Harmony V Cruise Review by Hippolyta: Why Don't More Americans Know About Variety Cruises?
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Why Don't More Americans Know About Variety Cruises?
Destination: Europe - Eastern Mediterranean
Embarkation: Athens (Piraeus)
With the exception of Santorini we were able to dock at each port and even there we had a good-sized tender to take us to the Cable Car to Fira. On the first evening Captain Emmanuel warned us that he didn't think he would be able to go directly to Delos and would proceed to Mykonos. He was right! The Meltemi winds were blowing and the sea was dancing with white caps. We arrived in Mykonos early in the AM and after breakfast left for Delos on one of the regular tour boats. Sometimes an ill wind does blow good because it made Delos tolerable when on a non-windy day it would have been dangerously hot. Others have complained about Variety's changes in plans, but in our case, instead of dinner in Mykonos,because we had to leave port early, we had a great fish dinner in Paros and watched the ferry from Athens disembark crowds. Paros may be the new Mykonos.
We were particularly interested in visiting vineyards in Santorini, our next port, so our on-shore cruise director arranged for More twelve of us to go on a wine tour instead of the usual itinery. We found some REALLY good Greek wines and an incredible Vin Santo at Arguros Winery.
Our gang of ten opted for the beach at Rethymno instead of Knossos in Crete. The beach was equipped with umbrellas and chaises as well as water sports facilities. The people who chose to go to Knossos returned to say that the 3-hour bus ride was tiring and the heat awful. (I wonder if Variety could dock Harmony V nearer to Knossos for that reason.)
Greek night took place on Crete with a small troupe of excellent dancers who introduced us to classical dancing, followed with some wild Cretan versions of dancing to bouzouki which we all tried to emulate, not necessarily well.
We skipped Kythera early the next day--more Meltemi. But we went on to Monemvassia, the fantastic castle town. Some people even found a beach. We arrived in Nafplio in the evening instead of the next morning and were able to have dinner at an exceptional fish restaurant on the quay in one of the most beautiful towns in Greece. The next day we went off to Mycenae, which reminded us that we needed to make another visit to the Archaeological Museum in Athens to catch up with the real "Mask of Agamemnon."
Nafplio has competition from Hydra,where the natives are serious about preservation. Hydra is even more sophisticated than Santorini in certain ways. The Captain's Dinner took place that evening anchored at Aegina. The next morning we woke up in Marina Kea.
We did not have a full complement of passengers on the cruise--only 36--which probably added to the positive experience. The wait staff and room staff were pretty young women from the Ukraine and the bartender was a young Russian; she made fantastic Mojitos and Margueritas. The crew were friendly and helpful. Our fellow passengers were really compatible; as far as I know there were no complaints and no "primadonnas." There were four Americans besides our group of ten while the rest of the complement were European and Australian.
The cruise is good value for money. The staff are well trained and the service exceptional. Breakfasts were better than our 5-star hotel in Athens, the lunches very good, but perhaps the chef shouldn't try so hard to produce a "gourmet meal" for those dinners aboard. His moussaka and stuffed tomatoes were as good as mine and his lamb on "Greek Night" superb. This is not a cruise for someone who wants casinos, daily pseudo-Broadway entertainment, non-stop eating, and pampering. It's for people who like a laid-back experience and are capable of entering the spirit of small ship cruising. Less
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