After a fun-filled sea day enjoying the sun, activities, and food on Rhapsody of the Seas, Our next stop brings us to Santorini, Greece. Santorini is a Greek island on the Aegean Sea about 120 miles off Greece’s mainland. The island is part of a greater remnant volcanic caldera. The island is what was left of one of the largest volcanic eruptions in the earth’s history, the Minoan eruption that occurred ~3,600 years ago.
Our visit to Santorini took place in the depth of August when this is not only one of the hottest times to visit but also in July and August are peak tourist season. This is one destination that is best visited without the extra 10,000+ cruise tourists.
Upon arrival, the ship tendered to shore instead of docked. From the ship, we took tender boats to shore where an armada of buses awaited those that had purchased excursions. Yes, I was in this group and glad I was. Our @RoyalCaribbean excursion was an “Island of Santorini and Village of Oia” tour.
The caldera is marked by 980ft (300m) high cliffs tipped in white as if it were snow-capped mountains. However, what looks like snow from a distance is the traditional white buildings and homes, and notorious blue domes. It’s said that the eruptions set off a giant tsunami that may have ended the Minoan civilization of Crete.
We first set off to Oia Oia (pronounced Ee’a) where we spent some free time enjoying the narrow cobblestone streets, Metropolis Church, shops and galleries.
From there we made our way to the Santo Winery where we were offered wine tasting and snacks with some awe-inspiring views of the island vistas. While the soil in Santorini is ideal for the indigenous grape variety, Assyrtiko, the vines grow close to the ground rather than like those or norm on trellises. They are grown close to the ground to prevent the common brisk winds from damaging the vines.
Our last stop is the town Fira of which is probably the most photographed town on the island. From my pictures, you can see why. Here, we took a break from the crowds and heat and opted to have a light Mediterranean lunch. Ice coffee and fresh food was very refreshing and the spectacular vistas that stretched out as far as the eyes could see was simply a bonus.
This town is quite bustling with tourists made more-so with multiple mega-cruise liners in port. Still, it is magnificent. It is enchanting and extremely picturesque. It is simply stunning. Santorini and Oia was the quintessential crown that topped this Sea Cruise experience. After strolling the cobblestone streets and shopping, we stopped into a local restaurant overlooking the caldera below and our ship floating in the indigo blue water. The day ended with a cable-car down the cliff to the docks where we then took our tender boat back to the ship.