This past week I returned from cruising for five weeks on the ship Aegean Odyssey, the single vessel operating for the British line Voyages to Antiquity. As their name suggests, the cruise line, which is just over a year old, has established itineraries that highlight ports of call at sites of historical importance, particularly (though not exclusively) related to the ancient world. I was brought on board as a Guest Lecturer. My duties were to present afternoon and evening talks on the archaeology, art and architecture of the ancient cultures that flourished in the areas we were sailing, as well as to accompany the passengers on shore excursions and to make myself generally available during mealtimes and days at sea to discuss what we had seen together. It was a wonderful and exhausting experience. As a recognizable public figure on a smallish ship with 350 passengers at its maximum capacity, in effect I was “on” any time I was out of my cabin. While this may sound tiring (and it WAS), I enjoyed every minute of it and most likely bored some of my fellow passengers with my endless energy for discussing old things (note to readers: approach at your own risk an Academic while they are fully immersed in their Favorite Topic). That being said, the people who had selected the Voyages to Antiquity cruise line out of all potential lines that operate in that part of the world had at least a general interest in history. This camaraderie of travel purpose was one of the real selling points of the experience, in my opinion. For some comments on that aspect of the cruise, you can see my submission to the ship’s official blog here: http://blog.voyagestoantiquity.com. It had not yet posted as of July 14, but should be appearing soon.
My goal was to blog our travels in real-time on this site, updating from various ports. However, the schedule of sightseeing and adventures proved too rigorous, and Internet access too spotty. So what will follow here for the next weeks will be an after-the-fact discussion of the journey. Although it may lack some of the immediacy of a shipboard blog, I hope that having had time to digest the overwhelming amounts of history through which we traveled will also benefit this narrative.
I should note from the beginning that I am NOT an employee of Voyages to Antiquity, nor am I a crew member of the Aegean Odyssey. As a Guest Lecturer I cruised for free, but I was not paid for my appearance. This is the place for full (and unsurprising) disclosure: I hope to be invited back in the future, but I am not writing this blog as an advertisement for the cruise line. That being said, I do believe that the company has hit on a very exciting travel niche and that they are executing the voyages extremely well, to the delight of their patrons, although with a few hiccups that are to be expected of any new endeavor. Again, I am not an official representative of the company; however, if someone reading this would like to correspond about the cruises and my experience on the ship, feel free to contact me at email@example.com and I will be happy to share with you.
Tomorrow on this blog I will launch into my first voyage, an itinerary titled “The Grand Object of All Travel Is To See The Shores of the Mediterranean.” The ship set sail from Rome and put in at ports on several of the Mediterranean islands before traveling up the Dalmatian Coast to end on the other side of Italy, in beautiful Venice. I hope you will join me!