Athens and Greek Isles Cruise information by Friendly Planet

Athens and Greek Isles Cruise information by Friendly Planet

Athens : Greece | Jul 03, 2012 at 5:21 PM PDT
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Cruising the Greek Islands 2012 with Collette Vacations

Includes airfare, fuel surcharges, airline taxes and fees, hotels, transfers, many meals, touring & more. * Don't miss your chance to tour Athens and the Greek Isles and experience all the wonders they have to offer. Athens is the city where past meets present and east meets west, and where you will begin a magical vacation to Greece. Enjoy three nights in the city that is known as the birthplace of western civilization, then sail off into the Greek world of sparkling blue waters, Mediterranean sunshine and ancient islands full of history, myth, and ancient wonders. Our package includes flights, superior hotel accommodations in Athens for three nights, a Greek Island cruise for three nights, buffet breakfast daily, all meals aboard the cruise, and transfers. Explore on your own, or take interesting and inexpensive optional tours of Athens and the Greek Islands. All the flexibility and fun is yours for incredibly low prices. And, if your schedule permits, why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare, and join us on an inexpensive and exciting Classic Greece extension? Other packages you might like:* Prices are per person, based on double occupancy, and include airfare and Airline Taxes, Fees & Sept. 11th Security Fee. Prices do not include excess baggage fees, extensions or optional items. Prices in orange reflect an early booking discount for bookings made by 7/11/2012.Reservations are taken on a request basis so that cabin preferences can be confirmed. Please allow 24 to 48 hours for us to confirm availability. Also please note that shore excursions are no longer available for presale and must be booked locally through your cruise ship.1. Optional tours package must be pre-booked to receive discounted price. Coming from somewhere else? Ask us about availability and prices for flights from other cities.Want to stay longer? We may be able to arrange for you to extend your stay later than the scheduled dates, subject to availability. Contact us about dates, prices and restrictions.NOTE: Land only passengers are responsible for arranging their own airport transfers at the beginning and at the end of the tour. Day 1: Depart USA. Your exciting journey to Greece begins this evening as you check in for your overnight flight. Day 2: Athens. You'll be met by our representative and then escorted to your centrally located hotel. Athens, the birthplace of western civilization, once hailed as the Paris of the Mediterranean, is now a bustling modern city, a colorful tapestry of eastern and western influences, full of outdoor cafes, pedestrian streets, parks and gardens, street bazaars, dilapidated mansions and ancient ruins. Divani Palace Acropolis Day 3: Athens/Piraeus & Mykonos. Transfer to Piraeus this morning to board your cruise ship, the Louis Cruise Lines' Olympia. Spend the afternoon enjoying the sun, sea breezes, pool and shipboard facilities. Arrive at the gorgeous island of Mykonos later this evening. Enjoy a stroll through Mykonos town with its labyrinth of winding alleyways and whitewashed buildings, basket-laden donkeys, cascading geraniums and upscale shops and cafes. ( will be accommodated on the MV Cristal.) (B,L,D) Explore on your own, or enjoy an optional shore excursion. The Oct 31, 2012 sailing follows a different itinerary on days 3, 4 & 5. Day 4: Patmos & Kusadasi, Turkey. Arrive in Kusadasi, Turkey this morning. Just ten kilometers from the port of Kusadasi, you'll find the ancient city of Ephessos, where you'll find an archaeological site that ranks among the wonders of the world. Explore this fascinating town where history truly comes to life on an optional tour that includes the Great Theatre of Ephessos, which had a capacity of 25,000 people, and the Library of Celsus dating from 135 A.D. Explore on your own, or enjoy a variety of optional shore excursions. Return to the ship in time to enjoy lunch as you sail to Patmos, Greece. Disembark at Skala harbor, a lively place with whitewashed houses, flowered courtyards, tavernas and shops. The Island of Patmos is famous in history as the place where St. John wrote the Book of Revelation. An optional tour takes you to the cave where St. John lived and the nearby Monastery, built on one of the island's highest points, housing priceless icons and manuscripts in its Treasury. (B,L,D) Explore on your own, or enjoy a variety of optional shore excursions. Day 5: Santorini. Arrive in Santorini early this morning. This striking island is a volcanic crater immersed in the sea. The island is famous for its breathtaking and rugged landscapes, whitewashed houses, open-air cafes and glittering boutiques which cling to steep cliffs, accessible by foot, cable car or mule. Enjoy an optional tour of Santorini that takes you up along the volcanic caldera. Pass through the rocky landscape and several traditional villages to Oia, a town that brims with many fine examples of Cycladic architecture. Return to the ship for a final evening at sea. (B,L,D) Explore on your own, or enjoy a variety of optional shore excursions. Day 6: Piraeus/Athens. Disembark from your ship at Piraeus. Enjoy a full day to explore Athens. Your hotel is ideally located in the heart of the city, within short distance of many major attractions, as well as the best shopping and dining. Our Athens representatives will be glad to make suggestions if you prefer to explore independently. To make the most of your visit, our representatives will offer you some exclusive excursions to the city's highlights, including a half-day tour of Athens in the morning (€68 per person) and a tour of Cape Sounion in the evening (€43 per person). See tour descriptions and special discounted rates below. Or continue on our Classical Greece Extension. Divani Palace Acropolis (B) Day 7: Athens. Enjoy a full day to explore Athens on your own or on optional tours. We suggest an evening at the Plaka, where you'll find typical Greek taverns complete with music, dancing, and celebratory throwing of plates. It's an experience not to be missed! (B) Day 8: Athens/USA. Bid farewell to Athens as you're escorted to the airport to board your return flight. Your journey comes to an end as you arrive in the USA later today. (B) Days 1–2: Same as above. Day 3: Athens/Piraeus. Transfer to Piraeus this morning to board your cruise ship. Spend the afternoon enjoying the sun, sea breezes, pool and shipboard facilities as we set sail to Istanbul, Turkey. MV Cristal (B,L,D) Day 4: Istanbul, Turkey. This morning arrive in Istanbul, a city at the meeting point of two continents—Europe and Asia. Istanbul boasts some of the world's most magnificent architecture such as Agia Sophia, the Blue Mosque, and the Topkapi Palace with its treasures of the Ottoman Empire. (B,L,D) Day 5: Izmir, Turkey. This morning, arrive in Izmir, known in antiquity as Smyrna and famous for its figs. It is the third largest city and the second largest port in Turkey. The epic poet Homer is believed to have been born in Izmir. Enjoy the afternoon in one of the most picturesque towns on the Turkish Aegean coast. (B,L,D) Days 6–8: Same as above. Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare and visit the classical cities of Corinth, Mycenae, Olympia, and Delphi? Your extension includes superior hotels, most meals and guided touring of the most fascinating of the classical cities of Greece including entrance fees to places visited. Day 6: Athens, Mycenae & Olympia. After breakfast this morning, board your touring coach and begin a tour of the classical cities of Greece. Drive across the Corinth Canal, which connects the Ionian Sea with the Aegean, to the Peloponnesian Peninsula, where 4,000 years of history are more fully and comprehensibly illustrated than anywhere else in Europe. Here we'll visit the famous theater of Epidaurus, the best preserved in Greece, which reached the height of its fame in the 5th & 4th centuries B.C. The acoustics are so perfect that even from the last of the 55 tiers, every word can be heard. Continue to ancient Mycenae, which, according to the poets, was founded by Perseus and built with the aid of the mythological Cyclops. Drive on to Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic games, for dinner and overnight. Hotel Amalia Olympia or similar. (B,D) Day 7: Olympia, Nafpaktos & Delphi. This morning we'll tour the archeological site and museum at Olympia, where the Olympic games were conceived as a tribute to Hercules, son of Zeus. These games were the most important international event in the Hellenic world from 776 B.C. to 393 A.D. and continue today, with the lighting of the Olympic flame that is carried by runners throughout the world. Visit the Sanctuary of the Olympian Zeus and the Museum. This afternoon we drive via Patras to Rion, Antirion and picturesque Nafpaktos, where according to mythology, Hercules slew the Erymanthine boar and where we'll view the lovely circular Venetian harbor. Continue our drive to Delphi for dinner and overnight. Hotel Amalia Delphi or similar. (B,D) Day 8: Delphi & Kalambaka. After breakfast we'll explore the ancient site of Delphi, located on the slopes of the breathtaking Mount Parnassus, in a landscape of unparalleled beauty and majesty. Here lie the ruins of the Sanctuary of Apollo Pythios, the Treasury of the Athenians, the Temple of Apollo and the museum, which contains masterpieces of ancient Greek sculpture including the famous bronze Charioteer. The site had been sacred since at least the Bronze Age. According to legend, the shrine was originally guarded by the she-dragon Pytho. She was killed by Apollo who then took over the oracle. In antiquity, Delphi was regarded as the center of the world. Later, we'll depart for the small town of Kalambaka, built at the foot of the majestic gray rocks, at the point where the river Pinios leaves the Pindos Mountain. Hotel Amalia Kalambaka or similar. (B,D) Day 9: Meteora & Athens. This morning we will visit the spectacular Meteora monasteries, perched upon the summits of some precipitous and isolated rocky pinnacles, which rise above the almost flat valley of the Pinios river, 9 km beyond Kalambaka. The monastic history of Meteora goes back to the 11th century AD, when the monks constructed inaccessible eagle's nests in the crannies of these rocks and today, four are still occupied. Later this afternoon we'll drive back to Athens, via Thermopylae, famous battleground from the Persian wars. Arrive in Athens and check in at our hotel. Divani Palace Acropolis or similar. (B) Day 10: Athens. Enjoy a full day to explore Athens on your own or on optional tours (see below). (B) Day 11: Athens/USA. Today you'll be escorted to the airport and bid farewell to Athens as you board your flight back home. Your exciting journey comes to an end as you arrive in the USA later today. (B) To take full advantage of your visit to Greece, we offer a package of the most popular optional tours featured on our tour, for the discounted price of $145/person if you book and prepay prior to departure. Half Day Athens
The striking contrast between breathtaking monuments of a glorious past and modern elegant structures is what you will enjoy during your tour of Athens. Visit the Acropolis,the crowning beauty and glory of Ancient Athens, with its many monuments atop its rocky base, including the awesome Parthenon, the Propylea, the temple of Athena Nike and the Erechtheion, with its Porch of Maidens. Drive to the Roman Temple of Olympic Zeus, the Panathinaikon Stadium(site of the first modern Olympic Games in 1896), the Tomb of the unknown Soldier in front of the Parliament House on Constitution Square. See views of government buildings and elegant structures of the 19th century. Drive along Panepistimiou Avenue and view the Catholic Cathedral, the Academy, University, National Library. In contrast, conclude your tour with a visit to the , a marvel of architecture with a full exhibition of the glory of Ancient Athens. (€68 per person) Cape Sounion
Drive along the coastal road past countless coves and the beautiful beaches of Glyfada, Vouliagmeni, and Varkiza to Cape Sounion. Dominated by the spectacular Temple of Poseidon, the sanctuary at Sounion is one of the most important archeological sites in Attica. Although evidence suggests that the site dates back to the prehistoric period, the sanctuary is first mentioned in Homer’s , as the place where Menelaos stopped during his return from Troy to bury his helmsman, Phrontes Onetorides. Learn about the rich history of this area as you take in stunning views of the Aegean on this fascinating optional excursion. (€43 per person) Our discounted optional tours package includes both the Athens half-day & Cape Sounion tours. Get both for the special package price of $145/person if you book and prepay prior to departure. Or book these tours individually when you arrive in Greece for a little more (€111/person, or approximately $155/person, for both).To help you take full advantage of your visit to the Mediterranean, exciting optional shore excursions are offered at each port-of-call. You may purchase shore excursions during your briefing upon arrival in Athens or once aboard your ship. We suggest pre-booking at the briefing to guarantee your spot and avoid lines and hassle during your vacation. Excursions are priced and paid for in Euros (you can pay with credit card or cash). For your convenience, we have also listed approximate conversions to U.S. dollars (accurate as of Oct, 2011). Drive through the colorful town of Kusadasi to reach Mt. Koressos. Situated in a small valley, the humble chapel lies on the site of the little house where the Virgin Mary is believed to have spent her last days. Despite the many controversies, the Christian World still favours this belief and the site has been officially sanctioned by the Vatican for pilgrimage. Continue on to Ancient Ephesus accompanied by your guide walk through the Magnesian Gate which is the entrance to the ancient city of Ephesus. Your guided walking tour will take you through one of the most magnificent excavations in the world. See the Odeon (concert hall), the Fountain of Trajan, the steam-heated Baths of Scolastika, the Temple of Hadrian and the Latrians, the Library of Celsus and The Great Theatre, the largest one in antiquity with a capacity of 24,000 seats where St. Paul preached. Walk back to the coach along the Arcadian Way, where Mark Anthony and Cleopatra once rode in procession. While driving back to Kusadasi and just outside Ephesus, view the Basilica of St. John, which was erected over his grave in the 6th century A.D. by Emperor Justinian. Before returning to the ship, enjoy free time in Kusadasi or get a cultural taste of Turkey by enjoying an exhibition of oriental carpets, jewelery or leather goods. Drive through the colourful town of Kusadasi and along the coast to reach Ephesus, famous in antiquity for its Temple of Diana—one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World—and later the home of St. John. During the years of the Roman Empire, the Greek port of Ephesus became the greatest city in Asia Minor. Upon arrival at Ephesus follow your guide to enter the ancient site through the Magnesian Gate. Discover innumerable monuments including the Forum, the Odeon, the Library of Celsus, the Thermal Baths of Scolastika and the Great Theatre built in the Greek era and reconstructed in the Roman period, which is still noted for its remarkable acoustics. View the symbols all around and marvel at the fact that one is still able to read the inscriptions in the ancient Greek language. Walk back to your coach along the Arcadian Way, where once Mark Anthony and Cleopatra rode in procession. As you drive back to Kusadasi, on a hill above Selcuk, just outside Ephesus, view the Basilica of St. John, which was erected over his grave in the 6th century A.D. by Emperor Justinian. Before returning to the ship, enjoy free time in Kusadasi or get a cultural taste of Turkey by enjoying an exhibition of oriental carpets, jewellery or leather goods. Mykonos is world famous as the most cosmopolitan of the Greek Islands, attracting many visitors from all over the globe, including artists and intellectuals. Your coach will take you to "Hora" the island’s capital where you will enjoy a walking tour in the narrow cobbled streets of the town, passing by chic boutiques, elegant nightclubs and white-washed houses until reaching Alefkandra. Alefkandra is a charming corner of Hora, known also as the "Venice" of Mykonos. The houses are built on the sea, with wooden balconies that evoke Venice. These were built from the mid. 18th century onward and were homes of wealthy merchants and captains. At Louis Theoxenia Hotel, you will enjoy the atmosphere while drinking your refreshment accompanied by Greek ‘meze’. You will return then to Mykonos Town (Hora) from where you will take the ship’s shuttle service back to the port to meet your ship. Depart from the port of Scala and enjoy a short drive to the village of Chora, where the Monastery of St. John is built within the walls of a strong fortification. As you walk uphill towards the entrance of the monastery marvel at this magnificent structure, which was built 900 years ago. View the courtyard, the monks’ dining room and the old bakery before you visit the main church noted for its outstanding frescoes and interior decoration. Next, visit the small museum where priceless ecclesiastical treasures, books, manuscripts, mosaics, icons, splendid medieval textiles, vestments and jewellery are housed. Return to your motor coach and continue to the nearby Grotto of the Apocalypse. Walk down the steps to the Grotto of the Apocalypse. Here you will see the niches in the wall that mark the pillow and ledge used as a desk by the author of the Book of the Revelation and the crack in the rock made by the voice of God honoring the Holy Trinity. Afterwards, drive back to the port of Scala and enjoy some free time in this quaint and picturesque town. An interesting scenic island tour has been designed for those passengers who prefer to discover the beauties of Patmos from the comfort of an air-conditioned motor coach. Start the tour from the port of Scala and drive to the central part of the island "Chora" which is the location of the Majestic Byzantine Monastery of St. John the Divine, built in 1088. Your sightseeing will first bring you to the Grotto of the Apocalypse, and then to the windmills of Chora, once upon a time the landmark of all Aegean Islands, from where you will enjoy a beautiful view and have the chance to take photos. Afterwards, continue around the island to see its landscape of outstanding natural beauty comprising of rocky hills, dozens of tongues of land reaching out into the sea, tranquil beaches and many picturesque inlets. Before arriving at the port, a stop of 10 minutes is made at the square at Kambos in the north part of island. The tour ends at the port of Scala to enjoy free time in the quaint and picturesque little town. A refreshment or a coffee will be offered at Arion Café, the oldest and most beautiful café of the town. Driving along the road you will have the unique opportunity to admire the panoramic view of the Aegean Sea and the neighboring islands. A unique sight is the various layers of lava that can be seen on the face of the rock, each layer being another phase of the activity of the volcano. Built on the Caldera rim, Oia Village is an excellent example of Cycladic architecture. Explore the village walking along the cobble-stone streets and the white washed houses with blue shutters where one gets the impression that they are a beautiful travel poster. Your excursion will end in Fira where your guide will show you the way to the cable car and you will make your own way back to the ship. Enjoy a cruise (on motorboat) around the active crater of Nea Kameni islet. Sail along the strange formations of its volcanic shores, where black lava rocks and white pumice are combined beautifully with the red color of lava. Take a walk to the top of the volcanic island where sulphur is spewed into the air by one of the craters. Enjoy this surreal landscape as your guide narrates the creation and history of the volcano and the last eruption leading to the destruction of the island of Santorini. The tidal wave created by the eruption was of such an immense magnitude, it destroyed the thriving city of Knossos on the island of Crete. As your caique enters the narrows of the two lava islets, Palea and Nea Kameni, the color of the water changes from dark blue to sulphur green. In the distance, admire the breathtaking sight of Fira town with its white washed houses clinging precariously on the rim of the Caldera. Take time to swim in the warm waters heated by Hot Springs on the sea floor. Your excursion will end in Fira where your guide will show you the way to the cable car and you will make your own way back to the ship. The Essence of Santorini (SAN – 06)
Adult: €75 ($99) Child: €45 ($60)
Duration: 7 hours You will board you coach and head towards the view point of Prophetes Ilias, from here you will be able to take marvellous pictures of all the different aspects of this unique island. Afterward you will be taken to the magical town of Oia, protagonist of the post cards of this unforgettable location. Your panoramic drive will allow you to have breathtaking views of the lava rocks of the islets of Nea Kameni and the Caldera below you. You will have free time to enjoy the landscape of Oia and the colourful shops and cafes with terrace overlooking the Aegean Sea. Your journey will continue to one of the most exclusive wineries of Santorini, where you will have the possibility to taste different kinds of wines. Finally your tour will bring you to see the Church of Panagia Episkopi. Located in the village of Episkopi Gonia, it is a beautiful Byzantine Church, built in the late 11th Century, and considered the best example of traditional ecclesiastical architecture of the island. Your journey will continue at the village of Kamari, placed on the coast of the island. Free time will be allocated, you will have the chance to stroll around the beach that extends to the feet of the Mesa Vouno mountain that rises up to a height of approx. 400m. Once an agricultural and fishing village, modern Kamari boasts a thriving tourist industry, offering a wide choice of restaurants, cafes and bars, plus several water sport activities. Your excursion will end in Fira where your guide will show you the way to the cable car and you will make your own way back to the ship.Akrotiri Village & Excavations (SAN – 08)
Adult: €69 ($91) Child: €44 ($58)
Duration: 4 hours In prehistoric times, the people who inhabited what today is known as Santorini, called the island Strongyle ("round"). These people enjoyed a high standard of living; they built two-story houses, tilled the earth and were skilled artists, recognizing the beauty of color. Around 1650 B.C., a volcanic eruption caused the centre of Strongyle to sink, leaving a caldera with high cliffs – one of the world’s most dramatic geological sights.
You will be transferred from the ship by local tender boat to Athinios port, where you will join the waiting motor coach. From here you will proceed towards the southern part of the island where you will visit the ruins of the famous windmill for a short photo stop. Here you will have the opportunity to enjoy the panoramic view and capture amazing photos. Further along you will be dropped off in the village of Akrotiri to have a short visit and walk around the village. Leaving here you will proceed to visit the famous antiquities at Akrotiri. There you will be taken back in time when you see these amazing ruins leaving you to imagine what life was like before the village was destroyed around 1650 B.C., by the eruption of the volcano of Thira. The one question you might ask yourself here is why there were no people left in the village at the time of the eruption, as it was abandoned for unknown reasons.
You will see buildings that were once two storied, city squares, shops and working areas. This appeared to have been a busy bustling area before the eruption. Some of the most famous Greek frescoes can be found in what is left of the once prominent and disposing homes. Some of the frescoes are also on display at the Pre-historical Museum in Fira town. It is often said in a whimsical way that perhaps Akrotiri is really the lost city of Atlantis.Finally, you will be taken by coach up to the centre of the island to Fira town where your tour will end after a short walk at the Metropolis Church. From there you may decide whether to stay in the town and do a bit of shopping or to make your way back to the ship directly by taking the cable car to the pier below.
See specifications, deck plans & photos of the ship. See specifications, deck plans & photos of the ship. Our tours may similar to others you've seen, but we invite you to shop & compare. There are important differences that make Friendly Planet tours the best you can find. No Compromise on Quality: Despite our extraordinary prices, there are no compromises on our Athens & Greek Islands cruise/tours. In Athens and on our Classical Greece extension, you'll stay in Superior First Class, centrally located hotels that are noted for their amenities and service. Included Features: Your group transfers are , not expensive extras as in other tours.Personal Service: Most important of all, the extra ingredient that makes our tours stand apart from others—the wonderful, personal attention you'll receive from our friendly staff in the USA and our representatives in Greece—is completely free of charge. Compare our Greece programs to others, feature for feature. You'll see for yourself that ours are the very best value for money you'll find anywhere.Transfers: Transfers for this tour are provided on a group basis only. For land-only passengers or for passengers deviating in any way from the group program, transfers are not provided. Individual, private transfers can be arranged at a supplement in price. Taxis and other forms of transportation are also available and may cost less than private transfers. If you wish to arrange private transfers, please request this service at the time of reservation. I loved this tour. The guide, Isa Levant was wonderfully personable and knowledgeable. The hotels were deluxe. The food very good. I am an artist and my next show is inspired by what I saw in Turkey. I am including some of my paintings. — Esther Charbit, Chicago, Il

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Scene from the Greek island of Santorini
Scene from the Greek island of Santorini
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