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Escape to the Greek islands: What a cruise has to offer

Greek island cruises open up myriad magical destinations that will enchant over and over again – and not just on land! Here’s what a cruise to Greece’s isles has to offer.

Greek island cruises are an excellent way to start your journey into cruising – you’re guaranteed breathtaking landscapes, fascinating history and world-famous cuisine.

But you might be surprised by how much else a Greek island cruise can offer. Adults-only cruise line Virgin Voyages is so smitten with the region that its newest upcoming ship Resilient Lady will be taking its maiden voyage (or MerMaiden as the brand witty dubs it) from Athens to a selection of Greek islands when it sails in May – and there’s a lot on the menu.

At Sailawaze we know a cruise is the ultimate way to travel Greece, whether you’re after culture-packed guided tours, brilliant beaches or a chic and comfortable spot to end your day when the adventure is done, so here’s why you should do it with Virgin Voyages.

Divine destinations

Hip hop

An enormous benefit of cruising Greece is that you can island-hop with ease, following in the footsteps of ancient greats but with all the modern comforts you could possibly need.

Resilient Lady’s maiden voyage visits Santorini, Mykonos and Rhodes (as well as Bodrum in Turkey) making it the perfect trip for anyone new to cruising or hoping to tick off multiple bucket list destinations in one vacation. This is what you can look forward to.

Santorini Greece


If you’ve been anywhere near social media in the past decade or so you’ve likely been inundated with images of tourists descending on the stunning island of Santorini – also known as Thera – to snap photos of its iconic blue and white buildings and spectacular sunsets over the azure sea.

Fun fact, the Cyclades islands, of which Santorini is one, were formed by intensive volcanic activity. Santorini volcano is one of the few remaining active volcanoes in Europe and the island’s most picturesque villages are dotted along the caldera; Fira is the capital, right on the top edge, while along the border is Oia (the most photographed spot!) boasting houses carved into the lava rock.

Santorini is also home to a number of famous archaeological sites, vast vineyards and intriguing lunar landscapes – beaches here have red or black sand as well as white and even volcanic pebbles.


Also in the Cyclades is Mykonos – one of 33 islands and islets in the group. It’s become well known as a glam, cosmopolitan vacation destination – and indeed there are beach bars and luxury shops aplenty – but there’s also bountiful history and culture to dive into.

Chora is Mykonos’ capital and features an Archaeological Museum, the 15th-century chapel of Panagia Paraportiani (the most photographed church on the island) and Alefkandra or Little Venice – an 18th-century neighbourhood where the island’s iconic windmills can be found overlooking the Aegean Sea.

Charming seaside villages abound on Mykonos – Agios Stefanos, Ornos and Psarou are the best, while Kalafatis is also great for watersports lovers.

If you have time do hop on a boat and visit neighbouring Delos Island. The legendary birthplace of Greek gods Apollo and Artemis, it was of immense significance to the ancient Greeks and the archaeological site there is magnificent.

Mykonos Greece
Rhodes Greece greek island cruises


Rhodes, meanwhile, is located in the Dodecanese island complex in the sunniest corner of Greece. Once a vital ancient Mediterranean trading port, it boasts a rich history and was a thriving hotspot during the 4th century BC.

Rhodes once claimed one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Colossus of Rhodes – a 33m-high bronze statue of the sun god Helios that towered above the harbour. Unfortunately, it was later toppled by an earthquake and its broken pieces eventually repurposed.

Luckily there’s still oodles to see when visiting Rhodes; the Medieval old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stroll the Street of the Knights to imagine what life was like in the Middle Ages and don’t miss the 14th-century Palace of the Grand Master or the 19th-century Clock Tower among a plethora of other impressive historical sites.

Away from the city, the south boasts long beaches, a slower pace of life and flourishing fauna while in the north you’ll find the three powerful cities of ancient Rhodes – Ialysos, Lindos and Kameiros – all bursting with fascinating history and archaeological sites, plus the renowned Valley of the Butterflies, to name a few Rhodes highlights.

Super shore excursions

Island life

Virgin Voyages guests on Greek island cruises can head out to explore all ports of call by themselves, but having the option of joining shore excursions arranged by line does make vacation arrangements much easier (plus you’ll never miss the ship!).

In Santorini you can hop aboard a helicopter to admire the island’s beauty from up high, soaking up stonking views of the cliffside towns and unique watercolours created by the black lava and mineral deposits. Or why not jump on a private yacht for a sunset sailing with a glass of champagne in hand?

Other Santorini shore excursions include a day out on an electric bike exploring the caldera and visiting a vineyard, taking a horseback ride across hidden trails and secret beaches, and exploring the island’s ruins and villages on a guided tour.

Resilient Lady stays in Mykonos overnight so you can really go to town (literally) during this port of call on your Greek islands cruise. There’s even a nightlife shore excursion which will take you to the liveliest spots and offer plenty of recommendations on having the night of your life (as well as giving you the freedom to do your own thing).

During the day you can head to one of Mykonos’ premier beach clubs, take a mosaic workshop or delve into the sacred spaces of the ancient Greeks and their Gods on a trip to Delos.

As for Rhodes, here you can try your hand at adventure and join a kayaking excursion or 4×4 self-driven buggy trip. For history buffs, there’s a day out to the Acropolis of Lindos or a guided tour of Rhodes’ old town while wine lovers will enjoy the wine-tasting experience!

Fantastic food

Taste of honey

Everyone knows that Greece produces some sensational cuisine so you’re definitely eating well on this Greek islands cruise! Think classic dishes such as taramasalata (fish roe dip), moussaka (layers of sautéed aubergine, minced lamb and veggies), souvlaki (chunks of skewered pork) plus plenty of fresh seafood and salads no matter where you travel.

As for island specialities, not only is Santorini famous for wine (it’s home to around 40 native grape varieties) but it also serves up split peas – used to make a tasty hummus-like dish called fava – white aubergines, capers and cherry tomatoes.

Over in Rhodes, travellers can feast on such exciting dishes as oven-baked pumpkin or wild greens stew. Don’t miss the local sweet treats – honey plays a major part in desserts so get your fingers sticky with Xerotigana (fried spiral pastries) or pastelaries (dried figs with almonds and sesame seeds).

Mykonos visitors should sample black-eyed beans with sausage (here it’s made exclusively from pork meat and fat and is sun-fried rather than smoked), tirovolia (one of Mykonos’ most famous cheeses) and as much lobster, octopus, oysters and prawns as possible!

Amazing amenities

All in

Not only will you never go hungry on land but you’ll certainly never be left peckish onboard Resilient Lady either! All Virgin Voyages ships feature more than 20 eateries all of which are included in the cruise fare.

While enjoying Greek island cruises you can carry on the European theme in casual Med eatery The Dock House or Italian joint Extra Virgin or branch out and feast on Mexican in Pink Agave, Korean in Gunbae, Japanese at Bento Baby or American at Diner & Dash – among many others!

The price of your cruise also induces essential drinks (still and sparkling water, non-pressed juices, sodas, teas and drip coffee) plus tips to make life even easier. If you want something boozy there are plenty of bars to choose from – quaff champagne in Sip Lounge, slurp martinis in On the Rocks or tuck back a beer at Draught Haus to name a few onboard haunts.

Had your fill of great food and drink? You can head to the gym (group workout classes are included) or the spa to work off the excess. Alternatively, take in some of the fabulous entertainment onboard, whether you’re after a spot of gambling at the casino, a night of dancing at The Manor nightclub or a private karaoke sesh at The Groupie. And these are just a handful of the fantastic experiences available to Virgin guests!

Oh yes, there’s plenty a Greek islands cruise offers inside and out, whether you’ve sailed the region before or are a Greece… virgin! Let’s make it a date.

Set Sail

Resilient Lady Athens MerMaiden with Virgin Voyages

Duration: 7 nights

Where: Piraeus (Athens) | Santorini | Rhodes | Bodrum | Mykonos | Piraeus (Athens)

Ship: Resilient Lady

Price: From$1,834 pp


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Published 02.10.23