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The Most Beautiful Greek Islands ~ Yacht Sailing with Ponant


Video~ The Most Beautiful Greek Islands


     Welcome back to the World!

     I was so excited when restrictions for Europe were lifted, I have been going through major travel withdrawals!

My first European adventure was going to be on a line I have never tried before, Ponant.

This is a French flagged company that many Americans have never heard of; all that mattered to me was they were a small ship and had started sailing again, so I signed up!

For myself, when it comes to travel smaller is always bigger, I like boutique hotels, small group or private tours and intimate sized ships.

My vessel for Ponant held 198 people at full capacity, I was very excited for my first experience in yacht cruising!

     Because of Covid I wanted to avoid as much contact with others as possible which meant I wanted to fly nonstop.

This required getting a driver to take use the 4.5 hours to JFK but avoiding multiple crowded airports was worth it, it saved me two connections and a lot of extra exposure.

With vaccine cards in hand, we were all set to fly, we had our covid tests done the day before which would allow us to enter Greece, along with our passenger locator forms. 

It is very important that you check the requirements of every country you want to visit to make sure you are following their protocols or you could be turned away at the

airport! Insurance will not cover ignorance, it is up to you to make sure you know, and follow each country's specific rules.

     There were a few specific steps we had to go through in order to enter Greece. 

One must submit a passenger locator form no later than 24 hours in advance of arrival to the Greek government.

This information lets them know where you were seated on the airplane, where you were coming from and where you were going.

The purpose is for contact tracing.

If someone seated near you tested positive for Covid you could be tracked down and tested as well rather than have a bunch of "Typhoid Mary's" running about infecting others. 

We also had to produce a negative PCR test to board the plane. 

In order to board our ship two days later I would need a more current test result so I arranged for us to be tested at our hotel, more on that later.

     Now that our area back home was opening up it was tempting to go out and visit with friends and family but I made a point for us to self isolate for two weeks before we departed. 

I did not want to take any chance of catching something and having this trip derailed! 

We wore masks in the long car ride to New York and had the windows open as well.

Once we boarded the airplane, I took out Clorox wipes and cleaned off all surfaces that we could come in contact with and then was not concerned about picking anything up on 

the flight.

I had arranged for a driver to be waiting for us upon arrival, he was a very nice gentleman who had all the Covid protocols in place, hand sanitizer in his car and wore a 

It was not much different than before the pandemic except that all of us had masks on. 

We laughed and he told stories, it felt lovely to be "normal" again!

     In Europe people are very courteous of each other's space, I never felt crowded or concerned that I was going to get someone else's germs. 

Social distancing is enforced, only two people permitted on an elevator at a time, tables spaced far apart. 

It seemed like everyone was so happy to be out and about that they had a newfound respect for their fellow man. 

Everyone was smiling and friendly, such a lovely atmosphere!

     I selected the Electra Metropolis Athens for our hotel, it was a beautiful property with views of the Acropolis from the rooftop restaurant.

We stayed in an Acropolis view suite which was worth every penny, the view of the Parthenon illuminated at night is something everyone should experience at least once in 

their life.  

After spending over a year locked in my house it was beyond delightful to sit outside at the rooftop restaurant and look at building that dates back to 13 B.C. .

It helped to put things in perspective, if the Parthenon could survive all these years, we could survive Covid, it was a great reminder to "seize the day"!

Video ~ Electra Metropolis rooftop view 

     The location of the hotel can't be beat, easy walking distance to everything. 

One of my favorite stops was when we went to watch the changing of the Evozones

Each hour in front of the Hellenic Parliament in Syntagma Square the sentinels on duty are switched, the pageantry is something you do not want to miss!
On Sunday there is a special ceremony at 11:00 in dress uniforms but you can catch them changing guards each day on the hour.
The Evzones are a special segment of the Greek military who guard the tomb of the unknown soldier among other duties. 

     The minimum height to become one is 6'1 !

Their muscle control is amazing, they must stand perfectly still while on post and be strong enough to lift their legs to shoulder height while performing ceremonial marches.
The choreography is very unique, slow movements of both the arms and legs while showing great balance. 

The costumes must be very hot, it was 97 degrees with no shade in in the 45 minutes it took me to get the various shots I used to makes the video.

I was quite overheated in a sundress. I can’t imagine how the soldiers felt in the heavy coats and leggings. 

In Greece it is mandatory that all men over 18 spend at least 9 months in the service.

These members of the Presidential Guard are selected from the special forces and undergo intense training to learn to become a “human statue” and endure the elements. 

Video~ Changing of the Evozones Athens


     Before we could head to the ship, I needed us to get a fresh PCR test.

Ponant was requiring that the results could not reflect a sample more than 72 hours old.

I did not really want to go to a clinic to get tested as there could be infected people there.

After some research, I was delighted to find that a doctor would make a house call to the hotel to test me.
It was very simple and quick, and our results would be ready within 8 hours.
It was still a full PCR test, not a quick antigen test, but they have a special system in Athens that does accelerated results.

With that completed our driver arrived and took us for a short tour before dropping us at the yacht.

What an impressive vessel! 

The ship was much larger than I expected for a yacht holding under 200 people.

There was a lot of open space between myself and other passengers and plenty of places to relax without feeling crowded.

I was never concerned about contracting Covid, in fact, I actually was able to let my guard down for the first time in what seemed like eternity.   

     There is a unique underwater bar on board called the Blue Eye.

     It is a very neat concept set up to make you feel as if you are inside of a whale’s head. 

The couches are shaped like the baleen found in a whales’ mouth and there are two giant glass eyes one at each end of the room. 

Anything that swims past the eyes you can see. 

At night, the ship is lit from below to illuminate and draw in the sea life, there are speakers that pipe in the sounds of the ocean.

It was like scuba diving without getting wet!

Video ~ Blue Eye Lounge Ponant

     Our cabin was lovely, with a beautiful veranda that we ate breakfast on each day.

The shower had a neat feature where you could look out to the balcony and see the ocean while bathing, if you wanted privacy instead you could close a sliding wooden panel.

Much like a five star hotel we had a pillow menu to choose from and luxury linens.

Video ~ Cabin walkthrough Ponant

This is an inclusive luxury experience.

Liquor (including your in-room minibar), unlimited Wi-Fi is included, and as are your gratuities.

We did not have to worry about additional expenses once we paid our cruise fare which made budgeting easy.

Because the ship is small we were able to pull into ports that the megaliners are not able to, this allowed us to simply walk off right into town in many stops avoiding the need for an organized excursion.

     We were expected to wear masks in public areas, the ship provided us with new ones daily along with hand sanitizer.

As I was used to wearing them at home it was not a big deal.

Each island had different rules when it came to masks.

I always made sure I had them in my backpack, when outside they were not necessary but to enter a store, you usually had to put one on.

For 11 days we glided through the Greek islands from hydra to Nafplion, Mykonos, Amorgos, Milos, Folegandros, Delos, Patmos and Syros so many tiny inlets I had never heard of 


Video ~ Clifftop in Folegrandros Greece

     The sense of freedom left me giddy; I didn't realize how much I had missed seeing the world!

I think my favorite stop was Symi, it reminded me a lot of Portofino in Italy.

Such a beautiful quaint village, with baby blue water, I think I would like to go back there and stay for a week or so.

Video ~ Symi Greece

I enjoyed my first experience with Ponant, they are a French cruise line and most passengers on board were French. 

They do have sailings that are aimed at Americans in conjunction with the Smithsonian, but if you are not on one of those sailings you do need to be aware that English 

speaking people will be in the minority. 

I had no problem communicating with my fellow passengers as I quickly found out that most of them were bilingual and they spoke to me in English. 

I even picked up some French phases that will come in handy on my next trip to Paris.

This was their first sailing after a year of being shut down and I think passengers and crew alike were very happy to return to a sense of normalcy.

I know I sure was!

© 2020 Travel Leaders Group