December 21, 2010
In the run up to Christmas 2010, BBC 3 have shown an interesting series on the Ancient World highlighting many of the Mediterranean areas Voyages to Antiquity visits, including Istanbul, Sicily, Carthage in North Africa and more recently Palmyra in Syria.
Archaeologist and historian Richard Miles explores the roots of civilisation in an epic series that runs from the creation of the first cities in Mesopotamia to the fall of the Roman Empire.
A synopsis and links to the programmes can be found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00w0bl0.
The last programme features amazing footage – but catch it soon before it finishes on iPlayer. The link will also give you some other interesting websites which focus on the various civilisations – many of which feature prominently in our schedule for next year.
December 17, 2010
Mary Beard, photo source: A Don's Life
For viewers in the UK, BBC 2 offered another documentary in their History series earlier this week. In this latest installment Professor Mary Beard took viewers to Pompeii and a newly discovered site of Oplontis.
Close to main site she talked to archaeologists who had unearthed many unknown facts about the time of the volcanic eruption in AD 79 by analysing the skeletons of 54 Romans who had sheltered in a cellar from the eruption.
For those who haven’t seen Professor Beard before she is quite different from the ‘stuffy’ academic stereotypes of old. Her references to ‘poo ‘and ‘willy’ when talking about excrement and the numerous sexual images around the city would have no doubt shocked some viewers but made it more accessible to others.
Some of the most interesting facts included:
- Congenital Syphillis found in the skeletons of children 1400 years before it was presumed to have arrived in Europe with sailors from Christopher Columbus’ first exploration of the Americas.
- An in-depth study of the diet of the Romans from excavations of a Roman Cesspit!
- There appeared to be less of a gap between the rich and poor.
Professor Beard will be travelling with Voyages to Antiquity on our ‘Sicily is the Key to Everything’ cruise on 26 August 2011.
To read the BBC website summary, please visit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-11952322
To watch the programme, go to BBC iPlayer.
Professor Mary Beard also writes a blog for the Times Literary Supplement, where she has shared her thoughts on the programme.
December 15, 2010
Last week, as we travelled through Lebanon and Syria on Aegean Odyssey, we were joined by one of the UK’s most well known cruise journalists, Jane Archer. Jane writes for a variety of papers and magazines including The Telegraph and travel industry title, Travel Weekly as well as being the regular blogger for the Telegraph Cruise Show.
Have a look at Jane’s blog to see what she thought when on board and keep an eye out for her full write up over the next few weeks.
December 9, 2010
Saladin’s Castle (Taken by Jane Archer)
On day three of our Syria visit, guests were able to choose from a variety of free tours.
The area around Latakia in Northern Syria is full of history from a range of civilisations from the Phoenicians to the Crusaders. The two days in Palmyra had been exhausting, so many guests opted for one of the half day tours. The brave ones went to Aleppo, a long journey but the guests saw a variety of sites including Roman ruins as well as modern mosque and traditional souk.
Those who took the half day tours went to Salah al-Din’s Castle, 40Km from Latakia where they saw the ruins of a castle originally built by the Phoenicians and captured by Alexander the Great in 333BC. The castle later became a crusader stronghold before falling to Saladin in 1188.
A small group of guests headed off to Ugarit, a Bronze Age city whose ruins lie 10 km north of Latakia. The ruins, about half a mile from the shore, were first uncovered by a local farmer. Ugarit flourished from about 1450 to 1200 BC, after which it was completely deserted.
Whilst our guests toured around Northern Syria, we were busy back on the ship completing internal shots for our new video production.
George, our camera man filming Captain Roland Andersson in Latakia
We’ve filmed the locations from Cairo to Syria including lots of onboard footage and customer interviews. You’ll also get to meet our team on the ship. So the next few weeks for us will be preparing for the next season which starts in March.
December 6, 2010
Palmyra and its colonnade
The road to Palmyra, one of the noted highlights of this particular cruise, was not as easy as we had thought due to a fire on the main highway just south of Krak de Chevaliers.
It was quite alarming when our driver went the wrong way down a dual carriage way, but all was ok when he got us back on to the highway. A couple of hairy turns and we were back to our starting point and heading across minor roads until we had by-passed the problem. The two-hour journey to Palmyra took us from farming land with much greenery to semi-arid dessert – still with beautiful blue skies. (more…)
December 1, 2010
Krak de Chevaliers, Syria
Our two day visit to Syria started on a beautiful warm morning as we headed out from the port of Tartus to the medieval castle at KRAK DE CHEVALIERS, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important preserved medieval military castles in the world, dating back to the Crusades. (more…)