On the 2nd September 2016 our Managing Director, Jos Dewing, had the pleasure of joining 70 past passengers on board Aegean Odyssey in Greece. These were members of our loyalty group, the Odyssey Club, and were booked on our annual Odyssey Club Reunion cruise. The Reunion cruise for 2016 focused on our quintessential Greek Island cruise and pre-stay in Athens, with a twist… Jos shares with us his on-board experience.
Our Odyssey Club members enjoy significant benefits when booking with us. These range from discounts, complimentary Wifi and laundry to unique events and invitations. The Reunion cruise is our annual celebration of our past passengers and gives us the chance to acknowledge and reward their loyalty to Voyages to Antiquity.
I joined the pre-cruise element of the Reunion, which began at the 5-star Grande Bretagne Hotel in Athens. Situated right in the heart of the city since 1874, this hotel offers an unrivalled perspective of Athens’ mythical history. Our members arrived to a very special invitation to head to the roof garden for a champagne reception and Gala dinner, with absolutely breath-taking views of the fabled Acropolis, lit up in the dusky Athenian sky. The roof garden of the Grande Bretagne is a truly magical place to dine, and our Odyssey Club naturally had exclusive use of it for the evening. There were several other luxury cruise lines with groups staying at the hotel and I heard one another asking how they become a member of the Odyssey Club.
The following morning, after a night in the truly sumptuous rooms of the hotel, our passengers had a choice of excursions in Athens and were then taken by luxury coach to the exclusive Yacht Club of Greece. This member-only establishment is situated right on the shores of the cobalt blue Aegean Sea and its top floor dining room has the feel of a classically elegant yacht, not unlike our very own Aegean Odyssey in fact. Members here enjoyed the superb food and were able to dine at their leisure with open seating and a relaxed, rolling menu. We chatted, we laughed and we shared anticipation at the days and weeks to follow.
With a free evening to explore the shops, markets and restaurants of Athens, our next Reunion event would be a visit and overnight stay in Delphi. We would be travelling to Delphi by coach and staying at the gloriously-located Amalia Hotel. Our journey to Delphi was accompanied by two of our wonderful Greek guides, their breadth of knowledge about Greek history is truly awe-inspiring and every free flowing line of narrative on the 2-hour journey was an education in its own right. Then, before we knew it, we pulled up at the historical site of Delphi itself, my knowledge of mainland Greece having been widely expanded throughout the breathtaking journey through the mountains, plains and olive groves of this incredible country.
Delphi as a destination is very core in its representation of the unique Voyages to Antiquity product offering. Deeply famous as a sanctuary and centre of the ancient world for Greeks and seat of the Oracle that was consulted on important decisions throughout the ancient classical world. Delphi now occupies an impressive archaeological site on the south-western slope of Mount Parnassus and is supported by an excellent and modern museum.
Our passengers, escorted by our guides and Shore Excursion team were guided through the site and those with the stamina required ventured further up the mountainside to the ancient theatre and stadium.
Following a traditional Greek lunch in a local rustic restaurant and museum visit, we were taken to the hotel with truly stunning views of the largest olive groves in Greece, flowing down through a rugged valley to meet the powdery blue tones of the Ionian Sea. In the hotel, guests had the opportunity to take a swim in the glorious pool or relax with a drink before we headed through the valley to a traditional Greek restaurant in the Ionian port town if Itea. Guests were treated to delightful cuisine and superb live music and dancing and had the chance to join in themselves too, which many, including myself, did.
The following morning, after three truly wonderful days in Greece I said goodbye to the guests. It had been an extraordinarily fulfilling experience which did so much for my knowledge and enjoyment of Greek history and culture both ancient and modern. As I left for my transfer back to the airport one guest came to me and said that she had had the most exquisite experience and at this I reminded her that she hadn’t even embarked the ship yet and a welcome party awaited them!
This is Voyages to Antiquity and how we approach our product, our planning and our past passengers and I am proud to join the sentiment of our guests that we, as a cruise line, are doing something very special and very unique.
Join us on our next reunion cruise in 2017 ‘Historic Spain, Sicily & Italy’ departing 11th May or take a look at our 2017 cruises for more inspiring voyages >