AIA Tours: cruise

Cycladic, Minoan, Mycenaean & Classical Greece

Tour Dates: October 21 - 31, 2022 (11 days)

Tour Leader(s): Cynthia W. Shelmerdine ,

A journey to Athens and the fabled Aegean Sea aboard the 17-cabin yacht, Callisto

We are pleased to invite you on a journey that will explore the long legacy of Greece with Archaeological Institute of America lecturer and host Cynthia Shelmerdine. Perhaps more than any other land, Greece has exerted a profound and lasting influence on the development of the Western world. Democracy, philosophy, historiography, scientific inquiry, and theater, among others, were born here.

Join us to explore storied Athens and its celebrated ancient monuments before flying to legendary Crete, Greece’s largest island and the place that gave rise to Europe’s first advanced civilization. After visiting fascinating sites and museums in and around Heraklion, we will embark the lovely Callisto, which is akin to a private yacht rather than a cruise ship and accommodates only 34 guests.

Cruise to several of the most beautiful and historically important Greek islands. Some of the islands we will explore, such as Santorini, are well known, while others, such as Amorgos and Sifnos, are less known and yet considered to be the gems of the Greek archipelago. Beyond the bounds of mass tourism, they remain unspoiled, retaining their original character, and their ancient sites are devoid of large groups of visitors. A special feature of the cruise is the inclusion of the small, uninhabited, and seldom-visited islet
of Despotiko, which was an important sanctuary of Apollo in antiquity. Ongoing excavations under Greek archaeologist Yannos Kourayos have revealed major structures, including the Temple of Apollo, now partially restored.

Your engaging AIA expert, Professor Shelmerdine, will offer a series of onboard lectures and informal discussions, and local guides will illuminate the sites on every excursion ashore. Our custom-designed itinerary, the small size of the ship, and the planned activities combine to make for a truly memorable travel-learning experience.

Since Callisto has only 17 cabins and this program is co-sponsored, contact our office today at or (800) 748-6262 to be notified first when the tour is ready.

The Callisto (17-cabin small-ship)

the 17-cabin Callisto

In an era of mega cruise ships that carry thousands of passengers, Callisto is a delightful alternative. More like a private yacht than a cruise ship, Callisto accommodates a maximum of just 34 guests in 17 cabins that face outside. Unlike the formalities found on larger cruise ships, a relaxed and informal atmosphere prevails aboard. A well-trained English-speaking crew of 18 manages the ship and provides friendly and efficient service. The dining room, surrounded by large windows, accommodates all guests at one unassigned seating, while the adjoining lounge, which is also lined with windows, is a good place to meet and socialize with fellow travelers, and attend lectures. When the weather permits, several meals will be served al fresco. A library faces the spacious Sun Deck.

Tour Prices per person

Tour prices start at $7,490 double occupancy, limited cabins available for single occupancy at a supplement of 150% of the per person double occupancy rate. More information on pricing and other details will be available on the brochure when it is available. Contact us to be notified first when it is available.

To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

For reservations or questions, please email us at (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884).

Santorini, Greece

Parthenon, Athens, Greece

Lion's Gate, Mycenae - AIA Tours: The Legacy of Ancient Greece travel with the AIA


Friday, October 21 2022 – DEPART THE US
Saturday, October 22 – ATHENS, Greece
Sunday, October 23 – ATHENS
Monday, October 24 – ATHENS/FLY TO HERAKLION, Crete
Tuesday, October 25 – HERAKLION
Wednesday, October 26 – SANTORINI
Thursday, October 27 – AMORGOS
Friday, October 28 – DESPOTIKO & PAROS
Saturday, October 29 – SIFNOS
Monday, October 31 – PIRAEUS/USA

For reservations or questions, please email us at (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262. To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

View Detailed Itinerary

Friday, October 21, 2022: DEPART HOME FOR ATHENS, GREECE

Saturday, October 22: ATHENS, Greece
Arrive in Athens and transfer to the Hotel Athens Capital, located in the center of the city, convenient to many attractions. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. Meals: D

Sunday, October 23: ATHENS
One of the world’s most venerable cities, Athens is the capital of Greece and Europe’s oldest city. Its ancient monuments are testimonials to its glorious past that gave birth to democracy and many other ideas and institutions that form an integral part of the Western tradition. Explore this morning the Agora, the civic and commercial center of ancient Athens and the living heart of its democracy. See the remains of the civic buildings and visit the Agora Museum. Continue to the hill of Areopagus, where, in A.D. 51, St. Paul addressed the Athenians. After lunch at a local restaurant, tour the Acropolis and its celebrated monuments, including the sublime Parthenon. Built in the 5th century B.C., the Parthenon and other structures of the same period represent the highest achievement of architecture and art of the Classical period. Visit also the Acropolis Museum and view an outstanding collection of sculpture. Alternatively, you may take a full-day excursion out of Athens to visit the Sanctuary of Artemis at Brauron, and the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. Both sites date from the 5th century B.C. Lunch will be served in a country taverna. Everyone returns to the Hotel Athens Capital, and dinner is on your own. Meals: B, L

Monday, October 24: ATHENS/FLY TO HERAKLION, Crete
This morning visit the National Archaeological Museum. Housed in a large building that was first erected in the second part of the 19th century, the museum contains the country’s finest collection of ancient art, representing Greece’s long history from the prehistoric period to the Roman era. After lunch, continue to the airport for our flight to Heraklion, Crete’s largest city and commercial center (flight duration: 45 minutes). Upon arrival, transfer to the port to board Callisto. Overnight aboard while docked in port. Meals: B, L, D

Tuesday, October 25: HERAKLION
The largest of the Greek islands, Crete was home to Europe’s earliest advanced civilization, the Minoan, which flourished during the Bronze Age, starting around 2000 B.C. This morning we drive to the south of the island to visit Phaestos, one of the main Minoan palaces that have been excavated. Situated on a plain overlooking Crete’s highest mountain, Mount Ida, the first palace was built around 1900 B.C. Continue on to nearby Gortyn which, occupied since the Neolithic and Bronze Ages, became the capital of the province of Crete and Cyrenaica (North Africa) during the Roman period. The substantial remains of the city include the 5th-century B.C. Law Code, the city laws inscribed in stone blocks. Return to Heraklion and enjoy lunch at the Peskesi restaurant, known for its excellent Cretan cuisine. In the afternoon, tour the partially-reconstructed Minoan palace of Knossos. Clustered around a spacious courtyard, the palace contains a maze of rooms, passages, and stairways that reveal the brilliance and refinement of the Minoan civilization. Visit also the superlative Heraklion Museum to admire the exquisite art of the Minoans. For those who have visited previously these ancient sites, the following alternative excursions will be offered. In the morning, drive to Archanes, the site of a Minoan palace, where we will visit the informative Archaeological Museum; the necropolis of Fourni, which was used from c. 2400 B.C. to 1000 B.C.; and the Minoan settlement at Vathypetro. After lunch at the Peskesi restaurant, visit the Minoan palace of Malia and the 13th-century church of Panaghia Kera, whose walls are covered with frescoes. Callisto will cruise in the evening. Meals: B, L, D

 Wednesday, October 26: SANTORINI
Be on deck this morning as the ship approaches Santorini to admire one of the most iconic sights of the Mediterranean: the white-washed town of Phira, the island’s main town, perched on the 1,000-foot-high palisade of the volcanic caldera. Known in classical antiquity as Thera, the island was a flourishing trading center inhabited by a sophisticated society during the Bronze Age. In the late 17th century B.C., a massive volcanic eruption collapsed half of the island and buried its town, now called Akrotiri, in a thick layer of ash and pumice, preserving its houses, squares, and streets as they existed 3,700 years ago. Visit Akrotiri and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera, which exhibits the artifacts excavated at Akrotiri. Enjoy lunch at a restaurant that offers spectacular views of the caldera and serves local specialties. Spend the afternoon at leisure for independent activities, or join an excursion that will explore the remains of Thera, the island’s historic city, which was founded in the 9th century B.C. Located on the ridge of a mountain, the site, which requires walking over uneven terrain to reach, includes an agora, theater, sanctuaries, and houses. Meals: B, L, D

Thursday, October 27: AMORGOS
Known for its dramatic scenery, lovely Amorgos has been settled since the 5th millennium B.C. Call at the island’s main port, which hugs a curving cove, and explore its ancient remains, including the settlement at Markiani, which dates from the Early Cycladic period (2800 B.C. – 2000 B.C.); Minoa and Aegiale, both founded in the 10th century B.C.; and the monastery of Chozoviotissa. Built in the 11th century under a charter from the Byzantine emperor, the monastery is precipitously situated high above the sea. Also visit the Archaeological Museum, which is a housed in a 17th-century mansion and exhibits finds from excavations carried out on the island. The museum is in Chora, Amorgos’ enchanting main town, which sits on a plateau and is crowned by a 13th-century citadel. Time will be provided to explore Chora. Meals: B, L, D

Friday, October 28: DESPOTIKO & PAROS
Arrive in the morning at the uninhabited and seldom-visited islet of Despotiko. The small island was active during the Bronze Age, but later, starting in the Archaic era (early 7th century B.C. – early 5th century B.C.), it became one of the most important sanctuaries of Apollo in the Aegean Sea. Recent excavations under archaeologist Yannos Kourayos have brought to light many artifacts and revealed the remains of several buildings, including the large Temple of Apollo, which was partially restored last year. After exploring the remarkable excavations of Despotiko, sail to the nearby island of Paros, one of the quintessential Cycladic islands. Home of Archilochus, the great 7th-century B.C. lyric poet who was considered by the ancients as great as Homer, Paros was also the source of some of the world’s finest marble that was preferred by master sculptors from antiquity to more recent times. Call at Parikia, the island’s main town that features the white-washed architecture of the central Greek islands, and from there explore the island, including the remains of the 6th-century B.C. sanctuary of Athena, the Hellenistic houses and ancient cemeteries, and the ancient marble quarries. In Parikia, we will also visit the impressive church of Ekatontapyliani (Our Lady of a Hundred Doors), whose foundation dates from the 4th century, and the Archaeological Museum, which exhibits fine sculptures of Parian marble and artifacts excavated on Despotiko. Meals: B, L, D


Saturday, October 29: SIFNOS
This small island was famed in antiquity for its wealth that was produced by its gold and silver mines. Archaeological evidence suggests that the gold and silver deposits were exploited as early as the Bronze Age. Unaffected by tourist development and having preserved its character, Sifnos is one of the most delightful of Greece’s islands. Scattered around the island are several stone towers that were built starting in the late 6th century B.C. to protect the mines. One of the most impressive to have survived is the Aspros Pyrgos (White Tower), which we will explore. On the summit of the hill of Aghios Andreas, we will explore the fortified citadel that dates from the Mycenaean period. The complex construction of the defense walls is considered to be unique in the Aegean. The museum on the site exhibits artifacts dating from the early Bronze Age to later periods. Crowning a promontory above the sea is Kastro, the medieval citadel, which occupies the site of ancient Sifnos. Still visible are sections of the city’s impressive walls that were constructed late in the 6th century B.C. The island’s Archaeological Museum is also found here and it exhibits Cycladic marble objects and other artifacts. In addition to exploring the island’s ancient sites, we will also spend time in the very attractive towns of Apollonia and Artemonas. Meals: B, L, D

Set on a spacious bay and crowned by two citadels, Nafplion is one of Greece’s most attractive old towns. Drive to Epidaurus, the sanctuary dedicated to Asclepius, the god of healing. Epidaurus was in antiquity a religious shrine, health center, and popular spa. Its incredible 4th-century B.C. theater is famed for its perfect acoustics and harmonious proportions. Continue to Mycenae, the most important center of the Mycenaean civilization that flourished in the 2nd millennium B.C. Called by Homer “rich in gold” and “well-built,” Mycenae was the home of Agamemnon, who led the Greeks in the war against Troy. The nearby fertile area of Nemea has been producing fine wine from antiquity to the present time. We will enjoy lunch at the Skouras Winery, accompanied by its wines. Alternatively, spend the day touring Mycenaean Tiryns; Argos, one of the most storied cities of ancient Greece; and prehistoric Lerna, which dates back to 6500 B.C.  Meals: B, L, D

Monday, October 31: PIRAEUS/FLY HOME
Disembark in the morning in Zea Marina, a yacht harbor near Piraeus, the port of Athens, and transfer to Athens airport for return flights home. Meals: B

For reservations or questions, please email us at (and include your full name) or call us toll-free at (800) 748-6262 (toll: 603-756-2884). To reserve your space using the online form, click here.

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