Travel Story: The Greek Isles On Oceania Cruises Ship, Riviera
Updated: Feb 17, 2021
The Greek Isles are by far one of the most popular cruise destinations in the world and it's certainly no surprise as it has incredible history, stunning weather and amazing natural beauty. We booked this cruise with Oceania Cruises as we had previously sailed the mediterranean with them in 2016 (you can read more about that cruise here), we loved our port stops at Venice, Dubrovnik and Kotor so were excited to see that this cruise visited the same ports before heading to the greek isles. Oceania prides itself on offering the best cuisine at sea and we have to agree, where else can you eat lobster every night included in your fare not to mention that they have more specialty restaurants than most of their competitors and its all included in the fare.
Day 1: Venice, Italy - Private Water Taxi Tour & Embarkation
After our business class flight with Etihad Airways from Australia via Abu Dhabi we headed to the water taxi meeting point at Venice airport. A private water taxi tour of the grand canal had always been on our bucket list so we pre booked via email with Venice water taxi's to be taken on a tour of the grand canal before being dropped off at the ship. If you ever get the chance to do a private water taxi tour definitely do it as not only is it the best way to see Venice but you will remember it for the rest of your life. After seeing the amazing sights of Venice we arrived at the terminal where we were greeted by the friendly cruise staff, then after dropping off our bags and receiving our room cards we boarded the ship. One of the benefits of cruising with Oceania is that on most of their cruises the ship does not leave port until late in the evening or the following night after embarkation, this means people arrive in dribs and drabs over 12-24 hours so you never have large queues when checking in. On this cruise it was not departing until 5pm the following day so people slowly arrived over the two days. We were very pleased with our accomodation which was an A1 Concierge Level where there was a welcome bottle of champagne and a letter from the concierge explaining the benefits of concierge level accomodation. As the sun set we headed to the ships main dining room for dinner before getting some well needed catch up sleep before our second day in Venice.
Day 2: Venice, Italy - Jewish Ghetto, Wine & Cicchetti Tour
We started our second day in Venice early as the ship was departing at 5pm so we walked to an area of Venice we hadn't visited before which was the Jewish Ghetto, we had downloaded the GPSmyCity app which allowed us to download detailed maps with points of interest to our phones to find our way around without WiFi. It's always amazing to explore a part of the city you haven't seen before and we enjoyed our walk taking in the unique architecture of this part of Venice, getting lost in Venice is still one of the best ways to explore this beautiful city. At lunch time we had booked a tour that we had done previously in Venice and were keen to do it a second time which was the Wine & Cicchetti Tour which we booked through Viator, we met our guide outside Maria Maddalena church and then walked to the Traghetto (gondola ferry) for our included gondola ride across the grand canal. On the other side of the grand canal we walked through the fish market and then visited five baccaro's (wine bars) where each bar served us a different glass of local venetian wine accompanied by their own signature cicchetti (canapé's). The Venetian food and wine was amazing as was our guide, we still highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Venice, theres plenty of food and wine so you won't need food afterwards. At the end of the tour our guide recommended a local wine shop where we could buy some of the fantastic wines we had tasted to take back to the ship with us, once back on board we enjoyed a glass as we watched the amazing view from high up on the ship as we departed.
Day 3: Dubrovnik, Croatia - Kayaking Tour
We arrived in Dubrovnik just before lunch where we boarded the ship's complimentary shuttle bus and travelled to the old town. Since we had been to Dubrovnik before we decided to do something different this time round so we booked a kayaking tour through Viator which took us out and around Lokrum Island followed by a paddle alongside the old city walls. It was amazing to see this old walled city from the oceanside and of course seeing the game of thrones filming locations. After our tour we wandered the streets and headed to a local bar for a beer. As the ship wasn't departing until midnight we decided to take the cable car up to the lookout and have dinner at a spot we had enjoyed on our previous visit, The Panorama Restaurant where we feasted on local seafood including marinated octopus and prawns accompanied with Croatian rose. The dinner and the sunset were excellent and we still recommend this restaurant to anyone visiting Dubrovnik.
Day 4: Kotor, Montenegro - Cycling The Ladder of Kotor
After cruising through the beautiful Montenegrin fjords our ship anchored in the bay of Kotor where we tendered ashore. As we had previously done a walking tour of the city on our last visit we decided to do something different this time and booked a bike tour through Viator. We met our guides at the pier where we jumped in their van with the mountain bikes and headed out of town, the road to the top of the mountain is called the ladder of Kotor as it has 25 switchback turns and this is the road we would be riding back down. The top of the mountain is 1000 metres from the bottom and is so high that your actually in the clouds at the top, our guides adjusted our seats for us and with one guide on a bike in front and the other in the van behind we started our downward journey. Anyone with balance could do this tour as its all downhill so no peddling is required, although it can be a bit hairy when the large tourist coaches are coming up the road as it is single lane in many parts. We stopped at several lookouts for photos of the amazing scenery and before long we were back at the bottom of the mountain where we jumped back in the van for the last section in to the old town. It was an amazing tour with excellent guides and we would highly recommend anyone visiting Kotor to book this tour. After the tour we headed in to the old city to have some lunch and ended up back at a bar we had visited on our previous visit, The Harbour Bar where we had some local cured meats, cheeses and beer which were all excellent. As we headed back to the tender we stopped at a wine shop on the way to stock up on some Montenegrin wine to take back to the ship with us, as we were tendering out an afternoon thunderstorm hit which made the process a little more interesting due to low visibility and lightning but hats off to the crew who handled the situation expertly and got us back to the ship safe and sound.
Day 5: Argostoli, Greece - Cancelled Port
Today we were supposed to dock in Argostoli however due to high winds and a lack of tug boats the captain made the decision to cancel the stop and instead have an extra day at sea. We know from our experience on many cruise lines that there is always a chance of a cancelled port so it was just as well our shore tour that we had booked through Viator had a cancelled port refund policy so we were able to get our money back. We decided to head to the day spa for a massage in the morning and then in the afternoon spent time by the pool with a good book and a cocktail followed by a lobster surf and turf dinner at the ships Polo Grill steak house.
Day 6: Santorini, Greece - Coach Tour to Oia & Lunch
Today the ship anchored off Fira the capitol of Santorini where we tendered ashore and boarded our coach for our tour to Oia which we booked through the ship. This was the port we had most been looking forward to for the entire cruise and Oia didn't disappoint, the beautiful white washed buildings with their colourful domes clinging to the side of the cliffs overlooking the Agean Sea is absolutely stunning. We wandered the town and took lots of photos before it was time to board the coach to head back to Fira, we would have loved to of spent the whole day in Oia but as we'd not been to Santorini before we wanted to see as much as we could. In Fira we went to a cafe called Select Cafe which clings to the side of the cliff with amazing views over the bay, we tried the local white wine along with some amazing saganaki. Then we headed to Da Costa a Trip Advisor top rated restaurant where we had made and advance reservation via email for lunch, we had the local octopus, chicken and lamb souvlaki washed down with a local rose, the food was amazing and by far the best octopus we have ever had. On our way back to the tender we stopped in at a wine shop to grab a couple of bottles of the local wine to take back to the ship with us. We had an amazing day, it was definitely the highlight of the trip so far and we cant wait to come back to Santorini again in the future to spend a couple of days there, it truly is the gem of the Agean Sea.
Day 7: Rhodes, Greece - Exploring On Foot
This morning we docked in Rhodes where we decided to use our GPSmyCity app to download maps of the city with local points of interest listed. We headed out on foot to explore this incredible city, there is no greek architecture in this city as it has been under the control of the Byzantines, Romans, Ottomans and has a more medieval style of architecture compared to the rest of Greece. You could spend days and days exploring all of the historical elements of the city but we focussed on the medieval squares and the grand masters palace which was built in the 7th century as well as the original medieval port. After all the walking we decided to sit down at Auvergne Restaurant for a light lunch, its set up in one of the towns medieval squares with tables set out under an enormous tree in a truly stunning location. We tried some local traditional meze along with greek beer both of which were excellent, it was interesting to see how the ottomans have influenced the cuisine in Rhodes as it is more Turkish in style instead of Greek. After lunch we wandered back to the ship ready for our 4pm departure. Rhodes is so different from the other Greek islands and for that reason it has become one of our favourite stops in Greece. We would definitely recommend people visit Rhodes due to its incredible history and amazing medieval architecture but make sure you allow plenty of time to explore it.
Day 8: Mykonos, Greece - Exploring On Foot
After anchoring in the bay of Mykonos we tendered ashore where we decided once again to use our GPSmyCity app to download the city map with points of interest so we could go exploring on foot. First we headed to the iconic Mykonos windmills and then explored the little laneways of this beautiful little town, we came across a bar with amazing views of the bay where we stopped and tried the local craft beer which was excellent. We then headed to Katerina's a top Trip Advisor rated restaurant in Little Venice where we had made an advance reservation via email, it has an amazing view out over the water and we settled down to have a traditional moussaka and local seafood platter accompanied with local wine. The food and wine were excellent and we would recommend Katerina's to anyone visiting Mykonos. After lunch we wandered around town some more before boarding the tender back to the ship, it was definitely another highlight of the cruise.
Day 9: Athens, Greece - Disembarkation & City Tour
Today we arrived at our final stop on this trip which was Athens where we disembarked the ship for the last time and met our driver from George's Taxi who we had booked in advance via email to take us on a private tour of Athens before taking us to the airport. We were first taken to the Acropolis where due to lack of time we were only able to take photos from outside and then to Panathenaic Stadium where the first olympics was held. After that we went past Zues's temple and the greek parliament before going for a scenic drive around then city and then on to the airport for our flight home with Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi. We would have loved to have had more time in Athens and will be returning again soon to spend more time exploring this amazing city. Once again on this cruise we loved our experience with Oceania and would highly recommend them to everyone, the Greek isles are truly an incredible destination and a cruise like this one allows you to see a lot of it in a short space of time. We will definitely be returning to this part of the world again soon. So that ends this travel story, if you have any questions about this trip feel free to comment on the blog, Until next time!
Want More Information?
If you would like more information about Oceania Cruises destinations, staterooms, dining options and fares you can visit their website www.oceaniacruises.com
For more information about Etihad Airways services you can visit their website www.etihad.com
About The Author
Rob has been passionate about cruise ship holidays and exploring the world since the first cruise he went on when he was only seven years old. Since then Rob who is a Photographer and his partner Mike of 18 years have travelled the world on over 25 cruises with over 10 different cruise lines visiting every continent across the globe as well as many remote tropical islands along the way. In addition to cruise holidays they enjoy relaxing at beach side holiday resorts and first/business class air travel as well as transcontinental rail journeys. Between them both Robert and Michael have worked out the best way to maximise frequent flyer reward points allowing them to travel first/business class at economy class prices or in some cases travelling first/business class for free.