The Cruise

The Costa Victoria in Rhodes

The Costa Victoria in Rhodes

Click on any of the small images below to see a larger version!

From April 19 through April 26, 2004, we went on a Mediterranean cruise to the Greek islands. Eric was on vacation and therefore able to join us; sadly, David was still at school in Raleigh and missed the trip. The whole thing started with an early flight to Venice [1] on Monday, April 19. Because we got there in the morning and our ship, the Costa Victoria, did not sail until evening, we had plenty of time to walk around the city. Of course, this included an obligatory pigeon-feeding session in the Piazza San Marco [2]. When we left Venice that evening, we had a wonderful view of the Doge Palace and the Campanile from the upper deck of our ship [3].

Venice Canal Eric and Pigeon Piazza San Marco

Venice Canal

Feeding Pigeons

Piazza San Marco

Our first port of call was Bari [4] in Southern Italy. We decided to stay on board for this one. The next day, however, our port of call was Katakolon in Greece, and there we participated in the excursion. Katakolon is a small village that happens to feature the harbor closest to Olympia, the site of the original Olympic games, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) away. We visited the Olympia museum [5] and wandered around the site [6] with our tour guide. We saw the first Olympic stadium ever [7] and Eric took our picture [8] among the ruins [9].

Bari Olympia Museum Olympia

Bari

Olympia Museum

Olympia

Olympic Stadium Vicki and Daniel Fallen Columns

Olympic Stadium

Vicki and Daniel

Fallen Columns

Later on that afternoon, we took advantage of the constantly improving weather to get some sun on the ship's upper deck [10] and by the outdoor pool [11]. We also made good use of the Sea Promenade [12]. The ship was really great! In the center was the main lobby on deck 5; from there, four glass elevators ran up to deck 12 from where one had a nice view onto the lobby [13] below. Another beautiful spot was the three-story Concorde Lounge [14] where our cruise briefings took place. Of course, we could always retire to the quiet of our mini-suite [15] that was truly comfortable and, with its four enormous floor to ceiling windows, a pleasure to be in.

Costa Victoria View The Pool Deck Sea Promenade

Costa Victoria View

The Pool Deck

Sea Promenade

Central Lobby Concorde Lounge Our Mini-Suite

Central Lobby

Concorde Lounge

Our Mini-Suite

The following morning, the Costa Victoria entered the bay of Santorini, actually the sea-filled crater of a huge, ancient volcano. We were brought ashore by tender boats, and a bus took us to the crater's rim where all the villages are located. We first visited Oia (pronounced E-Ah), a picturesque village [16] at the north end of Santorini. Oia, with its church [17] and typical houses [18] is the Greece of postcards. There seems to be a worthwhile subject around every corner [19]. We next moved to Fira, the capital, and from there we enjoyed a donkey ride [20] to the sea shore. The donkey ride has got to be one of the highlights of the trip, even though Eric's donkey [21] was not the most cooperative animal we have ever encountered. What fun, though!

The Village of Oia Church in Oia Oia Scene

The Village of Oia

Church in Oia

Oia Scene

Oia Scene Donkey Ride Donkey Ride

Oia Scene

Donkey Ride

Donkey Ride

That same day, we sailed for Mykonos [22] where we arrived late afternoon. We did have some time to enjoy Mykonos in the evening sun [23], see the typical blue and white houses [24], and walk the many narrow streets [25]. Even the poppies [26] seemed more red in Mykonos, but what the place is famous for is sunsets, and we had the opportunity to witness a gorgeous one [27] before heading back to the ship.

Mykonos View Mykonos View Mykonos Scene

Mykonos View

Mykonos View

Mykonos Scene

Mykonos Street Mykonos Poppies Sunset in Mykonos

Mykonos Street

Mykonos Poppies

Sunset in Mykonos

The next morning, we arrived in Rhodes [28]. We did not take an excursion there but decided to explore the city on our own [29]. As soon as one gets off the main tourist streets, one finds quiet and residential areas [30] that are quite colorful, and one gets the feeling that this is a place not only for tourists to visit, but for people to live. The main parts are more touristy [31], and the clock in the tower [32] is actually a small electric one; the space for the huge original movement is still in evidence, but there is no sign of cogs nor wheels. We spent all day walking along Rhodes and also strolled along its harbor [33].

Arrival in Rhodes Rhodes Scene Rhodes Scene

Arrival in Rhodes

Rhodes Scene

Rhodes Scene

Rhodes Scene Clock Tower in Rhodes Rhodes Harbor

Rhodes Scene

Clock Tower in Rhodes

Rhodes Harbor

The following day, Saturday, April 24, was spent at sea en route to Dubrovnik in Croatia. We arrived Sunday morning, and our tour first took us to a road high above the sea from where we had a wonderful view [34] of the old city. We then visited the old town itself and were amazed how empty the main street [35] was; a couple of hours later that had changed dramatically! We took the two and a half kilometer (about one and a half mile) walk on the perfectly preserved ring wall that still surrounds the old town. From above, one can admire the beautiful surroundings [36]. The famous rooftops [37] of Dubrovnik have become more vibrant in color since the city was bombed in 1991 and 1992 during the war in what used to be Yugoslavia. Most of the damaged roofs have been repaired with new tiles, and it will take a long time for the more muted colors of the past [38] to once again become prevalent. In one of the towers along the ring wall, we spotted a kitten [39]; she will represent the many felines photographed during this vacation since she is the cutest by far!

Dubrovnik Main Street Dubrovnik Scene

Dubrovnik

Main Street

Dubrovnik Scene

The Famous Rooftops Old and New Tiles Dubrovnik Native

The Famous Rooftops

Old and New Tiles

Dubrovnik Native

Then it was time to go back on board and start packing, for the next morning we were back in Venice [40], and the cruise had come to an end. Since our flight was not until the middle of the afternoon, we had time to once again go to town and take in the typical tourist vistas, such as the gondolas [41] and San Marco [42]. We even got a glimpse of what 'road work' [43] is like in Venice! One last look at the Canale Grande [44], one last bag of corn for the pigeons [45], and it was time to go home.

Back in Venice Gondola San Marco Detail

Back in Venice

Gondola

San Marco Detail

Venetian "Roadwork" Canale Grande ...and always pigeons

Venetian "Roadwork"

Canale Grande

...and always pigeons

This was a fabulous vacation, and one of the best we have ever taken. The fact that every destination was new to us, that we were pampered by the wonderful Costa staff, and the variety of the different activities all contributed to this wonderful experience. We will definitely do this again some day. This web page can, of course, only provide the shortest of glimpses into what such as cruise is like. Our only recommendation to you, the reader, is: take a Mediterranean cruise! There are many companies who organize them, but our only experience is with Costa. We can recommend them without hesitation.




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