Small-ship line Voyages to Antiquity is the latest effort from cruise entrepreneur Gerry Herrod, who headed up Ocean Cruise Line, Orient Lines and Discovery Cruises. There will be a large focus on ancient civilisations and the journeys of ships of the past, including visits to ports of significant historical and cultural interest.
The line has purchased the former Aegean I ship, which will emerge from a massive refit in Piraeus in May 2010 as the Aegean Odyssey, ready for a summer season of Mediterranean cruises. From May to November 2010, Aegean Odyssey will sail from various departure points -- such as Athens, Rome, Venice, Istanbul, Cairo, Safaga and Oman -- on destination- and enrichment-focused cruises, aimed at English-speaking passengers.
The line's new managing director, David Yellow, sat down with CruiseCritic.co.uk today to share a bit more info about the start-up. According to Yellow, Voyages to Antiquity will be marketed as a "premium, small-ship product." To further the focus on ancient civilisations, the library will be filled with books on the subject, and artefacts, sculptures and models of ships of yesteryear will be found throughout the ship.
Guest lecturers will also be a big part of the cruise experience, and Voyages to Antiquity is currently working on next year's programme. Already on the lineup is historical author Lord John Julius Norwich, who, we're told, even helped plan the itineraries with the cruise line. And the 14- and 29-night (back to back) cruises will call in some real off-the-beaten-track ports such as Greece's Mycenae, Sicily's Syracuse and the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro.
"It's a cruise line with a difference," Yellow says, "it's not something everybody else is doing."
As far as the ship goes, Voyages to Antiquity is lowering the capacity of Aegean Odyssey from 570 to 380 by creating 81 larger cabins via the combination of smaller cabins; 42 of these newly expanded cabins will have balconies. The remainder of the staterooms onboard will be refurbished. There will also be 16 single cabins onboard.
Entertainment will be low-key; there will be no casino, but plenty of enrichment classes. Shore excursions and wine with dinner are included in the price of the cruise. Other facilities onboard include a single, open-seating dining room, a new spa area, al fresco "Tapas on the Terrace" dining and a bar area.
The inaugural voyage will sail roundtrip Athens on 4 May, 2010; calls on the 14-night Eastern Mediterranean cruise include Istanbul in Turkey, and Mycenae, Monemvasia and Delos in Greece.
Cruises will go on sale in September. Prices start at £2,295 per person for a 14-night Mediterranean cruise including airfare.
--by Kelly Ranson, U.K. Editor