Let's be honest, the thought of going on a Greek Cruise sounds absolutely fabulous, but where in the world do you start planning such an amazing vacation with so many things to see? That was exactly my thought 4 years ago when I decided to begin planning a trip with my husband to Greece.
To Cruise or Not to Cruise???
At first, I thought the flight should be booked directly from Frankfurt Hahn to Athens, or the Island of Corfu, and then fly or drive to a few other cities from there. After checking numerous sites and prices I found that this particular route would end up being pretty expensive, with all of the flight and transfer costs. My main goals for this Greek vacation were to:
1. Make it as inexpensive as possible
2. Visit multiple Greek cities and destinations in a short amount of time
3. Enjoy+ relax
4. Have fun and take part in new adventures
So, after rigorous research scanning multiple travel sites and comparing airline, train, and ferry prices I decided that for our specific goals a cruise could meet all of our needs, and would allow us to see multiple places for a relatively low cost!
I found an amazing deal with Costa Cruise lines, you might remember it was the cruise line that capsized and sank in 2012, after hitting an underwater obstruction right off the coast of Tuscany.....but the prices were AMAZING, only around $400 per person for a seven night cruise departing from Sevona, Italy, visiting Rome (Citavecchia), Olympia (Katakolon), Athens, Santorini, Rhodes, and ending in Crete. I utilized Cruisecritic.com for research on the booking the cruise, and scanned through various forums before making the decision. Given the pricing, amazing destinations, and number of nights, it was an unbeatable deal!
So we set sail on the Costa Mediterranea and ended up loving it!! The food was decent, and the entertainment was hilariously awful, but we still had a wonderful time!! The pool deck was perfect for sunbathing, and there were hourly group workouts at the main pool, even Zumba!! At night the boat boasted a small casino which was nice for a drink or two, and a few games after dinner. I would definitely recommend getting a drink package if you plan to buy alcoholic beverages or soda, unless you want to pay an arm and a leg during the cruise ;) The workout facility had just enough for a good cardio workout, and maybe a little lifting session with a small variety of machines. Dinner was always really good with a variety of dishes and options, and offered really good wine! The ship hosted theme nights like toga and 80's nights, which was pretty fun to liven up the cruise experience.
Olympia (Katakolon) Excursion
I set out to make the best of our seven night Mediterranean cruise by making our time at each destination count. I decided I did not want to pay an arm and a leg for costly trip excursions, and took things into my own hands by booking private excursions that I could browse for based on price, and reviews on my own. I love Trip Advisor, so I used their suggestions, and their online forum to find private tours to two of the destinations, Olympia (Katakolon) and Athens.
I decided to do a private taxi transport to and from the Olympia (Katakolon) port. We were taken straight to the Olympia Archeological Museum, and the Floka Stadium. Given the extremely short cruise stop, I used Katakolon Taxi Tours katakolontaxitours.com to make our journey smooth and efficient. Our guide, Panagiotis Zaharopoulos, was great and even bought our museum and stadium tickets for us so we would not have to stand in line and waste time!!! We made it there and back with time to spare, and saw the ruins, arena, and toured the museum! I definitely recommend this option if you are short on time!
For our Athens excursion I knew that I wanted to see as much as possible in the, again, short time frame we were given at port. I also knew that the heat and distance of each site would be difficult to walk. While researching, I looked on a Trip Advisor travel forum and found an American couple that was booking the same cruise, and were interested in booking a taxi tour in Athens as well! We ended up joint-booking through Paul's Taxi Tours (greektaxi.gr), and had an amazing excursion, in a well air conditioned taxi I might add!! We saw everything from the Acropolis and Parthenon, to the National Archaeological Museum, and ended with a great lunch at an amazing local restaurant.
Our tour mates, ended up being our great friends and did pretty much everything with us on our cruise!! What are the odds?? We did not book any off-shore cruise excursions for the rest of the trip, but we did decide to rent ATVs in Santorini and skip the typical donkey rides, and it ended up being an absolute blast!! We rode around the entire island, visiting Oia and Fira, a beautiful hidden black sand beach we came across, and even had time to visit the famous Red Beach!!
In Rhodes we explored the majestic medieval town, including a visit to the Palace of Grand Master of Knights, had a great local lunch, shopped in some of the amazing handmade leather shops, and then spent some time on the beach! We even jumped off of a huge, maybe 40ft "give or take", tower in the ocean!!
Ending Our Trip in Beautiful Crete!!
When we ended our wonderful cruise, stopping in Crete, we were sad to leave but had found a nice little hotel in the town of Stavros, Greece to stay for a few extra nights before departing back home to Germany. My husband actually booked the hotel, and it ended up being wonderful! The rooms were right on the water, and there was a pool overlooking the sea. We were immediately greeted with a welcome glass of Greek red wine (so delicious)!! We set out to relax and enjoy our area so we walked around the dusty streets of a very small section of town, with only a select few shops and restaurants. We found a wonderful little beach, and a restaurant right on the water that served the best Greek salad I have ever had, and they served fresh watermelon for desert! Yumm!
After taking the last few days of our vacation relaxing and enjoying the local beaches in Stavros, we were off, back home to Germany!
It was one of the best vacations I have ever taken with my husband. I recommend taking a Greek Cruise if you want to travel to multiple destinations in Greece in a short time!! Definitely do your research and make the most of your trip. IT"S WORTH IT!! Enjoy travelers!!
Written By: Mary Christian | Blog Writer and Travel Enthusiast
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