Cultural tour operator, ACE Cultural Tours was founded way back in the 1950s but is ramping up its small ship cruises for 2015 on vessels catering for between 15 and 30 people.
Your boats of choice include Her Majesty’s royal barge the Spirit of Chartwell, and a traditional teak and mulberry motor yacht with nearly 600 square yards of sail.
Here’s where they’ll be taking you…
Provence River Cruise
17th–23rd May, 2015; £2,845
Art historian Peter Higginson leads this exploration into the cultural inheritance and artistic traditions of southern France through the inland waterways of Provence and the Camargue. The route aboard the luxurious Phénicien will take passengers to small Provençal villages and great centres of civilisation as the cruise head towards Avignon, the immaculately preserved 14th century capital of Christendom. More:
Douro River Cruise on the Royal Barge
29th August – 5th September 2015; £2,520
Cruise along Portugal’s ‘River of Gold’ aboard Her Majesty’s royal barge, the Spirit of Chartwell. You will journey through the vineyards and historic towns of northern Portugal, with visits including the UNESCO World Heritage city of Salamanca and the mediaeval hill-top town of Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. The specialist tour director will be Martin Symington, of the famous Portuguese family that owns the Graham’s Port Lodge business. The cruise includes an exclusive tour and tasting at Graham’s Port Lodge, an evening vintage port wine celebration, and a private visit to the Factory House (Association of Port Wine Shippers) in Oporto.
12th – 26th September 2015; £3,130
This voyage is on board Sunworld VIII, a traditional Turkish gulet, exploring the cities along the coast of south-west Turkey, where the towering limestone cliffs have changed little since Classical times. You’ll be looking out for ruins beneath the clear waters of the eastern Mediterranean: the remains of Aperlae and the Byzantine town of Tersane, for example, are clearly visible to the naked eye.
Carian Cruise: Ephesus and the Cities of the Aegean
26th September – 10th October 2015; £3,260
In classical times the waters of the Carian coast witnessed the plying of Roman galleys, Greek triremes, Phoenician merchantmen and Egyptian dhows. These vessels navigated to and from some of the most famous cities of the ancient world, and this tour follows in their wake aboard the teak and mulberry Sunworld VIII to discover sites wonderfully preserved due to their inaccessibility by land, and best approached through the clear waters of the ‘Turquoise Coast’.
Nile Cruise: From Luxor to Aswan
15th – 23rd November 2015; £2,790
This tour begins with a detailed investigation of Luxor and its environs, from the great necropolis of the Valley of the Kings to the sandstone Colossi of Memnon, before setting off on a leisurely cruise down the Nile. The vessel is a faithful replica of a 19th century dahabiya fitted out in cherry wood and marble, a common sight on the Nile in the days of the aristocracy, when the sophisticated traveller would meander from temple to temple in a chartered yacht.
You can contact ACE Cultural Tours and get more info at the website: www.aceculturaltours.co.uk.