On a very calm Ionian morning, Sea Cloud entered the deeply indented bay of Vathy to drop anchor just off Ithaca’s small and picturesque principal town. Using Sea Cloud’s Zodiacs, we quickly reached the pier to meet our Greek guides, Effie and Gemma, who joined us for the remainder of our voyage. Boarding our coaches, our guides began a tour of the small but beautiful island of Ithaca, legendary home of the hero Odysseus and a universal symbol of longing and homecoming.
We departed the small port town and soon climbed a series of switchbacks to reach the monastery of Kathara, located at about 1000 meters and overlooking the town and bay of Vathy. From the belltower overlook, we had a beautiful view of the port town and the Sea Cloud far below. Our groups entered the monastery and were introduced to the layout of a Greek Orthodox Church and to some tenets and practices of this faith.
Our coaches then took us north across the rugged mountain landscape to the small and sleepy village of Stavros. This town is thought to be the location of Odysseus’s home, as it sits within view of three bays as described in Homer’s poem. After photographing the bust of the great Greek hero in the central square, guests wandered the town to enjoy coffee and local sweets in one of several “kafeneions.”
Our coaches returned southwards along the island’s western side with expansive views of another Ionian island, Cephalonia, and the strait of blue Mediterranean waters below us. We arrived at Vathy, where some guests shopped while others went for a swim. We then returned to the ship’s lido deck for a delicious buffet lunch.
In the afternoon, the captain sent the crew into the rigging to set sails. The mild winds allowed us to offer a Zodiac photo safari to guests, affording the opportunity to observe and photograph the elegant Sea Cloud under sail from a distance.
Anna Mazurek provided a late afternoon presentation on “Expedition Photography.” This evening, guests and crew members enjoyed a maritime dinner on the Lido Deck. This was followed by the famed Sea Cloud Sea Shanty Singers performing their salty songs of the seas. Then all enjoyed quite a dance party into the late hours!