Cruise 2012 Pictures Day 7

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Photos Friday 20th July 2012 - Day 7

Santorini Arrival

I woke up at 6:30AM. Renée woke up when At 6:45AM the loudest noise yet occurred, which I guess were the anchors dropping. Then a few minutes later I guess anchors dropped at the back of the ship too. Oh well only a few minutes to go to the alarm. Eventually we got up and headed off to breakfast at 7:35AM. Afterwards we nipped up to Deck 15 to look around. What a view! We were parked in the caldera inside a ring of islands (the biggest being Thera with the iconic town of Fira with its white buildings perched on top of the cliff), with a big lump of jagged lava for the central islands of Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. By 8:20AM we had grabbed our stuff and gone to the Equinox Theater to await the Volcano Hiking & Swimming In Hot Springs Tour.


Wow! Even early in the morning this panorama shows Santorini in all it's glory. 180 degrees East through South to West. Looking across to Thirassia catching the early morning rays.



Another panorama looking Northwards, past the Crown Princess cruise ship to the gap between Thirassia and the northern end of Thera. One of several cool looking wooden boats. Looking back across the Equinox from Deck 15 Fwd towards the cliffs south of Fira, the capital of Thera / Santorini.

Ride to Nea Kameni

We boarded the tour boat at 8:45AM. This was our first boat to boat transfer of the cruise. The excursion boat was a cool wooden boat with high masts, called the Aakyon. It was a fun and very rocky ride to Nea Kameni with spray blowing onto the boat and soaking us. I used my hat to shield the camera from getting wet.






The docking platform that allowed us to cross to the Aakyon. Looking around the upper deck of the Aakyon, a cool wooden ship, as we leave the Equinox behind. There certainly is a great view up here.






The Northern half of Fira. Views of the Equinox as we motor past the front of the ship towards Nea Kameni. The Crown Princess in front of the cliffs on which Fira sit.




Approaching a very rocky Nea Kameni. Other wooden boats already docked in Erinia Cove. The large lava blocks apparently making good tie points.

Volcano Hike

The Volcano Hike lasted for about 1.5 hours until 10:30AM. During that time we docked at a small jeti in Erinia cove and were split into several smaller groups. We walked along a path in three segments, pausing for breath at Mikri Kameni and Daphni craters and then walked around the top. The landscape was desolate with lots of lava blocks everywhere and little vegetation. For me it was a gentle stroll. For Renée it was much tougher, but she made it to the top at least. At the top was a network of active craters. The central crater had sulphurous fumerols. The gases were faint but enough to make Renée feel a little queasy. Also someone dug a small hole to demonstrate that a few centimetres beneath our feet the ground was hot and damp. The water was absorbed sea water (permeable rock) and was steaming out of the hole! We circumnavigated the active crater, pausing at a nearby large lava bomb, until we reached the highest point at the summit. Near the bomb I saw a hare on a fairly fresh lava flow below us. Near the summit I picked up 2 small lava blocks. It was a great view here with the main islands in an oval all around us. I stood on the summit stone and took a 360 degree panorama. Then we returned back down the path that we had ascended, to the boat.





The start of the path up the volcano. Lava boulders everywhere! The path to Mikri Kameni crater. Looking back at Erinia Cove. As we climb higher the view behind gets ever more breathtaking.





Pausing at the Mikri Kameni crater. This is the oldest part of the island created in 1570. The path to Daphne crater. Looking back over the barren craggy landscape towards the ships. Fira in the background. Looking North, Thirassia and Oia can be seen.





A panoramic view Eastwards from Daphne crater. This part of the island was created in 1925-1928. Mikri Kameni and most of the Northern half of Thera visible in the background. The path to the summit. Looking inside Daphne crater. Mikri Kameni visible in the background. Closing in on the summit. A closer look Eastwards. Crown Princess, Equinox and another ship in the caldera, with Fira dominating on top of Thera in the background.



One of a pair of active craters at the summit, complete with fumaroles. Formed in 1940 by two large hydrothermal eruptions (sudden release of steam). A 360 degree panorama of the active summit craters. We are on top of a dormant volcano! The path continues past the fumaroles and between the two active craters.






A few centimetres between our feet the ground is baking hot. Sea water absorbed by the porous island steams out of a small hole dug in the path. Looking down towards the fumaroles beneath the path. A closer look at a fumarole. It smells rather sulphorous here! Sulphur and gypsum crystals can be seen deposited around it. Looking out past a lava bomb and back to the Equinox. Lava bomb with characteristic network of cracks as the surface cooled rapidly in mid air while the inside cooled more slowly. Looking Southeastwards. Below is the freshest lava from the last eruption in 1950. In the distance is the Southern half of Thera.





Looking back across to the fumeroles as we circle clockwise round the South side of the crater. The summit of the island, on the West rim of the active craters. This is the peak of the Georgios Dome, formed in 1866-1870, in which the active craters sit. 180 degree panorama centred to the West. In front is Palea Kameni, with the small island of Aspronisi lying beyond. To the left (SouthEast) is the Southern tip of Thera. To the right (Northeast) is Thirassia and Oia on the Northern tip of Thera. Palea Kameni and Aspronisi. Mike on top of a volcano with the view Westwards behind.



Looking down the the hot springs harbour where we will go for the next leg of the trip. The hot springs are in the cove on the left hand side (hidden from view). Oia looking spectacular in the distance. A 360 degree panorama taken from the summit of Nea Kameni. I stood on the summit stone for this one. East is roughly Centre.






Renée on top of a volcano with Thirassia in the background to the Northwest. Another view of the active craters, looking Eastwards. The highest hill in the centre is the Niki dome that formed in 1941. One more view of the Equinox and the Southern half of Fira as we descend back towards Erinia Cove. The plant life here reminds me of the Everlasting flowers on the upper slopes of Kilimanjaro that I saw in 2010. Returning to Erinia Cove.

Hot Springs

As we waited on the jeti at Erinia cove to board the boat I could see a school of fish underneath, using the boats as cover. Soon we were on board and heading across to Palea Kameni where the Hot Springs were in a small bay. By the time we arrived we had both stripped down to the swim wear that we put on before breakfast. Renée wasn't sure she wanted to do the swim but we could see it wasn't that far and the current wasn't too strong in this sheltered area. After a little hesitation I had fun jumping off the boat into the sea. Behind me Renée hesitated before being persuaded to go for it by people behind her who wanted to go too. Once in the sea and floating safely she loved it! We both swam without problem side by side, using breast stroke. It was a little cool but not too cold. Soon we reached shallow water and we could touch the bottom. The water warmed up in pulses as we waded into the area of the springs. It was luke warm with lots of brown sediment and a few floating pumice stones. After reaching the far end we headed back out. I picked up a floating pumice stone on the way out. The boat had moved closer so it wasn't far at all to reach the ladder to climb back onto the boat. Then we dried off and put our clothes back on. We also bought some cookies. We both had salty mouths and I was hungry after that swim and hike. I took some more pictures of the hot springs area before we departed.






The fish sheltering under the boat. The Aakyon's bridge from the front of the boat. Approaching the cove on the Northeast side of the island where the hot springs are. (Well more gently warm at approx 33C.) Looking into the hot springs area. We will swim there after jumping in near the boat on the left. A panorama of the hot springs taken after we got back on the boat after swimming, before we left.

Ride to Thera

After heading back out past all the jagged lava rocks sticking out of the sea we went out back past the Equinox. The boat took us to the old port on Thera where we were dropped off around 11:45AM. It took a while to dock as many boats were docking at once so we had a long wait just out from the pier before we finally went to dock. By then we were keen to get off as soon as possible and go to explore Fira.





Riding past lots of lava blocks as we head back past Nea Kameni on the way to the port at Fira. The Fira port is just right of the Equinox in this view. Looking up at Fira as we wait to dock.





The best external view of the Equinox yet. Panorama of the Southern half of Fira. Fira's port at the base of the cliffs. Still waiting to dock. This shot focusses on the cable car and donkey track linking Fira to the port. Getting off the boat. We docked at last.


Once off the boat we went straight for the cable car queue. The queue was very long! But after a 20 minute wait to board we finally got whisked up to the top and into Fira by 12:45PM. By now we both were feeling a little rough from waiting in the heat. We decided to eat first at the Zafora restaurant. It had a great view and lovely fresh warm crusty rolls, but an awful pizza and not quite how I wanted it. I got them to add mushrooms atleast. A migraine was kicking in too and I thought I'd left my pills on ship. Ahh nuts!

After the restaurant we walked around Fira. We noted that the cable car queue at the top was even longer! I bought a fridge magnet from a souvenir shop. After walking as far as the big church and admiring the stunning view, we decided to skip that long cable car queue and walk down the donkey track. That was a nice picturesque and steep route down, albeit rather smelly and a lot of donkey poo blowing around in the breeze.






A long sweaty cable car queue. Our cable cars arriving. The donkey track from the cable car. Up top the view is breathtaking. The Equinox and Crown Princess looking a bit smaller now out in the caldera with Nea Kameni behind them.





Looking South across Fira from a restaurant above the cable car. A table with a view! Panorama from a higher lookout point to the North of the cable car station. Beyond Fira is farm land. The highest mountain in the background is Mesa Vouno (369m). Closer views Southwestwards across Fira from the lookout point. The second image allows a clearer view of the land beyond towards Mesa Vouno.





Looking 900 feet down to the port. A clock tower. Walking along the alleyways of Fira. Looking Northeast. Nea Kameni is to the left. Thirassia in the background. Near the Southern end of Fira is a large church.





Panorama from near the church taking in both tips of Thera, Nea Kamenia and Thirassia, giving a sense of scale to the whole archipelago. The Southern Firan suburbs. Looking back the way we came. Looking North to Oia. Returning through the alleyways.






Another view of the South end of Fira. The top end of the donkey track. Donkeys! The donkey track winding away below us. Renée got tailswiped just as I took a picture of her with the donkeys, hence the surprised expression.





The buildings built into the cliff side at the Northern end of the port. American tourists enjoying a donkey ride up from the port. Renée on the donkey track. A passing cable car. The Equinox beckons. We are both weary and in need of showers now.

Return to Equinox

At the bottom we got straight onto a shuttle boat without waiting and were straight off back to the ship. It was another rocky ride back but no worse than this morning's rides. We were back aboard some time before 3PM. We made a beeline for the room. I took migraine pills and we both peeled off our clothes and swim wear underneath, and showered off the salt, sweat and donkey poo! That was refreshing! At 3:45PM I headed to Oceanview to eat while Renée did her hair. Renée joined me there at 4PM. We enjoyed view of Thera while eating. The bad restaurant meal was long forgotten now and the migraine clearing too. We got chatting to other people who shared our table. At about 4:30PM we went up to the Lawn Club and then walked across to Deck 15 Fwd. This gave me a chance to take another 360 degree panorama now the sun was more favourable for Thera.





The Equinox dock in the port. Boarding the shuttle boat. Leaving Fira behind. Approaching the Equinox docking ramp. Another shuttle boat seen later on from the Oceanview Café.


One more go at a 360 degree panorama in different lighting conditions before we depart. East is roughly centre again. A long range shot of a curious looking cave with arched columns built into it.

Santorini Departure

We then went down to the room after a short while to rest. At 5:30PM I shaved. Then I heard the anchors being raised so I rushed my evening wear on and hot footed it up to Deck 15 Fwd to see us depart Santorini. The ship went round the volcano before departing westwards. The forecast was for a 20kts Northwesterly wind and slight seas tonight. A relief after rough seas the last 48 hours or so.






Thrusters firing up underneath Deck 15 Fwd as we prepare to depart. Sailing away from Fira. A view of the main port at Athinios, to the South of Fira. A silhouetted Nea Kameni looks even more dark and imposing than before. A sheltered cove on the South side of Nea Kameni. Looking West along the South coast of Nea Kameni, with Aspronisi lying beyond.





A closeup of the receding Athinios Port. Focussing on remarkable layers in the cliffs South of Fira. A slice through time into a violent geological past. Buildings along the Southern part of Thera. I think this is part of Akrotiri. Looking back at Palea and Nea Kameni, Thirassia and Thera, as we exit West. Looking through the gap betwween Palea and Nea Kameni towards Oia. The more distant hills belong to the island of Ios.





The Southern end of Thera. Mesa Mouvos to the East. This mountain is made of limestone, compared to volcanic rock for the rest of Santorini. Aspronisi. Christiani and Askania, a couple of small islands Southwest of Santorini. Heading past the Southern side of Thirassia and out of the Santorini Archipelago.

Cocktail Party

We went down to Silhouette at 6:20PM. Several of us had Mushroom Vol-au-vent for starters. It was quite tasty albeit very small being just a single one. I then had a Chow Mein Salad as my mains. The 'Chow Mein' were actually a few crunchy 'noodles' on top (garnish) and salad leaves underneath. It was still tasty but not enough. So at 7:45PM we headed up to Oceanview where I grabbed 8 Sushi pieces before we headed to the Sky Lounge on Deck 14 Fwd a few minutes early. We had our picture taken while we waited for the party to start.

At 8PM we were let in. We were greeted by all the senior staff including the captain. After we walked around greeting everyone and getting drinks (champagne for Renée, orange juice for me) we asked someone if we could get a picture with the captain. He led us back to the captain and took my camera. So we got our picture with captain Michael Karatzas. Mid party another senior officer gave a speech, and the sunset lit up the room in an orange glow. After 45 minutes officers started leaving. We left at 8:55PM. I took a picture of a nice sculpture near the entrance on the way out.





Waiting in some funky chairs for the Sky Lounge to open up. Mike and Renée with drinks at the cocktail party. The Captain, Michael Karatzas, kindly lets us take a picture with him. Looking around the Sky Lounge as the party gets busier.





Senior crew members mingling with guests. The moody lighting and design of the Sky Lounge is rather nice, especially with the added glow of an approaching sunset . A speech by a senior crew member. Captain's Club drinks. Sunset.





One more picture of us as twilight changes the mood of the room again. Renée posing by the panoramic windows. I wonder what this guy is thinking about? Renée with another senior crew member. Distant islands lit up by the twilight. The islands might be Milos but not sure.

We returned to the room to change and then went up to the lawn club at 9:05PM. Renée bought Sangria and I greedily grabbed another 16 sushi! (I've now had 88 pieces!) I even Helped Renée finish her Sangria before we decided to retire for the night and return to the room at 9:45PM.

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