hippodrome with its various monuments including a 3500- year-old red granite obelisk brought from Egypt and erected here in 390 AD. The Ottoman Empire produced marvellous architecture and you’ll see two of its finest works; Topkapi Palace, home of the sultans, and the famed Blue Mosque of Sultan Ahmet I. After these visits, we’ll venture into the labyrinthine Grand Bazaar. To conclude this special day, we relax aboard a one-hour Bosphorus Cruise, before we make our way back to the hotel. Dinner is included tonight with a view of Istanbul by night.
Saturday 04 May Istanbul – Gallipoli – Canakkale (B,D)
Depart for Gallipoli, the site of many battles during WWI. Visit the WWI Open Museum, Anzac Cove, Lone Pine Cemetery, Johnston’s Jolly (Turkish and Allied Trenches and tunnels), The Nek and Chunuk Bair, before we cross the Dardanelles and continue on to Canakkale for a 2-night stay.
Sunday 05 May Canakkale (B,D)
We have a full day tour today, visiting the Helles Region, S-Beach, the Turkish Monument, V-Beach, Helles Monument, W-Beach, The Lancashire Landing Monument and Alçıtepe Village. We return to the hotel for relaxation before we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
Monday 06 May Canakkale – Kusadasi (B,D)
This morning we visit legendary Troy, a 5,000-year-old archaeological city where we see the reconstruction of the fabled Wooden Horse, modelled from the ancient Trojan War. Continuing south we visit the ancient city of Pergamum, one of Turkey’s oldest civilized settlements which has been inhabited from pre-historic times through the Ionic, Roman and Byzantine civilizations. It has yielded archaeological treasures whose importance is recognized worldwide. Continue to Kusadasi and arrive late in the afternoon. Dinner is included this evening at the hotel.
Tuesday 07 May Kusadasi – Bodrum (B)
This morning is at leisure to relax or take the opportunity to explore Kusadasi in your own time. Later we will journey south to Bodrum where we will stay for 2-nights. Tonight, we will be taken to Palmarina Bodrum where there are many restaurant options, including outdoor dining. This newly developed marina caters for larger yachts and is a popular base for racing.
Wednesday 08 May Bodrum (B)
Today we explore Bodrum. Our first visit is to the Theatre (built during Greek and Roman times) here we see the amazing renovation of the Antique Theatre. Continue to the Mausoleum one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World. Then, we visit the Castle of Saint Peter which is now the Bodrum Underwater Archaeology Museum and Laboratory. Here you can see fascinating underwater findings some of which are thousands of years old. We stop at Bodrum Castle, where there is an opportunity to sample locally produced wine. From here there is a stunning panoramic view from top of the Caste of Saint Peter over the traditional whitewashed Bodrum houses. We return to the hotel at the conclusion of the tour.
Thursday 09 May Bodrum – Pamukkale (B,D)
After breakfast, we depart Bodrum and drive to Pamukkale which is home to natural thermal spring waters with healing properties. Due to the chemical properties in the water, pure white coloured travertines and stepped water terraces have been created on the mountain slope. Its resemblance to cotton piles inspired the name, ‘Cotton Castle’ in Turkish. Later we visit the travertines and the ancient city of Hierapolis which has the biggest Nekropol with 1200 gravestones in Anatolia. The sacred pool also is one of the highlights of the site. Its shallow thermal waters ripple over a wonderful scattering of ancient roman ruins that lie beneath. After the tour we check in to our hotel for a 2-night stay. Dinner is at the hotel this evening.
Friday 10 May Pamukkale (B)
Today we visit the ancient city of Aphrodisias which is one of the most picturesque places in Turkey. Located in the upper valley of the Morsynus River, the site consists of two components; the archaeological site of Aphrodisias and the marble quarries northeast of the city. The temple of Aphrodite dates from the 3rd century BC and the city was built one century later. The wealth of Aphrodisias came from the marble quarries and the art produced by its sculptors. The city streets are arranged around several large civic structures, which include temples, a theatre, an agora and two bath complexes. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Saturday 11 May Pamukkale – Fethiye (B,D)
Today we drive to Fethiye and visit Karakoy, named as Ghost Village because of its history. There are 3,500 old, damaged buildings in the village that is settled on a hill. It’s one of the most beautiful and the biggest open-air museum in the world. Walk through the mysterious street of the town and continue to rock–cut tombs of the ancient kings. Here you have a chance to discover a different world. And not just this; you’ll journey for an hour and half amidst the forest and experience local village life. We overnight in Fethiye.
Sunday 12 May Fethiye – Myra – Antalya (B,D)
Today we will drive to Antalya, with a visit en route visit to Demre, which has the best examples of Lycian tombs at Myra and the Church of St. Nicholas, the saint referred to as Santa Claus. After lunch we sail to Kekova Island from which the sunken city Simena and a special Lycian Necropolis at Teimiussa will be viewed. We continue on to Antalya where we arrive late evening.
Monday 13 May Antalya (B)
We depart our hotel this morning and visit Perge, originally settled by the Hittites around 1500B.C. It is impressive with its colonnaded streets and is where most of the statues that are displayed in Antalya Museum, were unearthed. Later we drive to Aspendos which bears one of the best-preserved amphitheatres in the world. Finally, we visit Duden Waterfalls, the highest in the region. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Tuesday 14 May Antalya – Konya – Cappadocia (B,D)
We have an early morning departure today as we drive through to Konya where we visit mausoleum of the sufi philosopher Mevlana. Continue to Cappadocia where will stay for 3-nights, visiting a 13th Century Caravanserai and the underground city of Saratli en route.
Wednesday 15 May Cappadocia (B,D)
Early Morning Optional: Hot Air Balloon tour – Experience floating through volcanic valleys, fairy chimneys and caves at sunrise.
Today we visit Devrent Valley where various types of fairy chimneys are abundant. Walk through part of this amazing valley. Later we visit Pasabagi (Monk’s Valley) with multiple stems and caps, peculiar to this area. After visiting Pasabagi, we drive to Avanos which is known for the pottery, a craft dating back to the Hittite period. The red clay which is worked by local craftsmen comes from the residue in the Kizilirmak River, the longest river in Turkey. Continue to Goreme Open Air Museum to visit the churches, chapels and monasteries carved into the fairy chimneys from the 10th to the 13th centuries with frescos painted on the walls. Take some time to photograph the spectacular neighbouring valleys.
Thursday 16 May Cappadocia (B,D)
This morning we depart the hotel and visit the Rose Valley, one of the most beautiful valleys in Cappadocia, and explore the famous rock-cut churches. There is time to relax in Cavusin, an old Greek village, known for its Christian houses and churches. After lunch we visit Ortahısar Castle, similar to Uchisar Castle in style, where storage caves can also be observed. In the afternoon visit Kaymakli (or Ozkonak) Underground City where early Christians lived in fear and faith. On the way back visit to panoramic Pigeon Valley where pigeons contributed to the lives of locals with their manure to fertilize the vineyards. This evening dinner is at a local restaurant.
Friday 17 May Cappadocia – Istanbul (B,D)
A leisurely start to the day before we travel to the airport for our flight from Kayseri to Istanbul. On arrival in Istanbul, we head to the port. Unpack and relax as we join our home for the next 13 nights, Azamara Onward.
Saturday 18 May Istanbul (B,L,D)
Our ship remains in Istanbul today so there is time for further sightseeing or maybe a return to the Grand Bazaar in search of further bargains. Our ship sails at 10.00pm
Sunday 19 May Troy/Gallipoli, Turkey (B,L,D)
Once the stuff of mythology, archaeological excavations at Troy have brought life to Homer’s Iliad and the tale of the beautiful Helen, fought over by warriors like Hercules and won by means of the Trojan horse.
Monday 20 May Kavala, Greece (B,L,D)
Clinging to the foothills of Mt. Symvolo, the city of Kavala (“the heart of Eastern Macedonia”) rises like an amphitheater out of the sea, with historical monuments and buildings almost too plentiful to list.
Tuesday 21 May Thessalonkiki, Greece (B,L,D)
As Greece’s second-biggest city and the Byzantine Empire’s second-most important city, the word “second” is often used to describe this port, but we’re here to tell you: Thessaloniki is anything but second rate.
Wednesday 22 May At Sea (B,L,D)
Spend the day sailing in style aboard your boutique hotel at sea. Indulge in a treatment at Sanctum Spa, stay ship shape with a class at our fitness center, or lounge the day away on our sunny pool deck. In the evening, savor inspired Italian cuisine at Aqualina, or relish in a classic steakhouse experience at Prime C. Plus, you’ll find plenty of exciting evening entertainment, from thrilling shows at Cabaret Lounge to intimate performances in the Living Room.
Thursday 23 May Piraeus/Athens, Greece (B,L,D)
Home to the Acropolis, Athens has quite a reputation to live up to: Named for Athena, Goddess of Wisdom, the city is credited with being the cradle of European civilization and birthplace of democracy.
Friday 24 May Piraeus/Athens, Greece (B,L,D)
Another day in Athens to enjoy everything this city has to offer.
Saturday 25 May Santorini, Greece (B,L,D)
Your daydream of a Greek island meets reality in Santorini—so beautiful with its whitewashed villages and blue roofs reflecting the sea, you can almost believe the myths claiming it as the birthplace of gods.
Sunday 26 May Chania, Crete, Greece (B,L,D)
On the northwest side of Crete rests the old Venetian port of Chania with its mixture of Greek, Venetian and Ottoman influences on every corner: Minoan ruins, Byzantine churches and impressive frescos.
Monday 27 May Katakolon (Olympia), Greece (B,L,D)
The quaint seaside town of Katakolon has many charms, but let’s be honest: You’re going to want to head to Olympia. Located just a 40-minute drive away, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the site of the original Olympic Games, dates back to 776 BC, and has excellent companion museums like the Archaeological Museum of Olympia and the Museum of the History of the Ancient Olympic Games.
Tuesday 28 May Corfu, Greece (B,L,D)
With its millions of olive trees, scent of lemon blossoms and sapphire bay, Corfu is one of the most beautiful islands in the Mediterranean and is said to cast a spell upon those who land upon its shores.
Wednesday 29 May At Sea (B,L,D)
Time to relax for our last day at sea together.
Thursday 30 May Venice – Dubai (B)
Sadly this morning we disembark in this magnificent city. We enjoy a morning tour before heading to the airport for our 3:35pm flight. We overnight at the airport hotel.
Friday 31 May Dubai – Home (B)
Time for the last leg of our journey on our flight home.
Saturday 01 June
Arrive Auckland early afternoon.
Maher – 2024