After we sailed from the port at Naples, Italy, we headed on a course towards Santorini, Greece. Santorini, in case you have never heard of it is a beautiful little volcanic island that is known for its beautiful white buildings, and amazing ocean sunsets. The main island that we visited is shaped like a crescent, with a smaller islands in the bay that make up the caldera also being inhabited. Our ship (in the picture below) pulled into the bay, and we took tender boats up to the docks.
We took a bus excursion around the island visiting scenic little villages (like Pyrgos), going to the highest point of the island, and then finishing off with a nice lunch and all you can drink wine at a local restaurant. As you can see from most pictures of Santorini, the houses are mostly painted white (or other light colors) because of the intense heat – it helps to keep the interiors of the houses cooler.
We left Santorini and headed to the mainland of Greece, and the capital at Athens. Athens was another beautiful city, although it shows its age in many respects. The day we were there was extremely hot, with blue skies all around. We visited the Parthenon (where the picture of another temple below was taken), the site of the original modern olympics, as well as the changing of the guard at the presidential palace.
We left Athens and headed directly to Dubrovnik, Croatia. We weren't sure what to think of Dubrovnik, and what we might find there. To be honest it was one of the “throw away stops” on our trip because we didn't have high hopes. Boy were we wrong.
Dubrovnik, and it's old walled city ended up being one of the most beautiful stops on our cruise. The old city is so well preserved (and rebuilt after wars in the 1990's) that it really is a true gem. If you ever have a chance to visit, do it!
After leaving Dubrovnik we sailed towards our final destination on the cruise, the beautiful city of Venice, Italy. We pulled into the cruise ship port and headed out on our tour of the city. We took a water taxi from the ship to the Piazza San Marco (St. Mark's Square – below) where we started our tour at the Doge's Palace. The palace had all manner of beautiful old paintings by renaissance artists, as well as what was once the largest unsupported ceiling in the world (a suspended ceiling). We also got to see the old Venetian prison, and walk across the Bridge of Sighs. Very fun.