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An Odyssey Through the Greek Isles and the Adriatic
This nine-night voyage begins in Athens where, after a day exploring the ancient sites of Greece’s capital, you’ll set sail upon the wine-dark sea. Your first stop will be Nauplion, gateway to some of Greece’s oldest ruins, at Mycenae. You’ll journey on to islands that combine ancient wonders and modern glamour: Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete. As you head north into the Adriatic, you’ll call at ports that were once part of the Venetian Empire, with their awe-inspiring fortifications (some may be familiar if you are a fan of Game of Thrones): Dubrovnik and Sibenik, in Croatia, and Koper in Slovenia. Your cruise will end at the city that once ruled all the ports you have just visited, magical Venice, rising about its lagoon.            

It’s a journey that embraces two of the world’s most fabled civilizations, ancient Greece and Venice, which dominated the eastern Mediterranean for centuries. Like the sailors of Homer’s Odyssey and Marco Polo and other famed Venetians, you’ll be exploring the marvels of the Aegean and the Adriatic, but unlike them, you’ll get to do it in the luxury of an Azamara ship.
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    Photo By Kristof Verslype
    Day 1
    Your cruise begins in Piraeus, the port for Athens. The Highlights of Athens and Culinary Tour excursion makes the most of a day here to cover the major sites. As you enter the city on Syngrou Avenue, you’ll pass the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian’s Arch, before continuing past the National Gardens, the Parliament, the National Library, and the Panathenaic Stadium, site of the first modern Olympics. Then you’ll continue to one of the most famous landmarks, the Acropolis, crowned by the temple to Athena, the Parthenon. Following your tour of the city, you’ll enjoy a culinary workshop, where you will learn to prepare some Greek specialties, and then dine on the meal you helped cook. If you’d like to dig deeper into Greece’s ancient capital, add on pre-cruise nights with Azamara.
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    Day 2
    You’ll arrive at Nafplio (or Nauplion) in the morning. The port was coveted by a series of empires, and traces of Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman influences can be seen in its old town. You’ll spend the day learning about an even older culture with a visit to the nearby citadel of Mycenae, which peaked from around 1600 to 1100 B.C.E. The city’s monumental stone walls were long believed to have been constructed by Cyclops. You’ll pass through the much-photographed Gate of Lions and explore the acropolis and tombs, including one popularly believed to be that of Agamemnon, the Homeric hero. You’ll also visit the archaeological museum located at the site, with gold treasures unearthed at Mycenae.
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    Photo By GNTO/Y. Skoulas
    Day 3
    The first Greek island you’ll explore is one of the most popular destinations in the Aegean Sea, Mykonos. It’s equally famous for its jet-set scene, photogenic windmills, and “Little Venice” of warehouses—some now housing restaurants and shops—along the waterfront.

    The neighboring island of Delos, which can be visited on Azamara’s Ancient Delos excursion, was believed to be the birthplace of Apollo, the Greek god of the sun. Your guide will recount the tale of his birth as you explore the Temple of Apollo, the theater, and the Sacred Lake. The island flourished for centuries—there was a sanctuary to Apollo here as early as the ninth-century B.C.E. Its prosperity, however, also led to its destruction at the hand of pirates in 69 B.C.E. Since then time has stood still at this UNESCO World Heritage site.

    If you prefer a hands-on experience, consider joining the Mosaic Lesson in Mykonos excursion. Local artist Irene Syrianou leads this two-hour introduction to the ancient art of mosaics using colored glass and stones. Her class is held in a lovely garden, where you’ll learn all about mosaics while creating your own to take home. Less tangible, but maybe more valuable, is the knowledge you’ll have about mosaics when you visit Roman, Byzantine, and other sites on your travels.
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    Day 4
    You’ve likely seen countless images of Santorini’s whitewashed houses draped in bougainvillea overlooking the caldera. Today you’ll see this island in person. After your ship drops anchor, you’ll be transferred to the harbor at Skala, and then board a cable car that will climb some 800 feet to the edge of the caldera, where most of the villages are clustered.

    You’ll visit them on Azamara’s Villages and Vintages of Santorini excursion. After taking in the views of the caldera, you’ll continue on to Oia, a village at the northernmost point of the island. You’ll wander its cobblestone lanes, lined with houses painted in white as well as historic churches, boutiques, and art galleries. You’ll continue on to a local winery for informative tastings. The excursion concludes in Fira, Santorini’s capital, another village that hugs the caldera’s cliffs. You’ll be free to explore and pop into any shop, bar, or restaurant that looks appealing before returning to the harbor of Skala via the island’s cable car.

    With a long day in Santorini, it’s possible to sign up for more than one excursion. Santorini’s volcanic soil and sunny days make it a foodie destination, and the Ice Cream Lab and Village of Oia tour lets you sample one of its perhaps unexpected specialties. Local produce inspires many of the flavors at the ice cream lab you’ll visit. The vinsanto sorbet, using local wines, and baklava gelato are highly recommended. After your visit, you’ll have time to poke around Oia.

    The Wine Tasting at Sigalas Winery is another evening option. Among the crops that benefit from Santorini’s rich volcanic soil are the aidani, athiri, mandilaria and mavrotragano grapes used to create the island’s unique wines. You’ll visit the vineyard and learn about its process of selecting, aging, and bottling the juice to create wine before tasting five different varieties, paired with local snacks. Then explore the village of Fira before taking the cable car and returning to your ship.
  • Day 5
    You’ll spend today on Crete, the largest of Greece’s islands. Your base will be Chania, which has a long fascinating history. There was a settlement here during the Minoan era as well as during the classical Greece period and waves of subsequent rulers included Rome, the Byzantine Empire, Arabs, Venetian, and Ottomans.

    The Akrotiri and Chania Town excursion covers many of the island’s highlights. You’ll visit the British Commonwealth War Cemetery, where 1,527 soldiers who died in the 1941 Battle of Crete are buried. You’ll continue on to the Triada Monastery in Jagarolon, which dates from the end of the Venetian rule of Crete. Then in Chania itself, you’ll see some of the city’s beautiful neoclassical mansions and its Venetian fortifications. At the end of the guided tour, you can continue to explore on your own or return to the ship.

    Azamara is committed to longer stays and night touring, so your ship won’t depart until 10 p.m., giving you the chance to return to Chania in the evening when the city is even more charming, its narrow streets illuminated by street lights. The Evening at Gallery of Chania excursion begins with a stroll through town, with your guide taking you to the Municipal Art Gallery for an intimate reception. There the curator will discuss the current exhibition while you enjoy a buffet of appetizers and admire the art on display.
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    Day 6
    A Day at Sea
    A day at sea is a welcome opportunity to recharge and enjoy the amenities aboard Azamara ships. You might indulge in a treatment at the Sanctum Spa, a lecture by a featured speaker, or a leisurely meal that incorporates the local flavors of the regions you are visiting—a key element of Azamara’s Destination Immersion program. With only 690 guests aboard each Azamara ship, you won’t face long lines however you choose to spend your day. But perhaps you’d rather bask in the comfort of the ships’ staterooms, all of which have been redesigned to offer guests a boutique hotel experience. We won’t judge if you spend the morning in a plush robe with a book or taking advantage of the upgraded onboard WiFi.
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    Photo By Elena
    Day 7
    Dubrovnik makes an enchanting introduction to Croatia. It has a wealth of well-preserved buildings that stand as testament to its centuries-long role as a maritime powerhouse—maintaining independence even in the shadows of larger powers, namely the Venetian Republic and the Ottoman Empire.

    The Old Town and Olive Oil Estate excursion begins at Pile Square, and includes many of the city’s most famous buildings like the Rector’s Palace, Sponza Palace, and the 15th-century Bell Tower on Luza Square. You’ll have some free time to explore before continuing on to the village of Orašac, where you will visit an olive oil estate and learn about traditional production. After sampling some Dalmatian smoked ham, cheese, wine and, of course, olives, you’ll return to your ship.

    Or you can get to know the history of Dubrovnik on another excursion offered this morning—exploring the fortifications of Dubrovnik that allowed the city to maintain its independence for centuries, despite the threats from formidable rivals. The Walk the Historic Walls of Old Town excursion provides a unique perspective on the city. You’ll start at the Pile Gate, where you will climb a stairway to the top of the city walls and then you will walk their entire length. Along the way you will see the Minčeta Tower, St. John’s Fortress, Bokar Fortress, and the Maritime Museum. At the end of the tour you’ll reach the Stradun, Dubrovnik’s pedestrian street that runs the length of the Old Town, and have free time to explore the historic district on your own before returning to your ship.
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    Photo By Boris Kacan
    Day 8
    You’ll be docked today in Šibenik, one of the oldest Croat cities on the Dalmatian Coast. Unlike Dubrovnik, it traded hands repeatedly, passing between Venice, the Byzantine Empire, Hungary, and later the Hapsburgs and Ottomans.

    An hour’s drive from Šibenik will bring you to one of the most charming towns in Croatia, which you can explore on the Medieval Town of Trigor excursion. Its warren of medieval streets features stone palaces, fortresses, towers, churches, and monasteries. At the 13th-century Cathedral of St. Lawrence, your guide will point out the work of master sculptors and stone workers. You’ll also stop by the town’s half-timbered loggia, the town hall, and the Cipiko Palace, long home to one of the town’s most prominent families.
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    Day 9
    Slovenia has a tiny strip of 29 miles of coastline, with Koper as its major port on the Adriatic. You’ll disembark here and set out on the Best Of Ljubljana: Walking Tour, River Cruise and Lunch—a wonderful introduction to the charming Slovenian capital. You’ll walk the pedestrian-only streets of Ljubljana’s historic quarter and stop at Preseren Square to admire its stately buildings. At the farmers’ market, you can sample the local produce, and you’ll want to make your way along the Ljubljanica River to the city’s most famous landmark, the Triple Bridge. Board a riverboat for a cruise that offers a different perspective on the city. Afterwards, you’ll have lunch at a traditional Slovenian inn.
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    Photo By Tim Sackton
    Day 10
    Having seen many of the cities that sat in the shadow of Venice for centuries, today you arrive at Venice itself. As you approach it crossing the lagoon in the early morning, the tower of St. Mark’s Basilica will stand out above the low skyline. We recommend the basilica and adjacent square as your first stop, the heart of the city both historically and today. However many days you wish to stay in Venice on a post-cruise extension, Azamara can assist with hotel reservations.