Home TravelsGreece The Aegean cruise you must take: Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Crete, Santorini

The Aegean cruise you must take: Mykonos, Kusadasi, Patmos, Crete, Santorini

49 minutes read

We are slowly approaching Santorini and the dramatic caldera is slowly emerging in front of us through a mystical fog on a slightly cloudy day in May. The steep slopes of the dormant volcano are watching us from all sides. Olympia, the dignified cruise ship we arrived on, awaits us at one end of the caldera as we approach the main island in smaller boats. And although the volcano has been dormant for decades, a sense of awe to the island watching us from all sides overwhelms us. And our floating home Olympia can be seen from anywhere on the mountain ridge. We are waiting to explore the island before moving on to the next destinations from our Iconic Aegean cruise.

Santorini caldera
The Santorini caldera, Greece and our ship in the distance

We are on a cruise in Greece for the first time. In fact, we are cruising for the first time ever. But we are more than happy that exactly this voyage was our first one. It is somehow surreal to wake up on a different island every morning, go to bed on another in the evening, and wake up on a third one in the next morning. And feeling home at all times, like in a small town that makes you feel safe and comfortable. We are very lucky that we witnessed not only the beauty and history of the Greek islands, but also the genuine pleasure of the cruise experience. This is why this article will be not only about the beautiful Greek islands. In it, we will repeatedly praise Celestyal Cruises for their great attitude and time together.

Three day cruise in Greece and Turkey – Iconic Aegean

We had been thinking of booking a cruise for a long time. The thought of visiting the Greek islands was also in our heads, although we imagined it could happen by plane. However, we found ourselves on a three-day cruise through some of the most picturesque Greek islands of Mykonos, Patmos, Crete and Santorini and a stop in Kusadasi, starting from Athens. Some of the most iconic destinations in this part of the world. This route is called Iconic Aegean.

The cruise ship at Lavrion port
The cruise ship at Lavrion port, Greece

The cruise starts from Athens (Lavrion) on Friday at noon and ends in the early morning of Monday (three days). Every day, the ship arrives at a different place. The first night in Mykonos, the next morning in Kusadasi, we went to bed near Patmos. In the morning, we woke up in Crete and almost watched the sunset in Santorini. The program is extremely dynamic but wonderful. All places are worth the effort and with a clear conscience, we would advise you to follow the same steps if you are not afraid of being tired.

To and from Athens with Aegean Airlines

Aegean Airlines

Our initial idea was to travel by car to Athens or Thessaloniki, as Celestyal Cruises also have routes through Thessaloniki. At the end, we flew with the Greek airline Aegean Airlines. We were extremely pleasantly surprised with the excellent service, generosity in luggage and reasonable prices. The flight is an hour and a half, the snacks on it are nice and we saved long hours of driving and fatigue before the cruise. And although we have travelled with them only once, we are happy to recommend them to everyone.

Olympia

Celestyal Olympia looks like the city of happy people. The ship was built in 1982 and although it is not super luxurious, it is actually extremely cozy, clean and comfortable. It can carry up to 1,800 people and usually serves the three- and four-day Aegean cruise of Celestyal Cruises. They also have another ship, the Celestyal Crystal, which travels on 7-day cruises. But we will tell you about it next time.

Celestyal Olympia
Celestyal Olympia sailing on a cruise in Greece and Turkey in the Aegean sea

As we are boarding Olympia, a dozen smiling employees greet us, ready to help if we need it. Earlier, we passed through the port terminal and witnessed the heavy but well-built logistics of loading over 1,000 people on board.

Maria on the port terminal in the windy day
Maria on the port terminal in the windy day

Boarding starts at 9 am and should have ended by 12:30 pm, as the ship departs at 1 pm. Large groups of passengers arriving by bus have slots for arriving and entering the port so that there are no long queues. The document check goes slowly but orderly (for the 2022 season, a completed vaccination course and a negative antigen test are required from each passenger). While waiting on the line, we are offered complimentary lemonade. We pass the security check, then take a quick photo in front of the photo wall of Celestyal Cruises and after a while we are on board.

First minutes aboard the cruise ship

We already know the numbers of our cabins – thy were on the tickets we received via email. We are on deck 7, cabin 7007 – a very nice Junior Suite with a large window, a seating area and a large bathroom with a bathtub. It was not inferior to the comfortable hotel rooms in which we often stay. This type of apartment is suitable for up to 3 people. We really liked the furniture – how every inch is utilised without the space feeling cramped, given the limited space of the ship.

Our cabin on Celestyal Olympia
Our cabin on Celestyal Olympia

We got ready quickly and went on a tour.

Onboard Celestyal Olympia there are four restaurants, several bars, three nightclubs, a spa, a separate gym, two outdoor pools, a kids club among others. The daily animation for children and adults is pleasant and fun, and the schedule is perfectly suited to the hours when passengers are usually on board. In the afternoon there are dance lessons, Greek language, and art workshops. In the evening there are stage performances, really great!

There is live music in the bars all day long and the musicians from Cuba and the Philippines stole our hearts.

A night bar onboard Olympia
One of the nightclubs on Celestyal Olympia, hosting a PlayStation tournament during the day
The main restaurant - Aegean - Aegean sea cruise to the Greek islands
The main restaurant – Aegean

Service beyond the stars

And here we come to what steals the hearts of everyone on board and makes them feel really happy: service.

It is priceless to meet a smiling face in the corridor at 6 am when you are in a hurry for the next trip. “Good morning, have a nice day!” is something simple, but it helps start your day in a truly wonderful way. Everyone on board speaks excellent English (and many other languages, including Bulgarian) and you never feel misunderstood.

Bartenders and waiters are always ready to help with suggestions and explanations on the menu and more. They immediately remember where you are from and even try to learn a few words in your language to make you feel at home.

Warmth, incredible warmth comes from all across this ship and its entire crew, although in late April the weather outside is extremely windy and the waves shake the ship as it sails to its first destination from our Aegean cruise – Mykonos.

Mykonos

“I get lost in hospitals, malls and Mykonos” – this joke is circulating among our Greek colleagues as we approach the island. Below we will explain why the joke is quite reasonable.

Mykonos
Mykonos

Mykonos is one of the most popular party destinations in Greece, but we see it in a different light. “The Windy Island” reveals its full windy beauty. Walking along the coast is a challenge, we hardly hear and see each other until we slip into one of the streets in the maze where everyone gets lost. The capital of Mykonos, which bears the same name, is really a maze.

The labyrinth of Mykonos
The labyrinth of Mykonos

Tiny pedestrian streets surrounded by whitewashed buildings with steep and high stairs are the usual view across the island. You go only one street inwards and the wind is no longer felt. Everywhere is full of luxury stores, souvenir stalls and many restaurants.

The streets of Mykonos
The streets of Mykonos
One of the famous squares in Mykonos with the most expensive bars and shops
One of the famous squares in Mykonos with the most expensive bars and shops. Until a few years ago, they used to extract water from the wells in the photo.

Getting lost in the maze is easy and a must. There you can find the narrowest street on the island (and probably in all of Greece). It is maybe about 40 cm wide, but if you have not overdone it at lunch, you can even go through it.

The narrowest street in Greece
The narrowest street in Greece

How Mykonos became famous for tourists

Our guide, Krista from Austria, took us to a tiny square between two churches and told us how Mykonos became famous among tourists. It was there, between the churches, where the iconic Pierro’s Bar opened in the early 1970s. Its founder was the artist Piero Aversa, who, besides his artistic works, was well known for his close contacts with gay communities around the world. In the following decades, this bar remained a symbol of the endless party and gay life in Greece. And the island, with its liberal spirit, has become a magnet for world-famous visitors.

In this building was the legendary Pierro's bar
In this building was the legendary Pierro’s bar. In the 1990s heterosexual men did not dare to pass by it because they risked being liked and kidnapped by partygoers
The bar was located between these two churches
The bar was located between these two churches

Luxuruous shops and bars align the narrow white streets. But we are curious to ask the life of locals. In the main town (with permanent population or about 3700) there are more than 40 public churches and around 600 private chapels. Because of the limited land on the island, they have problem with grave spaces. This is why every family owns a private chapel. They use it for important family events and for keeping their family relics.

The Church of Panagia Paraportiani, one of the most famous churches in Mykonos
The Church of Panagia Paraportiani, one of the most famous churches in Mykonos

We reach the famous windmill of Mykonos. Before the era of tourism, they brought the main living to the island. Nowadays they are still an active part of the island’s economy but in other roles. One of them is a museum, a second one is a hotel and one is a private home.

The windmills of Mykonos, a symbol of the island
The windmills of Mykonos, a symbol of the island

We learned many more interesting things about Mykonos but we will write them in another story. Now we will only mention that our evening walk finished in a wonderful restaurant – Bouboulo, where we had an amazing 6-course menu with local delicacies.

Circus, cocktails and dances

We returned to our sailing home tired, blown away by the wind, but happy and satisfied. Our first cruise day had been an exciting one, but it wasn’t really over yet. We were yet to find out that cruise life was in full swing almost around the clock, or at least until very late in the evening. We hurried to the Muses bar to watch the performance of the Canadian Cirque Fantastic.

The show of Cirque Fantastic in the first evening of the cruise
The show of Cirque Fantastic in the first evening of the cruise

Then we continued with cocktails and live music in Argo bar, which became our favourite. And the biggest enthusiasts went to a disco. No one was worried that we should disembark the ship at 6 am the next morning for a walk in Ephesus and Kusadasi. The experience was worth it.

The amazing Cuban musicians at Argo bar
The amazing Cuban musicians at Argo bar

Ephesus, just for us

We were the first visitors in the ancient city of Ephesus just before 8 am. All alone, among the remains of hundreds of buildings in one of the largest cities of the ancient world. And our guide enthusiastically took us through the depths of history.

The incredible luck of seeing the streets of ancient Ephesus empty
The incredible luck of seeing the streets of ancient Ephesus empty

As we travelled from the port to Ephesus, our guide started his lecture about the last days of the ancient city, once with a population of 250,000. It was a thriving trading port which used to bring a lot of fortune in the city. However, the nearby river carried sediments to the port through decades and eventually clogged it. This led to the decline of Ephesus. The decline of the port coincided with a plague and earthquake in the 7th century, which finally buried the former metropolis. In the following centuries, Ephesus continued to exist, but as a smaller and insignificant city, until it was finally abandoned in the 15th century.

The remains of ancient Ephesus were discovered in 1863. To date, the city is located, but only 20% of it has been discovered and preserved.

A model of ancient Ephesus at the entrance of the archaeological site
A model of ancient Ephesus at the entrance of the archaeological site

Library opposite the brothel and more attractions in Ephesus

One of the most magnificent buildings is that of the Library, which functioned like a university.

The marvellous Library of Celsus
The marvellous Library of Celsus

Directly opposite the library was the brothel, with an underground tunnel connecting the two buildings. There are legends (sounding quite realistic) that men used to use the library as an excuse for leaving home, but instead visited the opposite building. A few hundred meters away, in the direction from the port to the library, there is an ancient advertisement of the brothel aimed at returning sailors.

The brothel ad states that you will soon reach a place where you will find love, the entrance is to the left
The brothel ad states that you will soon reach a place where you will find love, the entrance is to the left and you have to pay.

The building of the public toilets, which were a place for social life, was also interesting. Inside there was also a fountain with aromatic water, providing fresh air and comfort to users.

Toilets in Ephesus
Toilets in Ephesus
The Temple of Hadrian
The Temple of Hadrian

Terraced houses in Ephesus

The most impressive buildings in Ephesus (admission with additional ticket) are the terraced houses. So far, three such residential complexes are known, of which only one is accessible to visitors. It comprises several luxury residential buildings with an area of 2500 square meters, on three terraces, one above the other. They are located directly opposite the Temple of Hadrian.

The complex includes the remains of a private bathroom, a vast reception hall with painted walls and red and green marble tiling. The houses were built around the 1st century and were last inhabited around the 7th century.

The huge and richly decorated terraced houses in Ephesus
The huge and richly decorated terraced houses in Ephesus
The decoration inside the houses
The decoration inside the houses

Apart from their impressive history, archaeologists speak a lot about the large-scale conservation works on the houses. The special roof structure costs over a million dollars. This is one of the reasons why archaeologists decided not to proceed with uncovering the other complexes of terraced houses but rather leave this important job to the future generations.

After the houses, we finish the walk to the large amphitheatre. From there begins the former road to the port – over 20 meters wide stone street, one of the main roads in the ancient city. Once the port was quite near but now the sea is miles away.

The large theatre in Ephesus with amazing acoustics. Even whisper can be heard on the stands.
The large theatre in Ephesus with amazing acoustics. Even whisper can be heard on the stands.

A walk in Kusadasi – no shopping, Yes to baklava

If you like shopping and bargaining and like to buy imitations of famous brands from the stalls, the market in Kusadasi is a great place for you. One colleague from our group bought supposedly branded glasses for 10 euros, and backpacks with the Fjallraven label were offered for 15 euros. This is the price before the start of bargaining. As one seller said: “We offer original copies!” We kept our luggage space for the bottles of wine we were already planning to buy from Santorini. And we sat down for some Turkish tea and baklava in a nice cafe right next to the harbour entrance.

Kusadasi is colourful, casual and oriental. Completely safe and secure, it is visited by millions of tourists yearly. Nice for a walk, baklava, shopping, whatever you prefer. We had our very nice baklava, boarded the ship for lunch and sailed to the next destination of our Aegean cruise – the island of Patmos.

The colourful view around the Kusadasi harbour
The colourful view around the Kusadasi harbour

Lunches onboard Olympia

All Celestyal Cruises passengers travel with an All-Inclusive package. It includes three meals in several onboard restaurants, as well as unlimited local and classic drinks.

There are 4-5 restaurants onboard, as many bars and excellent service everywhere. In the summer season, the open bars on the upper two decks, where the pools are located, are probably the most pleasant.

The view from the upper decks of Olympia
The view from the upper decks of Olympia – cruise in Greece and Turkey with Celestyal Cruies

On the first days of May, we preferred to have lunch at the Galileo restaurant – a small and more sophisticated a la carte restaurant, located right next to the main buffet restaurant, where most passengers ate. At Galileo, you can order some dishes included in the All-Inclusive menu, as well as a few more that are available at an additional cost.

The cozy and quiet restaurant Galileo
The cozy and quiet restaurant Galileo
Lunch at Galileo restaurant
Lunch at Galileo restaurant
Spring rolls

We loved everything on the table and the service as well

The wine on board the Celestyal Olympia

The all-inclusive package includes unlimited consumption of a selection of local wines, all quite pleasant. The main white was light and smooth, probably Sauvignon Blanck or something feeling similar. The Rosé was semi-sweet. The red was also nice, although we preferred to try the special selection, which is available at an additional cost. We thank the manager of the restaurant, Adrian from Romania, for the wonderful wine selection that he offered us during the voyage.

Lunch at Galileo restaurant onboard Celestyal Olympia - cruise in Greece and Turkey with Celestyal Cruises
The wine for our first lunch is from the local variety Moschofilero and was extremely delicate and fresh.

In fact, we are grateful to all the staff. Nowhere, really nowhere else, have we felt so cared for and warmed by people’s smiles and attitudes.

Lunch passed quickly, and we arrived on the next island – Patmos, about which we knew very little.

Patmos – one of the most sacred places in Greece

Patmos is one of the sacred places in Greece because of the belief that St. John the Theologian, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ and his youngest disciple, spent the last years of his life on the island in exile. And it was there where he wrote the last book of the Bible – Revelation, or Apocalypse.

Patmos
The island of Patmos from the top

According to the legend, John was the youngest disciple of Christ and his most beloved one. In the last years of his life, he was exiled to the small island of Patmos, during the reign of Emperor Domitian. His companion and helper in exile was his disciple – St. Apostle Prochorus. The two lived in a cave in which, according to the legend, St. John received visions from God related to the end of the world, which St. Apostle Prochorus recorded. Today in the cave we can see the corner where the miracle happened, the slits for the hands with which the saint of old age helped himself to stand up, and the naturally formed “desk” in the rock on which St. Apostle Prochorus recorded the visions. Around the place today is built a chapel dedicated to St. Anna, the mother of the Mother of God.

The old entrance to the cave of Saint John
The old entrance to the cave of Saint John

Patmos monastery

The other important site on the island is the monastery, built in the 11th century in the highest part of the island. The monk Christodoulos Letrinos established it in 1088 by the order of Emperor Alexios I Komnenos.

The yard of the Patmos monastery
The yard of the Patmos monastery
The bell towers of Patmos monastery
The bell towers of Patmos monastery

The place is impressive, resembling of a citadel, surrounded by huge fortification walls visible from all over the island. The monastery is active and access to some parts of it is limited. There is an impressive library, however it is inaccessible to external visitors. The monastery museum houses impressive works, including painting by El Greco. One of the most valuable relics preserved in the holy place is the skull of Doubting Thomas.

The museum of Patmos monastery
The museum of Patmos monastery

The inhabitants of Patmos

We also learned that Patmos is home to famous and rich people. The local affluent community takes good care of its island, including by donating funds for important projects such as a seawater desalination plant. And despite the thousands of pilgrims who pass through the island yearly, property owners are zealously trying to preserve it as a relatively inaccessible destination and do not allow the construction of an airport or a large port. That’s why we reached the island in small boats and the ship Olympia stood waiting for us further into the sea.

Evening on the streets of Patmos
Evening on the streets of Patmos

Before boarding the ship again, we hurried through a local bakery to try the traditional Patmos dessert Pougia. It is a kind of pastry, stuffed with cheese or marmalade, which can be fried and baked.

The Greek way of having fun

We returned to the ship with the last boat and quickly headed to the restaurant, where the smiling staff were waiting for us with the dinner menu. In all the ship’s restaurants, dinner is served à la carte instead of buffet. We like the format a lot because dinner is a good time to enjoy a quiet time, a glass of wine, and save yourself the fuss of the buffet.

Every day the la carte menu is different, you can’t get bored. Since we were a group of a dozen people, we tried practically the entire menu. And everything fascinated us. The menu is constructed so that you can order 3-4 different dishes – salad, 1-2 appetisers, main course, dessert(s). Each portion was relatively small, so we could try everything without feeling too full. Brilliant concept and outstanding performance.

Amuse Bouche from the dinner
Amuse Bouche from the dinner
Incredible seafood risotto
Incredible seafood risotto

And again we praise the staff of the restaurant. They were all extremely collaborative or our numerous requests, like “Can we replace the potatoes with vegetables” or “Can the fish not be in the pasta, but only fish?”. Well, when you order “Melon with prosciutto” without melon, it becomes interesting, but we had a reason to laugh at the back of a colleague.

The evening wine offer - Mega Spileo III Cuvee from varieties Mavrodafne, Cabernet Sauvignon and Agiorgitiko
The evening wine offer – Mega Spileo III Cuvee from varieties Mavrodafne, Cabernet Sauvignon and Agiorgitiko

In the evening our colleagues from Greece strongly recommended the Hellenic Voyage performance, a show dedicated to Greek-style art, dance and music. Earlier in the day, there was a quiz on Greek topics, Greek language lessons and Greek dances. Greek hospitality really made us feel lovely. Finally, although exhausted, we danced late and drank cocktails at the Argo bar. But these moments remain only for us. We can only tell you that our cruise in the Aegean Sea and the beautiful Greek islands was endless fun that we will remember for a long time.

The labyrinth of Crete – the palace of Knossos

We arrived in Crete shortly after 7 in the morning, and before 8 we were already at the entrance of the palace of Knossos. Once it was one of the political and cultural centres of the Minoan civilisation. The archaeological site is located on the remains of a vast palace complex with 4 wings and about 1500 rooms, connected by corridors, staircases, doors and arches.

The corridors of Knossos - one tiny part of the former palace
The corridors of Knossos – one tiny part of the former palace

Why a labyrinth?

The palace is also known as the “labyrinth”. But not because it was deliberately built like a maze. In fact, quite the opposite – it gives the meaning we put today in word “labyrinth”. The word “labyrinth” comes from labris – the double axe, one of the oldest and key symbols of Minoan civilisation. Most sacrifices were done with this axe. Bulls were sacrificed and killed with labris. The “Labyrinth” of Knossos with its huge scale and thousands of rooms, has naturally become a symbol of something extremely complex and difficult to navigate. Hence the meaning of the word we use today.

The map of the former palace looks quite complex
The map of the former palace looks quite complex

King Minos, Daedalus and the Minotaur

According to mythology, the main ideologue and builder of the complex was the ancient Greek genius architect and inventor Daedalus. He built the palace by order of King Minos, and it housed the Minotaur – a half-man, half-bull, son of Minos’ wife – Pasiphae, and a bull.

The first palace on this site was built around 2000 BC, then destroyed by an earthquake. On its place was built a new palace, the remains of which have survived to this day. In the remains of the complex today, we can see vast storage rooms, bathrooms, toilets, ancient ventilation, plumbing and sewerage.

A throne room with impressive frescoes on the walls and several more halls with frescoes were also discovered.

Our local guide told us with great excitement about the achievements of the Minoan civilization and also the legends of Daedalus.

The female figures in the Minoan paintings are depicted with white skin and the male figures in red
The female figures in the Minoan paintings are depicted with white skin and the male figures in red

The facts about the palace of Knossos

Beyond the legends, Knossos is truly mind-blowing. The complex was built using unprecedented techniques. The buildings had up to 5 floors, built of wood and stone. Inverted cypress trunks acted as columns, painted red and black. To this day, the beds carved in stone for them can be seen. Exquisite frescoes and paintings related to the cult of Mother Nature have been found in the palace. More ritual vessels were found, such as a rhyton with a bull’s head. Traces of various workshops and ancient board games have also been discovered in the site. The central part of the complex is the throne room with a preserved original stone throne. It is assumed that the complex had many roles – administrative, residential, ritual and others.

The throne room in Knossos palace - Crete, Greece
The throne room in Knossos palace

We will tell you more details about the maze in a separate article. Now we will only add that it is really important to visit it with a guide who will navigate you through it and tell you all the stories we have learned.

The buildings in Knossos reached 5 floors in height and were richly decorated
The buildings in Knossos reached 5 floors in height and were richly decorated. They used columns of inverted cypress trunks, which they painted red and black.

On the streets of Heraklion

After the stories about the Minotaur, we had some time for a walk around Heraklion, where our ship was moored. Cozy and pleasant city, where we did not miss to do a little culinary tourism.

The fountain with the lions, built in the Venetian era. Once it was terminating point of the main aqueduct to the city
The fountain with the lions, built in the Venetian era. Once it was terminating point of the main aqueduct to the city

We ate quickly and let’s go back to Olympia.

On our last day of sailing, we went for a walk on all decks, bars, cafes and restaurants, so as not to miss a part of Olympia. The three-day cruise turned out to be extremely dynamic with all the great excursions to the different islands. There were also passengers who spent most of their time around the pools or in the bars – why not?! Olympia is a great place for both relaxation and a dynamic cruise with many excursions to islands and destinations. While having lunch, discussing the morning experience and touring all the decks, it came time to reach the long-awaited final destination – Santorini.

Santorini – expect the unexpected

Everyone who is visiting Santorini for the first time comes up with some expectations of their own. We have all seen romantic photos of white houses and churches with blue roofs. We have heard about the steep slopes on which many tourists climb with donkeys. And about the brilliant sunsets of Santorini that everyone is talking about. But in the first days of May, when the ship docked on the periphery of the magical island complex in light fog and clouds, Santorini appeared in a different light. That mystical light that arouses curiosity, but also awe.

View to the Santorini caldera - cruise in Greek islands and Turkey with Celestyal Cruises
View to the Santorini caldera

The volcano of Santorini

Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, Santorini was a completely round island. But after the largest eruption of the volcano on which it is located, in 1600 BC, today’s caldera was formed. The caldera is the depression that remains after the crater collapses inwards, in a place free of magma. Today the caldera is partially submerged and Santorini is a complex of several islands on its periphery. The landscape continues to change constantly because there is periodic underwater volcanic activity. Thus, in the centre of the caldera, there are two more islands of cold lava, which are increasingly emerging in recent years.

Wine tasting in Santorini

After a 20-minute drive by bus, we reached the ridge. We arrived at the Venetsanos winery, one of the oldest and most picturesque on the island. We sat on a table on the terrace and tasted wines from local varieties, overlooking the caldera.

Santorini wine from the Assyrtiko grape, the most popular grape on the island - Aegean sea cruise in Greece and Turkey
Santorini wine from the Assyrtiko grape, the most popular grape on the island

We will mention them quickly because there will be another dedicated article. But what you need to know is that this location of the Venetsanos winery today is a museum with wonderfully preserved wine-making facilities from several decades ago. They were extremely interesting. We saw the first generator of electricity on the island.

We tasted three local wines, which we all liked. For home, we took bottles from the white wine, Santorini series, Assyrtiko variety, which is traditional for the island, but also for other places in Greece. The red was from another local variety – Mandilaria. We were extremely impressed by the dessert wine Liastos, again from Mandilaria grape, vintage 2001. Made from dried grapes, aged in French oak (17 years said). Still, it was great, and we left the winery with a few bottles. Although quite good, the wines had fairly high prices, but we still supported the local wine production and took a few bottles.

Old winemaking facilities at the Venetsanos winery on Santorini island
Old winemaking facilities at the Venetsanos winery on Santorini island

The most photogenic place in Santorini – the village of Oia

After the winery, we headed for a photo walk in the village of Oia, where are the famous white churches with blue roofs and that stunning sunset. We were not lucky enough to admire the sunset in its full glory, but we still took a walk with the several thousand other tourists on the streets and took pictures. Our local guide Ginnie recommended to come in November to really enjoy Santorini, and that’s probably what we will do.

Oia village and the blue-roofed churches
Oia village and the blue-roofed churches
The streets of Santorini
The streets of Santorini
Just before the cloudy sunset on Santorini
Just before the cloudy sunset on Santorini
Here we are on the beautiful landscape
Here we are on the beautiful landscape

Going back home with Olympia and Celestyal Cruises

Olympia has become our home, to which we hurried to return at least twice a day so that it does not leave us behind. Such things happen sometimes, so when being on a cruise, you must strictly follow the schedules for disembarking and boarding.

Olympia ship owned by Celestyal Cruises
Celestyal Olympia ship on a cruise in Aegean sea

We were in a hurry at the end, but we manage to take the last boat to the ship and 10 minutes later we were relieved to sit down on the table at the restaurant. Our last dinner was in a slightly tired mood, but full of satisfaction, joy and cheerful conversations with colleagues. Adrian, the manager of the restaurant, again offered us great wine.

We didn’t have power for dances that night and headed straight to the cabins for a very quick nap because at 6 in the morning we had to end our cruise in the Aegean Sea and the beautiful Greek islands and get off the ship in Athens. Immediately after disembarking, with an organised transfer, we left for Athens Airport to catch Aegean Airlines flights to Sofia at 9:05 am.

Breakfast at Leda buffet on Celestyal Olympia
Breakfast at Leda buffet on Celestyal Olympia

Good to know when travelling on a cruise ship

Our first cruise in the Aegean went great and we were more than lucky to travel with Celestyal Cruises. The company has two ships – Olympia and Crystal. Olympia sails on 3 and 4-day cruises on the Greek islands. Crystal serves 7-day trips to many interesting destinations, including a cruise on 3 continents. However, if you have never been to cruise before, we would recommend trying a three-day cruise. Because you never know how you will handle with the sea. The first day we encountered strong winds and swinging and not everyone felt very well on the ship.

For the next two days, the sea was calm, and we had no problems. Sprite, Coca-Cola and mint tea help with seasickness.

Lunch onboard Olympia
Lunch onboard Olympia

How much does it cost – the price of our cruise in the Aegean and Greek islands

The price of the cruise depends mostly on what cabin you choose. In the most basic inner cabins with twin beds, you can book a three-day cruise in the Aegean Sea for less than 300 euros per person. If you do not want to spend a lot of time in your cabin (objectively, it is unnecessary, because the common areas are many and wonderful), you can travel on budget and still enjoy all other amenities. If you want to stay in something closer to a hotel room than a hostel, there are a variety of suites and apartments.

The price is All-Inclusive and includes 3 meals a day, unlimited classic drinks and use of all bars and common areas. There is also an on-site spa with additional services, as well as several shops.

The ship also has a cosy library hall with books in various languages.
The ship also has a cosy library hall with books in various languages.
The gym, which is free to use by all guests
The gym, which is free to use by all guests

The price of the trip usually includes 2 excursions and you can disembark and walk freely on yourself to all destinations (except Santorini, where you need boat tickets). You can also book additional excursions, including themed trips, tastings, culinary experiences and more.

Celestyal Cruises ships depart from the port of Lavrion, near Athens, but for some voyages you can board from other ports, such as Thessaloniki and Kusadasi.

During the 2022 season, Celestyal Cruises ships follow strict health protocol. Boarding is only allowed after presenting a vaccination certificate for Covid-19, plus an antigen test for Covid-19 made 24 hours before the trip. Wearing masks in indoor common areas is mandatory, except for seating in bars and restaurants. If your cruise also includes a destination outside the EU, e. g. Kusadasi, you also need a passport valid for at least 6 months.

How to organise a cruise in the Aegean Sea: booking, logistics and other organisational stuff

If you decide to travel with Celestyal Cruises, you can buy the desired package directly from their website. There you will find all the dates, routes, prices and everything you need as information.

We flew to Athens with Aegean Airlines, which we were very pleased with. You can also find flight, hotel and cruise packages at a pretty good price from the travel agencies that work with Celestyal Cruises, so ask your agent. If you prefer doing it on your own, just book the cruise from the website, plane with your favourite airline and hotel with Booking.

The company also offers a cruise package + several nights in Athens + transport to and from the hotel, which you can also consider as an option.

Instead of a finale

If you have read this far, then you must be very enthusiastic about going on a cruise. And we can only congratulate you because the experience in the Aegean Sea with Celestyal Cruises is well worth the time, energy and money. Very rarely have we felt so cared for and happy with the good time spent, as onboard Olympia.

Windy moments onboard Celestyal Olympia
Windy moments onboard Celestyal Olympia

Follow us: Instagram and Facebook


Subscribe to our English newsletter

* indicates required

You may also like

Copyrighted Image