ADRIATIC ODYSSEY – THE PRELUDE
We’ve sent our favourite travel blogger to cruise the Adriatic and all this week we’ll be sharing his journal with you.
We decided not to rush things so we flew out a day early and landed in Dubrovnik just before 9.00 on Saturday evening. Disembarking the aircraft we walked into a wall of heat – wonderful after the overcast of Gatwick. We’d booked a room for the night and they had arranged a driver to pick us up and drive us back up the coastline, all lit up like a Christmas tree, to the city.
The apartment was charming and just a few hundred metres from the famous Pile Gate – the entry to the old town. We had dinner overlooking the water and imposing city walls just outside the gates, then walked in through the gate to the Stradum – the main drag – to people watch over a nightcap.
Not too much about Dubrovnik now as we’ll be spending two days there when we return and I’ll file a full report. Suffice, for now, to say its super-lively after dark and as we walked back the young and beautiful were queuing at the nightclub doors.
Sunday morning breakfast was back overlooking the water at the same restaurant who had kindly given us a 10% discount card for all future visits! A stroll around town and a couple of cold ones in one of the myriad of side-street bars. Then a taxi to the port – we were early but there’s a small restaurant across the road serving silver-skin anchovies, salted sardines and cold white wine.
The crew were so welcoming when we boarded Panorama – our home for the next 7 days and nights. There are 20 crew and 39 guests on board, good ratio for attentive service. Very happy with the four-course dinner, in particular the traditional Greek Avgolemono soup. Choice of prawns so big you wouldn’t want to meet them in open water, or lamb. Drinking red so the lamb edged it.
Only been on board a few hours but already know 12 people by name. It’s just like a big family party. First impressions? Ship and ship’s company smallish but perfectly formed. It’s going to be a blast…
FULL DETAILS ON THE CRUISE CAN BE FOUND HERE.
Jewels of the Cyclades
Ports of call: Athens – Poros – Poliegos/Kimolos – Folegandros – Santorini – Antiparos – Paros – Delos – Mykonos – Syros – Kythnos – Marina Zea (Athens)
The Culture of the Canary Islands – forget the package image and enjoy the quality with our Boutique Cruise
The Canary Islands, put on the ocean-going traveller’s map by a certain C. Columbus in 1492, have sadly become somewhat besmirched by the image of package tourism. But the fact is that this group of volcanic islands, situated in the warm waters of the Atlantic off the coast of Africa, is every bit as rewarding to cruise as Greece or the Caribbean.
So the first thing is we promise we’ll give a big swerve to any of the ‘bucket and spade’ resorts beloved by the young crowd. Actually most of them don’t have much of a harbour even for the small luxury Mega Yachts like the stunning 25 cabin Harmony G.
There really is a lot to learn and enjoy about this Spanish archipelago 100kms off from Morocco with a wonderful sub-tropical climate that makes it the ideal choice for short-haul winter cruising – winter temperatures average the low 20s centigrade.
Little known facts include the geological anomaly that Mount Teide, the volcano that dominates Tenerife, is the world’s third largest volcano when measured from its base on the ocean floor. And that on the almost unknown and little visited island of La Gomera the locals still communicate using a bizarre whistling language.
There’s a heap of history here since the Portuguese tried to colonise the islands in 1336. The famous Prince ‘Henry the Navigator’ became Lord of Lanzarote in 1448. Later the islands became part of the Kingdom of Castile. It’s a chequered history – the Dutch laid a claim, the Ottomans had a go, Algerian pirates took slaves, and even Nelson was here attacking Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1797.
For many years the islands were huge suppliers of sugar cane. At the beginning of the 20th century bananas were introduced as a cash crop by, amongst others, Fyffes. In 1936 Francisco Franco (later to become Generalissimo Franco) was appointed General Commandant, joining the military revolt of July 17th which began the Spanish Civil War.
So there is no small amount of history in these warm waters. More to the point there is some incredible beauty and most of it, certainly out of the main resorts, is still totally unspoiled.
We’d love to show you Mount Teide and one of the biggest volcanic craters in the world at Ucanca Valley on Tenerife. We’ll also show you Taburiente National Park on La Palma, the Garajonay National Park on La Gomera and Timanfaya National Park amongst the volcanos on Lanzarote where the visit inckudes the salt mines and the lava coast.
La Laguna on Tenerife is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with a town hall dating back to 1546. Betacuna on Fuerteventura is the ancient capital of the Aboriginal Kingdom of the Canaries where we’ll share with you the islanders’ passion for goats and the secrets of their Majorero cheeses. We’ll then visit the Aloe Vera farm and talk about its health benefits.
We currently have an early bookimg offer saving you 10% on the cruise proce for Winter 2017-18 cruises. What’s more, early bookers always receive the b est cabins, so don’t hang about – it you’re looking for a winter cruise this is a real delight.
If you’re after a cruise with cabaret, disco, casino and 16 meals a day don’t read on. With no disrespect to our ‘floating resort’ style cruising cousins that’s simply not what we’re about. For sure cruising should be about a little bit of luxury, good food and excellent company – but for us it’s also about a cultural journey and the opportunity to experience some of the world’s great places in relative peace and quiet. If that sounds like you then these five top tips might help you find the cultured cruising you’re looking for:
- Big ship cruising means big crowds. If you’ve ever been in a port ‘when the boat comes in’ you’ll know just what we mean – loads of coaches on the quayside full of loads of people off to see the local sights. We have no problem with that – but we’d rather be there when the sights are a little more empty, take our time and go by taxi.
- Big ships can’t get into small harbours. If you truly want to see the unspoilt sights and sites small ships get you close up and personal to the sort of cultural places big boats only dream of.
- Big ships can’t get to hidden beaches. For sure they may have 4 or 5 swimming pools on board but for us that simply can’t compare with the experience of mooring up in a shallow cove and jumping off the swimming platform into the warm waters.
- The company on small ships is more cultured – you get to know the crew and other passengers by name and vice versa. It’s like a wonderful grown up country house party that lasts 7 nights but where you wake up every morning to find they’ve changed the scenery – such a clever idea!
- Small ship cruising is kinder to the environment. One of the greatest conundrums in travel is that the more beautiful the place the more people want to go there, but the more people the go there the more quickly the true culture gets swamped by commerce. Small is beautiful.
The fact is there are still so many brilliant cultural places in antiquity and so many sites of natural beauty are hidden away not far from a coast and can best be reached and seen by boat. It’s up to you how you want to see them but we would argue small ship cruising is a much more cultured experience.
Fair play to President Obama, and the spirit of Caribbean glasnost, in re-opening the US Embassy in Cuba. We’re not in the least political but, in many respects, we reckon it’s about time they reconnected. After all, back in the day Havana was a playground for Americans, and it seems unfair to deny US citizens the opportunity to go somewhere so stunning, different, and virtually on their doorstep.
Increasingly Cuba has been growing in stature as a holiday destination for Europeans. If you’ve been lucky enough to go, or even know somebody who has, you know at first (or second) hand it many and varied delights – in particular its unspoiled charms.
However the fact is , with all due respect to Uncle Sam, that there is a risk that over the coming years the island might just turn into a bit of a theme park. Now a jolly good theme park it would be, and well worth a visit. But in reality you can’t help but think it might be better to go and see it in its natural state first.
That means there is no better time to go than this winter. In which case the great news is that Seafarer are able to offer you a New Year multiplicity of absolutely wonderful cruising there.
Top of the agenda is a host of departures on the stunning Panorama – a state of the art sail cruiser that has sailed from the Seychelles to Monte Carlo, from the Black Sea to Tunis, has logged several Atlantic Ocean crossings, and offers the highest standard of accommodation. You have a choice of 16 cruises of 7 nights’ duration. She is a truly magnificent craft and this is gobsmackingly wonderful sailing.
Panorama isn’t a big ship – she only has 25 cabins and takes a maximum of 54 passengers. However if you want to get really close-up and personal with Cuba we have a round the year programme of catamaran cruises on offer from Dream Yachts. It’s a different style of off-the-beaten-track cruising and equally wonderful.
Alternatively, if you really want to ramp it up a couple of notches and go Tall Ship cruising, we have a December, Christmas and New Year programme on the Star Flyer – a four-master that rigs up to 21 sails before the wind. Jack Sparrow eat your heart out, this is as good as it gets and it’s impressive all round with up to 170 passengers looked after by 72 crew and all mod cons.
Of course it’s not just the cruising. Whichever cruise you choose there are daily stops to see the living and breathing history of this fabulous island. So fabulous that it will start to attract much more attention now American tourists can travel again. We’re not saying that they’ll spoil it – all we’re suggesting is that you should go now!
A cosmopolitan gem among the Greek Islands, Mykonos combines style and substance to great effect. From its traditional cubist houses to the bustling cafe scene to its gorgeous beaches, there’s something here to suit all tastes.
Choosing to visit Mykonos on one of our cruise itineraries really gives you the chance to get up close and personal with the island’s Greek charms and nuances. Despite its reputation as one of the best places to visit in the Cyclades, the island has still managed to retain its traditional feel. Mykonos offers such a conrast of experiences that while you could quite easily bump into a famous celebrity holidaying in Little Venice, you can also quite easily get away from the crowds for some peace and quiet.
Soak up Mykonos Town
If you are planning on spending any time on this island, you must take a morning strolling through the tiny streets of Mykonos Town. It’s not so much the town’s stunning beauty that appeals, but the allure of its crowded streets, whitewashed walls and trendy little cafes. The maze of streets work their way back up from the harbour, past lovely little churches and postcard-perfect homes.
As well as the lovely setting, the town boasts a fantastic array of high-end shops and is perfect for a quick shopping spree when you dock on the island.
By far the most impressive church on the island, this gorgeous whitewashed structure is a fantastic example of Byzantine architecture. The religious monument dates back to 1425 and contains four chapels within its pristine walls. It is open for the majority of the day and closes as the sun goes down. It’s well worth staying at the church and watching the sunset as this is one of the most impressive vantage points on the island.
Located in the old Kastro district, it’s possible to climb up to the church’s upper-level chapel via an exterior staircase.
Another beautiful feature of Mykonos Town is the charming windmills you’ll find in the western part of the area. These iconic structures were once used to make wheat and bread and were hugely important to the island’s inhabitants. Today, these charming buildings boast some of the finest views in Mykonos, and is another great spot to watch the sun go down on the island.
Explore the island’s past
There are two fantastic museums on the island, and it’s well worth visiting one or both on a stop over at Mykonos.
The first, Mykonos Folklore Museum, is located within the walls of a stunning, 18th-century sea captain's house – which is worth a look in itself – and allows you to explore the rich history of Mykonos’ Greek heritage. Expect a large collection of ornate furnishings, ancient artifacts and musical instruments.
After you’ve got a flavour for the island's past, make a visit to the Aegean Maritime Museum, which reveals the importance of Mykonos’ nautical history. The highlight of the museum is a huge Fresnel lighthouse lantern and intricate models of some of the island’s local boats.
Overlooked by the stunning windmills, this little area has become synonymous with Mykonos’ trendy cosmopolitan culture as well as its picturesque architecture and buildings. This part of the island exudes romance, from its wonderful position next to the shoreline to its many cool cocktail bars and cafes.
The island is well-known for its LGBT+ scene both for its clubs, bars, beaches and the general acceptance of the culture. The locals of Mykonos have largely embraced gay tourism and the positive effects it has had on the island which has led it becoming one of the ost popular places for LGBT+ people to holiday.
Hitting the beach
Mykonos is renowned for its incredibly beautiful beaches, with their pure, white sands and crystal clear waters. The majority of the best places to enjoy the beach are located on the southern part of the island and cater to many different types of personality and demographic.
Paradise and Super Paradise are known to be the livelier, more party-focussed beaches, whereas the likes of Lia and Paraga are much quieter and calmer. All the beaches in this part of the island are well maintained and have all the facilities you want for a day at the beach.
Our Mykonos cruises
We have an extensive array of itineraries that take in the beauty of Mykonos: Aegean Odyssey, Aegean Mosaic, Classical Greece, and Jewels of the Cyclades. Whichever you choose, you are sure to have an intimate experience of the Greek Islands that caters to your specific needs and travel plans.
The Greek islands are without a doubt one of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe. Every year, thousands flock to their shores to experience beautiful beaches, rich history, and, of course, that famous Greek hospitality.
However, sometimes it’s nice to avoid the crowds and head somewhere that is not quite as well known – we understand the need for exclusivity, after all.
While the likes of Mykonos and Santorini are wonderful places to visit in their own right, there are so many more hidden gems waiting to be discovered in and around this stunning archipelago. Here are four of Greece’s lesser-known isles that you can explore on our itineraries.
The peace and quiet that surrounds Patmos is one of the first things that will strike you about this island. The second is the vast number of quaint little churches that are located here. Set on volcanically formed rock, the terrain is uneven and rough and has helped create some truly stunning views of the surrounding area.
Hofa, the largest village on the island, contains the one true tourist attraction, the ornate monastery. This imposing structure has stood in place since 1088 and gives you a glimpse into the island’s rich religious past. Other than this, the village’s small, cobbled streets are ideal for pottering around, and such is the charm of the area, this all many people choose to do. The island is thought to be the very place that St John The Apostle wrote the Book of Revelations and you can visit the Cave of the Apocalypse where he is believed to have had the visions that led to its creation.
In terms of beaches, Patmos’ coastline is awash with small, intimate coves and longer sandy beaches. Close to Skala port, Agriolivadi is a popular choice, but Kampos is by far the busiest on the island due to its shallow, temperate waters.
Cruise to choose: Aegean Odyssey
This stunning little island is perfectly located between Mykonos and Athens and yet it is often overlooked by many larger cruise ships sailing the route. That’s not the case with our itineraries, and with the smaller vessels we use, you can get well acquainted with the stunning allure of Tinos.
Known as the Holy Island, Tinos is most visited by religious pilgrims which gives it a peaceful, calm feeling. As well as the many quaint little churches you will find here, the island is also renowned for its delicious omelettes and the use of artichokes that almost every restaurant seems to favour. While the beaches of Mykonos are packed with revelers during the high season, Tinos’ remain quiet and are no less beautiful.
The most important religious site on the island is The Monastery of the Holy Virgin (or Our Lady of Tinos). Every year, hundreds of Orthodox Christians make a spiritual journey to this beautiful sanctuary to see the sacred icon within.
Cruise to choose: Aegean Odyssey
From its charming, whitewashed villages to the surrounding dramatic scenery, Paros is one of the most visually pleasing Greek islands we travel to.
The village of Parikia forms the epicentre of this island’s allure, with its picturesque little harbour and quaint cube-shaped houses. The paved streets you’ll find here, and in other traditional villages like Naoussa and Lefkes, add to Paros charm and make exploring a real treat.
If you are only spending a day here, it’s the beautiful architecture of these villages that you will want to see. Parikia is filled with tiny shops, old churches and traditional tavernas and restaurants – an ideal place to spend the day.
Of course, there’s also an abundance of stunning beaches lining the coastline of Paros with Golden Beach and New Golden Beach being two of the best. Not only are these ideal for a lazy morning on perfect sands, but the water conditions are ideal for windsurfing and kitesurfing.
Cruise to choose: Jewels of the Cyclades
Syros is one of the smallest islands in the Cyclades, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up in character. Its capital Ermoupoli, known to be one of the most beautiful towns in the entire region, renowned for fantastic restaurants, stunning buildings and Greek charm.
Surrounded by dramatic hills, the town centre is awash with fantastic neoclassical mansions, quaint houses and an impressive town hall. The island is by no means crowded, but there is a buzz that emanates from the capital that is evident all year round. The best part of Ermoupoli is certainly the picture of Greek life that it paints.
Cruise to choose: Jewels of the Cyclades
River cruising is one of those trends that just seems to be getting ever more popular and if you have not tried it before, then we’ve got the perfect cruise for your introduction to river cruising.
The Rhine is a truly spectacular waterway, meandering through vibrant cities towns and villages, beautiful countryside, punctuated by spectacular castles and historic churches, to journey the Rhine is to experience a wealth of history and different cultures. Here are some highlights to whet your appetite.
Eight days, four countries
Holland. Germany. France. Switzerland. Four fascinating nations with very different and very interesting cultures. Having these four extraordinary countries so closely together makes you really appreciate Europe as a continent. Crossing borders this way is a revelation in itself and a great way to discover these contrasts as they unfold before you.
New cuisine. New sights. New landscapes. New sounds. One day, you’ll be experiencing the charismatic canal-lined metropolis that is Amsterdam. The next, you’ll be carving your way through extraordinary beautiful vistas of rolling hills, carpeted in gorgeous velvety forests, vineyards, pretty villages and stunning castles. It’s the variety that makes the Rhine such a winner.
We’ve already highlighted some of Amsterdam’s strengths, but it’s not the only place you’ll visit on a journey of the River Rhine. How about visiting the epicentre of the European Union, Strasbourg, with its beautiful medieval quarter and extraordinary Gothic cathedral? Or the charming old wine town of Rudesheim, beloved by visitors for its intricate streets and unmistakable atmosphere? We haven’t even spoken about Koblenz and Cologne, Basel and Heidelberg. We don’t have to. You will find out exactly what’s special once you get there. With Seafarer and Select Voyages, we like to take you straight to the best parts of each place. So you can be sure of getting an exclusive and incredible experience.
The Rhine is perhaps best known for its unique Rhine Gorge, a soaring vista that sees fairy tale castles nestled in between gorgeous green hills. It looks like something from a Disney film as you gracefully wind your way through the enchanted forest, covered with vineyards, broken up only by the occasional little village. Enough said, we think.
Time To Go Exploring Ashore
Of course the thing that many appreciate about river cruises is that you are actually exploring as you cruise whether from the comfort of the panoramic lounge and bar or as you attend to your tan on the large sun deck. However you also have ample time to go exploring ashore. There is a comprehensive range of optional tours that explore the very best in each destination, but you also have the opportunity to wonder and explore independently if you prefer. Your knowledgeable cruise director and crew will be happy to advise.
Seafarer also offer River cruises on the Danube and the Nile Click here for details:
Embarking on a trip to the Cyclades aboard the Galileo? You’re in for an absolute treat of a holiday. Cruising from one distinct island to the next – picking up little-known facts, tips and locations from the capable crew, we might add – you will have the opportunity to relax in comfort and style on one of our best-loved vessels.
The Jewels of the Cyclades itinerary is undoubtedly the best way to explore this extraordinary part of the world. Expect an in-depth tour of the Cyclades themselves – each island more charismatic and interesting than the last. History and culture, beaches and adventure – it’s a fantastic experience that boasts Santorini, Delos, Mykonos and Kythnos among others. But what’s life like on board the Galileo itself? Between the islands, this is what you can expect:
Decor: Modern yet rustic
Let’s start with the basics – appearance. The Galileo measures 51 metres – a classic motor sailer with no fewer than six sails. Not only do these help her to look absolutely gorgeous but she’s also capable of sailing under her own steam when the wind is with us.
Inside, you’ll find the interior has a modern feel, yet retains an olde-worlde charm. The entire yacht was refitted in 2007 with this in mind. Soft lighting helps the atmosphere as well as portholes in all the cabins.
We like to offer holidays that focus on the destination rather than time spent on the ship itself. But while we offer plenty of educational excursions and exclusive trips to the Cyclades on our Jewels of the Cyclades itinerary, we appreciate that once you get back on board, you want to take the opportunity to relax. You are on holiday, after all!
Let’s talk cabins first. There are three categories available. All are air-conditioned for maximum comfort, so you don’t need to worry about being too hot all the time you’re inside. Peace of mind is assured – there are safety-deposit boxes and you won’t need to bother bringing a hair dryer as one will be supplied. As far as bathroom facilities go, it’s all ensuite.
That’s it for relaxing inside – out on the deck, it’s another story. Soak up the sun in between destinations by relaxing on the sundeck, where you will be supplied with sun beds, deck chairs and a large Jacuzzi. Is there anything about that sentence that it’s possible to dislike?
If the heat is a bit much, you can even head to the shaded outdoor deck area, where you can relax in the shade while still enjoying spectacular sea views.
Besides lounging around on deck reading a book, we try to keep life on board interesting. Activities might include stopping for a while in a particularly interesting cove where you can swim and snorkel to your heart’s content. Kolones Bay is a particularly wonderful place to experience this. Or else, enjoy a lunchtime barbecue on deck before diving into the waters surrounding the picturesque islands of Poliegos or Kimolos. Such areas are inaccessible to large cruise vessels, which is of course one of the overall benefits of this holiday.
In short, life on board the Galileo is as good as the time spent exploring the Cyclades themselves, ensuring that this really is the holiday of a lifetime. While life on board is certainly comfortable, its real advantage is being able to get to those difficult-to-reach spots that are completely out of the way of other cruise operators using much larger vessels. But that doesn’t stop us from visiting popular destinations such as Mykonos and Santorini. So come on – what are you waiting for? Book yourself onto the holiday of a lifetime.
When it comes to sailing the sensational Seychelles on a small-ship cruise, you know you’re embarking on a majestic experience that will be the highlight of your year. In fact, we don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that this is a stand-out holiday that you will remember for the rest of your life. Our extensive knowledge of the archipelago, combined with our use of small vessels that allow you to visit every nook and cranny of the coastline, make for an exclusive holiday that you won’t find anywhere else.
So where are our favourite hotspots in the Seychelles? Where will you experience those thrilling moments that truly make for a particularly magical holiday? Here is our list of the unmissable in the Seychelles.
The sun-stroked stunning beaches of Cousin Island, complemented by a crop of emerald trees, is enough to write home about as it is. But it has made our highlights list for an entirely different reason – namely, for what can be found on these exceptional stretches of sand.
As you walk between the palm trees, feeling the warm sand between your toes, you’ll quickly become aware of being in one of the most special places on the planet. Cousin Island is an important wildlife reserve and is one of the best places to see beautiful and majestic creatures.
Among them is the Hawksbill Turtle, which can be seen nesting on the gorgeous shores in broad daylight. Once exploited for their beautiful shells, it is wonderful to see them in person, frolicking in such a beautiful place.
The Aldabra Giant Tortoise also calls this beautiful island its home, as do various rare and wonderful birds. Keep a weathered eye out for the Sousouri – or flying fox – in the trees. This rare creature is exceptionally quirky and a joy to witness. All of this justifies Cousin Island’s inclusion on our Seychelles hotspot list.
An absolute highlight of two of our itineraries, La Digue is one of those places we at Seafarer really relish because it epitomises what we’re all about. Little locations that you’ll fall in love with for their outstanding natural beauty and sense of exclusivity, that can only be visited by us in our smaller vessels. Disembarking here, you’ll be greeted with a natural wonderland that seems to have looked at the modern age and thought ‘It’s not for me’.
There are no roads, merely winding tracks that take you through the verdant forests, where you’ll be confronted with more shades of green than you ever thought existed. Wander them on foot, dipping in and out of the shafts of light let in by the occasional gaps in the canopies, or hop on a bicycle and take on the island on two wheels. You’ll encounter no cars, only the occasional oxen-drawn cart. It really is like taking a step back in time, and that’s why it has made our list.
Anse Volbert and Anse Lazio
We couldn’t decide which of Praslin Island’s beautiful beaches to take this place, so we decided to go for both. In fairness, they both have plenty of stand-out qualities that match up, including seemingly endless white sands that look as though they have been pulled straight from a travel brochure. If there’s one area in the Seychelles that makes you wonder if the entire archipelago has been Photoshopped, this is most definitely it.
Clear, turquoise waters lap gently at your feet as you make your way across the beach, here or there encountering interesting stone formations. You’ll want to make the most of these beaches, and we at Seafarer are best placed to show you how.
Another one for the wildlife lovers, although Coco Island makes our list for altogether different reasons than Cousin Island. The snorkelling and marine life here is utterly enchanting, with plenty of coral reef to explore on your underwater adventure. And while you do so, fish of all different colours and varieties will surround you, forming pulsing patterns around your swimming form and completely unfearing of you.
Such an experience – swimming will so many beautiful creatures in the crystal clear waters in a completely different world – is an unforgettable one that you will remember for the rest of your life. But even above the waves, Coco Island remains enchanting. You’ll want to get to know its charismatic coastline, crops of emerald forest and the fact that it is completely deserted. Be prepared to fall in love with it.
Despite the fact we’ve already included two of Praslin’s stunning beaches in our list, we couldn’t resist including Grande Soeur for the encore of our list of hotspots in the Seychelles. This is a gorgeous stretch of soft white sand that epitomises everything that the Seychelles is all about. Snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming – the water is fantastic here. But there’s no better way to enjoy this exceptional beach than by enjoying a barbecue – and that’s exactly what we like to do here.