Sailing to multiple Greek Islands on the small motorized sailing ship Galileo, passengers have the opportunity to visit some of the most well known islands in the Cyclades including Mykonos and Santorini, as well as less populated islands steeped in Greek history.
Boarding the 157-foot, 49 passenger wooden ship from Marina Zeas in Athens, Greece, for an 8-day ‘Jewels of the Cyclades’ cruise passengers are welcomed by the Greek Captain and his crew of 16, as they receive their stateroom key. The four level ship has portholes in each tastefully decorated cabin. Twin beds are either separated or pushed together in the en suite with a stall shower. Each cabin has two closets, a mini safe, hair dryer, radio music and telephones to use internally.
Meals are served on the Main Deck dining room next to a lounge area with a full bar. In the morning a breakfast buffet is displayed inside with unassigned seating. Passengers have the option sit with other guests or take their meals outside. A few lunches and most dinners are provided as sit-down service, or guests have the option to dine on their own at port.
Galileo cruises to the picturesque fishing village of Paros, known for its charming tavernas and Byzantine Monastery of Ekatontapyliani (translated to the church with the hundred doors). It’s an easy walk through cobblestone streets past traditional Greek architecture, to a historic stone church with 99 doors and one secret door. At the top of the hill, the views of the town and boats docked below are beautiful.
The second day the boat anchors in the secluded Polyaigos Bay. This barren island is privately owned by the Greek Orthodox church, and is an ideal snorkeling spot in the warm, aquamarine water. The staff lowers a swimming ladder, kayaks and paddle boards for those who choose to explore the rocky beach.
Back onboard, the boat sails to the port Chora on Folegandros island. Steeped in history, this rock strewn island was once an asylum for political prisoners banished from the island of Crete starting in 1900 to 1970. It’s one of the best-preserved islands in the Cyclades. Sights to visit include the picturesque narrow living quarters, and the church of Panagia built over the ruins of the ancient sanctuary of Artemis. Located on the top of a cliff, visitors follow a steep stone path beginning at Pounda Square, and serpentine up a 15 minute walk to the church. This pinnacle offers outstanding views of the island and the sea. Down below are a variety of traditional taverns, gelato shops, and local craft stores.
Arriving in Santorini, the ship anchors in Ormos, the old port at the bottom of a volcanic cliffs. This area has a few taverns, small shops and three different options to get up to the top of the picturesque village of Fira. The easiest way is a three-minute cable car ride. Adventurous visitors can walk up a steep zigzag stone pathway with over 600 steps, or pay to ride a mule up to the top.
The main town of Fira is the most visited area on the island. Visitors walk along the narrow streets to admire breathtaking hotels, restaurants and homes perched in niches carved into the caldera. Take a cab, rent a car or scooter to the fairytale town of Oia. The whitewashed buildings and blue dome roofs bring a pop of color and beauty in this village.
Park and walk out to a worn historic castle that serves as a lookout point. It offers 360-degree views of the brilliant blue water and neighboring Greek islands. There is a picturesque old windmill that has become one of the most photographed sites.
Santorini is not known for its beaches, however the next Mykonos has beautiful sandy beaches, beachside cafes and warm baby blue colored water.
Docking at the busy shipping dock in Mykonos, we took a local ferry boat into the heart of the picturesque and historic town. Known for its summer party atmosphere, delicious Greek food, chic lifestyle, and lively nightlife, Mykonos town is named ‘Little Venice.’ It’s quaint narrow stone walkway, alleys full of shops, outdoor cafes, hotels and churches reminds visitors of Venice, Italy. During sunset, a popular viewing spot for locals and visitors is the row of 16th-century windmills on a hill in town.
A must see excursion is the small island of Delos. Board a ferry for a 40 minute ride to this UNESCO World Heritage site. According to Greek mythology, this is a holy island of ancient Greece, and the birthplace of Apollo and twin sister Artemis.
A knowledgeable guide escorts groups of visitors through a fascinating open-air museum, while describing the once thriving political, religious and commercial center around 8th century B.C. This 1.3 square mile island is one of the most important archaeological sites in the world, housing thousands of restored and preserved remnants. Besides towering temple columns, there is a grand theater, private homes, and innovative drainage and water system.
British contemporary artist Antony Gormley installed a series of different human like sculptures and strategically placed them throughout the island. His art installation named SIGHT, has 29 art pieces perched outside and two inside the small Archaeological Museum.
One of the last islands to visit is Syros island, considered as one of the most picturesque Cyclades capitals. Highlights include preserved Venetian mansions, narrow alleys, and spectacular sunset views from impressive Catholic and Orthodox churches perched on two different hill tops. It’s not as touristy as neighboring Mykonos, Santorini, and Paros, but the island has a lot of charm. Architecturally it’s one of the most fascinating ports in the Mediterranean, offering some of the most beautiful 19th century buildings in Greece. The town of Hermoupolis is ideal for walkers to explore narrow streets to discover Greek restaurants and ouzeries.
Take a local bus to the seaside village of Kini for beautiful beaches, warm water and beach view cafes.
Cruising the Cyclades onboard the Variety Cruises’ Galileo offers passengers an enlightening Greek Island experience. The small boat has a friendly and accommodating crew that make sure each journey is smooth sailing.