We caught up with Heather from our marketing team, who has just returned from a one week holiday on a small ship cruise to Greece. She is sharing her top tips with us and talking about her experience on the Galileo ship.
Where did you go on holiday and how long for?
I did a week-long small ship cruise of the Peloponnese. It was my first time to Greece. It’s been at the top of my bucket list for some time; I was really looking forward to it, and it didn’t disappoint.
How did you find travelling on a small ship cruise?
It’s a really unique experience. The cruise that I was on focused on Greek art and history -subjects which I love and the reason I chose this cruise. Once I boarded Galileo, I quickly realised that the other 45 guests had chosen the cruise for the same reason, and the on-board lecturer and cruise director had created the itinerary themselves based on the passion they share for Ancient Greece. So, it ended up being a boat full of people who shared my interests and who were just as giddy to see the Tholos of Delphi as I was.
What were the people like on board?
The people were great. There was a large American party, the patriarch of which had brought his children, grandchildren, friends and their wives. A couple in their party were musicians, so they provided sing-alongs in the evenings which got the whole ship singing. There were some adventurous Aussies and some well-to-do English ladies (all of whom joined in the singing!). The staff on board were fantastic. Our on-board lecturer was Gennie, who had millions of degrees in art, history and Greece. She was a pleasure, had a fountain of knowledge and could bust a groove on a dancefloor. Yiannis, our Hotel Manager was incredibly caring, and Joseph our Cruise Manager had the patience of the gods.
Everyone on board was on a first name-basis after a couple of days.
What type of food did you eat whilst you were there?
Our cruise was full board, so the food was plentiful. We had an American-style buffet each morning. My meal of choice here was fluffy pancakes with amazing local strawberries and Greek yogurt. Lunch was usually a buffet. We had tasty koftas packed with herbs, lots of salad and great Greek fries, which are hand cut potatoes fried in olive oil.
Dinner was slightly more formal in that it was a sit-down meal, though you could wear jeans and a t-shirt still. We had four or five courses including soup and an often magnificent dessert.
Did you do any activities whilst you were on holiday?
Yes – we had a busy week lined up for us! Every day there was an optional excursion which cost about 50 Euro a trip. A bus would be organised, and we would drive to whichever period of the ancient world we were visiting that day. En route, Gennie would get us up to speed with the history of the area and perhaps tell us a Greek tragedy whilst highlighting our surrounding environment.
We visited the ruins at Delphi, made memorable by the amazing mountainous backdrop. Another highlight for me was Ancient Olympia. My cruise was in April which was the time of year for springtime blossom – seeing peaceful columns, thousands of years old, shrouded in fresh pink flowers is something I’ll remember.
Do you have any top tips for anyone travelling to Greece by cruise?
I assumed the weather would be good the whole time; it wasn’t. So, I’d recommend taking layers and waterproofs as well as warm weather gear.
On board, people tended not to go up on the top deck because it’s a bit more out of the way. This meant it was very quiet up there. Often my sister and I were the only ones up in the sunshine.
I would also suggest that people occasionally veer away from the itinerary laid out before them. This is sometimes difficult when the food on board is good and you’ve already paid for it in your package, and when you have the pick of interesting excursions. The food you eat on board is sourced locally and the sights you see make up the foundations of the country that is there today, however it’s important to meet local people and visit their shops and restaurants. Eat an enormous, cheap meal made of feta, olives, lamb, ripe tomatoes and robust wine at a family-run taverna that you can’t get anywhere else. Revel in the fact you are on a small cruise ship where you have so much more freedom than a large ocean liner, and where you have the choice to contribute to local economy.
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Seasonally, Spring and Autumn are highly preferable. The crowds are fewer and the heat is less. There were a lot of stairs and walking involved in a couple of the excursions which I would have not enjoyed as much in the heat of an August sun.
Would you go back?
In a heartbeat. I would like to see more of Greece. I have my sights set on Hydra which you can visit on our Southern Greek Islands Cruise.
Would you recommend it to others?
Yes, because you can make of it what you want. If you want to be independent, you could just use the ship as a floating hotel, hire a car for a day and go off exploring. Or you can happily follow the group and be in great company.
Heather sailed aboard Galileo on a Peloponnese Greek Islands Cruise. Find out more here >