So If You Are Arriving To Santorini On A Cruise Ship Please Be Aware Of The Following:
- Your ship will most probably dock just outside the Old Port in Fira.
- From there, you will take a tender boat to come into the Old Port and then the cable car up to the town of Fira.
- It is either the cable car or 600 steps to get to town and I wouldnt recommend the steps. By steps I dont mean exactly what you have in mind. I mean you have to step up, then walk three or four steps and then reach the next step.You have the alternative of getting a donkey to take you up, but I am not a big fan of that either to be honest. I just feel so bad for the donkeys.
- There are queues everywhere! You usually have to queue to get into the tender boat, and then to get to the cable car. From what I hear some cruise lines give priority to people paying for ships excursions. Which means they will leave the ship first and you might have to wait a bit.
- On the way back, you might also have to queue to get the cable car down to the old port.
Here is how taking the cable car looks like:
When I am on tour, I usually bring people back to Fira one hour in advance just to make sure they will be there on time.
My point is that all these will take up some time, so do factor that in when you are planning your day.
I have been at the top of the cable car so many times waiting for my tour for an hour, an hour and a half or even more..
Now, I know you all want to see the sunset from Oia, but just in case that is not possible, here is what I would suggest for you:
Just saying, this is what I would do
Visit Santorini On A Cruise Ship Heres Everything You Need To Know
Are you planning to visit Santorini on a cruise ship?
Its going to be fun!
Just make sure you know everything about traveling and getting around on a cruise ship in Santorini for a pleasant experience. Traveling on a huge cruise ship can be great but it also means that you probably have a limited time for exploring the island and if you dont have any idea of what to do and what to avoid, you can get confused.
Heres the ultimate travel guide to make sure your trip to Santorini on a cruise ship is the best and smoothest trip ever!
Getting Ashore How Does Tendering Work
Ships can not dock at Santorini, and a tender is needed to get ashore. A tender is a smaller boat that takes passengers ashore. Sometimes the ships life boats are used, this time it was boats from the port of Skala that transported the passengers to shore.
The tenders taking passengers ashore in Santorini
Once we were on the tender, Skala Pier was a short 10 minute journey.
Skala Pier in Santorini
There are a selection of restaurants and souvenir shops at the pier, some shade to get out of the heat and some cafes and bars to grab some refreshments.
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Why We Fled Fira And Chose Oia Instead
Heres the thing: Most people will find the first available spot after the strenuous hike up the caldera cliff and stay put. They may walk around Fira, check out the souvenir shops along the narrow and steep laneways, maybe visit an archaeological museum or a Greek Orthodox church. But we were taken aback by the masses of people squeezing through the narrow lanes. You could hardly stop and have a look around, let alone take photos.
All restaurants and shops were facing the caldera, but only a couple of metres further the town looked like any other busy Greek town. There was a rather unromantic police station and the central bus station. Car, scooters and quad bike rentals galore, plenty of modern and cheep looking housing.
About Carole And Paul
Paul and Carole are a couple from Gloucester, England. You can find them at www.paulandcarolelovetotravel.com where they share their travel experiences to inspire others to travel. It certainly works for me. I love watching their travel videos and reading about all the interesting places that they visit.
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The Transfer From Skala To Amoudi
Amoudi Bay in Santorini
Amoudi Bay Transfer in Skala
Less known, divulged and rarely mentioned onboard most cruise ships, there is also the Editor’s Favorite way of exploring Santorini. For around â¬20.00 per person, you can get from the Port of Skala to the off-track Port of Amoudi – in itself a wonderful attraction – just below the village of Oia, which is one of the Top Highlights of Santorini. From the dock on the bay of Amoudi, you can take a regular bus, a donkey or walk up 214 steps to Oia and then from Oia get a bus to Fira. When deciding to choose this path, just look out, as you exit the tender boat in Skala, for a couple of tour operators offering this service – you may choose between a speedboat or a motorized sailing boat. It is advisable to confirm if the service is offered on a hop-on-hop-off basis.
Amoudi Bay Restaurants in Santorini
The only downside of this transfer is that you will arrive in Amoudi too early for lunch, where a couple of restaurants serve absolutely delicious fresh fish in a spectacular setting. However, close by there is a wonderful, secluded, small rocky beach and you may want to make some time basking in the sun. The dock in Amoudi is also the departing pier for the boat to the island of Thirasia – an off the beaten track non-touristic quaint stunner. Cruise lines do not offer tours to Thirasia and if you want to explore it on your own, make time to enjoy late lunch in Amoudi on the way back.
An Island Made From Fire
As our ship sailed into port my heart sank. I knew that visiting Santorini would not come without a price to pay.
Santorini has a unique shape, almost that of a banana. The main island forms a steep semi-circle around a sunken caldera, with cliffs that are some 400 metre above sea level.
The villages are sitting on the crest of this island, overlooking the caldera. Because of the special geographical situation, there are no villages to speak of on water level.
From the deck of our ship we could make out a handful of buildings fighting for space in a narrow stretch of land right next to the jetty. Above that the tell-tale zig-zag shape of roads hugging the sheer cliffs up to the villages. It dawned on us this very moment: Seeing Santorini on this day would not happen without a struggle. It wouldnt be as easy as walking off the jetty and strolling into town.
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Where Is The Meeting Point If You Book A Private Tour
For private bus tours, the meeting point is at the top of the cable car. Once you reach the Old Port of Fira, youll have to take a cable car to go to the top. Depending on your tour organizer, you may find a guide waiting for you on the top with a sign that has your name or the company name on it.
For private cruise tours, the meeting point could be either at the top of the cable car or Old Port. If its the latter, the cruise will start there. Otherwise, youll have to meet the tour guide at the top of the cable car wholl pick you up and drop you at the start port of the private cruise.
Typically, a private cruise in Santorini starts from Ammoudi Port or Vlychada Port while the drop off may be the Old Port of Fira. Its best to book a cruise and request the organizer to arrange either the meeting point or the drop off location at the Old Port. This will allow you to witness the breathtaking views of Santorini from Caldera while helping you save some precious time by eliminating the need for arranging transportation.
An ideal itinerary is:Old Port > cable car > port of the private cruise by a shuttle > private cruise experience > drop off at Old Port on yachtORPickup from Old port on a yacht > private cruise experience > Fira via shuttle service > Old Port via cable car > cruise ship on a ship tenderGet in touch with us to find out about the availability of a private cruise that has its meeting point or drop-off at the Old Port.
How Early Should I Be At Port Of Santorini To Catch My Ferry
Santorinis port is one of the most crowded, especially during the high season. For this reason, you are encouraged to be at Thira portat least 1 hour prior to the departure of your ferry. There are 2 mini markets and some coffee shops at the port, so you can grab a bite and admire the view while waiting for your ferry.
When you arrive at the port, go directly to the ticket collection point indicated by Ferryhopper at the conformational email and get your tickets. Dont leave this for the last minute, since the collection point is always crowded before departures. Of course, in case you are traveling with a ferry operator supporting e-ticket services all you need to do is have the QR code ready to show, on your mobile screen!
Note: In case you are traveling with a vehicle you should be extra careful and be in time for the departure of your ferry. As the saying goes: better safe than sorry!
Santorini can be crowded…
Here you can find all useful contact information for the port of Santorini:
- Municipal Port Fund of Santorini : tel. +30 22860 28362/21876
- Security Control Center for Port Facilities: tel. +30 22860 21892
- Port Authority of Santorini : tel. +30 22860 22239
- Athinios Port Authority’s Office: tel. +30 22860 25015
- Port Authority of Piraeus : tel. +30 210 4226000
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What Are The Best Sailing Tours In The Greek Islands And Santorini
As I said above, visiting Santorini on a cruise is not ideal. You only get to spend a few hours on Santorini and those hours are when your entire ship is also touring the island you dont get to see the magic of what makes Santorini so special. And you dont get to stay overnight and see the island in the morning when it can feel almost deserted even in high season.
But sailing tours are different. On the sailing trips I list below, you meander around the Greek islands and make stops in a number of different places that are wonderfully off the beaten path. You start or finish your trip in Santorini so you get to spend 1 or more nights on the island to see how it really is.
Local Tours And Excursions
If you haven’t booked an excursion onboard, you can still get on a tour with local and independent tour operators right at the Port of Skala.
Tour Operators in Skala
Most of these tours are pretty much identical to the ones offered by the cruise lines and although prices can be a little lower do not expect to get a huge discount. However, the local operators/guides tend to have fewer excursionists in their groups, which in itself can be much nicer. At the Port of Skala, there is also an excellent transfer to the bay of Amoudi that deserves to be highlighted – more about this below.
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Wine Tasting On Santorini
Whilst Santorinis villages and resorts cling to its coastline, much of its parched interior is occupied by vineyards. Long before tourists descended on the island, grape cultivation was one of its main sources of income.
Santorini has perfect conditions for cultivating its indigenous grape variety, assyrtiko: volcanic soil, dry climate and ample sunshine. To protect the grapes from the islands famously vigorous winds, and to collect water from sea mists, vintners train the vines into distinctive low-lying basket shapes.
If your experience of Greek wines is Retsina, prepare to re-educate your palate. In contrast to the pungency of Retsina, the white wines from Santorini are excellent, crisp and dry with a citrusy aroma. But the real revelation was Vinsanto, an amber-coloured dessert wine made from sun-dried grapes.
For a small charge, a handful of Santorinis vineyards offer tastings with local cheeses and olives. We visited Santo Wines, a cooperative representing all the cultivators on the island, which offers a guided tour and wine-tasting packages.
Santorini Cruise Tips 2018 Conclusion
Santorini did not disappoint it was breathtakingly beautiful, we really enjoyed our visit to Thira and if we had had more time we would of loved to explore more of the island. We have cruised many times and both agreed this is an excellent cruise destination. The ships sail away was at 1900 so could not stay for the iconic Oia sunset shot as the sun was setting at 2045 but we were able to admire this view as we sailed away to our next port of call which was Rhodes Town.
Emma says: Thanks for this one Paul and Carole! Lovely to have you guys writing for us again. Santorini looks absolutely gorgeous, your photos are amazing too. I love that face youre pulling on the cable car!
I would love to visit Santorini, hopefully, one day. Thanks for the tip about the flip-flops made me laugh when you referred to it as the thong part!
We are always on the lookout for guest bloggers here at Cruising Isnt Just For Old People. If you have a favourite port or cruise line/ship, why not let the world know! More about that here.
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Amenities And Services In Skala
Here, you will find a good number of shops with souvenirs of the island, and also excellent and very well priced duty-free shops selling tobacco, liquors, spirits, chocolates and local delicacies with some of the best prices in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Duty-Free in Skala
The port/dock of Skala is also known for having a handful of restaurants, tavernas and cafes where prices are much more reasonable than up in the towns of Fira and Oia. In fact, Syrtaki is the Editor’s favorite restaurants to taste excellent fresh fish and one of the best salads in Santorini.
Restaurant in Skala
Besides souvenir shopping and a few good places to have a quick bite or lunch, Skala is also the place to find most service and amenities for cruise travelers to Santorini.
One Day In Santorini An Itinerary For Cruise Passengers & Day Trippers
Santorini is one of Greeces most beautiful islands and draws millions of visitors yearly. The island is in the Southern Aegean Sea and is known for its incredible hikes, beaches, and stunning viewpoints.
Spending one day in Santorini offers time to see much of the island but you should plan an itinerary so you can see as much as possible.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means that should you click on certain links, and then subsequently purchase a product, I will receive a small commission.
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Early And Late Planes From Athens
One of the remarkable things about Santorini is the islands size. It is relatively small and you can cram in many attractions if you see Santorini in one day. In fact, you can catch a flight from Athens in the morning and fly back at night time.
Due to Santorinis popularity, you can catch various flights throughout the day. The flight is only 45 minutes long, so you dont have to worry about prolonged and arduous travel.
Take A Photo On Red Beach
Santorini is home to Red Beach, which is incredibly popular with tourists. The sand of the beach and surrounding cliffs are colored red due to volcanic activity, and it is one of the worlds rarest sites. But it is also accessible to the public and has sunbeds and umbrellas.
If youre looking for a refreshing swim which youll need during the summer the beach has crystalline blue waters offering an excellent place to go swimming and snorkeling. The beach often gets hot because there isnt much wind, so be sure to bring your swimwear. You can also get to nearby White Beach by boat, another stunning beach that visitors love.
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Visiting A Santorini Winery & Have The Ultimate Wine Tasting Experience
You are missing a lot if you dont visit a winery in Santorini
There are so many wineries on the island to choose from but if you have very limited time just get a taxi and go to Santowines close to Pyrgos.
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Some of them are more traditional, some have amazing views. Choose the one you prefer, just make sure it works with your schedule in terms of location and distance. No matter which winery you choose it is important to try 2 wine varieties before you leave: Assyrtiko and Vinsanto. These two are the most popular and unique ones in Santorini.
A Day In Santorini Off A Cruise Ship
Hello. We will be stopping for a day in Santorini on our Princess Cruise. I’m wondering if there is somewhere to rent a scooter close to where we will be dropped off by our tender? My husband has his motorcycle license from home – will this be sufficient? How easy is it to navigate the island ie) are there good maps available and do the road signs correspond to the maps?! Waht are the ‘must sees’ – unfortunately we will have to be back on board the ship before sunset 🙁
Welcome to the forums.
All will depend on how many hours you have upon shore. Please be aware that you cannot dock directly at the Old Port .* You have to board a small tender boat from the ship to the shore and its been reported that those paying for the ship’s excursions will regularly get priority in getting off the ship first.
There are usually multiple cruise ships in port at any one time and the main ways from the Old Port up to Fira is either take the cable car and the queues can be long – sometimes up to two hours or walk up 600+ steep stairs that share the track with the donkeys that plough the route. Please don’t ride the poor abused donkeys.
Coming back down, the situation can be the same, so you have to factor all that into ‘how many hours you actually have on the island’.
If you’re able to tell us what time your ship arrives and departs, we can advise more fully.
Keep in mind that many museums, attractions are closed on Mondays.
Edited: 8 years ago
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