Odyssey of Ancient Civilizations (Venice to Athens)

Explore dynamic crossroads of the Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Slavic civilizations with alumni and friends from September 15 - 23, 2019, and discover the roots of their distinctive cultures that have flourished for more than three thousand years. 

DubrovnikThe coastlines and islands of the Adriatic and Aegean Seas are dynamic crossroads of the Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Slavic civilizations and their distinctive, deep-rooted cultures that flourished for more than three thousand years. Travel with the Columbia Alumni Association (CAA) from September 15 - 23, 2019 on a comprehensive journey along the pathway of these great civilizations. Visit five countries—Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece, and sail through the extraordinary Corinth Canal, an unrivaled experience possible only by a small ship.

Begin in Venice—known for centuries as La Serenissima, “the most serenely beautiful city”—where you will board the specially chartered, Five‑­Star LE LYRIAL, an exceptional small ship with 110 all ocean­-view Suites and Staterooms. Cruise along the Adriatic coast of the stunning region of Dalmatia. Continue across the Isthmus of Corinth, passing through the narrow canal between soaring, 300‑foot limestone walls to the Aegean Sea, concluding in Athens, the birthplace of Western civilization.
    Call on splendid walled cities, medieval villages, picture‑perfect islands and the dramatic fjord-like Bay of Kotor, and cruise into smaller, seldom-visited ports inaccessible to larger ships. Visit six UNESCO World Heritage sites, including historic Split and the fourth‑century Diocletian’s Palace, now home to a thriving 21st‑century community; the seventh-century walled city of Dubrovnik, "the city made of stone and light"; picturesque Kotor, Montenegro; the remarkable Greco-Roman site of Butrint, Albania; the Old Town of Corfu, Greece, settled in the eighth century B.C.; and the ancient Greek site of Delphi.
    Discover hidden gems along the beautiful Dalmatian coast as daily life unfolds before you. Enjoy specially arranged lectures, CULTURAL ENRICHMENTS and the insightful COASTAL LIFE® FORUM featuring the personal perspectives of local Croatian residents.
    Travel in the company of alumni, friends and participants from cosponsoring associations on this exceptional cruise. Please contact the Alumni Travel Study Program office for more details.

We anticipate having brochures and final pricing approximately 9 months prior to the departure date. Please contact us directly to be added to our early invite list, or use the "Request a Brochure" link on the upper left side of this page.

Dates and Prices:

Trip Dates: September 15 - 23, 2019

Prices: from $TBA per person based upon double occupancy. Taxes are an additional $TBA per person (subject to change)

A limited number of cabins are offered for single travelers in select categories with an additional single supplement. Please contact us to inquire about single space or for possible roomate matching options.

Program Itinerary:

Day 1 - Depart the U.S.

Depart the U.S. for Venice, Italy on individually arranged flights.

Day 2 - Venice, Italy
Arrive in Venice and transfer to the cruise terminal to Embark LE LYRIAL.

Day 3 - Split, Croatia
Enjoy a walking tour of Split’s historic city center, a UNESCO World Heritage site, built on the foundation of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s retirement palace. Today, people live and work in this thriving, nearly 2000-year-old complex. Visit the Temple of Jupiter, considered to be one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world, and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, regarded as the world’s oldest Catholic cathedral (A.D. 305) that remains in use in its original structure.

CULTURAL ENRICHMENTS: In 1947, Ivan Meˇstrovi´c, one of the most renowned artists of the 20th century and Croatia’s most accomplished sculptor, became the first living artist to exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Experience his unique vision on a visit to the Ivan Meˇstrovi´c Gallery.

Day 4 - Hvar/Korcˇula
Since the 4th-century B.C., Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Venetians have left their mark on the island of Hvar.The old Town's impressive landmarks include the Renaissance Cathedral of St. Stephen and its 4-story bell tower. In the Benedictine Convent, the Sisters handcraft unique lace from Agave thread, a delicate practice recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The charming island city of Korcˇula retains its original 13th-century walls, within which you will find the Abbey Treasury, home to a priceless collection of medieval manuscripts and artwork; the house where Marco Polo is said to have been born—a widely contested notion between Croatians and Venetians; and masterful works by Tintoretto, housed in the 15th-century, Gothic-Renaissance-style Cathedral of St. Mark.

CULTURAL ENRICHMENT: Enjoy a specially arranged, traditional Croatian acappella klapa performance.

Day 5 -  Dubrovnik
Affectionately called “the pearl of the Adriatic,”the entire city of Dubrovnik is a UNESCO World Heritage site in recognition of its historic treasures and incomparable beauty. The city’s most famous landmarks include the Franciscan Monastery, the 15th-century Rector’s Palace, the well-preserved Old City walls and the fascinating Maritime Museum. Walking tour of the Old Town. Visit the Rector’s Palace and Maritime Museum. Enjoy a free afternoon in Dubrovnik.

CULTURAL ENRICHMENT: free afternoon in Dubrovnik

Day 6 - Kotor Montenegro
Montenegro is one of the newest nations in the world, having gained its independence from Serbia in 2006. The incredible Bay of Kotor, deeply carved into the Montenegrin mountains, leads to the charming town of Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site known for its Venetian baroque Old Town and impressive medieval fortifications. Enjoy a walking tour of Kotor. today

CULTURAL ENRICHMENT: Time at leisure in Kotor.

Day 7 -  Butrint, Albania, Corfu Greece
Virgil speaks of Butrint as a parvam Troiam (little Troy), a stop for Aeneas and his exiled Trojans on their epic journey. Today, Butrint’s ruins, a UNESCO World Heritage site, trace the rise and fall of three thousand years of ancient civilizations, from the Greek and Roman to the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires. The Greco-Roman amphitheater highlights the city’s rich cultural life during boom times. Public baths, a gymnasium and an aqueduct built by Emperor Caesar Augustus offer glimpses of Butrint as a Roman port, while the intricately tiled Baptistery depicts its ties to early Christianity. A short drive to 16th-century Lekursi Castle provides a stunning panoramic view of the picturesque coastal city of Sarandë.

CULTURAL ENRICHMENT: Tour the revelatory remains of Butrint, where ancient history is displayed through its well-preserved archaeological ruins.

Cruise to the Ionian island of Corfu, Homer’s “beautiful and rich land,” where the varying cultural influences of past rulers are reflected in the French boulevards, Georgian mansions, Venetian citadel and Greek temple. Walk through the city’s picturesque Old Town and tour the Old Fortress, a hilltop Venetian fortification whose twin peaks inspired the name of Corfu, “Coryphe” in Greek, meaning “peaks.”

CULTURAL ENRICHMENT: Enjoy a walking tour of the Old City in Corfu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. See the Town Hall, once a Venetian theater, built in 1690, and the Edwardian Palace of the King of Greece.

Day 8 - Delphi/Corinth Canal
Ancient Greeks from all walks of life flocked to the sacred ground on Mount Parnassus to consult Pythia, the high priestess of the Temple of Apollo, on matters as routine as farming and as monumental as the declaration of war. Enjoy a walk along the Sacred Way that leads to the Temple of Apollo and stand at the marble Altar of the Chians, where the common and the mighty awaited the oracle’s pronouncements. Tour the magnificent Delphi Archaeological Museum, a treasure trove of ancient artifacts including a life-size fifth-century B.C. bronze charioteer.

CULTURAL ENRICHMENT: Walking tour through the spectacular ruins of the iconic sanctuary of Delphi, considered the center of the Greek world in the sixth century B.C. and today a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Enjoy a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cruise through the Corinth Canal, the conduit for the migration of civilizations between the Aegean and Adriatic Seas. First proposed at the end of the seventh century B.C., the canal was not fully realized until completion by a French engineering company in 1893. An impressive waterway that cuts through the Isthmus of Corinth, at one point only 70 feet wide, it is so narrow that only small ships can make its passage.

CULTURAL ENRICHMENT: Transit the Corinth Canal aboard your small ship, a rare and thrilling voyage highlight.

Day 9 - Athens, Greece
Disembark ship/Return to the U.S. or continue on to the optional post-cruise extension.


  • Seven-night cruise from Venice, Italy to Athens, Greece with port calls at Itea for Delphi and the island of Corfu, Greece; Sarandë for Butrint, Albania; Kotor, Montenegro; and Dubrovnik, the island of Korcˇula and Split, Croatia.
  • Elegantly appointed, Five-Star Suite or Stateroom, each with a private bathroom.
  • Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Receptions.
  • Complimentary alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages are available throughout the cruise.
  • All meals—early continental breakfast, buffet breakfast, buffet lunch, afternoon tea and dinner— throughout the cruise, featuring fine international and regional cuisine, served at single, unassigned seatings.
  • Complementary wine is served with lunch and dinner.
  • Tour of Split, featuring a visit to the thriving community living within Diocletian’s third-century palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Visit to Split’s Meˇstrovi´c Gallery, home and atelier of Croatia’s iconic creative genius Ivan Meˇstrovi´c.
  • Viewing of agave fiber lace handmade by Benedictine nuns in Hvar.
  • Walking tour of Hvar's Old Town, including the Benedictine Convent and St. Stephen's Cathedral.
  • Tour the picturesque island of Korcˇula including a visit to the 17th-century Abbey Treasury.
  • Specially arranged, private, traditional Croatian a cappella klapa performance.
  • Walking tour of the walled city of Dubrovnik, a UNESCO World Heritage site, including visits to the Rector’s Palace and the Maritime Museum.
  • Time at leisure to explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Kotor and Dubrovnik.
  • Walking tour of medieval Kotor, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Tour of the Greco-Roman ruins of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • Visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Old Fortress on the historic island of Corfu.
  • Walking tour of Corfu’s UNESCO World Heritage-designated Old Town.
  • Excursion to Mount Parnassus to see the UNESCO World Heritage site of the glorious Oracle of Delphi and the iconic Temple of Apollo.
  • Tour of the Delphi Archaeological Museum.
  • Rare cruise through the historic Corinth Canal, the storied link between the Peloponnese and Greek mainland.
  • Specially arranged COASTAL LIFE FORUM®, where local residents will discuss daily life along the Adriatic.
  • Transfers and luggage handling abroad for participants whose arrival(s)/departure(s) coincide with the scheduled group transfer(s).
  • All excursions and visits, as outlined above, with experienced local guides.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers on included excursions and transfers.
  • Complimentary bottled water in your Suite or Stateroom and on excursions.
  • Hospitality desk aboard ship.
  • The services of experienced Program Directors throughout the program.
  • Complimentary use of a state-of-the-art audio headset for each participant during guided excursions.
  • Travel document wallet, name badge and pre-departure information.

Not included:
Airfare; Taxes; passport fees; visas and fees for obtaining visas; personal expenses such as laundry and telephone calls; accident/sickness, trip cancellation, and baggage insurance; gratuities to ship and hotel personnel; optional sightseeing excursions; excess baggage charges on aircraft; local departure air taxes; airfare and associated local taxes*, airport facility taxes and federal inspection fees not listed int he "included features" section of the program brochure; transfers and baggage handling to/from airport/hotel on day(s) of arrival and/or departure if you are arriving earlier or later and/or departing earlier or later that scheduled group transfer(s); meals and and alcoholic beverages not listed in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure; and all other services not specifically mentioned in the "Included Features" section of the program brochure.

Please call us toll-free at (866) 325-8664 or email us at travelstudy@columbia.edu for more details.