Your holiday summary

Holiday type Ocean cruises
Country Greece
Travel type Fly
Price range From £2299
Travel partner Riviera Travel
Duration 9 nights
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The Star Clipper - An Aegean odyssey

Take a cruise across the Aegean Sea aboard the Star Clipper, one of the world’s finest sailing ships.

The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room or cabin. The price includes: flights to Athens, returning from Istanbul; one night at the Metropolitan hotel Athens with breakfast; guided tours of Athens, Monemvasia, Santorini, Patmos, Chios, Pergamon, Troy (or Galipolli, subject to minimum numbers) and Istanbul; one night at the Crowne Plaza Old City Istanbul with breakfast; full breakfast, buffet lunch and à la carte dinner daily whilst on Star Clipper; all port taxes (worth £150); porterage of one item of luggage per person; all transfers; the services of our experienced Riviera tour managers

Please note in the event of unsatisfactory weather or wind conditions, Star Clipper reserves the right to proceed under motor power or reschedule itinerary. Availability of watersports subject to weather and local port authority regulations. Single rooms/cabins are subject to availability at the brochured supplements.

  • Scheduled flights to Athens and return flights from Istanbul
  • Flights available from Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, Newcastle or Norwich
  • A voyage of discovery visiting Athens and Istanbul
  • Stay in four star hotels in Athens and Istanbul, with five star option available
  • Guided tours of the Acropolis
  • Included shore excursions in every port of call
  • Visit the preserved walled town of Monemvasia
  • Sail into Santorini
  • Explore Patmos
  • Visit Chios
  • Sail along the Turkish coast and discover the great ancient city of Pergamon
  • An included guided tour of ancient Troy or the battlefields of Gallipoli
  • Guided tour of Istanbul, visiting the Haghia Sophia, the Blue mosque, the Topkapi Palace and Grand Bazaar
  • Escorted by an experienced tour manager
Not included

  • Turkish visa, available locally, approx £10 per person
  • Cruise gratuities €8 per person per day (recommended)
Day one

You should arrive at the airport to take your flight to Athens where we stay one night at the modern four star Metropolitan hotel with breakfast.

Day two

This morning you have a walking tour of Athens, visiting the Acropolis. Ascending the hill you see the Parthenon - its white marble columns with their symmetry and balance completely dominate the skyline.

We also visit the new Acropolis museum with its glass floor displaying ancient houses and streets below. After a stroll through the Agora, the political, social and commercial heart of the ancient city, we explore the old district of Plaka. Dating from the end of the 18th century when Athens had shrunk to little more than a village below the Acropolis, crammed with neo-classical mansions, balconies overflowing with geranium pots and twisting cobbled lanes lined with tavernas. After some free time for a relaxed lunch and some shopping in the nearby flea-market, you are at leisure for the rest of the day. Later, we leave for Piraeus harbour where the SPV Star Clipper awaits. After time to settle in, we have our first dinner on board, as the ship slips its moorings and heads out through the city’s lights towards our first port of call, Monemvasia in the Peloponnese.

Day three

Known as the ‘Gibraltar of the East’, Monemvasia’s vast rocky bulk juts out of the mountainous coastline of the Peloponnese, linked to the mainland by a narrow causeway. It reached its zenith during the medieval period, supporting a population of 40,000, when it was known for its wine (Richard III’s brother drowned in a vat of it). It was a valuable prize and was besieged and attacked numerous times. Duringthe second world war a large number of New Zealanders were evacuated to Crete from here. Monemvasia has been restored and is considered a time-capsule of a medieval Greek town. We have plenty of time to wander through the maze of narrow pedestrian streets and relax in one of the tavernas. The more energetic may try the steep path up to the ruins of the upper town - on a clear day you may catch a glimpse of the mountains of Crete.

This evening, as the sun sets behind us we sail eastwards, the Star Clipper cutting through the clear waters, bound for the Greek Islands.

Day four

Sail into the vast caldera of Santorini. Multi-hued 1,000- foot cliffs rise above the dark-blue sea, their rim crowned by the white cubist architecture so typical of the Greek islands. Back in the Bronze Age, most of the island was blown apart by one of the biggest volcanic explosions in history, destroying the sophisticated Minoan civilisation in Crete, just 60 miles away. A small crater still bubbles away on an island in the middle of the bay and you can spot the pumice stones floating in the water. The main town of Fira perched high above the harbour is nowadays reached by cable car. Our included trip visits the highest point on the island, as well as some of the most interesting of the island’s small villages. We end our tour with free time in the cliff-top village of Oia before we drive back to Fira. This evening, the ship does not set sail until later so that you can see the colours of the setting sun across the landscape.

Day five

Today we anchor in Patmos - one of the smaller islands of the Dodecanese. It’s been called the ‘Jerusalem of the Aegean’ for it was here that St. John the theologian wrote the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament. Our included tour departs the port of Skala for the Grotto of the Apocalypse, where St. John lived for two years. This small cave is now a small chapel and is still an active place of worship. Towering above the main town of Chora is the 11th century fortified monastery of St. John, with eight chapels, courtyards, terraces and galleries with 12th century frescoes. The Monastery’s museum has manuscripts from the fifth century, jewelled chalices, crowns, crucifixes, and vestments, along with an early work of El Greco. We also visit the three hundred year old mansion of the Simandiris family. This example of island architecture houses a collection of antiques, with gilded mirrors, silverware, paintings, chandeliers and furnishings. The rest of the day is free to wander around the streets of whitewashed houses before setting sail in the late afternoon.

Day six

Chios is one of the richest and largest islands in the Aegean, yet it remains little-known. The island has produced some of the most successful Greek shipping entrepreneurs, who still control around 50% of the Greek merchant marine. Its southern half has been known since ancient times for its cultivation of the mastic plant – a precursor to today’s chewing gum and highly prized. Our included tour will pass through the Kambos area with its mansions and citrus groves and we’ll also visit Pyrgi, a village unique in Greece, as all the houses are intricately decorated in a geometric ‘sgraffito’ style. Our next stop will be the village of Mesta with its vaulted streets – a well-preserved living medieval village. This evening we leave Greece as we sit down for dinner.

Day seven

This morning brings our first glimpse of Turkey’s Aegean coastline as the Star Clipper glides into the small port of Dikili. From here our included guided tour explores the ancient Hellenistic city of Pergamon. Perched on a high rocky outcrop, the city was famed for its library, which rivalled Alexandria’s. Knowledge then, as now, was power and so concerned were the Egyptians about this competition, they cut off supplies of papyrus, thus prompting the invention of parchment. We’ll see the remains of the Temple of Trajan, the altar of Zeus and the steepest ancient amphitheatre in the world. Pergamon was also renowned as a healing centre so we visit the Asclepion sanctuary where the sick came to be cured by having their dreams analysed. We return to our ship in the afternoon to continue our journey along the coastline to our next port of call, Canakkale and Troy.

Day eight

Today we anchor at Canakkale, the main port along the Asian side of the famous Dardanelles Strait and from where we drive inland for an included guided tour of Troy. Today, Troy is a complex archaeological site covering nine separate cities and remains an alluring place to anyone who has read the heroic struggles in Homer’s Iliad. On the other side of the strait lies the Gallipoli peninsula, the scene of one of the most tragic campaigns of the first world war. Over 35,000 Australian, British and New Zealanders perished here, their deaths commemorated in the many cemeteries dotted along this rural area. For anyone not wishing to tour Troy, we can arrange a visit (subject to minimum numbers) to the Lone Pine memorial and Anzac Cove, where the Australians landed by mistake and had to scale steep cliffs and ravines under constant bombardment. In the afternoon we set sail on the final leg of our journey through the Sea of Marmara, to Istanbul.

Day nine

An exotic city of huge contrasts and a centre of shifting civilisations for 2,500 years. Chosen by Emperor Constantine as the eastern capital of the Roman Empire, it then became the capital of the Ottoman Empire and probably nowhere in the world can you find such an array of diverse monuments and places to see. We visit the Blue mosque, symbol of the city, its real attraction is the interior lined with 20,000 blue Iznik tiles and Arabesque inscriptions. Many of the same craftsmen who built it also worked on the Taj Mahal.

We continue to the Haghia Sophia, conceived as a mirror of the heavens and arguably the greatest church ever built. Built in the sixth century it was the largest enclosed space in the world for 1,400 years. The artistic highlights are the Byzantine mosaics with their vibrant golds, reds and yellows, and a crafted massive bronze door dating from 300BC.

For thousands of years Istanbul was at the centre of overland trade routes and its Grand Bazaar became home to merchants from throughout the known world. Its 4,000 shops sell all sorts of goods: mainly gold, silver, leatherwear, ceramics and carpets and in the maze of tiny shops surrounding this unique institution you can still find tiny, industrious workshops.

We end our tour at the Topkapi Palace, the imperial residence of the Sultans for a thousand years. Today, it is a museum, but in its heyday it was a city within a city, home to over 4,000 elite guards, eunuchs, courtiers and the ladies of the Harem. There is a display of arms from throughout history: crossbows, firearms inlaid with ivory and crafted armour from as far afield as Japan. The Treasury has an array of jewellery including the world’s fifth largest diamond, emeralds, jewel-encrusted thrones and the Topkapi dagger.

After our tour we check into our hotel for the night, the four star Crowne Plaza Old City on bed and breakfast. Alternatively, you may upgrade to the five star Ciragan Palace Kempinski hotel with rooms overlooking the Bosphorus.

Day 10

Today at the appropriate time you will be taken to the airport for your flight home.
SPV Star Clipper

This traditionally-built ship is living proof that craftsmanship is far from dead, making extensive use of rich hardwoods, polished brass and wrought iron fittings, marble, deep pile carpets and tasteful furnishings which all together have created a ship of harmony, beauty and luxury. The Star Clipper is not just a cruise ship and is of a sufficiently intimate size to sail close to the shore, and visit small ports.

This offer has no departures. [NEED SOME CONTENT HERE].