Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Cruise’

« Newer Posts

The wondrous Greek Isles: Heraklion and Santorini

If three days of sailing throughout the Mediterranean just isn’t enough to take in all the wonders of Greece, there’s also an Athens and four-day Greek Isles cruise. The itinerary for the two vacations are almost identical, but on the four-day cruise, the M/V Aquamarine also docks at the most popular of all the Greek Isles, Santorini, as well as a stop at Heraklion, Crete.
Two Friendly Planeteers enjoying the breathtaking views of Santorini.
FP_santorini.jpg
On the four-day journey, after a day in Rhodes, travelers will enjoy a trip to Heraklion. Just five kilometers from the Heraklion city center lie the ruins of Knossos — the capital of Minoan Crete and today the island’s major tourist attraction — which travelers can visit on an optional shore excursion.
Other points of interest here include Heraklion’s Archaeological Museum — one of the finest in the Mediterannean — which houses exquisite findings from Knossos and other Minoan ruins, numerous Venetian fortresses, and fountains and loggias scattered throughout the city.
At the Historical Museum of Crete, Byzantine and folklore collections are on display. The island’s open air market is a must-see, where colorful and boisterous crowds buy, sell, and trade everything from goats and sheep to enormous cauldrons of freshly churned yogurt.
The next port of call is Santorini. This striking island, with breathtaking panoramas and rugged landscapes, is actually a volcanic crater slightly immersed in the sea. The island is famous for its whitewashed houses, narrow streets, open-air cafes, and glittering boutiques which cling to steep cliffs, accessible by foot, cable car, or mule. Like Mykonos, it is not only Santorini’s physical beauty that makes it one of Europe’s most popular destinations, but its dynamic nightlife as well.
The island of Santorini was formed by one of the largest volcanic eruptions on the planet, which destroyed the earliest settlements on what was formerly a single island. The Minoan eruption (sometimes called the Thera eruption) occurred approximately 3,600 years ago at the height of the ancient Minoan civilization.
Vacationers can enjoy an optional tour of Santorini that takes them up along the Caldera (volcanic crater). They can also drive uphill along the rocky sides of the Caldera and pass through many traditional villages to Oia, a village that brims with many fine examples of Cycladic architecture. At the end of the day, passengers return to the ship for a final evening at sea before returning to Athens.

The wondrous Greek Isles: Mykonos, Rhodes, and Patmos

On the third day of our Athens and Greek Isles cruise, vacationers head to Piraeus, a large coastal city just 10 km from the center of Athens, where they’ll board the M/V Aquamarine. Travelers can pass their time enjoying the sun, warm sea breezes, pool, and shipboard facilities while they sail to Mykonos.
The island of Mykonos is famed for its cosmopolitan character and energetic nightlife (some say it’s the best in Europe), as much as it is for its labyrinth of winding alleyways and whitewashed buildings, basket-laden donkeys, and cascading geraniums. Chic crowds flock to the island’s trendy restaurants, discos, and clubs each night, and vacationers sit seaside, sipping ouzo and watching the sunset while listening to traditional Greek music.
FP_Greece3.jpg
The next day takes travelers to Rhodes, the stunning “Island of Roses.” Historically, Rhodes was famous throughout the world for the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.
In the heart of the island’s biggest city, also named Rhodes, is the largest inhabited medieval town in Europe, a fascinating web of Byzantine, Turkish, and Latin ruins. There’s no wonder why it’s been declared one of the few World Heritage Sites. Its mighty fortifications provide the finest surviving examples of defensive architecture of the time.
Lindos, with its dazzlingly white houses clustered beneath a soaring castle-capped acropolis, is Rhodes’ most picturesque village and most important Doric settlement because of its natural harbor and vantage point built 125 meters above sea level. Here, travelers can explore on their own, or take advantage of Friendly Planet Travel’s optional shore excursions.
FP_Greece4.jpg
The following morning, the M/V Aquamarine docks in Kusadasi, Turkey. Just 10 km from the port of Kusadasi lies the ancient city of Ephessos, where travelers will find an archaeological site that ranks among the wonders of the world. The day’s optional tours include the the Great Theatre of Ephessos, which had a capacity of 25,000 people, and the Library of Celsus, dating from 135 A.D.
Vacationers will then sail to Patmos, Greece. The Aquamarine docks at Skala harbor, a lively atmosphere with whitewashed houses, flowered courtyards, tavernas, and shops. The Island of Patmos is famous in history as the place where St. John wrote the Book of Revelation. An optional tour takes you to the cave where St. John lived and the nearby Monastery, built on one of the island’s highest points, housing priceless icons and manuscripts in its Treasury.
From there, it’s back to Athens for a final few days in the Paris of the Mediterranean.

All aboard the M/V Aquamarine

In my last All Aboard blog post, I gave you a little tour of the M.S.C. Sinfonia. Today, let’s take a stroll down the deck of the luxurious M/V Aquamarine, the cruise ship that vacationers on our Athens and Greek Isles cruise have the opportunity to enjoy.
FP_cruise3.jpg
The Aquamarine, a member of the Louis Cruise Lines’ fleet, is considered one of the best vessels for cruising the Greek Islands. Her sleek design and medium size make her ideally suited for navigating the waters of the Aegean Sea, while her upscale amenities and services create a comfortable floating base that makes it easy to explore the beauty of the islands.
With 525 spacious staterooms and suites, the Aquamarine has capacity for more than 1,200 passengers. Her 339 outside staterooms — most with large windows and some with balconies — and 186 inside staterooms — all above sea level — are tastefully decorated and fully equipped with an array of modern comforts. Cabin amenities include adjustable climate control, TV, radio, direct dial phone, personal safe, and private bathroom.
The Aquamarine also features two spacious, full-service dining areas and several comfortable bar and lounge areas for cocktails, coffee, and light snacks. As vacationers sail between ports, there’s an array of leisure facilities to enjoy, including a swimming pool, sun deck, fitness center, massage/sauna facilities, basketball court, casino, and more.
I have a feeling that if it weren’t for the beautiful sights and sounds of the Greek Isles to lure them off the boat, we’d have a hard time getting the passengers aboard the Aquamarine off the ship. The full list of amenities include:
Adjustable climate control
TV
Radio
Direct dial telephone
Personal safe
Private bathroom
Two dining rooms
Lounge
Bars
Disco
Pub
Casino
Beauty salon
Fitness center
Basketball/volleyball court
Swimming pool
Sauna
Massage
Internet corner
Duty free shop
Onboard medical assistance
For more information on the M/V Aquamarine or any of our cruises, please contact us. And stay tuned for the next cruise ship in our “All Aboard” series.

Experience Athens and the Greek Isles cruise

Plato once wrote, “every heart sings a song, incomplete, until another heart whispers back. Those who wish to sing always find a song. At the touch of a lover, everyone becomes a poet.” And I am willing to bet that at the first touch of Greece, everyone becomes a lover. Because when you discover Greece, I swear your heart will sing.
In Athens, the past meets present and east meets west. With forefathers such as Plato, Sophocles, Socrates, Pericles, and Aristotle, there’s no wonder why Athens is considered the cradle of Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy.
FP_Greece.jpg
Today, you can tour ancient monuments and works of art, such as the Parthenon on the Acropolis, amidst a city overflowing with Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman monuments, as well as modern landmarks from the 19th century Hellenic Parliament to the modern day Olympic stadiums.
Off the coast lie the Greek Isles, with some of the most resplendent and culturally rich coastal towns in the world.
FP_Greece2.jpg
On our Athens and three-day Greek Isles cruise, you’ll see all of this, and more. Spend three nights exploring beautiful Athens, and three nights sailing aboard the M/V Aquamarine to the magnificent Greek islands of Mykonos, Kusadasi in Turkey, Patmos, and Rhodes.
The package includes flights, superior hotel accommodations in Athens for three nights, a Greek Isles cruise for three nights, buffet breakfast daily, all meals aboard the cruise, and all transfers. You’ll have the time to explore Athens and the islands on your own, or you can opt to take interesting and inexpensive tours, provided by Friendly Planet Travel guides. And best of all, now you can do it all for $999 per person. That’s if you book before July 17, with savings of up to $600 per couple.
Available dates for 2009 are Oct. 28 – Nov. 4, Nov. 4 – Nov. 11, and Nov. 11 – Nov. 18. And 2010′s departure dates include March 17 – March 24 and March 24 – March 31.
Got a little extra time? We also have an Athens and four-day Greek Isles cruise. Both trips cover the same ground, but the four-day cruise also hits Santorini, Greece’s most popular island. That’s nine days for $1199 if you book before July 17. That’s another sale price with savings of up to $600 per couple.
2009 departure dates for the Athens and four-day Greek Isles cruise have rapidly been selling out, but spaces are still available from Sept. 5 – 13, Sept. 19 – 27, and Oct. 10 – 18. Check out the Friendly Planet Travel Web site for more information.
You also have the option with either of these trips for an inexpensive and exciting four-day Classic Greece extension through Corinth, Mycenae, Olympia, and Delphi.

All aboard the MSC Sinfonia

If you’ve been clicking around on the Friendly Planet Travel Web site, you’ve probably seen our wide array of Mediterranean and Far East cruise vacations. And along with our list of cruise options is an equally long list of the cruise ships that sail them. In our new series, "All Aboard," I’m going to give you the full scoop on all of the ships that cruise with Friendly Planet Travel.
FP_cruise2.jpg
I told you about our Mediterranean Golf Cruise on Monday, and today I want to tell you a little about the MSC Sinfonia, that particular vacation’s cruise ship.
The MSC Sinfonia was inspired by the great symphonies of Europe’s finest composers, and offers a harmonious blend of culture, relaxation, and adventure. Elegant Italian ambiance abounds from every corner of the ship — from its polished woods and exquisite artwork to its upscale restaurants and first-class spa.
Each of the Sinfonia’s 777 cabins feature an inviting décor with warm colors, subtle lighting, tasteful furnishings, and comfortable amenities. They’re also all equipped with air conditioning, mini bar, radio, TV, 24-hour room service, a private safe, and an en suite bathroom.
While cruising through the Mediterranean, Friendly Planeteers enjoy the ship’s authentic Mediterranean cuisine at the Sinfonia’s two onboard restaurants, Il Covo and Il Galeone. And if you’re in the mood for lighter fare, the Café Le Baroque or La Terraza Buffet have an array of delectable items from the grill or pizzeria.
In addition to visiting some of the most beautiful ports-of-call in Italy, Monaco, Spain, and Tunisia, the Sinfonia also offers countless onboard leisure opportunities for both day and night.
While sailing between ports, golfers will be able to practice their swing in the golf simulators or fine-tune their skills on the miniature golf course. Breathe in the fresh Mediterranean air as you jog around the outdoor track or swim laps in one of two outdoor pools. Stay active in the Sinfonia’s state-of-the-art fitness center, while taking in panoramic views of the sea.
When the sun goes down, the Sinfonia’s nightlife comes to life, with a show at the San Carlo Theater, cocktails at the Buddha Bar or Manhattan Bar, a game of poker at the casino, or dancing at Pasha nightclub.
There’s literally something for everyone aboard the MSC Sinfonia. Amenities include:
Air conditioning
Satellite TV
Radio
Minibar
Safety deposit box
24-hour room service
Two restaurants
Bars
Spa
Fitness center
Two pools
Jogging track
Minigolf
Tennis court
Basketball court
Volleyball
Shuffleboard
Pasha Discotheque
Casino
Theater
Video game room
Children’s play area
Beauty salon
Internet cafe
Cigar room
For more information on the MSC Sinfonia or any of our cruises, feel free to contact us. And stay tuned for the next cruise ship in our "All Aboard" series.

Attention golfers: Tee up for the Mediterranean Golf Cruise with Chuck Cook

Here at Friendly Planet Travel, we’re in the business of making people happy. And now, every duffer’s dream has just come true. Vacationers aboard our Mediterranean Golf Cruise, now have the opportunity to lower their handicap on ship and on the green with lessons from internationally renowned golf guru Chuck Cook.
The 10-day cruise aboard the MSC Sinfonia includes stops at ports of call in Italy, Spain, Monaco, and Tunisia, as well as all airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, many meals, touring, and more for $2,099. May’s Golf Cruise is booked solid, but spots are still available for 2009’s last departure date in October.
FP_Golf.jpg
And while you’re experiencing the marvels of the Mediterranean, you can cruise to a better golf game, too, under the expert guidance of Chuck Cook. The championship teacher will be conducting personal and group lessons on deck and on courses in Italy and Spain, capped with a nine-hole game at Golf Club Naples. Cook’s lessons are open to golfers of all experience levels, and you can sign up anytime onboard the ship.
The MSC Sinfonia embarks from Florence, Italy and docks at a new city each day, including Montecarlo, Monaco; Valencia and Ibiza, Spain; Tunis and La Goulette, Tunisia; and Catania and Naples, Italy, while it circles the Mediterranean Sea, ending back at Florence on the ninth day.
On their last night of the trip, vacationers enjoy deluxe hotel accommodations in Florence, located ideally within a short distance of many of the city’s major attractions, as well as the best shopping and dining in the "birthplace of the Renaissance."
FP_cruise.jpg
In true Friendly Planet Travel style, the low $2,099 price includes all ports of call, airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, some meals, touring, and more. Book by May 27th to enjoy savings of up to $600 per couple included in the deal price. And there are no extra fees or surcharges if you choose to pay by credit card.
Once you book, choose from three superb golfing packages, starting at $434. Not sure which package is right for you and your travel mates? Talk it over and book right up to the last minute onboard the MSC Sinfonia.
This cruise was created with golfers in mind. But of course, you don’t have to be a golf pro to have fun aboard the MSC Sinfonia. As always, this cruise was designed with all the Friendly Planet Travel features our vacationers expect, without compromise. Where else could you cruise through some of the most magnificent waters in the world while working on your slice in the morning, and dining on delectable paella in a town like Valencia in the afternoon?
For more information, take a look at the Mediterranean Golf Cruise page on our Web site, or drop us a line.

The early bird doesn’t always get the worm with travel deals

As The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month, sometimes it pays off big time for travelers who wait until the last minute to book their plane, hotel, or cruise reservations. That’s because many operators are forced to drop prices at the last minute because of low demand and a difficulty in predicting sales, especially in rocky economic times. I touched on this subject a bit already, but think it’s an important one for travelers to remember. FP_hotel.jpg
Airlines usually raise prices significantly during the two weeks prior to a flight departure date, but that hasn’t been happening lately. Instead of watching the prices go up, patient travelers are watching them go down.
And thrifty travelers who are reluctant, in general, to book in advance have recently been making reservations last minute, making it difficult for the industry to predict sales volume and, therefore, rates.
I left a comment on the article, but silly me didn’t realize a coworker had already signed in with his name on the computer I was using! Shush, Baby Boomers are allowed to make Internet mistakes every so often! Have a look!

MSNBC features Friendly Planet Travel’s Western Mediterranean Cruise

FP_MSNBC.jpg

MSNBC picked up Wednesday’s Budget Travel article featuring our Western Mediterranean Cruise. Hop on over to MSNBC to see more information on how you can experience a Friendly Planet Travel cruise to Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Gibralter for just $1,799 if you book by March 27!

« Newer Posts

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

Tour & Cruise Packages Our specialty for 30 years! Find one now:
choose a region Europe Mediterranean Asia Middle East Africa Central America Caribbean South America South Pacific