Med Cruise Review Part 3: Athens and Santorini

** Please post your recommendations ONLY in response to request...do not start a new thread. Thanks!
Other Mediterranean Ports
Dubrovnik, Gibraltar, Istanbul, Kotor, Kusadasi, La Goulette (Tunis), Lisbon, Madeira (Funchal), Malta, Odessa, Sevastopol, Varna, Zadar
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts
BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
All times are GMT -4.
The time now is 06:14 AM.
#1
Orlando, FL
210 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
ATHENS:
We (along with our cruise critic friends Joe and Lisa) used Spiros as a driver in Athens, and weren’t disappointed! Spiros drives a Mercedes that will accommodate 4 guests comfortably. His A/C worked well, unlike some of the vehicles in Europe. Spiros lived in New York for many years, so he speaks English very well. His accent is a mixture of Greek and New York…quite an interesting combination.

During this tour, we visited the Acropolis, and Spiros managed to get us there before the big tour bus crowds arrived. There was no line for tickets, and many of our pictures have very few people in them…a rarity for most of these sites. You will have to walk up an incline and some steps to reach the Parthenon, but it is well worth it. Also, it is very dusty so don’t wear your nicest shoes! There is a museum near the Parthenon that is included in your ticket price. It contains many sculptures and artifacts that are worth seeing. Pictures aren’t allowed in the museum, but I saw people breaking that rule over and over again.

After the Acropolis, Spiros took us to the Greek and Roman Agoras that are included in your Acropolis ticket price. We also drove through the Plaka, but didn’t have time to stop for shopping. Then it was on to see the Olympic sights. Spiros took us to the Panathenean Stadium, where the opening of the Olympics will be held. He also drove us by the new buildings that are being constructed specifically for the Olympics.

After the Olympic sites, Spiros took us to watch the changing of the guards at the President’s residence. We took some great photos here. While we were watching, a tour bus tour drove by and I noticed that guests had to watch the changing of the guards through their bus window. Not quite the same effect…

Next, Spiros drove us through the country to Cape Sounion, where the Temple of Poseidon is located. Along the way, we stopped at a restaurant to have some lunch. It was a beautiful spot, overlooking the Gulf. We had a little difficulty ordering here, because the menu is set up much differently than what we’re used to at home. The items listed on the menu were to be ordered in kilograms, which totally threw me off. We managed to order a great meal, though…veal steaks and ka-bobs, and the largest shrimp I’d ever seen! The Greek salads were the best I’d ever eaten, with a huge block of feta cheese on top. While we were ordering, we noticed that the wind was throwing 2 boats that were docked nearby against the rocks. These boats were taking such a pounding that by the time we were finished with our meal, one had capsized and completely sunk. It was very hard to watch…I feel bad for the owner. Spiros later told us that the wind and weather that day were very unusual.

After lunch, we headed for the Temple of Poseidon, which is located on the edge of a cliff. The views of the water and Temple were gorgeous. The only problem was that it was so windy that it was hard to walk. The wind was blowing the sand so hard that it got in our eyes, and stung our legs. We couldn’t stay long, but it was worth the visit.

After Cape Sounion, we made the drive back to the ship along the coast. I enjoyed Athens very much, and was amazed at how HUGE the city is. I would like to visit again to try the Peloponnese tour. However, Athens isn’t on my list of places I’d like to return to for a land trip.

I highly recommend Spiros as a driver. He was very knowledgeable and had quite a sense of humor. He even stopped to buy Lisa and me chocolate!!! I have also heard that his drivers are wonderful. I still can’t believe the tour we got for 50 euros per person!

Here is the approximate amount we spent in Athens:

1.Private Tour: 100 euro total + tip
2.Lunch with beer and wine: 40 euro (tip included)
3.Temple of Poseidon: 8 euro total
4.Acropolis and Agoras: 24 euro total
5.Postcards: 5 euro


SANTORINI:
We decided to do Santorini on our own, am I’m glad we did. We had originally booked a shore tour through Celebrity for Oia and Akrotiri, but it was cancelled. We had also talked about renting a car, but finally decided on taking the bus instead.

The ship anchors out from the shore of Fira, and you must take a tender into port. It is a very quick ride, and they run shuttle boats constantly all day. After you reach shore, you can either take a donkey (no way), walk (no how), or ride the cable car (what we did) up the mountain. I had heard that lines for the cable car were long, but we didn’t find this to be the case. Also, the donkeys looked very slow. The cable car was 3.5 euro per person for one way (so 7 euro per person round trip). After we reached the top, we walked around Fira for a while, and then had a few drinks at a restaurant that had panoramic views of the village and ocean. It was beautiful, but quite pricey (7 euro per beer PLUS a cover charge).

After our refreshments, we headed to the bus terminal to catch a ride to Oia. What a bargain…90 cents per person one-way. The ride was quick, and fortunately the A/C worked because it was crowded. Get to the terminal early if you want a seat. Otherwise, be prepared to stand for the drive. We reached Oia and started exploring. The city is absolutely picturesque…every corner you turn you find another beautiful view. Oia (and Santorini) is known for its beautiful doors. You will also see tons of colorful pots and bright bougainvillea. The village is very clean and quiet, and much less crowded than Fira. We stopped for lunch at another restaurant with a great view (they all have great views in Santorini). I had a “Santorini Salad” which was loaded with tomatoes, onions, olives, capers, green peppers and topped with local cheese wedges…no bland lettuce, here. David had a ham and cheese crepe that was out of this world.

We caught the bus back to Fira and grabbed a table to watch the sunset. What a wonderful day!!!

Approximate costs in Santorini:

Cable Car: 14 euro total
Wine and beer: 40 euro (tip and cover charge included)
Lunch (includes beer and bottled water): 40 euro + tip
Ice cream for 2: 10 euro
Wine (while watching the sunset): 20 euro
Postcards: 3 euro
Bus ride: 3.6 euro total

More to come!!!
#2
Santa Barbara, CA
630 Posts
Joined Apr 2003
Thanks for your review. We are visiting both places on our Prinsendam cruise in September, and are considering seeing Athens with Spiros, so this was VERRYYY interesting!
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
--Cactuslady
LOTS of HAL ships
Viking Hild 9/9/2017
Crown Princess 3/2016
Peter Deilmann Casanova 9/23/2006
RSSC Navigator 12/5/2005
Prinsendam 9/20/04 (my favorite)
Maasdam 2001
Dana 24 sailboat 1989-1999
#3
4 Posts
Joined Jul 2004
Planning on arriving Piraus morning of July 25. Would like to arrange tour with Spiros. Can you pls provide me with contact information ?
Thank you
Jorge
#4
Cheshire, CT USA
112 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Hello,
we also went with Spiros on a tour of Athens and Cape Sounion and, like Aviendha, also had a very positive experience with him. We really enjoyed our day and definately recommend him. We enjoyed Athens so much that we will be returning next year to spend more time in Athens and further explore the Greek Islands, and likely a tour with Spiros of the Peloponnese or the Delphi.

his web site is:
http://********************/

Enjoy your trip,
Beth
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
beth
#5
Tampa, FL
2,540 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
I have read mixed reviews about adding the Cape Sounion drive to the tour. Most people felt it was wonderful at Poseidon but too long of a drive and too much traffic. Is this so? Would you suggest that we concentrate our time in Athens and spend some time at the Plaka?
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Jackie & Tony

Diamond Plus

Upcoming:

Brilliance of the Seas Transatlantic EB 04.05.2018
Brilliance of the Seas Western Caribbean 09.22.2018
Rhapsody of the Seas Transatlantic WB 12.08.2018


Completed:
Tropicale (Western Caribbean), Sea Princess (Alaska), Century (Eastern Caribbean), Maasdam (Western Caribbean), Ocean Princess (Mexican Riveira, Panama Canal Repositioning), Infinity (Hawaii), Golden Princess (Eastern Caribbean), Grand Princess (Western Caribbean), Disney Wonder (Bahamas), Diamond Princess (Alaska), Star Princess (Eastern Caribbean), Legend of the Seas (EB Transatlantic), Caribbean Princess (Eastern Caribbean), Sun Princess (Mexican Riveira, Panama Canal Repositioning), Millennium (Mediterranean) (2x), Carnival Legend (Western Caribbean), Mariner of the Seas (Eastern Caribbean) (Mexican Riviera) (2x), Emerald Princess (Eastern Caribbean), Emerald Princess (Southern Caribbean), Radiance of the Seas (Western Caribbean) (2x), Jewel of the Seas (Western Caribbean) Radiance of the Seas (Sydney, Australia to Hawaii) Majesty of the Seas (Bahamas) Freedom of the Seas (Western Caribbean) Jewel of the Seas (New England/Canada) Jewel of the Seas (Repositioning) Carnival Paradise (Western Caribbean) Royal Princess (Eastern Caribbean) Brilliance of the Seas (EB Transatlantic) Brilliance of the Seas (Scandinavia & Russia) Royal Princess (Southern Caribbean) Vision of the Seas (EB Transatlantic) Jewel of the Seas (Mediterranean) Jewel of the Seas (WB Transatlantic)
#6
257 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Beth - We have been to Athens & some of the islands twice on cruises and love Greece so much we are going back next year to spend time in just Athens & Santorini. I am wondering when you plan to go to Greece next year? Wouldn't it be hysterical if we were there at the same time and could split Spiros because we want to go to Delphi too!
#7
Orlando, FL
210 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by zebra
I have read mixed reviews about adding the Cape Sounion drive to the tour. Most people felt it was wonderful at Poseidon but too long of a drive and too much traffic. Is this so? Would you suggest that we concentrate our time in Athens and spend some time at the Plaka?
We enjoyed the drive to Sounion very much. There wasn't too much traffic, but it could have been due to the time we were there (mid June). In fact, this was probably my favorite part of the day (except for seeing the Acropolis) because I found the city of Athens to be too big and kinda dirty. The drive to Sounion is gorgeous because you're driving through the countryside and on the coast so there is plenty to see. Spiros also took us to that great restaurant with the beautiful views on the way to Sounion. If you want to spend time in the Plaka to shop, there might not be enough time to do both unless you cut something else out of the day. We didn't stop in the Plaka at all, just drove through.
#8
Ontario, Canada
175 Posts
Joined Apr 2004
We also booked with Spiros in Oct. and he'll take us to Cape Sounion. When you went for lunch in this restaurant did Spiros go with you and help with ordering? If so did you pay for his lunch too?
#10
Tampa, FL
2,540 Posts
Joined Feb 2004
Carlcruisesplus.. did you request him personally?

We requested him personally and his reply email was "You were the first person to email me for this cruise therefore I will personally tour you."
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Jackie & Tony

Diamond Plus

Upcoming:

Brilliance of the Seas Transatlantic EB 04.05.2018
Brilliance of the Seas Western Caribbean 09.22.2018
Rhapsody of the Seas Transatlantic WB 12.08.2018


Completed:
Tropicale (Western Caribbean), Sea Princess (Alaska), Century (Eastern Caribbean), Maasdam (Western Caribbean), Ocean Princess (Mexican Riveira, Panama Canal Repositioning), Infinity (Hawaii), Golden Princess (Eastern Caribbean), Grand Princess (Western Caribbean), Disney Wonder (Bahamas), Diamond Princess (Alaska), Star Princess (Eastern Caribbean), Legend of the Seas (EB Transatlantic), Caribbean Princess (Eastern Caribbean), Sun Princess (Mexican Riveira, Panama Canal Repositioning), Millennium (Mediterranean) (2x), Carnival Legend (Western Caribbean), Mariner of the Seas (Eastern Caribbean) (Mexican Riviera) (2x), Emerald Princess (Eastern Caribbean), Emerald Princess (Southern Caribbean), Radiance of the Seas (Western Caribbean) (2x), Jewel of the Seas (Western Caribbean) Radiance of the Seas (Sydney, Australia to Hawaii) Majesty of the Seas (Bahamas) Freedom of the Seas (Western Caribbean) Jewel of the Seas (New England/Canada) Jewel of the Seas (Repositioning) Carnival Paradise (Western Caribbean) Royal Princess (Eastern Caribbean) Brilliance of the Seas (EB Transatlantic) Brilliance of the Seas (Scandinavia & Russia) Royal Princess (Southern Caribbean) Vision of the Seas (EB Transatlantic) Jewel of the Seas (Mediterranean) Jewel of the Seas (WB Transatlantic)
#11
Orlando, FL
210 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by sheba5
We also booked with Spiros in Oct. and he'll take us to Cape Sounion. When you went for lunch in this restaurant did Spiros go with you and help with ordering? If so did you pay for his lunch too?
Spiros gave us some recommendations on what to order before we got to the restaurant. However, when we arrived, he went to eat lunch with some other drivers, so we didn't pay for his lunch. I got a little confused at the restaurant because the seafood is sold in kilograms. That threw me way off, so I ended up ordering something different than Spiros had recommended. It was still delicious. He recommended that we order 1/2 a kilo of mullet (I forget the name of it in Greek) to split between 2 people and a Greek salad each. It was the best Greek salad I'd ever had. The Feta was wonderful.
#12
Oro Valley, Arizona, USA
145 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
Thanks for your wonderful review. Where can I find Part 1 & 2? We are booked on a Med. cruise in 5/05 and are having fun making our plans. Your review is such a big help.
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Norweigean to Bahamas
Carnival to Mexico
Princess to Caribbean
Celebrity Zenith to the Caribbean in 1995
Royal Princess to Europe in 2002
Celebrity Millennium to Mediterrean in 2004
Celebrity Millennium to Mediterrean in May, 2005
Disney Wonder to Bahamas & DisneyWorld in May, 2006
Celebrity Mercury to Mexican Riviera in March, 2007
Celebrity Infinity to Alaska 4/28/08
Celebrity Solstice to Caribbean 4/12/09
Celebrity Equinox to Europe 10/23/09 b2b with
Celebrity Equinox Translantic from Europe 11/5/09







#13
Orlando, FL
210 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
Originally posted by Tony C
Thanks for your wonderful review. Where can I find Part 1 & 2? We are booked on a Med. cruise in 5/05 and are having fun making our plans. Your review is such a big help.

Hi Shirley!

Thanks for your comments! We had such a great time on the trip, and I'd recommend all of our private drivers.

I'm not sure where my parts 1 & 2 are...I haven't seen them in awhile. Maybe try doing a search for posts listed under my name? I'll look for them and see if I can bump them up.

I'm so bad!!!...I never finished writing my review of Rome, Florence and France because I started back at work and got too busy. One day, maybe I'll get around to it. But, just in case...we used Executive Limo in both Rome and Florence. Our guides were just o.k., but at least they were prompt and took us to everything we wanted to see.

In France we used Dream Tours, and Frederic was our driver. This was the best tour of our entire trip! We got to see so much that day. Try to book them if you can...you won't be disappointed.
#14
Oro Valley, Arizona, USA
145 Posts
Joined Sep 2003
I actually was able to find your parts 1 and 2 and enjoyed them just as much as part 3!! They are the most informative of any that I have found on the board. I completely understand about being back in the real world at work and being too busy. If only we were rich enough to cruise all the time -- wouldn't that be the life! I am going to check out dreamtours. I heard about them from someone else, but it is always nice to hear from several different people so you know it isn't a fluke. Where in France did you go? When we were there in May, we went to Eze (which we loved) and Monte Carlo. I've heard there is more to Villafranche than what we saw, but don't know if we can just walk around or need to get a car. We are also thinking about Nice, but have not heard too much about it. I would love to hear where you went or any suggestions you have. Thanks again.
Shirley
Expand Signature
Collapse Signature
Norweigean to Bahamas
Carnival to Mexico
Princess to Caribbean
Celebrity Zenith to the Caribbean in 1995
Royal Princess to Europe in 2002
Celebrity Millennium to Mediterrean in 2004
Celebrity Millennium to Mediterrean in May, 2005
Disney Wonder to Bahamas & DisneyWorld in May, 2006
Celebrity Mercury to Mexican Riviera in March, 2007
Celebrity Infinity to Alaska 4/28/08
Celebrity Solstice to Caribbean 4/12/09
Celebrity Equinox to Europe 10/23/09 b2b with
Celebrity Equinox Translantic from Europe 11/5/09







#15
Orlando, FL
210 Posts
Joined Jul 2003
In France, we visited so many places! Dream Tours was fabulous! We started off by driving around Villefranche, and Frederic took us to different sites for panoramic views. After that, we headed to Eze and had the village almost completely to ourselves. We must have made it before the tour buses which was another bonus. As we were leaving, we passed a perfume factory that had about 8 tour buses parked in front of it. Frederic offered to stop, but none in our group had any desire to see the factory so we declined. After Eze, we headed to Monaco to catch the changing of the guard. It was very crowded (and HOT...we were standing in the sun with no shade whatsoever), and I didn't get to see too much. Fortunately, my hubby caught it on our camcorder so I got to watch it later. We walked around the palace area for awhile and visited the church that's there. Then we took off for Monte Carlo.

Those crazy French! Wouldn't you know they'd be on strike that day??? The casino area was closed, so we didn''t get to go inside. But, we did walk around the casino and check out all of the things going on. Even with the strike, there was a lot of activity.

After Monace and Monte Carlo, we headed for St. Paul de Vence which was one of my favorite places of the entire cruise! We had lunch there at a cafe' overlooking the countryside. It was gorgeous! We ate crepe's, salad, and had a local white wine to drink. Frederic walked us through the village, acting as a "guide", then let us have time to roam around by ourselves. The shopping in St. Paul is amazing...there were less "touristy" gift shops and we enjoyed browsing the local art galleries, etc. Have your guide take you to the shop called "Les Trois Etoiles de Saint-Paul". It sells fruit cremes, olive oils that are infused with things like truffles, almonds, hazelnut, etc, and infused vinegars. The shop sells the oils and liqueurs from huge barrels or in pre-packaged bottles. You can sample all of the items before you buy them...even the liqueurs. We bought a pear creme, wild strawberry creme, truffle oil and hazelnut oil...and I wish we'd bought more!!!

After St. Paul, Frederic drove us along the coast through Nice, Antibes, etc. until we reached Cannes. We got to see the Film Festival site and a wonderful panoramic view of the harbour. Frederic grew up in Cannes, so he drove us around showing us different little spots he knew. After Cannes, Frederic wanted to keep going (keep in mind that it was about 6:30 pm by this time) but we were so exhausted that we had him take us back to the ship. What a day!

Anyway, I hope this helps! Let me knwo if you have any other questions.