Why Are Cruise Ships Heading To Greece
Well, for starters, besides opening to tourists, Greece is among the first countries in the world to allow cruise ships to sail its waters, which is great news for companies that have kept their ships still for over a year. And, according to cruise industry insiders, people want to sail.
At the same time, in an attempt to re-ignite interest and restore trust, cruise companies are not only offering flexible payment, refund, and booking options, they have also slashed prices and are offering free rebooking for departures in 2022.
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For some, traveling or taking a cruise sounds risky, particularly in view of the COVID-19 developments. For Greece however, which relies heavily on tourism, reopening to travelers is critical and cruise companies are welcoming the decision to allow their ships to service out of the country.
At the same time, Greece welcomes the interest and arrival of global cruise giants after repeated efforts in the past few years to establish Greek ports as homeports, which would significantly increase revenue generated by passengers.
That said, at least two of the worlds leading cruise companies will be homeporting from Greece this year for the first time.
Greece has traditionallytogether with Italy and Spainbeen among the top three destinations for cruise travel in Europe.
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:
Major Cruise Operators To Restart Greece Cruises In July
Norwegian Cruise Lines and other cruise operators recently announced their first Greece cruises after the pandemic-ravaged past year, beginning in July of 2021.
All the companies says they expect a phased-in approach to restarting cruises, while taking into account the public health environment, global travel restrictions and port availability, among other considerations.
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When Is The Best Time To Go To The Greek Isles
Summer is the most popular time to visit Greece, with warm weather perfect for sunbathing and cooling off in the island’s surrounding deep blue waters. June through September is peak season, with July and August seeing the most frequent sailings. During these times, it can get very hot, with temperatures reaching into the 90s , so much sure to stay hydrated and pack light, cool clothes.
Theyre Getting Lots Of Attention
There are more than 900 crew members sailing currently. With reduced passenger capacity at about 700, the ratio is more than one crew member per passenger. Translation: The service has been phenomenal in every way, with a number of staff always around to help. And it isnt just the ship that feels empty several locals mentioned theyve never seen the streets of Santorini and Mykonos so uncrowded great for travelers who like their space.
The Best Small Ship Cruises To The Greek Islands
The Greek islands are amongst Europe’s most appealing cruisedestinations, home to dazzling white sugarcube villages, gorgeousbeaches, enticing tavernas and the sun-baked ruins of ancientcivilisations.
A cruise is the perfect way to experience the best of Greece,allowing you to hop from island to island without worrying aboutferry timetables and hotel reservations. Not all Greek islandcruises are created equal, however. Popular islands such asSantorini and Mykonos feature on the itineraries of all the maincruise lines, and although they undeniably have their charms, theycan be overrun with day-trippers during the summer high season. Asmall ship cruise, on the other hand, allows you to visit thesmaller, quieter islands that the big ships can’t reach, placeswhere you’ll have idyllic beaches and stunning ruins almost toyourself.
Most cruises focused on the Greek islands will be round-tripitineraries from Athens, but you’ll also find voyages that combineGreece with Italy, Croatia and the Adriatic, using Venice or Romeas turnaround ports. Some cruises also include the Holy Land orpass through the islands on repositioning voyages towards theMiddle East, while others include ports on the Aegean coast ofTurkey, with some voyages beginning or ending in the wonderful cityof Istanbul.
Here is our guide to six of the best small ship cruise linesvisiting the Greek Islands:
Cruises To Santorini And The Greek Islands
7 reasons not to do a Santorini cruise:
1. You get a very limited amount of time on the island .
2. You only see the island when its densely crowded with other cruise ship passengers .
3. You wont be around to see the sunset, when Santorini is at its most beautiful.
4. You wont have time to do any of the best Santorini tours: a catamaran tour of the caldera, a boat tour to the volcano, a winery tour, a photography tour, a fishing tour.
5. Youll only visit the most crowded and touristy locations on the island and miss out on Santorinis charming traditional villages like Pyrgos, Emporio, and Megalochori.
6. There is only one access point from the cruise ships to the island the old port of Santorini. This tiny port gets absolutely overwhelmed with cruise ship passengers and makes for a terrible introduction to the island.
7. Cruises are floating Petri dishes of disease and illness.
After the shore excursions have returned to the ship and the cruises have departed, Santorini returns to a calmer and more tranquil pace. If you can stay a few nights on the Santorini, youll see a completely different side of the towns, restaurants, and attractions. Its just much more fun, more relaxing, and more beautiful on the island after the cruise ships have sailed away. And if you arrived on this page after watching the absolutely awful Santorini show by Rick Steves just ignore everything that guy recommends about seeing the Greek islands. I bet any local would tell you the same.
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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.
Second Guest Flies Free Offer
Pay airfare for one guest, and you’ll automatically lock-in roundtrip flights for two. Secure these savings online by choosing your nearest airport in step one of your cruise booking, and enjoy air-to-sea made easy. We’ll coordinate your roundtrip flights, and transportation between the airport and cruise port.
Find this offer on 4+ Day Cruises to this destination and beyond.
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About 50 Are Children
The hotel staff told me there are about 50 passengers younger than 18 on board for this voyage. Although Ive seen a few toddlers, most seem to be teenagers. On my Santorini excursion, I also met a family of four two parents traveling with their two teenage daughters, one of whom was celebrating her high school graduation. They were originally booked on a Mediterranean sailing in 2020, but that fell through due to the pandemic, so they rescheduled on this one instead.
Santorini Cruises What To Know
Large cruise ships in the Santorini caldera great to look at, but cruises are a lousy way to experience Santorini. Please, if you come to Santorini dont do it on a cruise.
This is what visiting the island is like when you come to Santorini on a cruise: You walk around the busiest parts of the island as part of a large group. Youve got limited time and can only see a few spots in Fira and Oia.
Heres one of the large tour groups from a cruise. Are you in group 20?
Maybe youre in group 22?
Or maybe its 32? Regardless: this sucks.
Yay, you get your own sticker. Thanks, but no thanks.
This looks fun: waiting for the cable car ride back to the cruise port.
This is just a small part of the line it can stretch far back and around a corner. Occasionally cruise passengers will be left behind on the island because they cant get back to the ship in time. They then have to arrange their own transportation to another island to meet-up with the cruise. Certainly this is rare, but its always in the back of your mind: what time is it? we cant miss our departure time.
Oia is a great town, but everyone staying on the island knows: dont go mid-day because its packed with tours from the cruise ships.
This is the Santorini you get to experience when you stay on the island and enjoy it at your own pace.
Get up early and there are more donkeys on the streets than people.
A quiet breakfast view in Imerovigli.
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Tours From Cruise Ships
Many cruise companies discourage the use of taxi and limo companies for private tours in destinations like Rhodes, Athens, Crete, Santorini and places in Turkey. Whether this is to ‘protect’ the passenger or because the cruise ships themselves offer tours I don’t know . I do know that you can get excellent service from taxi companies which offer personalized tours, many of whom charge by the trip and not by the person. These tours are like having a local host show you around the islands, towns and cities that they know. Instead of eating in some giant tourist trap that accommodates the dozens of people who take the bus tours, you can go to small tavernas where the locals eat, on quietstreets or on the sea.
These are some drivers I recommend:
In Athens of course there isGeorge the Famous Taxi Driver who is now something of an international hero for his tours of Athens, the mainland and his ability to get customers from the boats to the airport or hotels comfortably and quickly. George, like the other drivers listed here is non-smoking, English-speaking, knowlegable and drives a very comfortable air-conditioned Mercedes.For groups of more than 4 there is his son Dennis, in the photo above, with his beautiful luxury Mercedes limo that seats 7 plus the driver. For even larger groups there is son Billy with their Mercedes Bus able to seat 12 people. You can e-mail them at
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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Greek Islands: Best Cruises And Sailing Adventures
SantoriniRhodesMykonosKosChaniapolitical and economic turmoilJust Cruisin’ PlusGeorgios MakkasAzamara QuestSample Itineraries: MykonosSantoriniDubrovnikYannis LefakisCosta CruisesCosta MediterraneapalazziMediterraneaSample Itineraries:MykonosSantoriniDubrovnikWindstar Cruises Wind SpiritSample Itinerary:MykonosSantoriniRhodesEphesusKusadasiSeaDream Yacht Club SeaDream ISeaDream IISample SeaDream I ItineraryHydraSantorini,Sample SeaDream II Itinerary:Athens KusadasiSantoriniHydra docked in Patmos, GreeceJennifer BradyViking StarSample Itineraries: Yannis LefakisCrystal SerenitySample Itineraries:Mykonos, Dubrovnik, Yannis LefakisLouis MajestySample Itinerary:MykonosEphesusKusadasiPatmosRhodesSantoriniNorweigan Cruise Line Norweigan Jade Sample Itinerary:Venice DubrovnikAthensKusadasi
: Margaret Barrett
Georgios MakkasSample Itinerary:Ocean PrincessSample Itinerary:Georgios MakkasSea CloudSample Itinerary:Courtesy Swan Hellenic Minerva Sample Itinerary:Yannis LefakisTravel DynamicsSample Itineraries:Yannis LefakisAegean OdysseySample Itinerary:
We’re Back Norwegian Is Cruising To Greece This Summer
Sail aboard Norwegian Jade as we get ready break free this summer. As part of our first available sailings, experience a 7-day Greek Isles cruise from Athens to Santorini and its famed blue-domed villages, Corfu’s rolling vineyards, and the islands’ breathtakingly beautiful coastlines. Explore the best of the Greek Isles on this port-intensive itinerary.
The Best Yacht Cruises For Santorini & The Greek Islands
All of these sailing tours are with G Adventures a fantastic company that offers unique boat tours of the Greek islands on 15m charter yachts. A skipper/captain/tour-guide is on the boat the entire trip. Theres a kitchen and 3 bathrooms, safety vests, and snorkeling equipment. Some meals onboard, some on land. These tours sell out quickly so book as early as possible. Dates vary by tour but most begin sailing in late April or early May and run until mid or late October.
Yacht cruise of the Greek islands. Eat on board, swim and snorkel at private beaches, and sail around the Greek islands at your own pace.
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.
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What About The Smaller Boats That Do Greek Island Cruises
In my opinion this is a great way to go. Yes it is a cruise except there are only from 5 to 25 cabins meaning there are only 10 to 40 people on your boat instead of hundreds or thousands. They are mostly old style wooden sailboats though they mostly travel using the engines. And unlike a cruise where you wait in lineto get on and off the ships and sometimes have to use smaller boats to get to shore because they are too big for the harbor, these boats pull up to the dock and you get on and off as you like. They also stop in quiet coves and beaches for swimming, fishing and lunch. The famous Captain Alexander Matsakis does cruises of the Cyclades, Sporades and the Ionian Islands and is something of a legend. Besides his weekly scheduled cruises his boats can be chartered as well. See Greece Sail Cruises and Charters.
Greek Island Cruise Video
This video was made by filmaker Andy Emery during his honeymoon in the fall of 2009. It gives you a pretty good idea of what a cruise of the Greek Islands and Turkey is like.
You can get discounted rates for cruises by going to Fantasy Travel’s Cruise for inexpensive packages that includes a 4 day cruise, 3 nights in Athens and Delphi.
Romance And Culture Await On A Greek Island Cruise
Its no wonder the Greek Islands have always been a perennial favorite of travelers. Greece is a magical, romantic destination where you can wander alongside stunning coastlines, explore the ruins of ancient cultures, and dine on fresh Mediterranean cuisine all in one vacation.
On one of our luxury Greek Island cruises, explore far-flung beaches, drift out to sea on catamarans and kayaks, and duck into tiny tavernas where you can eat and drink like a local. From the sun-soaked stone buildings in Santorini to the white-sand beaches that beckon in Mykonos, a Greece cruise is the best way to experience the captivating Greek Islands.
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