Holland America Line is set to return to cruising this summer with itineraries in the gorgeous eastern Mediterranean. There’s no better locale than Greece to become immersed in the culture of the region that is drenched in sun-kissed skies, azure seas and a history that stretches back to ancient times.
The seven-day “Adriatic Allure” itinerary departing Sept. 5 will sail from Piraeus to Venice, Italy, with calls at Mykonos, Katakolon (Olympia) and Crete (Chania), Greece, and Sarandë, Albania. Read on to see why this cruise is a must-do for anyone looking to explore the highlights of Greece.
KATAKOLON (OLYMPIA), GREECE
The port of Katakolon is the gateway to the Peloponnese, one of Greece’s most intriguing areas. Beyond the region’s famous site of ancient Olympia (seen above) — one of the most treasured remnants of the classical world — the Peloponnese gets little of the glory given the Greek islands and Athens. And it deserves much more. The region reveals what it means to be Greek: traditions that go back thousands of years, simple but delicious and healthy cuisine, towering mountains, crystal blue seas and, above all, the true hospitality of the people. In addition to Olympia, which is unmissable, the Peloponnese offers lesser-known but majestic and ancient sites, natural wonders and an insight into the traditional rural life that still endures in this country. Take the time to explore and see as much as possible — your efforts will be more than rewarded.
SOUDA (CHANIA), CRETE, GREECE
The port of Souda on the Aegean Sea is home to a Greek and NATO naval base and is located six kilometers (three miles) from Chania — the second-largest city on Crete, which itself is the largest of the Greek Islands. Once you’re in Chania, set your compass for the historic waterfront with its famous Venetian Harbor dating to the 14th century. Walk along the breakwater to the restored 500-year-old lighthouse for views that are particularly photogenic from late afternoon until sunset. The atmospheric tangle of streets that is Old Town is easily explored on foot, and you can stop at one of the many outdoor cafés for a bouyatsa (custard pastry) or a glass of Cretan red wine.
The iconic Kato Myli grain windmills in Mykonos overlook Little Venice and date back to the 16th century. All have a distinctive round shape, are colored white and have thatched wooden roofs. While they are no longer operational, they stand as a monument to early innovation. Six of these windmills can be seen from almost any street in Chora. Just 600 meters east of the Kato Myli windmill cluster lies Boni’s Windmill, which is open to tourists from July until September.
While travelers have been visiting the Albanian Riviera since antiquity, the region is, with reason, often described as up-and-coming. This 80-kilometer (50-mile) stretch of the northern Ionian Sea has seaside towns and stunning blue waters that visitors are now rediscovering. The southern anchor of this coast is Sarandë, whose ancient inhabitants were said to be the descendants of the ancient Greek hero Achilles. Like a mini San Francisco, the city is built around a series of stairs that lead from the top of the hill, dominated by a castle, down to the seafront. Its easy access to the sea helps explain the city’s reputation for serving excellent, fresh seafood. Sarandë is also a convenient base from which to visit an abundance of ancient ruins and UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
We hope to welcome you on board for the “Adriatic Allure” cruise this summer!