We are pleased to offer for the third time this 17-day tour, featuring a seven-day cruise on the luxury 50-cabin sailing yacht Sea Cloud II. Explore prehistoric, Greek and Roman sites in Malta and Sicily. Enjoy the dramatic scenery of Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, with their volcanoes and steep coastlines. Visit medieval Norman cathedrals with fine Byzantine mosaics. Enjoy Sicily’s excellent wines and Arab-influenced cuisine.
The 5,000 year old prehistoric civilizations on Malta
The exploits of the Knights of St John on Malta
The flowering of ancient Greek civilization on Sicily, in cities such as Siracusa and Agrigento
The centuries of sophisticated Arab civilization on Sicily from AD 800-1,000
The multi-ethnic kingdom of the Norman rulers of Sicily
The active volcanoes and stunning landscapes of Etna and the Aeolian Islands
The Sea Cloud II
The Sea Cloud II is a luxurious 3-masted Barque, traditionally crafted in teak, but with modern features. White cloth sails and understated elegance create a unique environment that is at once nostalgic and luxurious. Although most of the journey takes place under motor, on some days the crew climb the rigging to set the square sails and jibs and you experience the thrill of ocean yachting.
The Neolithic temples of Tarxien and Ggantija on Malta
The city-fortress of Valletta, constructed by the knights in the 16th century
Caravaggio’s paintings in Malta and Sicily
Afternoons under sail on Sea Cloud II, with outstanding service, fine food and wine
Sailing around the volcanoes of Stromboli and Vulcano, viewing active eruptions
Outstanding archaeological museums in Siracusa and Agrigento
The UNESCO World Heritage mosaics of Monreale and the Palatine Chapel in Palermo
Opera or concert at the Teatro Massimo in Palermo (if available)
Day 1: Arrive Malta and settle in.
Days 2–5: Travelling around Malta, including Valletta, Mdina and the island of Gozo.
Days 5–11: Six-night cruise on Sea Cloud II, disembarking in Siracusa. Ports-of-call include Trapani, Palermo, Lipari and Taormina, plus a full day at sea.
Days 11–12: Explore the archaeological sites and baroque architecture of Siracusa.
Days 13–14: Travel to the Greek temples at Agrigento via the Roman villa at Piazza Armerina.
Days 15–16: Travel to Palermo for further sightseeing in the capital.
Day 17: Depart Palermo.
A limited number of places remain on this tour and as such, internet bookings are not taken. Please contact our travel consultant listed above if you wish to make a booking.
Emirates offer flights direct to Malta and home from Rome. It is also possible to travel via many major European cities to Malta. Please contact us for options and prices.
Included meals are shown with the letters B, L and D.
Sunday 1 October: Arrive Malta
This afternoon meet tour leader Robert Veel at the hotel to take a short boat cruise of Valletta’s imposing harbour before a welcome drink and light dinner in our hotel. Overnight at the Grand Hotel Excelsior, Valletta (D)
Monday 2 October: Exploring Valletta
After a morning talk our local guide commences a walking tour of Valletta, Malta’s historic capital. The city was built immediately after the Great Siege of 1565 and is remarkably uniform in its layout and architecture. A highlight of our visit will be St John’s Co-Cathedral, which contains Caravaggio’s Beheading of St John the Baptist, painted in 1608 while the artist was seeking refuge from Italy. After lunch in a local restaurant, the tour continues. The late afternoon and evening is at leisure. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Tuesday 3 October: Prehistoric temples and Mdina
This morning we travel a short distance to some fascinating prehistoric temples, dating to 3,000BC, among the oldest built structures on earth. Nearby is an equally ancient hypogeum (subject to availability), or underground burial chamber. We continue to the former medieval capital of Malta, Mdina. Here we have lunch, explore the imposing cathedral and wander the charming streets before returning to Valletta. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Wednesday 4 October: Gozo
The island of Gozo is the second largest in the Maltese archipelago, and it contains some remarkable sites. Today we take a private tour by boat and coach. Highlights of the day include the ‘Ggantija temples’, the world’s oldest religious structures, the fortress at Victoria and the fishing village of Xlendi, where we have lunch. We return to Valletta in the evening. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Thursday 5 October: Embark Sea Cloud II – Valletta
This morning you are free to explore the city at your own pace. Options include the National Museum of Fine Arts, containing works by Turner, Perugino and the Venetian Carpaccio. The National War Museum explores in particular the role of the British on Malta, and the National Museum of Archaeology has some magnificent displays of pieces more than 5,000 years old from Malta’s Neolithic cultures. In the later afternoon we transfer to the port of Valletta to board Sea Cloud II. At sunset we make the breathtaking exit from Valletta harbour. Dinner is included every evening on board. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, D)
Friday 6 October: At Sea
Our first day is spent at sea, with much of the day under sail. You will get to witness the crew setting sail and various technical aspects of the ship will be explained by staff. Weather permitting you should also be able to journey out from the ship on zodiac dinghies to get a view of the Sea Cloud II under sail. In the afternoon there will be a background talk on Sicily in preparation for our next day’s visit. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Saturday 7 October: Trapani – Mozia
We arrive at Trapani, a remote city on Sicily’s western side. Our private excursion will take us to the island of Mozia. Here, among the salt pans are the ruins of the former Carthaginian settlement which thrived in the 5th to 3rd centuries BC. The island houses a small museum with some unique pieces, and is associated with the Marsala wine production of the English Whitaker family. We rejoin Sea Cloud II for its early afternoon sailing. This afternoon there is a talk on the medieval Norman kingdom of Sicily. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Sunday 8 October: Palermo
Unlike other travellers on the cruise, we have the luxury of a return to Palermo at the end of the tour, so our first day will comprise an introduction to the city. We will visit the La Zisa hunting palace, built by the Normans in imitation of an Arab palace, visit the Vucciria markets and the Palazzo Arbatellis regional art museum. There is free time for lunch and further exploration before reboarding Sea Cloud II in the late afternoon. This evening’s sailing will take us past the picturesque town of Cefalù on the Sicilian coast. A short afternoon talk will introduce the Aeolian Islands. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, D)
Monday 9 October: Lipari – Aeolian Islands
We arrive at Lipari in the early morning. With a local guide we will explore the acropolis and the excellent archaeological museum. The Aeolian Islands have been known since the Neolithic period, when the island’s obsidian was a valuable trading commodity. We return to Sea Cloud II in time for lunch onboard. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Tuesday 10 October: Taormina
This morning we sail into the Straits of Messina, separating Sicily from the Italian mainland. In the early afternoon we dock at Giardini-Naxos, beneath the town of Taormina. After lunch onboard we visit Taormina. Highlights include the superbly situated Graeco-Roman theatre, one of the great sites of the Mediterranean, the medieval palaces lining the main street and the views to Mount Etna and the sea. We return to Sea Cloud II for dinner and late night sailing. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Wednesday 11 October: Disembark Sea Cloud II – Siracusa
Today we disembark the Sea Cloud II in the ancient city of Siracusa, one of the great cities of the ancient Greek world. This morning we visit the quarries where thousands of Romans were put to death and the famous Greek theatre, where many classics of ancient literature were first performed. The afternoon is spent exploring the island of Ortigia, close to our hotel. The cathedral is converted from a 5th century BC Greek temple, and there is a fine medieval castle and some beautiful piazzas to enjoy. Overnight Hotel Roma, Siracusa (B)
Thursday 12 October: Paolo Orsi archaeological museum
This morning, after a brief visit to the Church of St Lucia alla Badia to see Caravaggio’s painting TheBurial of Saint Lucy, we make our way to the excellent Paolo Orsi Regional Archaeological Museum. Reopened after extensive renovation the Paolo Orsi is one of the most important archaeological museums in southern Italy. Its artefacts, found throughout Sicily, survey the Greek, Roman, and early Christian epochs. This evening we dine in a local restaurant. Hotel Roma, Siracusa (B, D)
Friday 13 October: Piazza Armerina and Agrigento
We depart Siracusa this morning, heading westward through the geographic centre of Sicily. Today’s highlight is the Villa Roman del Casale at Piazza Armerina, featuring a series of intact floor mosaics from the 4th century AD, created by North African artisans. After lunch we continue to Agrigento, located on the south coast of Sicily, arriving in the late afternoon. There is a group meal tonight in our hotel. Overnight Hotel Colleverde, Agrigento (B, D)
Saturday 14 October: Agrigento and Palermo
Agrigento – ancient ‘Akragas’ — was founded in the 6th century BC and enjoyed a reputation as one of the wealthiest colonies of the Greek world. The extensive and well-preserved sacred area is testament to this wealth, comprising four major temples in excellent preservation as well as a number of smaller structures. Today we tour the temple site with a local guide as well as visiting the archaeological museum, located on site. In the afternoon we travel north to Palermo, our final stopping place on the tour. We dine in a restaurant close to our hotel. Overnight Piazza Borsa Hotel, Palermo (B, D)
Sunday 15 October: Norman splendour
Today we tour some of the main historic sites of the old city, including the Norman Palace and Palatine Chapel, with its gold mosaics and the Byzantine-influenced church of La Martorana. We then travel to the hills behind Palermo to view the cathedral and abbey of Monreale, founded by the Norman King William II in the 12th century. Their superb architecture and vast mosaic decoration are testament to the aspirations of the Norman Kingdom of Sicily. Overnight Palermo (B)
Monday 16 October: Segesta and Mondello
This morning we take a short journey to Segesta, an evocative Greek ruin in a hilltop location. Sacked in the 4th century BC and later abandoned, the rugged setting of the temple and theatre is truly memorable, and has inspired artists and writers for centuries. We then visit the relaxing beach resort of Mondello, just outside Palermo, for a farewell lunch. We return to Palermo via the mountain shrine of Santa Rosalia, protector of the city. Overnight Palermo (B, L)
Tuesday 17 October: Departure
Our group flight departs mid-morning for Rome. (B)
Holds a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Education. He is a director of Academy Travel and leads tours to Europe, Scandinavia, the US & Australia.
He led his first tour to Italy in 1990 and since then has designed and led 16 tours to Italy, Turkey and the United States, as well as traveling through Asia, north Africa, the Middle East, Russia and Canada. Robert’s special interest is in Italian medieval and Renaissance history, and he has taught numerous courses in this area at the University of Sydney and elsewhere since 1990.
This centrally located four-star hotel is within walking distance of many of Palermo’s historical sites.
What is included in the tour price? Unless otherwise stated in the itinerary, our tours include the following:
Any flights mentioned in the itinerary that take place during a tour
Land travel by private air-conditioned coach. Where appropriate public transport is also used for short distance travel on some tours
All accommodation in hotels or apartments as stated in the itinerary
Breakfasts, lunches and dinners specifically stated as included in the itinerary
Drinks at welcome and farewell meals. Other meals may not have drinks included
Background talks on tour, site notes and online resources
Services of tour leader throughout tour
All entrance fees to sites mentioned in the itinerary
Local guides at some sites
Tips for drivers, local guides and restaurants for included meals
Tours begin either at the arrival airport or the first hotel, depending on the itinerary. If you have booked your international flights with Academy Travel and arrive before the tour commences, we will provide airport to hotel transfers to the closest main city on your arrival, and to the closest airport at the end of the tour. These may be either individual or group transfers.
What is not included in the tour price? Open-age tours do not include the following:
Return international/domestic air travel unless those flights take place during the tour
Special taxes and airport levies that can only be paid in cash at the destination. We will advise you of these charges (if any) before you depart
Costs involved in obtaining visas for countries visited, where required
Travel insurance. We require all participants to have comprehensive travel insurance. A typical policy for one of our tours will cost from $160 upwards, depending on your age, pre-existing medical conditions, the countries you are visiting and the overall length of your trip
Lunches and dinners not specifically mentioned as included in the itinerary
Personal expenses such as laundry and phone calls
Costs associated with any activity mentioned as “optional” in the itinerary, or any suggested free time activity
You will be asked to sign an acknowledgement of these conditions when you book a place on a tour.
A deposit of $500 per person is required to confirm your booking on a tour. Final payment of the tour fee, insurance and any additional travel will be due 60 days before departure.
If you decide to cancel your booking the following charges apply:
More than 60 days before departure: $500*
60-45 days before tour start: 25% of total amount due
44-15 days before tour start: 75% of total amount due
14 days or less before departure: 100% of total amount due
*This amount may be credited to another Academy Travel tour within 12 months of the original tour you booked.
Unused Portions of the tour
We regret that refunds will not be given for any unused portions of the tour, such as meals, entry fees, accommodation, flights or transfers.
Academy Travel requires all participants to obtain comprehensive travel insurance. We offer a comprehensive policy with a reputable insurer if required.
Passport and Visa
A valid passport is required for all international travel. If you do not hold an Australian passport you may require a re-entry permit. Some countries require a visa to be issued before you depart Australia. We will advise you of all passport and visa requirements, but it is your responsibility to ensure that you meet passport and visa requirements before you depart.
Will the tour price change?
If the number of participants in a tour is significantly less than budgeted, or if there is a significant change in exchange rates Academy Travel reserves the right to amend the advertised price. If this occurs you will be given the option of cancelling your booking and obtaining a full refund. If an Academy Travel tour is forced to cancel you will get a full refund of all monies paid.
Will the itinerary change?
Occasionally circumstances beyond the control of Academy Travel make it necessary to change airline, hotel or to make slight amendments to daily itineraries. We will inform you of any changes as soon as they occur.
Full and final payment for the tour, airfare travel, insurance and any additional travel you book is due 60 days before departure. Payment may be made by bank deposit, cheque, cash or credit card. Please note there is a surcharge for payments made by credit card.
Academy Travel reserves the right to decline the booking or terminate the holiday of any traveller.