I was thrilled when head office contacted me to confirm I had been invited on a four night cruise with Voyages to Antiquity. I have been on many cruise ships over the years, but this experience was going to be unlike any other! We took a flight from Heathrow to Athens with British Airways and were met on arrival by the local rep, who swiftly escorted us to our ship, the MV Aegean Odyssey. Before long I was on board, enjoying the facilities. A cocktail on deck, to be more precise!
My cabin was not massive but it was perfectly formed and very well decorated in bright and contemporary style. There was plenty of wardrobe space (and coat hangers – hooray!), a desk and a comfortable easy chair. The picture window was small but adequate. Overall I was very impressed.
I was keen to explore the ship and it did not take long to find my way around. The Aegean Odyssey is small, with a personal feel. She is classically elegant, without appearing stuffy or pretentious. The crew on board were very friendly and obliging. It was not unusual to see the captain mixing with passengers and enjoying an after dinner drink in the Charleston Lounge.
Food is always one of my favourite experiences when cruising and Aegean Odyssey certainly did not let me down. It was of Mediterranean style, with fresh local produce, cooked in a simple but delicious and healthy style. During the day we ate from the Terrace Cafe; a circular work station is positioned in the restaurant where staff cook and serve the food in front of you. The ship also houses its own pizza oven and there is always a speciality dish being cooked and served on the outside terrace. In the evenings we tended to eat in the Marc Polo restaurant. An open-seating policy is in place, so you can choose when and where to eat. The added bonus to the cruise is the unlimited high quality wines and beers that are served in all the restaurants, during evening dinner. If you are feeling peckish there are the late night snacks that come around by trolley in the Charleston lounge and of course, I have to mention my favourite, the fantastic afternoon tea!
Evening entertainment is very low key. The Odyssey Trio Elvis, Petru and Karen may provide an evening of jazz in the Charleston Lounge or you might like to enjoy a classical concert in the Ambassador Lounge. More modern music is played late into the evening, but only a few hard core passengers stay up late!
The Aegean Odyssey is aimed at travellers wishing to learn about the places they visit. The itineraries are carefully chosen by noted historians. Passengers are taken on a voyage through time, visiting ancient sites and civilisations. The guest speakers will teach you the history, art, myths and architecture of the places visited. But it is not all about visiting ancient sites; the cruise will also appeal to anyone looking to avoid crowds, wander around beautiful islands, cruise remote inlets and visit charming villages. One of the biggest advantages to this ship, is the fact that it can cruise into stunning harbours and bays, which big ships cannot reach. All the excursions are included in the price of the cruise.
Our itinerary included Delos, an uninhabited island, full of Greek mythology. Mykonos, with its winding, narrow white washed street with colourful balconies and the famous windmills. Lemos, an unspoilt Greek island, full of charm and Izmir, where we visited the famous site of Ephesus.
Aegean Odyssey is an older style ship with just seven decks and a ship tonnage of 11,563. She carries on average only 350 passengers. The amenities on board include two restaurants plus outdoor dining terrace, three lounges, four bars, a lecture theatre, library, shop, internet centre, outdoor pool, health spa and beauty salon.
I thoroughly enjoyed the unique experience Voyages to Antiquity provide. It was wonderful sailing to unusual ports of call and learning about the history of the places. I loved waking up and finding myself in beautiful bays and harbours. Exploring gorgeous little towns and villages, with their little side streets and perhaps enjoying a local drink in one of the traditional cafes. It was fun bartering for local goods and fake brands in the busy Bazaars. Ending each day sailing along pretty coastlines, whilst experience the facilities on board. It is an experience I will never forget. I just hope I can return!