Do you love small ship cruising and educational trips to Europe? If so, you might enjoy the Aegean Odyssey, a 378-passenger ship owned by Voyages to Antiquity. This cruise line only has the one ship, and it specializes in cruises with an emphasis on archaeology, history, and culture. It's an excellent destination-oriented cruise ship with an almost all-inclusive fare.
Sailing primarily in the coastal waters of the eastern and central Mediterranean, the Aegean Odyssey offers cruise tours of 12 to 17 days, many of which have pre- or post-cruise hotel stays included. In addition, shore excursions are included in the fare, as are soft drinks, wine, or beer with dinner, and tips for the staff. The small ship also overnights in many ports, allowing more time for exploring or dining ashore. Solo travelers will like the Aegean Odyssey since the cruise line waives the single supplement for some cruises.
You can sail the cruise-only portion of an Aegean Odyssey "Isles of Greece" itinerary, which sails between Athens and Istanbul, stopping over at some popular ports such as Mykonos, Nafplio, and Kusadasi, and some off-the-beaten-path ports like Samos, Rethymno, Delos, and Canakkale. It's a busy cruise, with morning and afternoon tours included most days. In the evenings, you can enjoy informational lectures and light musical entertainment.
Who Will Enjoy and Appreciate This Cruise?
The informality, onboard activities, and attentive staff are somewhat reminiscent of a river cruise experience, so anyone who likes river cruises will probably enjoy the ship. The Aegean Odyssey is well-suited for those who crave lifelong learning and don't expect a casino or production shows for evening entertainment.
The ship is not a good choice for those in wheelchairs or who have walking difficulties since many of the tour operators do not have wheelchair-accessible buses, and the tours are often over uneven surfaces and require lots of walking. However, most of the guests are retirees or seniors traveling with their adult children, so the tours aren't super-strenuous and the walking pace is slow.
Since the focus is on educational touring ashore and the onboard activities are limited, young children will not enjoy the Aegean Odyssey experience as much as they would a larger ship with youth programs.
Dining and Cuisine
The Aegean Odyssey of Voyages to Antiquity has two main dining options--the Terrace Cafe and the Marco Polo Restaurant. Both dining venues feature complimentary local wines, beer, or soft drinks for dinner.
The Terrace Cafe & Grill has both indoor and outdoor seating and offers casual buffet dining at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The menus are primarily geared towards North American and British travelers, with a wide selection of breakfast favorites, nice salads and hot dishes for lunch, and many of the same items for dinner that are offered in the main Marco Polo Restaurant. Guests can get omelets to order at the outdoor grill for breakfast, and delicious pizza, hot dogs, and hamburgers are available each day at lunch along with the other specials. Many of the dishes had a Mediterranean flair. Watching the sunset over the Mediterranean while dining outdoors is a memorable cruise vacation experience.
The Marco Polo Dining Room has open seating menu dining for dinner and most days for lunch for those who don't like buffet dining. The menus included a selection of appetizers, soups, salads, main courses, and desserts. Dinners in the Marco Polo are elegant and leisurely. Open seating, large tables, complimentary wine, and interesting travelers add to the good dinners in both restaurants.
The dress code onboard the Aegean Odyssey is casual and relaxed during the day. In the evening, the suggested dress is "smart casual", which means a polo shirt and slacks for men and coordinated sets, dresses, or slacks for women. Many of the men wore a sports jacket (with or without a tie) to dinner on some nights to dinner. Dress at the Terrace Cafe in the evening is more casual, especially for those dining outside.
In addition to the two dining rooms, the Aegean Odyssey has afternoon tea and late night snacks.
The Aegean Odyssey carries 378 passengers in 198 cabins and suites, 45 of which are inside cabins and 153 are outside cabins. Eighteen of the cabins are singles, two are wheelchair accessible, and 42 have a private balcony. The cabins are in several different price grades, and the bathroom configuration varies even within the categories. Many cabins only have a shower, while others have a tub/shower combination. All cabins have a small flatscreen TV, safe, and hairdryer. The air conditioning can be adjusted by opening/closing the cabin vents, but the cabins do not have individual thermostats. The cabins are bright and have good storage space in the closets, drawers, shelves, and in the bathroom. The decor is clean and modern, and the electrical outlets are 220-volt, so those from the USA will need to carry along an adapter and converter. The television gets a selection of news channels along with a few movies that change daily.
The cruise ship has two Owner's Suites and four Junior Suites on Lido Deck 8. These Category A and B suites and the Category C cabins on the Bridge Deck 7 and the Category D cabins on Belvedere Deck 5 are considered Concierge Class. These cabins have a private balcony, a welcome bottle of champagne, refrigerated mini-bar, complimentary bottled water, robe and slippers, premium bath amenities, and personal concierge service. Guests in these Concierge Class cabins and suites also are in the "priority" bus group, which is always the first bus to leave on shore excursions. The other tour buses are spaced at about five-minute intervals, so the departure times vary by a maximum of only about 20-30 minutes.
The Aegean Odyssey was significantly refurbished after it was acquired by Voyages to Antiquity. The ship re-entered service in May 2010 with fewer cabins, teak decks outdoors, and more space per passenger. The interiors are generally bright and contemporary.
The ship has three main lounges--the windowed Observation Lounge forward on deck 9 and the Charleston Lounge and Ambassador Lounge on Promenade deck 6.
The Observation Lounge is used for private group parties and by individuals who like to have a quiet space indoors to read, play cards, or watch the ocean.
The Charleston Lounge is busy with afternoon tea dances, evening cocktails, musical entertainment, and dancing. It's the hub of recreational indoor activity, with many guests meeting there for pre- or post-dinner drinks in the evening.
The largest lounge is the Ambassador Lounge, which features seating for the nightly shore excursion briefings and evening enrichment lectures by experts in the history or culture of the destinations.
The Aegean Odyssey has a very nice library with a great selection of travel and history books, along with novels, games, and maps.
Although the Aegean Odyssey does not offer WiFi, it does have an Internet lounge with six computers.
The ship also has a small gift shop, a modern fitness center, beauty salon, and a small spa featuring massages, facials, and other spa treatments.
Exteriors and Outdoor Decks
One of the best parts of the Aegean Odyssey refurbishment was the expansion of the outdoor deck space, which is all covered in teak. The Lido Deck, which has the swimming pool and whirlpool, has a spacious feel, along with plenty of padded deck chairs for sun worshipers, along with shaded seating for those who are looking for fresh air.
In addition to the indoor lounges discussed on the previous page, the Aegean Odyssey also has an outdoor bar, the Lido Bar, which overlooks the swimming pool deck.
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