A Voyage Through Antiquity

From Egypt to the Iberian Peninsula

Cairo, Egypt to Barcelona, Spain
April 17–May 8, 2024
22 Days / 21 Nights
Aboard National Geographic Explorer
From $17,505 / per person*

Combine two itineraries, Egypt, the Greek Isles, and the Suez Canal: Sailing Through Antiquity and Crossroads of the Mediterranean: A Voyage Through Greece, Malta, and Sicily, for an epic 22-day voyage across the Mediterranean. National Geographic Photography Experts Jennifer Hayes and David Doubilet will join on the first portion of the voyage—Cairo to Athens—and National Geographic Photography Expert Macduff Everton will join on the second portion—Athens to Barcelona. Note that staff and crew are subject to change in Athens.


Expedition Overview

This stirring journey across ancient lands unites some of history’s greatest civilizations, from Pharaonic Egypt to the Roman Empire, Classical Greece, and beyond. Witness monuments and temples constructed eons ago and explore the bustling souks and age-old port cities that stand in the shadows of these iconic landmarks. In the company of historians, archaeologists, and National Geographic Experts, uncover the stories that gave rise to some of the world’s most legendary sites: the Pyramids of Giza, the Acropolis, Santorini’s sapphire caldera. Along the way, we’ll sample Greek cheese, Marsala wine, and other local delicacies from the Mediterranean’s renowned culinary capitals.


  • Explore the greatest sights of antiquity, including the Pyramids of Giza, Bibliotheca Alexandria, Palace of Knossos, and the Parthenon.
  • Experience local culture as you sample regional delicacies and explore fishing villages and souks.
  • Encounter vestiges of the ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and Minoan civilizations alongside expert historians and archaeologists.
  • Navigate the Suez Canal, an engineering marvel and major trade corridor cut through expansive desert landscapes.
  • Learn about Sardinia's 2,000-year-old mining history and, in Corsica, discover one of the largest array of menhirs in the Mediterranean.

Day by Day

Day 1 Cairo, Egypt
Arrive in Cairo, transfer to our hotel (Ritz-Carlton or similar), and enjoy an afternoon at leisure. This evening, gather for a welcome reception and meet your fellow travelers.
Meals included: Dinner

Day 2 Cairo / Giza
Begin the Day with a visit to the Grand Egyptian Museum to view astonishing masterpieces from ancient Egypt. See mummies of the pharaohs, beautifully adorned sarcophagi, regal statues, and many of the dazzling jewels found in King Tutankhamun’s tomb. Following a lunch of Egyptian specialties, travel to Giza and encounter one of the most enduring symbols of the ancient world, the Pyramids. The complex is the oldest of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the only one that remains intact. Learn how and why the Pyramids were built, then view the Sphinx, carved from a rocky outcrop, displaying the head of Pharaoh Chefren and the body of a lion.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 Cairo / Luxor
Early this morning, transfer to the airport for our flight to Luxor. Upon arrival enjoy a relaxing lunch at our hotel (Hilton Luxor Hotel or similar) before setting out to tour the Karnak Temple complex. Many of the more powerful pharaohs added their individual touches to the buildings of this massive complex during their reigns. We’ll return to town to visit the magnificent Luxor Temple. As with Karnak, Luxor Temple was created at the hand of the pharaohs, primarily Amenhotep III and Ramses II. This impressive site was built on the banks of the Nile River and the timing of our visit will provide the opportunity to photograph the stones, which appear to glow in the afternoon sunlight. Enjoy dinner at the hotel.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Luxor / Safaga / Embark Ship
Following breakfast, travel to the West Bank of the Nile River to the Valley of the Kings. A sacred site for burials for nearly 500 years, the valley contains at least 63 tombs of pharaohs and powerful nobles, each decorated with elaborate mosaics and paintings depicting Egyptian mythology. Visit one of the most famous archaeological sites in the word, the tomb of Tutankhamun. The tomb had remained largely hidden until its discovery in 1922—keeping the treasure trove of antiquities safe from looters. Enjoy a special lunch on the Nile before crossing the desert to Safaga on the Red Sea, where we will embark the National Geographic Explorer.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 Hurghada
Enjoy Egypt’s stunning coastline, exploring the coral reefs, undersea beauty, and white sand beaches of the Red Sea. Hurghada offers spectacular opportunities to snorkel and dive in crystal waters. Alternatively, travel into the vast Sahara where we will visit a traditional Bedouin village and learn how its inhabitants have made their lives in the desert for centuries. Enjoy lunch before heading back into the city center where we will explore the bustling souk, Big Mosque, and the Corniche.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 Transit the Suez Canal
Spend the Day transiting the Suez Canal. Sail past small villages and massive expanses of desert sand as we learn the history of this amazing paradigm of human engineering. Opened in 1869 after more than a decade of construction, the canal connects the Red Sea to the Mediterranean and toDay it carries about 12 percent of the world’s trade. Spend time on the Bridge and observe the ship’s officers as they communicate with the vessels in our convoy to maneuver through the twists and turns of this extraordinary waterway.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 7-8 Alexandria / At Sea
Founded by Alexander the Great, Alexandria was considered the intellectual and cultural center of ancient Mediterranean society. Visit the Catacombs of Kom El Shougafa and climb the rocky hill to see Pompey’s Pillar, built in memory of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. Spend time in the Bibliotheca Alexandria—the cultural complex erected to commemorate the Great Library of Alexandria, one of the most significant libraries of the ancient world. Once back on board, be out on deck as we sail past the Citadel of Qaitbay. Marking the entrance to the harbor, on the site of the Alexandria Lighthouse, the fortress protected the city against the advancing Ottomans.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 Karpathos / Kasos, Greece
Leaving North Africa behind, sail into the Dodecanese Islands, stunning gems of unique beauty tucked away in the turquoise waters of the Aegan Sea. Step back in time to explore traditional fishing villages and the unique natural beauty of the islands of Karpathos and Kasos.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 Heraklion
Begin the Day with a visit to the Heraklion Archaeological Museum to view an astonishing collection of artifacts spanning 5500 years of Greek history. The museum houses the stunning frescos from Knossos including those depicting the historically popular sport of bull leaping. Afterwards, choose from two options: Visit the Palace of Knossos, one of Crete’s most popular Minoan sites. Built on the grounds of an earlier palace dating to as early as 2000 BC, the present structure is a reconstruction of what the vast palace would have looked like in 1450 BC. Or explore the Greek site of Phaestos, among the greatest of the Cretan Minoan cities. Its wealth is evident in the extent and quality of its ruins, and the city offers a superb hilltop setting with fine views of the countryside. Enjoy a traditional Greek lunch before returning to the ship.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11 Santorini, Greece
Be on deck early this morning to enjoy the sunrise as we sail into the caldera of Santorini. Watch as the early light paints the surrounding hillsides and whitewashed dwellings in beautiful pink and orange hues. Take the cable car up the steep cliffs to visit the picturesque villages Thera and Oia, and walk along the edge of the caldera to take in the spectacular view. Then head inland away from the hustle to experience the culinary delicacies of the traditional villages and wineries tucked into the hillsides.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 12 Athens
This morning, explore the ruins of the Acropolis by foot. On a guided walking tour, pass by the Odeon of Herodes Atticus, a Roman theater completed in 161 AD, and the Propylaia, the ceremonial gateway to the Acropolis, on your hike to the hilltop site of the Parthenon. After lunch, head out into the city for a tour before returning to the ship in the late afternoon.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13 Chania
Known for its mix of Ottoman, Greek, and Venetian architecture from centuries of foreign rule, Chania’s Old Town is an inviting labyrinth of charming streets. Take a guided walk through this area in the heart of the Venetian Port, and visit the Ottoman Küçük Hasan Pasha Mosque, built in 1649. In the afternoon, choose to explore the Gorge of Samaria—a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve where sheer 1,000-foot cliffs are only separated by a few yards in parts. Those embarking on this demanding hike will be rewarded with spectacular scenery and perhaps sightings of Mediterranean fauna such as the endemic species of wild goat. Or, delve into Crete’s culinary traditions: sheep and goat’s milk cheeses, kalitsounia (cheese pies), brandy distilled from grapes called raki, and more.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14 At Sea
Enjoy National Geographic Explorer’s amenities during this Day at sea. Listen to talks by our onboard experts, get photo tips from a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor, or spend some time on the Bridge with our officers, who are happy to answer questions. A massage from our wellness specialist is an inviting option, or relax with a book on the observation deck.
Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 15 Valletta, Malta
Be on deck this morning as we approach the impressive bastions, walls, and towers of Valletta, Malta’s baroque capital city. Heavily fortified in the 16th century by its founders, the Knights of St. John, Valletta is home to stunning palaces and domed churches. Take a leisurely walk within the city’s walls and see the many fine auberges, or palaces of the Order of St. John. In the dazzling St. John's Co-Cathedral, view Caravaggio’s famous 17th-century painting “The Beheading of St. John the Baptist.” This afternoon, visit the medieval town of Mdina or contemplate the mysteries of Malta’s early inhabitants at Bronze Age megalithic temples.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 16 Siracusa, Sicily, Italy
Cross into the Ionian Sea overnight and awaken off the coast of Sicily. Head ashore at Siracusa, one of the most powerful cities in the classical world. Explore the archaeological park, where a well-preserved Greek amphitheater with carved limestone seats is still used toDay. Paradise Quarry, now an attractive garden and orange grove, was the primary source of that limestone, and is the site of the curious Ear of Dionysius—a huge cave with incredible acoustics. Make the most of your time in port: explore the city's excellent market or explore the adjacent island of Ortigia, where a stunning cathedral was built on the columns of the 6th-century Temple of Athena. Alternatively, take an evening stroll through the city's piazzas.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 17-18 At Sea / Aeolian Islands / Bonifacio, Corsica, France
In the early hours of the morning, we pass through the narrow Strait of Messina, which separates Sicily from the “boot” of Italy. It is the purported location of Homer’s monsters Scylla and Charybdis, the rock and the hard place through which Odysseus had to sail. We'll sail through the Aeolian Islands, not only famous for the winds of the god Aeolus, but also for some of the most well-known classical volcanoes. With a bit of luck, we will witness the pyrotechnics of the active volcanic island of Stromboli. We continue sailing to the northwest across the Tyrrhenian Sea, towards Corsica. During our time at sea, enjoy free time on the National Geographic Explorer's deck soaking up the blue hues of the Mediterranean, or in the lounge taking in fun facts and historical insights from our expert staff onboard. We'll arrive in Bonifacio in the evening of Day 18.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 19 Bonifacio
Wake up to the sunrise over the layered cliffs of Bonifacio. Enter the narrow harbor to dock and enjoy the Day in one of the Mediterranean’s most beautiful towns. Begin with a walking orientation to the citadel, established by the powerful margraves of Tuscany in the ninth century. The rest of the morning is devoted to enjoying this lovely destination. In the afternoon, we offer an option to drive inland to view some of the menhir standing stone alignments of the Sartène region of Corsica, or to experience the characteristic Corsican maquis, the herbal scrubland known for its fragrances.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 20 Masua, Sardinia, Italy
Spend the morning at sea as we navigate along the western shores of Sardinia before docking in Masua. Mining has shaped the landscape and culture of Sardinia for two thousand years, with Phoenicians, Romans, and subsequent civilizations extracting precious metals like gold and silver as well as iron, zinc, and other natural resources. In the seaside cove of Porto Flavia, learn about the feats of engineering that enabled the twin tunnels of the Masua Mine to be dug directly into the cliffs, allowing workers to load ore directly onto cargo ships. Via kayak or Zodiac, see these unique mine entrances overlooking the sea.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 21 At Sea / Ciutadella de Menorca, Menorca, Spain
The Vandals, the Moors, and the British Empire have ruled over this stunning little island where prehistoric civilizations left intriguing rock mounds and megalithic monuments dating back some 4,000 years. This afternoon, explore this history while traveling overland to the southeast of Menorca. Walk through the Bronze Age village of Torralba d’en Salord and see the characteristic T-shaped stone monuments left by the Talayotic peoples. This evening, set a course west toward Spain’s eastern coast.
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 22 Barcelona / Disembark Ship
Arrive in Barcelona this morning. After breakfast, disembark and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Meals Included: Breakfast



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$17,505  $18,510  $19,680  $20,378  $23,925  $28,043  $32,348  $23,198  $24,638 
All prices are per person based on double occupancy, unless specified otherwise


Special Offers

$1,000 Hotel Credit
Book by October 31, 2023. Receive $1,000 per cabin credit, deducted from cabin fare prior to any additional applicable savings with the purchase of cabin fare. Valid on select departures, for new bookings only, subject to availability, and may not be combined with other offers and if not applicable on airfare or extensions. Call for details.

20% Solo Traveler Savings
Book by October 31, 2023. Save 20% on a solo cabin on select departures. Valid for new bookings only, subject to availability, may not be combined with other offers, and is not applicable on airfare or extensions. Call for details.

*Pricing reflects the 25% off back-to-back voyages offer.

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