My wife and I were on a Globus tour of Greece and this 3-day cruise was included. Unfortunate thing is that neither cruise ship nor Globus told us what TIME we would arrive at each of the islands.
This was a 'once in a lifetime' trip for us, as we had always wanted to see Greece and some of the islands.
The wonderful windmills of Mykonos - we arrived after 7:00PM (!!!!). My first photo on the island showed 7:12pm. Now, I ask you - how much of the island can you enjoy when you arrive at that hour. Our tour guide showed us where the windmills were - yep, there it was in the distance, barely discernible and if you stared hard long enough, you MIGHT be able to make out the shape. I mean, give me a break! THIS is how we were supposed to enjoy Mykonos? We did spend about 2 hours walking around Mykonos. Not my idea of spending time visiting Mykonos.
The main church that we wanted to see, Church of Paraportiani (Our Lady of the Side Gate) was closed by the time we got there, and it would have been a far walk. We did see Church of St. George, an Orthodox church, and it was pretty inside, though small.
Ephesus was great! We enjoyed it - our SECOND time since 2011. Daytime! Rug company taking up 1-2 hours of selling / twisting arms was totally unnecessary as it delayed cruise ship sailing on.
Patmos - the ship made another stop at Samos at 2:30, picking up people via tender, causing us to be a bit later when we finally arrived at Patmos. There we took a tender to the port, arriving AFTER 6pm. First stop was the Grotto. To be honest, it was … nothing. A cave in which one thinks of everything very spiritual. This is where St. John of Patmos was said to have written the Book of Revelation. It is a fortresslike, 11th century monastery dedicated to the saint. 5 minutes there was more than enough.
Next stop was the Monastery, a Greek Orthodox monastery founded in 1088. It had more displays and most interesting was the Museum. The details in … embroidery, jewelry, carvings were phenomenal, and you really need to look hard to see the tremendous details. It is named after St. John of Patmos. 1-2 hours is good for the Monastery.
To be honest, I don’t think Patmos would be anything if it weren’t for these two sights. It’s dry and windy, and water is scarce. Tourism is needed for this island to survive.
Tourist season is around Easter time to mid-October. Our ship was the only one at port the last two days.
Crete: Knossos, center of the 300 BC Minoan civilization. This was a good tour, as we got to see a 4,000 year old palace, rumored to be that of King Minos. The bull if the symbol of Crete, so there are plenty of myths about Minotaurs, etc., including one of the 12 Labors of Hercules was to kill a Minotaur.
There was quite a lot to see among the ruins, but unlike other ruins (Really - now I understand why many people say 'You've seen one ruin, you've seen them all."), many of these were still in relatively decent condition, considering their age.
Afterwards, we went into the center of Knossos. We visited the Morosini Fountain. The place we spent the most time was at Church of Titus, and although there was a service going on, we did manage to take a few photos. The skull of St. Titus is preserved in a domed relic on the left of the entrance to the church.
We walked down to the shores and saw the Venetian (they were here for 400+ years) fortress of Castello a Mare, built in 1541. It guards the inner harbor.
Walking back to the bus, we took some photos of the Nike statue, symbolizing victory with help from many countries.
Crete: Santorini. Our tour guide prepped us and told us what to do and got us set up, as the daylight time wouldn't be very long. The ship docked and we boarded the tender about 4:00. The tender was already starting out when it had to return, due to another group not being there on time to board! That took another 10 minutes, and the tender took 20 minutes to reach Santorini. Then we quickly boarded the bus and it took 45 minutes up a narrow 2-lane winding road all the way to the top. We can’t figure out WHY the tender takes us to the furthest part of the island on one side in order to reach the top at the other end of the island. Anyway, sun sets at 5:17 and we arrived at the bus parking area at 5:12. We had broken out into 2 groups: Speedy and slow. I was in the speedy one and we raced up to the top and I got my shots just about when the sun was setting. It's at that famous shot that everybody sees when they see photos of Santorini. Within 15 minutes, the sun was gone and it was fairly dark. We wandered around the town a bit until 7:15 when the bus left for the tender and back to the ship.
When booking this Globus tour, no mention was made of the TIME that we would reach the islands. I don't blame Globus for us, but the cruise ship. If they KNOW when sunset is, wouldn't they PLAN to arrive at the island at least ONE hour before the sun sets? I don't mean, arrive and then have the tender take you to the island and/or then bus you to the appropriate site... I mean, actually BEING on the island and able to wander around at least ONE hour before dark. This should not be THAT hard for experienced cruise lines to figure out and plan accordingly.
Cruise ships should be able to put scheduled arrival times at various ports.
When we asked our Globus tour group if they would have taken this tour knowing the arrival times at the islands, not ONE person said they would. All 40 of us would NOT have taken this cruise. AND knowing that DST was going to happen ... really NO excuse from the cruise line at all.
I am really ticked off at the cruise ship. I didn't plan to see the 3 islands in darkness, which is what all 3 islands wound up, except for about 15 minutes of daylight at Santorini.
Service personnel on board were VERY nice and helpful. That was not a problem with us.
Meals at the buffet line: Average
Meals at the ala Carte restaurant: Very good
We had bought the Drinks package, so got bottled water as much as we needed. One item that stuck in my craw: There was a bottle of mineral water, clearly marked that it costs. There were 2 bottles of regular water, no sign that it costs. We took 2 of them one day - the rest of the time, we got the cold water from the bar -- AND we were charged for the 2 bottles from the cabin! When we protested this, and that we did have the Drinks package, it was shrugged off as "That's the way it is." It left us with another bad image and impression of the cruise line.... ALL in all, I would NEVER take this cruise line again.
Cabin was adequate for our needs; not great, just adequate. As the old joke goes "I was showering when the ship tilted slightly and I fell onto the bed." Shower was very small.
Cabin people were great, helpful, and in good spirits.
WARNING: Do not take the bottled water (not mineral), even if there's no price labelled on it. The cruise line WILL charge you for it, even if you have bought a Drinks package! GRRRRR!