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Private tour of CERN and luncheon
October 23, 2012 (pre-cruise)
($899* pp)

From the tiniest constituents of matter to the immensity of the cosmos, discover the wonders of science and technology at CERN. Join Bright Horizons for a private pre-cruise, custom, full-day tour of this iconic facility.

Whether you lean toward concept or application there’s much to pique your curiousity. Discover the excitement of fundamental research and get a behind-the-scenes, insider’s look of the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.

pic of Cern Tunnel

Our full day will be led by a CERN physicist. We’ll have an orientation; visit an accelerator and experiment; get a sense of the mechanics of the large hadron collider (LHC); make a refueling stop for lunch; and have time to peruse exhibits and media on the history of CERN and the nature of its work.

This tour includes:

  • transfer from airport to our Geneva hotel on the October 21
  • hotel (3 nights) — the nights of October 21, 22, and 23
  • full breakfasts (3) — October 22, 23, and 24
  • free day in Geneva; transfers to/from downtown provided (October 22)
  • transfer from hotel to CERN and back to the hotel on October 23
  • lunch at CERN
  • cocktail party the evening after our visit to CERN (October 23)
  • bus transfer from Geneva, Switzerland to our Genoa, Italy hotel (October 24)
  • NOTE: CERN charges no entrance fee to visitors

*The price is $899 per person (based on double occupancy) for the three-night package. Deduct $100 per person for just two nights (and arrive Geneva on Oct. 22 for two nights). This trip is limited to 50 people. (Pictures from our October 2010 trip.)

November 1, 2012
($129** pp)

Many civilizations have left their mark at Ephesus. It’s a complex and many splendored history, often oversimplified. Bright Horizons pulls together three important aspects of understanding Ephesus which are rarely presented together. Join us! You’ll meander the Marble Road, visit the legendary latrines, check out the Library, and visit the political and commercial centers of the city. A visit to the Terrace Houses will enliven your picture of Roman era Ephesus.


We’ll take a break for Mediterranean cuisine in the Selcuk countryside, and then visit the Ephesus Museum in Selcuk, where finds from the excavation of the city are showcased, and you get a fuller look at local history, from the Lydians to the Byzantines.

November 2, 2012
($149** pp)

The Parthenon and its Acropolis setting are stunning, no doubt about it. They don’t require interpretation, and compose the perfect DIY Athens excursion. On the other hand, visiting the new Acropolis Museum and the National Archaeological Museum with a skilled guide who’s on your wavelength adds immeasurably to the experience. We suggest you join Bright Horizons on a focused trip. You’ll see the Parthenon frieze, exquisite sanctuary relics, and Archaic sculpture at the Acropolis Museum (picture below; as you can see, the museum sits just below the Acropolis).

Acropolis Museum

Lunch, of course, is tucked away at a taverna favored by Athenian families. For dessert, we’ll visit the richest array of Greek antiquities anywhere — at the National Archaeological Museum.

November 5, 2012 (post-cruise)
($399 pp)

When in Rome, do as the Romans who are astronomy buffs wish they could do—visit to the new digs of the Vatican Observatory and get a privileged look at its world-class meteorite collection. Join Bright Horizons on an optional post-cruise trip to Castel Gandolfo, Italy on a private insider’s tour of the Observatory’s laboratory, home to a 135 kg collection of 1081 samples, from 469 meteor falls. See a bit of Mars on your Mediterranean trip!

Vatican Observatory

Perhaps almost more intriguing is the Observatory’s library. We’ll browse over the shoulders of giants, seeing historic and antique astronomy books including early editions of Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Brahe, Clavius, and Secchi. VO astronomers will brief us on the Vatican’s interest in astronomy and the latest on VO research at Steward Observatory, Mount Graham, Arizona. We’ll lunch on the shores of Lake Albano, an extinct volcano, and linger to enjoy the scenic and historic nature of the Castel Gandolfo area before returning to the bustle of Rome. (This trip is limited to 20 people; gourmet lunch included as well as roundtrip transfers to/from our Rome hotels.)

**NOTE: The cost of lunches are not included (except with the Vatican Observatory trip) but we’ll make all of the reservations and provide all transportation.

Click a Tab (above) for a port overview and available shore excursions.

For detailed information on a port including restaurants, maps, cultural highlights, etc., please visit our ITINERARY page.

SAVONA, ITALY — Friday, October 25

One of the most celebrated former inhabitants of Savona was the navigator Christopher Columbus, who farmed land in the area while chronicling his journeys. ‘Columbus’s house’, a cottage situated in the Savona hills, lay between vegetable crops and fruit trees. It is just one of many residences in Liguria associated with Columbus.

Savona is a city rich in history and enterprise, largely centering on its port. The most important monument in the city in this regard is the Priamar, a castle stronghold near the port and recently restored. This is the site of the city’s first developed community, in 205 BC, described by Roman historian Titus Livius as “Savo Oppidum Alpinum” and evidently an ally of Carthage against Rome. The city fell under Roman rule in 200 BC and, following the establishment of Vada Sabatia (presently called Vado), its importance rapidly declined. After the fall of the Roman Empire and the invasions of the Barbarians, Savona became an important Byzantine settlement. In 643 AD, Savona was destroyed by the Rotarians and the Longobards, while during the 9th and 10th centuries it was the capital of Marca Aleramica. Eventually it became an independent municipality, developing considerable trade with France, Spain, and North Africa. After a long period resisting Genoa (20 miles to the east), it finally relinquished power in 1528 and following the Napoleonic era was annexed by Savoy. Formerly a province of the kingdom of Sardinia, the province of Savona was recognised in 1927.

There are two versions surrounding the origin of the name of Savona’s symbolic monument, the Priamar. According to the first, Priamar derives from “Pietra Sul Mare” (rock on the sea), as the fortress is constructed on a promontory rock facing the Ligurian sea. According to the second version the name derives from “Petra Mala”, a reference to the rock underneath the castle being crumbly. Inside the fortress walls stood a school, two of whose pupils became the popes Julius II and Sixtus IV. It also hosted a ceremony to mark the independence of the municipality, in 1191, after the victory of Ghibelline. In the 19th Century the fortress was used as a prison, where in 1830–1831 Giuseppe Mazzini was jailed. During World War II, the fortress was used as an air-raid shelter and to control Savona’s port.

Genoa, Italy weather: 2008  2009  2010  Historical Averages

KATAKOLON, GREECE — Saturday, October 27

Katakolon is a small port founded in the first half of the 19th century and linked to the legendary and nearby Olympia. According to the annals, which describe in detail and with some legend, the birth and history of Olympia, the city is a pastoral site chosen by the king of the gods Zeus to promote his culture among the Greeks.

Olympia, together with Delphi, the city dedicated to Apollo, and Athens represents the most important mythological places in traditional Greece. The Olympic Games originated here and, according to the Hellenic tradition described by the Greek poet Pindar, their origin is in honour of Pelope, a legendary character, after whom the Peloponnese was named. In the beginning the Games were composed of few disciplines, deriving from military arts characterised by loyalty and courage and lasted just one day often interrupted by religious ceremonies.

Subsequently the celebration of the Olympic Games, every four years at the summer solstice, lasted for a few weeks and at this time all conflicts had to be suspended to enable the performance of the games. The ceremony was strict. Women, except for Hera priestesses were not allowed, upon punishment of death. All competitors had to be Greek. The winners (at the time there were no sponsors or money compensation) were awarded by public triumph, they were included in a golden register engraved in stone and a life size statue was erected.

After over 1200 years of continued history, the Olympic Games were stopped in 393 AD by Theodosius I and started again in Athens in 1896 upon initiative of the French Baron Pierre de Coubertin. Life in Olympia takes place around the sacred walls of the Sanctuary where all the temples and religious buildings are situated. Olympia was discovered in 1776, but the most important excavations are recent. Zeus’ temple for instance was entirely brought to light by German archaeologists who succeeded in reconstructing part of the front and side columns collecting the statues of Greek winners, votive offerings and small temples damaged by a series of earthquakes unfortunately frequent in the past.

The most ancient part of the Sanctuary is dedicated to Hera and it was destroyed and sacked after the prohibition of the pagan cult ordered by Theodosius. The stadium is very impressive, with an audience capacity of up to 45,000. Several votive offerings were found here, and among them Miltiades helmets after Athens victory in Marathon. It is still possible to see the starting and finishing lines of the races in the stadium. All archaeological finds are preserved in the Museum.

»» Katakolon Excursion Details »»

Katakolon, Greece weather: 2008  2009  2010  Historical Averages

HAIFA, ISRAEL — Monday, October 29

Haifa is described as an important fishing port in both the Old and New Testament of the Bible. There is still a fishing industry based at Haifa, although the city has developed to become the most important commercial port in Israel, as well as a naval base. Site of a former Roman settlement, close to Bat Galim, the modern hillside city of Haifa has a population of 300,000 inhabitants and is a major entry port to the rest of Israel. During the Crusades, the port enjoyed considerable commercial importance, until it suffered sudden decay and destruction.

The Sea of Galilee and its flourishing flora is within easy reach and only a few hours away by road is the bustling city of Tel Aviv and, further on, the Holy City of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is visited by people from around the world who come to see monuments of biblical proportions such as the Wailing Wall, the Dome on the Rock, King David’s Tomb, the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane. Nazareth, the childhood home of Jesus, is a destination for multitudes of Christian pilgrims every year and is also easily accessible from Haifa.

»» Haifa Excursion Details »»

Haifa, Israel weather: 2010

ASHDOD, ISRAEL — Tuesday, October 30

Ashdod is one of the most important ports in Israel, gateway to the most renowned places in the Holy Land, acknowledged by Christianity, the Bible, and a tradition long lost in history. Just a few miles away from the coast the landscape is typically Middle Eastern evoking images of the Bible. Great impulse derived from the recent celebration of Jerusalem's 3000 years, which attracted, in the Holy City, millions of people who attended a very full calendar of cultural, historic and musical events. All the other cities prepared a series of events, which made a holiday to Israel interesting from several points of view and certainly entertaining and educating. Perhaps the most impressive route from Ashdod is the road to Bethlehem and to Jerusalem. Bethlehem Nativity Church is one of the most attended religious sites in the world. Every year a multitude of Christians from all possible churches gather here.

At a short distance, Jerusalem is the “Holy City,” the city of the crusades and the “sad return” for millions Jews all over the world. Actually, despite these traditional images, Jerusalem is not just appreciated for its historical monuments such as the Wailing Wall, the Sorrows Route, the Holy Sepulchre, King David tomb, the magnificent Sleep Church and the Garden of Gethsemane, but also for the activity of the historical quarters, bustling with commerce. The Dead Sea, approximately two hours by bus from Ashdod, is particularly interesting. The water is renowned for its therapeutic effects thus attracting thousands of people every year. It is also an important reference point for archaeological research. In fact just a few miles away, there is the fortress constructed by Herod still resisting time and history after two thousand years.

Excursions to Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and the Dead Sea — depart from Ashdod. »» Ashdod Excursion Details »»

Nearby weather (Tel Aviv, Israel): 2008  2009  2010  Historical Averages

IZMIR, TURKEY — Thursday, November 1

With nearly three million inhabitants, Izmir is Turkey’s second largest city after Istanbul. Archaeological diggings have indicated that Izmir was probably first inhabited in the third millennium BC. Occupied by the Ionian Greeks toward the end of the 9th century BC, Izmir experienced a long spell of economical and cultural development until conquered by Alessandro Magno (334 BC). Starting in 27B.C., following Roman rule, Izmir experienced a new period of prosperity, in the course of which was enriched by sumptuous monuments of which, however, few traces remain. Destroyed by a violent earthquake in 178 it was then rebuilt under the command of Marco Aurelio. After becoming an important Bishop Seat during Costantino era, Izmir began a slow decline due to Arabic incursions. Sieged by the Turks, the town was conquered (1076) and subsequently utilized as base for naval attacks in the Aegean Sea. Later it became a feud of the Knights of Rhodes. It was annexed to the Ottoman Empire by Mohamed 1st Celebi, notwithstanding efforts from part of the Venetian fleet which attempted to reoccupy it on several occasions.

If you don’t join Insight Cruises to Ephesus, you should visit the Archaeological Museum inaugurated in 1983 containing finds from Ephesus, Belevi, Myrina, and Eritre. The old building next to the Archaeological Museum is the Ethnographic Museum displaying interesting art collections and traditional handicrafts: ceramics, copper tools, embroidery, traditional costumes, shawls, and decorated fabrics, carpets, arms, and armours. The last stop for the shopping fans is the animated and colourful bazaar with stalls selling every kind of local goods.

A visit to Ephesus will put you in touch with some of this area’s most stunning ancient ruins. There is an Odeon, or small theater, with a capacity of 1,400. It was also used for public meetings of the city council. The Magnesian Gate and Town Hall are near at hand.

The impressive Library of Celsus stands at the foot of the main street. Its stately two level facade is being carefully restored. The interior walls were designed to display 12,000 scrolls in niches, which protected them from the humidity.

The Temples of Domitian and Hadrian are impressive, and the Great Theater (which is still in use) seats 25,000 spectators.

Harbor Street — also known as the Arcadian Way — connected the port district with the center of town. Beautiful colonnades on both sides and marble pavement made a dazzling first impression on visiting dignitaries. It was one of the rare ancient streets to be lit by lamps at night.

Some distance away, you can see the ruins of the massive Temple of Artemis, which was several times larger than the Parthenon. There had been temples here as early as the 7th century B.C.; this one was completed about 430.

Even in its abandoned state, Ephesus remains an awe-inspiring city, in an amazing setting. The Ionians lived well and wisely. Even those who live in great luxury today must tip their hats to these imaginative people.

»» Izmir Excursion Details »»

Izmir, Turkey weather: 2008  2009  2010  Historical Averages

ATHENS, GREECE — Friday, November 2

The cradle of Greek civilization, Athens today is a bustling, frenetic, modern city with six million inhabitants, one third of the total population of Greece. The port of Athens, Piraeus, is very much an integral part of the city. Although Athens is a huge, sprawling city, much of its political, historical, and administrative life is concentrated in a small area including Syntagma (Constitution) Square, the Acropolis, and Omonia Square. According to Greek mythology, the establishment of Athens was the result of a dispute between the goddess of wisdom Athena and her fellow gods, under which the city was given as a peace offering. In historical terms, the city was founded by the Phoenicians at least 2,000 years before Christ. The founding fathers of democracy, Athenians had many times to go into battle to defend their freedom and built up a mighty military strength.

As the leading cultural influence in the Mediterranean region for centuries, Athens attracted considerable opposition as well as admiration. Its intellectual dominance over the Mediterranean began to wane with the establishment of the Byzantine Empire, eventually leading to the city being virtually deserted and almost destroyed by Saracens in the 12th Century. By the time the Turks gained control of Athens in the 15th Century, its population had dwindled to only a few thousand inhabitants. Between 400BC and 1400AD Athens had been raided, sacked, and burnt at least 30 times.

The historical attractions of Athens are world-renowned. The Acropolis, overlooking the city of Athens from the top of a rocky hillside, is the dominant monument of ancient Greece, the site of the first temple dedicated to the goddess Athena and the stunning Parthenon. Among the magnificent ruins of the Acropolis, and the fascinating artefacts of the Acropolis Museum, the ancient civilization surrounding the Parthenon, Herod Atticaus Odeon, Dionysus Theatre, Muses Hill, the Agora, Hephaestus Temple, and the Apostles Church come to life. In addition to its magnificent ancient monuments, Athens has much to offer the visitor, including colourful street markets and shops. Plus, of course, delicious Greek food such as the speciality meze and desserts including baklava.

»» Athens Excursion Details »»

Athens, Greece weather: 2008  2009  2010  Historical Averages

CIVITAVECCHIA (ROME), ITALY — Sunday, November 4

The first evidence of settlement in the area of Civitavecchia relates to the ancient town of Centocelle, once the port for Ethruria and a rich market centre. Pliny the Younger refers in his writings to Centocelle as the venue of a peace council held by the emperor Trajan.

Centocelle takes its name from the style of village houses, which resembled hives with small cells, and the tiny bays along the coast that enabled ships to come and go. Due to its sheltered surroundings and easy access to the sea, Trajan built his most extravagant villa in the vicinity, mentioned by Pliny. The basic structure of the port first developed by Trajan still remains.

When the port of Ostia at the mouth of the River Tiber became insufficient to handle the maritime traffic to Rome, Civitavecchia took its place. The distinctive shape of the port is attributed to the architect Apollodoro who decorated the original structure with engravings and statues. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Civitavecchia maintained its maritime importance and in a few centuries had become the most important port in the Thyrrenian, competing for supremacy with Pisa and attracting the attention of Turkish pirates.

The port today manages light commercial and passenger traffic to the Thyerrenian islands, while the mediaeval centre of Civitavecchia is still well preserved.

»» Rome Excursion Details »»

Rome, Italy weather: 2008  2009  2010  Historical Averages

... SIX LAND-BASED DAY TRIPS (Continued from column 1)

Including a private tour of the Technion
October 29, 2012
($225* pp)

Perched on the Mediterranean, the Haifa region encapsules the ancient history and cutting edge science, cultures and beliefs that say “Israel.” Get a context for Israel on a full day visit equal parts cultural introduction and science field trip.

Whether you lean toward concept or application there’s much to pique your curiousity. Discover the excitement of fundamental research and get a behind-the-scenes, insider’s look of the world’s largest particle physics laboratory.


We start our full day with a nod to the spiritual at the golden-domed Bahai Shrine, the world center of the Bahai faith renown for 19 stunningly landscaped terrace gardens, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Off next to the Technion, where Yohay Carmel, Ph.D. Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Technion (Israel Institute of Technology), along with some of his Technion associates, will direct our private “insiders” tour of the Technion campus and research facilities. We’ll do a simple lunch in Haifa, and drive to Mount Carmel National Park, in UNESCO Biosphere Reserve Mount Carmel, where 12,000 acres burned in December 2010, to bring to life Dr. Carmel’s talk about mega-wildfires. We’ll drive through the Hai Bar Carmel Wildlife Reserve which was also damaged by the fire and which is home to rare Persian fallow and roe deer, Armenian sheep, gazelles, and Griffon vultures. Crusader and Ottoman history round out our agenda, as we’ll visit the UNESCO World Heritage Old City of Acre which was the capital of the Crusader kingdom of Jerusalem. A well-preserved Ottoman walled town sits on top of Crusader structures. We’ll explore Old Acre’s Knights’ Hall and underground passages and head back to our base aboard ship.

October 30, 2012
($225* pp)

Location, location, location. Jerusalem’s got it, as one of the oldest continuously occupied cities in the world, an axis mundi whose ownership has been hotly contested throughout its history (destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.) Delve into a 3,000-year span of Jerusalem’s complex archaeology in a full-day look at key sites in the region. We’ll survey the terrain with a breathtaking view of Jerusalem from an observation point overlooking the city. Onward to the City of David excavation, the actual site of the city King David captured and made his capital about 3000 years ago. Among the archaeological sites we’ll see in these excavations are the Royal Quarter area, Hezekiah’s Tunnel and Warren’s Shaft.

Onward into the Old City and the Western Wall, Judaism’s most sacred site, to look at the monumental Herodian ashlar stones. We’ll study the Western Wall Tunnel, a Hasmonean/Herodian era street that ran parallel to the wall around the Temple Mount (tunnel schedule permitting), emerging to walk through the reconstructed Jewish Quarter including the Cardo, Byzantine Jerusalem’s main shopping street. After lunch at a local restaurant, we drive off to Herodium near Bethlehem in the West Bank, Herod’s man-made hill fortress and his burial site. We’ll explore this palace/fortress and its massive circular double wall with 4 round towers.

If time permits we’ll head to Bethlehem to visit Manger Square as well as the Church and Grotto of the Nativity before returning to Ashdod port.

*NOTE: The cost of lunches are not included but we’ll make all of the reservations and provide all transportation.


Yohay Carmel, Ph.D.
David Lunney, Ph.D.
Stephen Macknik, Ph.D.
Susana Martinez-Conde, Ph.D.
Jeanette Norden, Ph.D.
Chris Stringer, Ph.D.


Speakers have confirmed their intent to participate; however, scheduling conflicts may arise.


Cruise prices vary from $1,299 for an Interior Stateroom to $4,499 for a Grand Suite, per person. (Cruise pricing is subject to change.) For those attending our PROGRAM, there is a $1,475 fee. Government taxes, port fees, and Insight Cruises’ service charge are $299 per person. Gratuities are $11 per person per day. All prices and fees are detailed on the BOOK NOW page.

For a detailed listing of the cruise itinerary please review our ITINERARY page. Use our PRICING CALCULATOR for a quick price quote! For questions, please don’t hestitate in calling (650-787-5665) or emailing us.



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The conference fee is $1,475 and includes all 27 hours of seminars below. With two partial exceptions, classes only take place when we’re at sea, between 8:30am and 7:30pm.







Here was the weather for the corresponding days of our cruise, during the year indicated. Historical averages are from the mid ’90s to current day.

Genoa, Italy   2008   2009   2010
Historical Averages

Katakolon, Greece   2008   2009   2010
Historical Averages

Haifa, Israel   2010

Tel Aviv, Israel   2008   2009   2010
Historical Averages

Izmir, Turkey   2008   2009   2010
Historical Averages

Athens, Greece   2008   2009   2010
Historical Averages

Rome, Italy   2008   2009   2010
Historical Averages

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