Up Close And Personal To The Very Best Of Greece And The Greek Islands Cruise Vacations
Its easy to fall under an eternal spell of romanticism during a cruise vacation in Greece and the Greek islands. The eastern reaches of the eastern Mediterranean were the crossroads of many influential civilizations of antiquity from Phoenicians to Mycenaeans to Athenians and still more, as historic sites bear witness throughout the islands of the Dodecanese chain. From the majesty of the Acropolis in Athens to the beauty of picture-perfect islands such as Mykonos and Patmos, Greece and the Greek islands cruise Vacation is an all-time classic destination that appeals to every sense. No other country has given the world so much cultural heritage. The countrys lauded history and multifaceted architecture blend with incredible natural settings in port cities like Kavala and Volos a spellbinding gateway to the otherworldly landscapes of Meteora in Thessaly, the lunar-like rocks of Sarakiniko Beach and blue-domed churches of Santorini.
The Thrill Of The Climb
Another great thing to do while in Greece are the daily tours of the volcano Nea Kameni, which is located on an uninhabited island close to Santorini, begin with a short boat ride, followed by a climb up to the volcanic craters that takes just over an hour. The tour then takes in hot springs and mud baths, where you can recharge your batteries.
Most Underrated Greek Islands
Greece has 227 inhabited islands. Thats an awful lot. Youd almost need to spend a year sailing around to see them all.
While that would no doubt be an amazing trip, I have only four days in Greece on board Holland America Lines MS Nieuw Statendam to sample some of its most popular destinations.
Its hard to imagine a better way to visit Greece than sailing on its clear-as-glass waters, stopping at a different port every day. You cant beat the countrys breathtaking rugged beauty, its ancient history with tales of the gods, wars and epics battles, or its comforting cheap and cheerful food served with a chilled ouzo, its velvet texture and aniseed aroma quite possibly the taste of Greece and the only constant as you move from destination to destination.
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Cruises To Greece Leaving From The Usa
The shortest cruise from the U.S. to Greece is a 25-day journey.
Greece, both the mainland and islands, is an ancient and storied tourist destination, a place of legend and real-life treasures with a seafaring heritage embraced in contemporary times by countless cruise passengers from all over the world. With the exception of epic around-the-world voyages, at the time of publication only a handful of cruises departing from the United States call at ports in Greece all on their way to Italy. They range from 25 to 47 days and call at numerous other European countries in addition to Greece.
Greek Isles Cruises Highlights
- Incredible views from the cruise ship of some of the various architecture around the islands and mainland
- Visit various wineries and taste some of the most incredible vintages that you will find anywhere
- Visit Athens, Sparta, Santorini, and Mykonos and enjoy the various beaches that keep tourists coming each year
- Enjoy the tepid crystal waters of the Aegean
- Indulge in some of the most unique and delicious food that you will not find anywhere else
- Learn about the histories and mythological tales from the locals and tour guides
- Partake in some of the excursions that are offered to have a much more immersive experience into the culture of the area
- Enjoy the benefits of having an all-inclusive ship so that you never have to worry about hotel accommodations during your trip
- Enjoy any of our onboard activities so that the fun can start before your arrival at any of our destinations
- The Greece Cruise is one of the most cost-efficient ways of visiting and touring Greece and the islands
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Traveling From The Us
There are few airlines that offer non-stop flights between the USA and Athens however, many offer one or two stop over flights. The following are the main airline companies that fly to Athens:
Delta Airlines offers direct flights from New York-JFK to Athens up to once or twice a day during peak season .
Since March 2017, Emirates has included non-stop flights between Newark and Athens and operate all year round.
During the summer months, American Airlines also offers daily flights from Philadelphia to Athens.
Greek Island Cruise Tips
Prepare for the sun. Temperatures can rise to more than 100 degrees on the Greek islands at the height of summer. You’ll want to protect yourself with plenty of sunscreen, a hat and lots of water. While it’s tempting to dive into the Aegean Sea without sun protection, you don’t want to ruin the rest of your trip.
Prepare for crowds. During the high season, the most popular islands can get jammed — not just with cruise passengers, but with people on holiday from Greece and the rest of Europe. Bring your patience and an open mind.
Prepare to tender. As noted earlier, tendering is the rule and not the exception on the Greek islands. Also bear in mind that most small towns in Greece have cobblestoned streets, and even the more populated islands like Santorini and Mykonos are difficult for people with mobility issues.
Prepare for price fluctuations. While mostly prosperous, the Greek islands have been hit with a continuous series of tax increases. The prices that you see online when you plan your trip might not be what you find when you’re actually on the islands.
What Are My Cruise Line Options For The Greek Islands
Most of the popular cruise lines offer Greek Islands cruises, and youll find seven to eleven-night sailings from Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Princess Cruises, and MSC Cruises.
It is also common to find sailings that combine a Mediterranean itinerary with a Greek Islands itinerary. These types of sailings are usually longer in duration, and very well worth it for anyone with the time to explore.
For a more upscale experience, join the Celebrity Apex and embark on a seven-night Greek Islands cruise out of Piraeus. If you prefer a longer cruise, Norwegian Getaway will take you on an unforgettable 10-night journey across the Mediterranean Sea and throughout the Greek Islands.
Cruise lines continue to announce new sailings and destinations that you can book now, setting sail as soon as this June. Stay up to date with our latest new sailings announcements.
*Please note, conditions to board vary per cruise line and per country of residence. All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictionsplease check government advisories before scheduling trips.
Cruises From Various Parts Of Europe
In summer, one of the most popular ways to travel in Europe is to book a cruise around the Mediterranean. Some of the biggest cruise ships dock in Piraeus . To mention a few:
- Royal Caribbean International offers a 7-night cruise departing from Venice around some of the Greek Islands and includes a stop at Athens.
- Seabourn also departs from Venice during a seven-night tour of the Greek Islands and stops the last day in Athens.
- Celebrity Reflection departs from Rome and stops in Athens.
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Best Time For Greek Island Cruises
The season in the Greek islands runs from May to late October. While July and August are the most popular for cruise ships, keep in mind that temperatures can top 100 degrees. June and September are probably the best months, as the tourist crush isn’t as thick and the climate is cooler. Another factor for wine-lovers: September is the grape harvest at Santorini’s vineyards.
What Cruise Lines Go To The Greek Isles
Once reserved for the elite class, the Greek Islands are now frequented by ships big and small. Which line to choose depends largely on which islands you’d like to visit the smaller the ship, the more hard-to-reach islands passengers can visit. These lines sail to Greece regularly, with a range of ports of call:
- Royal Caribbean Cruises: Often departing from Civitavecchia, Italy, Royal Caribbean’s Greek Isles cruises make stops in Katakolon, Athens, Mykonos, and Santorini. Shore excursions on these itineraries include a visit to the Agriturismo Magna Grecia Farm and a hike up Santorini’s famous Nea Kameni volcano.
- Regent Seven Seas Cruises: Sail with Regent to Greece from Barcelona on a Grand Mediterranean Cruise or round trip from Athens on a Majestic Greek Isles sailing. Regent visits Greek ports like Khios, Volos, Katakolon and Athens. Voyages are seven or more nights, with many including ports in Spain and Italy as well.
- Windstar Cruises: For yacht-style cruising and visits to less regularly trafficked ports, Windstar is a top choice. On an Athens to Athens voyage, Windstar travelers will visit nine UNESCO World Heritage Sites and stop in less-crowded ports like Nafplio and Patmos.
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Day 2 Delos & Mykonos
Enjoy breakfast, freshly prepared on the ship before joining an optional tour of Delos, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Apollo. The uninhabited island is a sacred place home to some of the most extensive ruins that date from the golden age of classical Greece, including a theater, temples and more. Well sail to Mykonos next, just a few miles away, making a stop for a refreshing swim along the route. The rest of the day can be enjoyed at your leisure, visiting the islands famous windmills and sampling the famous nightlife in one of the clubs.
Things You Need To Know When Planning A Cruise To The Greek Islands
Few places are as photographed and fantasized about as the Greek Islands.
You can visit Santorinis whitewashed houses and their blue domes perched high atop the steep cliffs, witness the incredible history of the Acropolis of Athens, or stroll around the cobblestone alleyways of romantic Mykonos.
That said, traveling the Greek Islands can be daunting: There are flights to secure, hotels to book, boat reservations to makeand that doesnt even begin to count your meals, entertainment and the like. Cruising the islands can take much of that guesswork out of the equation, and our local Expedia Cruises travel agents will ensure you maximize your time and money, so you can focus on enjoying the experience.
Here are a few of the most asked questions answered about planning your cruise to the Greek Islands:
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Best Of Greece Cruise
This enchanting 8-day small ship cruise through the Greek isles showcases both off-the-beaten path treasures and some of the most popular islands in the region. Experience everything from sacred Delos with its remarkable ancient ruins and unspoiled Kythira to glitzy Mykonos and Santorini with its famous caldera.
As you glide across the Aegean, occasionally stopping for swims in those alluring turquoise waters, expect plenty of luxuries aboard the ship along with an intimate atmosphere that allows for a more personalized experience along with exceptional service.
What Its Like Cruising In Greece Right Now
Ive been to Mykonos in previous years when at times you could hardly walk the narrow streets because they were so clogged with tourists, but that was not the case on this trip. There was no jostling to get into designer shops or tables at oceanfront restaurants. And you could pause and take photos of the picturesque, white-washed houses, windmills, and blue-domed churches without being photobombed.
Avoid the summer and you will also avoid the Mykonos crowds.
In Rhodes, my brother and I toured rooms at the Palace of the Grand Masters, built by the Order of St. John of Jerusalem, which occupied Rhodes from 1309 to 1523, with only a handful of other visitors in sight. On some summer days, with the normal gaggles of tourists, the place is so crowded that you cant even see the mosaic floors.
There is also the fall advantage that locals, recovering from the typically busy summer season, are getting back to their lives. Folks we encountered were universally welcoming and openly expressed gratitude that we had chosen to travel to Greece.
Hike to the towering Palamidi Fortress on Nafplion in the comfort of cooler fall weather.
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Princess Cruises: Western Mediterranean Grand Adventure
The Western Mediterranean Grand Adventure offered by Princess Cruises is a 25-day cruise starting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and ending in Rome. The journey begins with seven full days at sea while crossing the Atlantic to Madeira in Portugal. From there, it’s to the British territory of Gibraltar, followed by four ports in Spain Cartagena, the island of Mallorca and Barcelona then to Marseille, a gateway to the region of Provence, France. A day docked at Livorno, Italy, from which you can reach Florence and Pisa, precedes a full day at sea on the way to Greece. The following three days are spent at three different Greek destinations: Katakolon, a fishing village not far from the remarkable ruins of Olympia the isle of Mykonos, famous for its picturesque windmills and Santorini with its dramatic volcanic landscape. Leaving Greece, the ship sails through the longest fjord in Southern Europe to reach Kotor, Montenegro, then returns to Italy for a day in Naples, from which you can venture to Capri and Pompeii, before ultimately landing in Rome.
Greek Island Cruise Itineraries
Eastern Mediterranean: The larger Greek islands of Mykonos, Santorini and Crete are often part of longer itineraries that embark in Venice or Athens and end in Istanbul. Another popular cruise itinerary calls on the islands on the way to Israel. This is the most common way that cruisers experience the Greek islands.
Greece and Turkey: Many Greek island cruises include stops at Turkish port cities like Kusadasi and Bodrum. In Turkey, this stretch of coastline is called the Turquoise Coast, and its ancient history is similar to what you’ll find in Greece. A cruise that concentrates on Greece and Turkey often runs between Athens and Istanbul or runs round trip from Athens.
Greece Only: If you’re looking for true immersion in the Greek islands, look to smaller ships that concentrate solely on hopping between them. On these cruises, you’re likely to begin the day at one island for a swim or snorkel, head to another for a barbecue lunch and finish up with an overnight in one of the more happening ports to take advantage of the nightlife. These cruises usually sail round trip from Athens.
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The Best Fall Cruises In Greece
The big advantage of sailing around the Greek Isles by ship is that you can easily travel around the mainland coast and to several islands without the hassle of dealing with ferries, local flights, or searching for decent accommodationsthe ship is your home. And what better home than an ultra-luxurious ship such as the Seabourn Ovation, where everyone stays in a spacious suite, complimentary champagne flows freely, and you can order caviar whenever you have a craving?
Due to the pandemic, there were only 230 passengers on our sailing, few enough to make it feel like we were on our own private yacht at times, but also a sufficient number so that we could always find at least a small dance party at night. The crew of 415 memorized all the passengers names and served up excellent selections at the sushi restaurant, aged steaks and lobster Thermidor in the ships Thomas Keller steakhouse, dishes showcasing black truffle, caviar, and other gourmet ingredients in the Restaurant, and custom-designed craft cocktails. A favorite meal was a lavish Indian cuisine buffet at the Colonnade, the vessels casual dining spot.
This could be your home for the week while sailing in Greece with Seabourn.
Courtesy of Seabourn
Popular Greek Isles Cruise Ports
Greece is home to more than 200 inhabited islands in the Aegean and Ionian seas. These are three of the most popular destinations to visit on a Greek Islands cruise:
- Santorini, Greece: Step out of a postcard and into Santorini’s weaving roads lined with white-washed buildings and blue-domed roofs overlooking a glimmering sea. With beaches shaped by volcanic eruptions and wine producers dotting the island, Santorini is the perfect place to kick back and relax.
- Mykonos, Greece: Known for its spectacular beaches and delicious Mediterranean food – think olives, cheese, honey, and pistachios – Mykonos is a must-see destination while in Greece. On the island, you can visit the Archaeological Museum of Mykonos to see ruins from nearby Delos, the birthplace of Apollo, or rent ATVs to explore the island’s rolling hills on your own.
- Athens, Greece: Greece’s capital, known as the cradle of Western Civilization, is a history-lover’s paradise. Visit the Acropolis, the Temple of Poseidon, the Theater of Dionysus and the Parthenon, as well as museums like the Museum of the City of Athens and the Museum of Cycladic Art.
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Greek Isles Cruise Packages
Anyone you ask will tell you that the absolute best time to visit Greece is in the spring and early summer months , or in the autumn . When visiting at these times you often avoid the summer high season, which comes with crowds of people and inflated prices. While lodging won’t be a concern, Easter weekend can be pretty busy, and many museums and other tourist areas are closed for the entire weekend. You will also find that visiting in the spring and in autumn will provide you with some of the best weather. During the months of July and August, the temperatures can be unbearably hot and you might find yourself enjoying shelter indoors rather than exploring the areas around the ports.