Today’s excursion took us to the marble-rich island of Tinos, which was ruled by the Venetians for more than 500 years. Venetian influence can be seen in the many elaborate dovecotes of the island. Doves were prized for meat as well as fertilizer, and the aristocratic Venetians competed to make each dovecote more elaborate than the last.

Our first stop was the small but excellent Museum of Marble, which highlights the island’s long marble-quarrying and marble-working industry. We learned of the many types of marble present in Greece as well as about the tools and techniques used to create the splendid architectural elements of the island’s sparkling white marble.

After a relaxing stroll through the town of Pyrgos, we returned by coach to the port of Tinos, making a stop at the holiest of all churches in Greece: the church of Panagia Evangelistria. Worshippers crawled on hands and knees through the town and into the church to visit the miraculous icon of the Virgin Mary, and much of the path back to the port was lined with small shops that sold icons, votive plaques, and small bottles for collecting holy water from the spring within the church’s lower level. We also sought out some of Tinos’ famous marzipan-like almond dessert before ending our visit.

Returning to our majestic ship for lunch on the Lido Deck, we relished an afternoon under sail. Our historian gave a presentation on ancient seafaring, highlighting the important role played by the ancient Greeks in both merchant shipping and naval warfare. We ended the evening with a fantastic dinner on deck and a lively sing-along performance by the Sea Cloud Shanty Gang.