Setting Sail on the Greek Isles
Arrive in Thessaloniki, the city where Paul was received by Jason. Paul was preaching the Word of God here until he was rushed out of the city. We will transfer to our hotel in Kavala for dinner and overnight. This morning we travel on to Philippi and visit the Baptistery of Lydia, near the river where Paul baptized her. Lydia was the first convert of Paul on European soil and the conversion of the jailer followed. Also, we will visit the ruins of the Forum of Philippi, the Christian Basilicas, the “Prison of Paul” and the Theater. Next, we drive to Kavala (Neapolis), Paul’s first step in bringing the Gospel to present day Europe. It is a picturesque port! View the Byzantine Castle and the Roman Aqueduct. Then continue to Thessaloniki for a panoramic city tour before continuing to Kalambaka for dinner and overnight. This morning we will see the world-famous Byzantine monasteries that are perched precariously on summits of gray rock pinnacles of varied and beautiful shapes. Their history goes back to the 14th century when the monks sought refuge in the cliff-side caves. Then they fled higher to build the original wooden shelters, which were later transformed into monasteries. We make our way to Athens for dinner and overnight.
Sail on the Mediterranean
We sail this morning from Athens to the quaint isle of Mykonos, called the island of windmills. Experience the water-front area lined with shops and cafes and then stroll the charming walkways through a maze of white-washed buildings. No shore excursions included this day, as we will disembark and walk around this marvelous island at our leisure before returning to ship for dinner and evening activities. In the morning, we will arrive in Kusadasi, Turkey, and drive to Ephesus, where Paul spent three years during his ministry. The impressive remains of Ephesus include the Agora, the Theater, the Stadium, the Library of Celsius, the ruins of the Temple of Diana (one of the “Seven Wonders of the Ancient World”), and many more. Later we will sail for the island of Patmos, where we visit the Monastery of St. John on one of the island’s highest points. From there, we will walk down to the Grotto of the Apocalypse, the site of the apocalyptic Revelations of St. John the Divine. Shore excursions to Patmos & Ephesus are included today. In the morning, we arrive at Heraklion, Crete and at the traditional village of Stironas. Here we’ll show you how traditional Cretans lived centuries ago. We’ll also visit a botanical parterre which is home to various aromatic and medicinal herbs from the mountains of Crete. We’ll have a chance to literally put our lips to the deep cup of traditional Cretan winemaking when we visit a raki distiller and sample traditional raki directly from the barrels in his cellar (included). Time permitting, we will stop in Heraklion on the way back to the ship. Then we sail north to the isle of Santorini, the most breathtaking of all the Greek islands to explore the exquisite whitewashed villages. We can also visit Fira (or Thira, the ancient name of island), which clings to volcanic cliffs and are accessible by cable-car or mule. No Shore excursions are included on Santorini.
Explore Athens & Deplhi
We disembark the cruise this morning in Piraeus. After disembarkation, we will continue our sightseeing with a visit to Ancient Corinth. This is the once-glorious city near the Isthmus, where Paul met Aquilla and Priscilla and spent a year and a half preaching the Word of God. We visit the Archaeological Museum, the Forum, the Temples, and the famous Bema, where Paul stood before Gallio, accused by the Jews of Corinth. Then we drive to Cenchreae, the little harbor from which Paul sailed back to Asia, thus ending his second missionary journey. Here we admire the architectural wonders of ancient Athens, as we follow our guide to the world- renowned Acropolis, to see the Propylea, the Erechtheum and the Parthenon. We visit Mars Hill, where Paul delivered his speech on the “Unknown God.” Then we see the Agora, the ancient center of the economic and public life of the city, where Paul preached to the skeptical Athenians. During the bus tour, we also see Constitution Square with the House of Parliament and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Temple of Zeus, the Old Olympic Stadium, and the Neoclassical Buildings of Athens. The afternoon is at leisure to explore Athens on your own. Dinner and overnight are in Athens. We will include a special visit to Delphi, this mountainous city which today is both an archaeological site and a modern town. For the ancient Greeks, Delphi was labeled the “omphalos” (navel) of the earth and it is here that the eternal flame burned in the Temple of Apollo. Delphi was the site of the Delphic oracle, the most important oracle in the classical Greek world. It was also here beginning in 586 B.C. that athletes from all over the Greek world competed in the Pythian Games, one of the precursors to the modern Olympics. On our way up to Delphi, we’ll have time to stop and enjoy the small scenic villages that cling to the mountainsides. Dinner and overnight are in Athens.