Aegean Odyssey On The ORIENT QUEEN, Part Two

Peter Knego continues his classic seven night journey from Piraeus to the Greek Islands and Turkey aboard Louis Cruises’ ORIENT QUEEN, the former NCL STARWARD, with an overnight in beautiful Mykonos.

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All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2013 unless otherwise noted.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

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Vangelis cooking demo.

A glorious day plying southward in the Aegean Sea began with a cooking demonstration in Stars, hosted by Vangelis Driskas, a well known Greek celebrity chef who is featured on several Greek television shows. Among the specialties he demonstrated were a tomato-infused shrimp and a pork saganaki.

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Gyros station.
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Gyros at sea!

Appetite stirred, I was elated to find handmade chicken gyros being served in the Horizon Court. I devoured the first one within seconds and returned for another, which I slowly savored from the perspective of the port Deck 6 promenade, watching the seas unfold.

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Table for two by the pool…

Even after two gyros, I was still a bit hungry, so decided to try lunch in the Mermaid at a nice two top table alongside the pool.

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Grape leaves!

The grape leaves were succulent, tender and fast-disappearing…

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Fava bean soup.

…and the tangy fava bean soup was not long for the world.

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By the time the pesto-drenched gnocci arrived, I should have called it quits but the aromas of parmesan and olive oil compelled me to eat, eat, eat…

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Goldfish in Reflections.

Instead of hiding out in my cabin and writing up blogs, I decided to bring the “office” upstairs to the Reflections Lounge, aka the room with the giant fish tanks, where I could enjoy a cappuccino and vicariously participate in a variety of activities hosted by the ship’s animators (assistant cruise directors).

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The first was an origami lesson, a most unusual offering on a Greek ship in the Aegean but why not?

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Greek to me.

Next came a Greek language lesson. Definitely more practical than origami but challenging after the first two or three words…

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Veggie carving.

And then there was the classic veggie carving demo, which was actually pretty impressive.

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Greek dancing.

By the time the Greek dancing began, my laptop was in need of a recharge and we were nearing Mykonos.

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Approaching Mykonos.
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Windy Tourlos.

The Meltemi, those legendary, omnipotent winds that descend upon Mykonos and the Cyclades Islands, were stirring the seas for our arrival. Even the much larger DISNEY MAGIC had to use her thrusters to help secure her to her berth at Tourlos.

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Wind over wing at Tourlos, Mykonos.
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“All secured, thank you!” Captain Gritzelis in command.

Sipping an iced coffee beverage, the captain calmly gauged the situation and slowly but expertly maneuvered the ORIENT QUEEN into her slot at Tourlos. Task finished, he thanked the staff for a job well-done and even waved thanks to the linesmen ashore.

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Moon over Mama Mia’s.

After dinner, I rode the shuttle bus from Tourlos into Mykonos town and began my search for an internet cafe. My first and only stop was Mama Mia’s, which is right near the bus stop, friendly and reasonably priced. And no one is kinder than hostess Bessie, who regularly checked to see if I needed anything more than my huge bottle of water, honey-drenched baklava and one of the world’s most evocative views.

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From STARWARD to the moon!

Back on the ship, which would not depart until the following midnight, I headed up to gaze at the now full moon.

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Meanwhile, the sparkling RUBY PRINCESS slowly made her approach, taking the slot vacated hours prior by DISNEY MAGIC.

Monday, June 24, 2013

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Mykonos countryside.

Among the many excursions Louis offers in Mykonos is a transfer to Kalafatis Beach on the other side of the island. For a mere 16 Euros round trip, it beats a costly and not always dependable taxi and delivers you to a beach with cushioned deck chairs, parasols for shade and some of the prettiest waters in the world. The ride out there is interesting, encompassing a desert landscape, rocky peaks and the occasional goat farm.

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Kalafatis Beach.

I learned from a trip to Paradise Beach several years ago that the water in Mykonos is incredibly cold, so spent the first couple hours in the shade, doing my best to relax and not think about deadlines. I must admit, it was fun to hear the shrieks as people dipped their feet in the frigid water for the first time. In the interim, I got the bill for the parasol and deck chair, which was a pretty reasonable $6.00 (he took American).

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More beach.

After warming up in the sun, I braved the waters. Ar first, it was torture but then once I gave in, it was like swimming in liquid crystal. Just as I was getting used to the Greek version of “far niente”, it was time to go.

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Window on Mykonos.

Back aboard ORIENT QUEEN, I did the usual eat, write and work out routine, then headed up to the top of the ship to await the arrival of LOUIS OLYMPIA. Unlike yesterday, the conditions were dead calm, almost too much so, since it was blazing hot and a little breeze would have been welcome.

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QUEEN face.

As the other Louis ship gradually encroached, the RUBY PRINCESS made a tandem exit with the CELEBRITY REFLECTION (which was at the anchorage).

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Out on the foc’sle, I captured the backlit OLYMPIA slip effortlessly into the berth abandoned by the RUBY.

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Polished caps.

Those lovely mahogany caprails that had been stripped down a couple days prior were now glistening in coats of new varnish and ready to be refitted to Deck 8.

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Side bulb.

While in the area, I poked the camera through the hawsers and got a shot of the bulb, then headed up to dinner.

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Tip top teak.

I’ll close this Trek with a totally random teak deck shot, something I don’t usually get to do on those new megaships.

End Of Aegean Odyssey Aboard The ORIENT QUEEN, Part Two.

Much More To Come…

Very special thanks: Martin Cox, Nicholas Filippides, Captain Kostas Gritzelis, Captain George Koumpenas, Michalis Maratheftis, Petros Papadakos, Alexandros Papiyannis, Nic Spanoudes

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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