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Believe it or not, summer is right around the corner. You may be sniffling from spring allergies now, but Memorial Day will be here before you know it, bringing warm temperatures, shortened work days, and summer vacations. Don’t let the season sneak up on you; take advantage of the many early bird specials out there and book your summer travel now. Read more
A day trip to Oia certainly inspires oohs and ahs. But only by sleeping here, in the Greek Islands’ most iconic locale, can you really understand the true psyche of the Cycladic islands – the brilliant sunlight, the sensual sunsets, the braying donkeys, the mellifluous church bells, the hushed laughter, the tipsy footsteps, and the silence. Once the cruise ships are gone, this gravity-defying hodgepodge of whitewashed traditional houses, clinging to steep cliffs that tumble down to an ancient caldera filled with the deep blue Aegean, truly becomes one of the most mesmerizing spots on the planet. As a result, it’s chock full of luxury resorts commanding upwards of $700 per night in season. On a recent visit, I opted to think small and stay in an intimate and affordable three-room inn set on one of the town’s most enviable perches: 1864 The Sea Captain’s House.
The sleek sailing yachts of Windstar readily capture the imagination of adventurous travelers with seafaring souls – billowing white sails crown the line’s intimate ships, vessels small enough to allow access to some of the world’s most delightful hidden harbors and off-the-path ports. The small-ship cruise company (Wind Surf, the largest of the trio in Windstar’s fleet has just a 312-passenger capacity) touts subtle luxuries without the pretense: Seamless service and ample amenities meet a laid-back atmosphere and refreshingly casual dress code onboard (no need to concern yourself with froufrou formal wear here). Fewer passengers translate to a streamlined cruise experience devoid of lines or huddled masses, particularly refreshing when transferring to and from ports of call, while Windstar ships manage to still allot generous onboard diversions, with a spa, casino, and signature water sports platform amongst the highlights. Read more
The hidden costs of most all-inclusive tours can quickly add up once you factor in gratuities, shore excursions, and single supplements. Not so with Smithsonian Journeys, which has just announced three new all-inclusive Mediterranean cruise deals that include: international airfare, shore excursions in each port, on-board lectures, gratuities to shipboard staff, and more. Unlike most cruises (where you won’t need any brainpower beyond what’s required for reading the latest trashy magazines poolside), be prepared to learn on these cruises, as they are run by the world-famous Smithsonian Institution’s travel branch.
The cruises offered are fairly lengthy, in order to allow cruisers to have ample time to explore the amazing cultural sites throughout the Mediterranean. Choose from:
“The Wonders of Turkey and the Greek Isles” (June 23-July 6) or “The Glories of Greece and Turkey” (July 1-14), which both stop in the Greek Islands of Crete, Delos, Mykonos and Samos; the historic Turkish cities of Ephesus and Aprodisias; and World Heritage sites in Athens and Istanbul. Land stops in Istanbul and Athens are also included. Book either one of these cruises by March 31st, and pay only $3,195 (which includes international airfare from select East Coast cities).
Or pay a little bit more ($3,750) and try the “Splendors of Italy and the Dalmatian Coast” (May 31-June 15), featuring the Italian cities of Rome, Corsica, Sardinia, Venice and Sicily; the tiny country of Malta; and Croatia’s Dubrovnik and Split.
All three cruises will take place on-board the 350-passenger Aegean Odyssey, which features a spa, pool, library, lecture theater, and a variety of dining options. Be sure to take advantage of Smithsonian Journeys’ unique lecture programs with on-board experts, to help you learn about what you’ll be seeing off the boat. Or, just hang out at one of the Odyssey’s three bars – your call.
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