A cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Set sail on the Aegean Sea, exploring important World Heritage sites from Patmos to Delos and visiting gem-like isles in the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and beyond.

Starting at: $6,310 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The port area on Mykonos
The port area on Mykonos
 The Acropolis of Athens
The Acropolis of Athens
 The Parthenon, on the Acropolis
The Parthenon, on the Acropolis
 The caryatids on the Temple of Erechtheion on the Acropolis
The caryatids on the Temple of Erechtheion on the Acropolis
 Town on the island of Patmos
Town on the island of Patmos
 The historic port in Rhodes
The historic port in Rhodes
 Medieval square in Rhodes, Greece
Medieval square in Rhodes, Greece
 Village atop the cliffs of Santorini
Village atop the cliffs of Santorini
 The view from the cliff-top on Santorini
The view from the cliff-top on Santorini
 View from the village of Fira on Santorini.  Credit: KJ DiLuigi
View from the village of Fira on Santorini. Credit: KJ DiLuigi
 Traditional houses on Mykonos
Traditional houses on Mykonos
 Ancient lion statue on Delos
Ancient lion statue on Delos
 The lions of Delos
The lions of Delos
 The Lion's Gate, Mycenae
The Lion's Gate, Mycenae
 The dramatic theater at Epidaurus
The dramatic theater at Epidaurus

Cruising the Greek Islands of the Southern Aegean

Aboard the 184-guest Le Dumont D'Urville or the 264 guest L'Austral

8 days from $6,310

A cruise offering from Smithsonian Journeys and PONANT

Set sail on the Aegean Sea, exploring important World Heritage sites from Patmos to Delos and visiting gem-like isles in the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and beyond.

or Call 855-330-1542

Tour Details

TOUR BROCHURE

brochure

WHAT OUR TRAVELERS SAY

Smithsonian can be trusted to provide you with a safe, well organized, relaxing, culturally enriching travel experience. Very pleased with our Cruise to Greece, and booked a Smithsonian Journeys tour for next summer immediately after we returned!

- Grace, W.

JOURNEYS DISPATCHES

See All Journeys Dispatches ››

Overview

Strung like gems across the turquoise Aegean, the Greek Isles are legendary for their beauty and their importance in the history of Western civilization. Delve into the Classical world and see important World Heritage sites from Patmos to Delos on a voyage to the Dodecanese, the Cyclades, and beyond. Along the way, explore historic sites and delightful villages, get acquainted with local life, and immerse yourself in some of the most spectacular scenery in the Greek Isles.

The Smithsonian Journeys / PONANT Experience

Each cruise will be accompanied by two Smithsonian Journeys Experts. All excursions are included. You will have a choice of excursions in many ports, so that you can delve more deeply into subjects that interest you.

Highlights Include

  • Patmos: Explore the World Heritage site of Patmos, including the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John, built in 1088 and still inhabited by monks, and the Cave of the Apocalypse, where St. John is said to have received his vision for the Book of Revelations. 
  • Amorgos: On Amorgos, take a guided tour of the incomparable Chora and the cliff-side Monastery of Hozoviotissa. Or learn about local life on a visit to an olive oil producer and a traditional Cycladic home where essential oils are distilled.
  • Delos and Mykonos: In Delos, the mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, tour the evocative ruins of early temples and mansions, an ancient theater, and the legendary Terrace of the Lions. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to explore nearby Mykonos, which epitomizes the beauty of the Greek Isles. 
  • Rhodes and Santorini (October departures): Uncover layers of history on Rhodes, exploring the legacy of the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as the knights of the Crusades as you visit the Acropolis of Lindos. Cruise into the spectacular natural caldera of Santorini and visit Akrotiri and the Prehistoric Museum, or sail a catamaran to Nea Kameni to hike up the volcano.
  • Symi and Milos (July 2025 departure):  Discover the charms of the small islands of Symi and Milos, exploring discovering picturesque villages and stunning stretches of coast. On Milos, visit a marble Roman amphitheater and see the spot where the famous Venus de Milo statue was found.  
  • Nafplio: Get immersed in the beauty of Nafplio, an ancient port on the Peloponnese peninsula, and explore two legendary sites nearby: Mycenae and the theater at Epidaurus. Or get to know Nafplio on a walking tour and explore history and culture at its museums.  Enjoy a tasting of mezes and ouzo at a local wine shop.

Smithsonian can be trusted to provide you with a safe, well organized, relaxing, culturally enriching travel experience. Very pleased with our Cruise to Greece, and booked a Smithsonian Journeys tour for next summer immediately after we returned!

- Grace, W.

October 2024 Itinerary

Map - Cruising the Greek Islands of the Southern Aegean

Day 1 — Athens, Greece

Arrive in the birthplace of democracy. Home to many of history’s greatest philosophers and poets from Socrates to Herodotus, Athens is unmatched in its contributions to early Western civilization. Embark the ship and enjoy dinner on board this evening as we set sail on the Aegean Sea. (D)

Day 2 — Patmos

The Dodecanese island of Patmos looms large in the history of Christianity: it was to this rugged island that St. John the Evangelist was banished during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian. Set out on a tour of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John, still an active place of religious study and a pilgrimage site, and discover its incredible collection of Byzantine art, including countless frescoes, icons, gold and silver liturgical objects, rare manuscripts, and antiquities. Continue to the Cave of the Apocalypse and its lovely whitewashed chapel, and see the rock grotto where St. John is said to have received the visions of the Apocalypse that later became the Book of Revelation. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Rhodes

Poised just off the coast of Turkey, Rhodes is a living testament to history of the Mediterranean, bearing evidence of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans, and Venetians who occupied the island over the centuries. Discover Rhodes’ cultural treasures on a walking tour that includes the Palace of the Grand Master and the Street of the Knights, a cobbled lane flanked by beautifully preserved medieval buildings that once housed the Knights of St. John. Or travel to Lindos to visit the hilltop Acropolis and its Temple of Athena Lindia. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Santorini

Make sure you’re on deck as the ship sails into the breathtaking Santorini caldera, an ancient, flooded crater ringed by majestic cliffs that tower high above the sea. Delve into the island’s long history on a visit to the archaeological site of Akrotiri and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. Or sail a catamaran to Nea Kameni, a volcanic isle in the center of the caldera, and go for a hike for a closer look at the volcanic forces that created Santorini. Alternatively, explore the whitewashed, cliff-top village of Oia and stop at a winery for a tour and tasting.  (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Amorgos

The most easterly island in the Cyclades, rugged and beautiful Amorgos remains off the beaten path and largely unchanged by tourism. Spend your day getting acquainted with island traditions on visits to two timeless villages. Meet monks at the 11th-century Monastery of Hozoviotissa, which clings to a cliff some 900 feet above the sea. Continue to picturesque Chora for a leisurely stroll among its whitewashed houses, chapels, and windmills, and a visit to its three small museums. Alternately, in Lagada, take a guided walk through olive groves, learn about the production of olive oil, and see a demonstration of a traditional village olive press. Continue to Tholaria, a small village overlooking Aegiali Bay. Here, learn about the layout and functioning of a typical Cycladic home, and visit its distillery with a local herbalist, who will explain how essential oils are produced from herbs grown in Amorgos—an age-old Greek tradition. Later, sample local delicacies with a stunning view of the sea. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Delos and Mykonos

The mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos is one of the most sacred places in the Greek world—as central to ancient spiritual life as Olympia and Delphi. Your visit to this World Heritage site begins at the hilltop Sanctuary of Zeus and Athena Cynthiens, where sweeping views of the site give a sense of its grandeur when it was the center of the Delian League. Explore the Sanctuary of Apollo, a rich archaeological site with remains of three separate temples from the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. See the magnificent Terrace of the Lions, where five marble lions have guarded the island for nearly 2,600 years. Walk through a district once filled with mansions to the 5,500-seat theater, the site of choral competitions during the quadrennial Delian festival. After lunch, enjoy an afternoon on charming Mykonos, where iconic windmills, sugar-cube houses, and azure bays epitomize the spectacular beauty of the Greek Isles. During your free time on the island, meander through the Little Venice neighborhood or stop in an ouzeri to nibble mezethes and sip ouzo, the quintessentially Greek aperitif. (B,L,D)

Day 7— Nafplio or Mycenae and Epidaurus

Dock in the historic port town of Nafplio, set on a turquoise bay on the coast of the Peloponnese.  From this beautiful base, set out to visit the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, home to the legendary Lion Gate and the beehive tomb known as the Tomb of Agamemnon. Then explore Epidaurus and visit its renowned theater—one of the most well-preserved and acoustically perfect ancient theaters in Greece. Instead, choose to stay in Nafplio and take a walking tour including the Folkloric Foundation and the Komboloi Museum. Then visit a wine shop for a sampling of local specialties and ouzo. (B,L,R,D)

Day 8 — Athens/Return Home

Disembark in Athens this morning and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

July 2025 Itinerary

Day 1 — Athens, Greece

Arrive in the birthplace of democracy. Home to many of history’s greatest philosophers and poets from Socrates to Herodotus, Athens is unmatched in its contributions to early Western civilization. Embark the ship and enjoy dinner on board this evening as we set sail on the Aegean Sea. (D)

Day 2 — Patmos

The Dodecanese island of Patmos looms large in the history of Christianity: it was to this rugged island that St. John the Evangelist was banished during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian. Set out on a tour of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John, still an active place of religious study and a pilgrimage site, and discover its incredible collection of Byzantine art, including countless frescoes, icons, gold and silver liturgical objects, rare manuscripts, and antiquities. Continue to the Cave of the Apocalypse and its lovely whitewashed chapel, and see the rock grotto where St. John is said to have received the visions of the Apocalypse that later became the Book of Revelation. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Symi

Symi is a gem of an island, with picture-perfect seaside villages stacked up the hillsides and cypress forests, vineyards, and olive orchards blanketing the interior. Spend today exploring the island and its charming port district of Gialos.  Stroll along the quays, lined with brightly painted houses, and climb up to the upper town via the Kali Strata ramp to take in superb views of the coast and the turquoise Aegean. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Amorgos / Cruising the Santorini Caldera

The most easterly island in the Cyclades, rugged and beautiful Amorgos remains off the beaten path and largely unchanged by tourism. Spend your day getting acquainted with island traditions on visits to two timeless villages. Meet monks at the 11th-century Monastery of Hozoviotissa, which clings to a cliff some 900 feet above the sea. Continue to picturesque Chora for a leisurely stroll among its whitewashed houses, chapels, and windmills, and a visit to its three small museums. In Lagada, take a guided walk through olive groves, learn about the production of olive oil, and see a demonstration of a traditional village olive press. Continue to Tholaria, a small village overlooking Aegiali Bay. Here, learn about the layout and functioning of a typical Cycladic home. Then visit a distillery with a local herbalist, who will explain how essential oils are produced from herbs grown in Amorgos—an age-old Greek tradition. Later, sample local delicacies with a stunning view of the sea. This evening, take in breathtaking views of volcanic cliffs as we sail through the Santorini caldera. (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Milos

The island of Milos is famous for the statue of Venus discovered in its fields and now on display in the Louvre. It is also a geological treasure, with volcanic origins evident in its dramatic landscapes and multi-colored cliffs, ranging from pure white to deep red. From the ship's deck, take in the wild beauty of coastlines that boast some of the most beautiful beaches in Greece. Then set off on an island tour, visiting the marble Roman Amphiteatre that overlooks the bay and site where the Venus de Milo was discovered. Drive along the northern coast to Plaka, a classic Cycladic chora with white stone houses and flowering bougainvilleas. Enjoy a stunning view of the sea from the veranda of the 19th-century church of Panagia Korfiatissa. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Delos and Mykonos

The mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos is one of the most sacred places in the Greek world—as central to ancient spiritual life as Olympia and Delphi. Your visit to this World Heritage site begins at the hilltop Sanctuary of Zeus and Athena Cynthiens, where sweeping views of the site give a sense of its grandeur when it was the center of the Delian League. Explore the Sanctuary of Apollo, a rich archaeological site with remains of three separate temples from the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. See the magnificent Terrace of the Lions, where five marble lions have guarded the island for nearly 2,600 years. Walk through a district once filled with mansions to the 5,500-seat theater, the site of choral competitions during the quadrennial Delian festival. After lunch, enjoy an afternoon on charming Mykonos, where iconic windmills, sugar-cube houses, and azure bays epitomize the spectacular beauty of the Greek Isles. During your free time on the island, meander through the Little Venice neighborhood or stop in an ouzeri to nibble mezethes and sip ouzo, the quintessentially Greek aperitif. (B,L,D)

Day 7— Nafplio or Mycenae and Epidaurus

Dock in the historic port town of Nafplio, set on a turquoise bay on the coast of the Peloponnese.  From this beautiful base, set out to visit the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, home to the legendary Lion Gate and the beehive tomb known as the Tomb of Agamemnon. Then explore Epidaurus and visit its renowned theater—one of the most well-preserved and acoustically perfect ancient theaters in Greece. Instead, choose to stay in Nafplio and take a walking tour including the Folkloric Foundation and the Komboloi Museum. Then visit a wine shop for a sampling of local specialties and ouzo. (B,L,R,D)

Day 8 — Athens/Return Home

Disembark in Athens this morning and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

October 2025 Itinerary

Map - Cruising the Greek Islands of the Southern Aegean

Day 1 — Athens, Greece

Arrive in the birthplace of democracy. Home to many of history’s greatest philosophers and poets from Socrates to Herodotus, Athens is unmatched in its contributions to early Western civilization. Embark the ship and enjoy dinner on board this evening as we set sail on the Aegean Sea. (D)

Day 2 — Patmos

The Dodecanese island of Patmos looms large in the history of Christianity: it was to this rugged island that St. John the Evangelist was banished during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian. Set out on a tour of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of St. John, still an active place of religious study and a pilgrimage site, and discover its incredible collection of Byzantine art, including countless frescoes, icons, gold and silver liturgical objects, rare manuscripts, and antiquities. Continue to the Cave of the Apocalypse and its lovely whitewashed chapel, and see the rock grotto where St. John is said to have received the visions of the Apocalypse that later became the Book of Revelation. (B,L,D)

Day 3 — Rhodes

Poised just off the coast of Turkey, Rhodes is a living testament to history of the Mediterranean, bearing evidence of the ancient Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans, and Venetians who occupied the island over the centuries. Discover Rhodes’ cultural treasures on a walking tour that includes the Palace of the Grand Master and the Street of the Knights, a cobbled lane flanked by beautifully preserved medieval buildings that once housed the Knights of St. John. Or travel to Lindos to visit the hilltop Acropolis and its Temple of Athena Lindia. (B,L,D)

Day 4 — Santorini

Make sure you’re on deck as the ship sails into the breathtaking Santorini caldera, an ancient, flooded crater ringed by majestic cliffs that tower high above the sea. Delve into the island’s long history on a visit to the archaeological site of Akrotiri and the Museum of Prehistoric Thera. Or sail a catamaran to Nea Kameni, a volcanic isle in the center of the caldera, and go for a hike for a closer look at the volcanic forces that created Santorini. Alternatively, explore the whitewashed, cliff-top village of Oia and stop at a winery for a tour and tasting.  (B,L,D)

Day 5 — Amorgos

The most easterly island in the Cyclades, rugged and beautiful Amorgos remains off the beaten path and largely unchanged by tourism. Spend your day getting acquainted with island traditions on visits to two timeless villages. Meet monks at the 11th-century Monastery of Hozoviotissa, which clings to a cliff some 900 feet above the sea. Continue to picturesque Chora for a leisurely stroll among its whitewashed houses, chapels, and windmills, and a visit to its three small museums. Alternately, in Lagada, take a guided walk through olive groves, learn about the production of olive oil, and see a demonstration of a traditional village olive press. Continue to Tholaria, a small village overlooking Aegiali Bay. Here, learn about the layout and functioning of a typical Cycladic home, and visit its distillery with a local herbalist, who will explain how essential oils are produced from herbs grown in Amorgos—an age-old Greek tradition. Later, sample local delicacies with a stunning view of the sea. (B,L,D)

Day 6 — Delos and Mykonos

The mythical birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, Delos is one of the most sacred places in the Greek world—as central to ancient spiritual life as Olympia and Delphi. Your visit to this World Heritage site begins at the hilltop Sanctuary of Zeus and Athena Cynthiens, where sweeping views of the site give a sense of its grandeur when it was the center of the Delian League. Explore the Sanctuary of Apollo, a rich archaeological site with remains of three separate temples from the 5th and 6th centuries B.C. See the magnificent Terrace of the Lions, where five marble lions have guarded the island for nearly 2,600 years. Walk through a district once filled with mansions to the 5,500-seat theater, the site of choral competitions during the quadrennial Delian festival. After lunch, enjoy an afternoon on charming Mykonos, where iconic windmills, sugar-cube houses, and azure bays epitomize the spectacular beauty of the Greek Isles. During your free time on the island, meander through the Little Venice neighborhood or stop in an ouzeri to nibble mezethes and sip ouzo, the quintessentially Greek aperitif. (B,L,D)

Day 7— Nafplio or Mycenae and Epidaurus

Dock in the historic port town of Nafplio, set on a turquoise bay on the coast of the Peloponnese.  From this beautiful base, set out to visit the Bronze Age citadel of Mycenae, home to the legendary Lion Gate and the beehive tomb known as the Tomb of Agamemnon. Then explore Epidaurus and visit its renowned theater—one of the most well-preserved and acoustically perfect ancient theaters in Greece. Instead, choose to stay in Nafplio and take a walking tour including the Folkloric Foundation and the Komboloi Museum. Then visit a wine shop for a sampling of local specialties and ouzo. (B,L,R,D)

Day 8 — Athens/Return Home

Disembark in Athens this morning and transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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