Emperors, Conquerors & Saints – Istanbul to Cyprus

Emperors, Conquerors & Saints – Istanbul to Cyprus



Beginning in Istanbul, ancient Byzantium, which Emperor Constantine renamed after himself and designated the new capital of the Roman Empire, we make our way through the Sea of Marmara to visit the storied ruins of Troy before calling in Chios to discover the 11th-century Byzantine
monastery of Nea Moni. Continuing along the Turkish coast and the route of Alexander the Great’s early conquests, we explore stunning Ephesus, one of the world’s great archeological sites. On Patmos we discover the cave where St. John received visions of the Apocalypse, and in Rhodes we explore one of Europe’s best preserved medieval towns. Along the mountainous coast to the south, we make calls at the ancient Lycian capital of Xanthos and the Hellenistic complexes at Perge and Aspendos before ending our voyage in Cyprus.

Pricing from
Trip Type
Group Travel Tour, International Ocean & Sea Voyages
Departure Dates
Sep 23, 2023 - Oct 3, 2023


Arriving in early 2023, SH Diana will be the largest ship in our fleet, providing elegant and spacious 5-star accommodation for 192 guests in 96 spacious staterooms and suites, the vast majority with large balconies. Operated by an onboard team of 140 she will provide the highest levels of personal service and take Swan Hellenic back to its roots when she launches, exploring the Mediterranean and its famous sites of antiquity.

Now sit back, relax and take a moment to get to know this amazing new ship, purpose-designed for our unique cultural expedition cruises.


CANCELLATIONS & REFUNDS: All cancellations are subject to a $300 per person administrative fee. Cancellations received 61-90 days prior to departure will be assessed a penalty equal to 50% of the total program cost per person. Cancellations received within 60 days of departure are subject to 100% cancellation penalties. Requests for cancellations must be made in writing. No refunds will be made for any part of this program in which you choose not to participate.




  • day 1

    ISTANBUL, Turkey/Embark

    Arrive in Istanbul and transfer to the port to embark on Diana. Overnight aboard docked in Istanbul. (D)

  • day 2


    Founded by Greeks in the 7th-century BC and named Byzantion, in AD 324, Emperor Constantine made the city the capital of the Roman Empire, naming it after himself, Constantinople. For over 1,000 years, it was the capital of the Byzantine Empire. Renowned as the most resplendent city in Europe, in the 15th-century, it was taken over by the Ottoman Turks, making it the capital of the Ottoman Empire. Spend the day touring the city’s principle historic monuments, including the incomparable Hagia Sophia, the Church of Divine Wisdom, built by Emperor Justinian in the 6th century; the Topkapi Palace, the sumptuous place of the sultans for three centuries; the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque, built in the early 17th-century, and decorated with hand-painted blue tiles; the Hippodrome; the underground Basilica Cistern; and the Chora Church, now the Kariye Mosque, renowned for its splendid 14th-century mosaics and frescoes. Diana will sail in the evening. (B,L,D)

  • day 3


    Located on the southern shore of the narrow channel of the Dardanelles, the port of Canakkale is our gateway to storied Troy where excavations began in the second half of the 19th-century and have revealed nine different layers of cities superimposed in rings on a massive mound rising above the “windswept Plain of Ilium.” As Homer recounts in the Iliad, one of these cities is where the Greeks fought the Trojans over a period of ten years before King Priam’s city finally fell to Odysseus’s ruse of the Trojan Horse. (B,L,D)

  • day 4

    CHIOS, Greece

    Chios, the legendary birthplace of Homer, is known for its beautiful landscapes, historic sites and old villages. Here we visit the Monastery of Nea Moni, built by Emperor Constantine IX in the 11th-century in a wooded vale in the center of the island. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, Nea Moni is decorated with exquisite mosaics and frescoes. Returning to the main town of Chios, we visit the Koraes Library, where we will be received privately by the library’s director. In the afternoon, take an excursion to the traditional old villages of Mesta and Pyrgi, and also visit the interesting Mastic Museum. (B,L,D)

  • day 5


    From Kusadasi, on Turkey’s Aegean coast, we drive to Priene, site of a well-preserved 4th-century BC city. Dominating the site is the imposing Temple of Athena, a superb example of Ionic architecture set against a backdrop of tree-covered hills. In the afternoon, explore Ephesus, one of the world’s most celebrated archaeological sites. Renowned in antiquity as a center of worship of the mother goddess Cybele, Ephesus was also one of the communities where St. Paul preached the gospel of Christianity. See the stunning façade of the Library of Celsus, the Temple of Hadrian, the Theater, and other large public monuments, as well as more modest buildings that give a glimpse into the daily lives of the ancient Ephesians. (B,L,D)

  • day 6

    PATMOS, Greece

    The rugged island of Patmos is where St. John the Evangelist was exiled during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian and is said to have received visions of the Apocalypse, which later became the Book of Revelation. Visit the 11th-century Monastery of St. John with its enormous towers, domed roofs, belfries and battlements. Admire the artistry of the icons, manuscripts and fine embroideries. Enjoy time at leisure in Chora, the island’s main town, one of the most beautiful in the Greek archipelago. (B,L,D)

  • day 7


    Call in Rhodes, among Europe’s largest medieval towns, and once the site of the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. In the Middle Ages, it was a stronghold of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights of Malta. Explore the Old Town’s winding streets and splendid plazas, which owe their 14th-century charm to the Knights. In the afternoon, travel to the village of Lindos, where either by walking or taking a donkey ride, we will ascend to the top of the acropolis to visit its monuments, admire the incredible view, and walk the narrow alleyways of the village. (B,L,D)

  • day 8

    FETHIYE, Turkey

    From Turkey’s Fethiye, visit nearby Xanthos, the most prominent city of ancient Lycia, built on a cliff overlooking a river. Xanthos boasts significant remains, including a theater, temples, an agora, unique tombs with rock-cut facades, and sarcophagi mounted on pillars. After lunch at the traditional village of Gelemis, visit the impressive remains of ancient Patara, beautifully situated along the coast. (B,L,D)

  • day 9


    From Antalya, the largest seaside resort on the Turkish Riviera, travel inland to visit two of Turkey’s most famous ancient sites: Perge and Aspendos. The Greco-Roman ruins of Perge, once among the most prosperous cities of the Hellenistic world, include its great Stadium; a colonnaded and marble main street, and the Theater. At Aspendos, tour the grand 20,000-seat theater commissioned by Marcus Aurelius in the 2nd-century AD. It is one of the best preserved ancient theaters in the world, and serves as the site of an international opera and ballet festival every year. (B,L,D)

  • day 10


    From Turkey’s port of Tasucu, travel through the beautiful countryside of ancient Cilicia to the 4th-century BC site of Olba-Diocaesarea. Founded by Selucus I Nikator, a general under Alexander the Great and founder of the Seleucid Empire, the site is located in a striking spot in the foothills of the Taurus Mountains and is renowned for its imposing Temple of Zeus Olbios, the center of a once powerful priesthood. On the return to the ship, stop in Silifke, the ancient Seleucia, to visit the underground grotto-church dedicated to St. Thekla, one of St. Paul’s early devotees. (B,L,D)

  • day 11

    LIMASSOL, Cyprus/USA

    Disembark Diana in Cyprus’s Limassol and transfer to the Larnaca airport for flights homeward. (B)

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