Hi guys, due to safety concerns, our cruise ship has had a last minute change to our itinerary. We will be bypassing the port of Istanbul, and spending more time in Greece. We will now be visiting Rhodes on a Monday from 8am to 5pm, Crete (specifically Chania/ Souda) on a Tuesday from 8am to 5pm and our time in Athens/ Piraeus is doubled, now from 6am on a Friday to 6pm on a Saturday. Originally, we had 1 day in Athens and were planning to take the public transportation to the historic sights. I'm sure it will be great, and appreciate the cruise line being cautious when it comes to safety, but I feel like I am starting from scratch with the research and planning. My husband and I leave home in less than a week! Any suggestions for the best way to spend our time in these ports? We like history, but like to mix it up with outdoor and cultural experiences. Thanks so very much!
cruisecritic.com will help you. There is a section on ports of call that covers all cruise ship itineraries. For each port there are ideas of what do and how to do it. Your cruise director on board your ship will also have ideas for you, though most will involve taking a ship's excursion.
Rick Steves has a book on cruise ports in the Mediterranean although it may be too large for your purposes. It does, I think, come in an ebook format. In Athens The Agora (just below The Acropolis) is really great and had very few people there when we went. Very easy to walk to from The Acropolis. There is a combo ticket available for both sites and is probably easier to get by going to the Agora first.
I just returned from a visit to Greece, including Rhodes, for which I did a ton of research. In my opinion, your extra day in port at Piraeus is perfect to allow a day trip to Delphi, in addition to the day you are planning to spend in Athens itself. Delphi was my favorite place in Greece, and definitely worth a visit. We rented a car and drove (which was quite easy), but I know there are many many companies running both coach tours and private car tours.
In Rhodes you basically have two major historical "attractions." There is the old town of Rhodes City, filled with souvenir shops and little touristy restaurants, with the main "historical" attraction being the Palace of the Grand Masters of the Knights of St. John. Alternatively, you can head to the other end of the island to Lindos, which is a cute little pedestrian-only town (also filled with souvenir shops and tourist restaurants) and is overlooked by an acropolis, complete with decaying castle and Greek temple ruins. You can walk or ride a donkey up to the acropolis. Rhodes Old Town is very close to where your ship will dock; you'd need a car/taxi/bus to get to Lindos. I rather preferred the latter. Rhodes also has many nice beaches, if that is more your thing, as well as some villages in the interior where they make wine (and have lots of stalls set up for wine tasting and purchasing of local (?) handicrafts).
Hope that helps guide your last-minute research.
For the port of Souda, there is a direct public bus, from the main road in front of the port terminal right to Chania.
Chania is a lovely small town for walking around, doing a bit of shopping, visiting the very small, but excellent, Archeological Museum (across the street from the Orthodox Cathedral of Chania) and have a bite to eat. Avoid the restaurants directly on the waterfront - seek out one of the well-rated ones in the small streets behind, ie: Tamam on Zampeliou street.