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Ride the luxurious Venice Simplon-Orient-Express before setting sail on the Med
The Venice Simplon-Orient-Express is one of the most famous trains in the world, and we are offering Good Housekeeping readers an exclusive opportunity to step aboard and travel back in time. Not only will you rekindle the romance of the rails on this holiday, but you'll also stay in five-star luxury in Venice and enjoy a Mediterranean cruise. In total, your trip will last for 15 days.
Your journey starts in London with the chance to experience the Art Deco Belmond British Pullman carriages and its sister train, the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, on an overnight trip to Venice. Then, after four days spent in Venice, you'll board all-inclusive ship Celebrity Constellation for a nine-night cruise along the Dalmatian coast, disembarking in Rome. It's the perfect end to an incredible trip-of-a-lifetime.
There will be four days for you to enjoy this fabulous city and you'll be based in the luxury five-star Grand Hotel Dei Dogi, a Venetian palace retreat just twenty minutes from St Mark's Square. We've included a Best of Venice walking tour as well as the opportunity to skip the long lines for the Doge's Palace and St Mark's Basilica on your first day so you can get a taste of the city before exploring further on your own. On a walking tour with an expert guide you'll see the most famous sites, including the Rialto Bridge, Bridge of Sighs and St Mark's Square, once pronounced the "finest drawing room in all of Europe" by Napoleon. You'll also visit Marco Polo's house and get straight inside St. Mark's Basilica and the Doge's Palace, once home to the Duke of Venice and the centre of Venetian history.
Sail on the Celebrity Constellation
Affectionately known as "Connie" to her fans, the Celebrity Constellation offers a fantastic selection of nine restaurants to dine in including a Tuscan grill fresh sushi bar, Seaside cafe and Gelateria. Recently refurbished there's a Canyon Ranch Spa on board as well as a swimming pool and solarium that transforms at night into a club with circus style performers. Plus you can catch a Broadway musical in the main theatre or learn a new language on their Rosetta Stone programme, take part in cookery classes or listen to one of the many on-board talks.
See the best of the Med
Your voyage takes in some fascinating ports as you make your way from Venice down Croatia's unspoilt Dalmatian coastline, peppered with more than a thousand beautiful islands, to Malta and then Italy. You'll stop in Split, famous for the Roman emperor Diocletian's palace and now a UNESCO World Heritage site, charming Dubrovnik with its glamorous walled centre, Valletta, Catania, Naples, from which you can visit Pompeii, and finally Rome, where this incredible trip will end.
Reasons to book
Ride the elegant Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
See the best of Venice
Explore the Dalmatian Coast
- One night on the Venice Simplon-Orient- Express with meals as detailed in the itinerary
- Four nights in Grand Hotel Dei Dogi (or similar) in Venice with breakfast
- Best of Venice walking tour, plus Doge's Palace and St Marks Basilicia skip-the-line tours
- Nine nights' full-board cruise on the Celebrity Constellation
- Flight from Rome to London
- Private transfers
Day1London to ParisLondon, United Kingdom
In London you'll board the art deco Belmond British Pullman, the sister train to the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. Once on-board, you'll savour a delicious brunch with a refreshing Bellini as you make your way through the picturesque Kent countryside to Folkestone. Here, you are escorted by coach to Cheriton, where you board the shuttle to Calais. Uniformed hosts will look after you throughout the journey.
At Calais Ville Station, the legendary Wagons-Lits carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express await. Settle into your comfortable private cabin before enjoying a sumptuous dinner in one of the magnificent dining cars. Later, you may wish to linger in Bar Car '3674', listening to the resident pianist play the baby grand and chatting to fellow passengers before you retire for the night.
Day2Paris to VeniceParis, France
After enjoying a continental breakfast in your cabin, spend some time drinking in the Swiss mountains and lakes of the Gotthard route outside - truly stunning scenery. Then relax over a leisurely three-course lunch, before perhaps spending time in the bar or lounge cars, or browsing the on-board boutique for elegant gifts. Before arriving in Venice, savour a selection of delectable pastries in your cabin.
Arriving at Venice Santa Lucia Station you'll take a private transfer to the Grand Hotel Dei Dogi, a palatial five-star boutique hotel that will be your base for the next four days. This evening, why not wander out into Venice's pretty cobbled alleys and find a lively restaurant for a taste of authentic Venetian cuisine.
Day3Best of Venice walking tourVenice, Italy
Today you'll tour Venice's most iconic sights, beginning at the famous Rialto Bridge, before heading through through city's winding streets and over tiny bridges into the heart of the city. Accompanied by an expert, English-speaking guide, you'll visit Marco Polo's house and hear about the Venetian son who went to sea one day and came back with stories of China. Learn about Venice's transformation an uninhabitable marsh to one of the world's most popular visitor destinations. As you walk, you'll encounter the lively piazzas of Campo SS Giovanni e Paolo and Campo Santa Maria Formosa, where Byzantine influences, Renaissance buildings and modern structures tell the eclectic story of the city's development.
Next you pass the Bridge of Sighs, before coming to the heart of Venice - St. Mark's Square. With Skip the Queue Access you'll get straight inside St. Mark's Basilica, where beautiful frescoes await. You'll also climb to the first floor terraces, rarely included on guided tours, that offer beautiful views over the piazza, photo opportunities and some down time to soak up everything you have learned on your walking tour. Finally, you visit the Doge's Palace. Once home to the Duke of Venice and the city's courts, it is the centre of Venetian history, and contains spectacular works by two of Venice's most revered artistic masters, Tintoretto and Veronese.
Days4-5Explore Venice at your leisureVenice, Italy
In two days' time, you embark the Celebrity Constellation for a wonderful cruise around southern Europe, but beforehand you'll have two full days of free time to explore the city at your leisure.
Whether it's a ride on an iconic gondola, a relaxed stroll down some of the quieter canals and romantic back streets of La Serenissima, a visit to one of the city's quaint bookshops, traditional bakeries or vibrant bars, or a tour of one of Venice's incredible medieval churches, you'll find a new piece of authentic Venetian culture around every corner.
Day6Embark Celebrity ConstellationVenice, Italy
Today you board your award-winning cruise ship, Celebrity Constellation, for a nine-night cruise around some of southern Europe's most architecturally impressive cities, and beautiful stretches of coastline. With multiple elegant restaurants, bars and lounge spaces, an open-air cinema, sports facilities, the ship combines the luxury of smaller ships with the facilities that come with large ocean liners. Its friendly crew will be on hand to greet you and assist with any requests you have throughout your voyage.
Day7Rijeka, CroatiaRijeka, Croatia
Your first port of call will be Rijeka, in the northern Adriatic Sea. Rijeka is Croatia's third largest city and is famed for its impressive Italian Renaissance architecture and clear blue waters. It will also be the European Capital of Culture for 2020, and is home to the Croatian National Theatre building, opened in 1885, a theatre, opera and ballet house which was designed by famous Venetian sculptor August Benvenuti and features ceiling paintings from artist Franz Matsch, in collaboration with Ernst and Gustav Klimt.
Day8Split, CroatiaSplit, Croatia
Next up is Split, one of Europe's sunniest cities and a popular destination for history-lovers, drawn by Roman Emperor Diocletian's incredible fourth-century palace. The complex is now home to shops, bars and restaurants, as well as a cathedral and private homes.
Day9Dubrovnik, CroatiaDubrovnik, Croatia
Today you arrive in Dubrovnik, with an ancient walled Old Town whose marble streets and stone palaces offer fantastic photo opportunities. Sights to look out for here include the baroque St. Blaise Church, Renaissance Sponza Palace and Gothic Rector's Palace, which is now a history museum.
Day10Kotor, MontenegroKotor, Montenegro
As you leave Croatia behind and approach the Montenegrin city of Kotor you'll be amazed by the city's Venetian ramparts. Coming ashore, explore this fortified town's many churches and winding alleys, with impressive limestone cliffs in the distance.
Day11Day at seaKotor, Montenegro
Enjoy a day at sea as you cruise towards Malta, making the most of the fantastic facilities on board Celebrity Constellation. Go for a swim in the outdoor pool, relax in the adults-only solarium, visit the ship's casino and sip a cocktail as you gaze out across the sun-soaked Mediterranean.
Day12Valletta, MaltaValletta, Malta
Uniquely positioned as an island gateway between east and west, Malta's culture is a fascinating historical blend of the various nations that have ruled over it prior to its independence in the 60s. As such, the capital Valletta is an exciting mix of Venetian and Arabic architecture, cuisine and customs, and features some of the most breathtaking palaces and cathedrals you'll see on this trip.
Day13Catania, SicilyCatania, Italy
Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and Normans have all left their mark on this ancient Sicilian port at the foot of Mount Etna, and a visit to the remains of the Roman amphitheatre is highly recommended. You'll also find plenty of charming cafes and wonderful local seafood restuarants ashore.
Day14Naples, ItalyNapoli, Italy
Your final full day is spent in the home of the pizza - Naples. Take a trip to nearby Mount Vesuvius for awe-inspiring views of the southern Italian coastline, and explore the preserved city of Pompeii to see how ordinary Romans lived centuries ago.
Day15Rome to LondonRome (Roma), Italy
Arrive in the Italian capital of Rome today where you'll bid farewell to your crew and fellow passengers, and transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Grand Hotel Dei Dogi
Stay in an elegant yet intimate palace, with private gardens, personalised service and a boutique feel
Elegant and authentic, the 64 rooms and suites at Grand Hotel dei Dogi have that joyful sense of colour and unrestrained decoration that mean you could only be in Venice. Your view is of either the lagoon or the private gardens, in rooms that have high ceilings, period furnishings and the glint of a Murano chandelier. The proportions conjure up a noble palazzo; but with the sensibility and attention to detail of a boutique hotel.