10 nights onboard Azamara Journey

10-Night Greece Intensive Voyage

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A luxurious boutique hotel at sea, the Azamara Journey® is a mid-sized ship with a deck plan that’s intimate but never crowded, and offers everything modern voyagers are looking for—plus some unexpected extras.

Leaving from: Athens
Cruise ship: Azamara Journey
Visiting: Athens Monemvasía Khania Agios Nikólaos, Kríti
Azamara Logo
Azamara

Sold by Royal Caribbean Group in January 2021, Azamara is already expanding under its new owners, Sycamore Partners. The destination-focused line has brought forth a ship, Azamara Onward - the former Pacific Princess - which, like the rest of the fleet, is a Renaissance Cruises R-class. But regular customers needn't worry.

In fact, they'll notice little change under the new ownership, as many itineraries will continue to be based on single countries, with late nights and overnight stays in port. The signature AzAmazing evenings - exclusive shore-based cultural events - and optional pre or post-cruise land tours are also staying.

690
Passengers
408
Crew
2000
Launched
2016
Last refit
30277t
Tonnage
180m
Length
25m
Width
18kts
Speed
8
Decks
USD
Currency
Cruise Itinerary
Day 1
Athens, Greece
Day 2
Monemvasía, Greece
Day 3
Khania, Greece
Day 4
Agios Nikólaos, Kríti, Greece
Day 5
Santorini, Greece
Day 6
Pátmos, Greece
Day 7
Mykonos, Greece
Day 8
Kusadasi, Turkey
Days 10 - 11
Istanbul, Turkey
Athens, Greece image
Day 1
Athens, Greece
Monemvasía, Greece image
Day 2
Monemvasía, Greece
Monemvasia boasts a varied and colorful history that can be traced to the 8th-century when Greeks fleeing the Slav invasion of Lakonia found refuge here. In its heyday it controlled sea travel between the Levant and European shores. The wall-encircled Lower Town extends along the slopes of a 985-foot-high crag that projects into the sea on the east side of the Peloponnese. For centuries an impressive stronghold, population dwindled as the inhabitants moved to the mainland. But with the beginning of a restoration program aimed to preserve Monemvasia's heritage, the Lower Town experienced a new lease on life, and people have begun to return. The Upper Town is situated on top of the Rock of Monemvasia. It is reached via a zigzagging, paved lane. An almost impregnable bastion in earlier days, it has been uninhabited for centuries, but still manages to preserve its magnificent appearance. Visitors today can explore the remains of the ancient citadel-castle and visit the church of Hagia Sofia. From the summit there is also a fantastic view of the surrounding area.
Khania, Greece image
Day 3
Khania, Greece
The second-largest city in Crete and capital of the Homonym Prefecture, Chania is located in Minoan Kidonia at the end of the Homonym Gulf between the Akrotiri and Onicha peninsulas. Chania City is divided into two parts; the Old Town, which is comprised of several connected districts built around the old Venetian Harbour, and New Town, a larger, more modern city whose centre is situated next to, and south of, the Old Town. The Old Town is home to Venetian buildings and Turkish elements that combine to create a unique architectural style, and is considered to be the most beautiful urban district on Crete. It was once surrounded by old Venetian fortifications that separated it from the New Town; however, only the eastern and western parts remain today. Due to its compact size, Skiathos can be easily explored in just a single day.
Agios Nikólaos, Kríti, Greece image
Day 4
Agios Nikólaos, Kríti, Greece
Santorini, Greece image
Day 5
Santorini, Greece
Undoubtedly the most extraordinary island in the Aegean, crescent-shape Santorini remains a mandatory stop on the Cycladic tourist route—even if it's necessary to enjoy the sensational sunsets from Ia, the fascinating excavations, and the dazzling white towns with a million other travelers. Called Kállisti (the "Loveliest") when first settled, the island has now reverted to its subsequent name of Thira, after the 9th-century-BC Dorian colonizer Thiras. The place is better known, however, these days as Santorini, a name derived from its patroness, St. Irene of Thessaloniki, the Byzantine empress who restored icons to Orthodoxy and died in 802. You can fly conveniently to Santorini, but to enjoy a true Santorini rite of passage, opt instead for the boat trip here, which provides a spectacular introduction. After the boat sails between Sikinos and Ios, your deck-side perch approaches two close islands with a passage between them. The bigger one on the left is Santorini, and the smaller on the right is Thirassia. Passing between them, you see the village of Ia adorning Santorini's northernmost cliff like a white geometric beehive. You are in the caldera (volcanic crater), one of the world's truly breathtaking sights: a demilune of cliffs rising 1,100 feet, with the white clusters of the towns of Fira and Ia perched along the top. The bay, once the high center of the island, is 1,300 feet in some places, so deep that when boats dock in Santorini's shabby little port of Athinios, they do not drop anchor. The encircling cliffs are the ancient rim of a still-active volcano, and you are sailing east across its flooded caldera. On your right are the Burnt isles, the White isle, and other volcanic remnants, all lined up as if some outsize display in a geology museum. Hephaestus's subterranean fires smolder still—the volcano erupted in 198 BC, about 735, and there was an earthquake in 1956. Indeed, Santorini and its four neighboring islets are the fragmentary remains of a larger landmass that exploded about 1600 BC: the volcano's core blew sky high, and the sea rushed into the abyss to create the great bay, which measures 10 km by 7 km (6 mi by 4½ mi) and is 1,292 feet deep. The other pieces of the rim, which broke off in later eruptions, are Thirassia, where a few hundred people live, and deserted little Aspronissi ("White isle"). In the center of the bay, black and uninhabited, two cones, the Burnt Isles of Palea Kameni and Nea Kameni, appeared between 1573 and 1925. There has been too much speculation about the identification of Santorini with the mythical Atlantis, mentioned in Egyptian papyri and by Plato (who says it's in the Atlantic), but myths are hard to pin down. This is not true of old arguments about whether tidal waves from Santorini's cataclysmic explosion destroyed Minoan civilization on Crete, 113 km (70 mi) away. The latest carbon-dating evidence, which points to a few years before 1600 BC for the eruption, clearly indicates that the Minoans outlasted the eruption by a couple of hundred years, but most probably in a weakened state. In fact, the island still endures hardships: since antiquity, Santorini has depended on rain collected in cisterns for drinking and irrigating—the well water is often brackish—and the serious shortage is alleviated by the importation of water. However, the volcanic soil also yields riches: small, intense tomatoes with tough skins used for tomato paste (good restaurants here serve them); the famous Santorini fava beans, which have a light, fresh taste; barley; wheat; and white-skin eggplants.
Pátmos, Greece image
Day 6
Pátmos, Greece
For better or worse, it can be difficult to reach Patmos—for many travelers, this lack of access is definitely for the better, since the island retains the air of an unspoiled retreat. Rocky and barren, the small, 34-square-km (21-square-mi) island lies beyond the islands of Kalymnos and Leros, northwest of Kos. Here on a hillside is the Monastery of the Apocalypse, which enshrines the cave where St. John received the Revelation in AD 95. Scattered evidence of Mycenaean presence remains on Patmos, and walls of the classical period indicate the existence of a town near Skala. Most of the island's approximately 2,800 people live in three villages: Skala, medieval Chora, and the small rural settlement of Kambos. The island is popular among the faithful making pilgrimages to the monastery as well as with vacationing Athenians and a newly growing community of international trendsetters—designers, artists, poets, and “taste gurus” (to quote Vogue’s July 2011 write-up of the island)—who have bought homes in Chora. These stylemeisters followed in the footsteps of Alexandrian John Stefanidis and the English artist Teddy Millington-Drake who, in the early ’60s, set about creating what eventually became hailed as one of the most gorgeous island homes in the world. The word soon spread thanks to their many guests (who included Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) but, happily, administrators have carefully contained development, and as a result, Patmos retains its charm and natural beauty—even in the busy month of August.
Mykonos, Greece image
Day 7
Mykonos, Greece

Although the fishing boats still go out in good weather, Mykonos largely makes its living from tourism these days. The summer crowds have turned one of the poorest islands in Greece into one of the richest.

Old Mykonians complain that their young, who have inherited stores where their grandfathers once sold eggs or wine, get so much rent that they have lost ambition, and in summer sit around pool bars at night with their friends, and hang out in Athens in winter when island life is less scintillating. Put firmly on the map by Jackie O in the 1960s, Mykonos town—called Hora by the locals—remains the Saint-Tropez of the Greek islands.

The scenery is memorable, with its whitewashed streets, Little Venice, the Kato Myli ridge of windmills, and Kastro, the town's medieval quarter. Its cubical two- or three-story houses and churches, with their red or blue doors and domes and wooden balconies, have been long celebrated as some of the best examples of classic Cycladic architecture.

Luckily, the Greek Archaeological Service decided to preserve the town, even when the Mykonians would have preferred to rebuild, and so the Old Town has been impressively preserved.

Pink oleander, scarlet hibiscus, and trailing green pepper trees form a contrast amid the dazzling whiteness, whose frequent renewal with whitewash is required by law.

Any visitor who has the pleasure of getting lost in its narrow streets (made all the narrower by the many outdoor stone staircases, which maximize housing space in the crowded village) will appreciate how its confusing layout was designed to foil pirates—if it was designed at all.

After Mykonos fell under Turkish rule in 1537, the Ottomans allowed the islanders to arm their vessels against pirates, which had a contradictory effect: many of them found that raiding other islands was more profitable than tilling arid land. At the height of Aegean piracy, Mykonos was the principal headquarters of the corsair fleets—the place where pirates met their fellows, found willing women, and filled out their crews.

Eventually, the illicit activity evolved into a legitimate and thriving trade network. Morning on Mykonos town's main quay is busy with deliveries, visitors for the Delos boats, lazy breakfasters, and street cleaners dealing with the previous night's mess. In late morning the cruise-boat people arrive, and the shops are all open. In early afternoon, shaded outdoor tavernas are full of diners eating salads (Mykonos's produce is mostly imported); music is absent or kept low.

In mid- and late afternoon, the town feels sleepy, since so many people are at the beach, on excursions, or sleeping in their air-conditioned rooms; even some tourist shops close for siesta.

By sunset, people have come back from the beach, having taken their showers and rested. At night, the atmosphere in Mykonos ramps up. The cruise-boat people are mostly gone, coughing three-wheelers make no deliveries in the narrow streets, and everyone is dressed for summer and starting to shimmy with the scene.

Many shops stay open past midnight, the restaurants fill up, and the bars and discos make ice cubes as fast as they can. Ready to dive in? Begin your tour of Mykonos town (Hora) by starting out at its heart: Mando Mavrogenous Square.

Kusadasi, Turkey image
Day 8
Kusadasi, Turkey
Whilst the busy resort town of Kusadasi offers much in the way of shopping and dining – not to mention a flourishing beach life scene, the real jewel here is Ephesus and the stunning ruined city that really take centre stage. With only 20% of the classical ruins having been excavated, this archaeological wonder has already gained the status as Europe’s most complete classical metropolis. And a metropolis it really is; built in the 10th century BC this UNESCO World Heritage site is nothing short of spectacular. Although regrettably very little remains of the Temple of Artemis (one of the seven wonders of the ancient world), the superb Library of Celsus’ façade is practically intact and it is one of life’s great joys to attend an evening performance in the illuminated ruins once all the tourists have left. The history of the city is fascinating and multi-layered and it is well worth reading up on this beforehand if a visit is planned. Another point of interest for historians would be the house of the Virgin Mary, located on the romantically named Mount Nightingale and just nine kilometres away from Ephesus proper. Legend has it that Mary (along with St. John) spent her final years here, secluded from the rest of the population, spreading Christianity. An edifying experience, even for non-believers. For the less historical minded amongst you, Kusadasi offers plenty in the way of activities. After a stroll through the town, jump in a taxi to Ladies’ Beach (men are allowed), sample a Turkish kebap on one of the many beachfront restaurants and enjoy the clement weather. If you do want to venture further afield, then the crystal clear beaches of Guzelcamli (or the Millipark), the cave of Zeus and the white scalloped natural pools at Pamukkale, known as Cleopatra’s pools, are definitely worth a visit.
Istanbul, Turkey image
Days 10 - 11
Istanbul, Turkey
The only city in the world that can lay claim to straddling two continents, Istanbul—once known as Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine and then the Ottoman Empire—has for centuries been a bustling metropolis with one foot in Europe and the other in Asia. Istanbul embraces this enviable position with both a certain chaos and inventiveness, ever evolving as one of the world’s most cosmopolitan crossroads. It’s often said that Istanbul is the meeting point of East and West, but visitors to this city built over the former capital of two great empires are likely to be just as impressed by the juxtaposition of old and new. Office towers creep up behind historic palaces, women in chic designer outfits pass others wearing long skirts and head coverings, peddlers’ pushcarts vie with battered old Fiats and shiny BMWs for dominance of the noisy, narrow streets, and the Grand Bazaar competes with modern shopping malls. At dawn, when the muezzin's call to prayer resounds from ancient minarets, there are inevitably a few hearty revelers still making their way home from nightclubs and bars. Most visitors to this sprawling city of more than 14 million will first set foot in the relatively compact Old City, where the legacy of the Byzantine and Ottoman empires can be seen in monumental works of architecture like the brilliant Aya Sofya and the beautifully proportioned mosques built by the great architect Sinan. Though it would be easy to spend days, if not weeks, exploring the wealth of attractions in the historical peninsula, visitors should make sure also to venture elsewhere in order to experience the vibrancy of contemporary Istanbul. With a lively nightlife propelled by its young population and an exciting arts scene that’s increasingly on the international radar—thanks in part to its stint as the European Capital of Culture in 2010—Istanbul is truly a city that never sleeps. It’s also a place where visitors will feel welcome: Istanbul may be on the Bosphorus, but at heart it’s a Mediterranean city, whose friendly inhabitants are effusively social and eager to share what they love most about it.
Ship Details
Azamara
Azamara Journey

A luxurious boutique hotel at sea, the Azamara Journey® is a mid-sized ship with a deck plan that’s intimate but never crowded, and offers everything modern voyagers are looking for—plus some unexpected extras.

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