By James Shillinglaw, May 30, 2022
Variety Cruises, the Greek- and family-owned small ship cruise operator, is reminding the trade about its summer 2022 itineraries, which take guests on adventures and to inspiring locations, while ensuring that the pillars of sustainable, cultural and environmental awareness are firmly in place.
“There is a profound sense of honor and responsibility as the third generation to take the helm of our family’s small ship cruise line,” says Variety CEO Filippos Venetopoulos. “We are proud to continue to offer seven-day, life-enriching experiences that go deeper into a destination, connecting our team of experts with guests from around the world, and positively impact the communities and natural environments in which we visit, following our vision to create a better world at sea.”
In addition to a number of summer voyages around the waters of home country Greece, Variety brings its service, exquisite food and rich itineraries to the Adriatic, Cape Verde, Italy, Malta, Tahiti and the Seychelles.
“From Greece to West Africa and beyond, guests can discover authentic local and indigenous cultures, regional cuisine, ancient sites, remote villages and natural wonders only small ships can reach, offering something for first time cruisers and our loyal repeat clientele, as we continue to expand to new destinations all over the world,” says Venetopoulos. “We ensure our seven-day, life-enriching experiences reflect cultural and ecological sustainability and inclusiveness, a company priority, with sails that are in-depth and community-driven, that give back while leaving a minimal footprint behind.”
Guests sail with travelers from diverse backgrounds yearning for personal and cultural discovery. Each day brings a different destination, allowing for a broad variety of experiences, sights and sounds. Onboard experiences are kept local, from wine and gastronomy to art, culture and even dancing, though all are bound by the warm Greek hospitality evident in the Venetopoulos family’s traveling tradition and now curated by and for a new generation.
Variety announced the return of its Limited Collection with sailings available only on select dates, allowing a wider selection for its loyal repeat clientele. Following last year’s success of “Hidden Greece, Unexplored Greek Isles,” this sail returns July 1 aboard the 164-foot Callisto. The seven-day trip repeats throughout the season and visits such lesser-known gems as Ikaria (where people live a decade longer than in the rest of Europe), Patmos (an island with two World Heritage Sites), Kalymnos (where sponge harvesting continues to this day) and Serifos (an under-the-radar Cycladic isle).
The one-off “Culinary Cruise in the Seychelles,” departing July 16, brings celebrated chef Josh Thomsen onboard the 148-foot Pegasos. The culinary themed journey leaving from Mahé takes in walking tours, mangrove exploration, giant tortoise spotting, swimming and snorkeling, and plenty of fine food that features produce available in this Indian Ocean paradise.
Also new in 2022 is the all-inclusive “Aegean Wine Cruise,” departing on Aug. 26 on the 177-foot super yacht Harmony G (prices start at $4,890 per person). Featuring Wine Ambassador Tim Clarke, a pioneer of global wine tourism with more than four decades of hands-on experience in the wine industry, the cruise will explore everything that is wonderful and alluring about Greece and its wines.
Cruisers will encounter the passion of the Greek people, evening light on hillsides, remote turquoise seas, quiet harbors, ancient sites and, of course, plenty of wines. Expect highlights such as a visit to Nemea, the leading red wine appellation in Southern Greece to visit the top-quality estate Gaia, a history of wine, grapes and vineyards on Milos, Santorini, Samos and Tinos, an island with more than 700 churches and the Assyrtiko grape, whose extraordinary quality benefits from soil rich with volcanic ash.
The popular “Jewels of the Cyclades” returns running through Oct. 21 with rates starting from $2,790 per person. The itinerary aboard the white-sailed mega-yachts Galileo and Panorama take in dazzling whitewashed villages, golden beaches and crystal-clear azure waters around the cluster of islands thus named because they form a rough circle (kyklos in Greek) around the sacred island of Delos. Stops include Santorini, Mykonos, Antiparos and Paros.
Variety’s flagship vessel, the 223-foot mega yacht Variety Voyager, detailed with warm fabrics, rich marbles, plush carpeting, and wood paneling, along with Harmony G, returns with “Classical Greece” from May onward. In addition to islands like Kea, Santorini, Mykonos and the neighboring UNESCO-protected archaeological isle of Delos, visitors will see Crete, the largest and southern most Greek island, the blue waters of the Aegean gem Kythira, the historical Peloponnese treasures of Monemvasia and Nafplion, and the off-the-beaten-track island of Hydra with its picturesque harbor.
The “Adriatic & Greece” sailing begins June 3 on the Callisto and Panorama, with a journey along the Adriatic and Ionian seas taking in Croatia, Albania, Montenegro as well as parts of Greece. Discover the medieval treasures of Dubrovnik in Croatia, the fjords of the Bay of Kotor, and Budva in Montenegro, the Roman-Hellenistic UNESCO Heritage Site of Saranda, Albania and unhurried Paxos with its warm Greek hospitality. Fans of the “Game of Thrones” series can sail to its filming spots, including Dubrovnik, the main filming location in Croatia for King’s Landing.
From June 4, the “Sicily, Malta and the Aeolian Islands” sailings on Harmony G, start from $2,790 per person, shining a spotlight on the unique and varied peninsulas of Italy and Malta. Rising out of the cobalt-blue seas off Sicily’s northeastern coast, the UNESCO-protected Aeolian Islands are a slice of Mediterranean paradise, with a wealth of opportunities for relaxation and activity, from swimming, kayaking and diving to trekking and exploring volcanoes. This voyage also allows guests to lounge on one of Gozo’s beautiful beaches and visit the Citadel and its baroque Cathedral, our Lady of Ta Pinu Basilica.
Trips to the South Pacific paradise of “Tahiti and French Polynesia” aboard the Panorama II begin Aug. 5 and pass by the striking Mount Otemanu, visit the ancient temples of Huahine, and explore the fertile valleys of Taha’a.
This year, the one-off “Hiking in Greece” departs Nov. 4 aboard the Galileo, a guided cruise led by Evgenia Alexou, who holds a degree in archaeology and art history from Athens’ School of Philosophy, along with George Vavoudakis and Iro Valavani, experienced hiking instructors. The seven-day adventure will explore four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including Delphi and Olympia, the Byzantine town of Monemvasia, and a stop at the Tenaro lighthouse, the southernmost point of continental Europe.
Variety will continue to sail to other destinations later this year with itineraries in Cape Verde (Nov. 19-March 27, 2023), Costa Rica & Panama (Dec. 24-March 15, 2023), Egypt, Jordan and Israel (Dec. 11-March 19, 2023) and West Africa (Dec. 24-Feb. 18, 2023) on a cruise along the rivers of Gambia and Senegal.
Sailing round-trip from the port of Papeete, trips around Tahiti and French Polynesia operate year-round, with two itineraries offered: “Tahiti & the Pearls of French Polynesia” (Aug. 5-Dec. 8, 2023) and “Tahiti, Society & Tuamotu Islands” (Aug. 26-Dec, 26, 2023). The islands here are sculpted by moss-green peaks and lined with vivid turquoise lagoons. Travelers to see every landscape, from geometric ridges strung peppered by waterfalls to flat, desert-like atolls where lagoons outsize the landmass.
Variety continues to sail around the Seychelles throughout the year via “Cruises in the Garden of Eden,” running through Oct. 26, 2024. The Seychelles is the perfect destination for both summer and winter cruises due to its warm climate, with an island-hopping itinerary and a guest experience highlighting local farm to table dining, a fresh juice bar and soft adventure tours that go beyond the ordinary.