An international destination that’s truly best experienced via cruise ship is the Greek Islands. Off the coast of mainland Greece, there are no less than 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the intensely blue water of the Aegean and Ionian Seas.
These beautifully rocky, sun-drenched islands have been home to some of Europe’s oldest civilizations: so, many of the islands feature distinctive archaeological sites in addition to abundant natural beauty.
As you plan to explore the Greek Islands via cruise, know that different types of cruise experiences are available to you. Some itineraries highlight the most popular islands, such as Mykonos, made famous in the 1960s by the “jet set” of wealthy traveling socialites. Others focus on less-visited ports for a different look at life in the islands.
Casual elegance, on ship and shore
Windstar Cruises blends those two approaches, providing a complete Greek Islands experience. If your Greek Islands cruise is going to be a romantic trip, Windstar is a perfect choice.
You’ll sail on the four-masted yacht Wind Star, and it’s hard to imagine anything more romantic than looking out to sea under billowing white sails (rest assured that the ships are motorized, too).Windstar’s philosophy of casual elegance is a good match with the Greek Islands, too. Life onboard is relaxed and easy. Simplicity is key: there are no formal nights (country-club casual is fine). The Wind Star carries a total of 148 passengers, adding to the feeling that you’re sailing on a private yacht. And, the smaller ship can glide right up to islands that are not so easily accessible to larger vessels.
You can enjoy water around the islands, too, from Windstar’s signature Water Sports Platform. The platform opens out from a lower deck of the ship and is stocked with equipment for windsurfing, paddle boarding, kayaking and more.
What can you see?
Let’s take a look at one of Windstar’s seven-day cruises, roundtrip from Athens aboard the Wind Star. Ports of call include:
If you arrive in Athens a day early, you can take in some of the city’s 3,000 years of history, including the Acropolis and its most famous temple, the Parthenon.
Before sailing to the islands, the ship will call on Nafplio, a port on the Peloponnese peninsula. Explore the medieval old town, and see the famous Epidaurus – the best-preserved of ancient Greek theaters – or the ruins of Mycenae, including the Lion Gate, the main entrance to the ancient citadel.
This island’s beaches are legendary, but you may opt to see the prettiest windmills outside of Holland, or the charming neighborhood called “Little Venice.” You can also visit the nearby island of Delos, said to be the birthplace of Apollo and his twin sister, Artemis.
John the Apostle wrote the Book of Revelation in a cave on this small island. Above the harbor, the Monastery of St. John the Theologian rises over the white-walled houses in the village of Chora. You can tour the monastery and visit the cave where St. John lived as he wrote.
Wake up early to be on deck when the ship approaches Santorini. You’ll sail into the caldera of an ancient volcano, surrounded by steep cliffs: a breathtaking sight. Take the cable car up the cliffs to shop in the traditional whitewashed villages and take in the inspiring views. You could also see the excavation of the Bronze Age village of Akrotiri, or drive to Oia to see the blue-domed churches.
This island, just off the Peloponnese peninsula, looks like a massive and uninhabited rock. But, it contains the ruins of an amazing medieval fortress. Walk the narrow streets of the old town, where walls and foundations date from the 12th century. Take time to taste the local olive oil and wine, too.
There are many other itineraries for sailing the Greek Islands, from Windstar and other cruise lines. See all the featured Windstar sailings here >>
Let Cruise Specialists help you find the one that’s perfect for you.