Why do we love this Mediterranean cruise package from Venice to Athens? Quite simply the amazing destinations to visit on this 10-day cruise adventure on board Norwegian Viva. Explore Italy, beautiful Croatia, and fantastic ports in Turkey then follow the sun over the Aegean sea to Greece and her islands. Then fly home from historic Athens.
Many of these ports are quite simply bucket list destinations that you should visit at least once. We show you how to create your own cruise package with Norwegian Cruise Line for the ultimate European summer vacation.
Mediterranean cruise 2023 with Norwegian Cruise Line
You this article to create your own 15-night package suggestion and book your own holiday at the right price possible to get the best value for your money. Now that free travel without restrictions can once again be enjoyed, now is the time to start planning.
This Italy to Greece cruise package starts with 2 nights in stunning Venice followed by 2 nights in historical Trieste where you then climb on board your cruise ship for a 9-night cruise on the Adriatic Sea to Croatia and the Greek Isles. Finish your cruise journey with 2 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, 9-night cruise of 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 simply means that you fly into one city, and home from another. It is different from a “return” ticket which is to and from the same destination.
When making your flight reservation, be sure to 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 compared to booking 2 separate tickets (one for your outbound journey, another for your inbound journey). 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. From there you need to walk or take the Vaporetto water boat to your hotel. Check google maps, and know where your hotel is located so you know how to get there. On your hotel’s website, there is often detailed information on the best to reach them.
Venice, with triumphant architecture sitting on winding waterways, is host to travelers, holidaymakers, cruise ships, festivals, and galas throughout the year. And now you have the opportunity to explore the history of this wondrous city before you start your cruise.
Read our detailed article on Venice to find out where to stay, and follow our detailed itineries 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 have stayed 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 right outside the station but do check the price with the driver. It should cost around 20 euros but more if you are traveling at night or on a weekend.
Double Tree by Hilton Trieste
The Double Tree by Hilton hotel is centrally located about a 10-minute walk from the cruise port. The building is beautiful and is surrounded by a good selection of cafes and restaurants. Become a Hilton Honors member get discounts at the time of 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 wonderful view. And to top it all their lounge has an excellent cocktail menu.
Grand Hotel Duchi d’Aosta
This is a small, intimate boutique hotel with flawless facilities and an excellent restaurant, Harry’s Piccolo. It’s located right on Piazza Unità d’Italia and has unbeatable views.
The hotel Continentale is very centrally located just a 10-minute walk from the main train station in Trieste, and 15 minutes from the cruise port. Some rooms are a little dated but overall a good 4-star experience.
Pre-cruise day 3-5: Discover the port city of Trieste
Trieste is often overlooked by the average cruise guest for Venice. Many travelers only transfer to Trieste on the day they need to board their cruise ship. However, Trieste is well-deserving of your time. Plus it will less expensive to stay here compared to hotel prices in Venice.
Trieste, located in the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, is the historic capital of the region. The architecture, cuisine, and languages reflect its multicultural diversity, a mixture of both Mediterranean and central European heritage. We love this little city.
A great central starting point for exploring is Piazza Unità d’Italia (Unity of Italy square). This is the main square in Trieste. Once home to the old marina, it faces the sea and is the commercial hub of the city. It is also right next to the cruise port.
Follow our itinerary suggestions to make the most of your time here on our Trieste cruise port page here.
Day 5: Check-in for your Mediterranean cruise from Trieste
Time to cruise! Your Greek Isles cruise from Trieste including 9 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. It takes about 2.5 to 3 hours to travel between central Venice and Ravenna (or vice versa).
Proudly home to eight Unesco World Heritage monuments, the historic center of Ravenna is a charming maze of small 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 really appreciate the history of your surroundings. You can contact the official tourism board for more information and prices here.
Cruise day 3: Split, Croatia
Cruise day 4: Dubrovnik, Croatia
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 make sure you 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, our recommendation is to pack your hiking shoes for this port and explore 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 that 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 the small, romantic island of Santorini. 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. Often cruise ships will stay in the bay long into the evening, which means that you can enjoy the breathtaking sunset.
Santorini is known as “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- either by yourself or with a tour guide
It is certainly possible to visit both 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 own 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 to purchase right by the tender arrival spot and one-way tickets cost around 6 euros per person. If you choose to walk up the 600 steps, do 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 good vineyards to visit. If you prefer to take the opportunity to shop, start in Fira for art, jewelry, and local crafts.
It is not possible to walk to Oia from Fira 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, be sure to walk down the cliffside from the town of Ammoudi Bay Harbor. A beautiful, cozy waterside bay with great 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 the 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 which is the Limani).
A popular destination for celebrities, Mykonos is also famed as an artists’ colony with its 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 2 days Athens guide for great itineraries, hotel options, and much more to make the most of your time in this wondrous city. You’ll find detailed itineraries including:
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 for assistance in 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
If you are traveling on a budget and want to save some money – Athens has an excellent bus system. 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 years old.
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 you will get door-to-door service straight from your hotel. If you are 4 people traveling together then this will be the most convenient option as well as being the best value for money.
Be sure to ask your hotel to arrange an official taxi for you. Never take a taxi from someone who approaches you offering you a journey.
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!