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Booking of Ferry Tickets Piraeus - Naxos and Naxos - Santorini

Would like to get some advice what is the best way to book the ferry tickets and the ticket class.

Read in some websites which recommend booking through local travel agencies as they are more experience in rearranging in case of strike or bad weather condition. Also found some websites which I can book directly, eg which provides list of ferries and different classes to choose from. Any advice here if I should book from the local tour agency or direct booking is good enough.

For a morning trip or noon trip, will taking the Economy class without any numbered seat be sufficient? Will there be a case of "too crowded and not enough seats for everyone"? I certainly do not hope to stand all the way (5 hours).


Posted by
3080 posts

Make your purchase online directly from the ferry company involved, tickets to be claimed at the port. Buying an aircraft-style numbered seat guarantees your place on board. No one can poach it from you. The very large conventional Blue Star car ferries hold over 1400 passengers and they're seldom sold out. By the time that ferry reaches Naxos there will be even more seats available since by then many passengers will have left the ship, so there's no real chance of the ship being full for the trip to Santorini. You could actually just wait until you're on Naxos to buy your ticket for that part of your journey. The exception to this would be if you happen to be traveling during a major Greek holiday when so many Greeks are visiting the islands from the mainland.

Posted by
3561 posts

A word of caution. . .We just returned from a trip to Greece. Part of our itinerary included taking a ferry from Heraklion to Santorini, on May 20. About 5 days prior to our departure date, I went into a travel agency to purchase the ticket. To my surprise, one of the two big ferries which do that route was sold out. Fortunately, the other wasn't; and we got our tickets. Once you are sure of your plans, there isn't any reason to delay the purchase, especially if you are traveling in summer.

Posted by
12 posts

Depending on your travelling dates (mid-July to end-ofo-August is super high season) I would definitely recommend pre-booking. In each Greek Island there is a travel agency that is affiliated to the companies that operate the routes in this island. If something happens (weather, strike or whatever else), you can change your tickets there, no matter from where you have bought your tickets.

For pre-booking I would propose that you check also as it provides info for indirect connections between islands and it has no commision. You can also buy e-tickets (I think only Hellenic Seaways supports it) and travel with a printed boarding pass. No need to go to the booth or the local travel agency.

Regarding the seats, if you are travelling in a high-season prefer a numbered seat in order to ensure a seat to place yourself...


Posted by
7 posts

Thanks everyone for your information! I will book ahead of time, but since I will only be travelling in Sep, I suppose booking one month in advance is sufficient.

Posted by
3259 posts

cspk, Lee's advice is the best ... and some of the worries posted would not have been necessary if you had stated up front WHEN you would be traveling. Comments :

• IF you book online, this may involve tickets sent to you overseas (costly & a hassle), OR delivered to an Athens hotel upon your arrival (but what if there's a Glitch? Panic!), OR having to go to ticket kiosk at pier to pick them up before departure. In my 12 trips (all in May-June or September), I've preferred to buy at any handy agency near hotel in Athens or an island, 1 - 3 days before. They may charge €1 convenience fee, big deal.

  • Capacity depends on ferry type: #1 -- conventional ferries such as BLUE STAR line (1200-1800 passengers, 250+ trucks & vehicles) #2 -- Car-carrying catamarans: large-ish, 500+ passengers #3 - Passenger-only catamarans -- 350-450. (All catamarans are reserved-seating-only. Naturally, if #3 is the only ferry service & travel is at a busy time, plan ahead. Personally booking a few days ahead, I've never experienced a sold-out in May or Sept.

• Booking a week or more in advance on Blue Star type ferries is almost never necessary except in HIGH season (July-Aug), and of course, any time around EASTER or Aug 15 -- 2nd biggest holiday in Greek year. Also, check Greek calendar online for the few 3-day holiday weekends such as Pentecost (Holy Spirit) weekend, usually late May-early June. Other times to be alert for heavy bookings: Outbound, Athens to Islands on Fridays, May thru September, and Inbound from Islands to Athens, summer Sundays.

• The sold-out situation reported by Rosalyn was for a special reason. The 2 ferries mentioned are the ONLY service between Crete and Santorini... and while they're fairly big catamarans, they just seat 400-500, not 1500.

• For big-ferry short trips such as Naxos - Santorini, no point in anything but economy ... you'll want to be on deck. If doing that long trip to/from Piraeus (5 hrs to/from Naxos), consider a reserved-economy (also called "aircraft seating"). You can sit on deck as long as you like, but if/when you want to be inside to read/nap, you have a guaranteed numbered seat.

TIP #1 - in May, early June, or September, large ferries can be at least 1/3 empty. Don't tell anybody, but in those months, buy a plain economy ticket, then just wander inside, look for empty seats and usurp them. If for some reason it looks full-ish, you can just flag a staff person and upgrade an Economy ticket by €5, for a numbered seat.

TIP #1 - On blue Star, best reserved seats are on either side, in smaller compartments, by the windows, quieter. The central seating is more like a movie theatre, up to 400 seats, divided by aisles into thirds, TV on nonstop, brightly lit. If you book online you cannot specify side seating, but you CAN if you book in person at an agency. If you're a worrier, directly on arrival, you can ticket-shop right at the Airport at Either Amphitrion or Pacific travel agencies, open 24/7.

TIP#2: Deck seats on Blue STar ferries are first-come-first-served, so strategize. Be near the front of the line waiting at dock. When ferry officers signal boarding, step lively! You're directed to stash big bags on steel racks on the vehicle level (perfectly safe; just take with you any daybags with $$, camera, valuables). If there are 2 of you, assign one to bag-stowage, the other scampers up the steps to snag 2 best deck seats.

TIP #3: Suppose you have a reserved-economy seat on one of those (rarely) fully-booked ferries returning to Piraeus on a big weekend. After watching sunset on deck, you come inside to your numbered seat and... SHOCK! A little old lady in a black dress, with Many Parcels, is in your seat!!! Do NOT confront her... a hassle will ensue. Just go find a deck officer to get her to move.

Posted by
7 posts

Hello Janet, truly appreciate your detail info. All those tips are just wonderful!

Posted by
32110 posts


I travelled that exact route a couple of years ago, and used a Greek travel agency to book not only the Ferries but also transfers and hotels in Naxos and Santorini. They provided exceptional service, and the agent showed up at the Piraeus dock at 07:00 on a Sunday morning to hand me an envelope of vouchers. I believe this is the agency I used - (it was recommended on Matt Barrett's Greece Travel website).

One other point to mention is that if you haven't been to Greece before, you may have to get used to drinking bottled water on both Naxos and Santorini (although some hotels may have better water treatment facilities). You'll also need to be aware of the different "bathroom practices" in Greece.

Posted by
7 posts

Ken, thanks for your info. I am actually not aware of the bathroom practice in Greece. Good that you pointed out. Thanks again!