8 Important Ideas For Cruising The Greek Islands From A Seasoned Captain

I grew up watching Love Boat, an American tv present that was on each Saturday evening for 10 years. I nonetheless keep in mind the names of all of the characters — Doc, Julie, Gopher, and Isaac — however I largely keep in mind Captain Stubing. And don’t even get me began on singing the tune. So think about my delight after I had the prospect to fulfill a real-life sea captain; this time named Captain Angelos Vassilakos.

My husband, Jason, and I have been aboard the Celestyal Crystal for 7 days cruising the Aegean and exploring the Greek Islands. I had the prospect to fulfill the captain on the bridge and requested him to share his ideas for cruising the islands. A number of days later, we had dinner and continued the dialog.

To set the scene, Captain Vassilakos has spent his complete 35-year profession on the ocean. He began engaged on cargo ships, then served within the Hellenic (Greek) Navy, and eventually moved into the cruise trade. He’s a proud Greek citizen and resides together with his spouse and household in a small seaside city.

Celesytal cruise ship anchored in the Aegean Sea

Celesytal cruise ship anchored within the Aegean Sea

Picture credit score: Roger Utting / Shutterstock.com

1. Select A Small Ship That Can Go to Smaller Islands

The pattern in cruising has leaned towards bigger ships, some accommodating over 5,000 passengers. These mega-ships have added basketball courts, climbing partitions, and water parks to draw a large viewers. Throughout our latest cruise, we sailed previous a number of of those extra-large ships and I admit that these further facilities seemed intriguing. 

However on the flip facet, as Captain Vassilakos identified, bigger ships aren’t allowed to go to smaller islands — and there are tons of of small islands in Greece. All cruise ships will go to the wildly widespread islands of Mykonos and Santorini, however smaller gems like Milos, Patmos, Kavala, and Volos can solely be loved with a smaller ship.

Captain Vassilakos recommends ships now not than 220 meters (about 722 toes). Our ship, the Celestyal Crystal, was simply 160 meters (525 toes), so it may simply attain most of the smaller islands within the Aegean.

Professional Tip: If in case you have the prospect to cruise the Greek Islands, I extremely suggest an itinerary that features Milos. That is the place the place the well-known Venus de Milo statue was found in 1820. And since it isn’t on the itineraries of bigger ships, there are far fewer vacationers than on the better-known islands.

Cheese, spinach, and potato pies from the oldest bakery on Mykonos

Cheese, spinach, and potato pies from the oldest bakery on Mykonos

Picture credit score: Wendy Lee

2. Eat As A lot Native Meals As Attainable

The Celestyal cooks supply Greek specialties for all meals. One evening, I used to be lucky to dine on a beneficiant portion of moussaka, a conventional Greek eggplant casserole. One other evening, I opted for the candy and sticky baklava for dessert. And never a day glided by that I didn’t get pleasure from a Greek salad. 

However the ship can’t probably supply specialties from all of the completely different ports, so Captain Vassilakos encourages passengers to hunt out a few of these hyper-local dishes whereas on land. One in all his private favorites is a cheese pie known as bougatsa, out there solely in Thessaloniki.

Jason and I took the captain’s recommendation to coronary heart. Throughout our tour in Milos, our information really useful we strive the island’s specialty — karpouzopita (watermelon pie). By no means one to go up dessert, Jason and I instantly headed for the native bakery to do this pie. It was scrumptious. 

Whereas exploring Mykonos, we popped into the oldest bakery on the island, Gioras, and sampled native variations of cheese, spinach, and potato pie — all tasty.

Professional Tip: For those who’re a wine lover like me, I’ll add to the captain’s tip and suggest that you just strive all of the native wine. There are lots of grape varieties on this area that I had by no means tried however discovered that I actually loved. I used to be additionally pleasantly stunned to search out wine all through Greece to be very reasonably priced.

Amalthea dining room on Celestyal Crystal

Amalthea eating room on Celestyal Crystal

Picture credit score: Wendy Lee

3. Let The Cruise Line Assist You Take pleasure in The On-Board Meals

A lot of the meals served throughout our cruise was Greek, a delicacies I’ve lengthy cherished. However like several worldwide delicacies, it has elements we is probably not used to or conscious of in comparison with our residence meals. To assist passengers greatest benefit from the Greek meals served on the ship — and keep wholesome — the captain recommends getting in contact with the cruise line previous to your departure to inform them of any dietary restrictions or allergy symptoms. They’re more than pleased to accommodate all varieties of diets and wish passengers to totally get pleasure from native delicacies.

Professional Tip: I get pleasure from a pescatarian eating regimen. Thankfully, Greek delicacies is well-suited for anybody who prefers this. The vary of dips, salads, and recent seafood just isn’t solely scrumptious but in addition very wholesome.

Library of Celsus in Ephesus

Library of Celsus in Ephesus

Picture credit score: Mazur Journey / Shutterstock.com

4. Study All You Can About Greek Tradition

The historical past, language, and tradition of Greece have had appreciable affect on the remainder of the world. Captain Vassilakos encourages all of his passengers — and anybody cruising by means of the Greek Islands — to take the time to study extra about his nation. Thankfully, this course of can start proper on the ship.

On the primary day of our cruise, a brief class was provided to passengers who wished to study widespread phrases and phrases in Greek. Earlier than our first tour to the traditional metropolis of Ephesus, we attended a lecture about these ruins. A number of days later, I attended one other lecture about olive oil, which was initially cultivated on the Greek Island of Crete 3,500 years in the past. 

In between, there was a cooking demonstration, Greek dance classes, and one other lecture about Santorini. All of those studying alternatives augmented our experiences on the islands, so I couldn’t agree extra with the captain. Make the most of them.

Windmills on Mykonos

Windmills on Mykonos

Picture credit score: Wendy Lee

5. See As A lot As Attainable On Every Island

I used to be always in awe of the layers of historical past we noticed throughout all of our shore excursions and have by no means seen a spot with such a density of ruins and archeological websites. It’s because of this that Captain Vassilakos recommends seeing as a lot as you possibly can whereas visiting every port. 

Perform a little research earlier than your cruise and resolve what websites curiosity you and the way greatest to see them. At instances, these websites could also be inside strolling distance of the ship in port. We opted to skip a tour in Mykonos for the reason that well-known city of Chora and its centuries-old windmills have been simple to stroll to. 

However in some ports, the highest websites aren’t close by, so an organized tour would be the most suitable choice. One of many highlights of our cruise was a tour of the Acropolis of Lindos which is a 45-minute drive from the port.

Professional Tip: A lot of our time on the Greek Islands concerned strolling over uneven, slick surfaces in addition to navigating slopes. If in case you have any mobility issues, be sure you verify in with the employees on the excursions desk for steerage on the perfect excursions or websites for you.

Oceanview room on Celestyal Crystal

Oceanview room on Celestyal Crystal

Picture credit score: Wendy Lee

6. Take into account A Cabin With An Ocean View

One of many many sights of cruising is affordability. With inclusive meals and drinks and nightly leisure, it’s an effective way to know precisely what your journey will price. And for folks actually trying to save, reserving an inside cabin (one with out a window) could be good.

Nonetheless, Captain Vassilakos encourages company to think twice about their cabin alternative. Some folks remorse not having a window to look at the ship sail between the islands, particularly on longer itineraries. Whereas an ocean view is good on any cruise, the Greek Islands are exceptionally lovely, and the enjoyment of seeing them out of your cabin as you wake within the morning can’t be overstated.

Oceanview suites with balconies are the priciest lodging on the ship and inside cabins are probably the most reasonably priced. We had the in-between choice, an oceanview room, which I extremely suggest, and located the pricing to be cheap, particularly contemplating how a lot is included.

7. Don’t Overlook To Deliver Good Garments For The Gala Night time

Most cruise strains, together with Celestyal, supply a gala evening — a chosen night when company are inspired to decorate up. That is sometimes cocktail clothes for girls and a go well with jacket for males. The captain says that company who convey solely informal garments could discover themselves sitting awkwardly within the eating room in shorts and flip-flops surrounded by elegantly clothed passengers.

For the gala evening on our ship, the captain and his senior crew — all dressed of their best apparel — have been launched to all of the passengers. It was enjoyable to study the place every of the crew members got here from and to listen to that almost all of them are native to Greece.

Our gala evening started after departing the island of Rhodes on our method to Crete. It was a beautiful scene as company dressed for the night gathered on the decks having fun with drinks and recounting tales from their day. You possibly can really feel the joy after an important day of excursions and anticipation for extra to return.

8. Don’t Go away House With out This One Accent

Once I requested the captain about suggestions for what to pack on a Greek Islands cruise, he stunned me with the reply, “A great watch,” after which laughed. He understands that as passengers are strolling by means of the streets of Mykonos or admiring the views from Santorini, it’s simple to lose observe of time. He’s usually heard company speak about lingering a bit longer over a meal whereas eating subsequent to the ocean. He’s captivated with his residence nation and understands these sentiments, however every time somebody is operating late, it leaves him in a dilemma: go away that passenger behind or get to the following vacation spot late. Neither is an efficient choice.

Be sure you convey both an excellent watch or verify your mobile phone, however be courteous to the various different passengers who’re on board and able to set sail for a brand new island.

Professional Tip: If you can be counting on a mobile phone for time, make certain it’s reflecting the native time. Whereas this could occur robotically, I’ve sometimes discovered glitches with our telephones. I’d hate for this to occur and discover out that the ship sailed with out us.

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