I decided that day one would be spent exploring the ship, so we started with lunch at The Patio, there were quite a few options to choose from, such as an assortment of fresh salads, wraps and local Greek dishes. Service was very prompt and attentive, which we found very impressive. As we were leisurely pottering around the vessel, we discovered the swimming pool along with two jacuzzis at the back of the ship on deck five. It seemed the perfect spot to relax and enjoy the sunshine and was quite serene with very few people. As they say time flies when you are having fun and as we left Rhodes, still in the jacuzzi, with a glass of champagne in hand, the turquoise blue water stretched as far as the eye could see. It was natural beauty at its best! Dinner was in the main dining room, The Restaurant. Although the ship was sailing at full capacity, The Restaurant did not appear chaotic. A menu of gourmet dishes was on offer and the only dilemma was what to choose!
The following morning we arrived in stunning Santorini. Located on the southern side of the Aegean Sea, Santorini is among one of the most popular Greek Islands. Famous for picturesque villages, the striking hues of blue domes, iconic architecture and breath-taking views of the ocean. We disembarked the ship by tender and arrived in the mainland of Thira. There are several options for getting around, the most popular and easiest was the cable car, which is approximately 3 minutes each way and costs 6 euros per trip or you can take the stairs if you are fit and able to ascend 587 steps or the donkeys, which was the least popular choice. We opted for the cable car.
Santorini has so much to offer! An abundance of charming shops is found in Fira and Oia, the two most popular villages on the island. They consist of clothes, shoes, books, a lot of souvenirs and my favourite handmade artisan Greek jewellery. You will also find a selection of local produce, such as wine, cherry tomatoes, fava beans and olives. There are also historic sites to see, such as the archaeological site of Akrotiri, Ancient Thera, and a wine museum. Or, you can just simply enjoy one of the Islands beaches, which is mostly composed of volcanic (black) sand and pebbles. Perhaps not the idyllic golden sandy beaches that are found elsewhere in Greece, but is quite unique in it's own way.
Our next Port of call was Spetses and the tender to the mainland, was less than 10 minutes, one of the smaller Greek islands and considered one of the most beautiful Islands of the Saronic Gulf and home to approximately 6,000 people according to our local guide, George. Greek holiday makers can access the island from Athens, which is about 2 hours away on the ferry. We started our walking tour at the main square and continued through the cobbled streets, admiring their iconic traditional stone mansions and unique architecture. As we walked past The Poseidonion Hotel, we could see why our tour guide was so excited to show us the most luxurious hotel on the island. Our tour ended at a local restaurant, where we were invited to try some local delicacies along with their famous ouzo. The shops are open a bit later over the weekends and it seemed like it was timed nicely, as it was time to indulge in a spot of shopping. I simply could not get enough of the beautiful handmade jewellery. The shop attendant was ever so friendly, it felt like we had known each other for years! He later revealed that the latest James Bond film was filmed in Spetses too!
As we left Spetses, there was such a feeling of satisfaction and we enjoyed the island so very much. Our final evening on board was certainly one to remember, a special event was arranged for guests around the main pool deck. We were spoilt with delicious canapes, champagne or a drink of your choice, followed by a live band. The Cruise Director mentioned there was a surprise to be revealed in due course and we eagerly waited in anticipation as the crew from all areas of the ship gathered on the top deck. This allowed us to show our appreciation and thanked the crew for such a wonderful stay on board Seabourn Encore. The staff on board made us feel so welcome and they even referred to us by our names! The perfect blend of luxury and elegance, you will not be disappointed!