Christmas & New Year Cruise Across 3 Continents
Summer may be long behind us, but the summer vibes are still here. It helps that Greece boasts 300 hundred days of sunshine. It also helps that it has loads of islands to visit, with awesome beaches, great food and more culture than you can shake a selfie stick at. So why not take a Christmas cruise and shake those winter blues away? Greece and the wider region are full of amazing destinations. The 18-night Christmas and New Year’s cruise by Celestyal takes you to Greece, Egypt, Cyprus, Turkey and Israel. If you want you can split it into two parts. With a sailing date on the 17th of December, you’re guaranteed to have a unique, sunny Christmas holiday that will recharge your batteries. Read on and we’ll fill you in on the destinations of this cruise that begins in Athens.
The first stop is the gastronomic capital of Greece: Thessaloniki. This port city of more than a million people is full of seaside bars by the promenade, scenic vistas and world class archaeological sites. The sizeable student population and the easy Mediterranean vibes have turned it into a cultural hub.
Second stop is Smirna, on the western coast of Turkey. This city was one of the most important ancient Greek city states, right up until the beginning of the 20th century. Full of charm and a fair few Greek and Roman archaeological sites, it’s also home to a superb bazaar where you can haggle for stuff.
Rhodes Island, in Greece, is the next stop. Rhodes is one of the most singular destinations in the Aegean, as its location always made it a crossroads for cultures and that is apparent in its varied architecture. None so more than the impressive medieval palace of the Grand Master, which sits majestically across a large swath of land in the center of Rhodes Town. Lindos town is home to the 5th century Acropolis of Lindos, while natural oddities like the valley of butterflies and Filerimos are just as impressive.
Rhodes may be a tough act to follow, but Limassol in Cyprus most definitely does. It’s a seaside paradise with a buoyant nightlife and a scenic old town that centers on a medieval castle. Walk around its historic center, shop in trendy boutiques and splash around nearby beaches.
The next 2 days are spent in the historic city of Alexandria, in Egypt. One of the many cities founded by the legendary Alexander the Great, thousands of years ago, it used to house the world’s first library, while its unique lighthouse helped sailors navigate for centuries before an earthquake leveled it. Walk around this bustling seaside city and take in the history.
The cruise’s next stop is Haifa, in Israel. Like Alexandria, you’ll be there for 2 nights, and that should be enough to get a sense of what makes this seaside port tick. The awesome tropical gardens that envelop large parts of the town. The Arab-Christian quarters and the Baha’I’ shrine are impressive, but its proximity to Nazareth, Caesarea and the Rosh HaNikra grottoes means that you should fan out and explore the wider area.
At this point the cruise goes back to Athens, and sails over to Crete, in Greece, and Heraklion in particular. And this is where you’ll want to get to the palace of Knossos-the mythic origin of the Minotaur. This is Europe’s first recorded civilization and one of the world’s most significant archaeological sites.
Next on the cruise is the honeymoon hotspot that is Santorini-officially known as the most romantic place in the world. If you haven’t seen pictures online and in brochures, then get ready to have your socks blown off. Apart from the world famous sunsets from the village of Oia, you’re sure to fall in love with its incredible wine making tradition, as well as the Pompeii-like Aktotiri archaeological site, buried under tons of volcanic ash from the last eruption some thousands of years ago.
A different sort of archaeological sites await you in Kusadasi, Turkey-our next stop. The ancient library of Celsus, as well as the magnificent archaeological site of Ephesus will have you scurrying for your phones in no time. Kusadasi is one of the most significant Greco-Roman cities in the Mediterranean.
Constantinople, or Istanbul as its known nowadays is the where you’ll spend the next couple of days, admiring the world famous Hagia Sophia, as well as other monuments like Top Kapi and the Blue Mosque. Straddling 3 continents, on account of the Galata Bridge that connects Asia and Europe, Istanbul is a melting pot of sounds, tastes and smells.
We set sail for Greece, now, and the port of Volos in the eastern side of Greece. Volos is home to neat ouzo bars, known as ‘tsipouradika’, where you get served free portions of meze dishes with every carafe of ouzo you order. With more than 300 hundred of them about, you can explore as many as you physically can.
Christmas & New Year Cruise Across 3 Continents
Return to Athens, to conclude this 2-week trip.