The secret to seeing 9 destinations in 1 trip

A luxury holiday that packs your days with exploring might sound like a contradiction – but we’ve found the hottest way to see Israel and the Mediterranean, with some help from cruise specialists The Travel Academy


Who wants to waste a single second of their holiday time, with so much world out there to discover? But if the thought of visiting nine Mediterranean destinations during one break leaves you thinking you’ll need another holiday, lie back and think again.

As you relax on your lounger, soaking up the sun and wonderful sea views, cruising has to be one of the most luxurious ways to travel.

Whether you’re looking to discover the world’s treasures in every port, the finest cuisine at sea aboard Oceania’s spectacular ship Riviera, or to relax in the heavenly spa, it’s time to set sail...  and if you call The Travel Academy to book, there are John Lewis vouchers to be had.

Destination 1 – Ashdod

Less than an hour away lies Tel Aviv – modern, vibrant and cosmopolitan, where the promenade is always alive with street performers, music and events. Nicknamed the ‘White City’ for its Unesco-listed Bauhaus and modernist buildings, it’s as famous for its art and architecture as for the chic cafes, celebrity restaurants and long, sandy beaches. 

Stop at the Indoor Port Market to discover some of Israel’s finest cheese, wines and meats. Or explore neighbouring Jaffa’s ancient cobbled alleys with its unique galleries and one-of-a-kind artisan stores. 

Destination 2 – Haifa

As the hillside buildings of Haifa come into view, the big question is: how will you choose between the enticing options on offer in the land of miracles?

Perhaps it’ll be the largest hanging gardens in the world in Haifa itself, the golden dome of the shrine shining richly over the symbolic circles of lush plants. Trace history at the ancient birthplace of Kabbalah in Saffed, where artists working in the ancient alleyways are still inspired by this branch of Jewish spirituality.

Or turn back the centuries drinking in the timeless views of the Galilee, where the world’s richest Canaanite treasure was unearthed at the once-opulent ivory palace at Megiddo.

And, of course, there’s Jerusalem itself, from the Tomb of King David to the Western Wall, walking the ancient streets or browsing the market food stalls of Mahane Yehuda, before relaxing in the buzzing Old Train Station Compound at one of the many restaurants and cafes.

Destination 3 - Crete

Home to the legendary Minotaur, who roamed the labyrinth at the Palace of Knossos, the frescoed ruins of this fabled civilisation still remain. On the site where a royal city prospered, walk in the footsteps of Theseus and Ariadne as you wander back into a time of myth.

Its treasures now have pride of place at the Archaeological Museum in Heraklion, restored only a few years ago, where golden amulets and double-sided axes sit alongside ancient pottery and goddess statues. Or explore the area’s equally golden beaches, along with picturesque villages and impressive gorges.

Destination 4 – Cyprus

There are archaeological riches galore across Cyprus too, but step away from the ruins at Paphos or Lemesos Castle where Richard the Lionheart married his queen, to find more of the island’s true wealth – the groves of olives, lemons and oranges dotted throughout the countryside.

Indulge at a traditional taverna on the seafront as you consider that Aphrodite, the goddess of love, is said to have emerged from the waves along the coast, before marvelling at some of the stunning Roman mosaics which have survived the centuries.

Taste the fruit of the island’s vineyards as you look out onto Akotiri Bay in Limassol. Cyprus’s second largest city, or explore the country’s largest, Nicosia, the world’s only divided capital.  

Destination 5 – Rhodes

One of the seven wonders of the ancient world once stood on the island; the Colossus of Rhodes, believed to have guarded the entrance to the old port of Mandraki. And while the imposing statue is a casualty of the centuries, the island is still tempting visitors to this day.

An ancient acropolis stands high on the cliffs above the whitewashed buildings of Lindos, looking down on to the spectacular bay, 377 feet below, while vineyards and citrus groves line the route back to the coast. 

In Rhodes Town, the restored Grand Masters palace whisks you back to a life of 14th-century luxury, tales of myth depicted in its floor mosaics, timelessly beautiful views through the alabaster windows; outside the Old Town is home to the Kahal Shalom Synagogue, the oldest synagogue still standing in Greece.

For a true taste of tradition, learn the secret of typical Greek dishes over a cookery lesson from a local chef. Watch fish being sourced fresh from the sea, try your hand at creating tzatziki and stuffed aubergines, before devouring the results.

Destination 6 – Patmos

Called the ‘Jerusalem of the Aegean’, hundreds of churches ornament the peaceful hills. Here St John wrote the Book of Revelations from his cave home, now a chapel, where those darkly vivid images of the Apocalypse could hardly be further from the tranquil atmosphere.

Tamarisk trees shade the beaches, the green landscape illuminated by splashes of white from the villages, their twisting maze of streets hiding treasures like the 300-year-old Simandris House and its collection of antiques.

Dominating Patmos is the Monastery of St John, an important theological school to this day, where Byzantine emperors donated their wealth and 12th-century frescoes still decorate the walls. In the treasury, fabulous pieces created from precious metals and gems are not the only treasures; the 13,000 ancient manuscripts include a 6th-century Gospel, its words picked out in silver lettering on purple vellum.

Destination 7 – Santorini

One of the icons of the Aegean, the incomparably picturesque views of Santorini are instantly recognisable, blue domes adding a splash of colour to the white buildings clinging to the cliffside, mimicking the deep azure of the sea below in the caldera.

No jewellery in the shops lining Fira’s Golden Street can compare to the molten orange and crimson of the sunset reflected in the waves below Oia, a panorama so breathtaking that it’s one of the island’s biggest attractions.

It’s far from the only one though. Fira’s museum houses archaeological finds from Akrotiri, the city which may have inspired the fascinating legends of the lost city of Atlantis. Or discover one of the boutique wineries, whose vines flourish in the mineral-rich soil, courtesy of the volcanic eruption which may have inspired the myth.

Destination 8 – Athens

The cradle of Western civilisation, one visit to Athens is barely enough to uncover some of the city’s rich, long heritage. See the ancient treasures of the city at the modern new Acropolis Museum, before seeing the unmissable Acropolis and Parthenon above.

Then wander the historic centre of Athens, and the neighbourhoods of Plaka, Monastiraki and Thissio. Here sits the Jewish Museum with over 8,000 artefacts dating back to the 16th century, along with the Holocaust Memorial site and neoclassical marble Synagogue, a mix of Sephardic and unique Romaniote Jewish heritage. 

A stone’s throw away in the historic Roman agora, an ancient synagogue once stood, thought by some to date back more than 2,000 years; the city is still home to Greece’s largest Jewish community.

Destination 9 - On board

The Romans called the Mediterranean the centre of the earth itself. The cradle of civilisation, boats trading along its length helped create some of Western Europe’s most important societies. Plenty of food for thought as you gaze out over the sparkling waves and consider its place in history.

Or ponder whether it’s time to indulge at one of the six gourmet restaurants on board Oceania Riviera, to pamper at the award-winning Canyon Ranch SpaClub or simply to relax in the sun as you explore the world in luxury.

Because sometimes, the journey is as much a highlight as the destination. 

Tempted? Step on board to see for yourself…

Or for advice on making the trip a reality, call the experts at The Travel Academy, dedicated to providing the highest standards of personal service, on 0151 281 8188 or visit their website. Anyone making a new booking will receive up to £100 of John Lewis vouchers.

Terms & conditions:

The John Lewis voucher value is dependent on the stateroom category booked, for new bookings only on balcony staterooms and above. The Travel Academy reserves the right to substitute the voucher with an item of equal value in the event that circumstances beyond their control make this unavoidable. 


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