Sailing to Mykonos
Ephesus and Isle of Patmos - Apostle John
Docking in Turkey, enjoy a tour of Ephesus, the city of the Bible and one of the largest restorations still in progress with miles of ancient treasures. Ephesus was once a thriving port town of 250,000 people. Today you can still see the spectacular excavations of the major streets in this ancient city including the Agora, the Odeon, the Library, the marble-paved main Street, the Baths, Trajan’s Fountain, the Residences of the Patricians, the Prytaneum, and Temple of Hadrian. The Great Theatre, built in the 4th century B.C., could accommodate 24,000 spectators and it is famous even nowadays for its acoustics. This afternoon we visit the Isle of Patmos, under statutory protection as a historic monument. Here we have a tour to see the fortified monastery of St. John and the cave claimed to be where John received the Revelation. Back on the ship, enjoy the Captain's dinner before settling in to your cabin for the night.
Crete and Santorini
Crete is the largest and the most rugged of the Greek islands. Take a tour to Heraklion and the fantastic ruins of the Palace of Knossos. Discovered in 1899 and partially reconstructed, the elaborate Palace is believed to be the mythical Labyrinth of King Minos and the seat of ancient Minoan culture. This afternoon visit the island of Santorini which is perhaps the most breathtaking of all the Greek Islands. You may choose to take an optional panoramic bus tour viewing some of the most spectacular scenery of the Aegean. Travel through countless villages and settlements with delicate architecture and beauties eventually arriving in Oia. During your time in Oia, visit the many narrow streets, open-air cafes and glittering boutiques. Upon returning to the ship, we view the lace-like caldera, the little islands of Thirasia, Palea, & Nea Kameni. We arrive at the ship for dinner and evening entertainment.
We disembark the cruise this morning and travel west with a rest stop and photos at the Corinth Canal. Next, we visit ancient Corinth, the city that inspired many of Paul's most familiar letters and is a highlight for the New Testament scholar. See the Archaeological Museum, the Market Place, the Bema, and the Temples. To enjoy a devotional in the midst of the ruins of the church of Corinth and see the pillars, steps, and public worship place where Paul preached will enhance your understanding and love for the Bible. The ruins of this important cultural center are fascinating as we walk along the stone path that the Apostle Paul walked. Another important stop is a visit to Diolkos where we view the paved trackway which enabled boats to be moved overland across the Isthmus of Corinth and served as a life line for Corinth. This shortcut allowed ancient vessels to avoid the long and dangerous circumnavigation of the Peloponnese peninsula. Before returning to Athens, we will visit Cenchreae, the ancient port region of Corinth.
Following breakfast this morning we tour Athens, the foundation of democracy. We visit the Acropolis, the Parthenon, and Erectheum before viewing Athens atop Mars Hill where Paul stood and preached the truth to the Gentile nation. From atop Mars Hill we view the Agora below, the ancient marketplace and center of Athenian public life. Additional sites viewed during our panoramic bus tour are, the House of Parliament, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Olympic Stadium, and Presidential Palace. An option later this afternoon is a visit to the famous Plaka with a multitude of shops and cafes.
From Athens, our tour travels northward past Thermopylae where we learn of the famous Spartan battle of 300. We continue through the mountains to Meteora. Here we see the world famous Byzantine monasteries that are perched precariously on summits of gray rock pinnacles of varied and beautiful shapes. Their history goes back to the 14th century when the monks sought refuge in the cliffside caves then fled higher to build the original wooden shelters, later transformed into monasteries. Late evening return to our hotel in Athens.
Athens Free Day
Your free day provides a mix of ancient history, cultural experiences, and the vibrant modern life of Athens, offering a well-rounded and memorable day as a tourist in the Greek capital. Keep in mind that this is just a suggested plan, and you may choose to adjust it based on your interests and preferences.
Some options include the following:
Morning: Visit Syntagma Square and Ermou Street
Head back to the city center, Syntagma Square, and watch the changing of the guard ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in front of the Greek Parliament. Afterwards, take a stroll down Ermou Street, one of Athens' main shopping streets, and enjoy the lively atmosphere.
Lunch: Plaka District
Head to the Plaka district, a charming neighborhood with narrow streets, neoclassical architecture, and a plethora of cafes and restaurants. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at a traditional Greek taverna. Try local dishes such as moussaka, souvlaki, or Greek salad.
Afternoon: Monastiraki and Ancient Agora
After lunch, stroll through the lively Monastiraki flea market. You can shop for souvenirs, antiques, and local crafts. From there, walk to the Ancient Agora, the central gathering place of ancient Athens. Explore the Temple of Hephaestus and the Stoa of Attalos.
Late Afternoon: Lycabettus Hill
For a panoramic view of the city, head to Lycabettus Hill. You can hike to the top or take the funicular railway. Enjoy the breathtaking sunset and take some time to relax in the beautiful surroundings.
Dinner: Psiri District
End your day in the Psiri district, known for its vibrant nightlife and array of restaurants and bars. Choose a traditional Greek taverna for dinner and savor local specialties. Afterward, explore the lively streets and perhaps catch some live music or enjoy a drink in one of the cozy restaurants.
Visit to Island of Hydra
Morning: Arrival and Explore Hydra Town
Take a stroll through Hydra Town, characterized by its stone-paved narrow streets and neoclassical architecture. Explore the town's charming alleys, visit small shops, and discover hidden gems. Make your way to the Historical Archive-Museum of Hydra to learn more about the island's history and culture.
Lunch: Seafood by the Harbor
For lunch, indulge in fresh seafood at one of the waterfront tavernas. Hydra is known for its delicious seafood dishes, and you can savor a variety of options while enjoying the view of the harbor. Octopus, grilled fish, and traditional Greek salads are popular choices.
Midday: Beach Time or Boat Excursion
If you're interested in some beach time, head to one of Hydra's beaches like Mandraki or Bisti. Alternatively, consider taking a boat excursion to secluded coves and beaches around the island. Hydra's crystal-clear waters make for a refreshing swim.
Afternoon: Hydra's Historical Sites
In the afternoon, visit the Hydra Cathedral, located in the heart of Hydra Town. Admire its beautiful architecture and explore the surrounding area. You can also visit the Hydra Merchant Marine Academy, housed in a historic building. Head to Kala Pigadia, a unique spot where natural springs meet the sea. It's a lovely place to relax and enjoy the late afternoon sun. Take a moment to dip your toes in the refreshing water and capture the beautiful scenery.
Ferry back to Athens