My wife loves to water ski. I love to sail. We always joked that we would buy a boat when I found a sailboat she could water ski behind. Of course, its not that likely to ever happen. So instead we settled on a cruise to the Greek Islands. We selected STAR CLIPPERS for our travel partner and its namesake, The Star Clipper as our ship. We sailed from Athens to the islands of Amorgos, Patmos, Mykonos and we also visited Kusadasi/Ephesus Turkey, and Monemvasia on the mainland. This was our first trip to Greece. We have since made our second trip to Greece.
We are ocean cruisers for decades. On these smaller ships, there are some differences that we were initially concerned about. We had to give up a balcony. And we had limited places on the ship for restaurants, bars, and public spaces. Large ocean going ships are a destination within themselves. The smaller ships, the ports are the true destination. On the larger ships, the amount of time in port is limited and the smaller ships expand the hours in port, often staying overnight.
The cruise we took was called the Northern Cyclades tour. We started and returned to Athens (Piraeus). We visited Patmos, Amorgos, Monemvasia, and Mykonos in Greece. We also visited Kusadasi (Ephesus) in Turkey. The destinations were awe inspiring. At Ephesus, you visit an unearthed town of about 250,000 inhabitants. It was built in about 1000 BC and taken over by the Romans in 129BC. Walking through miles of ruins, you get a real sense of what it might have been like to live, work and play in a town of this size. This is where Paul, John and Mary lived after the death of Jesus. Nearby, you can visit the last home of Mary, where the Pope visited in 2006.
On this trip, we visited the island of Patmos. This is where John wrote the book of Revelation in the cave of the Apocalypse. Guides show you the stone desk where exiled John wrote the book, and the area in the cave where he slept.There is also a triple fissure in the ceiling of the cave where it is said that John heard the voice of God. On to Amorgos. Here we visited the Hozoviotissa Monestary. Its built on the wall of a sheer cliff to keep it safe from invaders. To visit, you will need to climb 335 steps. Once there, the view is breathtaking.
Another port of call for us was Mykonos. This is the second most visited tourist Island of Greece. Santorini is first. This is a land of beautiful beaches, wonderful Greek architechture and fantastic shopping and restaurants. We spent a wonderful day there. Upon getting back to the Star Clipper, I had the opportunity to helm the ship as we sailed to our next port. You can’t get near the bridge of most modern cruise ships, but on the Star Clipper, you can do as little or as much of the sailing as you want. Of course, to be safe, there is always crew around to make sure that you do not make any mistakes. Climb the rigging? Yes, you can do that. Talk to the Captain for hours? Yes you bet!
Our last stop was the mainland port of Monemvasia. This is one of the most romantic ports in all of Greece. You will find a medieval castle here and a village that dates from that era with very little change. It is a wonderful stop on the cruise. After that, it was back to Athens for our flight back to the US. We stayed in Athens a day before the cruise. I recommend this to help with jet lag and in case your plane flight is delayed. Athens is a very busy city with the Acropolis and a very modern museum dedicated to that monument and the history of the Greeks, who founded democracy.
There are many ways to see the Greek islands. You can fly or take ferries to most of them, though they may not run every day depending upon the connection. So traveling by ship is a great way to see a lot of Greece without packing and unpacking. There are lectures daily on the region and the history. Its great for the first timer who wants to find out where they would stay for days on their next trip. And you will not find a more authentic sail cruise than the Star Clippers. Once you go with them, you will fall in love with their style of cruising. We usually have special pricing for trips on the Star Clippers and often there cruises where solo travelers pay no single supplement. Call us for more information.