519 days. 12456 hours. Over 17 long months. That’s how much time has passed since we last explored the world with you. Over that time, we’ve kept busy, reminisced, and waited ever so patiently for the day to arrive when we would once again set sail.
We’re happy to say the time has come, and our return to service is off to a great start! We’ve just returned from our first sailing of 2021, a Greece Country Intensive voyage that we’ve missed all too much. While we had a few new protocols to follow for everyone’s health and safety, the one thing that didn’t change was our commitment to providing you the same Azamara experience you know and love. And now, we want to share with you just how amazing it was.
Day 1 — Come Sail Away
The day everyone had been waiting for did not disappoint. Azamara Quest was docked in Piraeus and ready to set sail. Before boarding, guests had a few new healthy and safety protocols to go through. At the terminal, staff checked all necessary boarding documents and performed a rapid antigen test. Once cleared, guests were welcomed onboard and escorted to their rooms before attending a virtual muster in small, socially distanced groups.
"I am a physician and to be honest I had no reservations at all with the protocols you had developed. To watch them in action was simply beautiful to me. Frankly I felt safer health wise on board than I do in my local community." - Ron
When all guests were checked in and settled, the excitement really started to sink in! Everyone gathered on the deck for our Sail Away Party and a welcome speech by Captain Johannes and our President, Carol Cabezas. There was a toast for smooth sailing, and with that, The Azamara Quest set sail from Piraeus, Greece, to Cyprus!
Day 2 — So Much to Sea
On the journey to Cyprus, there were plenty of ways to enjoy the day at sea. Some guests enjoyed the day lounging by the pool, listening to live music, and sipping on cocktails, while others chose to spend their time feeling rejuvenated at the spa. There were also plenty of dining options to choose from. While only our Prime C signature dining restaurant was open due to health and safety protocols, both Prime C and Aqualina menus were available to order from. After being wined and dined, guests headed to the Cabaret Lounge to watch Epics, where our very own Cruise Director Amanda Poulson performed her favorite Broadway songs.
Day 3 — Limassol, Cyprus
The first port of call on this journey was the beautiful city of Limassol in Cyprus. Famous for its wines and cognacs, Limassol is a city many of our guests were excited to visit. One of our favorite shoreside excursions is a 4x4 adventure that takes guests for a ride throughout the Cypriot countryside. Everyone who joined this tour got to cross the Kouris river on their way to the small village of Lofou. This quaint countryside town was founded by King James I and is renowned for its gorgeous traditional architecture, as well as its many winding, cobbled streets. Guests enjoyed exploring the streets and seeing how the locals lived as they sat in picturesque cafes sipping traditional frappes.
The next stop was the Village of Mandria for a visit to a local winery. The group enjoyed a cultural lesson on the local wine and, of course, got to sample some regional favorites before returning to the ship.
Safe to say this first port call was a major success!
Day 4 — Rhodes and a Celebration to Remember
The second port call was the ancient city of Rhodes. Before the groups set off exploring, they ventured outside the city center to visit the small village of Lindos.
Lindos is a small, charming town, with streets lined with merchants selling all kinds of hand-crafted local goods — from ceramics to leather bags to Nazar amulets. From here, guests toured the Bonis Ceramics Factory for an in-depth lesson into the world of Lindos’ pottery and learned everything that sets it apart culturally.
After an interesting lesson in ceramics (and buying a couple souvenirs), the next stop was the Palace of the Grand Master of the Knights of Rhodes. The castle is located at the highest point of the medieval city. Not only that, it’s also believed that this was the location of the Colossus of Rhodes!
"We’ve just completed a 7 day Greek Islands cruise on Quest. Our first time with Azamara, The whole experience was brilliant! A big shout-out to the crew who helped make so many memories!" - Paul
The cherry on top of this day spent exploring Rhodes happened on board! Azamara Quest played host to the first-ever Destination Celebration — a complimentary nighttime event specially formulated to bring culture and heritage to life onboard!
Duo Violins delivered an amazing performance for guests and crew alike — bringing an authentic Greek flavor to cap off a wonderful day of exploration.
Day 5 — Crete
Day five brought us to Crete, the largest and southernmost island in Greece, for a memorable day of history and cultural immersion.
Docked in Heraklion, the principal port of Crete, guests strolled through the pedestrian-only streets of the Old Town, which are lined with authentic cafes and quaint shops. They had the chance to mingle with locals around the cafes of the Morosini Fountain in Lion Square.
A short walk from the fountain is the Central Market, where plenty of authentic local products are sold. Here, locals sell spices, seasonal fruits, olives, wine, and, of course, more souvenirs for friends and family back home.
A visit to the Palace of Knossos, located just outside of Crete, followed. This palace was the ceremonial and political center of the Minoan Civilization during the Bronze Age. Its stunning architecture proved popular, with guests snapping stunning photos.
After an adventure-filled day, guests settled in at a local taverna for a well-deserved feast of traditional mezes. Here, they quickly learned it’s more than the architecture, history, and stunning beaches that make Crete a memorable destination. It’s also the hospitality and generosity of its people.
After lunch (and a variety of delicious Greek desserts), dancers performed traditional Greek dances to live music, much to everyone’s delight. Safe to say that after this dining experience, every guest felt like family in Crete!
Day 6 — Santorini
Next, the Azamara Quest set sail to one of the most well-known Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea – the ever-magical Santorini. Upon arrival, it was officially within 48 hours of the voyage’s conclusion, so before debarking for a full day of activities, guests were asked to stop at the Cabaret Lounge for a rapid antigen test. The medical staff onboard was extremely efficient and the entire process took less than 15 minutes. With this now taken care of, they were ready to head out onto the island. Our first stop was Pyrgros, a short drive from the port. Pyrgos is a small village built atop a hill in the center of Santorini, at the highest point on the island. Here, the group visited the monastery of Prophet Elias, which was built in 1711. They also perused many small shops and wandered around the charming pathways of the village.
Next, guests made their wait to Oia, one of the most popular cities on the island —widely recognized by its iconic blue-domed white buildings. Several hours were spent wandering its cobblestone alleys and snapping countless pictures. It was so good to be back!
The final stop in Santorini was the capital city, Fira. Bustling and vibrant, Fira is full of small shops and beautiful restaurants. Guests closed out the day in this iconic destination by staying late to catch one of the famous Santorini sunsets (good thing this was a late-night stay!). The evening in Santorini was a highlight for many — especially when it came time to be mesmerized by the magic of the sunset.!
Day 7 – Mykonos
This week-long voyage certainly sailed by, but it saved a favorite destinations for last— Mykonos! Well-known for its vibrant nightlife, this island has earned its reputation as a must-visit Greek island.
The journey through Mykonos began in Fanari, where guests visited the Armenistis Lighthouse. This iconic landmark was built in 1981 as an urgent necessity after a British steamship sank off the island’s north coast.
Next, they took a scenic drive to Agios Lazaros to explore a local cheese-making factory. Here, guests met a cheesemaker named Yiorgos, who shared that he uses the same methods his grandmother used did when she made cheese over 50 years ago! The cheeses crafted in the factory are all made with enzymes manufactured in-house, and no preservatives. While here, guests sampled rafioli, a special cheese pie Yigoros’ grandmother used to make for him as a little boy. It was such a special moment to share connections like these with locals once again.
After learning about and sampling plenty of delicious cheese, it was off to Mykonos Town, where the famous and photo-worthy windmills were on full display — much to everyone’s delight!
Shortly thereafter, guests made their way to Little Venice. In the 13th century, Mykonos was an essential stop on Venetian trade routes, and this town was built with Venice as the inspiration behind many of the buildings. A highlight of our visit to Little Venice was definitely Paraportiani Church. This unmistakable church is made up of five chapels built at various times across different centuries.
From here, guests stopped in at a mosaic shop, where the owner makes and sells her own mosaics. She walked us through her process and explained the historical significance of art in Greece’s history.
A Wonderful Return to the Places We Love
There’s an old adage that says, “You’ll want to visit Greece for the history, but you’ll want to stay for the people.” After our week here, we couldn’t agree more. It was wonderful to once again explore some of our favorite destinations in the world with guests.
"We just got back from your Greek cruise — was a truly magical experience." - Nancy
We are endlessly grateful to all our guests and crew for joining us on our return to sail aboard the Azamara Quest as we traveled around Greece. We couldn’t have done it without the cooperation of every guest, the hospitality of our crew, and the people of Greece. And now that we’re back on the water, we cannot wait to continue moving #ForeverForward with you.
When you travel with us, our crew will go above and beyond to keep you informed. If circumstances, guidelines, and local policies change, we’ll ensure you have all the information you need to Explore Well at Sea.
Planning on joining us on our return to sea? Check out this helpful look at the protocols we’ve implemented to make your experience an unforgettable one.