For tourists visiting the Greek metropolis of Athens, the Athens One Day Cruise is a heavily advertised and touted one day cruise from Athens to three Greek islands and it turns out to be extremely expensive and tiresome. The idea of visiting three picturesque islands in just one day sounds terrific. But at 99 Euros and a lot more in US dollars per person it is really outrageously expensive. Though if you have the good sense to stop into one or two of the many travel agencies around town you can get it for 85 Euros, as we did.
True, you get picked up at or near your hotel in the morning and returned in the late evening, but the total of about 13 hours will knock you out. And as advertised you do get a lunch aboard the ship. But it is the absolute worst food in Greece you can experience and you are packed into a dining area in a most uncomfortable way. Worse yet, the lunch does not even come with free water; you must pay for water and any other beverage you desire. Like everywhere else in Greece there is also a shopping opportunity on board.
The cruise company also works hard at selling you some expensive shore excursions at the large island of Aegina. We were tempted by the one that take people to a beach for swimming, but luckily decided against it because we had become angry about the costly nature of the cruise. Instead, when we arrived we could see from the ship that there was a sandy beach just a few minutes from the dock. We walked there and spent just 5 Euros, instead of the 40 Euros the excursion would have cost for the two of us, and rented lounge chairs under an umbrella and greatly enjoyed the wonderful warm waters.
Of course you do get to visit three terrific Greek islands, but the time you get on them is very short, from about 40 minutes to 1.5 hours. The best island is Hydra, known for its marvelous, unique architecture, crystal clear waters, very nice craft and jewelry shops, folk art and the island’s traditional means of transport for people and everything else – the donkey, and where there are no cars. Second best is Poros, also small and incredibly beautiful. The third and largest is Aegina, which is where they try and sell you on the costly excursions, and where the free beach swimming is readily available. This island is most like Athens itself. At all of the islands there are endless opportunities for shopping, but as with Athens itself, everything is rather expensive. And most of the time you keep seeing the same type of unimpressive tourist junk for sale, but the jewelry is often outstanding.
An alternative to this one day cruise is to take inexpensive ferries to individual islands and between them and if you have the time spend several hours on each of them. Or on other islands that are supposed to be terrific.