Coming up next, Whitney and I sail on Viking Cruises new Viking Sea. Sister to still-new Viking Star, we’ll be back on the popular Empires of the Mediterranean itinerary. That’s the same itinerary Lisa and I did last year, in reverse. I’m excited to introduce Whitney to Viking Cruises as well as an enchanting itinerary that sails from Istanbul to Venice. This unique 10-day sailing provides a chance to explore some interesting new topics, revisit and update a variety of commonly asked about travel issues and dig deep into the destinations we will visit along the way.
We’re all about sharing what it is actually like to sail with cruise lines here and plan on continuing that strategy on this voyage as well. Unique here, this is the fifth time in less than a year that we have reported on sailing from Istanbul, a place where a number of cruise lines have all but abandoned. Hearty Viking explorers? Not so much; they’re all in on safely sailing that part of the world, not denying their culturally curious travelers the opportunity for a complete experience that takes going to all the ports to achieve. Let’ start by taking a look at that Empires of the Mediterranean itinerary, one I am looking forward to sharing with Whitney and, hopefully, all of you.
On this first sweep through the ports, we have Viking’s descriptions of each as advertized on their extensive website. Rich with information, video and resources, the Viking Cruises covers all the bases, setting an expectation we have always found a very close match to the actual experience.
Overnight In Istanbul
Spend the day soaking up the wonderful vistas of Istanbul, where East meets West. You will tour the magnificent Hagia Sophia – this former church and mosque’s exquisite mosaics and frescoes glimmer under its dome. Explore the world’s largest covered market amid the labyrinthine lanes of the Grand Bazaar. Or opt to survey monumental Istanbul from the water with a scenic cruise along the Bosphorus.
Spend some time exploring one of the best-preserved cities of antiquity, Ephesus. On an included tour, you will walk among the extensive ruins, including the Temple of Hadrian, the 25,000-seat Great Theater, built by the Greeks, and the impressive Roman Library of Celsus. You will also have free time to shop the craft stalls at the city’s Lower Gate. Or, consider a sojourn to the beach at Pamucak; there, revel in an exhilarating horseback ride along the beach, discovering Turkey’s natural beauty. You will also have time for a relaxing swim.
Today, you will have the whole day to journey into ancient Athens via a panoramic drive, passing the promenade at Mikrolimano as you enter the city’s heart. There, you will see the Hellenic Parliament, Constitution Square, the Panathenaic Stadium, the Temple of Zeus and the iconic Acropolis. Explore the bustling Plaka District at the base of the Acropolis. Or as an option, explore the interior of this UNESCO Site; climb 80 steps to the entrance and glimpse an unforgettable view of the Parthenon at its peak.
Gliding toward a full day in Santorini, prepare for its spectacular caldera and looming cliffs. Once anchored, embark a local boat for the island’s main port of Athinios. On your included excursion, drive with a local guide to the top of Mount Profitis, where you’ll have spectacular views of the island, the Aegean Sea and the summit’s monastery. En route to clifftop Oia take in the beauty and charm of the countryside and traditional villages. Then enjoy free time in the capital of Fira. Alternatively, visit the hot thermal springs of Palea Kameni island, and enjoy the most remarkable swim of your life. Or, choose to visit a Greek vineyard for a tour and tasting.
Cruising The Ionian Sea
On this day at sea, indulge in the endless comforts of Viking Star. Relax on board with a swim in our breathtaking infinity pool, treat yourself to a beauty treatment at the Nordic-inspired spa or be inspired by one of your next destinations and take a cooking class at The Kitchen Table. Tonight, watch the sun dip into the sea from a comfortable chair in the Explorers’ Lounge, in the company of newfound friends, with a cocktail in hand.
Spend the day traversing the medieval streets of this historic Montenegro town with a walking tour. Pass by Venetian walls constructed in 1420, en route to the Cathedral of Saint Tryphon, built in 1166. Notice its mismatched towers, the result of an earthquake and a budget too small to rebuild properly. Included on this tour is a visit to the Maritime Museum, which documents Kotor’s heritage. As an option, venture to the small towns of Budva and Sveti Stefan, the latter once a hideaway for the rich and famous.
Where city meets coastline, you will sail to this beautiful 12th-century walled city in Croatia. And as it happens, George Bernard Shaw declared, “Those who seek paradise on earth should come to Dubrovnik.” We think he has a point. Enjoy an entire day to take an inclusive tour with a drive high up to catch the magnificent views of the city and countryside. Or descend to the coast and enter the city on foot through the historic Pile Gate, passing by the Sponza Palace, the 15th-century Onofrio’s Fountain and stop inside the Dominican Monastery to see Renaissance paintings. You may also wish to consider exploring the famed Dubrovnik Riviera with a cruise along the Lapad Peninsula.
We will have an entire day to explore this incredible destination and have curated a walking tour that will highlight its rich past, starting with a visit to the world’s most complete Roman amphitheater in existence. You will also venture past the well-preserved Arch of Sergii and the Temple of Augustus. Or, consider an olive oil tasting at a family-owned farm in the town of Vodnjan or take a scenic drive to the hill town of Istria to savor their famous truffles.
Ending in Venice, we say goodbye to Viking Sea but surely not Viking Cruises.
I’m excited that Whitney will be coming along, teaming to bring complete coverage of the stunning new ship as well as the destinations visited along the way. See more about Whitney and what she brings to the table below.
Stay tuned as we countdown to our Empires of the Mediterranean sailing with Viking Cruises on new Viking Sea. Can’t wait to see what it might be like? See our library of Viking Star’s sailing of the same itinerary, in reverse, below.
When Whitney last sailed with us, Crystal Cruises was the cruise line, sailing Crystal Serenity on a Canada and New England coastal cruise. A bit early in the season, we found ourself searching for Fall foliage along the way, sailing north from Boston where we were rewarded with a riot of color in Canada. This is an entirely different experience, especially for Whitney who has not been to any of the places on this itinerary. Not new to sailing, we spent most family vacations on the ships of Carnival Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. Years later, Whitney would come along with me on Star Clippers tall masted ship Royal Clipper on an exotic Windward Islands sailing in the Caribbean. It might have been those earlier experiences that contributed to her enjoyment of working for and sailing with Disney Cruise Line bringing out new Disney Fantasy from Germany from final outfitting of the ship, through sea trials and more.
Whitney brings a fresh perspective along with a Disney-trained eye for photography and something new for us here: video.
From Our Last Sailing With Viking Ocean Cruises
- Viking Star: Examining What Really Matters
- Viking Star Dining Options
- Flight Change No Big Deal For Vikings
- Your Travel Agent And Viking Cruises
- Viking Star Included Tours: Promise vs Reality
- A Day In Dubrovnik With Viking Cruises
- Viking Star: Paint Your Masterpiece
- Viking Star Brings The Future: Now
- Viking Star: The Thought Behind The Ship
- A Day In Athens Helps Define Viking Star Passengers
- Little Things That Make Viking Star A Big Hit (this post)
See our Flickr Photo Albums–
- Travel Day To Viking Star
- Air Dolomiti- A lovely little airline we experienced thanks to the Lufthansa strike.
- Venice, Italy- Where we met the Viking Transfer Army
- Viking Star Ship Shots- Photos from around the new Viking Star
- Pula Croatia– Our first time visiting but surely not our last
- Viking Star On Instagram- Our experience, one Instagram a day
- Viking Star Staff– Photos of the crew, collected throughout our voyage
- Viking Star Culinary- Menu items we tried as we sailed
- Viking Star Sunrise and Sunset- Marvelous events that bookended each day
- Dubrovnik, Croatia- What we did, saw and consumed
- Dubrovnik Sunset- Probably the prettiest sunset we have ever seen
- Kotor Montenegro with Viking Cruises– our day and then some
- Viking Star Tea Time- like no other tea time anywhere
- Viking Star At Sea- what we saw and did on our one day at sea
- Viking Star Chef’s Table- a gastronomic journey through time
Facebook Photo Albums-
- Dubrovnik Sunset– perhaps the most beautiful we have ever seen
- Favorite Images From Our Viking Star Cruise– just those and nothing more