Cruise package – Venice to Athens with Norwegian Cruise Line

Why do we love this Mediterranean cruise package from Venice to Athens? Quite simply for the fantastic destinations on this 10-day cruise adventure onboard Norwegian Viva.

Explore Italy, beautiful Croatia, and great ports in Turkey, then follow the sun over the Aegean sea to Greece and her islands. And experience historic Athens before you fly home.

Many of these ports are simply bucket list destinations you should visit at least once. We show you how to create your cruise package with Norwegian Cruise Line for the ultimate European summer vacation.

Mediterranean cruise 2023 with Norwegian Cruise Line

You use this article to create your 15-night package suggestion and book your holiday at the right price possible to get the best value for your money.

This Italy to Greece cruise package starts with two nights in stunning Venice followed by two nights in historical Trieste, where you then climb on board your ship for a 9-night cruise on the Adriatic Sea to Croatia and the Greek Isles. Finish your cruise journey with two nights in Athens.

A cruise vacation is easy to book yourself, so you have complete control over your vacation! Before making your booking with the cruise line, be sure to check out our top tips for preparation and think about when making your booking.

2 nights in Venice, 2 nights in Trieste, a 9-night cruise of the Greek Isles: Santorini, Mykonos & Croatia to Athens, plus 2 nights in Athens

You will need to book an open-jaw flight ticket to fit this itinerary. Open jaw means that you fly into one city and home from another. It differs from a “return” ticket to and from the same destination.

When making your flight reservation, book your ticket like this. Let’s say, for example, you are flying from New York:

Outbound flight ticket: New York to Venice

Inbound flight ticket: Athens to New York

You should still book this as one ticket. Most often, you will get a better price booking one “open-jaw” ticket than booking two separate tickets (one for your outbound journey, another for your inbound trip). For more information about these types of flight tickets, read our article here.

Before you leave home, we recommend that you download the Norwegian Cruise Line app onto your mobile telephone. It’s a great way to easily check in for your cruise, stay connected with family and friends on the ship, plan your activities, make reservations and see all that’s happening on board. And you do not need Wi-Fi to use it!

Pre-cruise day 1-2: Arrive in Venice

Fly into Venice airport – officially called Venice Marco Polo Airport

Transfer to your hotel using one of our recommended transportation alternatives. If you are staying on Venice island (and we hope you are!), then note that cars, taxis, and buses are not allowed beyond the central transport hub of Piazzale Roma. You need to walk or take the Vaporetto water boat to your hotel. Your hotel’s website often provides detailed information on the nearest Vaporetto stop to the hotel entrance.

With triumphant architecture sitting on winding waterways, Venice hosts travelers, holidaymakers, cruise ships, festivals, and galas throughout the year. And now you can explore this wonderful city’s history before you start your cruise.

Read our detailed article on Venice to find out where to stay, and follow our detailed itineraries to make the most of your time there.

Pre-cruise day 3: Train from Venice to Trieste

On day 3, have a great breakfast and do any last-minute sightseeing or shopping in Venice. Then check out of your hotel and head to the train station.

If you are staying on the mainland in Venice, head to Venezia Mestre train station, which sits just across the canal from Venice island. But if you stayed on Venice island itself, head to Venezia Santa Lucia train station.

It is easy to travel from Venice to Trieste by train. Purchase train tickets traveling to Trieste Centrale. The quickest journey is about 2 hours and costs around 15 euros per person.

Hotels in Trieste

Here are our top 4 hotel recommendations for your stay in Trieste. There are all located within a 15-minute taxi journey from Trieste central station. And there are plenty of taxis outside the station but check the price with the driver. It should cost around 20 euros but more if you travel at night or on the weekend.

Double Tree by Hilton Trieste

The Double Tree by Hilton hotel is about a 10-minute walk from the cruise port. The beautiful building is surrounded by a good selection of cafes and restaurants. Become a Hilton Honors member. Get discounts when booking and expect extra perks when you check-in. We appreciated the chilled bottled water and fresh cookies.

Savoia Excelsior Palace

This is an excellent hotel, architecturally stunning, right next to the cruise port near Piazza Unità d’Italia. Enjoy good service and friendly staff – everything you’d expect for a 4-star plus experience. Ask for a balcony room directly overlooking the pier for a beautiful view. And to top it all, their lounge has an excellent cocktail menu.

Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta

This small, intimate boutique hotel has good facilities and an excellent restaurant, Harry’s Piccolo. It’s located right on Piazza Unità d’Italia and has unbeatable views.

Hotel Continentale

Centrally located, the hotel Continentale is a 10-minute walk from the central train station in Trieste and 15 minutes from the cruise port. Some rooms are a little dated, but overall an excellent 4-star experience.

Pre-cruise day 3-5: Discover the port city of Trieste

The average cruise guest for Venice often overlooks Trieste. Many travelers only transfer to Trieste when they need to board their cruise ship. However, Trieste is well-deserving of your time. Plus, staying here will be less expensive compared to Venice hotel prices.

Trieste, located in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, is the historic capital of the area. The architecture, cuisine, and languages reflect its multicultural diversity, a mixture of Mediterranean and central European heritage. We love this little city.

Piazza Unità d’Italia (Unity of Italy square) is a great central starting point for exploring. This is the main square in Trieste. Once home to the old marina, it faces the sea and is the city’s commercial hub. It is also right next to the cruise port.

Follow our itinerary suggestions to make the most of your time visiting Trieste.

Day 5: Check-in for your Mediterranean cruise from Trieste

Time to cruise! Your Greek Isles cruise from Trieste, including nine more fantastic destinations in Italy, Croatia, and Greece, is finally here! Check out from your hotel and transfer to the Trieste cruise port terminal.

The easiest way to get from your hotel to the port (if you are not within walking distance)for your cruise is by taxi. Ask your hotel for help in making a reservation.

Alternatively, see our detailed information on how to get to the port here.

Your port name, address, and check-in time are on your cruise ticket. Make sure you get there in time!

Cruise Line: Norwegian Cruise Line
Name of Ship: Norwegian Viva – read more about the fantastic Norwegian Viva ships here!
Start Date: Departures from May to August (Tip! Cruise dates and itineraries are subject to change at any time. Check with Norwegian Cruise Line at the time of booking)
Length of Cruise: 9 days
Cruise Port: From Port of Trieste, Italy, to Port of Athens, Greece.

Day 5 – 14: Greek Isles: Italy, Croatia & Greece to Athens cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line (9 nights)

Cruise day 1: Trieste

Cruise day 2: Ravenna, Italy

Ravenna, located in the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy, is a quaint, historic city located 150km south of Venice on the Adriatic Sea. Proudly home to eight Unesco World Heritage monuments, the historical center of Ravenna is a charming maze of tiny streets packed with museums, parks, local cafes, restaurants, and local boutiques. Shop the main streets via Cavour, via Diaz, and via Cairoli to find small artisan shops, local wines, and food.

Ravenna is the old capital of the Roman Empire, and it is worth booking a tour with a local guide to appreciate the history of your surroundings.

Cruise day 3: Split, Croatia

The beautiful city of Split on the Adriatic sea dates back to Roman times. It can get crowded in the narrow, winding city center streets and the pavements are cobbled so wear good shoes.

Experience specialty coffee shops, seafood restaurants, and local cafes. If you are exploring on your own, start at the entrance to Diocletian Palace. It is one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture.

Then walk to the cathedral, and climb the bell tower for a fantastic view over the city. Continue to the vibrant food markets, and you will get a glimpse of the lifestyle of the locals in this mesmerizing city.

Looming over the city is Marjan, a hilly forest region with walking trails, mountain climbing, and bike routes.

Split has numerous tiny, stony beaches along the ocean, ideal for swimming. Try Bačvice for a quick swim, just a short walk from the city center. 

Cruise day 4: Dubrovnik, Croatia

Quite possibly, our favorite stop on this cruise, despite all destinations being incredible, is Dubrovnik. Described as one of the most picturesque European cities, step into Dubrovnik’s traffic-free old city and admire the mixture of medieval, Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque architecture.

This stunningly beautiful, thriving UNESCO World Heritage site is full of quaint shops, cafes, and local craft markets. Take time to explore the surrounding area, too, with beaches, sub-tropical vegetation, and pine woods covered in orange and lemon fruit trees,

We recommend booking a day tour with a trusted supplier offering a local guide.

Cruise day 5: Corfu, Greece

Corfu is a real gem on this Greek Isles cruise itinerary. With its unique mountain range encircling small coves and hidden bays along its clear-blue coastline, you need to disembark your cruise ship early to make the most of your day here.

Getting to the old town by foot from Corfu port takes about 20 minutes. Alternatively, you can find taxis and buses right outside after exiting the passenger cruise terminal upon arrival in port.

There are plenty of sightseeing trips that your cruise line can offer you. However, we recommend packing your hiking shoes for this port and exploring yourself.

Discover mountain villages amongst the olive groves, Venetian palaces, and secluded off-the-beaten-track coves.

The island has fantastic nature, just waiting to be explored. Take a backpack, refreshments, sunscreen, and sun hat, and explore on your own. Keep an eye on the time so you make it back to your cruise ship before departure! 

Cruise day 6: Santorini, Greece

Your final stop on this cruise before returning to Athens is Santorini’s small, romantic island. A rocky island, its volcanic beauty is indisputable.

Santorini is a tender port. The cruise ship will anchor in the bay and get you to the island on small tender boats. Cruise ships will often stay in the bay long into the evening, which means you can enjoy the breathtaking sunset.

Santorini is “the island that time forgot” and has a rich history of ancient Greeks who lived in caves carved into volcanic rock. Being a volcanic island, Santorini is known for using volcanic rock and lava in jewelry and beauty products. They make great souvenirs to take home with you.

Explore both Fira and Oia

It is certainly possible to visit Fira and Oia during your port stop at Santorini.

Book a ship excursion or a tour with an independent supplier such as Viator if you need help with transportation and are unable to walk far.

Even better, and one we recommend over and again, is booking your private tour guide. That way, your day is tailor-made to suit you with a knowledgeable guide.

In an air-conditioned vehicle, you can get around easily as Santorini gets hot and very crowded, with many cruise ships arriving daily into the port at high season. Queues can be long, so come prepared with sunscreen, a hat, and a water bottle. An ideal combination is a half-day private tour followed by a half-day exploring yourself.

If you want to explore by yourself with a guide, you can get to the capital, Fira, from the tender port by walking or by cable car. Cable car tickets are available right by the tender arrival spot, and one-way tickets cost around 6 euros per person. If you walk up the 600 steps, wear good walking shoes!

The view from Fira is of colorful houses overlooking caldera cliffs plunging to depths from which you can sometimes see whales. Famous for good wine, there are some excellent vineyards to visit. If you prefer to take the opportunity to shop, start in Fira for art, jewelry, and local crafts. 

Walking to Oia from Fira is impossible as it will take too long (the 10km hike takes around 4 hours). Choose a taxi that takes about 15 minutes and costs around 40 euros, alternatively a local bus from central Fira.

Visit Oia and experience a little piece of paradise

Oia, a beautiful village of white-washed houses, is located on the north-western tip of Santorini. It takes about a half hour by bus from Fira to get there. Alternatively, if you want to make Oia your first stop when you arrive by tender into the port, there are local boats to take you there. When you get off the boat, it’s just a short bus ride to the center.

Oia is famous for its sunsets. Look out over the roofs of the famous Blue Domed Churches, probably one of the most well-known images of Santorini.

Note that the areas around these churches are private, so you cannot walk too close, watch out for the private property signs and respect these. Afterward, walk down the cliffside from the town of Ammoudi Bay Harbor. A beautiful, cozy waterside bay with excellent seafood!

If you are looking for beaches, the most famous are Black Beach and Red Beach. These are so named for their colorful stones derived from volcanic rock – there are no white sandy shores here!

Cruise day 7: Kusadasi, Turkey

Kusadasi is a charming seaside resort on the west coast of Turkey. It’s a major port for all the large cruise ships. An excursion to nearby Ephesus is not to be missed at this port of call.

The ruins of the ancient city of Ephesus stand on the coast of Ionia. Just 30 minutes from the port. We highly recommend a cruise line shore excursion to this destination. Local tour guides accompany you for a fantastic insight into the story and historical significance of the ruins.

Cruise day 8: Istanbul, Turkey

Cruise day 9: Mykonos Greece

Mykonos is our favorite Greek island with its simple, white-washed houses, beautiful beaches, and friendly locals.

This is a tender port, meaning that your cruise ship is anchored in the bay, and you are tendered to shore onboard a smaller boat. It’s a short journey.

You will get off the cruise ship quicker if you book an excursion with your cruise line. Otherwise, get your tender boat ticket as early as possible from the customer service personnel on board.

If you want to check out Mykonos on your own time, you can walk to Mykonos Town from your boat’s arrival point.

The town offers a charming maze of traditional white stone houses and narrow streets lined with shops peddling everything from designer sunglasses to elaborate lace tablecloths.

There are also many restaurants serving up traditional Greek food and snacks and, of course, delicious Greek coffee.

The island is a magnet for travelers from all over the world, with its beautiful beaches like Platis Gialos and Paraga Beach – both considered some of Europe’s finest stretches of sand.

In addition, you can visit famous attractions such as the Blue Caves (also known by their Turkish name, the Limani).

Mykonos is a popular destination for celebrities and is famous as an artists’ colony with many galleries showcasing everything from paintings to sculptures.

Cruise Day 10: Athens

After your last breakfast on board, disembark your cruise ship at the Port of Piraeus outside of Athens. Transfer to your hotel in central Athens. Follow our two days Athens guide for great itineraries, hotel options, and much more to make the most of your time in this beautiful city. You’ll find detailed itineraries, including:

Classic Athens, the essential sights – Acropolis, Hadrian’s Library, Monastiraki Square, Plaka
Cape Sounion and Temple of Poseidon – view a coastal view along the Attic Peninsular.

Post-cruise day 15 – Check out and transfer to Athens International Airport

It’s time to transfer back to Athens airport for your flight home.

Remember, if you have a morning flight, ask the hotel for an early check out and assistance booking a private transfer or a taxi to the airport.

Transport options to and from Athens International Airport

Here are the transport options you have to get to Athens International Airport – officially called Athens Eleftherios Venizelos – from your city center hotel:

Airport Shuttle Buses

Athens has an excellent bus system if you travel on a budget and want to save money. The bus is the cheapest option, but the trip can take up to 60 minutes, depending on traffic conditions in Athens.

Syntagma Square is the most central stop in the city. Purchase bus tickets from your hotel concierge or on board the bus. The fare is 6 euros per person and half price for children under 18.

Taxi

A taxi will cost you about €50 and takes approximately 40 minutes. This is the most expensive option; however, you don’t have to carry your luggage and get door-to-door service straight from your hotel. If you are four people traveling together, this will be the most convenient option and the best value for money.

Be sure to ask your hotel to arrange an official taxi for you. Never take a cab from someone who approaches you offering you a journey.

Metro

Another alternative is the metro station that will give you easy access to Athens airport from Athens City Center (Syntagma).

The trains depart the station (Syntagma) frequently. When you arrive at the airport, use the elevated walkway to get to your departure terminal. A single ticket costs €10 per person.

Need more tips on cruising? We’re here to help!

Cruise from Athens – the essential guide

Essential Tips for a First-Time Cruise

Cruise packing list essentials – our best tips

12 Top tips for booking a cruise and avoiding common mistakes

The 8 best cruise ships for families and kid-friendly cruises

Questions to ask to kick-start your planning

Meet the author: Sarah has created and booked hundreds of travel itineraries for thousands of customers during a career in the travel industry that spans 20 years. Having worked hand in hand with cruise lines, hotels, airlines and tour operators worldwide, she offers inspiring & detailed insights in the world of travel and tourism.