Early spring in Europe is proving to be a very cool affair. As soon as we boarded the tender to take us from the ship to the island this morning, I wished I’d taken my jacket with me.

No matter – the sun shone fitfully and the spectacular cable car ride to the township of Fira, perched on the cliff tops 270 metres above sea level, was enough of a distraction from the weather.

Cruise companion Melanie and I visited Santorini years ago and stayed at Oia, a picturesque village at the northern tip of the island, and couldn’t have imagined then that we would return, together, on a ship, or that I would be based in Sydney and she in London.

While the island’s tiny cobbled streets and whitewashed houses and churches looked much as we remembered them, the shops seemed to have multiplied beyond belief – how can so many shopkeepers selling the same type of jewellery, embroidered cushion covers and tourist trinkets all make a living?

We had a full day at Santorini and were thankful that when we arrived Azamara Journey was the only ship in the harbour; MSC Harmonia pulled in at 2pm and I imagine in the height of summer the number of tourists and cruise passengers pouring though Fira, the surrounding villages and vineyards would be quite overwhelming.

But no doubt they keep all those shopkeepers in business.

Back on the ship, we’re watching the news about the capture and death of Osama bin Laden. It seems a long way away from where we are, on a small ship in the Aegean Sea, where all we have to really think about is where to have dinner tonight …