Signature Greek Island Luxury Cruise

June 27 – July 6, 2024                    Small group.

Price listed below the daily itinerary

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Come sail away with us through azure waters to the best Greek islands for 9 glorious days during the best time of year. Forget the mega ships. You will love our small yacht-like expedition ship, holding only 48 passengers. So intimate, you’ll get to know your gracious crew well and appreciate the Zen-like atmosphere on our luxury vessel, the Elysium!

You may have been here and sailed the Aegean through the Cyclades islands, but who wouldn’t want to return to see it again up close and personal that other ships can’t match. I’ve been to Greece a dozen times, but not in such style nor off the beaten route of all other cruise lines. Each time I visit, I discover new cultural and scenic wonders because Greece is like a small world in one country.

We visit the hidden gems and heavenly inlets with 9 different Ports of call! Only with AFS, we include five shore excursions. Enjoy guided tours in Athens, Naxos Village, Sifnos, Kimolos, Mykonos, Milos, Sarakinikos, and Santorini with wine tastings and incredible Oia with the world’s finest sunsets. We also include your airport transfers, Wi-Fi and free use of water sport equipment for swimming the clearest award-winning beaches.

We had 77 AFSers on 2 different cruises sail with us through Croatia on the beautiful yacht-like Belisima, and they loved it, so much so, they asked to repeat it again or do a similar style cruise. This is the same charter company, so we know you’ll be pampered throughout. On board, it’s personalized service to your every need and mouthwatering cuisines. In navigating the sea mingled with the sun, you’ll feel fully present as if you were on your own private yacht.

Air is so easy on this, round-trip to Athens and the price can’t be beat for all that is included. Please note this special sailing is presented to our Orient Express group and open to others on a first come basis when space allows. It’s a small group of 18 participants. Book your exclusive reservation now so that you won’t ‘ miss the boat’ as this signature sailing can not be presented again. If you are in need of some Vitamin Sea, this is a perfect dreamy vacation escape that will leave you with indelible memories of a lifetime. Opa… I can’t wait to sail with you!

THE ELYSIUM AT A GLANCE…

The Elysium is a truly boutique cruise ship featuring only 25 spacious and elegantly decorated cabins.  Your time on board the Elysium will be nothing short of unique, nothing like you have ever experienced before on a cruise. A balanced fusion of relaxation, wellness, discovery and fun.

Visit pristine coves and beaches only accessible by small boat, discover ancient civilizations, learn a new craft, have a massage, meditate at sunset, enjoy a chilled drink, hike a volcano, fish with locals, snorkel, stargaze, read a book. You decide. The Elysium awaits to soothe your soul and excite your senses.  With large interior and exterior spaces, a spa suite, a mini gym, deliciously healthy Mediterranean cuisine, personalized service and an array of daily activities, the Elysium will pamper you, spoil you and captivate you forever.

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Our Glorious AFS Itinerary

Click here for the Trip Tips

Click for a printable PDF itinerary

June 27 –  Fly USA to Athens.    Air details and more coming soon and trip tips.  

June 28 –  (Land officially begins) 40 min Transfer from Athens Airport to Athens Airport Athens Hotel

A private driver will meet you at Athens Airport and he will drive you to your hotel City Center Athens.  We will collect your air details after final payment.

 

June 29 – Private Highlights of Athens Walking Tour

The Acropolis is the iconic landmark that stands above the Greek capital, symbolizing the birth of western civilization. One of the best ways to experience it is on a private guided tour that provides insights into its history and the many monuments you’ll be witnessing from the Parthenon and the Temple of Athena Nike to Propylaea. After your two hour tour of the Acropolis your guide will take you on a walk through Plaka, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Athens. Located just under the Acropolis, this is an area worth exploring. Plaka is known for its many historical monuments including the Ancient Agora, the Roman Agora, the Tower of the Winds, and Hadrian’s Library.

We then head to Port of Lavrio to board of small ship ab=nd sail to Cape Sounion

Cruise on the Elysium, a graceful expedition cruise ship that offers a unique cruising experience. She sleeps up to just 50 passengers who can look forward to very personalized service with accommodation in spacious cabins. This vessel offers plenty of ways to get active and relax too, with everything from a wellness deck for sunrise pilates/yoga and a soothing Jacuzzi to snorkeling.

Elysium’s 25 cabins are available in five different categories, including double, triple, and interconnecting family cabins, all of which have windows or portholes. Bedding configurations include twin- or queen-size beds with plush mattresses and cozy all- season duvets. Each one is ensuite, with comfortable bathrooms that have showers, organic toiletries, towels, hairdryers, spa robes, and slippers. Other highlights when it comes to amenities include individually controlled air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV with movies as well as a news and bridge channel, music, Wi-Fi, a personal safe, minibar, beach towels, and an internal-use phone.

The Reception Area is where you’ll be welcomed with a smile and find a number of amenities including two check-in desks, a coffee station that’s open 24/7, a library cabinet, filled with board games and books. During the day, the Thalassa Main Deck & Bar is the place to be, enjoy mingling with your fellow passengers by sipping a glass of wine, cocktail, or beer, or simply relax. This is also where alfresco meals are served with the bar offering an all-day menu. If inclement weather hits or you just want a change from the outdoors, the Interior Lounge provides an ideal alternative for socializing and relaxing. It’s also possible to enjoy a drink or a bite to eat.

Key Facts:  Re-Built in 1998 (Renovated 2021),  Star Rating: 4 Star,  Ship Type: Small Expedition Ship  Cruising Speed: 10 Knots, 25 cabins accommodating up to 49 guests,, Length 63.8mtr

June 30 – Delos & Mykonos

We’ll arrive at the sacred island of Delos this morning. One of the most impressive archaeological sites in Greece, the UNESCO World Heritage Site features remarkable ruins dating between the 5th and 4th centuries BC. That includes a theater, temples, statues, mosaics, and impeccably preserved Venetian and Byzantine architecture. You’ll have the option to take an optional guided tour of Delos before we continue to nearby Mykonos (entrance to be paid at the site). After Delos we continue on to Mykonos with lunch on board on route. Upon arrival in Mykonos, join our Cruise Director and a local guide for a fascinating guided tour of Mykonos Town. Discover the history of this picture perfect town visiting one of the oldest bakeries in Greece, its iconic windmills, Little Venice and several other hidden gems which make up this charming town. In the evening, you are free to enjoy dinner at a fabulous selection of restaurants in Mykonos.

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

Excursion Included: Guided Tour of Mykonos with a local expert

July 1 – Naxos

Saying farewell to Mykonos, our next destination is Naxos, with a swim stop en route followed by lunch on board. After our mid- afternoon arrival to this beautiful Cycladic Island, we invite our guests to join our local guide for an island tour of Naxos visiting traditional mountain villages like Apiranthos. Surrounded by stunning mountain views, it was carved out of the slopes of Mount Fanari in amphitheatrical style. You might feel like you’ve stepped by in time as it’s managed to retain its ancient traditions with the feel of a medieval town, while the narrow streets are paved with marble. After our Naxos Island tour, we will return to Naxos Town, where you will enjoy dinner on your own.

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Excursion Included: Traditional Naxos Villages & Apiranthos

July 2 – Koufonisia

Cruising on toward Koufonisia, look forward to a morning swim stop at Schinoussa, a serene island just south of Naxos with calm, aquamarine waters, and little development with a population of only a few hundred. We’ll reach Koufonisia in the mid- afternoon, a treasure with striking natural scenery, exotic beaches, friendly locals, and outstanding food. Enjoy the evening at your leisure, perhaps taking a walk to one of the many secluded beaches before taking advantage of the many great eats available here. Dishes, including lots of fresh fish and seafood, tend to feature authentic flavors and lots of local ingredients.

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch

July 3 – Santorini

While our ultimate destination is Santorini, we’ll visit Ios along the way for a swim stop at Magganari Beach, a large stretch on the south coast boasting soft golden sands with clear, shallow water. Lunch will be on board with arrival in Santorini at 2pm. We highly recommend joining our Cruise Director for our Santorini tour which includes a visit to a fabulous family winery where you will learn the unique way in which wine producers on the island cultivate their grapes and produce their wines. You will get an opportunity to sample their wines and snacks. We will then continue on to the popular picture perfect town of Oia where you will enjoy a guided tour through its pristine streets which jaw dropping Caldera views. Guests looking to stay in Oia for dinner can finish the tour here and make their own way back to Fira. Guests wishing to eat in Fira will head back with the guide an finish the tour in Fira. This evening guests can choose to have dinner on the island and get back to the ship by 11pm, before its onward departure.

Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Excursion Included: Santorini Wine and Oia Tour

July 4 – Milos & Kimolos

Wake up in Milos, the “island of colors,” with its famous lunar-like landscape that includes smooth, white volcanic rock stunning contrasted against the brilliant blue of the sea. Join our Cruise Director and our local guide for a fascinating island morning tour which showcases the highlights of this unique island. You will get to visit the world famous Sarakiniko Beach and also see why this island is so famous for its unique geology by visiting the the Geological Mining Museum with artifacts and interesting exhibits that chronicle the island’s mining history. Lunch will be on your own bringing the opportunity to sample the delicious local fare. Return to the ship by 4pm as you’ll depart for Kimolos while enjoying dinner on board. You’ll have the evening free to explore Kimolos, one of the most picturesque and peaceful Cycladic islands.
Meals: Breakfast & Dinner
Excursion Included: Guided Tour of Milos

July 5 – Sifnos

After sailing overnight, we’ll reach Sifnos mid-morning where you will have the rest of the day to spend as you wish. Explore the island’s Capital, Apollonia with its enticing streets and alleyways lined with picturesque whitewashed buildings, hike one of the many “Sifnos Trails”, or take an optional excursion to the Island’s medieval castle and the church of the Seven Martyrs. Lunch will be enjoyed on your own, at one of the traditional taverns in the town center, or perhaps you’ll opt for a cooking experience with the Island’s locals. One of the highlights of your cruise will be enjoyed this evening, so you’ll want to prepare for the Captain’s Dinner which includes a multicourse feast, live entertainment, and plenty of fun.

Meals: Breakfast & Farewell Dinner

July 6 – Athens Disembarkation

Passing the island of Kea, we’ll reach the port of Lavrio during the early morning hours. Enjoy one last breakfast on board, perhaps while exchanging contact with fellow passengers who’ve become new friends. After farewells to all, disembarkation is by 9am. Of course, if you’d like to extend your time in Greece, feel free to contact our travel experts who can create a bespoke addition to your itinerary. Otherwise, we wish you safe travels as you bring memories of a lifetime home.
Meals: Breakfast

Transfer · Port of Lavrio to Athens Hotel / Airport

Signature Greek Island Luxury CruiseHow we love this boutique cruiseline… 

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Deposit:   $800 Per person twin occupancy.    Please note the Elysium is fully booked through 2025 but we secured the best value cabins. Cruise charters have strict terms. Deposit is nonrefundable. Final payments due March 20.

Land/Cruise price:  Plus $300 port charge added later

(Super saver – We hold one cabin in Category C, lower deck 13 m² with portholes or $3995 per person.)

Category B $4795 
Twin or queen-sized bed with plush mattress, snuggly all-season duvet, pillow menu and flat screen TV with movies, news and bridge channel.
6 people in 3 cabins.  
 PORTHOLES 14 SQM
  • Mini Bar
  • Personal safe
  • Wi-Fi
  • Individually controlled A/C
  • Hair dryer
  • Telephone for internal use
  • Lavish bath products
  • Spa robes and slippers
  • Beach towels
Category B+ $4995    
Twin or queen-sized bed with plush mattress, snuggly all-season duvet, pillow menu and flat screen TV with movies, news and bridge channel.
10 people in 5 cabins
PORTHOLES 16 SQM
  • Mini Bar
  • Personal safe
  • Wi-Fi
  • Individually controlled A/C
  • Hair dryer
  • Telephone for internal use
  • Lavish bath products
  • Spa robes and slippers
  • Beach towels
Category A + $5595  

Twin or queen-sized bed with plush mattress, snuggly all-season duvet, pillow menu and flat screen TV with movies, news and bridge channel.

4 people in 2 cabins

WINDOWS 20 SQM Upper Deck
  • Mini Bar
  • Personal safe
  • Wi-Fi
  • Individually controlled A/C
  • Hair dryer
  • Telephone for internal use
  • Lavish bath products
  • Spa robes and slippers
  • Beach towels
(Super saver – We hold one cabin in category C, lower deck 13 m² with portholes or $3995 per person.)

Included:

  • 1 Night in a premium 4 star hotel in Athens with breakfast (twin shared rooms)
  • Welcome drinks in Athens on the first night
  • Guided tour of Acropolis and Plaka
  • Transfers to the ship
  • 7-Night cruise around the Cyclades including 4 excursions
  • Transfers to the airport at the end of the cruise
We  have included the following excursions:
  • Guided tour of the Acropolis and Plaka
  •  Guided walking tour of Mykonos Town
  • Guided Naxos Island Food & Villages Tour
  •  Guided tour of Milos Island, including Sarakiniko Beach
  •  Santorini wine tasting and Oia tour

Meals & Beverages

• Daily buffet breakfast
• Daily buffet lunch
• Three-course welcome dinner
• Greek-style farewell BBQ dinner
• Complimentary drink with each of the evening meals • Filtered water throughout the cruise
• Complementary tea, coffee and biscuits

Activities Included

• On board Pilates with a Wellness Coach
• Complimentary use of snorkeling equipment and all water sports • Beach Towels

Other Inclusions

• Airport and port transfers throughout
• Experienced on-board Cruise Director
• Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout
• Luggage handling and porterage from the vessel • 100% Financial trip protection • Access to our Greek restaurant guide

Not included

  • Port Taxes of $300 per person
  • Crew gratuities

Cabins…

Elysium’s cabins are available in different categories, including double, all with windows or portholes. Bedding configurations include twin- or queen-size beds with comfortable mattresses and cozy all-season duvets. Each is ensuite, with comfortable bathrooms with showers, organic toiletries, plush towels, hairdryers, spa robes, and slippers. Other highlights when it comes to amenities include individually controlled air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV with movies as well as a news and bridge channel, music, Wi-Fi, a personal safe, a minibar, beach towels, and an internal-use phone.

Itineraries are prepared up to a year ahead and things can change.  Modifications may be made.   All rooms are run of house.

Have you read the Trip Tips yet? Then Click Here

 

AFS Signature Greece Cruise Trip Tips 2024

 Prepare to be thrilled our new super yacht sailing around the best Greek Islands. There’s a zen-like feel with “barefoot luxury” onboard as we visit some of the world’s most beautiful beaches along with sacred archaeological sites. Of nine different places, I wonder which will be your favorite port.

So far, we have a fine group of 15 travel lovers. We contracted for 20 total to protect our price, so please tell your friends and post the AFS trip link on your social media to help spread the word. Our past groups loved sailing with Graham, owner of the award-winning Unforgettable Cruises, who did our Croatia cruises because they do everything right. He said he has people lined up for our excess cabins, but I told him to wait with the hopes to get at least 4 to 6 more people.  A month out, we will email you the final cruise documents.

 

Connect now with each other on your private group Facebook page. If you’re looking for the Facebook group page link, it’s in your welcome letter when you deposit it.  This amazing cruise vacation will be here before you know it! 

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Some travelers have lost their entire trip for not reading what we send on visas, air details, inoculations, etc.  Check back from time to time.

PAYMENT DATES: Final Payment due MAR 20    Wetravel is our booking management company. It allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Please follow the instructions below. If you choose to pay with a credit card, a processing fee at the time of purchase the amount displayed in the upper right-hand corner of your payment screen. To pay online for free, simply enter your checking account routing and account numbers. Alternatively, you can write a check to Adventures For Solo Travelers. Include trip name of country name so that we can apply it correctly. Then text a picture of the check to 770-432-8225, and we will enter your payment without any a processing fee.

Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but a liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly). Carol has begged me to lead this Greek group, and I owe her one, so she may be your trip leader. She’s excellent with cruise groups. We may flip for it. Whether it is she or me, know you will be in good hands with the attentive crew to ensure you have the best time. Will advise soon.

Carol Huntington has been on over 40 AFS trips since 2007 and has led many of our solo travel tours over the past 15 years. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 125+ countries on all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream on exploring the world, while currently being the primary caregiver for both her parents.   Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve, keep clients happy and help make the world a better place. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel world.  During a recent sabbatical, Carol coordinated and lead a once in a lifetime journey around the world, visiting 13 countries! Carol’s excitement to discover new things is complimented by her unique ability to get along with and relate to people of all backgrounds. She has a deep understanding of new and seasoned travelers with a knack to inspire all. Carol is all about the experience: from skydiving to trekking with the gorillas in Rwanda, leading a group to climb Mt Kilimanjaro and always making many new friends along the way.

Trip Prep:
• Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
• Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages – these are Visa pages, not addendum pages.  Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email.
• To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport. Look in your App Store for details.
• Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
• All airline rules differ. It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure! Always check your flight before departure.

Fitness level – Easy trip with moderate walks daily.  Our ship has an elevator that connects all three decks.

General Air Info –  Route changes can happen now. Airlines must notify you of such and protect you if problem with flight.  Consider flying in early to ensure you’ll be there once trip begins.   Always download and use your airlines app! Use app to track your booking, delays, bags, to show boarding pass and to contact them. If you have a flight problem go to the airline’s website “contact us” page or reach them by text, social media, Skype or call their international number.  Also, premium credit cards often offer many air perks, assistance, insurance, lounge passes, global entry and more. Read more at www.tpg.com for best cards.

Flying business class?  Many but don’t realize fares range from 4K to 9K. We do have two good contacts for AFS that can get seats at nearly half cost by combining award miles….  ali@above9.travel  Ph. (855) 777-6336 or britney@business-class.com 305-390-4132 or see skylux.com or business-class.com.  Tell them Suzy sent you.

Group Air:  None. Sometimes we offer group air but find few people book sometimes find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end.  I know we will not meet the minimum required to make a group booking since this is a small group.

Important Air Dates –  Fly round-trip USA to Athens Greece June 27 to July 6. Land starts in Athens June 28.

Dozens of airlines fly to Athens – Delta, Air France, KLM, American, British Airways, Lufthansa, United, Emirates, and more. Use Google flights and put in their fare alerts when prices may drop. Nonstops are more expensive. Cheapest departure city is JFK. I love to break up long journeys with stopovers pre-or post trip to add another destination. Check if you have credit card miles to use on a domestic leg to your gateway.

Doing Own Air–  We like Google Flights.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it easy to book, but it is nearly impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you.  If you need help air with the economy seat,  our guy Delhi can help; email flights@diversedestination.com with your exact air dates, destination, passport name, and details with birthdate.

Doing Own Air & A/P Transfers–  Our trip officially begins on June 28 in Athens, Greece.  A private driver will meet you at Athens Airport and he will drive you to your hotel City Center Athens if you arrive on June 28, not earlier.  We will collect arrival and departure info later.  Sometimes we offer group air but find few people book sometimes find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end.

(With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-ups or drop-offs.  Unfortunately, now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each person’s air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay airport parking fees. Last year in groups only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.) Transfers are not expensive. First, google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. More details later.Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.)

Meet Up With Group- Again, we meet on June 28 at Athens Gate Hotel, Leof. Andrea Siggrou 10, Athina 117 41, Greece.  It’s a fabulous location within walking distance to all iconic sites like the Acropolis, Temple of Zeus, museums and wonderful nightlife and shopping in the famous Plaka.   We will organize welcome drinks on the evening of June 28th in the hotel lobby for you to meet your AFS Trip Leader and fellow AFS travelers. That evening you will be able to go out and enjoy dinner on your own in Athens.  More details later.

Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.   1 carry-on bag & 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale.   Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID inside and out of carry-on and checked bag.

Packing-   This trip is so easy. Simply pack summer clothing with a light jacket for nights and long flights.  Umbrella, hat, comfy sneakers, all hotels have hair dryers.

Dress Code – Our cruises are informal, and guests are dressed casually. We also advise you to bring comfortable footwear for sightseeing excursions, and a lightweight windbreaker/ jacket for possible cooler evenings. We also recommend that you try your best to pack lightly, although there is space to store your suitcases under the bed and additional wardrobe hanging space.

Light Summer Clothes – The temperature in Greece will be in the upper 80’s and 90’s, so during the day you will be wearing shorts, light dresses and swimwear. In the evenings, guys will be in shorts or perhaps jeans and ladies will be in light summer dresses or jeans and a top. Sandals or flat shoes are probably the best option during the day.

Comfortable non-Slip Shoes – For the excursions its important you wear comfortable non-slip shoes as you will be walking across various types of terrain during the week.

Sunglasses and a Hat – Don’t forget to pack a pair of sunglasses and a hat as you will need it both during the daily cruising and also for the excursions. Although it’s dry season, bring an umbrella. Also don’t forget your swim gear, wet shoes and a day pack.  Leave your Beach Towel at Home – There are towels provided on the boat, so save the space in your luggage and leave your towel at home.  Sunscreen is a Must – Please remember to pack sunscreen with a decent SPF level as it is almost the peak of the Summer when you travel to Greece.

Read Packing 101 in Heading Abroad with AFS

Cool travel hacks from our AFSers! Pack overnight outfit in your carry-on, liquid IV packets to hydrate, use packing cubes, downy wrinkle spray, Apple AirTags, extra nylon bag to check laundry home, tons of US dollars for extra tips, fully charged travel banks, less is more, get global entry.

Electric– US to Europe Plug Adaptors  – Please make sure you bring plug adaptors with you which are US to Euro type C . We suggest bringing 2 with you should you need to charge multiple devices.

Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out. All properties have hairdryers.  See https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com

Money Matters – Always bring some cash!  You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 cash should suffice.    Change currency on arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering.  Bring newer bills 2016 on as some countries won’t take old or slightly damaged bills.

Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted except at hotels.   Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.

Currency  Exchange Rate   $1=1.12 EU

Follow the link below to create a conversion cheat sheet

https://www.oanda.com/currency/travel-exchange-rates

Gratuities –  See ship suggestion below for the crew, guides and drives.  Tipping on own –  If service is stellar, feel free to give more directly.  All we tourists leave behind is our reputation. I carry a stash of US ones in an envelope to draw from as needed.

Communication– Internet is available onboard. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.  Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.  Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.

About the Elysium ship In Greece, we operate on board the Elysium, a boutique expedition vessel which is a 4 star ship accommodating up to 48 guests. The vessel was built in 1998 and refurbished in 2017 and 2021 and has an abundance of space for guests to relax and unwind.

About the Elysium – reception area is where you’ll be welcomed with a smile and find a number of amenities that you’re sure to enjoy throughout your cruise. It includes two check-in desks that make it quick and easy to board the ship and enjoy your refreshing welcome drink. This is also where you’ll find the coffee station that’s open 24/7, loaded with complimentary tea and coffee to keep you fueled for the journey. The ships boutique is located here as well, ideal for picking up gifts and other items, along with the library cabinet, filled with board games and books for your enjoyment.

As a ship dedicated to wellness, learning, and fun, the Elysium offers the Phos Wellness Deck where guests can enjoy basking in the sunshine on one of the comfy loungers among the fresh, salty sea air, soaking in the Jacuzzi while gazing up at the endless canopy of stars, morning Pilates sessions are also available. In the summer, evenings are wonderful here, lounging on the large slumber sofa under the full moon.  During the day, the Thalassa Main Deck & Bar is the place to be. Enjoy mingling with your fellow passengers by sipping a glass of wine, cocktail, or beer. This is also where alfresco meals are served with the bar offering an all-day menu with a variety of food and drink. Socializing here on cruise evenings is popular, with music setting a perfect mood for discussing the memorable events of the day.

The Elysium Crew – The Elysium has a crew of 22 staff on board which offers a 1:2 staff to guest ratio who offer a very warm and welcoming atmosphere on board the boat.

On Board Dining – On board the Elysium you will enjoy a full buffet breakfast daily which is served in the main restaurant, however you can take your plate and eat your breakfast in the outdoor Thalassa outdoor restaurant. Lunch on board is also served buffet style in the main restaurant with all guests choosing to eat in the outdoor Thalassa restaurant. The lunch consists of a wide selection of fresh salads along with Greek classics and other Mediterranean options.  On the day you board the boat, you will have a 3-course welcome dinner on board as you sail towards the first destination that evening. There are 2 more evening meals on board which is a Greek night evening with lots of dancing and also the Captain’s Dinner on the last night of the cruise. There is also lots of dancing at the Captain’s Dinner.  You will have access to water stations in which you can fill up your reusable water bottles you will be provided at the start of the trip. There is also complimentary tea and coffee available 24 hours a day.

 On shore Dining – Evening meals in Greece are either on board the Elysium where there are 3 meals or you will have an opportunity to dine in local restaurants on the islands you will be visiting. Dinners on shore will happen after the excursion, where you will be able to enjoy dinner in the evening and then return to the Elysium around 10pm before it departs for its next destination.

The Daily Schedule – In the Aegean Sea and with the Cyclades Islands, there can be considerable sailing distances between islands, in some cases 8-10 hour journeys. Because of this, we try and sail as much overnight as much as possible, so during the day guests can enjoy either morning or afternoon excursions and have time for at least one swim stop.

Each day, your Cruise Director will advise you of the itinerary planned for the following day. This will be communicated via a daily printed program which is put in your cabin the night before. The ship is likely to set sail around midnight or in the early morning, reaching the next destination the next morning. This leaves time for a daily swim stop to happen which usually lasts a couple of hours and then a gentle sail to reach the next island. On arrival at the island, we will have an excursion planned which will take place in the late afternoon. After the excursion, you will have the option to have dinner on shore, unless its an evening where dinner is on board the boat. Please note that in the unlikely event of adverse weather conditions, the captain may choose to alter the itinerary for the comfort and safety of passengers. The captain may also alter the sequence of stops and ports, due to high or low water levels, dock and lock schedules, and for other technical reasons.

 wim Stops- As the Elysium is classified as a cruise ship, swimming from the ship is only allowed in certain parts. Therefore, we offer swim stops from the ship in specific bays only. Alternatively, we organize swim stops from beautiful sandy beaches, where there is the ability to use sun loungers on the beach. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy both swimming from the boat and to enjoy the soft sand between your toes for beach swimming days. There are water toys such as noodles, fins, goggles and sea kayaks available to use at swim stops from the boat.

Please note that beach towels are provided for all swim stops, so its not necessary for you to bring you own towel with you.

Fitness & Wellness Activities – The Elysium offers guests the ability to do complimentary pilates classes several times during the cruise. There is also a spa on board which offers traditional Balinese and traditional massages on board. This is a paid service which can be booked on board the boat.

 Excursions – We have arranged a guided tour of the Acropolis for you in Athens the morning before you board the Elysium. This will be an early start to avoid the crowds which descend on the Acropolis later in the morning.

On the cruise you also have complimentary excursions included. These include:

Private walking and tasting tour of Mykonos Town

Naxos Island food and hidden villages tour

Wine tasting tour in Santorini and a visit to Oia

Milos Island tour with a visit to Sarakiniko Beach

Use of Tenders – During the cruise the Elysium will be docked in certain ports and the crew will use the boats tenders to get guests to shore in destinations where the boat is not able to dock. The tenders carry up to 10 people at a time and the Elysium has 2 tenders. If the Elysium is not able to dock, there will be a tender schedule provided by the Cruise Director with tenders running frequently from the boat to shore.

Santorini – In Santorini we are unable to dock as the island is often accommodating up to 3 or 4 big cruise ships. The island has a monopoly on docking and every boat needs to use the islands commercial tender boats to get guests ashore. Each journey costs thousands of Euros, therefore we will only use 1 or 2 tenders to get guests back to the boat when we are in Santorini. Its important that you ensure you are back on the last tender to the Elysium. You will also need to get the cable car back down the hill from the town of Fira to where the tender runs from. So its important to get the cable car down 20 minutes before the last tender. The cable car journey is only 3 minutes but there are often queues at the cable car station as cruise passengers go back to their ships.

Sea Sickness – If you suffer from sea or motion sickness, we suggest you bring anti-nausea medication or sea sickness bands which go around your wrists. The weather in June in Greece is usually warm with calm seas but this is not guaranteed, so we do advise you to bring necessary medication in case.

Laundry Facilities – There is laundry service available on the Elysium, which guests can pay to use with a typically same day or on a 24-hour turnaround.

Wi-Fi – There is free Wi-Fi on board the Elysium but please be mindful that signal can be patchy during periods where the boat is sailing between islands and signal strength is weaker.

Tipping – Its customary in Europe to tip for good service we provided. You will be provided 2 envelopes per traveler in your cabin at the end of the cruise to show your appreciation to the Cruise Director and the Crew. Here are our tipping suggestions, which are payable in cash:

The Cruise Director: $7 – $9 per traveler, per day.

The Crew: $15 – $20 per traveler, per day.

Paying your Bar Bill – During the cruise you will be able to charge any drinks consumed to your cabin. On the last day of the cruise, your bar bill can be paid by VISA or MasterCard at the bar.

Airport Departure Transfers – Our Cruise Director will coordinate your departure to either Athens Airport or to your hotel in Athens (if you are staying on). He will group those of you on similar flights so you go to the airport together.

Very Important: The Elysium will not get into the port until 6am at the earliest on the Saturday morning, so please do not plan any onward flights before 9:30am on July 6th.

Shopping – shopping in the Greek islands is a delightful experience that offers a unique blend of traditional and modern treasures. From the charming local markets to upscale boutiques, there is something for everyone. The islands are known for their exquisite handmade crafts including ceramics, jewelry, and textiles. Strolling through the narrow streets, you’ll find an array of colorful shops filled with vibrant souvenirs, local delicacies, and fashionable clothing. The pleasure of shopping the Greek island lies not only in the variety of products but also in the warm hospitality of locals. They are always ready to share stories and recommendations, making the shopping experience even more enjoyable. What are you looking for a special Momento or simple indulging in retail therapy, shopping in Greek Islands is sure to wow you.  Past AFSers bought Greek key gold jewelry. Bargain everything

Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination.  If you add another country, we often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them what do you consider the cost of tours, transport, hotels, etc.  Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has no responsibility for the quality of your trip.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit.  (We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Emergency Contact – AFS phone or text 770-432-8225, or email us at https://www.afstravelers.com/contact-us/    More contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 to 3 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own.

Cancellation Penalty –  At booking, we sent you our terms and conditions. Click here for our Terms & Conditions  and here for for Cancellation refund policy   In part it states “a written request for cancellation through email or text with your name and cancellation specifics to 770-432-8225. Please be aware that when a refund is due, a $155 administrative fee will be charged for each cancellation. Any cancellation after November 28, 2023 there are no there are no refunds for any cancellation after November 28, 2023 refunds.

Travel Insurance– While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Best source for all is www.insuremytrip.com.

Click here to Purchase Travel Insurance online

Travel Psychology 101  – Prepare for your departure joyfully with no contempt before investigation upon arrival. Please understand that with travel, things are not like at home and changes may occur. Great trips work best for those with an open mind, flexible attitude and adventuresome spirit.  If changes occur, embrace them with serendipity. Who knows?… The unexpected may prove to be a better experience.  Adapt and go with the flow with a laid-back attitude.  Be spontaneous. Be tolerant of foreign cultures in respecting their centuries of traditions. Embrace the differences. Be curious, not shy. Smile – locals will sense your energy of kindness and kindness always begets kindness.  Our common goal is to experience different cultures, make new friends, get great photos, have large fun, and return home safely with memories worthy of recollection.

The best spirit of an Explorer requires the openness of a child – Suzy

“When traveling, remember that a foreign country isn’t designed to make you comfortable.  It’s designed to make its own people comfortable.” – Clinton Fadiman

Please note that AFS is non-partisan – With our homogeneous groups, we all want to focus on the common denominator – our love of travel.  In today’s divisive world, we suggest members not discuss politics and if you must, please practice my rule of TOK:  Tolerance, Open-mindedness and Kindness.