When Allen DeCuyper and Steve Sirls began planning a vacation to celebrate the graduation of their niece, they originally had their sights set on Iceland, but when that trip was canceled, they quickly pivoted to a destination equally as enticing: the Greek isles. Working with Liz Hoover at Travelink, the couple booked a trip aboard Celebrity Cruises’ new ship, Apex, to tour the Greek Islands, with additional stays in Athens and Munich.

“We loved the fact that the ship was built for 2,800 people and there were only 700 on board,” Steve says. “I loved the entertainment — Broadway showtunes, a trapeze artist and a roving violinist thrilled us all. Of course, learning something new every day is always a plus. Of the greatest importance was the safety precautions taken to make sure that we were not sailing on a COVID nightmare. Masks, testing and vaccination cards ensured this. Seeing the Parthenon for a second time wasn’t bad either.”

The cruise was an eight-day excursion to the Greek Islands, and Allen and Steve turned it into a two-week getaway by adding on a two-night visit to Athens and a four-night stay in Munich. The couple, who are known for taking fabulous vacations, often with a group of friends in tow, highly recommend listening to the advice of a travel advisor and utilizing local tour guides for a truly authentic experience. They shared the highlights of their summer adventure for anyone hoping to visit the splendid islands of Greece or the city of Munich.

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Where to Stay

Grand Hyatt Athens

In Athens, we booked the Grand Hyatt. It provided easy access to most sites, and it had a beautiful rooftop breakfast and pool with views of the city. We would definitely stay there again. grandhyattathens.com

Platzl Hotel

In Munich, our choice was the Platzl Hotel. It is in the heart of the city and on the Marienplatz. This enables all to walk everywhere. Having stayed there before made that a no-brainer. Again, COVID safety was respected. All in Munich and Athens were very thrilled to see us, as we were the first in many months to arrive from America. platzl.de

Where to Dine

The Grande Bretagne

The Grande Bretagne is a must-see dining spot. Arrive at the cocktail hour and ask for the roof seat by the edge of the terrace. This is spiritual, with the Aperol Spritz in one hand and a menu in the other, all while taking in the grand view of the Parthenon. We will stay here next time. Start saving. grandluxuryhotels.com/hotel/hotel-grande-bretagne

What to Do

Acropolis

In Athens, a walk to the Acropolis to explore the buildings there and the magic of the Partheon is a must. Go early before the crowds.

Delos

While in Mykonos, one must take the short boat ride to the island of Delos, an archaeological site. Delos is being revealed slowly, exposing this ancient city and all of its history.

Ludwig castles

There are many sites in Munich to explore, but touring the Ludwig castles tops many of them. Walt Disney saw this the first time when visiting Neuschwanstein. It’s an over-the-top folly of a castle and was used by Disney to create Cinderella’s castle at the famous theme park. It is in the heart of Bavaria, and many other castles could be added to this tour from Munich. We were there all day.

Travel Advice

Use local guides (toursbylocals.com is the site we used). Eat local. We loved the rooftop restaurant in Athens — definitely worth the splurge — but also equally loved the local neighborhood restaurant our guide took us to for lunch. Our best suggestion is to walk around the block from the big sites and tourist restaurants and if you see a busy place filled with locals and students, then dig deeper and look at the menu. Go for the specials and local/regional foods. Why fly halfway around the world to another country and order a hamburger, when the local foods are 50 percent of the experience of travel?