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Planning the Best Cruise of the Greek Islands: Expert Tips & Tricks

Ah, the Greek Islands. A tapestry of azure waters, golden sunsets, and tales as old as time. Whether you’re captivated by the romance of Santorini’s sunsets or the pulsating energy of Mykonos’ nightlife, cruising the Greek Islands promises a voyage of discovery and delight.

This guide is your ultimate compass, filled with expert tips and tricks to ensure your cruise of the Greek Islands is nothing short of legendary. Whether you’re a seasoned cruiser or a first-timer eager to feel the embrace of the Mediterranean sun, grab your cruise planner and let’s set sail together into the heart of the Aegean.

Cruise of the Greek Islands

Why Choose a Greek Islands Cruise?

Cruising might often be seen as a luxurious escape, a retreat from the world where your every need is catered to. However, when it comes to the Greek Islands, cruising becomes more than just luxury; it’s a gateway to a mosaic of experiences that no other form of travel can parallel.

Here’s why a cruise of the Greek Islands should be your next holiday choice:

  1. Diverse Island Cultures in One Trip: Each Greek island has its own unique flavor. From the cosmopolitan vibes of Mykonos to the tranquility of Hydra, a cruise allows you to experience a range of cultures, histories, and landscapes within a short time span. Why limit yourself to one, when you can savor many?
  2. Convenience and Comfort: Imagine visiting multiple picturesque islands without the hassle of repacking, catching ferries, or checking in and out of hotels. Your cruise ship is not just your transportation but also your comfortable hotel, floating from one paradise to another.
  3. Endless Exploration: With scheduled stops, travelers get ample time to explore each island’s gems at their own pace. Whether you prefer organized excursions or wandering around on your own, you’re guaranteed rich experiences at every port of call.
  4. Unparalleled Views: There’s nothing like witnessing the majesty of the Greek Islands from the sea. Whether you’re sipping a cocktail during a golden sunset or waking up to the breathtaking coastline, cruising offers views that land-based holidays simply can’t match.
  5. All-Inclusive Luxury: Most cruises offer all-inclusive packages that include meals, accommodation, entertainment, and sometimes even excursions. This not only provides great value for money but also ensures a hassle-free vacation.
  6. Meet Like-minded Travelers: A cruise is a melting pot of cultures and personalities. It offers a unique opportunity to forge new friendships, share experiences, and create memories with fellow travelers from around the globe.
  7. Tailored Experiences: Today’s cruises cater to a wide array of interests. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, a family vacation, or an adrenaline-fueled adventure, there’s a Greek Islands cruise tailor-made for you.

In essence, choosing a cruise of the Greek Islands is opting for a blend of discovery, relaxation, and luxury. It’s about embracing the magic of the Mediterranean, where every sunrise brings a new island to explore and every sunset seals the memories of a day well spent. If the Greek Islands are the jewels of the Aegean, then cruising is your treasure chest, waiting to be opened.

Greek Islands cruise

Choosing the Right Cruise for You

The journey on a cruise of the Greek Islands is sure to be mesmerizing, but the experience can vary greatly depending on the type of cruise you opt for.

Your perfect cruise choice depends on your personal preferences, budget, and what you want to get out of your journey. Let’s navigate the waters and help you find the best fit:

Budget Cruises:

  • Pros: These cruises offer an affordable gateway to the Greek Islands. They generally have basic amenities but still provide a comfortable experience.
  • Cons: Limited onboard activities, fewer dining options, and perhaps fewer stops or shorter times at each port.
  • What to Expect: A no-frills journey that covers popular islands and offers basic onboard entertainment.

Luxury Cruises:

  • Pros: Premium services, gourmet dining experiences, spacious cabins, a plethora of onboard activities, and often exclusive or less crowded ports of call.
  • Cons: A heftier price tag. However, the level of luxury and personal attention can make it worth the investment.
  • What to Expect: A lavish experience with meticulous attention to detail, from room service to curated shore excursions.

Adventure/Specialty Cruises:

  • Pros: Tailored experiences such as sailing adventures, diving expeditions, or historical and cultural tours. Ideal for those with specific interests.
  • Cons: Might not cover all the mainstream islands or activities if they focus on niche experiences.
  • What to Expect: A unique, focused journey catering to a particular interest or theme. For instance, a cruise emphasizing Greek mythology might delve deep into the tales of each island, visiting significant historical sites.

cruising the greek islands

Factors to Consider When Choosing Your Cruise:

  • Duration: From short weekend getaways to extended voyages, how long do you wish to sail?
  • Onboard Facilities: Prioritize your needs, be it spas, fitness centers, gourmet dining, or entertainment options.
  • Ports of Call: Which islands are on your must-visit list? Check the itinerary to ensure your desired destinations are covered.
  • Travel Dates: Some islands are best visited during specific times of the year. Also, consider peak tourist seasons if you prefer a quieter experience.
  • Size of the Ship: Larger ships offer more amenities but might not access smaller ports. Smaller ships provide a more intimate experience and can sail to less frequented islands.
  • Reviews and Recommendations: Past travelers’ experiences can offer invaluable insights. Check reviews, ask for recommendations, and maybe even join online cruise forums.

Remember Your Why:

At the heart of it all, why are you taking this cruise? For relaxation? Adventure? Cultural immersion? Ensure your chosen cruise aligns with your primary reason for traveling.

Selecting the right cruise is akin to setting the stage for your Greek Island adventure. By ensuring the backdrop fits your dream, the ensuing journey can unfold like a well-scripted play, with each day being a scene of awe, wonder, and cherished memories.

Whether you’re cruising on a budget, in the lap of luxury, or on a thematic voyage, a cruise of the Greek Islands will always welcome you with their timeless charm. Just make sure your vessel of choice complements the magic!

greek cruise destinations

Top Greek Islands to Visit

The Greek archipelago is studded with over 6,000 islands and islets, each with its own tale to tell. While it’s impossible to visit them all in a single journey, some islands stand out as must-visit destinations.

Here’s a look at the crème de la crème of the Greek Islands that double as cruise ports, waiting to capture your heart:

Santorini

Santorini:

  • Highlight: Famed for its spellbinding sunsets, caldera views, and iconic blue-domed churches.
  • What to Do: Wander through the charming streets of Oia, visit the ancient ruins of Akrotiri, and sample local wines at cliffside vineyards.

Mykonos

Mykonos:

  • Highlight: Known as the party capital of the Greek Islands, it boasts beautiful beaches and a buzzing nightlife.
  • What to Do: Explore the winding streets of Mykonos Town, visit the iconic windmills, and dance the night away at world-renowned beach clubs.
  • Check out our Mykonos cruise port guide!

Crete

Crete:

  • Highlight: The largest of the Greek Islands, Crete offers a rich tapestry of experiences from history to nature.
  • What to Do: Visit the ancient Minoan palace of Knossos, hike the Samaria Gorge, and relish the island’s culinary delights in traditional tavernas.

Rhodes

Rhodes:

  • Highlight: Steeped in history, the island is home to the medieval Old Town of Rhodes, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • What to Do: Stroll the Street of the Knights, explore the Palace of the Grand Master, and relax on the many sun-kissed beaches.

Corfu

Corfu:

  • Highlight: Lush landscapes meet Venetian influence on this Ionian island.
  • What to Do: Roam the charming streets of Corfu Town, visit the Achilleion Palace, and enjoy the vistas from Mount Pantokrator.

Naxos

Naxos:

  • Highlight: A perfect blend of ancient ruins, sandy beaches, and traditional villages.
  • What to Do: Visit the Temple of Apollo’s Portara, explore the old Kastro district, and savor the island’s unique Kitron liqueur.

the cheapest greek island paros

Paros:

  • Highlight: A balanced mix of traditional Greek charm and modern attractions.
  • What to Do: Visit the Church of Ekatontapiliani in Parikia, explore the picturesque village of Naoussa, and windsurf at the Golden Beach.
  • Check out our Paros guide!

Milos

Milos:

  • Highlight: Known for its unique volcanic landscapes and myriad of beaches.
  • What to Do: Take a boat tour around the island to discover hidden caves, visit the ancient theater near Tripiti, and relax at the Sarakiniko beach with its moon-like landscapes.

Hydra

Hydra:

  • Highlight: A car-free island that offers an authentic Greek experience.
  • What to Do: Wander through Hydra town, visit historical mansions, and enjoy local art at various galleries.

Kos

Kos:

  • Highlight: Rich in history with Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman influences.
  • What to Do: Explore the ancient ruins of Agora, visit the Asclepieion sanctuary, and cycle around this bike-friendly island.

Embarking on a cruise through the Greek Islands is akin to opening a book with countless stories. Each island, with its distinct character and allure, offers a new chapter of adventures, awaiting to be etched in your travel memoirs. Whether you’re seeking romance, history, adventure, or relaxation, these islands ensure that your Greek odyssey is nothing short of epic.

Cyclades

Different Types of Greek Island Itineraries

The enchanting Greek Islands beckon with their rich history, stunning landscapes, and crystal-clear waters. With over 200 inhabited islands to explore, cruising is one of the best ways to soak in their allure. But where do you start? There’s an itinerary tailored to every traveler’s desires. Here’s a breakdown of the various cruise of the Greek Islands options to help you navigate your choices:

Iconic Cyclades Circuit:

  • Duration: Typically 7-10 days.
  • Key Stops: Santorini, Mykonos, Paros, Naxos, and Delos.
  • Highlights: Whitewashed buildings, famous sunsets, vibrant nightlife, and archaeological sites like the Sanctuary of Delos.

Historical and Mythological Odyssey:

  • Duration: 7-12 days.
  • Key Stops: Crete, Rhodes, Kos, Delos, and Patmos.
  • Highlights: Visit the ancient Minoan Palace of Knossos, explore the medieval Old Town of Rhodes, and uncover the Cave of the Apocalypse on Patmos.

Dodecanese Delight:

  • Duration: 7 days.
  • Key Stops: Rhodes, Kos, Patmos, Leros, and Symi.
  • Highlights: Rich history, medieval architecture, and azure beaches. Symi’s Neo-Classical mansions and Patmos’ monasteries are a must-see.

Saronic Jewels:

  • Duration: 3-7 days.
  • Key Stops: Hydra, Poros, Aegina, and Spetses.
  • Highlights: Close to Athens, offering quaint towns, car-free Hydra, and the Temple of Aphaia on Aegina.

Ionian Exploration:

  • Duration: 7-10 days.
  • Key Stops: Corfu, Kefalonia, Zakynthos, and Lefkada.
  • Highlights: Lush landscapes, Venetian architecture in Corfu, and the famed Navagio Beach in Zakynthos.

Northern Aegean Adventure:

  • Duration: 7-10 days.
  • Key Stops: Lesbos, Chios, Samos, and Lemnos.
  • Highlights: Petrified forests, mastic villages in Chios, and rich historical sites.

Relaxed Small-Ship Cruising:

  • Duration: 5-14 days.
  • Key Stops: Varies, but may include lesser-known islands like Folegandros, Sifnos, or Ikaria.
  • Highlights: Smaller vessels allow for a more intimate experience, accessing secluded coves and hidden harbors.

Luxury Yacht Charter:

  • Duration: Customizable, from a weekend to several weeks.
  • Key Stops: Tailored to your preferences.
  • Highlights: A personalized itinerary, private crew, and the luxury of choosing your pace and destinations.

Theme-Based Cruises:

  • Duration: Varies, typically 7-10 days.
  • Key Stops: Depends on the theme, e.g., culinary cruises might focus on islands known for gastronomy.
  • Highlights: Dive deep into specific interests such as Greek mythology, culinary delights, or water sports.

Combination Cruises:

  • Duration: 10-21 days.
  • Key Stops: A mix of Greek Islands with other destinations like Turkey’s coastline.
  • Highlights: Experience a blend of cultures, landscapes, and historical sites, combining the best of multiple regions.

Choosing the right Greek Islands cruise itinerary is all about aligning with your interests, travel style, and duration preferences. Whether you’re looking for history, relaxation, adventure, or gourmet delights, there’s a cruise that’s just right for your odyssey on a cruise of the Greek Islands.

Mediterranean Small Ship Cruises

Small Ship vs. Large Ship

The Greek Islands, with their charming villages, rich history, and shimmering waters, are a paradise for cruise enthusiasts. As you decide on the type of ship to embark on, you’ll notice the choices range from intimate small vessels to grand floating cities. Each has its distinct charm, advantages, and limitations. Here’s a comprehensive comparison to help you make an informed choice:

Small Ship Cruises

Advantages:

  1. Intimate Experience: Smaller guest numbers allow for a more personalized onboard atmosphere.
  2. Access to Secluded Ports: Navigate into smaller harbors, anchor in hidden coves, and visit lesser-known islands that large ships can’t reach.
  3. Onboard Community: It’s easier to get to know fellow passengers, fostering a sense of camaraderie.
  4. Shorter Embarkation/Disembarkation: With fewer passengers, getting on and off the ship is often more streamlined and quicker.
  5. Close to Nature: Many small ships have open decks, allowing passengers to be closer to the sea and landscapes.
  6. Local and Authentic Experiences: Excursions from small ships often focus on authentic local experiences, diving deeper into the culture and history of places.

Limitations:

  1. Fewer Amenities: Smaller ships may not have multiple dining options, theaters, or expansive fitness centers.
  2. Varied Stability: They might be more affected by rough seas, which could be an issue for those prone to seasickness.
  3. Lesser Entertainment Options: The onboard entertainment may be limited compared to larger vessels.

cruise port st thomas

Large Ship Cruises

Advantages:

  1. Abundance of Amenities: From expansive spas, multiple dining options, theaters, and even climbing walls, there’s always something to do.
  2. Stability: Larger ships often provide a smoother ride, especially beneficial in rougher waters.
  3. Diverse Entertainment: Nightly shows, themed parties, workshops, and more ensure passengers are never bored.
  4. Variety of Accommodations: Guests can choose from a range of cabin types, from inside rooms to expansive suites with private balconies.
  5. All-Inclusive Packages: Many large ships offer packages that include drinks, Wi-Fi, and even shore excursions.

Limitations:

  1. Crowds: Popular activities, dining venues, or excursions can get crowded.
  2. Impersonal Experience: With thousands of passengers, the experience might feel less intimate.
  3. Limited Access to Smaller Ports: Due to their size, they often dock at larger ports, requiring additional transport or longer travel times to reach specific destinations.
  4. Environmental Impact: Larger ships can have a more significant environmental footprint.

Your ideal Greek Islands cruise largely depends on your travel preferences:

  • If you value intimacy, the chance to explore hidden gems, and a close-knit onboard community, small ship cruising might be your best bet.
  • However, if you’re looking for a plethora of onboard activities, entertainment options, and the grandeur of a floating resort, a large ship cruise could be the right choice.

Remember, the journey is as important as the destination. Whether aboard a quaint sailing yacht or a majestic cruise liner, a cruise of the Greek Islands promise an unforgettable adventure.

greek cruises

Top Cruise Lines for Greek Island Cruises

The Greek Islands are a perennial favorite among travelers, and numerous cruise lines offer voyages through this iconic archipelago. When choosing a cruise line, it’s important to consider the type of experience you’re seeking, be it luxury, adventure, family-focused, or a more intimate sailing. Here’s a comprehensive list of top cruise lines that sail the Greek waters, with a brief overview of what each one offers:

Celebrity Cruises

  • Renowned for its modern luxury, Celebrity offers a blend of stylish staterooms, gourmet cuisine, and a diverse range of excursions. Their ships often feature innovative amenities like the Magic Carpet and rooftop gardens while offering premium upgrades like AquaClass suites!

Royal Caribbean

  • One of the biggest names in cruising, Royal Caribbean boasts a fleet of mega-ships packed with activities, from surf simulators to Broadway-style shows. They have plenty of options to customize your experience from drinking packages to shore excursions. Their itineraries cover popular Greek destinations and offer fun for all ages.

Seabourn

  • Embodying luxury at sea, Seabourn offers all-suite accommodations, fine dining, and personalized service. Their smaller ships provide access to lesser-known Greek locales, ensuring a more intimate experience.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL)

  • NCL is known for its “Freestyle Cruising,” allowing guests flexibility in dining, entertainment, and onboard activities. Their ships frequent major Greek ports, with a range of shore excursions.

Viking Ocean Cruises

  • Focusing on destination immersion, Viking offers culturally enriching itineraries that delve deep into the history and heritage of the Greek Islands. Their all-inclusive pricing and adult-only policy ensure a serene journey.

MSC Cruises

  • MSC combines Mediterranean flair with modern amenities. Their ships, often featuring Swarovski staircases and expansive pool areas, offer diverse itineraries covering Greece’s major highlights.

Azamara

  • A boutique cruise line, Azamara is known for its extended port stays and “AzAmazing Evenings”—exclusive cultural events crafted for their guests. They focus on immersive local experiences in the Greek Islands.

Oceania Cruises

  • Catering to the discerning traveler, Oceania offers gourmet culinary programs inspired by Master Chef Jacques Pépin and itineraries that balance well-known and off-the-beaten-path ports.

Windstar Cruises

  • Embracing the charm of yacht cruising, Windstar’s smaller vessels navigate secluded harbors and coves, offering an intimate Greek Island experience. Sail-powered and motorized yachts provide unique voyages.

Celestyal Cruises

  • Specializing in the Aegean, Celestyal offers authentic Greek experiences, from local cuisine onboard to immersive shore excursions. They pride themselves on showcasing the true essence of Greece.

Disney Cruise Line

  • Perfect for families, Disney offers magical experiences onboard, with beloved characters and themed entertainment. Their Greek itineraries ensure adventure and fun for kids and adults alike.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

  • The epitome of luxury, Regent offers all-inclusive cruises with lavish suites, gourmet dining, and curated excursions. Their approach is to provide unmatched elegance at sea.

Whichever line you choose, cruising the Greek Islands is bound to be an unforgettable experience. Consider your preferences—whether they lie in luxury, adventure, family fun, or cultural immersion—and select the cruise line that aligns best with your dream Greek voyage.

cruise packing tips

Packing and Preparation

Embarking on a cruise to the Greek Islands is undeniably thrilling, but it also demands careful planning and preparation. Packing appropriately not only enhances your comfort but also ensures you make the most out of every moment. Let’s help you chart your course to a well-prepared voyage:

Luggage Basics

  • Soft-sided Bags: Many cabins on cruise ships, especially smaller ones, have limited space. Soft-sided bags can be more flexible and easier to store.
  • Luggage Tags: Clearly label your luggage with your name, ship name, cabin number, and contact details. Many cruise lines offer printable luggage tags on their websites.

Clothing Essentials

  • Day Wear: Lightweight and breathable clothing like shorts, t-shirts, sundresses, and tank tops. Remember, the Greek Islands can be warm!
  • Evening Wear: Most cruises have casual dinners, but there might be formal nights. Pack a nice dress or suit for such occasions as some of the top cruise essentials.
  • Swimwear: You’ll be hopping between beaches and the ship’s pool, so multiple swimsuits are essential.
  • Footwear: Comfortable walking shoes for exploring, flip-flops for the beach, and a dressy pair for evenings.
  • Layers: A light sweater or jacket for cooler evenings or breezy boat rides.

packing for a cold cruise

Gadgets and Gear

  • Power Adapter: Greece uses the Europlug (Type C), so ensure you have the right adapter for charging your devices.
  • Portable Charger: Keep your devices powered during long days of exploration.
  • Waterproof Camera/Phone Case: Capture memories without worrying about water damage.
  • Binoculars: Enhance those breathtaking views from the ship’s deck.

Health and Wellness

  • Medication: Pack all essential medications in their original packaging along with a copy of prescriptions. Also, consider a basic first-aid kit.
  • Sun Protection: High SPF sunscreen, lip balm with sunblock, and wide-brimmed hats to protect against the Mediterranean sun.
  • Motion Sickness Remedies: If you’re prone to seasickness, pack remedies like wristbands or over-the-counter medication.

Documents and Essentials

  • Passport and Visas: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your return date. Check visa requirements if necessary.
  • Cruise Documentation: Print out any tickets, boarding passes, or reservation confirmations.
  • Travel Insurance: Always a good idea, especially for overseas trips. Ensure it covers cruise-specific incidents.

Personal Comfort

  • Beach Bag: For your excursions to the islands, pack a lightweight beach bag with essentials like water, sunscreen, and a good book.
  • Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated and reduce plastic waste.
  • Snorkel Gear: If you’re keen on snorkeling, bring your own gear for a snug fit and hygiene.

cruise accessories

Miscellaneous

  • Local Currency: While many places accept credit cards, it’s wise to have some Euros for smaller establishments or tips.
  • Language Guide: A few basic Greek phrases can enrich your interaction with locals.
  • Guidebook: Dive deeper into the history and attractions of each island with a detailed guidebook.

Remember the Ship’s Etiquette

  • Dress Codes: Some cruise ships have specific dress codes for dining rooms or certain events. Check in advance.
  • Scheduled Activities: If you’ve booked any onboard classes or spa treatments, pack accordingly.

Preparing for your Greek Island cruise might seem daunting, but with a well-thought-out list and a sprinkle of excitement, you’ll be deck-ready in no time. After all, the promise of azure waters, historical wonders, and sun-soaked shores makes every ounce of preparation worth it.

greek cruises

Onboard Tips and Tricks

Stepping aboard a cruise ship, especially if it’s your first time, can feel like entering a new world. There’s a rhythm to life on the waves that’s distinct from any other type of travel. To help you sail smoothly and make the most of your journey, here are some onboard tips and tricks that seasoned cruisers swear by:

Familiarize Yourself with the Ship

  • Ship Map: Upon boarding, you’ll typically be given a map of the ship. Spend some time exploring the vessel, noting the locations of main venues, eateries, and emergency stations.
  • Ship’s Daily Newsletter: Most cruises offer a daily newsletter highlighting the day’s events, special offers, and essential information. Make it your morning read!

Optimize Your Cabin Experience

  • Storage Hacks: Space can be at a premium in cruise cabins. Make use of under-bed storage for luggage, and don’t forget about vertical space with hanging organizers.
  • Magnet Power: Most cabin walls are metal. Bring some magnets to hang daily schedules, reservations, or even photos.
  • Keep it Fresh: Pack a small air freshener or dryer sheets to keep your cabin smelling pleasant.

Titanic vs. Modern cruise ships food

Dining Delights

  • Reservations: If your ship has specialty restaurants, consider booking them early, especially for popular dining times.
  • Room Service: Many cruisers don’t realize that room service is often included in their fare. Enjoy breakfast on your balcony or a midnight snack.

Stay Connected, But Wisely

  • Wi-Fi Packages: If you need internet, check for package deals on day one. However, remember that ship Wi-Fi can be slower and pricier than on land.
  • Offline Apps: Download movies, books, or podcasts for entertainment without needing a constant connection.

Maximize Onboard Entertainment

  • Book in Advance: For popular shows or experiences, it’s wise to reserve a spot early.
  • Check Out Lesser-Known Offerings: Aside from the headline acts, there might be smaller workshops, classes, or performances that can enrich your journey.

Stay Fit and Relaxed

  • Gym at Off-Peak: The ship’s fitness center can get crowded, especially in mornings. Consider working out during port days or in the late afternoon.
  • Spa Deals: Spas often run promotions, especially on port days. Keep an eye out for discounted packages or treatments.

Be Money Smart

  • Monitor Your Account: Most cruises operate on a cashless system, with expenses charged to your room. Regularly review your onboard account to avoid any surprises.
  • Tipping: While many cruises include gratuities in the fare, some don’t. Be aware of the ship’s tipping policy and set aside funds accordingly.

Join Onboard Activities

  • Trivia, Games, and Classes: Participate in onboard activities, from dance classes to art auctions. It’s a great way to meet fellow travelers and have fun.
  • Theme Nights: Many cruises have theme nights like “White Night” or “Pirate Night”. Pack accordingly to join the festivities.

Stay Safe

  • Attend the Muster Drill: This mandatory safety drill is crucial. Pay attention and know where your muster station is.
  • Balcony Safety: If you have a balcony cabin, never climb or sit on the railing. Always lock balcony doors when not in use, especially if traveling with children.

Make Friends with the Crew

  • Foster Relationships: The ship’s crew can enhance your journey. From insider tips to exceptional service, a friendly chat can go a long way.
  • Feedback Matters: If someone goes above and beyond, note their name to mention in feedback. Positive reviews can benefit crew members in their careers.

Being on a cruise ship is a blend of relaxation and adventure, all set against the backdrop of the vast sea and exciting ports of call. With these onboard tips and tricks, you’re not just setting sail; you’re embarking on a voyage where every day holds the promise of new delights and discoveries.

greek shore excursions

Greek Island Shore Excursion Tips

Sailing through the Greek Islands is a dreamlike journey, and each port of call holds the promise of new discoveries. Shore excursions are your gateway to these enchanting locales. But how do you make the most of these short visits? Here’s your guide to maximizing and savoring every moment ashore:

Research Before You Dock

  • Itinerary Insight: Familiarize yourself with the islands on your itinerary. Know their highlights, histories, and any unique offerings.
  • Local Events: Festivals, local markets, or special events can greatly enhance your visit. Look up the local calendar before you arrive.

Choosing the Right Excursion

  • Ship-sponsored vs. Independent Tours: Ship-sponsored tours can be pricier but offer the assurance of getting you back on time. Independent tours are often more customizable and might offer a more personal experience.
  • Activity Level: Always check the activity level of an excursion. Whether you’re up for hiking, snorkeling, or a relaxed city tour, pick something that aligns with your energy and interest.

Time Management

  • Know Your Docking Time: Familiarize yourself with the time the ship docks and the departure time.
  • Buffer Time: If you’re on an independent tour, ensure you return to the ship at least an hour before the departure time.

Pack a Day Bag

  • Essentials Only: Pack light with just the essentials – a bottle of water, sunscreen, local currency, a map, and any necessary medications.
  • Documentation: Always carry a photo ID, a copy of your passport, and your cruise ship card.

Local Etiquette and Safety

  • Dress Code: Some religious sites may require modest clothing. Always carry a scarf or a shawl, and wear appropriate attire when visiting monasteries or churches.
  • Stay Alert: Just like any tourist spot, be wary of pickpockets. Keep valuables secure and be cautious in crowded areas.

Savor Local Flavors

  • Local Eateries: Bypass the touristy restaurants and seek out local tavernas or street food joints to experience authentic Greek cuisine.
  • Local Produce: From olives to honey and wine, consider buying local produce as souvenirs.

Consider Mobility

  • Rental Options: If you want to explore at your own pace, consider renting a car, scooter, or bicycle. Ensure you have the required licenses and insurance.
  • Public Transport: Some islands have reliable public transport. Familiarize yourself with bus or ferry schedules.

Stay Connected

  • Wi-Fi Spots: Local cafes or restaurants often offer free Wi-Fi. If staying connected is crucial, research Wi-Fi spots beforehand or consider buying a local SIM card.
  • Emergency Contacts: Always have a list of emergency contacts, including the local embassy, if applicable.

Capture Memories, Respectfully

  • Photography: Always ask for permission before photographing locals. Respect off-limit areas in museums or sacred sites.
  • Engage with Locals: Taking a moment to chat, share, or even just smile can turn a sightseeing tour into a memorable cultural exchange.

Environmental Respect

  • Leave No Trace: Keep the pristine beauty of the Greek Islands intact. Don’t litter, and try to reduce plastic waste by carrying a reusable water bottle.
  • Respect Wildlife: If engaging in marine activities, be mindful of the marine life. Avoid touching or disturbing the natural habitat.

Each Greek island, with its own charm and character, offers a unique world waiting to be explored. Whether you’re meandering through ancient ruins, lounging on sun-kissed beaches, or savoring delectable Greek cuisine, these shore excursion tips ensure that your island adventures are both enjoyable and enriching.

greek food cruise

Greek Cuisine On and Off-Board

Traditional Greek dishes, with their vibrant flavors, fresh ingredients, and rich history, are undoubtedly one of the many highlights of a cruise around the islands. Whether you’re indulging onboard or savoring delicacies ashore, Greek food promises to be an unforgettable part of your journey. Let’s delve into the world of Greek culinary delights:

Foundations of Greek Cuisine

  • Fresh Ingredients: Olive oil, fresh vegetables, herbs, fish, and meats are staples.
  • Mediterranean Diet: Recognized for its health benefits, it emphasizes fresh produce, grains, and lean proteins.

Must-Try Dishes

  • Moussaka: A delectable layered dish made of eggplant, minced meat, and béchamel sauce.
  • Pastitsio: Often referred to as Greek lasagna, it comprises layers of pasta, meat, and creamy sauce.
  • Dolmadakia: Grape leaves stuffed with rice and herbs.
  • Spanakopita: Spinach pie made of phyllo pastry filled with spinach and feta cheese.

Savoring Seafood

  • Grilled Octopus: A favorite appetizer, often served with olive oil and vinegar.
  • Calamari: Fried squid rings, best enjoyed with a squeeze of lemon.
  • Saganaki Shrimp: Shrimp cooked in a tomato-based sauce with feta cheese.

Sweet Temptations

  • Baklava: Sweet pastry made of layers of filo filled with nuts and sweetened with syrup.
  • Loukoumades: Deep-fried dough balls drizzled with honey and sprinkled with cinnamon.
  • Koulourakia: Butter cookies often twisted in various shapes, perfect with Greek coffee.

Drink Like a Local

  • Ouzo: An iconic anise-flavored liqueur, often served with a splash of water.
  • Retsina: A unique white or rosé wine with a distinct pine flavor.
  • Metaxa: A blended wine and brandy with a sweet taste.

Street Food and Casual Bites

  • Souvlaki: Skewered and grilled meat, often wrapped in pita with tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki sauce.
  • Gyros: Rotisserie meat, typically pork or chicken, served in pita bread with toppings.
  • Tiropita: Cheese pie made with phyllo pastry and a variety of cheeses.

Exploring Local Tavernas Off the Ship

  • Ambience: Experience the genuine warmth and hospitality of the Greek people in traditional family-run tavernas.
  • Fresh Produce: Look for places that emphasize local and seasonal ingredients. The closer to the sea, the fresher the seafood!

Tips for Dining Ashore

  • Meal Times: Greeks typically have lunch between 2-4 pm and dinner after 9 pm. Adjust your schedule to enjoy a bustling local ambiance.
  • Tipping: It’s customary to leave a tip of around 5-10% in restaurants, rounded up to the nearest Euro for smaller bills.

Culinary Experiences to Seek

  • Cooking Classes: Learn the art of Greek cooking firsthand. Many islands offer classes where you can cook and then savor your creations.
  • Wine Tastings: Explore local vineyards or wine bars to taste the rich variety of Greek wines.
  • Olive Oil Tours: Dive deep into the world of olive oil, from tree to bottle.

Greek cuisine is a tapestry of flavors, textures, and aromas, reflecting the country’s rich history and cultural influences. Whether you’re indulging in a feast onboard or exploring the culinary landscape ashore, every bite tells a story. So, let your palate set sail on its own Greek odyssey, and “Kali Orexi” (Bon Appétit)!

Messina cruise ship

Potential Challenges on Greek Islands Cruises

Every adventure comes with its set of challenges, and cruising the Greek Islands is no exception. While the allure of the Aegean’s shimmering waters and the rich tapestry of Greek culture are undeniable, it’s essential to be prepared for any hiccups along the way. Here’s a guide to potential challenges and expert advice to navigate them smoothly:

  1. Sea Sickness:
    • Preventative Measures: Consider over-the-counter motion sickness medications or patches. Consult your doctor before your trip.
    • Cabin Selection: Cabins in the middle of the ship at a lower level tend to feel less movement.
    • Ginger and Green Apples: These natural remedies are known to help alleviate nausea.
  2. Crowds at Popular Spots:
    • Off-Peak Visits: Plan your shore excursions early in the morning or later in the afternoon to avoid peak tourist times.
    • Explore Lesser-Known Gems: Instead of the main attractions, delve into hidden spots or less-visited islands for a more authentic experience.
  3. Communication Barriers:
    • Learn Basic Phrases: A few Greek words like “Efharisto” (Thank you) can go a long way.
    • Translation Apps: Modern translation apps can assist in real-time conversations.
  4. Hot Mediterranean Sun:
    • Sun Protection: Always wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Reapply sunscreen regularly.
    • Stay Hydrated: Carry a water bottle and drink frequently, especially if indulging in local wines or spirits.
  5. Navigating Local Transportation:
    • Research in Advance: Familiarize yourself with local transportation options and schedules.
    • Rent Wisely: If renting a car or scooter, ensure you’re comfortable with local driving habits and have the necessary licenses.
  6. Unexpected Itinerary Changes:
    • Stay Flexible: Weather or other unforeseen circumstances might lead to changes. Embrace the new plan, and explore alternative activities.
    • Travel Insurance: Consider purchasing travel insurance that covers cancellations or changes.
  7. Cultural Differences:
    • Respect Local Customs: Dress modestly at religious sites and be aware of local customs or traditions.
    • Stay Informed: Research or ask onboard staff about any cultural norms for each island.
  8. Connectivity Issues:
    • Wi-Fi Access: While the ship might offer Wi-Fi, it could be slower or pricier. Some ports might have cafes with free Wi-Fi.
    • Offline Mode: Download maps, guides, or translation apps for offline use.
  9. Currency and Payment:
    • Local Currency: While many places accept credit cards, it’s always good to have some Euros on hand, especially for small purchases.
    • Notify Your Bank: Inform your bank about your travel plans to avoid any card blockages due to suspicious international activity.
  10. Overpacking:
  • Pack Smart: Focus on versatile clothing items that can be mixed and matched. Remember, cruise cabins can be compact.
  • Laundry Services: Many cruise ships offer laundry services, allowing you to pack lighter and freshen up your clothes during the trip.

Every journey comes with its own set of challenges, but they’re often the stories we remember and laugh about later. Embracing these challenges and being prepared can enrich your experience. With these tips in hand, you’re not just prepared for your Greek Islands cruise; you’re ready to make it an adventure of a lifetime!

Santorini

Setting Sail on a Cruise of the Greek Islands

The sun-kissed shores of the Greek Islands have beckoned travelers for centuries. From the mesmerizing sunsets of Santorini to the historical wonders of Crete, and from the glamorous nightlife of Mykonos to the tranquil beaches of Ikaria, these islands promise a diverse and unforgettable experience.

Choosing to explore this archipelago by sea is, without a doubt, a decision filled with the promise of adventure. Whether you sail aboard a luxurious mega-ship equipped with every conceivable amenity or opt for the intimate charm of a small vessel, the essence of the islands remains unchanged. They offer a perfect blend of history, culture, gastronomy, and natural beauty.

Our comprehensive guide on cruises of the Greek Islands has aimed to equip you with insights, from selecting the right itinerary and ship to diving into the delectable Greek cuisine and embracing sustainable tourism. But remember, beyond the preparation and planning, the heart of travel lies in the unexpected moments: a serendipitous encounter with a local, the first bite of a freshly baked spanakopita, or the gentle rhythm of waves lapping against a secluded shore.

As you set sail on your fun cruise, let the winds of the Aegean guide you. Allow yourself to be immersed in the stories, flavors, and landscapes of the Greek Islands. Every island has a tale to tell, a song to sing, and a dance to share.

So, hoist the sails, chart your course, and embark on a journey of discovery. The cruise of the Greek Islands await, timeless and enchanting. May your voyage be filled with sunlit days, starry nights, and memories that last a lifetime. Safe travels and happy cruising! 🚢

FAQs on Cruise of the Greek Islands

Embarking on a cruise to the Greek Islands is an exciting adventure, and naturally, many questions may arise as you prepare for your voyage. To aid in your planning, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers:

When is the best time to cruise the Greek Islands?

  • The ideal time is during the shoulder seasons of late spring (May and early June) and early fall (September and early October) when the weather is pleasant, the crowds are fewer, and the seas are calm.

Do I need a visa to cruise the Greek Islands?

  • Depending on your nationality, you might need a Schengen visa to enter Greece. However, many cruise lines often handle the process for their passengers during port stops. It’s essential to check with your cruise operator and the official Greek consulate website.

What currency is used in the Greek Islands?

  • Greece uses the Euro (€). While most places accept credit cards, it’s a good idea to have some cash on hand, especially in smaller villages.

Is English widely spoken?

  • Yes, English is widely spoken in tourist areas, and cruise staff are typically multilingual. However, it’s always appreciated when visitors learn a few basic Greek phrases.

How much should I budget for shore excursions?

  • Costs can vary widely based on the type of activity, duration, and exclusivity. Budgeting between €50 to €200 per excursion is a good starting point, but always check with your cruise operator for specific prices.

Is Wi-Fi available onboard?

  • Most modern cruise ships offer Wi-Fi, but the speed, reliability, and costs can vary. Some luxury cruises may include it in their package, while others might charge extra.

Is the water safe to drink?

  • Onboard the cruise, the tap water is generally safe to drink. On the islands, it’s advisable to drink bottled water, especially on smaller or more remote islands.

Can I customize my shore excursions?

  • While many cruise lines offer a range of excursions, some travelers opt for private tours or self-guided adventures. It’s essential to ensure you return to the ship on time, as the ship won’t wait for latecomers.

What type of power outlets are used on the ship?

  • This varies by cruise line. Many ships use North American standard 110V outlets, while others might have European 220V outlets. It’s advisable to bring a universal adapter.

What’s the dress code onboard?

  • During the day, casual attire is acceptable. In the evenings, especially for dinners and events, a smart-casual dress code is typical. Some cruises may have gala nights where formal attire is expected.

Do I need to tip onboard?

  • Many cruise lines include gratuities in their fare, distributing them among the crew. However, if you receive exceptional service, additional tipping is at your discretion. Always check your cruise’s specific tipping policy.

Are the Greek Islands safe for travelers?

  • Yes, the Greek Islands are generally safe for travelers. As with any destination, it’s essential to stay aware of your surroundings and exercise standard precautions, especially in crowded areas.

How do I handle seasickness?

  • While modern cruise ships are designed for stability, if you’re prone to seasickness, it’s advisable to book a cabin in the middle of the ship and on a lower deck. Over-the-counter medications, wristbands, and ginger supplements can also help. If you’re feeling unwell, contact the ship’s medical center.

Are cruises suitable for families with children?

  • Absolutely! Many cruise lines cater to families and offer kid-friendly activities, clubs, and babysitting services. However, it’s essential to check the ship’s amenities and age-appropriate activities beforehand.

Are there any age or mobility restrictions for shore excursions?

  • Some excursions may have age, health, or mobility restrictions, especially those that involve physical activities like hiking or water sports. It’s crucial to check with the cruise line before booking.

Can I bring my own alcohol onboard?

  • Most cruise lines have policies regarding bringing alcohol onboard. Some allow a limited quantity, while others may charge a corkage fee. Always consult the cruise line’s alcohol policy before departure.

Do I need travel insurance?

  • While not always mandatory, travel insurance is highly recommended. It can cover unexpected incidents, medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost baggage.

How can I stay connected with home while cruising?

  • Aside from onboard Wi-Fi, many ports and cities in the Greek Islands offer local SIM cards or mobile hotspots. Remember to check roaming charges with your home carrier.

What’s the food like onboard? Can they cater to dietary restrictions?

  • Cruise ships typically offer a wide range of cuisines, from local Greek dishes to international favorites. Most ships can cater to dietary restrictions, but it’s best to notify the cruise line in advance.

Are there onboard medical facilities?

  • Yes, larger cruise ships are equipped with medical facilities and staffed with qualified medical professionals to handle emergencies and general health concerns.

Do I need to bring any specific documentation?

  • Aside from your passport and any necessary visas, bring your cruise tickets, travel insurance documents, and any other relevant travel or medical documentation.

Can I extend my stay in Greece after the cruise?

  • Certainly! Many travelers choose to extend their vacation either before or after the cruise. Ensure you have the necessary visa allowances and accommodations booked.

What if I miss the ship at a port?

  • It’s crucial to return to the ship on time, as they adhere to tight schedules. If you miss the departure, you’ll be responsible for your own transportation to the next port or back home.

Is there a limit to how much I can shop or bring back from the islands?

  • Each country has its customs regulations. It’s essential to be aware of any duty-free allowances or restricted items when shopping abroad.

Remember, preparation is the key to a stress-free vacation. While the above FAQs should help answer most queries, it’s always a good idea to consult with your chosen cruise line or a travel agent for specific details tailored to your trip. Enjoy the enchanting world of the Greek Islands and happy cruising! 🌊🌺🛳️