The Mediterranean Experience
Message from GOVERNOR MIKE HUCKABEE AND BLUE DIAMOND TRAVEL
I am thrilled to announce an unforgettable trip to the Mediterranean for October 29, 2023 - November 7, 2023! After many years of the Israel Experiences and our most recent trip the Mediterranean Experience cruise, we are bringing you another phenomenal cruise, the Mediterranean Experience! This all-inclusive cruise will feature some of the most beautiful places in the Mediterranean Sea and we will get to travel to and absorb these destinations aboard a luxury cruise ship from the Azamara Cruise line. If you have traveled with us before, you already know that all-inclusive means exactly that and that there no surprises along the way. The Mediterranean Experience will be no different. Once again we have the entire ship to ourselves. We will fill our time on board with spectacular entertainment from special guests Guy Penrod, Jeff Allen, Al Denson and comedian Chonda Pierce, engaging lectures from an expert on the Apostle Paul as we follow in his footsteps throughout the Mediterranean. In addition to the cruise we have multiple pre and post-cruise offerings you can choose from to extend your trip. Our last Mediterranean cruise sold out in record time so we encourage you to get your cabin secured soon. We look forward to traveling with you soon and as always we will work and do everything in our control to bring you The Greatest Trip.
See you on the ship,
Learn more about our special guests
Chonda Pierce - https://chonda.org/about/
Guy Penrod - https://guypenrod.com/bio
Larry Gatlin https://www.gatlinbrothers.com/larry-gatlin
Jeff Allen - https://www.jeffallencomedy.com/about/
Al Denson - https://aldenson.com/about/
Mediterranean Experience All Inclusive Price Distinctions
Suite Guest Inclusive Features:
Club Ocean View
Club Ocean View
Club Ocean View
Club Ocean View
Club Continent Suite
Club Continent Suite
Club Spa Suite
Club Ocean Suite
Club World Owner's Suite
ALL INCLUSIVE PRICING FROM NEW YORK*
*Rates are per person, based on double occupancy and reflect a cash discount of $295 per person. Guests may pay the initial $750 deposit by credit card and keep the discount. Guests paying any amount over $750 via credit card forfeit the cash discount.
Saturday, October 28th - Depart the USA
Sunday, October 29th - Athens, Greece
Arrive in Athens and see the best of Athens on a panoramic drive designed for those who prefer a more leisurely tour of the city. Board a comfortable coach for a narrated tour covering both modern and ancient attractions, including the Academy, Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the National Gardens, and a stop at the pedestrian zone below the majestic Acropolis. Conclude with free time to shop in the picturesque Plaka, the city’s most ancient neighborhood. Transfer to the ship to embark after your tour. (Late arrivals may experience a shorter panoramic tour and reduced free time.)
October 30th - Athens, Greece
Travel to the legendary city of Athens for an awe-inspiring immersion into Greek history, mythology and might. Upon arrival, you’ll begin a narrated sightseeing drive that winds past the ruins of the Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Panathenaic Stadium, an ancient wonder reborn as the site of the first modern Olympics in 1896. Your drive will lead to the most iconic ancient site in Greece – the Acropolis. Climb the steep steps leading to this complex of temples and buildings dating back to the 5th century BC and built as a grand monument to thought and the arts. Witness the Temple of Athena Nike and explore the iconic Parthenon, dedicated to the Goddess Athena and offering sweeping panoramas overlooking the city below. A short walk from the ruins leads to Mars Hill where Paul preached to the Athenians. Enjoy Lunch before continuing on to the city of Corinth, where the apostle Paul met fellow tentmakers Aquila and Priscilla and received a vision from the Lord. As Paul spoke, Crispus (chief ruler of the synagogue) and many others believed and were baptized, establishing the church at Corinth to whom Paul later wrote his two epistles. Discover the Archaeological Museum, Market Place and Temples. As you walk among the ruins, stand on the Bema, where the apostle Paul stood before Gallio to face charges brought against him by the Jews.
Tuesday, October 31st - Santorini, Greece - Day is on your own.
Dock in Santorini today, one of the most beautiful of the Greek islands, where picturesque whitewashed villages topped with brilliant blue domes stand in stark contrast to the sheer drop cliffs overlooking the Aegean Sea. The island itself perches on the edges of a volcano whose eruption 3,500 years ago is thought to have led to the collapse of the Minoan civilization. You may choose to stay on the ship and enjoy the many amenities offered, or you may choose to wander this charming island on your own today (B,L,D)
Villages and Vintages of Santorini, 4 hrs 15 mins, SO14, Price is TBA
Savor the tantalizing flavors, subtle charms, and exquisite vistas of Santorini on this excursion across the island’s rugged volcanic landscape. Your coach will climb some 800 feet to the top of the caldera, where you’ll view the still active volcanic islet in the bay below. Stop in the village of Oia, perched high atop a craggy cliff at the northernmost point of Santorini. Wander about narrow cobblestone avenues lined with the beaming white stone of classic Cycladic architecture. From charming shops to splendid domed churches to a surprising collection of art galleries, a walk through Oia delights at every turn. Continue to a local winery to learn how Santorini wine is produced and sample some favorite vintages perfectly paired with homemade Greek mezes. Your tour ends in Fira, where you can independently explore the pedestrian paths that weave through Santorini’s historic capital or return to the port via cable car. Activity Level: Medium
Akrotiri: The Lost City Excavations - 3 hrs 45 mins - SO39 - Price is TBA
Delve deep into the history of Santorini at one of the island’s most mind-boggling discoveries — a Bronze Age city lost in 1450 BC to an epic volcanic eruption. Legend has it that the volcanic eruption that buried this town under 160 feet of pumice is the very same that vanquished the fabled city of Atlantis. Who knows for sure? What is certain, however, is that in 1930 the site was discovered, and 37 years later, the completed excavations revealed the remains of a once glorious city of more than 30,000 inhabitants. Walk the same cobbled paths they took. See their ancient homes and shops. Uncover the mysteries of life ages ago. Continue this history-making tour at the village of Akrotiri with a narrated exploration of five fortified medieval settlements. Finally, return to lively Fira for a little self-guided sightseeing and shopping. Activity Level: Medium
Panoramic Santorini - 3 hrs 30 mins - SO4L - Price is TBA
You’ll be met by your guide at the pier and drive to the Mountain of Prophet Elijah, the island’s highest point. The next stop will be at the Caldera cliff top view point for spectacular views of the deep blue sea surrounding the island that make up the volcanic caldera of Santorini. Enjoy a light refreshment before driving south across the island to Kamari, passing picturesque villages and dramatic views along your way, briefly stopping at the Agios Nektarios Church before enjoying some leisure time at the black-sand beach Kamari is now famous for. You’ll then be escorted back to Athinios port, where a tender will take you back to the ship. Activity Level: Mild
Sailing the Caldera of Santorini - 3 hrs - SO3L
Price is TBA Set sail on a captivating voyage that glides across the turquoise Aegean to showcase the monumental landscape of the Caldera of Santorini. You’ll board a traditional Greek vessel known as a Kaiki and set a dramatic views and shopping streets will furnish ample souvenirs and local crafts.
Wednesday, November 1st - Kusadasi, Turkiye
Marvel at the ancient city of Ephesus, known as an open-air archaeological museum. Delve into the incredible treasures of Ephesus, including an in-depth exploration of the Terrace Houses. First built in the 10th century B.C. and lasting until its abandonment under Ottoman rule, Ephesus dazzles visitors with its ruins. See the Odeon, a concert hall, the steam baths of Scholastica, the famed two-story Library of Celsus, and the Grand Theater where St. Paul preached. Walk the Arcadian Way, a procession route of Cleopatra and Marc Anthony (Lunch onboard the ship prior to afternoon excursion).
Thursday, November 2nd - Day at Sea
Enjoy one of the many onboard activities and/or group gatherings as you rest and relax aboard the Azamara Onward. Take the opportunity for a salon visit or a massage at the spa. The day is yours to do as you please!
Friday, November 3rd, Valetta, Malta
Embark on a narrated tour of Valletta, the capital of Malta, and a city replete with medieval charm and extravagantly grand architecture. No exploration would be complete without a visit to Valletta’s crowning jewel, St. John’s Co-Cathedral. This baroque masterpiece was commissioned in 1572 by Grand Master Jean de la Cassiere for the Knights of St John. In fact, several Knights donated gifts of art to ensure it was adorned with only the finest works. Continue to Casa Rocca Piccola, a historic home offering a unique glimpse into the lives of Maltese nobility over the past 400 years. Enjoy a little free time to explore the area before heading to the imposing Mediterranean Conference Center. Set overlooking the Grand Harbour, it was originally built as a hospital for the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and was considered one of the finest in Europe during the 1600s. Activity Level: Strenuous
Sunday, November 5th & Monday, November 6th - Salerno, Italy
Discover the diverse beauty and heritage of the western coast of Italy as Azamara Onward spends two full days docked at Salerno. Choose from several included options that will immerse you in the infamous and remarkable ruins of Pompeii or Herculaneum that were covered in ash by Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. Enjoy the wonderful culture and food found in Naples or Salerno at the Arechi Castle. Find Italy’s natural history when you take in its gorgeous Almalfi Coast.
Tuesday, November 7th - Return to the USA
Disembark the Azamara Onward in Civitavecchia, Italy, and transfer to the Rome airport for your return flight home.
Mediterranean Experience 2023 Brochure
- 2023 Cruise Brochure - 2023 Mediterranean Experience Brochure.pdf (3.5 MBs)
Optional Pre Tours
October 24 - 30, 2023 • $2,298*
October 24 – DEPART THE USA
Your journey begins as you depart the USA on your international overnight flight.
October 25 – ARRIVE IN DUBAI
After being picked up at the airport, you will be transported to your hotel for overnight. (D)
October 26 – TOUR OLD DUBAI
After breakfast, journey to the Al Fahidi Historical Neighborhood to explore Old Dubai. Part of the attraction of the district, which showcases the traditional way of life in Dubai from the mid 19th century until the 1970s, is simply wandering through its narrow lanes. Here, you’ll discover creative art spaces, museums and cafés housed in traditional L-shaped homes made from gypsum, coral and limestone. Look up and you can’t miss the buildings topped with distinctive wind towers. While exploring this neighborhood, you will visit the Textile Souk full of colorful fabris and kitsch souvenirs. Next, visit the Saruq Al Hadid museum to see the archaelogical treasures that have been discovers in and around Dubai. Embark on a water taxi ride at Bur Dubai Abra Station by Dubai Creek. This waterway continues to reflect Dubai’s historic roots back when early settlers relied on its waters for their livelihood. You will queue for a short trip across the creek to Deira on traditional wooden boats known as abras. Once on the other side visit the Gold Souk, where you can haggle with shopkeepers for beautiful jewelry before continuing to the Spice Souk. As you wander through the stalls, you can savor the aromas of cardamom, tumeric, dried lemons and rose petals. After touring, check into your hotel and enjoy dinner and rest. (B, L, D)
October 27 – ABU DHABI & DINNER CRUISE Embark on this exhilarating tour to the highlight destinations of Abu Dhabi. As you travel to your first destination along the Gulf coast of Abu Dhabi, listen to the region’s rich history and culture. Let’s visit the architectural beauty of the country’s largest mosque, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which is known as the acclaimed symbol of contemporary Islam. The place offers a feast to eyes as it blends the cultural diversity of Islamic art and contemporary design. You will be driven to the next destination, Abu Dhabi Corniche. Feel relaxed seeing the sweeping curve of clean water harbor, pearl white sand beaches and the beautiful promenade that stretches the Northwest city shore. Next, stop at Emirates Palace, a highly celebrated destination in the UAE. Get a chance to pose in front of this eminent destination and take a lot of photos. Later on, travel to the next photo stop destination, the stunning five towers of Abu Dhabi, Etihad Towers. The towers shout out the aggregate story of everything Abu Dhabi is and the futuristic view of the Emirate. Being the combination of luxury and modern views, the place is an ideal destination during the Abu Dhabi visit. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Now that your appetite is full, you will be taken to the next destination, Qasr Al Watan. The palace is the reflection of Emiratis and their leaders. Absorb the essence of culture, architectural features and the awe-inspiring history of Emirates. Learn about the amazing journey of the spurring Arabian design to the present state. Return to Dubai and freshen up at your hotel before embarking on your dinner cruise on the Bateaux Dubai. As you sail around Dubai, you will pass the illuminated Maktoum Bridge, Clock Tower, Twin Towers and Grand Mosque. (B, L, D)
October 28 – NEW DUBAI TOUR & DESERT TRIP You begin your tour by driving to the famous man-made island, Palm Jumeirah. Cross the 800-meter-long underwater tunnel and reach the 12-kilometer-long water-breaker at the luxury resort Atlantis, The Palm. Make a photo stop and take some special souvenir pictures of the magnificent Atlantis hotel. You then continue on to the Dubai Marina, an exclusive residence, leisure, and trade area. Enjoy a short stroll along the water and admire the new skyline with over 260 skyscrapers from the Marina’s yacht harbor. As a magnificent finale to your tour, you visit the Burj Khalifa, which at 828 meters is currently the tallest building in the world and located next to the Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest shopping centers with 1,200 shops. Visit the viewing platform at 452 meters above sea level. Ride the building’s express elevator to the 124th floor at a speed of 10 meters per second. From there, you can enjoy a breathtaking 360-degree view of all of Dubai and its unique skyline. This afternoon, zoom into the remote Lahbab desert that lies outside the city. During the drive, your guide answers any questions and shares information about the region. Head off road into bright red dunes and have your camera ready to capture what looks like giant beanbags of sand. During a break to gather the convoy, make use of optional quad bikes on site. Then, hold tight as you cruise toward the highest slopes. Feel the adrenaline race as your vehicle plows up the dunes before sliding and slipping back down the slopes, churning up billowing clouds of sand in the process. Reach a high desert dune for a photo stop and admire 360-degree views of the desert landscape as the sun slowly sets. Take a camel ride and surf the dunes on a sandboard before you return to your hotel (Guests not wanting to visit the desert can be dropped off at the Dubai Mall for shopping and can stay to see the fountain show before returning on their own to the hotel). (B, L, D)
October 29 – DUBAI to ATHENS
Fly across the Mediterranean to Athens this morning and enjoy the best of Athens on a panoramic drive designed for those who prefer a more leisurely tour of the city. Board a comfortable coach for a narrated tour covering modern and ancient attractions, including the Academy, Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the National Gardens, and a stop at the pedestrian zone below the majestic Acropolis. Conclude with free time to shop in the picturesque Plaka, the city’s most ancient neighborhood. Transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight. (B)
October 30 – EMBARKATION
October 25 - 30, 2023 • $1,198*
October 25 & 26 – USA to GREECE
Your journey begins as you depart the USA on your international overnight flight. Arrive in Thessaloniki, Greece, where you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
October 27 – THESSALONIKI and VERIA (BEREA)
Discover Thessaloniki, where Paul was accused of turning the world upside down (Acts 17: 3-6). Explore St. George’s Basilica, believed to be built over the synagogue where Paul preached, and reflect on the two epistles written to the Thessalonian church. Stroll through the Archaeological Museum and the beautiful basilicas of St. Sophia and St. Demetrios, dedicated to a distinguished Roman proconsul martyred for his Christian faith. You can look out over the second-largest city in Greece from the Old City Ramparts. Follow the path of Paul when he fled for the safety of Veria (Berea), where some accepted the new faith (Act 17: 10-12). Continue on to Kalambaka for dinner and overnight.
October 28 – METEORA and DELPHI
As you visit the rock forest of Meteora, imagine the Apostle Paul walking that treacherous terrain. Gaze up at the breathtaking Byzantine monasteries perched on soaring, sheer-sided sandstone pillars. In the 13th century, monks built the original wooden shelters that later became these monasteries. After a monastery tour, travel to Delphi, the religious center of the ancient Greek world and marked by the conical stone called the omphalos or “navel”. Walk the Sacra Via to the Athenian Treasury, theatre, and the Temple of Apollo, where the oracle performed her prophetic rituals. As you consider the pagan influence in Delphi alone, you will gain a new appreciation for the spiritual opposition the Apostle Paul faced. In the Museum are many ancient treasures, including the 5th-century, bronzed charioteer so detailed you can see his eyelashes. Continue to Athens for overnight.
October 29 – ATHENS
See the best of Athens on a panoramic drive designed for those who prefer a more leisurely tour of the city. Board a comfortable coach for a narrated tour covering modern and ancient attractions, including the Academy, Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the National Gardens, and a stop at the pedestrian zone below the majestic Acropolis. Conclude with free time to shop in the picturesque Plaka, the city’s most ancient neighborhood. Transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
October 30 – CORINTH & EMBARKATION
Wander the streets of ancient Corinth, home to the tent makers, Aquilla and Priscilla. Here, the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision, saying “I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:10). Many believed and were baptized (Acts 18:8). This was the beginning of the church at Corinth, to whom Paul would write two epistles. Stand on the Bema where Paul stood. Walk the marketplace and Temple of Apollo. Visit the Archaeological Museum then transfer to Pireaus to board the Azamara Onward.
Istanbul & Cappadocia Pre-Tour
October 23 - 30, 2023 • $2,398*
October 23 & 24 - USA to ISTANBUL
Your journey begins as you depart the USA on your international flight. Upon arrival, meet your guide and transfer to your hotel in Istanbul.
October 25 - ISTANBUL
Enjoy a panoramic tour of Istanbul: Walls of Constantinople, the Golden Horn, Patriarchate and a Bosphorus cruise before continuing to the airport for your flight to Cappadocia. Arrive and overnight in Cappadocia at the hotel.
October 26 – CAPPADOCIA
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for a full day tour of Cappadocia including visits to Goreme open air museum, Zelve Valley, Avcilar and Uchisar. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Cappadocia.
October 27 - CAPPADOCIA & ISTANBUL
Enjoy a morning Optional Hot Air Balloon ride. After breakfast, depart for a tour of Ozkonak underground city and Avanos. Fly to Istanbul in the afternoon and transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
October 28 – ISTANBUL
After breakfast at the hotel, depart for a full day tour of Istanbul City including visits to Hippodrome Square, Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Grand Bazaar. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Istanbul.
October 29 - ATHENS
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Athens. Enjoy a panoramic drive designed for those who prefer a more leisurely tour of the city. Board a comfortable coach for a narrated tour covering modern and ancient attractions, including the Academy, Hadrian’s Arch, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the National Gardens, and a stop at the pedestrian zone below the majestic Acropolis. Conclude with free time to shop in the picturesque Plaka, the city’s most ancient neighborhood. Transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight.
October 30 - Embarkation
November 7 - 9, 2023 • $2,098*
November 7 - Ancient Rome
Discover the history woven throughout Rome with visits to the Colosseum, the Pantheon, the Forum, Circus Maximus, the Arch of Titus, the Baths of Carcalla and the Arch of Constantine today. Climb the graceful Spanish Steps and stop at the famous Trevi Fountain before checking into your deluxe hotel in Rome for dinner and overnight.
November 8 - Vatican City & Christian Rome
Visit the Vatican, and explore its museum. Marvel at the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica, and stand in awe of Michaelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Enjoy a special opera dinner this evening. Then, return to your hotel for overnight.
November 9 - Return to the USA
Bid farewell to Italy as you transfer to the Rome airport this morning for your return flight to the USA.
November 7 - 12, 2023 • $2,898*
November 7 - Disembark/Travel to Assisi
After Disembarkation in Civitavecchia Pier, you will be met and transferred north by coach through the stunning countryside to reach Assisi. Meet your local guide and enjoy a walking tour of Assisi, including a visit to the Basilica of St. Mary of Angels with the Porziucola and St.Francis Basilica. Free time for lunch. Check into your Assisi hotel. Dine at a local restaurant. (B, D)
November 8 - Siena
Depart from Assisi and drive to Siena. Discover Siena via a walking tour. Then, continue the journey to Florence. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
November 9 - Florence
Walk through Florence and visit the Accademiato, where you will see Michelangelo’s David. See Duomo Cathedral, Old Bridge, Signoria Square and Santa Croce Square. Lunch at a local restaurant and enjoy the afternoon exploring on your own before finding a local eatery for dinner. Overnight in Florence. (B, L)
November 10 - Orvieto
After a morning drive, discover Orvieto, including a visit to the Duomo. Enjoy lunch on your own. Then, continue to Rome for dinner and overnight. (B, D)
November 11 - Ancient Rome
Start your walking tour of Rome from the hotel to see the Spanish Steps, the famous Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon, and the Navona Square. Stop for a pizza tasting during lunch. Continue your afternoon with a tour of the Coliseum featuring special access to the Arena Floor. Enjoy dinner on your own. (B, L)
November 12 - Vatican City & Christian Rome
Visit the Vatican, and explore its museum. Marvel at the beauty of St. Peter’s Basilica, and stand in awe of Michaelangelo’s frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. This evening, you will check into your deluxe hotel in Rome. Discover Rome on your own during the afternoon and evening as you dine on your own. (B, L)
November 13 - Return to the USA
Bid farewell to Italy as you transfer to the Rome airport this morning for your return flight to the USA.
November 7 - 11, 2023 • TBA*
November 7 - Fly to London
Fly to London. Enjoy a panoramic tour of London. Before arriving at your hotel.
November 8 - London sightseeing
Westminster Abbey, Changing of the Guards, War Rooms
November 9 - London free day
Enjoy a free day in London.
November 10 - London free day
Enjoy a free day in London.
November 11 - Return to the USA
** This cannot be combined with the Dubai or Turkey Pre-Tour.