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: $5,390 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 The port area on Mykonos
 The Acropolis of Athens
 The Parthenon, on the Acropolis
 The caryatids on the Temple of Erechtheion on the Acropolis
 Ancient lion statue on Delos
 The lions of Delos
 Village atop the cliffs of Santorini
 Traditional houses on Mykonos
 Santorini, Greece.  Credit: Zachary Duffy
 The view from the cliff-top on Santorini
 View from the village of Fira on Santorini.  Credit: KJ DiLuigi

Cruising the Greek Islands of the Southern Aegean

Round-trip from Athens

8 days from $5,390

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

Overview

2022 & 2023 Pre-Cruise Program2 Days, 1 Night

Athens is the birthplace of democracy and philosophy and home to the most enduring symbol of classical civilization—the Parthenon. Join this specially designed program to explore the incomparably rich legacy of this amazing city.

Day 1 – Athens, Greece

Arrive at Athens International Airport, where you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Grande Bretagne. A local representative will be present at the hospitality desk in the afternoon to welcome you and to offer suggestions for dining and independent exploration. Join fellow travelers this evening for a welcome cocktail reception. Dinner is on your own.

Hotel Grande Bretagne

Day 2 – Athens / Embark

After breakfast at the hotel, your first visit will be at the New Acropolis Museum, opened to the public in 2009 and designed to house and showcase all of the artifacts found on the Acropolis since archaeological work at the site began. The result is the exhibition of some 4,000 objects dating from the Greek Bronze Age through the Roman and Byzantine periods. Your tour of the Acropolis itself includes the Propylaea, which serves as the entrance to the complex, the Temple of Athena Nike, or Wingless Victory, and the Erechtheum with its classical Porch of Maidens. And of course, there is the Parthenon, the most perfect example of classical architecture in the world, designed as a shrine to Athena and at one time housing a massive gold and ivory statue of the warrior goddess. At the end of this tour, enjoy time at leisure to stroll the pedestrian walkways of the Plaka, the ancient neighborhood at the base of the Acropolis, where you will find a variety of shops and cafés where you can browse and have an independent lunch before boarding your coach for the transfer to the pier to embark your ship.

Your hotel:

Located in historic Syntagma Square, the 5-star Hotel Grande Bretagne is the perfect venue for a visit to Athens. Within walking distance of exclusive shopping areas, museums, and the business district, the hotel boasts 320 rooms and suites, two restaurants, and a spa. Its views of the city center, from the Parliament building to the Parthenon, are unrivaled.

Your program includes:

  • 1 night at the Hotel Grande Bretagne (or similar)
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the airport to the hotel on the scheduled program arrival day
  • Transfer and luggage handling from the hotel to the ship on embarkation day
  • Welcome cocktail reception on Day 1
  • Breakfast on Day 2
  • Sightseeing and programming as noted in the itinerary
  • Local English-speaking guide
  • Gratuities for the drivers and local guides

Your program does not include:

  • Transfer from the airport to the hotel on any day other than the scheduled program arrival day
  • Personal expenses and other services and meals not mentioned as included in the program

Please note:

  • It is imperative that your flight arrival details are communicated at least 30 days prior to the beginning of your cruise in order to secure your transfer from the airport to the hotel.
  • Early check-in and/or late check-out are available depending on availability and at a supplement. An additional night is possible, upon request and depending on hotel availability. Please, contact reservations or your travel agent for further details.
  • The official currency is the Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted in hotels, shops, and restaurants.
  • This pre-cruise program is offered as a package. There will be no refunds for unused accommodations, meals, or excursions.
  • Program is offered on a space available basis.
  • Program is subject to change without notice.

2022 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 — 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

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, 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 5 — Santorini and Folegandros

Make sure you’re on deck as the ship sails into the breathtaking Santorini caldera. Encountering the gigantic scale and majesty of the high cliffs surrounding this ancient crater is one of the highlights of the cruise. Anchor off the mountainous island of Folegandros, and spend the afternoon exploring its blue-and-white villages and secluded beaches. Visit Chora, its delightful main town, with narrow streets and traditional Cycladic architecture. Admire a view of the port of Karavostasi and go for a swim at a lovely beach near the port. (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 amphitheater, 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— Hydra

Just off the coast of the Peloponnese lies Hydra, one of the Saronic Islands.  Long a retreat for Greek and international celebrities, Hydra maintains its traditional character—in large part because no motorized vehicles are allowed on the island. Begin your tour at the Historical Archives Museum, housed in an elegant mansion and containing manuscripts, paintings, rare books, and photographs that detail the maritime and military history of the island. At the Church of the Dormitian, see icons and other offerings from wealthy seafarers—including a chandelier that is said to have been stolen from Louis XIV. A short climb brings you to Koundouriotis Mansion, a splendid example of the traditional stone architecture of Hydra. Built in 1780, it now houses items from the National Historical Museum of Athens, such as traditional costumes, jewelry, fine embroideries, pottery and woodcarvings. The opulent interior also displays the heirlooms of this wealthy ship owner and his family.  Enjoy a leisurely stroll back to the port, stopping for a coffee or a taste of a traditional amygdaloto sweet on the promenade. (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)

2023 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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