Treasures of the Aegean July 29, 2021

Anyone else scheduled for this cruise? Excited.


  • Not until next year, but please report back so we can all ask questions.

  • This is on our "list" - will look forward to hearing all about your cruise.....

  • Please write a review. Hope u really enjoy the trip. Stay safe. We had this trip for 2020. Really want to do it.

  • I have been debating booking for 2022. It seems that the only dates open next year are during the summer months. I also read a number of reviews saying that the ship was not up to Tauck standards. I would love to hear your thoughts!

  • edited August 2021

    You need to check the dates of the reviews- Windstar Cruises changed ownership a few years ago. The 35 year old MSY Wind Star underwent a significant renovation in 2015 and I'm sure received a lot of care during the COVID down-time. Also, make sure you are reading Tauck reviews- Wind Star accommodates Tauck and non-Tauck travelers on the same voyage- Tauck travelers have a much better experience. Also, some voyagers book the Wind Star, expecting a large ship experience with suites instead of cabins, a half dozen restaurants, and floor shows during dinner. Remember the Wind Star is a small ship and only carries a max of 148 pax, much like the Scylla river boats. Windstar Cruises is routinely named the top in its class, by the likes of Conde Naste. If it were not up to Tauck standards, whatever that may mean, Tauck would not be contracting with them.

    Unless she was extending, kareninsureme should have arrived home late yesterday. I hope she reports back here. It appears no travelers from the 1, 8, 15, and 22 July departures have stopped in here. :#

    FYI, according to cruisemapper, Wind Star is enroute Mykonos for a 1 week Greek Isles filler cruise before the next group boards on 14 August for the (12 August) Treasures of the Aegean, cruise. All of the crew members aboard the Wind Star yacht have been vaccinated.

  • edited August 2021

    The “Wind Star” is not the “Queen Elizabeth”. It is a big sail boat. They have excellent food, minimal entertainment, and the staterooms are nice, but not spectacular. Windstar has repeatedly been voted as the best small ship cruise line. We just got off of the “Star Breeze” which was just ‘rebuilt and stretched’, and it is spectacular. We have done eighteen Windstar cruises, one on the “Wind Star”, thirteen on the “Wind Surf”, and four on the “Star” boats … conventionally powered ships. We obviously prefer the “Wind Surf”, the biggest ‘sailboat’ in the world. Actually, she has a sister ship the “Club Med II”. Expectations are everything. If you want the “QE II”, don’t go on the “Wind Star”. It is a big sailboat, and it is not for everyone. That being said, we love Windstar, and it is our favorite cruise line. They use small ships for small ports. You don’t often see big cruise ships where Windstar goes.

  • I am joining this cruise in Athens on August 19. On the 21st we trransfer to the "Wind Star." Have been notified we may not make the stop in Turkey for the day visit to Ephesus and the evening dinner planned there - Tauck is apparently taking this day by day.

  • smarks50
    I am joining this cruise in Athens on August 19. On the 21st we transfer to the "Wind Star." Have been notified we may not make the stop in Turkey for the day visit to Ephesus and the evening dinner planned there - Tauck is apparently taking this day by day.

    Ouch! The tour of Ephesus and the nighttime dinner in front of the facade of the Library of Celsus are two of the biggest highlights of this tour!! The Library of Celsus was the third-largest library in the Roman world behind only Alexandria and Pergamum. The ship spends the day there- I wonder what stop Windstar/Tauck is considering to replace it with?

    I hope it is not so- please report back when you get home.

  • edited August 2021

    This was a great trip. It was our first Tauck tour. We were not on a sailboat. I don't remember the name of the ship but there were only 60 passengers (and 55 crew members....if you thought you needed something, they had it for you before being asked.

  • AlanS: I actually did this same cruise about four years ago but the last four days were ruined by a torrential rainstorm so I decided to try this again hoping that the COVID nightmare would be over by now. We had only a few hours on Santorini and had to miss Monemvasia altogether. We spent most of those days sheltered in a little harbor waiting for the storm to blow over and to make a dash for Athens so people could make their flights home. We did get to have the dinner at Ephesus (and I had attended a cocktail party there a few years before on a Seabourn cruise) and I agree it is a fabulous night. Obviously, when I booked this trip I thought that evening would be a certainty but now we have to take each day as it comes. I will update this when I return but I am doing a trip to Italy following the cruise so I won't be home (I think) before mid-September. I am taking that trip day by day as well!!

  • smarks50 thanks for checking in!!! Best of luck.

    Unfortunately, Greece is broiling under one of its worst heat waves in decades. While there are some fires on the west side of the Peloponnese, the major fires in Greece are currently at the north end of the island of Euboea (Evia), the second-largest Greek island in area and population, after Crete. It is separated from mainland Greece by the narrow Euripus. The fires are at the north end of the island and only about 100 mi. almost directly north and a little northwest of Athens. According to WeatherSpark the prevailing wind in Athens is from the north - northwest in late August, so you can expect a considerable amount smoke if they don't get them under control in the next week or so before you arrive. The fires in Turkey are well east of Kusadasi/Ephesus, and mostly on the south coast from Antalya eastward. I'm sort of a heathen, but what is going on around the world seems to be approaching biblical proportions.

    I know this is not what you want to hear, but best of luck this time around.

  • AlanS: I lam from Northern California so am living under clouds of smoke now - was hoping to get away from this but I know the situation in mainland Greece is as bad or worse. Maybe when we start the cruise and get out to the islands the air will improve! I leave tomorrow for a few pre-days in Athens so am doing last minute packing tonight.

  • edited August 2021

    Alan, the good thing about you is that you may be a heathen, but you are a heathen with a sense of humor. :) We are preparing for another tropical storm, be it a small one, I hope. If I could, I would send some of our rain storms west for Smark, or to Greece to help him out there. It has rained almost daily like a cow peeing on a flat rock, to clean up an old saying.

  • edited August 2021

    ndvb, You'll need to strap some floats or pontoons on that big RV! :D

  • smarks50
    August 14
    AlanS: I am from Northern California so am living under clouds of smoke now - was hoping to get away from this but I know the situation in mainland Greece is as bad or worse. Maybe when we start the cruise and get out to the islands the air will improve! I leave tomorrow for a few pre-days in Athens so am doing last minute packing tonight.

    My brother who lives way down in Sunnyvale is also experiencing some smoke!

    Last night I sent an email to a local Greek guide that was going to take us to Delphi before Treasures in 2021 and now hopefully in 2022. We haven't exchanged emails in a number of months, so I don't know her status. She lives in Athens so I hope I can get an on-site update on what is going on there wrt COVID and the fires. If/when I hear back, I post the info.

  • Hi all! I got back from Greece and am only now getting around to giving an update. We had a wonderful trip. Yes it was HOT! We climbed to the top of the Acropolis and learned that a couple days later it was closed to the public by Greece because it had gotten even hotter. We did not get to go to Ephesus -- seaports in Turkey were closed to Greece due to "geo-political" reasons. There was nothing Wind Star or Tauck could do about this. This could change, who knows? We went to a different island instead. Wind Star is not just a "sail boat" it is a ship with sails. There is an embarkation ceremony with music and raising of the sails each time the ship leaves a port but the ship is engine driven and sails come down in a bit. Cabins are "cozy". There are no big suites, but they have used every available inch for storage, I was impressed. I was not so impressed with our mattress. By the end of our cruise I was ready to sleep in my own bed again -- but then this happens at the end of every trip. The food was great, we both gained weight. Unlimited adult beverages (Tauck guests wore pins that identified them, other guests either purchased a drink package or paid on an individual drink basis). You absolutely MUST swim in the sea behind the ship. This was not available every day due to choppy water, currents, but it was an awesome experience the days it was available. Smoke from fires -- we only experienced smoke at our last port-of-call Nafplion and it was not too bad but noticeable. Back in Athens on our day of disembarkation there was also smoke in the air but the breeze changed and it cleared. The Wind Star activities director (not Tauck) made a presentation each evening about what to expect at the next day's port. The night before Santorini the photo of the Santorini port area (taken in 2019) showed wall-to-wall people. With tourism just ramping up, it was a WONDERFUL time to visit. Minimal crowds. As the activities director discussed the options on the islands and how to catch the buses, taxis, etc. it was so nice to know that our visit was already taken care of for us. Tauck guests were always the first group to be tendered to shore, our buses were always waiting. So easy and worry free. COVID -- my brother had said to me "a cruise ship is the last place I would want to be". Actually, we felt it was a very safe place. Vaccination was a requirement. We were tested before being allowed to board and a couple days later we were tested again. These were at no additional cost. The required test to return to the USA is at your own expense. It was required to carry a vaccine certificate, photo copy of it or a picture on your phone for all excursions because some locations required it. MASKS -- Greece requires masks indoors. On board the ship, masks were required indoors except when eating or drinking (so just drink a LOT lol). I wore a mask more during this trip than I wore during the entire pandemic at home. But I felt that was a good trade off to be able to travel again.

    DO make evening reservations for dinner on the 8th floor of the Grand Bretagne! About an hour before sunset is good. As the sun sets and the dark draws near, the Acropolis is beautiful. Reservations are a must.

  • edited August 2021

    kareninsureme - Nice recap of your trip. Your brother's comment "a cruise ship is the last place I would want to be", I think is true if the cruise ship in question is one of the large cruise ships ( in my definition if there are 500 or more passengers then it qualifies as a large ship - the ones with 3000+ are mega ships, :D ). For Tauck's small ship cruising, I think at this point in time, they may be the best Tauck option in terms of Covid impact, especially if the tour only visits one country. Your trip ended up being only one country, even though the intent was to visit two countries. In this circumstance you only have one country, one cruise line, and Tauck's Covid rules to follow.

    We did the 2011 version of this tour when several Turkish ports were included - Bodrum, Ephesus, and Istanbul. I know they have dropped Istanbul, which is a shame since, in my opinion, it is one of the most interesting cities that I've ever visited. Robin Tauck and entourage was on this tour with us. When we were in Bodrum, as a Tauck extra they chartered three small boats (I forget what they are called) and we sailed down the coast a bit, anchored, and everyone swam off the boat. My recollection was that part of the Mediterranean was very salty. It could have been a seasonal thing, I don't know.

    The Grand Bretagne was great. It's location and the rooftop restaurant added to its enjoyment. View from restaurant during breakfast and then dinner.

  • kareninsureme -

    Thanks for the very informative post of your experiences!

  • Nice evaluation of the trip. I'm with your brother about going on cruises. But, I'm also with Sam....big ship cruises (big petri dishes). Sam, I too took this cruise in 2011 and really enjoyed the beginning days in Istanbul. I too loved it there. I thought that I would like to come back and spend a month or so there. I really enjoyed sailing through the Bosphorus and Dardanelles. As a history buff, I remember reading about the importance of those two straights. Ephesus was unbelievable. I assume you had the same ship we did. I don't remember the name, but it did not have sails. We did our swimming in the Aegean Sea and it was very salty....easy to just float around. I think we only had 60 Tauck guests and there were 55 crew members. I felt like if I needed anything, I had before I told anyone. There were only Tauck guests. I shared a trip with other company's guests to Antarctica. The drink policy was a mess....The other company's people started telling the bar tenders they forgot their badge, or had Tauck guests get drinks for them. Too long of a story for here.

    I'm glad you enjoyed your trip. It is one of my favorites.

  • Ndvb - my tour was on the Windstar. At the time Tauck had two ships doing the tour, the Windstar and the WindSpirit. One went eastbound ( started in Athens ) and the other went westbound ( started in Istanbul ). They crossed paths mid tour. I have pictures with the two ships together. Both ships were just as kareninsureme described. Ships with several masts/sails that got the majority of its power from the engines not the sails. My tour started in Athens, while yours started in Istanbul.

  • edited August 2021

    Hi all! I got back from Greece and am only now getting around to giving an update.

    Karen, thanks. You took me by surprise. I know I had some questions but need some time to remember. It is truly too bad about Ephesus! The Greeks and Turks/Ottomans have been going at each other since time immemorial! What replaced it?

    Smiling Sam
    Tauck . . . . chartered three small boats (I forget what they are called)

    A gulet

  • I believe they added Milos to replace Ephesus. It was a first for our TD. Enjoyed it. What was remarkable about the area was how populous it was in the past. They had quite sophisticated cities with water systems and sewer systems. Only a small % of ruins have been excavated. If you excavate you must catalog, preserve, etc. We were told there have been some excavations done, opened for documentaries, public, and then buried again as they are more protected that way. We shared the Wind Star with Wind Star guests. Our group consisted of 29 people. I think our ship had only about 110-120 guests total although the capacity was 148. Yes, the Aegean was very salty. One swim was in an area with a current and was refreshingly chilly. My other swim was in a more sheltered area with very still water which was actually warm. Not quite bathtub warm, but warm. My sense of humor was wasted on the crew members staffing the swimming area. Before I jumped in I asked “there are no rocks in the water are there? It is safe to jump in?” In the still water I was able to sit upright with my chin above water without treading. Bouyant!

    On the Grand Bretagne rooftop dining room we observed a protest in the street below in front of the parliament building. People were protesting the threat of mandatory vaccination. Made us feel right at home lol.

    I have to comment on the tour guides. They were top notch! I am not a historian by any means but we had two guests in particular who were very educated on the history of the area — my husband (opposites attract) and a young late 20’s single guy who had a lot of it plus philosophy in university. When the official tour was over these two and the guide walked and talked, exchanged ideas and theories. It was fun to watch.

    We visited Istanbul in 2019. Amazing! Cruised the Bosphorous. Side trip to Capadocia and did the hot air balloons. This was a pre-trip for a Tauck river cruise Budapest to Black Sea. Really enjoyed.

  • edited August 2021

    I just read the wiki- Milos has quite a history and changed hands many times! A number of famous ancient sculptures were uncovered there including the Venus de Milo which is now in the Louvre!

    How long did you spend on Milos? Did you get any refund or was Milos considered a one-for-one swap with Ephesus? From the itinerary it doesn't sound like Patmos and to some extent Monemvasia are that interesting, at least compared to Ephesus and Nafplion. Can you comment?

    Did you take any pre-tour or post-tour private excursions in or around Athens, or to elsewhere in Greece?

  • kareninsureme - On the Grand Bretagne rooftop dining room we observed a protest in the street below in
    front of the parliament building.

    It must be a permanent thing in Greece - the demonstrations. We also had demonstrations. At one point they shuddered the hotel (brought down the metal shades over the street level windows) and brought out secret service type security (ear buds for comms). It didn't get ugly, but I think we had demonstrations everyday we were there.

    AlanS - Did you take any pre-tour or post-tour private excursions in or around Athens, or to elsewhere in Greece?

    We actually took the local tourist train around the Agora (you could get on and off several times if you desired, which we did). It was fun.

    Yes the boat was a gulet. Here is Robin Tauck doing a back flip/dive off the boat at our swimming spot.

  • edited August 2021

    I think demonstrations are standard in Greece, most especially in Syntagma Square ("Constitution Square") in Athens. Kinda like Lafayette Square in DC but with more significance. Syntagma Square is in front of the 19th century Old Royal Palace of King Otto. It has housed the Greek Parliament since 1934. The wiki says it is the most important square of modern Athens from both a historical and social point of view, at the heart of commercial activity and Greek politics.

  • AlanS - there are numerous things to see and do within walking distance of the Grand Bretagne that aren’t visited on the tour, at least the 2011 version. There are some good outdoor restaurants throughout the Agora.

  • edited August 2021

    I just received a reply to an email I sent to Windstar Cruises about visiting Ephesus- here is their reply (my bolding and color):

    "In regards to your inquiry, at this time Turkey has closed all travel from Greece via sea due to political issues. Should this change, we will revert back to the original itinerary. This itinerary change is solely due to the travel restrictions for Turkey, and as soon as we are able to visit Ephesus again, we will."

    Should I post this in a separate thread?

  • kareninsureme - Thank you for posting your feedback. We are on the tour beginning Sept 9th. Disappointing about Ephesus but you have to be flexible to travel these days.

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