This wonderful cruise from Venice to Athens has it all. The Greek islands bring blissful relaxation to a whole new level – but before you answer their call you can to lose yourself in Hvar’s winding Old Town, and wrap authentic Kalamata scarfs around your neck in southern Greece. Then soul-satisfying islands like Mykonos, Chios and Santorini – a secluded jewel carved by a colossal eruption 3,600 years ago - will soothe and seduce. And on this 11 day voyage you have one full day at sea to fully appreciate all the great facilities on board Silverseas' luxury liner the Silver Whisper.
You board the Silver Whisper in the beautiful Italian city of Venice with plenty of time to explore before setting sail late in the evening. Venice is a city unlike any other . . . no matter how often you've seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history and getting lost in the narrow alleyways is all part of the experience. But at some point you'll end up in Piazza San Marco.
Your first port of call is Koper in neighbouring Slovenia. The Republic of Venice made Koper the regional capital during the 15th and 16th centuries, and the magnificent architecture of the Old Town bears witness to the spirit of those times.The most important buildings are clustered around the central town square where you find the cathedral, with its fine Venetian Gothic facade and bell tower dating back to 1664. Across the square the splendid Praetor's Palace combines Gothic and Renaissance styles.
Today the Silver Whisper drops anchor on the Croatian island of Hvar, which bills itself as the "sunniest island in the Adriatic." Not only does it have the figures to back up this claim - an annual average of 2,724 hours of sunshine - but it also makes visitors a sporting proposition, offering them a money-back guarantee if there are seven consecutive days of snow! Go ashore and explore on your own or take one of a number of tours that can be booked on board.
This is the only full day at sea on the cruise so relax and appreciate all that this modern cruise ship has to offer. While you're at sea on the Silver Whisper you can enjoy wine tastings, shop in designer boutiques and take part in language and dance classes. You can also watch a matinee movie, check the market on your e-mail in the Internet Point, slip away with a novel from the library to a sunny chaise or with a movie to your suite. Or just bask in the sunshine pool side. The choice is yours.
With golden beaches, an imposing castle and a passion for dance, Kalamata offers a lively welcome to Southern Greece. The looming peak of Mount Taygetos stands guard over the city, and you can venture up to its abundant greenery to discover mountain villages, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Mystras Monastery, and the ancient city of Sparta – which lies to the east of the great mountain. You may also be able to join in with the fun of the Kalamata International Dance Festival - which takes over the city.
Undoubtedly the most extraordinary island in the Aegean, crescent-shape Santorini remains a mandatory stop on the Cycladic tourist route - even if it's necessary to enjoy the sensational sunsets from Ia, the fascinating excavations, and the dazzling white towns with a million other travellers. Called Kállisti (the "Loveliest") when first settled, the island reverted to its subsequent name of Thira. The place is better known these days as Santorini, and you will have a memorable day here with a choice of 25 tours available.
Although the fishing boats still go out in good weather, Mykonos largely makes its living from tourism these days. The summer crowds have turned one of the poorest islands in Greece into one of the richest. Put firmly on the map by Jackie O in the 1960s, Mykonos town - called Hora by the locals - remains the Saint-Tropez of the Greek islands and Mykonos is dotted with its famous white windmills. Today there is a choice of 20 different tours of the island or you can explore on your own.
Kusadasi long ago lost its local charm to invasive overpopulation, and these days it's often overrun with cruise ship passengers disembarking to make a mad dash to the amazing archaeological site of Ephesus. So, what was a small fishing village up until the 1970s is now a sprawling, hyperactive town packed with curio shops and a year-round population of around 65,000, rising to about half a million in season with the influx of tourists and Turks with vacation homes. Nine tours to choose from today, but Ephesus is a must.
Built on the east coast of the Greek island of the same name, the town of Chios is living proof of the maritime glory and aristocratic nature of the island. Known for its historical relevance as much as for its legendary beauty, Chios is said to be the birthplace of Homer and where the philosopher would sit on a stone and teach. Surrounded by the Aegean Sea, Chios offers every beach lover ample opportunity to indulge in their favourite pastime. From white pebbles to black sands, there is a beach for every taste on this island of natural diversity.
Oraia (beautiful) is the word Greeks use to describe Nafplion. The town's old section, on a peninsula jutting into the gulf of Argos, mixes Greek, Venetian, and Turkish architecture, narrow streets and broad flights of stone stairs. Tree-shaded plazas surround neoclassic buildings and the Palamidi fortress - an elegant display of Venetian might from the early 1700s - guards the town. Nafplion deserves this leisurely day of your undivided attention, but you may choose to explore the many surrounding ancient sights.
Today your super cruise comes to an end when the Silver Whisper arrives at Piraeus, the port city for Athens. It's no wonder that all roads here lead to the fascinating and maddening metropolis of Athens. Lift your eyes 200 feet above the city to the Parthenon, its honey-colour marble columns rising from a massive limestone base, and you behold architectural perfection that has not been surpassed in 2,500 years. See the sights of the city before heading to the airport to catch your flight home.