Cruise Search

Blue Water Holidays Blog

Read the latest small ship, luxury and river news and features from the experts.

Greek Island-Hopping Small Ship Cruise Review

Thurs 11 Sept 2014

"We embarked 49-passenger Panorama II at Marina Zea in Athens for our relaxing Aegean Odyssey island-hopping cruise around the lesser-known gems of the Greek Islands. The first thing that struck us about the ship was the superb outside space on board. On a small-ship cruise like this, one of the best things is to be able to soak up the beautiful sights from the sun deck, or simply read a book in the shade at one of the many seating areas.

Another reason we chose this cruise was for the wonderful and unique swim stops. Again we were spoilt, with several stops in secluded bays for swimming, snorkelling and even kayaking from the ship’s rear platform. Everyone on board joined in and several happy hours were spent swimming in the miraculously clear waters of the Aegean Sea.

Panorama II in Syros Traditional windmills in Mykonos Ancient ruins of Ephesus Monastery of St John Ephesus Library Ephesus Ampitheatre Town Hall in Syros Monastery of St John Santorini Patmos Syros Plenty of opportunities for swim stops Sunrise over the Greek Islands

Due to the small size of this motor sailing ship, everyone quickly got to know each other and enjoyed chatting over a glass of wine or local Greek beer (very good – I recommend Mythos!). With guests from numerous countries including New Zealand, Australia, France, America and Britain, the atmosphere on board was informal and unhurried – perfect for this beautiful destination.

I have been to Greece several times before, but was delighted at the sheer variety of the islands we visited. For me, these cruises are all about discovering hidden Greece. Far removed from the resorts on the larger islands, these destinations reveal sleepy villages of winding marble-clad streets; authentic Greek tavernas where the locals come to eat (at local prices!); sandy beaches with peaceful turquoise seas, and lots of ancient and medieval history to discover.

We enjoyed visiting islands that the tourists simply haven’t got to yet – Patmos with its imposing monastery and Grotto of St John; unspoiled Syros with its beautiful beaches and medieval town, and delightful Samos with its friendly bars, tavernas and shops. Of course, also amongst the highlights were the sunset on stunning Santorini, a tour of ancient Ephesus and a night in glamorous Mykonos.

The crew on board were helpful and knowledgeable and went out of their way to make this cruise special. The bar staff knew our favourite drinks after just one day, and the ship was always immaculately clean and well looked after.

Instead of eating meals in the main dining room, everyone was welcomed on deck for meals – what better experience is there than eating delicious, freshly-prepared Greek food in the open air, with tantalising views of white-washed villages perched on cliff-tops? Half-board accommodation was a real bonus, as depending on the schedule we could either enjoy lunch or dinner in a traditional Greek taverna onshore. Most of the time we ate dinner on land, but had a memorable Greek night, complete with Greek dancing, plus excellent five course Captain's Dinner on board ship.

As on any small ship, the weather dictates the route to a certain extent and the itinerary is never set in stone. When overnight winds sprung up making visiting Mykonos that day impossible, we were taken to the island of Syros instead. By 9am, we had been given island information, maps, bus timetables, details of local beaches and even a guided walk around the town – the superb cruise co-ordinator Chara had obviously been up very early making sure we would have everything we could possibly need to spend a wonderful day on the island. We made it to Mykonos the next day so everyone was more than happy!

All in all, I have nothing but admiration for these relaxed, small ship cruises. With destinations ranging from Greece, Croatia and Italy to the exotic Seychelles, Cuba and the Azores, there is enough variety to keep anyone interested for many years!"

Blue Water Holidays Blog