The Athens shore excursion covered the Acropolis and the recently opened Acropolis Museum. We had been to Athens before, but this time there was hardly any scaffolding covering the Acropolis structures and the Temple to Nike was now viewable (lovely). Also, the new museum was very nice to see. The guide was knowledgeable and the Quiet Vox system let me roam around a bit while still able to hear our guide. The crowds were terrible, surprising to us for this time of year (end of Sept). We spent the morning there with the afternoon free to explore on our own. We sailed at night to Nafplio, a lovely Greek harbor town. From Nafplio we had a shore excursion to Mycenae (@1600-1300BC), city of Agamemnon and mentioned in Homer's Illiad. Though we had been here before on our own, the guide was excellent and we learned a great deal and appreciated the site much more through this excursion. We also visited the so-called tomb of Agamemnon, a wonderful beehive structure with towering dome. The afternoon was spent visiting the Archaeology Museum in Nafplio and wandering around town. Highly recommended.
The visit to Herculaneum, despite protestations of the guide to the contrary, was much better in terms of what we got to see. Maybe that's because it's a much smaller area to see(Pompeii is over 160 acres, visible excavation in Herculaneum are so much less because the new town is built over most of the ruins)and the upper stories survived, unlike in Pompeii. But, the wall paintings and mosaics were much better preserved. Plus, by this time, we ran around seeing as much as we could, whether our guide was going there or not! I highly recommend Herculaneum and be sure to visit the House of the Mysteries for wonderful wall paintings.
Overnight in Palermo, next day excursion to Monreale and the Cathedral with its 12thC mosaics covering over an acre of wall space. Lovely cloister also. Also be sure to view the bronze doors behind the church.
Overnight sail to CEFALU. Really pleasant holiday hill town located on a headland overlooking the sea. Lots of Byzantine sights including a couple of impressive cathedrals. Stroll through the narrow streets, but beware of cars even on so-called pedestrian avenues. There are some very nice shops for surprisingly high-end fashion, shoes, kitchenware and jewelry.
Due to weather conditions, was unable to visit Sorrento as tendering was not safely possible. The ship relocated to Naples instead.
Midnight sail to SYRACUSE. From there -excursion to the Greek theater, Tomb of Archimedes, Roman amphitheater, and the Archaeological Museum in the morning. In the afternoon, excursion to the island of Ortygia where we viewed the Temple of Apollo and a Norman cathedral built into a Greek temple.
Sail to AGRIGENTO: Excursions to breathtaking sights in the Valley of the Temples of virtually intact Greek temples about 5thC BC. In afternoon, cruised the Sicilian coast, viewing Eghadi Islands and arrived at TRAPANI in pm. Next day excursions to Segesta, Selinunte and Marsala, where we viewed temples, cathedrals and had a lovely lunch and wine tasting at the Florio winery. Great guide all day, fantastic sights, esp. in Selinunte with its 8 Greek temples and ancient fortification systems. Highly recommended.