Uncover the storied Mediterranean on a unique sailing vessel
Mediterranean, literally meaning “the sea in the middle of the Earth,” has deeply influenced Western history and culture. There is no better way to delve into the region’s history and myths than under sail—hopping among the islands and exploring the coasts as the ancients did. Discover its myth and magic aboard Sea Cloud. This historic tall ship is far more than a souvenir of a golden age. It is full of the glamour and sophistication of the ’30s and her original owner, Marjorie Merriweather Post, and also a thoroughly modern yacht in terms of safety technology and creature comforts. It is the perfect platform to travel among islands and along storied coasts, a bridge to history in a land bursting with it.
Extraordinary Adriatic: Croatia And Slovenia Under Sail
Visit lovely Croatian towns that retain their original Byzantine and Roman names—Vis, Zadar, Rovinj, and Pula— with Vis, for example, tracing its origin even further, to the Neolithic
Explore ancient UNESCO World Heritage sites—the stone Cathedral of St. James and the forbidding St. Nicholas Fortress perched above the Krka River
Spend a day visiting two UNESCO sites in Krka National Park, replete with waterfalls and gorges; sail to Kornatl National Park and then Zadar, the oldest continuously inhabited city in Croatia
Discover the rich natural history of Slovenia as we sail the forested coast, visiting fishing villages and journeying inland to explore the countryside and sample farmers markets; and visit the Church of St. George, modeled after Venice’s St. Marks Cathedral
Relish the at-sea intervals to steep in the luxury of being under sail aboard Sea Cloud, reading in the Blue Lagoon, and sampling uncommon liquors and liqueurs after dinner, with our compliments
Sun, steady winds, far-reaching Mediterranean culture and history, archaeology, mythology, and the tranquility of small islands—Sea Cloud’s season in the iconic Aegean, Ionian, Tyrrhenian, and Adriatic Seas is historically rich and scenically beautiful. Our itineraries are studded with archaeological landmarks, with sites both legendary and seldom-seen. But our expedition style is also designed to balance active exploration with reflection and relaxation—so plan to discover isolated beaches, small fishing villages, welcoming people, and quiet beauty. And to have unplanned moments, a gathering in a Greek taverna perhaps, you’ll remember forever.
Opened a new world for me.
Sheila Ann S.
Explore with top expedition teams
See, do, and learn more by going with engaging experts who have been exploring this region for decades. Go with an expedition leader, naturalists, historians, and more.
Veteran expedition leaders are the orchestrators of your experience. Many have advanced degrees and have conducted research or taught for years. They have achieved expedition leader status because they possess the skills, experience and the depth of knowledge necessary to continually craft the best expedition possible for our guests.
Our naturalists, passionate about the geographies they explore (and return to regularly), illuminate each facet through their enthusiasm and knowledge. Our guests consistently cite the expertise and engaging company of our staff as key reasons to repeatedly travel with us.
Our historians will share the stories, tumults, and triumphs of the people and places we explore. Their colorful personalities and passion for history, from the minutiae to the big picture, make them engaging travel companions.
Every expedition aboard Sea Cloud offers an exclusive service—a Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic certified photo instructor. This naturalist is specially trained to offer assistance with camera settings, the basics of composition, and to help you become a better, more confident photographer.
Sail with cultural commentators aboard who further illuminate local life. They are leaders in their fields, some still engaged in conducting research, who know the region intimately. Learn from them in onboard presentations, and engage with them on a one-to-one basis to learn more about their topic or backgrounds.
Polished brass capstans and portholes gleam, teak decks glow, and interiors are fitted with Italian marble and paneled in carved oak. Enjoy the grace and refinement of Sea Cloud, an extraordinarily elegant ship, a direct descendant of the opulent 30’s—as you also enjoy the casual attitude and informal style of our small ship cruise of the Mediterranean.
We arrived off the small isle of Poros under a sunny sky, a harbinger of the afternoon sun to come. The island is small, only about 12 square miles, and is nestled in the southwest of the beautiful Saronic Gulf. Poros is only about 700 feet off the coast of the Peloponnese and is a haven, a weekend getaway, from the bustling city of Athens. We took Zodiacs to shore and began our visit in town.
Poros was far greener than the Cycladic Isles we visited—a result of the increased rainfall in this area. The quayside is filled with shops of every sort and a great assortment of sailing yachts as well as ships from all over Greece and other parts of Europe. As we wound our way through the narrow lanes of the town, we stopped at a delightful pastry shop run by a mom, pop, and son. The window was filled with a cornucopia of Greek pastries and the most interesting variation of apple pie. Several of us sampled the treats—the pistachio was the tastiest. We slowly made our way to the very top of the town to the famous clock tower, which was built in 1927 and uses a pendulum mechanism. Although there was no discernible motion in the clock hands, it maintained the correct time! Surely a Greek nymph is keeping the time accurate...The streets in the topmost part of the town were named after famous individuals—we passed Greta Garbo Lane followed by Marc Chagall, etc. The town planning commission is clearly interested in celebrating the arts.
Upon returning to
, just as the day was warming, we were able to enjoy a swim from the ship. More than half of us were delighted in the cooling waters of the gulf. The water was perfect temperature and the salinity was such that you were kept afloat without assistance. Thus, we bobbed happily for an hour before we went to lunch—the high point of which was pasta swirled inside a 100-pound wheel of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Needless to say, we all ate heartily.
At 3:30 p.m. the captain furled the sails, even the massive spanker jib, and an announcement went out that there would be Zodiac photo safaris circumnavigating
as she was under sail. The ship was simply a delight to see as she moved effortlessly though the azure water with more than 3,000 square feet of billowing sail.
We had a farewell dinner and said our goodbyes with the hope that we would sail again sometime in the future.
We dropped anchor in the bay of Naflion just beneath the imposing Venetian fortress whose elaborate, fortified walls covered much of the hillside. Our first stop of the day was the very important ancient Mycenaean city of Mycenae, the royal city of Homer’s Agamemnon. The name of the city is not Greek and suggests strongly that the first inhabitants, ca. 2000BC, came from Crete. The city was a powerful force in Peloponnese until 1200 BC when it was deserted. We first visited the massive corbelled grave, which is 13 meters across and 14 meters high—the largest such grave in all of Greece. The lintel stone at the entrance weighs 140 tons.
The ancient builders were masters of geometry and design. All the stones were carved with bronze tools, which are considerably softer than iron, suggesting that there were large workshops onsite to produce the necessary building tools. We then walked up to the imposing citadel. And passing through the lion gate, we saw the 16th-century BC cemetery now called Circle A. It is within this cemetery that Schliemann discovered the tombs of the elite individuals he believed were Agamemnon, his wife Clytemnestra, their son Orestes, and their daughter Electra. Upon unearthing the golden death mask, Schliemann exclaimed “that I have looked on the face of Agamemnon.” We now know this was a mistake since the individuals buried here lived at least four centuries before the participants in the Trojan War ca. 1230. Although Homer’s account of the Trojan War has considerable inaccuracies, he was precisely right when he referred to the city of Mycenae as rich in gold.
Our second stop was the best-preserved Greek theater of Epidaurus. This city first achieved fame as an important cult center dedicated to the god of healing, Asclepius. The theater was just a short walk from the coaches and in no time, we were standing before one of the most beautiful theaters of antiquity. It seats approximately 12,500 and is divided into symmetrically identical sections. The acoustics are nothing short of perfect. Standing in the center of the orchestra atop the sacred stone marking the altar, you can be easily heard from the very top tier of seats. The theater was built during the heyday of Greek dramatic productions, around 330 BC. The plays of the tragedians Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides and the political satires and slapstick comedy of Aristophanes would bring people from all over the Peloponnese. The theater is still used today, and there are theatrical festivals held here every summer.
We returned to
and were treated to a Greek-themed barbecue on the Lido Deck. Following dinner, the Sea Cloud Shanty Gang entertained us with traditional sea shanties.
Photo A: The sun shone on the lion gate as we entered into the ruins of Mycenae.
Photo B: The entrance to a large beehive-shaped tomb outside of Mycenae, referred to as the Tomb of Agamemnon, was constructed of enormous cut stone.
Photo C: At the center of the stage at Epidaurus, someone tested the acoustics of the theater.
Through the morning, we sailed to the island of Amorgos, situated on the far eastern side of the Cycladic Islands. It sits like an arrow, directing sailors to the Dodecanese to the south or the rest of the Cycladic.
Amorgos is one of the most remote islands and this is exactly what makes to unique to visit! It has not been spoiled by tourism and to get to it requires a very long journey.
gave us the opportunity to discover its unique beauties!
Amorgos was named after an endemic flax linum, used in ancient times for the making of beautiful peplos dresses.
After taking tenders to the cute harbor of Katapola, we were driven by the local bus up a windy road with splendid views of the mountains and endless terraces that had been used for cultivation over the years. We gazed at
in the deep, beautiful harbor of Katapola and soon reached the eastern cove of Amorgos. The view was just breathtaking and cannot be described with words—only with sighs of admiration.
As we reached the end of the dramatic cliff road, with the endless blue of the Aegean below us, we suddenly saw the dazzlingly white monastery, gleaming like a dragon’s egg at the foot of the craggy, towering cliffs! It is a wonder of architecture, of human will, and visible only from the sea, hanging like a white painting between the water and the sky! We climbed 365 steps that led toward a heaven of photography and vision!
The monastery of Virgin Mary Chosoviotissa was built in the tenth century and renovated in 1688 after a decree issued by emperor Alexios Komninos. It was built into the rock. Locals founded this monastery after the Virgin Mary allegedly sent a sign as to the exact location of its building. The monastery still operates today by the three monks. Such a location and structure makes man feel so small before such a Godly space! It is even more impressive on the inside, with a tiny entrance, walls five meters wide and 20 meters high. The space was so small that they could only expand the monastery upward!
The hospitality of the monks was so warm and genuine: They offered us a special drink, common to the island, named rakomelo that is made from raki, honey, and cinnamon. It warmed our bodies and souls!
After our visit we continued to the main Chora. This is the capital town of the island. One photograph followed the other, one view of a cubic house with flowerpots and bougainvilleas was better than the next. The shades of white against blue, the tiny chapels and larger churches were overwhelming. We rested and took in this beauty and tranquility by having another rakomelo in the traditional kafenia and eventually said our farewell to this beauty of the Cycladic! Some guests have already made plans to return and even stay here for a long period of time!
We sailed early this morning into the bay of Astipalea, one of the most remote and unspoiled gems of Greece. It sits at a strategic point between the Cycladic Islands and the Dodecanese to the south like an arrow showing the way to sailors. Astipalea looks like a butterfly connected by a narrow canal. It used to be called Pyra, which means fire, as the earth there has a deep reddish color.
Homer refers to Astipalea as the enemy to snakes—the island had none and this was known from at least the eighth century BC! From this island came one of the famous seamen who followed Alexander the Great all the way to India! Astipalea means “old city,” and remains of an ancient Greek city have been excavated under the medieval Venetian castle as well as in other parts of the island.
Monk seals and a very rare species of Aegean seagulls often seek refuge on the island of Astipalea. They are protected by strict regulations as these are nearly extinct. They can be seen on some of the uninhabited islands around Astipalea. Rare plants and endemic flowers are also found on the island.
By tender, we approached Astipalea from a deep cove and found ourselves boarding the one and only small local bus available on the island! We took a short drive from the harbor of Pera Gialos to the upper town, called Chora and meaning “country” but referring to the center of the island. Twelve windmills sat at this high and windy point—a sign of agricultural prosperity and a lovely photo for us.
The view of the cove below and the castle and whitewashed houses crowning the hill was magic. We walked passed a number of small, traditional coffee shops and followed a whitewashed street among houses that brought us to the entrance of the castle. The view overlooking the flat-roofed houses was stunning. The castle was built by the Venetians after the fourth crusade when they took over a large part of the Aegean Islands.
The castle had two lovely churches with blue domes and they were open for us to visit. The churches dated back to the early 1800s and had been the center of island life for many years. Beautiful and important Byzantine icons glowed in front of the whitewashed church. We had amazing opportunities to capture photos of the blue and white buildings and the deep blue of the Aegean moved our souls. This was what Greece is about and we had it all to ourselves!
We wandered through more narrow streets that formed the center of the castle to another church, Portaitisa, the church of the entrance. The blue of the Aegean Sea, cubic whitewashed houses, and people waving from the windows welcomed us to their island.
After our stroll, some of us relaxed and enjoyed a traditional Greek coffee in one of the coffee shops, people-watching and soaking up the atmosphere of the island. Later, some of us took the bus back down to the harbor of Pera Gialos while others decided to walk this short, lovely route around the neighborhoods to the waterfront.
We took photos of traditional boats and fishermen repairing fishing nets before we returned to Sea Cloud.
We enjoyed a lovely lunch gazing back at the houses perched on Astipalea while anchored close to the harbor. The sails were put up and, with the strong winds, we reached seven knots with no engines! After lunch, we heard a lecture about the fourth crusade that explained why Greece has so many Venetian fortresses. Then we enjoyed an interesting lesson on how to take better photos with our smartphones. As the sun set and became golden, we enjoyed a delicious buffet dinner.
From a local song that refers to Astipalea as a maiden:
Princes you were beleaguered for so long
In once upon a time a maiden castle
The corsairs might have raided your might
But no one can take away your splendor!
The sun broke over the volcanic black cliffs of Santorini (Thera in Greek) by 6:15, and at 7:10 we sailed into the fabulous caldera. The massive volcanic explosion of 1600 BC removed two-thirds of the existing island and created the largest caldera on Earth—more than five miles across and 1,300 feet deep. Our first stop of the day was the northern city of Oia, a warren of little lanes filled with shops selling everything from antiques to precious diamonds to gelato. Several of us visited the far northern point of the fortress at the tip of Oia where we had breathtaking views across the caldera. An extra-special and beautiful architectural feature was the blue and white Orthodox church in the main square. This plaza has become a very popular site for destination weddings of wealthy Chinese visitors, who arrive and get dressed in elaborate western gowns and tuxedos and have their photographs taken with the church as a background.
Our next stop was the very fine, small museum in Fira which displays some of the treasures unearthed from the archaeological dig at Akrotiri. The fresco paintings here are art of the highest order. Particularly impressive is the fresco of the blue monkeys, which dates from approximately 1500 BC and indicates the artist had seen such animals, which are not found in the Cyclades. We then had a lovely Greek al fresco lunch—a kind of Greek “dim sum” of small plates with scrumptious bits appearing on our tables with some frequency. And of course, carafes of the local, delicious white wine were in abundance.
After lunch, we drove a short distance to the incredible archaeological site of Akrotiri. Few sites in the world are as well protected from the elements, as the entire site is covered with a massive roof that lets in light but protects the village. The site was not discovered until the archaeologist Spirodon Marinatos began digging in the 1960s. Under 25 feet of volcanic ash, he found the ancient town. We now can walk around the perimeter and in the very precincts of the city. Imagine that almost 3,500 years ago, the inhabitants of this town were dwelling in lovely multi-story homes with toilets on upper floors, operating sewer systems, and walls filled with splendid frescoes. The evidence of the frescoes suggests that life was easy, food from the sea plentiful, and warfare seldom. Unlike Pompeii, which was instantly destroyed in the pyroclastic flow of intense heat and gas, the inhabitants of Akrotiri were able to leave before the explosion. The archaeology shows that they hurriedly left their goods in place and fled. We do not know where they went but no human remains have been found onsite. We do know that Akrotiri was deeply influenced by the powerful Minoan culture of Crete.
We left this remarkable place and boarded a ferry for our home on
. In the evening,
we had an outdoor Greek dinner despite the memorable winds.
There’s nothing sacrificed by having this traditional relationship with sailing. This is the height of luxury; and the height of luxury these days, in many ways, is arguably, your ability to get away from it all.