Arrive in Athens
Tour begins 6:00 p.m., Hotel Grande Bretagne, Athens, Greece. A transfer is included from Athens International Airport to Hotel Grande Bretagne. Meet fellow travelers at the welcome cocktail reception and dinner.
The Acropolis & the Acropolis Museum in Athens
In the quiet early morning, before the crowds, visit the Acropolis of Athens - the rock above the city on which four of the greatest masterpieces of classical Greek art and architecture sit - the Parthenon, the Propylaea, the Erechtheum, and the Temple of Athena Nike. Follow your visit to this amazing site with a guided tour of the Acropolis Museum in Athens, which opened to the public in 2009. Designed to house every artifact found on the Acropolis archaeological site, this state-of-the-art museum occupies the archaeological site of Makrygianni; its collection comprises nearly 4,000 objects, exhibited over an area of 14,000 square meters. Your afternoon is free to explore as you please; this cosmopolitan city artfully blends history with daily life along a unique promenade that is lined on one side by classic Greek antiquities and modern-day cafés, with renovated mansions and art galleries on the other!
Amazing antiquities in Mycenae & Epidaurus
Take an excursion from Athens today to Mycenae, a fortified citadel first settled in 3,000 BC. Once the stronghold of the powerful Mycenaeans, it's now a UNESCO World Heritage Site that's home to a noted archaeological site where on a walking tour you'll see the imposing Lion's Gate, and the tomb of Agamemnon, the leader of the Greeks against the Trojans. After lunch at a local winery, continue on to Epidaurus to discover its ancient ruins. See the well-preserved theatre of Epidaurus, built in the 4th century BC and known for its remarkable acoustics, which enable the voice of someone speaking from the stage to easily reach some 15,000 spectators; it is still used for performances today. Return to Athens for the evening; have dinner on your own tonight.
National Archaeological Museum and your Greek Island cruise begins
Begin your day with a guided tour through one of the world's best collections of ancient Greek artifacts at the National Archaeological Museum of Athens. Founded at the end of the 19th century to house and protect antiquities from all over Greece, it is the largest archaeological museum in the country, and one of the most important museums in the world devoted to ancient Greek art. After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll board Wind Star at Piraeus for the start of your cruise, setting sail for Mykonos.
The islands of Mykonos & Delos
Your port-of-call today is the glamorous Greek island of Mykonos, weather permitting. Take a boat to the tiny island of Delos, the mythological birthplace of Apollo and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This religious pilgrimage destination features sacred temples, sanctuaries, theaters, and shrines to the gods, and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. Spend the afternoon in Mykonos, known for leather goods and jewelry.
The spectacular island of Santorini
Rise early to observe the ship's arrival at the island of Santorini. Travel ashore by motor launch for an island tour that takes you to Oia and up to Fira, Santorini's capital city. Iconic images of Fira's blue-domed buildings combine with stunning views of the port to offer picture-perfect memories of this beautiful island; see them by cable car, donkey or on foot as you make your way back down to Athinios Port. The ship offers tender service until it sets sail, giving you the opportunity to explore at leisure as your cruise continues.
Discover the treasures of Rhodes
Tauck's Greek Island cruise arrives at the island of Rhodes this morning, which basks in sunshine for more than 300 days a year. Join us for a guided tour of Rhodes' medieval Old Town - there are about 200 lanes in this Hellenistic city that lead to columned ruins, temples and cobblestone streets dating back to the second century. Visit the Palace of the Grand Masters; first built by the Knights of Rhodes, this palace was destroyed in the mid-1800s and reconstructed in the 1930s in a medieval style. Enjoy some free time to explore on your own this afternoon, then attend a special dinner in ancient Rhodes, complete with a performance in Greek folkloric traditions. Set sail for Turkey tonight.
Turkish coast wonders in Bodrum
Chart a course to Bodrum, Turkey, where whitewashed stucco houses dressed in bougainvillea line the hillsides and twin harbors welcome seafaring travelers. Visit St. Peter's Castle on an informative guided tour, including the reconstructed shipwrecks of its Museum of Underwater Archaeology. See the remains of the ancient city of Halicarnassus, including the ruins of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World - the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, tomb of King Mausolus of Caria, completed in 350 BC. Spend the afternoon as you wish in town or, weather permitting, head back to your ship for a swim in the crystal-clear sea right off the ship's platform - just one of the many advantages of small ship cruising. Tonight's shipboard entertainment includes belly dancing!
From Kusadasi, a day exploring Ephesus
Cast anchor in Kusadasi for an excursion to Ephesus, revealing important vestiges of an ancient Roman civilization; in its heyday, marble lined the streets, fountains flowed, and an eternal flame burned upon a sacred altar. Take a walking tour of the ancient city, seeing the Odeon, Temple of Hadrian, Terrace Houses, Trajan's Fountain, the Arcadian Way and the two-tiered Library of Celsus. Have lunch (and a carpet demonstration) in a village outside of Kusadasi before setting sail late today.
A Full Day of Cruising
Today is a day of inspiration as your cruise continues with a full day's sail. During a relaxing day at sea, you are free to experience the amenities and activities aboard Wind Star. Perhaps you will challenge a shipmate to a board game on deck, take a refreshing swim in the pool, get in a workout in the fitness center, catch up with your reading in the library, or relax in the hot tub... it's all up to you!
Topkapi Palace & the sights of Istanbul
Disembark in the ancient city of Istanbul, the center of Turkish history and culture, for a three-night stay. Begin the day with a visit to exotic Topkapi Palace, residence of the sultans and the seat of power for the Ottoman Empire for 400 years; during your tour, you'll see the legendary "Harem," along with religious relics and other priceless treasures within the palace's museums. You'll also visit the colorful Spice Bazaar and Sehzade Kulliyesi, an ornate 16th-century Ottoman imperial mosque complex, before settling in at the InterContinental Istanbul for three nights in a room overlooking the Bosphorus.
Istanbul's Hagia Sophia & a Bosphorus cruise
Your guided sightseeing in amazing Istanbul continues with a visit to the vast underground Basilica Cistern and one of the world's true architectural gems - beautiful Hagia Sophia, a Byzantine masterpiece; first constructed in 537 AD and destroyed, rebuilt and modified throughout the centuries, this cathedral reigned for almost 1,000 years as the largest Christian church in the world, then became a mosque, and is now a Turkish national museum. Tauck treats you to an afternoon cruise along the Bosphorus before time at leisure to explore the sights on your own.
The Blue Mosque & Istanbul's Covered Bazaar
This morning in Istanbul you'll visit the Blue Mosque, named for the thousands of blue tiles that adorn its interior, and the Hippodrome, in the center of the city when it was called Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine empire. Stroll through some of the 4,000 shops in the vast Grand (Covered) Bazaar, a kaleidoscope of colorful Turkish traditions dating back to the 15th century, and spend time this afternoon exploring as you wish. Join us for a farewell reception and dinner tonight.
Tour ends in Istanbul. Fly home anytime. A transfer is included from the InterContinental Istanbul to Ataturk Airport. Allow a minimum of three hours before the departure of your flight.