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Cruises to Crete

Crete (Heraklion) (Photo:Vladimir Sazonov/Shutterstock)

About Crete

It's common for first-time visitors to take one look at Iraklion and marvel at how modern the city is. After all, this is the capital of Crete, the home of Europe's earliest civilization, and birthplace of countless myths and legends. Newcomers tend to expect a small village with antiquated buildings rather than the busy cosmopolitan city that occupies the same ground where Hercules, King Minos, the minotaur and other characters from ancient mythology once roamed.

The magic of Iraklion, though, is the fact that its modern amenities commingle peacefully with its ancient treasures rather than overshadowing them. The result is a vibrant town that manages to look to the future while still embracing its past.

The contemporary shops, hotels and apartment buildings might be the first things to catch a visitor's eye, but scratch the surface of Iraklion's new veneer and the town's glorious history comes shining through. Massive walls built in the 1500's circle the heart of the city like two powerful arms trying to restrain Iraklion from moving too far forward into the modern age. Lovely fountains, ornate architecture and other relics of the past lie scattered throughout the city as well, with many of these attractions dating back centuries ago to the time when Venice ruled the island of Crete.

While the blend of past and present provides a fascinating backdrop, Iraklion's true beauty comes from its simple reflections of everyday Greek life. Its small, unexpected surprises are the things that make the city such a joy to explore -- such as a tiny church with an immaculate flower garden or a hidden courtyard where an elderly man sits alone and softly strums his bouzouki, a Greek instrument similar to the mandolin. The busy public squares and festive taverns may draw more tourists, but to experience Iraklion at its best try strolling the shoreline at dusk or visit the old harbor beside the Venetian fort at sunrise and watch fishermen carefully inspecting their nets in the pink glow of dawn.

At times like these you might wonder if you've somehow stumbled backward into Iraklion's rich past, and you may also find yourself with no desire to leave it.

  • Why go to Crete?

  • Crete Cruise Port Facilities?

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Regal Princess
Regal Princess (Photo: Princess Cruises)
Regal Princess

21 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

1,594 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Azamara Journey
Azamara Journey
Azamara Journey

23 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Singapore
Cruise Line:Azamara Voyages
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Regal Princess
Regal Princess (Photo: Princess Cruises)
Regal Princess

14 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Regal Princess
Regal Princess (Photo: Princess Cruises)
Regal Princess

14 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Island Princess

59 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Regal Princess

7 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Queen Elizabeth

28 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

570 Reviews
Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Queen Elizabeth

20 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Queen Mary 2 (QM2)

102 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Westerdam

24 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Venice
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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MSC Poesia

68 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

502 Reviews
Leaving:Sydney
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Azamara Journey

11 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Azamara Voyages
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Queen Mary 2 (QM2)

22 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Southampton
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Viking Sky

14 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

999 Reviews
Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Cruise Critic Favorite
Viking Sea

14 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Viking Ocean Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Westerdam

24 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Holland America Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Regal Princess

21 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Rome
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Azura

7 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Malta
Cruise Line:P&O Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Azamara Pursuit

10 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Azamara Voyages
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Queen Elizabeth

27 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Costa Diadema

14 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Genoa
Cruise Line:Costa Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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MSC Magnifica

6 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Haifa
Cruise Line:MSC Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Queen Elizabeth

35 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Barcelona
Cruise Line:Cunard Line
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Regal Princess

21 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Athens
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Island Princess

22 Night
Cruise to CreteDetails

Leaving:Dubai
Cruise Line:Princess Cruises
No prices currently available for this sailing.
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Why go to Crete?

Pros:

Crete is a land of ancient legends, but the port of Herkalion is impressively modern amid all of the history

Cons:

Because signage is primarily in the Greek alphabet, navigating the city can pose a challenge

Bottom Line:

From ancient ruins to scenic beaches and shops selling local wares, there's always something to do in Crete

Crete Cruise Port Facilities?

A Venetian fort completed in 1540 sits right next to the harbor, and exploring its massive ramparts and cavernous interior can easily occupy an hour or two. Children will especially love poking around the fort, which looks like something you'd find on a Hollywood movie set. A curving pedestrian walkway leads to the fort then snakes out into the sea, offering a picturesque place to jog or stroll. Several restaurants of varying quality line the streets across from the harbor, and during the tourist season it's common to find an outdoor carnival with a Ferris wheel and other rides set up near the shoreline as well.

Good to Know?

For a tourist hotbed, Iraklion is amazingly difficult to navigate. In many Greek cities, streets are identified by both the Greek alphabet (which combines characters and letters) and an English interpretation; not so here. The challenge is that guidebooks in English (including this port profile) feature the, er, English spelling.

Tip: I compared the street names and memorized a few of the Greek letters so I didn't have too much of a problem. Another quirk is that in small towns like this, the street numbers sometimes aren't posted on the shops and restaurants so you just have to wander the street until you find the place you're looking for. I'm one of those people who asks for a lot of directions when I'm traveling because it's a good way for me to chat with the locals, and I normally don't stay lost for very long.

Getting Around?

On Foot: Walking is by far the easiest way to explore Iraklion. The majority of its attractions are clustered in an area five or six blocks wide, and walking from one end of town to the other can be done in less than an hour.

By Taxi: Greek taxis would be fairly inexpensive if drivers didn't tack on so many surcharges; some legitimate and others not. In theory, a cab ride to any location within Iraklion's city limits should never cost more than about 6 euros, but always agree on the fare before you enter the cab to avoid an unpleasant surprise at the end of your trip.

Note: legitimate surcharges include extra baggage, extra passengers, picking you up from the airport/harbor etc; where it becomes bogus is when drivers will try to add these on when they don't apply! Also, some will try to charge passengers the night rate (the one they use between midnight and 5 a.m.) during the day, and if you don't notice that the meter is set that way (to rate 2 instead of rate 1) you could end up paying nearly double. You'll also find the occasional driver who won't use his meter at all -- he might claim that it's broken and simply quote you a really high price instead.

By Rental Car: There are plenty of rental car agencies in town, most of them located on 25 Avgusto Street or one of its side streets. You'll find both large chains and small independent shops, and visitors should expect to pay around 60 euro per day for a small no-frills car, although it never hurts to ask about discounts.

Currency & Best Way to Get Money?

As a member of the EU, Greece uses the euro. Banks are easy to find with several located on 25 Avgusto Street, which bisects the central part of town. Normal banking hours are 8 a.m. - 2 p.m., but most banks close a little early on Friday and hours can also fluctuate according to the season. ATM's are common in case you need cash after the banks are closed.

Language?

Greek, although many people working in the service industry speak fairly good English.

Where You're Docked?

Iraklion's harbor is extremely close to the heart of the city, less than half a mile northeast of the main tourist area. Most of the town's attractions are within 20 minutes walking distance.


Crete Cruise Reviews
Crete was gorgeous. After the huge let down we experienced at Athens (filthy, run-down, looked like ghetto or 3rd world, at least the route the buses took from airport to port, from port to city).... Read More
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cs9314
Crete was another relaxing and wandering day for us. there is some terrific shopping in Crete and it has by far the nicest shops of all the Greek ports.... Read More
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PatBan
Oct 5 Crete 11am-8pm - [x] Take city bus rate from cruise port $2 euros into town of Chania city centre - [x] Walk to old Venetian Harbour approximately 10 minutes. Have a drink or lunch on the patio overlooking... Read More
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cbutera
This is for Chania, Crete - not Heraklion (there was no drop down for Heraklion, which is on the other side of the island). We took a taxi from the ship to the center of the old town (I think it was a fixed rate of... Read More
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CruiseDad-NYC

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