Join Dr. David Uth on this once-in-a-lifetime tour revisiting some of the sites of the Apostle Paul's missionary journeys. Dr. Uth, pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, FL, will be your host and Bible teacher during this tour.
Our adventure starts with a flight to Rome, Italy. Upon arrival in Rome you will be transferred to a deluxe hotel for dinner and a night of rest.
On Sunday we will check out of our hotel in Rome and travel to the Italian port city of Civitavecchia to board Royal Caribbean's Navigator of the Seas, our home for the next seven nights. After check-in procedures are completed, we can acquaint ourselves with the ship's facilities or rest. The ship departs Civitavecchia at 5:00pm.
Our first stop on our cruise is Messina, Sicily. The entire day is at leisure to explore this lovely town. You may choose to take a walk through the Duomo, the town's main cathedral in the Piazza del Duomo. Although most of it has been refurbished in recent years, it has retained some of the original Norman-style features from 1160, when it was built by emperor Henry VI. The one thing you will not want to miss is the world's largest astronomical clock, Orologio Astronomico, in the Piazza del Duomo. It is set in a 197-foot bell tower and when the bell strikes noon, it comes to life. As Ave Maria begins playing on a loudspeaker, the bronze mechanical figures start to move. A lion roars, a bird flaps its wings, and two historical heroines take turns ringing the bell, all before it ends with a statue of Jesus appearing from a tomb. We depart Messina at 7:00pm.
Tuesday is a day at sea to enjoy our cruise ship. The Navigator contains some of the cruise industry's most amazing features - a rock-climbing wall, a basketball court, an ice-skating rink, and an in-line skating rink. This 138,000-ton nautical wonder has it all. After dinner Dr. Uth will conduct a Bible study to prepare us for our tour of Athens tomorrow.
On Wednesday we arrive in Athens, Greece, the birthplace of civilization. Once the ship docks in port we will board an air-conditioned motorcoach, and take a tour of this historic city. Our first stop will be the Parthenon. Serving as a temple to pagan gods during times and a storehouse for ammunition during more recent times, the Parthenon is perhaps the region's most recognizable historic monument. We will also visit Mars Hill where Paul addressed the Athenians (Acts 17:22-34). After Scripture reading on Mars Hill our guide and driver will take us on a driving tour of Athens where we will see the Ancient Agora, Tower of the Winds, Herodes Atticus Theater, Theater of Dionyssos, and the Temple of Zeus. We will also pass the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Royal Palace, University of Athens, the Academy of Athens, the National Library. We will also stop at the "Panathenian" Olympic Stadium for a photo stop and a chance to jog a lap around the track. After lunch you will get a chance to explore the old section of Athens known as the Plaka District. You will stroll through the narrow pedestrian streets, stop for coffee, or hunt for bargains in the shops. After dinner on the ship, Dr. Uth will conduct another Bible study to prepare us for our tour of Ephesus tomorrow.
Thursday brings us to the Turkish port of Kusadasi. We will disembark the ship and drive a short distance to the ancient city of Ephesus, the greatest city in Asia Minor during the Roman Empire and the home of one of the Seven Churches (Revelation 2-3). Ephesus was the largest city the Apostle Paul visited, and where he lived three of the four years of his third missionary journey. Sites at Ephesus include: the Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World; the facade of the Library of Celsius; and the Grand Theatre where Paul tried to confront the followers of Diana. Just outside Ephesus we will visit the Basilica of St. John, erected over his grave by the Emperor Justinian. After touring there will be time for shopping in the local craft shops known for their carpets, jewelry, and leather goods.
The ship stops in Chania, Crete on Friday. Chania is the second largest city of Crete and one of the most beautiful cities on this island. It is the site of the ancient Minoan settlement the Greeks called Cydonia (Kydonia). The site has been continuously inhabited for at least 5000 years. The city's rich history can be traced through historic buildings and monuments with Venetian, Turkish, and Greek architecture. The day is at leisure for you to explore the ancient city of Aptera or the Firkas Fort, which boasts a panoramic view of the Venetian Harbor and the spectacular Venetian lighthouse.
Saturday is a free day at sea. You can relax, take a swim, or enjoy the wonderful facilities on our cruise ship. This evening there will be a teaching session by Dr. Uth to prepare us for our time in Rome.
Sunday morning we return to Rome. Following disembarkation of the Navigator of the Seas, we will enjoy an unforgettable tour. Our first stop will be the famous Colosseum, scene of thousands of gladiator combats. Our tour will also take us past the Circus Maximas, home of the ancient chariot races. Other sites on this memorable tour include Piazza Venizia, the famous Spanish steps, the monument of Vittorio Emanuele, and the Trevi Fountain. After our tour we will check into our hotel for dinner and overnight.
During the last day of our magnificent journey we will visit Vatican City, Papal residence for centuries. There we will visit St. Peter's Basilica, the most famous church in Christendom, and the Sistine Chapel where we can view the recently renovated ceiling painted by Michelangelo. We'll continue to the Roman Forum, center of public life in ancient Rome. Our next stop is the 2,000-year-old Pantheon, a pagan temple that became a Christian church. We will also visit the ruins of the Mamertime Prison where it is said that Paul was incarcerated for his beliefs. Our last stop will be the Ostian Way where Paul was martyred for his faith in Jesus Christ. We will return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
Tuesday morning we will say "Ciao" to Italy and transfer to the airport for our return flight home, having witnessed numerous wonders of our Christian faith.