The foul weather started with our first night's sailing across the Adriatic Sea from Molfetta to Corfu. The wind howled and the rain pounded the ship. The small Hebridean Spirit determinely plowed through the waves, but we arrived a couple of hours late into Corfu. Our first "sunny" Greek port was shrouded in clouds and very rainy. We could barely see the town from the pier. The forecast for the next few days did not look promising. All shore excursions on the Hebridean Spirit are included in the fare, but no one wanted to do a rainstorm walking tour of old Corfu town, the activity originally scheduled for the morning. By the time breakfast was over, an alternate tour had been planned to visit Ahillion Villa (or Achillion), the historically fascinating summer palace of Austria's Empress Elizabeth in the 1890's and of Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany during World War I. The walking tour was moved to the afternoon, when we were originally to have free time in Corfu. When the skies cleared after lunch, this revised plan worked perfectly.
That evening during cocktails, tour manager Jayne officially announced what had been rumored during the afternoon. (Secrets are hard to keep on a small ship.) We would NOT be sailing overnight to Katakolo, the port nearest Olympia. The wind was scheduled to build during the night, and the captain did not want any of us to miss a second night of sleep! Instead, the Hebridean Spirit would remain at the dock in Corfu overnight and sail the next morning for a "surprise" port and island--Argostoli on the island of Kefallonia. We would dock at Argostoli after lunch and take a bus (coach) the 15 miles across the island to visit the Mellisani Cave near Sami. We would have a free evening in Argostoli and spend the night at the dock there before sailing for Katakolo the next morning. Adding this additional port required securing a berth on Kefallonia and coaches for the tour. I was quite impressed at how easily and effectively Captain Larcombe and the staff modified this itinerary. We all slept well in Corfu and loved the island of Kefalonia. I would have hated to have missed it!
Although the rain had stopped, the very windy conditions continued. Spending the two nights docked in the protected harbors of Corfu and Argostoli was a wise decision. Although it meant we were a day later touring Olympia than originally planned, none of the passengers cared. It really was like being on a yacht--the Captain was adjusting the itinerary to match the moods of the weather. I'm sure it took a lot of work behind the scenes to push our schedule back an entire day. We found out later that several other cruise ships were in Olympia the day we were originally to tour there. As it worked out, we had the ancient site almost to ourselves the next day!
After touring Olympia, that night at cocktails Jayne announced we would be docking the next morning at the pier in Pylos instead of anchoring at Methoni and using the tenders to go ashore. The continuing wind precluded using the tenders. Although Pylos was only 7 miles from the Methoni fortress we were scheduled to tour, it meant that Hebridean had to secure two coaches to take us there rather than just walking from the shore as originally planned. By now, we were all wondering when we were going to get away from the wind, but we continued to be amazed at how efficiently changes were being made. The coaches had to drive to Pylos all the way from Athens for our Sunday morning excursion to the Methoni fortress. We returned to the ship for lunch and had an interesting walking tour of Pylos in the afternoon. It was another "mystery" port that we enjoyed tremendously.
We sailed overnight to Santorini and were back on our original schedule. The windy weather was over, and we had sparkling blue skies and calm conditons the rest of the cruise. The captain, tour staff, and Greek guides had done an amazing job of adjusting our itinerary to match the weather conditions. What did we miss seeing? We didn't get to visit the island of Folegandros, but we did get to visit Kefallonia and Pylos. Every passenger I spoke with was delighted with the changes made, and so were we!
Page 4 > > Atmosphere Onboard the Hebridean Spirit > >