The writer was hosted.
Are you dreaming of a luxury cruise in the Greek Islands? Do you want to dip your toes into the deep blue waters of the Aegean or feel the warm Mediterranean breeze in your face as you sail into an island harbor ringed by whitewashed houses?
The Greek Islands are a very popular cruising destination and there is an overwhelming option of choices. Do you choose a big ship because of all the wonderful amenities or a smaller luxury sailing yacht for its quieter ambiance? On my recent cruise with Running On Waves, I think I had the best of both worlds.
For me, the choice was easy. I look for unique travel experiences, and there is no other ship in the region like the luxury yacht, Running On Waves.
Sailing in Greece with Running on Waves
Running On Waves is a one-of-a-kind barquentine sailing ship experience that you will not find anywhere else in the Greek Islands. A barquentine is a specific category of tall ship, with the most famous one being Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ship Endurance which was crushed by ice in the Antarctic seas in 1917.
There is no need for concern about crushing ice on a luxury Greek Island cruise in the Aegean however. Running on Waves is a completely modern ship. She was built in 2011 and has all the current technological advantages expected in a cruise ship today, but with her sails fully unfurled and blowing in the wind, she is the classic romantic image of days gone by.
At 210 feet in length, this beautiful tall ship strikes a perfect balance between being small enough to offer an intimate setting, yet large enough to provide the luxury sailing experience that many cruisers are looking for.
Read More: Sail Away on a Maine Windjammer Cruise
An intimate and personal cruising experience
My cruise had 28 passengers representing 10 nationalities that were served by 20 crew members. Half the crew ran the ship while the other half were on the “hotel” side that managed and took care of passengers’ needs.
On my cruise, the front-facing staff were expertly led by Hotel Director Robert and Cruise Director Claudia. Despite the international clientele, they succeeded in providing a personalized experience to each guest.
The staff truly cared about making this cruise the best possible experience for each person on board and it was this authentic and caring interaction that raised the bar from an excellent cruise to an exceptionally memorable one.
Running on Waves Charters
Running On Waves offers yacht charter cruises as well as unique itineraries throughout the Greek Islands and other locations in the Mediterranean. With each sailing, they try to strike a balance between the famous “must-see” destinations like the Cyclades and some lesser visited spots.
For their charter trips, Running On Waves offers up the whole Mediterranean for exploration, not just the Greek Islands. Turkey, the Ionian Islands, and Cyprus are just a few of the locations they have sailed to in Europe. They have also put together itineraries that include Lebanon, Israel, and Egypt.
My scheduled cruise with Running on Waves
I took one of their scheduled cruises which started with embarkation at the port of Piraeus in Athens. My sailing itinerary included stops at the iconic islands of Mykonos and Santorini, as well as the islands of Syros, Delos, Patmos, Milos, and Kos, which I enjoyed exploring even more because they were less crowded.
Syros had a laid-back pedestrian-friendly town with a lovely old church on the hilltop overlooking the harbor as well as some great harborside restaurants. As a history buff, I especially enjoyed exploring the many ancient historic sites on Kos on my own, all of which were an easy walk from the pier.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Running On Waves usually departs from the Piraeus port. It’s a 20-minute drive from the Acropolis area of Athens and a 40-minute drive from the Athens International Airport.
Another advantage of being on a cruise with only a few passengers was the ability to adapt the activities to the guest’s interest. Cruise Director Claudia quickly set up private guided tours for our group at a few of our island stops once she identified that there was an interest.
On the island of Patmos, we had a small group tour to visit the UNESCO-listed Monastery of St. John the Theologian and the Cave of the Apocalypse. On Milos, our tour took us to see where the famous Venus de Milo sculpture was found, to see the famous white cliffs at Sarakiniko Beach, and then to another quiet secluded beach where we had some swim time.
The island of Delos is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site and one of the most important archeological destinations in Greece. Because our boat was small, we docked near the island early in the morning and were touring the famous site before the majority of the day trippers arrived.
Theme cruises are also available
For those looking for specific activities while on holiday, Running On Waves also offers themed cruises. There are yoga-themed cruises that will help you with your wellness goals. For golfers, they offer cruises that allow you to try your game on a variety of courses throughout the island or the mainland.
Other thematic cruises are also possible, like diving for those who want to explore Greece’s underwater beauty. Though at every stop, there was time for swimming off the back of the boat if you so chose. The ship also offers plenty of water sports options like snorkeling or you could wakeboard, water ski, or windsurf. Kayaks were also available.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Because this is a smaller ship, the ship’s movement is felt a lot more readily than on a big cruise ship, especially if the seas get a little rough. I don’t get seasick, so this did not bother me. For those that are prone to seasickness, come prepared with appropriate medication.
What’s Onboard Running On Waves
For a small ship, the accommodations were quite comfortable. The cabin choices on Running On Waves vary from spacious deluxe double cabins with a double bed on the Main Deck, to more basic but cozy twin cabins on the Tween Deck.
All cabins include bathrooms with showers, a mini fridge, satellite TV, air conditioning, or heat as needed, and portholes or windows – no dark decor or inside cabins here. I was also pleased to have free wifi.
The ship also has plenty of outdoor spaces for relaxation including lounge chairs and a deck jacuzzi hot tub on the top Sun Deck. There is also an outdoor bar that caters to drinks any time of the day. For those not wanting to be in the sun all day, there were also plenty of comfy options in the shade where you could sit and read a book or just let the gentle rocking of the boat lull you into an afternoon snooze.
SheBuysTravel Tip: There are steep stairs on the boat going from the main deck down to the tween deck and from the main deck up to the sun deck. There is no elevator so guests need to be comfortable going up and down the stairs while the ship is moving.
A wonderful onboard food experience
Food is an important part of any cruise, and here, Running On Waves did not disappoint either. There were plenty of choices at each meal for all international tastes which used lots of fresh and local ingredients.
I loved the freshly squeezed orange juice each morning along with the freshly baked, crispy croissants. The espresso machine was a work of art, both aesthetically and for the cappuccino it produced for me whenever I desired it.
Lunches and dinners always had plenty of salad choices as well as fresh fruit along with the meat and seafood entrées. And each meal’s dessert was always divine. My favorite choice for dinners though was the special pasta dish that Hotel Director Robert prepared each night. With local ingredients, he composed a different combination every evening that was a delight to the taste buds.
SheBuysTravel Tip: The cruise fare does not include tips for the staff. On the last day of the cruise, I gave a tip of around 10% of the cruise fare.
The Greek Islands are a special destination, and cruising on such a beautiful sailing vessel to see them for the first time was a dream come true for me. But what made this cruise even more special was being on a ship where for a week, everyone knew my name, and I was welcomed like family, and treated like an honored guest.