by Andrew Browning on Oct 14, 2011
The Greek isles are an excellent and diverse destination that I would recommend to couples and families alike. Cruising the Greek isles offers a nice combination of history, culture, and natural beauty.
Our Greek Isles Yacht cruise began from Marina Zea. I arrived in the Athenian yacht harbor at about mid-day and I inspected 4 vessels before boarding the Harmony V for an 8 day Classical Greece itinerary. The vessels were all very nice and were unique as well. They are represented on our website in our Mediterranean destination
We boarded the Harmony V in the afternoon and were underway heading towards Mykonos right away. Cruising aboard the Harmony V offers an exclusive option that gives a sense of being aboard a friendís private yacht hopping from island to island in the Mediterranean. Breakfast is always included and when the vessel is in port either lunch or Dinner will be included. This is nice because it goes you the chance to strike out on your own and discover restaurants while in port. This freedom to explore the towns and islands of Greece was one of my favorite parts of this voyage. My favorite photos from this trip came from wandering the narrow pathways of the whitewashed towns; discovering excellent food and wine along the way.
On the first morning after boarding in Athens, we arrived to Mykonos which is known for its popular beaches and lively atmosphere. In the morning the crew offered an optional guided tour to the famous Delos Archaeological site. There are a few optional tours offered during the voyage and they are an additional cost. Being the Delos is not to be missed; almost everyone took the guided tour of Delos. A special expert guide met us at the pier and we took a short ferry over to Delos which is on a neighboring island. The site is known for the Delian Lions that line the main ancient road and also for the multitude of ancient cultures that inhabited this island as an important trade center. There are structures built by Grecian, Venetian, and Egyptian islanders that are standing today. For the active traveler there is also a hike you can do to a small summit with views of the surrounding islands. We took this hike before catching the last ferry back to Mykonos.
In the afternoon a few fellow passengers and I rented motos and rode all around Mykonos before arriving at a nice beach for the afternoon. We had a great time and became friends for the rest of the trip. Other passengers strolled through town and got their first taste of Greek hospitality.
The intimate nature of yacht cruising allows you to get to know the crew and other travelers in a fun and unhurried environment which is a big difference between this trip and going aboard a big cruise ship in the Mediterranean. The passengers on our voyage hailed from all over Europe, the USA, Australia, and Russia. It was a diverse group and I made some friends during this voyage which was great because I was travelling alone during my entire Europe trip. The kitchen staff did an excellent job catering to special dietary requests and serving a variety of Mediterranean inspired cuisine. The hospitality crew aboard the Harmony V were attentive and always in high spirits. They kept the vessel and all of the rooms very clean.
We spent the next few days hopping between islands and small ports. Some of the itinerary needed to be changed because we encountered stormy weather. As such we visited the ports of Syros and Paros which were not normal stops on the itinerary. I liked these places, especially Paros because it was an island that very few tourists visit. The crew did a good job of showing us these places even though they were not part of the standard itinerary. It was fun to explore these towns at our leisure and to interact with local people along the way.
Many travelers on our cruise were most excited about visiting the iconic islands of Santorini. Santorini is considered to be one of the most romantic islands in the world. The small cafes and homes that line the cliffs have excellent sunset views and are generally filled with visitors from all over the world. Santorini is interesting to visit by boat because when you arrive you go ashore at sea level but the main sites are all on the cliffs about 900 ft above you. You can take a gondola ride to the top, ride mules up the cobblestone switchbacks, or hike up next to the mule riders. I opted for the latter because I wanted some exercise. It was definitely a strenuous climb and the mules have the right of way. I would recommend that travelers take the gondola on the way up and then maybe hike down. The hike down was much easier and has nice views of the ocean. During our visit to Santorini, I participated in the guided tour of Santorini which included stops at museums, the picturesque town of Oia, and a wine tasting stop overlooking the ocean. We also had some time on our own to have lunch and to explore. I took a lot of photos here of the cliffside town of Oia overlooking the ocean and I also found a really great restaurant that was off the main path. Earlier in the day, the port was busy with other cruise ship passengers but they had all gone back onboard and so we had some time to enjoy the island with more ease of movement which was nice.
Our last couple days onboard we had excellent weather and we made our way back towards Athens with stops in Hydra and Poros. We enjoyed the sun filled days and the calm seas that led us back to Athens. The cruise was a great mix of cultural interaction, historical exploration, and luxurious relaxation. Upon arriving back to Athens we said our goodbyes to the crew and to our new friends. It was a wonderful cruise and I look forward to exploring the Mediterranean further on future voyages.
Additional photos from this incredible voyage can be viewed on the AdventureSmith Explorations Facebook photo album page