We didn’t have time on our trip to go all the way out to Santorini or the other Greek Islands so this cruise was the perfect way to get a taste of the Greek Islands and all it did was make us want to come back and see the others. All you need is one full day and you can cross 3 islands off your list.
We booked our cruise tickets through Viator. Our day started with an included hotel pick-up at around 7:30 am. Our pick-up was a bit late and we stopped at another hotel to pick up some more cruisers before being driven about 20 minutes to the Athens port. Once we arrived we were given our Lunch pass with an assigned lunch time, they took our photos and then we boarded the ship and were ready to set sail! My only complaint about this process is that we arrived a bit late and all of the best seats were taken. Luckily people moved around during the cruise and we were able to find a vacant table in the dining room about halfway through the morning. The ship is large with 3 floors which is plenty of room for people to spread out and seating can be found indoors in the dining room area and along all the outdoor railings. They also have a large VIP section for an additional cost. It looked very nice and had plenty of nice seats, but I’m still not sure the extra cost is justified.
The first leg of our sailing trip was the longest and I think I remember that it took about 2 hours. During that time we dozed on a sofa and then we ordered a breakfast croissant and a drink from the dining room. It was a bit pricey, but we are experienced cruisers so we kind of expected that. The cruise company also did a presentation and allowed cruisers the opportunity to purchase tours for the different ports. For Hydra, cruisers had the option to purchase a walking tour. For Egina there were a couple of different tour options. Poros did not have any additional tours. We only purchased an extra tour for Egina which I think cost about $40 per person. The company did take credit card, although I think if you paid cash the process would go considerably smoother. The cruise company also explained that half of the people on board would eat lunch between the 1st and 2nd stop and the other half would eat between the 2nd and 3rd stop. We didn’t get a choice (it seemed to be based on your arrival to the ship in the morning) and we had the 2nd dining time slot.
1st Stop: Hydra
The island of Hydra is really lovely with blue water, and picturesque white houses covering the hillside. The first thing that we learned is that Hydra does not have any cars. The residents rely on donkeys for their only transportation. And sure enough, we saw an entire line of donkeys for rent when we exited our boat and walked along the pier. We did not rent a donkey or join the tour, but instead we spent the morning wandering in and out of the shops in Hydra and found a few places to stop and take some pictures.
On our walk we passed a bunch of restaurants with tables and chairs right out on the pier. It all looked so good, we decided that we were a long ways away from lunch and we shared a small brunch at one of the restaurants along the street (on the pier if you have your back to the water it was the furthest restaurant to the right). Our chicken kabobs and Greek salad were delicious! And we were very entertained when a cat came up and stole one of our leftover kabobs! I have to say that our lunch on the pier in Hydra was one of my favorite meals of the week because the scenery was so lovely.
After lunch we walked back to the ship and since half the tourists were at lunch, we found great seats on the 2nd deck for the short journey to Poros!
2nd Stop: Poros
Poros was the shortest stop on our journey. I believe we only had about 45 minutes in the port. So we climbed up the stairs to the clock tower (it’s pretty well marked) and then found a place to get ice cream while we wandered into a couple of souvenir shops. The clock tower is pretty lovely. And someday I’d like to go back for more time so that we can visit the Lemon Forest.
After we re-boarded the ship we immediately went to the dining room for lunch. The lunch was a buffet with a couple types of salad, pasta, and a few other dishes. Overall it was fine and edible, but I just ate a little plate and was happy with that. Truthfully, I was really glad that we ate brunch at Hydra because it was so much better than the lunch that was served on board. It was also more scenic and an actual Greek meal, so yeah, if your budget allows, I say you should go ahead and brunch in Hydra. You probably won’t regret it.
3rd Stop: Egina
We paid extra for a tour to Egina because we wanted to see the Temple of Aphaia and complete the Sacred Triangle of Temples (Parthenon, Poseidon, and Aphaia). After exiting the ship we immediately boarded a bus which was conveniently labeled for English speaking guests. They also had other buses with tour guides speaking several other languages. Our bus immediately headed for the Temple of Aphaia and along the way our tour guide told us all about Egina which is one of the largest growers of pistachios in the world. In fact after visiting the Temple of Aphaia, we had a few extra minutes and my husband purchased a fresh pistachio ice cream made from goat’s milk for a snack. He also picked up a couple of bags of pistachios to bring home.
Our second stop in Egina was the Cathedral of Saint Nectarios a large church with a large monastery. It was a very impressive church and was pretty recently constructed unlike many of the other churches and temples that we saw in Europe. In fact, the sanctuary still had scaffolding inside where they were finishing up the last bit of construction. You also had another opportunity to buy fresh pistachios from a stand in the parking lot of the church.
After visiting the church we headed right back to the ship. We didn’t have time to do any sightseeing or wander around the port because it was time to set sail back to Athens. After this last stop the ship had a Greek dancing presentation which cruisers could watch. We opted to sit on the second deck and sip a coke while sat out in the nice weather and ocean breeze. When we got close to Athens the wind picked up and the waves got pretty big and we decided that we felt a lot safer indoors. It was a pretty rough ride back to Athens and we were delayed a bit getting back into port due to the rough seas. If you get seasick, you would have hated this last little bit of the ride. I recommend packing seasickness medication if you need it because they did not sell any onboard. I wouldn’t let this concern stop you from traveling unless you have a huge fear. The odds of this same situation happening to you have to be pretty small. We had a really calm and peaceful ride up until the last hour.
Overall, even with the rough boat ride back to port, we absolutely loved this day trip to the Greek Islands. It was a really great way to experience the Greek islands on a short time frame. It’s also a great way to get to visit the Temple of Aphaia and complete the Sacred Triangle of temples.
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