So sorry all that the Live From posts have been slow in
coming. Between preparing for sister
brand Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas opening for sales yesterday, and a
very busy itinerary, it’s been difficult to keep up. But let me cover several ports very quickly,
with lots of pictures, then we can be all caught up!
Going to back track a bit to before the first visit to
Mykonos. I still owe you some pictures
from Paphos, Cypress. Wrote to you about
the lovely internet café there, but didn’t talk much about the cute little port
There’s a lot of typical, regional history in Paphos
(Fortresses, churches, etc.), but this is mostly a resort town. The harbor area is guarded over by this
little pillbox fortress, and the crescent-moon harbor is rimmed by cafes
offering absolutely fresh seafood and other regional specialties. Darling town, great for strolling, and
exploring further inland if time permits (and one is not desperately trying to
upload videos of the first AzaMazing evening!).
Would happily return, though it’s not a “highlight” type of port which
one books a particular cruise solely to see.
However, the next two ports we visited do qualify as ones which belong
on your “to do” cruise list.
was Rhodes. This amazing island is
dominated by the Knights of St. John’s fortress on water’s edge in Rhodes
Town. One can very happily spend the
entire day wandering these streets filled with shops, cafes, courtyard gardens
and historical buildings and museums.
Likely you’d leave feeling you hadn’t seen it all, even in a full
day. This walled town, ringed by cool,
shaded gardens with plenty of trees and grass, really envelopes you into a
feeling of the time. The many entrance
gates give you a different experience, whether entering via one of the sea
gates or over the inland moat, but all provide a sense of significance, and you
realize this city was not one to be taken lightly when in its heyday.
Upon entering, the stone streets (be sure to wear thick
soled shoes – ladies, this is not the day for thin sandals), you walk along the
ancient homes, business and more “official” buildings, with Byzantine churches,
mosques, and even a Temple of Aphrodite inside the walls. many still operating
similarly to how they did in antiquity, such as the gold smiths. You might stumble upon a boutique hotel in
the inner city, or find a café tucked into a traditional inner courtyard which
once was ringed by private homes. But
where ever you go, the enormity and solidity of this town cannot be denied.
But Rhodes is far more than just Rhodes Town. There are some lovely temples just outside,
such as the Temple of Apollo and Athena.
Well, okay, the temples are truly ruins, but the views are absolutely
You’re probably wondering why I’m not referring to the
Colossus of Rhodes, as that’s what most people associate with the Island. However, unless you are a history buff, you
may not realize that, while it was one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient
World, it has been lost in history. Formerly
standing imposingly over the harbor as a warning, it is presumed destroyed… or
perhaps put into the foundations of the Palace of the Knights of St. John.
Speaking of the Knights, these are the “authorized”
successors to the discredited Templars when the Templars were disbanded by the
Pope. The Knights of St. John were given
some of the Templar wealth, and used it in part to fortify Rhodes. As a medical military order (as conflicting
as that sounds), the Hospital of the Knights is one of the most imposing
Rhodes as an island has much more to offer than just Rhodes
Town if you wish to wander. Fishing,
hiking, biking, 4-weel drive excursions are popular, as is a trip to Lindos
about 40 miles from the port. This
adorable hill town boasts a hilltop Acropolis (be prepared for a relatively
short, but very steep climb), along with narrow, winding streets climbing up
and down this hill (notice repeated emphasis on hill – yes, you have to go up
in addition to down here, so be ready) town.
Wanting something different on this island which maintains
and exudes not just friendliness but an almost mystical appeal? Local tour operators, such as Georgiadis
Tours, are actively creating new and different options, from just a couple
hours to full day options, aimed at both the cruise passenger and those who are
taking a land-based holiday on the island.
I was fortunate enough to spend the day with George
Georgiadis touring the island and getting to know the lovely vendors and
understanding the appeal. One of the
highlights of the day, other than his infectiously happy personality, was a
visit to a local, traditional ceramics store, Bonis Ceramics. Before you roll your eyes, know this isn’t
the norm. This is a shop where your
first stop is down in the basement where, with the assistance of two
experienced potters, you get to throw your own pot on a pottery wheel! Think of that scene in “Ghost” or back to
your childhood art’s class and the fun of getting your hands in clay and making
something. I dare you not to smile just
thinking of it. Now doesn’t that sound
Your own piece is shipped to you after it is fired, and of
course there is the shop upstairs with true, traditional and locally-produced
designs (not made in Taiwan, China, India, etc.) at reasonable prices. You even get to paint your own plate in one
of many designs in whatever colors you want.
I love it! This is the type of
creativity that cruise lines should be offering more of, but which if you are
willing to go a bit independent and work with a reputable operator such as
George, you can enjoy and give you an entirely different experience in a
classic island. Combine that with an
incredible lunch overlooking a resort on an isolated bay, and you have had a
Or something I regretfully didn’t get the opportunity to
experience, how about a Greek cooking class?
I want to encourage you to think beyond the “classics” at
times in port. Don’t be afraid to look
for more options, especially if you’re returning to a region where you’ve
visited previously. An island such as
Rhodes really deserves a true multi-day holiday, but if that’s not your style
and you prefer cruising, this island is one where, if you return more than
once, you’ll continue to find new options to explore and enjoy with just a
little effort. These “experiential”
options are becoming more the way people want to travel, even when cruising,
and I love to be able to find and work with vendors such as these which provide
options to my clients.
All in all, it was a really lovely day and I cannot wait for
another return visit, perhaps to one of the fantastic hotels (a Small Luxury
Hotel of the World, the Rodos Park, is just on the edge of Old Town in a
perfect location) as this island intrigues me and is already calling me back
for a longer repeat visit.
Rhodes is once again back on most lines’ itineraries, at
least a few times a year, as was witnessed by the fact we were the 7th
ship in port this day. However, even
with all that, never felt crowded, other than the fact we were docked a bit out
of town from the modern cruise ship terminals.
But Azamara did offer shuttles of course, so all was well and easily
I was going to include Bodrum in this post, but I think it
needs a post of its own, along with the images from Mykonos… so stay
tuned! More to come today!