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Uncover the storied Mediterranean on a unique sailing vessel
The 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.
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.
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, the 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, and 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 and a direct descendant of the opulent '30s—as you also enjoy the casual attitude and informal style of our small ship cruise of the Mediterranean.
We dropped anchor in the lovely bay of Hydra at 7:00 a.m. There is no initial “h” sound in modern Greek, so the name of the island is pronounced “Eedra.” Ancient Greek did have the “h” sound and so the word, at the time, was sounded out like “High-dra,” precisely like the name of the monster that Hercules killed. We took Zodiacs ashore and began a leisurely excursion of the principal settlement of Hydra Town. Bordering the Saronic Gulf, Hydra’s history stretches back to remote antiquity. However, the lovely two- and three-story gray houses with the red-tiled roofs date from the 1770s to the first quarter of the nineteenth century. We strolled on the waterfront with our guides and then visited the beautiful Church of the Dormition – the Orthodox Church refers to the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary (15 August) as the Dormition, her sleeping. The luminous church is all-marble. The interior holds many fine icons and some magnificent massive silver chandeliers, likely given by captains of wealth-laden ships, with ex voto ships suspended from their base. As much of the population in the seventeenth century would have been unable to read, the icons always provide hints in their decoration as to whom they are celebrating. Here we saw the beautiful silver icon of John the Baptist who – despite being depicted with wings and thus being mistaken for an angel – had at his feet a platter with his head on it, a reminder that he was beheaded by Herod’s daughter. The church was originally a monastery and the monastic enclosure still surrounds the church. We returned to Sea Cloud and feasted on the great parmesan wheel pasta dish — the pasta is swirled inside a 100-kilogram wheel of cheese, coating it with the delectable cheese. At 2:15 p.m., our historian gave a talk on the bubonic plague and its impact on Greek society and the many profound social changes it effected. John arranged with the captain for us to have a photo safari with Sea Cloud under sail, and shortly after our return, Massimo Bassano gave a photo-illustrated talk on monasticism. We ended the night with the Captain’s farewell dinner and celebrated the great week we enjoyed together.
This morning, we continued westward under sails toward the southeastern peninsula of the Peloponnese. We had our breakfast and heard a presentation from our National Geographic photographer Massimo Bassano: “Documentary Photography: The Way to Tell Stories of National Geographic.” Afterwards, the chief engineer, Yuriy, offered Engine Room tours for interested guests. As we enjoyed our lunch, we began approaching the imposing rock and walled Byzantine town of Monemvasia. Our Greek guides gave us a brief history of this amazing site and the Captain anchored us in just south of the isthmus connecting Monemvasia to the Peloponnese. Once in the town, some of us made the short walk across the isthmus to the town’s gate and some took the local shuttle up. Once inside the gate, we explored at leisure — engaging in some final shopping, enjoying a drink at a café and even climbing up to the top of the rock to view the Agia Sofia church. The guests who took the trek up to the ruins feasted their eyes on the panoramas over the sea and Peloponnesian coast. Our guides in the main square of the town also provided information and suggested more unique shops to stop by. After our exploration of this truly stunning and distinctive town, we were welcomed back to Sea Cloud , with dinner served on the Lido deck as we set sail from the coast. At the end of this fantastic day, we listened in delight to the songs of Sea Cloud Shanty Singers. It was a wonderful evening getting to know the crew and singing along with them — an authentic Sea Cloud experience.
We cruised overnight northwest through the increasing Meltemi winds from the northeast to reach the island of Sifnos and anchored in the harbor of Kamares. After breakfast we shuttled to shore and got on our coaches to the village of Kastro. Once in the cliffside town, we followed our guides Gemma and Kriton through the town for a brief history, getting acclimated so we could explore on our own. Kastro also provided us with breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea below. Some even had the courage to venture down the short, but steep, walk to the iconic Church of the Seven Martyrs. Those who chose to stay in Kastro were delighted by the many pottery shops that the island is known for. Once back in Kamares, there was a little time before heading back to Sea Cloud to enjoy a coffee and watch the fishermen in the port. Back aboard for lunch, we sailed out of the harbor and were treated with a presentation by historian Tom Heffernan on the “The Great Betrayal: Venice’s Treachery Against Constantinople and its Subsequent Control of Greece and the Cyclades,” after which the Captain sent the crew aloft to set sails for a relaxing afternoon. This evening Expedition Leader John Frick also gave us the history of the Sea Cloud , which was followed by an open house in the original cabins of the Merriweather Post family. With champagne in hand, all of us had the chance to see the extravagant rooms, after which we had a wonderful dinner provided by our talented chef team. The evening ended with a showing of “Around Cape Horn,” a classic black-and-white square-rig sailing short film.
Early in the morning we arrived at the island of Santorini, sailing into the caldera as the sun was coming up. The water was calm, the geological formations ‘painted’ but the reflections and the villages with their whitewashed houses hanging on the cliffs. From the main port we drove to the tip of the island, the picturesque settlement of Oia. Today it is known for its cave houses built into the volcanic rock. They used to be the dwellings of the local sailors but now are mostly summer houses. We had the chance for stunning views of the caldera with its two ‘Kameni’ (burnt) Islands. There was time to explore the settlement with its narrow streets, numerous churches with their characteristic blue domes. Oia is the most artistic village in Santorini and definitely the most photogenic. After our stay there we drove to Fira for a visit to the Museum of Prehistoric Thera where some of the most important and well-preserved finds of the city of Akrotiri are on display. We saw clay vessels of all different forms and shapes designed to satisfy the needs of ancient daily and ceremonial life, bronze artifacts, charming wall paintings that decorated both public and private buildings, and the unique one-of-a-kind small gold statue of the ibex: the only gold piece ever found in Akrotiri. The visit to the museum helped us comprehend and appreciate the advanced and sophisticated life of the city and its people in such remote times. With our visit to the actual sight we were able to see the remaining parts of its public buildings, spacious private housing, and its sewage and drainage systems. All evidence of an advanced society that experienced wealth and prosperity and lived a comfortable life filled with beauty—until the volcanic eruption brought it to a sudden death. The full day exploration was enriched by a very nice meal in a local taverna with traditional Greek and Santorini flavors along with local house wine. We left the island with a beautiful sunset and profound memories.
At 7:30 a.m., we sailed into the beautiful bay of the village of Katapola on the remote isle of Amorgos, the most southeasterly of the Cyclades with Crete – which exercised influence here in antiquity – just 240 kilometers due south. Our first stop was at the monastery of Panagia Khozoviotissa. Surely this is one of the most wonderfully situated monasteries in the world. It is carved into living cliff rock 300 meters above the blue Aegean. From where our bus was parked, we could see the brilliant whitewashed seven-story monastery clinging like a swallow’s nest to the cliff’s face. And up we started some 350 vertical steps in the bright sun. First built in A.D. 813, the monastery was restored to its present state in 1088 under the protection of the great Byzantine emperor Alexius I Comnenus. We entered the monastery through a narrow passage cut into the living rock. Once inside the tiny church, where Kriton provided helpful commentary, we saw the monastic stalls where the monks prayed antiphonally every day. The famous icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Child was on display. It is said that a woman named Hozoviossa sent this icon from Palestine and it arrived at this spot in an unmanned boat during the Iconoclastic Controversy of the eighth century. The monastery was built to both honor the icon and to provide a sufficiently remote place for the monks to pray. After our trek to the monastery we had free time in the beautiful unspoiled Chora. Here, the brilliant white alleys with their bright blue doors and windows were covered over with blooming magenta bougainvillea and white, red, and pink oleanders. It was deliciously beautiful. On our walk through the village, I noticed an ancient Roman tombstone strategically placed in the lintel of one of the houses. Such use of ancient stones was very common. Once back in Katapola, a few of us went for a brief swim in the cool blue Aegean. After lunch the crew went aloft and set sails at 2:45 p.m.: We followed Homer’s advice and sailed “in the wine-dark sea.” Our captain gave an informative talk on the Spanker deck on the sails and how they function on a square-rigger. Jennifer then gave a talk on taking photos in the islands, and at 5:00 p.m. Tom Heffernan gave a talk on the complex script of Linear B, which we know now to be the earliest evidence of the Greek language, pushing the date back to 1650 B.C., earlier than Sanskrit and the oldest written vernacular European language. Tonight, we had the additional treat of the Captain’s welcome dinner, a wonderful opportunity to establish new friendships and compare our stories from the past two days sailing in the blue Aegean.
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.