What a spectacular morning in Ithaca! With Sea Cloud anchored just offshore in the natural harbor of Vathy, we departed in Zodiacs to explore the island home of Odysseus, the Greek hero. Odysseus famously spent ten years cursed by Poseidon, toiling to return home after the Trojan War. All the while, his faithful wife, Penelope, and his dutiful son, Telemachus, fought off the advances of a host of suitors eager for Penelope’s hand and with it the Kingdom of Ithaca.
We enjoyed a leisurely morning on our final day aboard Sea Cloud , slowly cruising along the coast of Greece as we savored our morning coffee and delectable pastries. Mid-morning, Captain John gave a fascinating talk on the repair and upkeep of this elegant ship. Thanks to the ship’s dedicated owners and committed partners like Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic, this historic vessel, now more than 90 years old, is in superb condition and is prepared for many more years of active service. Our last day of the journey held a special, unexpected treat: an afternoon visit to the magical town of Monemvasia, Greece. Although the stop was not part of our planned itinerary, it became a fantastic final visit on this diverse and exciting voyage. The massive rock on which the town is perched has been termed the “Gibraltar of the East.” There is just one small entrance for visitors — a trait that has given the town its name, as Monemvasia means “single entrance.” The city is a charming, automobile-free tangle of cobblestone walkways, stone stairways, and tree-lined courtyards. It was founded in the 6th century, and its colorful history includes Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans before the town became part of the independent Greek state in the 1800s. With wonderful shops and endless opportunities for photography, this was a truly splendid final stop that brought together many of the historic eras we discussed throughout the journey. The weather shifted yet again, and a brief thunderstorm accompanied our return to the ship. Our last evening was spent enjoying the company of our fellow shipmates. We shared memories of our unforgettable trip during cocktail hour with Captain John, accompanied by our own images of the trip compiled by our photographic instructor, Sue. One last delightful dinner in the ship’s stately dining room made the perfect end to this wonderful voyage.