1 comment on “Santorini in One Day: Top 3 Experiences”

Santorini in One Day: Top 3 Experiences

By Oceania Cruises Guest Marisol M.

Santorini, a gorgeous Greek island with whitewashed buildings and towering cliffs along the east coast, enchants all who visit with its romantic sunsets, unique volcanic-sand beaches and jaw-dropping sweeping views. It’s no wonder Santorini is known as a traveler’s dream.

1 comment on “Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises Voyage”

Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises Voyage

Iram Ali, a Miami native and new guest to Oceania Cruises, writes about her experience on board Riviera and traveling throughout the Mediterranean. This past fall, Iram and her best friend sailed from Athens to Barcelona with calls on Santorini, Florence, Monaco and Marseille, among others. She shares her favorite moments ashore as well as some of the top indulgences aboard Riviera. 

Is it possible to fall in love with an experience?

When I think back on my first Oceania Cruises voyage, I get goose bumps.  Staring into the eyes of Michelangelo’s magnificent David in Florence, strolling barefoot across the beautiful stony beach in Nice, taking in the breathtaking views of Santorini; to say it was perfect would be an understatement.

Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises Voyage

Riviera in Santorini, Greece

My best friend and I researched for months before we found our ideal itinerary, Autumn Wonders:  we’d board Riviera in Athens and cruise through the Mediterranean for 10 days with stops in Ephesus, Santorini, Taormina, Amalfi, Rome, Florence, Monte Carlo, Marseille and end in Barcelona.

Extraordinary Destinations

Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises VoyageWe flew into Athens one day before embarking Riviera. Excitement overpowered jet lag and after dropping off our luggage, we walked to the Plaka and had a wonderful lunch with a view of the Acropolis. Then we got on a train and toured many of the top sites in the area: the Acroplis, the Parthenon, Temple of Olympian Zeus and the Theater of Dionysis just to name a few. I couldn’t believe I was walking in the same area where Socrates and Plato once stood!

Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises VoyageIn the months leading up to the cruise, I spent a lot of time googling photos of Santorini. Would it be as amazing as the pictures made it seem? Well, I got my answer as soon as we anchored near the island: It was so much more spectacular than a ‘Google Images’ search could ever reveal. We selected a Food and Wine Trails shore excursion, so we toured a local Greek winery and enjoyed delicious bread and cheese for lunch. Then we got lost walking through the white-washed town of Oia, took pictures and selfies near the famous blue domes and bought beautiful jewelry to remember the island.

Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises VoyageFlorence was my favorite destination, and by far, the most fascinating one. As soon as we walked into the Palazzo Vecchio, we were greeted by a parade. I loved staring at the cathedrals with such detailed architecture and walls brimming with Renaissance and Romanesque style. When we walked into the Galleria dell’ Accademia, our jaws dropped at the sight of David. Here we were, circling around one of the most important pieces of art, completely mesmerized.

I love telling people that I’ve been to Monaco. If it weren’t for this amazing itinerary, when would I ever have had the chance to visit this luxurious principality? Our excursion first took us to Eze, a charming medieval village in the French Riviera overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Then we drove to Nice, where we walked through a flower market, bought local artwork and spent time at the beach.  Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises VoyageBack in Monaco, we visited the Saint Nicholas Cathedral, the final resting place of Princess Grace and watched the changing of the guards at the Prince’s Palace of Monaco. In Monte Carlo, we brushed shoulders with the rich and famous as we visited the casino and shopped in the high-end boutiques.

Finest Cuisine at Sea

Three words: Miso Glazed Seabass. I’m often daydreaming about the food (so much food!) we had on board Riviera. Perhaps you can’t claim to have the finest cuisine at sea without it being true. Jacques, Toscana, Grand Dining Room, Terrace Café, Polo Grill, Waves Grill – every single meal on any given day, at any given restaurant was divine. Even early morning and late night calls to room service delivered mouth-watering meals. My favorite dish was the Miso Glazed Seabass at Red Ginger but the Filetto di Manzo alla Fiorentina con Crosta al Gorgonzola at Toscana was a very close second. The Gratiné à l’Oignon soup at Jacques was also amazing, as was the Grilled Jumbo Shrimp Scampi over Roasted Vegetables at Polo Grill. On the second day of the cruise, we dined with two other guests at the exclusive Privée, which offered an indulgent, one-of-a-kind experience with beautiful views of the Mediterranean.

Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises Voyage

Private Dining in Privée

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We also enjoyed every party, trivia night and entertainment show on the ship. Captain Luca Manzi shook hands with every single guest who made it to the Captain’s Party on the first Saturday of the cruise. In the Riviera Lounge, we watched an intriguing magic show and learned how to do a few tricks of our own, and we couldn’t stop dancing to 70’s music during the Flower Power performance. We spent time in the gym and at the Canyon Ranch SpaClub – receiving a much-needed spa manicure and pedicure.  On our relaxing day at sea, we had delicious ice cream in waffle cones and napped by the pool. But out of every moment experienced on board and ashore, waking up with the sun upon a new skyline every morning was my favorite.

Extraordinary Experiences: My First Oceania Cruises Voyage

Sunrise in Monaco

So after almost two weeks of cruising throughout the Mediterranean, wouldn’t you agree it’s possible to fall in love with an experience? Before you answer, don’t forget to try the Miso Glazed Seabass!



As Blogger-at-Large for Oceania Cruises, I often encounter
some particularly pleasant “dilemmas” when traveling at sea. A perfect example
is when I recently awakened to find myself at the island of Rhodes on a beautiful
warm sunny day. My dilemma was this: should I spend my day on the gorgeous
beach frolicking in the indescribably blue waters of the Mediterranean, or
should I explore the beautifully preserved ancient city of Rhodes, once home to
Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World?

I know this is quite an enviable challenge to face. Rest
assured that I found a solution – I did both!

Walking distance from the pier where the ship docks, I found
Elli Beach, a welcoming beach with everything a traveler would need to enjoy an
afternoon in the sun and the warm Mediterranean waters. There are hundreds of
colorful umbrellas for the fair skinned or sun shy, rented sun decks,
beachfront taverns and plenty of delightful little restaurants.


If you haven’t fallen blissfully asleep in the warm sun or
aren’t hypnotized by the gorgeous blue waters lapping gently at the shore, you
can entertain yourself with the many other more adventurous activities like water
sports, diving or beach volley ball.


If you never make it off the beach, I seriously doubt you
will live with any regret. That being said, I did not regret exploring the
Grand Masters Palace in the old town of Rhodes.


But first, let me address the Colossus of Rhodes, because if
you are anything like me, you may be wondering, if it is so colossal, where is
it?! A towering monument to the Golden Age of this island, the colossus was one
of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. Only one of these wonders, the Great
Pyramid of Giza, remains relatively intact today. It took 12 years to build the
Colossus of Rhodes, which is thought to have been completed somewhere around
290 BC. In 226 BC the statue crumbled in an earthquake, and for centuries
pieces of the statue laid in the harbor. In the 7th century, Arabs
captured the island and took all of the pieces of the colossus to Syria and
sold it as scrap metal.

As the colossus now exists only in legend, I took a peaceful
walk through the beautiful gardens just outside the Grand Masters Palace and
enjoyed some lovely views of this historic site that still stands today.

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The Knights of Rhodes built the Grand Masters Palace in the 14the century. Heavily fortifying
the city, the Knights were able to successfully fight off invaders for over two
centuries until the Ottoman Empire captured Rhodes in 1522. Under the Ottomans the
palace was used as a fortress.



In 1856 the castle was destroyed by an enormous ammunition
explosion and laid in ruins until the Italian Occupation of Rhodes in 1912.
Rebuilt in a medieval style, the palace became a holiday residence for King Victor
Emmanuel III and later for Benito Mussolini.

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In 1948, after World War II, Rhodes was transferred to the
Kingdom of Greece, and the Greeks converted the palace to a museum. It is now
part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Medieval City of Rhodes.

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What a lovely place for Nautica
to visit on her final European port of call before sailing for Asia and Africa
for the winter season. I can promise Nautica
guests had no shortage of fascinating historic sites to explore and pleasant
activities to enjoy during their stay. If the approach of winter has you
eagerly planning a vacation for the summer of 2013, you should certainly
consider an Oceania Cruises voyage that includes this lovely Greek island on
the itinerary.