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Greek ferries - do's and don'ts

We are planning a trip to Greece in September. Looking into Athens, Mykonos, Santorini, Rhodes and back to Athens. What are the do's, don'ts and reality ( enjoyable or never do it again ) of ferry travel. Most likely will fly back from Rhodes to Athans.

Posted by
4727 posts

Don't use the onboard toilets, wait until you reach dry land if possible.

Posted by
2487 posts

If you want it enjoyable and relaxing, you must take the slow ferries, on which you can walk around and sit on the deck, watching your last island slowly disappearing and the next only gradually getting into view.
I have no recollection of the toilets.

Posted by
1204 posts

Well, we took an overnight ferry from Piraeus to Crete, another ferry from Heraklion to Santorini, Santorini to Naxos and Naxos back to Piraeus. We chose the "high speed" option for all. They were all clean, time efficient, had plenty of amenities... In short, easy and fun. We did buy tickets for all legs online months before departure, although Im not sure that matters. If you've used public transportation at all, its the same. Im not sure what the worry is (reading about others' worries made me worried unnecessarily as it turned out). Get there 30 minutes prior to departure. There is always a line, always a queue. I used a bathroom on two; it was fine ;p Maybe I was lucky :shrug:

Posted by
6036 posts

My recollections:

Ferries are public transport, more like a bus than cruise ships that some seem to imagine. Figure that they are good for short hops, less ideal for a trip of 6 hours or more.

Ferries follow limited defined routes, most islands only see the ferries coming and going along that route, a few islands see more than one route. Frequency varies, so you might need to plan your itinerary around the schedule. Keep in mind that ferries are also subject to weather, especially wind, have some slack in your plan. You do not mention how long your trip is, but the four spots you are looking at is a minimum of 2 weeks.

Fast ferries are tempting, but the sea must be absolutely flat...otherwise be prepared for scads of sick travelers.

While food and drink is available, it is cafeteria grade food, if needed, look at bringing a picnic lunch or dinner with you.

Posted by
492 posts

We loved our slow BlueStar Ferry from Paros to Piraeus. Can't advise on Rhodes. We upgraded for a few euros to a nice lounge area at the top and in front of the ferry.. Very secure and service and first off plus decent bathrooms. We enjoyed walking on deck and seeing people with their spots on the deck (often just the deck itself) . Warning back of ferries area is for the smokers. Its very frustrating as on all the ferry rides you want to enjoy the outside deck and it's smoky. Sad to see parents exhaling on their beloved childrens' faces. If you are travelling very light I would bring my carry on up with me as luggage area was crazy as we were the last stop. Also Piraeus port is huge, I mean really huge.. We were able to get on the second bus to the walkable area to get public transportation to Athens but very chaotic and crowded. Our taxi ride from Athen back to Piraeus arranged by the hotel was will worth the few euros more..

Posted by
1801 posts

I found out that it is much easier to travel within an island group than between. So my suggestion would make sure you can ferry between Rhodes and the Cycladic islands. I would guess Santorini to Rhodes would be your best bet.

Posted by
4727 posts

I used a bathroom on two; it was fine ;p Maybe I was lucky :shrug:

The ferry I took to Bodrum from Kos was more akin to an old fishing trawler with the only toilet being a hut on the deck. I'm sure you can imagine what it was like in there during the summer heat, with an overflowing toilet paper bin, swarms of flies and the floor covered in body fluids!

I'm sure there are better facilities on the more modern ferries.

Posted by
21331 posts

I once needed Dramamine on a large Greek ferry. I believe it was in the Cyclades. I am a bit more subject to motion sickness than average, though.

Posted by
134 posts

This web site shows a map of the ferry routes: http://www.greeceathensaegeaninfo.com/ferry-info-greece/greek-islands-ferry-chart.htm Last year we traveled Rafina-Tinos-Santorini-Crete; it was easy, because we were picking up the same ferry each move. You can see there are no direct links from either Mykonos, or Santorini, to Rhodes.

Large islands have airports, but you would have to fly back to Athens to reach another island. You may find it cheap to fly out of Rhodes to your next country. We flew from Heraklion to London for 50 Euro each.

Posted by
2951 posts

That map isn't 100% accurate. There is in fact a Blue Star ferry currently running between Santorini and Rhodes that also stops at Samos, Simi and Kos. it's 2 times a week now but could expand to 3 times a week for the summer season. https://tinyurl.com/y9c6bfeu But keep checking the Blue Star website for route changes.

There is also a once-weekly ferry, the Prevelis, from Anek Lines.

Posted by
11450 posts

Ive only been on the larger ferries in last few years.. bathrooms were nice and clean, seating was comfortable.

Years ago took a smaller ferry.. more akin to aforementioned "old fishing trawler".. that was unpleasant in many ways.. but that was at least 20 years ago.. The Blue Star ferries Ive been on have been nice and modern.

I still advise bringing on your own picnic. Ferry food is always blah..

Posted by
10 posts

As a Greek, bring your own food and gravel. Sleep as much as you can on the boat. Sleep is your friend. Take the fastest boat possible. You don’t want to be on a slow moving boat for 6 hours. Trust me. Slow moving boats are good if the island is within of couple hours. It’s just not fun if it’s any longer.

Posted by
8293 posts

Stavro ......... I know you meant Gravol but “bringing gravel” made me giggle.

Posted by
11292 posts

And for those who aren't Greek or Canadian, Gravol is an anti-nausea medication. So, the US translation would be, "bring your Dramamine."

Posted by
3485 posts

We took the Blue Star Ferry in the month of September from Athens to Naxos. We had seating in 1st Class. Very comfortable, pleasant, calm ride. We took a faster boat from Naxos to Santorini, which was also fine. As previously mentioned upthread, smoking is allowed on outer deck. We chose to remain inside.

In addition we took a taxi from our Athens hotel to ferry terminal. The driver took us directly to the Blue Star Ferry. Very easy & well worth the fee.

Posted by
10 posts

BEWARE pickpockets on metro from Piraeus! Sadly, I speak from experience.
The 3 (non-Greeks) who got my iPhone (the only thing in my pockets, following the ferry ride back to the mainland) did a beautiful ballet that seemed to move in slow-motion. By the time I noticed a hand slidiing in my pocket, all 3 were off the metro just as the doors closed.
Note, on larger ferries (to Mykonos, etc),
all non-carry-on passenger luggage is piled-up in a cavernous area with no vehicles. It’s odd, for certain, but it seems to work. When the boat docks, everyone retrieves their stuff, like it’s on a broken carousel, piled-up.

Posted by
2904 posts

Rob, from sad experience, warns against the Metro -- both the line that goes to/from Pireaus, and the one to the airport... a ring of (Albanian) pickpockets target these line because so many tourists, carrying valuables. Especially MEN, pay attention! A report several years ago found that 75-80% of pickpocket victims are Men -- because despite warnings, they're stubborn and keep stuff in their pockets, saying "I would know if someone put a hand in my pocket" --- NO you wouldn't that's why they're called pickpockets, sir! Women are usually more cautious, take advice about either keeping valuables in a Neck wallet under their shirt, or deep inside a travel-bag with strap worn crosswise, with one's hand firmly on the zip-top. And of course those of us who've lived/worked in big cities are accustomed to trains & crowds... it's usually suburbanites who only drive and are public transit Virgins, who learn the hard way. Be prudent, and nothing will happen... I've probably taken the Athens Metro 50 times in various trips and never an problem .. but I HAVE seen tourists standing on a train platform in central Athens crying out, where's my wallet???!!!