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18th April, 2015

Mikonos, Greece

Well, when you read the name of the port in the heading many will say, I thought that the next port was Syros. The reason to go to this beautiful island was that having departed from Piraeus we were informed that, due to the persistent southerly winds, the water level along the berth at Syros was lower than expected and that the tug boat crews had announced that they were now going on strike on 18 April. Suddenly the ship had to go into high gear to find a replacement port, organise the immigration and customs officials, have some shore excursions in place, one of which was to an island and needed both busses and boats, and the shuttle bus into town. With the combined effort of the management team ashore, my team on board, and the Port Agent we were successful. Our passengers were advised of the change, which was very gracefully received. So, this morning, we arrived at 7 am at the Mikonos pilot station, which is actually only 15 nautical miles from Syros, and were berthed at 8 am.

Mikonos is part of the Cyclades, lying between Syros, Paros and Naxos. The town is called after Mikonos, the son or grandson of Apollo. It was first settled in 300BC followed by the Ionians in 100 BC, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetians, the Catalans and the Ottoman Empire till 1821 when there was the Greek Revolution, during which Mikonos played an important role, led by the national Heroine Manto Mavroganous. The island was prosperous till 1904, when the Corinth Canal opened and took trade away. Thanks to numerous important excavations, carried out by Archaeologists on the island of Delos, tourism soon came to dominate the local economy. This is still the case today.

Shortly after the officials boarded the ship was cleared and our passengers could proceed ashore to enjoy the sights. Today’s tours were:

Exploring the Secret Island of Delos. Delos is one of the Cyclades islands about a 30 minute boat ride from Mikonos. According to Greek Mythology it is the birthplace of Apollo, the god of light, and his sister Atemis, the god of the moon. On the island there are signs of occupation going back some 3000 years. Our guests visited the Agora of the Competaliasts, the Temple of the Delians, the Minoan Fountain, the Terrace of the Lions, the Temples dedicated to Hera and Isis, the Sanctuary of Dionysus, some well-preserved Hellenistic houses, including that of Cleopatra, with their exquisite mosaic floors and the old Roman Quarter with the ancient statues of Dyonysus, the god of wine and celebrations.

Panoramic Mikonos was the opportunity to explore Mikonos from the comfort of a coach offering views of the island’s superb beaches and distinct landscape laden with stark white houses and red or blue domed churches. A special stop was made in the traditional village of Ano Mera, where the Monastery of Panayia was visited and a nice meal of appetizers and Ouzo was enjoyed in a local restaurant on the village’s tranquil square.

For passengers wishing to explore independently there was a shuttlebus to the centre of Mikonos.

Once all our passengers were back on board the pilot boarded and we left the berth. After turning the ship towards the exit channel the pilot guided us to the pilot station, where he disembarked and we set course for our next port of call Canakkale.

The evening started for the Britannia Club members and me with the Britannia Club Cocktail Party in the Britannia Lounge, during which there was time to have a chat with some of the 378 members, of which 41 were Sapphire members. For the other passengers there was the pre-dinner cocktail hour in Cooper’s Bar with Dave Peterson at the piano and in the Drawing Room, where the Perfect Mood Duo entertained the guests. After Dinner the Britannia Lounge was the venue for Cabaret Showtime featuring the spellbinding, staggering virtuosity of Harry The Piano who has the uncanny ability to play any tune in any style. This was followed in the Drawing Room by Easy Listening with The Perfect Mood Duo and in Cooper’s Bar by The Late Show with Dave Peterson at the piano.

Captain Kees Spekman

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