Life on board the Elysium

Life on board the Elysium

Life on board the Elysium

Q&A with our Cruise Specialist, Muno Mandizha

 

One of our core brands, Unforgettable Croatia, has been operating luxury cruises on privately owned vessels since 2016. Our cruise specialist, Muno Mandizha, has been with us at Unforgettable for over four years and is extremely knowledgeable. He knows all of the vessels, cruise managers, excursions, and routes of our small ship cruises like the back of his hand. He understands the cruise industry impeccably and to expand his portfolio, he decided to cruise on the Elysium across Greece this summer. 

 

Accommodating a maximum of 48 passengers, the Elysium ship cruises round the Greek islands which intrigued Muno; “I wondered how reality would line up against the mythical Greece of my imaginings, so I stepped aboard the Elysium under the warmth of the summer sun with anticipation and tempered expectations.” 

 

We sat down with Muno (on dry land) to find out more about life on board the Elysium.

Koufonisia - 700x400
Naxos - 700x400

First things first. What made you want to explore the Greek islands via a small ship cruise?

I’ve always wanted to explore the Greek islands. Although the ship is a huge part of the experience, the destinations are arguably the most important aspects of any cruise. I’ve always wanted to visit Santorini, but I also wanted to see some of the lesser-known islands. The Elysium ticked both those boxes. The Elysium starts in Athens and visits ten islands: Sifnos, Kimolos, Milos, Santorini, Naxos, Delos, Koufonissi, Mykonos, Serifos, and Kythnos.

 

Which three Greek islands did you enjoy the most?

I enjoyed them all in different ways but I’d say my top three favorite islands were Sifnos, Koufonissi, and Naxos. 

The hilltop town on Sifnos was stunning, especially as there were no hordes of tourists here. I climbed the labyrinth of stairs leading to a chapel above Chora for the most incredible view of the surrounding sea. Lingering for a while, breathing in the fresh sea air while soaking up the feel of the gentle breeze and the rays of the Mediterranean sun, is a memory that’s likely to last a lifetime 

I’d say Koufonisia was my second favorite island. It was an island I hadn’t heard a lot about but it soon became clear, it stood out for its food. I ate at one of the local tavernas (a small Greek restaurant that serves Greek cuisine) and even spent time chatting with the friendly owner about his life on the island

Naxos was also enjoyable. We took a tour of some of the mountain villages, some of which felt very medieval. Afterward, I had time in Naxos Town to check out some of the shops along the waterfront and sit down for dinner at a fish restaurant – the quintessential type with outdoor dining where octopus were hung out to dry.

Souvlaki, Greek Food - 700x400
Santorini

On that note, what was the best meal or dish you had during your time in Greece?

The seafood was incredible – all so fresh and flavorsome. I had some of the best mussels of my life in Naxos. They were smothered in a sauce with white wine, lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, and garlic. I also really enjoyed souvlaki, which are popular Greek skewers. It has small pieces of meat or vegetables on, which are grilled and flavored. 

 

Did you feel islands like Mykonos or Santorini met expectations?

Don’t get me wrong – Mykonos is a beautiful island but it was certainly busy. I headed away from the beaches to go and photograph the famous windmills in Little Venice. Afterward, I met up with some of the other passengers to sample some of the renowned fine dining in Mykonos Town. While the food served on the ship was outstanding, I really appreciated being able to try the local eats most evenings. 

Santorini was another island that I had big expectations for. Like Mykonos, it truly is a stunning island and one that has always been the ‘postcard island’ of Greece. With that in mind, it’s important to set expectations that it will be crowded and, on this occasion, it was too crowded for my liking. On the day we were in Santorini, we had four large cruise ships docked there, adding to the congestion. The Elysium and its route across ten islands is perfect because you still get to see islands like Mykonos and Santorini – which are bucket-list islands for so many people – but you also get to experience completely underrated and remote islands that will really surprise you.

Elysium Cabin - 700x400
Eva on Elysium - 700x400

Now to the Elysium itself! There are 25 cabins in the Elysium, how did you find them?

Opening the door to my cabin, the first thing I noticed was the natural light. It was bright and airy with large windows. Despite the heat outside, the temperature of the room felt cool, with effective air-conditioning. My cabin was more like a 5-star hotel, equipped with robes and slippers, a flat-screen TV, fully stocked minibar, free room service, and plenty of storage room. 

I was curious to know what the other cabins were like. A total of 25 en-suite, air-conditioned cabins are on the ship in multiple different categories from A+ to C. There were no closet-like rooms on this ship. After getting to know some of the other guests, I was able to take a peek into one of the lower deck cabins and was impressed with the very large portholes that were more like windows which were positioned above the water line to bring the views in.

 

For our Croatia cruises, we spend a lot of time choosing and training the right crew. What were the crew like on board the Elysium?

The amazing crew of 25 were quite possibly the friendliest staff I’ve ever encountered on a trip or otherwise. While they were obviously experts in what they did, they also seemed to truly love their jobs, with a passion for the country and an in-depth knowledge that went well beyond your typical tour guide. Dedicated to ensuring we were all happy and getting as much out of the cruise as possible, I can’t imagine traveling with a better group of people. While they were all fantastic, there was a standout, however. Eva, the woman behind the bar, made some of the best-crafted cocktails I’ve ever enjoyed. She was the heart and soul of that boat. All I had to do was tell her the type of drink I was craving, and the perfect beverage somehow appeared. Almost like magic.

 

Ok we have to ask… best cocktail on the Elysium?

You must try the cocktail named Anonymous Alcoholic. It’s rum, drambuie, ginger liqueur, falernum liqueur and orange liqueur. To Eva – a big thank you for making such delicious cocktails.

Elysium Yoga - 700x400
Elysium Spa - 700x400

During the day, what was life on board the Elysium like?

The days on Elysium were wonderful. We had plenty of swim stops which were amazing. With a smaller vessel, it was possible to anchor in secluded bays, so we leaped into the water right from the ship. Surrounded by such magnificent scenery, those swims offered some of the most memorable moments of the trip. On some days we even hopped into a tender boat to reach a remote beach where there were no worries about crowds, only our relatively small group. Feeling the white powdery sand beneath my toes and swimming in the crystal-clear blue water was idyllic.

There was plenty of equipment on board to take advantage of complimentary water sports too, including SUPs and sea kayaks, so I mixed up swimming with paddling occasionally. While it’s a great workout, it’s relaxing at the same time, seamlessly floating across the water’s surface in harmony with the environment.

 

This sounds incredible. And for those who want to relax, the Elysium has a spa on board?!

Yep! It was phenomenal and the spa offerings were impressive. With all sorts of treatments available, I decided to go for a full Balinese massage. It was pure bliss and the therapist – named Putu – was a pro. As well as the spa, there is a big focus on wellness on board the Elysium. They offer complimentary yoga and pilates classes, as well as an onboard gym. It was so impressive and certainly balanced out all the delicious food I was having!

Elysium Deck - 700x400
Elysium Crew- 700x400

For those who have cruised the Dalmatian coast with us in Croatia before, what would you say is the main draw to cruising the Elysium in Greece?

While I am of course biased with our Croatia cruises, the Elysium really did impress me and I would definitely recommend it to our clients. For those who have previously cruised Croatia with us, there are a few main highlights of the Elysium. The outdoor space at the back of the ship is amazing for eating and lounging. With such beautiful weather throughout the summer, it makes such a difference being able to enjoy the landscape fully. The meals on board are served as a buffet which is different from Croatia (where there is an a la carte menu). This is nice because you can obviously choose what, and how much you eat. And finally, as mentioned, the onboard spa and wellness activities truly made the Elysium a ship to truly enjoyably sail on.

 

The bottom line. Would you recommend sailing the Elysium in Greece in 2023?

After a week of sailing the Greek islands, I’m already planning when to go back next. I boarded the ship with 39 complete strangers from different parts of the world and we soon became good friends. We even had a ‘team Yamas’ name collectively (Yamas means ‘cheers’ and ‘to good health’ in Greek). By the end of the cruise, our farewells were emotional. It had truly been an unforgettable and intimate cruise, making some fantastic friendships while visiting some of the most beautiful islands and idyllic spots on the planet. Our Croatia cruises set the standard high, but I promise you, cruising on the Elysium will not disappoint.

 

Check out our new itinerary onboard the Elysium selection. Want to extend your time in Greece or visit another destination? See our 3 new cruise-tour itineraries tailored around the Elysium.
Contact our dedicated Greece specialists today to get started on planning your Unforgettable journey

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