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Cruising - Istanbul to Athens

14th September 2011

In July, Sarah Wilson joined Oceania's MS Nautica for a 12-day cruise from Istanbul to Athens, stopping at a number of Greek Islands and mainland destinations en route. These included Santorini, Rhodes, Crete and the surprisingly delightful Monemvasia – dubbed “The Gibraltar of Greece”.

Escape Travel Consultant Sarah Wilson Cruising SantoriniMS Nautica

Oceania Cruises offers a luxury (almost) all-inclusive service, particularly suitable for couples while still being family-friendly.

All the essentials were included. The only added extras were alcohol (reasonably priced), casino gambling, shore excursions, laundry (self-service or done-for-you) and spa treatments.

Oceania specialises in mid-sized cruise ships that carry between 700 and 1,200 guests and have a high staff-to-passenger ratio. A side benefit is that ships like the MS Nautica can enter ports that are unable to accommodate bigger vessels.

The regular dining options include; the Grand Dining Room, Waves Grill, Terrace Al Fresco and 24-hour room service.

The dining dress code is “country club casual”. Open seating makes for a relaxed and less regimented atmosphere.

In addition, all guests have the option to dine at the high-end Polo Grill and Toscana Italian restaurant at least once, depending on their stateroom category.

Escape Travel consultant Sarah Wilson Cruising MonemvasiaHighlights

  • Shopping for Turkish carpets and hand-painted ceramics in Istanbul and Kusadasi.
  • Visiting the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia in the old Sultanahmet District of Istanbul.
  • Being scrubbed squeaky-clean at a 500-year old Turkish bath.
  • Sailing through the Dardanelles, past the Turkish and British War Memorials at Gallipoli at 11.30pm.
  • Riding a well-fed donkey up the 550-odd steps to Thira town from the port of Santorini.
  • Exploring the cobbled streets of Santorini, with its distinctive blue and white painted houses and churches.
  • Nibbling on dainty pastries and savoury snacks during the daily 4pm high tea on board the ship.
  • Exploring the ruins of Ephesus, Knossos and Olympia, accompanied by knowledgeable local guides.
  • Eating impossibly ripe tomatoes and cucumbers in local tavernas for less than the price of a cup of coffee at home.
  • Swimming in the refreshing turquoise waters of the Aegean Sea.
  • The breath-taking view from the top of Monemvasia, home to the centuries - old St Sophia Church.
  • Coming home every evening to a perfectly made-up stateroom with fresh chocolates on our pillows.
  • Late night dancing and karaoke with our fun-loving Cruise Director.

Looking for more information about cruise vacations? Contact [email]text=Sarah Wilson[/email], an International Travel Consultant with Escape Travel based in Queens Plaza, Brisbane who can be reached at 1300 841 012 or by [email]text=email[/email].