This new tour offers the opportunity to combine the pleasure of sailing through one of the most beautiful parts of the Mediterranean aboard Sea Cloud II, with visits to a host of remarkable harbours on this journey from Valletta to Venice. In Valletta, explore prehistoric sites and the rich culture of the Maltese; cruise the stunning Dalmatian coast pausing in Dubrovnik, Korcula, and Zadar. The cruise ends in Venice, where we spend four days exploring this wondrous city and its extraordinary art and history.
The complex web of European and Eastern influences that have created the unique and distinctive cultures of Malta, Italy and Croatia
The 5,000-year-old prehistoric civilizations on Malta
The Dalmatian coast, where rugged mountain ranges plunge down to the sea and hundreds of small islands dot the coastline
The exceptional art and architecture of Venice, visiting centuries-old sites and world-class museums
Stunning scenery from the decks of the Sea Cloud II, a traditionally crafted three-masted barque
Nine nights cruising aboard the luxurious Sea Cloud II, a very different experience to mainstream cruising, with outstanding service, fine food and wine
The city-fortress of Valletta, constructed by the Knights of St John in the 16th century
The Neolithic temple complex at Tarxien, the Hal Saflieni Hypogeum and Ggantija Temples on Gozo
The beautiful resort town of Dubrovnik, known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”
Magnificent 5th and 6th-century Byzantine mosaics in Ravenna
See the splendour of St Mark’s, the private chapel of the Doges, lit up at night on a private, after-hours tour
Days 1–3: Arrive in Valletta and tour Malta, visiting Neolithic sites, the medieval walled town of Mdina and the island of Gozo.
Days 4–12: Embark on a nine-night cruise aboard Sea Cloud II, disembarking in Venice. Ports-of-call include Otranto, Dubrovnik, Korcula, Zadar, Rovinj/Porec and Ravenna, plus enjoy a full day and a half at sea.
Days 13–17: Explore Venice, with visits to key museums and art galleries. Enjoy a private after-hours visit to St Mark’s Basilica for the illumination of the mosaics.
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 Venice. 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.
Day 1 | Saturday 22 September: Arrive Valletta
Meet your tour leader, Dr Kathleen Olive, 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 The Phoenicia Malta Hotel, Valletta (D)
Day 2 | Sunday 23 September: Valletta, Tarxien and Hal Saflieni
This morning we visit the Neolithic temple complex at Tarxien, a site of extraordinary archaeological significance consisting of three temples built around 3000-2500 BC and a fourth dating from an earlier building phase. In small groups, we visit the recently reopened Hal Saflieni Hypogeum, a complex underground burial chamber. After our welcome lunch at a local restaurant, we commence a walking tour of Valletta visiting the Upper Barracca Gardens, which command a breathtaking view of the Grand Harbour. We also visit St John’s Co-Cathedral which holds, amongst its treasures, two paintings by Caravaggio – St Jerome and the vast Beheading of St John, painted in 1608 while the artist was briefly serving as a novice of the Order of Saint John in Valletta. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Day 3 | Monday 24 September: Gozo
Today we travel by speed boat to the island of Gozo, Malta’s smaller and more relaxed neighbour. Our visit includes the Ggantija Temples, the most complete temple complex on the islands, part of which predates Stonehenge and the Pyramids. We also visit Calypso’s Cave and the Old Citadel in Victoria. After lunch together, we visit Xlendi Bay and Dwejra. In the later afternoon, we return to Valletta by boat. Overnight Valletta (B, L)
Day 4 | Tuesday 25 September: Mdina and San Anton Gardens
Mdina is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city, with an extraordinary mix of medieval and baroque architecture. Archaeological evidence traces settlement back over 4000 years to the Phoenicians. Its strategic location on the highest point of the island has made it home to Arab, Norman, Sicilian and Spanish rulers and earned it the name of Citta Notabile, the noble city. Afterwards we visit San Anton Gardens, open to the public since 1882, it was built by Grand Master Antoine de Paule to complement his summer residence, San Anton Palace, which today is the residence of the Maltese President. 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)
Day 5 | Wednesday 26 September: 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. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Day 6 | Thursday 27 September: Adriatic Sea
This morning we cruise the Adriatic Sea, taking in the picturesque Italian coastline. There will be a background talk in preparation for our visit. We arrive early evening and venture ashore to stroll through the town. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Day 7 | Friday 28 September: Otranto
This morning we take a guided tour of the seaside town of Otranto, once a leading port of trade with Asia Minor and Greece, and under the Byzantines an important foothold of the Eastern Roman Empire in Italy. It is home to a superb 12th-century Norman cathedral with spectacular medieval floor mosaics, and an Aragonese castle from the time when this Spanish dynasty ruled southern Italy. We return to Sea Cloud II for lunch and afternoon sailing. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Day 8 | Saturday 29 September: Dubrovnik
For centuries Dubrovnik maintained its independence as crusaders, pilgrims, travellers, adventurers and merchants passed through. This afternoon we explore the historical heart of this fascinating city. Despite being severely damaged by an earthquake in 1667 and again during the 1990’s conflict, the city has retained many of its Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings and is the focus of a UNESCO-coordinated restoration program. Our walking tour includes the Rector’s Palace, cathedral, Franciscan and Dominican monasteries, and there is the option to walk the city’s impressive walls. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Day 9 | Sunday 30 September: Korcula
The town of Korcula is perched on a peninsula, surrounded by 13th-century walls, reinforced with towers and bastions by the Venetians after 1420. We explore the town’s main sites, including the 13th-century cathedral of St Mark, build in pale, honey-coloured stone. We return to Sea Cloud II for lunch and afternoon sailing. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Day 10 | Monday 1 October: Zadar
Early afternoon we arrive in Zadar, a narrow peninsular that was the main base for the Byzantine fleet in the Middle Ages. We visit the Archaeological Museum, containing objects that date from prehistory to recent times. We tour the historic centre of the Old Town, including the fortifications and the unique 9th-century church of St Donat, one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture in Dalmatia. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Day 11 | Tuesday 2 October: Porec
After lunch we sail into the port of Rovinj. We make the short journey to Poreč to take a walking tour of the town. We visit the remarkable 6th-century Euphrasian Basilica which, with its UNESCO World Heritage listing, is acknowledged as one of the best examples of early Byzantine art in the region. We also visit the adjacent museum, the former Bishop’s Palace, housing a small collection of mosaics, sculpture and vestments. Earlier churches on the site are visible from the Bishop’s Palace Museums. The climb to the top of the belltower is not for the fainthearted but offers superb views across the old town. We return to Sea Cloud II for dinner and evening sailing. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Day 12 | Wednesday 3 October: Ravenna
This morning Sea Cloud II arrives in Ravenna, the Byzantine capital of Italy in the 5th-8th centuries. It is in Ravenna, after the fall of the Roman Empire, that the Byzantine visual style of gold-ground mosaics first developed. Here we view the UNESCO World Heritage-listed churches of San Vitale and Sant’Apollinare Nuovo. We also examine evidence of the Gothic kingdom in Italy in the late 5th and early 6th century, including the Palace and Mausoleum of Theodoric and the Neonian baptistery. We return to Sea Cloud II in the late afternoon. Overnight aboard Sea Cloud II (B, L, D)
Day 13 | Thursday 4 October: Rialto and Palazzo Ducale
Our arrival into Venice harbour marks the end of our cruise but the beginning of our exploration of Venice. We start in the Rialto area, once Europe’s premier trade and finance hub. We walk the bridge, tour the lively markets, and head to Fondaco dei Tedeschi, a warehouse for Turkish traders in the 17th-19th centuries. It is now a luxury shopping complex with a panoramic rooftop view. After a break for lunch we continue on to Palazzo Ducale. Once the home to Venice’s rulers and the offices of state, the Doge’s Palace is a triumph of Gothic architecture. Our guided tour continues to St Mark’s Basilica, constructed between the 10th and 14th centuries. Our program includes the illumination of the basilica’s interiors, to see the bejewelled Pala d’Oro (golden altarpiece) and the loggia at the front of the church, where one can admire the bronze horses brought from Constantinople. Overnight Hotel Al Codega, Venice (B, D)
Day 14 | Friday 5 October: San Marco and the trading empire
Today we venture beyond what the average tourist sees of Venice, starting with a vaporetto to the Castello district where we visit the historic Arsenal of Venice and the church of San Zaccaria, with its extraordinary altarpiece by Bellini. We visit the confraternal headquarters of the Greek and Dalmatian communities in Venice, including the stunning Icon Museum. After a leisurely break for lunch, we take a private tour of Venice’s ghetto district and its synagogues. The Jews of Venice played an important role in the city and the ghetto has a fascinating history. Overnight Venice (B)
Day 15 | Saturday 6 October: Venetian fine art
This morning we visit the Galleria dell’Accademia, the main museum of Venetian painting from the Middle Ages to the 18th century, displaying important works by Bellini, Carpaccio, Giorgione, Titian, Tintoretto, Tiepolo and others. The afternoon is at leisure, with the option of a visit to the startlingly modern Punta della Dogana Museum, renovated by Tadeo Ando, highly recommended. Overnight Venice (B)
Day 16 | Sunday 7 October: Venice and the lagoon
Today we gain a sense of the geography of the Venetian lagoon and the city’s appearance in its earliest days. We travel by ferry to the peaceful lagoon island of Torcello. On Torcello we view the 6th-century basilica with its mosaics and Byzantine decorations, as well as the small museum of the Venetian lagoon. We then enjoy a relaxed welcome lunch at the legendary Locanda Cipriani on Torcello before returning to our hotel. Overnight Venice (B, L)
Day 17 | Monday 8 October: Departure
The tour ends after breakfast. Departing group members transfer by private launch to Venice’s Marco Polo airport for outgoing flights. (B)
Dr Kathleen Olive
Has a PhD in Italian Studies, speaks fluent Italian and lectures on the art, history and culture of Europe. Kathleen has an outstanding knowledge of Italy.
Dr Kathleen Olive is a literary and cultural historian with close to 15 years’ experience leading tours to Italy, Spain, France, Turkey, Japan and the United States. She has a strong personal interest in the visual arts, interior design, fashion history and contemporary fiction.
Kathleen holds a BA with first class Honours and a PhD, both from the Department of Italian Studies at the University of Sydney. For a number of years she worked as a lecturer at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, Sydney, teaching Italian language, literature and history. Kathleen continues to teach, as a national lecturer for the Australian Decorative and Fine Arts Society (ADFAS), and in adult education courses in Sydney. In 2015, her edition of the Codex Rustici (a 15th-century commonplace book that Kathleen worked on with Nerida Newbigin, for her doctoral studies and for publication) was presented to Pope Francis on his first official visit to Florence.
Kathleen’s historical and artistic knowledge stretches from the Middle Ages through to the early 20th century. In Italy she has led numerous tours focusing on the medieval and Renaissance periods. In Spain she has a particular concentration on the “Convivencia” of Islamic, Christian and Jewish cultures in the south, and on the medieval pilgrimage routes of the north. Her tours of the USA’s north-east have focused on American collectors and their Gilded Age reinventions of European glory days, and in Japan she is particularly interested in contemporary design, from fashion to architecture. Kathleen speaks fluent Italian, is conversant in Spanish and understands French.
Kathleen was first involved on a tour to Italy in 2003 and it sparked her passion for on-the-spot communication of art and history. Since 2010 she has worked exclusively for Academy Travel, leading 6 tours a year. She has designed a number of our popular tours, from the Florence residential, to surveys of the courts of Renaissance Italy and of central Italy’s villas and gardens, as well as “twin city” tours to Palermo and Naples and to Florence and Rome. Closer to home, Kathleen is leading Academy Travel’s inaugural tour to Japan and our popular tours to Tasmania.
We asked Kathleen, what do you enjoy most about leading a group tour?
“I really enjoy travelling with groups who share interests in the history, culture and even food of a destination. It means that those personal connections are there right from the beginning, just waiting to be made.”
“There’s nothing I enjoy more than finding out the particular interests of my fellow travellers – an artist, a dish they love eating, their memories of a particular place – and finding a way to make an experience happen for them. That might mean recommending a particular wine bar, directing them to a museum that features artists they already like, or suggesting the best time of day for a view over a town. It’s so satisfying to be involved in making these kinds of memories for people.”
“Many of the people I travel with comment on my passion for the places I visit. It’s not just that I know my names and dates – it’s that I really enjoy bringing out the connections between history and art, for example, or between landscape and food. I never grow tired of injecting this kind of life into ‘dry’ academic knowledge.”
This newly renovated five-star hotel is located in the heart of Valletta. It commands views from its elevated position overlooking the port and the historic city. It is within walking distance of the shopping district, and the impressive Parliament House building, designed by Renzo Piano, is opposite the hotel through the city’s gates.
The four-star Hotel Al Codega is a small, independent, family-run hotel. It is located in a quiet cul-de-sac in the heart of Venice, and provides you with peace, comfort and convenience. Breakfasts are very good and there is a cosy bar to enjoy an evening drink.
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.