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Slow Ferries ; actually enjoyable or a means of transport

Struggling with this one
Curious if a short slow ferry ride while in the islands ; less than 2 hours would be considered an enjoyable excursion ; or a total pita due to crowds and similar stresses or somewhere in between

The cost of the slow ferries is so inexpensive, the thought of being able to enjoy the views from the sea and be either inside of outside has me seriously considering adding in a ferry ride much like one might any boat excursion
But that could be a big mistake?

We are flying into and out of Santorini so will otherwise not be on the water at all
The local boat excursions there really don’t seem to fit out interests. From what I have seen they are either for swimming off the boat or going on a hike to the volcano area , I don’t think my wife and young daughter will appreciate either
But may enjoy being on a large boat for an hour or two

Posted by
1877 posts

The only island easily accessible from Santorini in less than 2 hours by traditional ferry is Ios island with a Blue Star ferry or the Dionisios Solomos from Zante ferries.

But before considering a daytrip you must take into account that the ferry schedules are not planned for this kind of trip and check that you can take a ferry back to Santorini. You can see ferry schedules on https://www.ferryhopper.com/en/

Also be aware that there is always a risk of not being able to return in the event of bad weather or a ferry breakdown.

You should also know that in Santorini during the tourist season you will not avoid the crowds of people arriving or leaving Santorini by ferry.

Also note that the port of Santorini is at least 30 minutes by bus or taxi from the capital Fira, and that you must be at the port at least 30 minutes before the departure of the ferry.

Posted by
697 posts

I would not do what you are proposing (an excursion) for all the reasons that JoLui states.

However, with respect to the slow ferry experience itself as a means to get from one place to another: we loved our 2 Blue Star ferry rides in June/July. One was Santorini to Naxos, the other Naxos to Piraeus. Very relaxing, enjoyable trips, and I would opt for this again over a fast ferry or flying.

We did pay extra for the business lounge and were happy we did — the boats were both pretty crowded. But we could wander everywhere, and we spent some time on the outside decks enjoying the scenery.

Perhaps check and see if you can line up a private boat that would meet your needs? I don’t know if this is available, but I’d start with google and TripAdvisor (which I use as a starting point for private tours, then contact the operator directly and book with them, not TripAdvisor).

Good luck!

Posted by
6674 posts

I really enjoy riding on ferries, and I like DebVT's idea of taking the ferry from one island to another. It will give you an experience you wouldn't have otherwise, and if you like boats and the sea, it can really contribute to your vacation experience.

I actually took a ferry from the mainland to Crete many years ago (and back) and loved it. Recently, I went island hopping in Scotland and used ferries to get around and it really was a wonderful experience. Sure, it can be crowded but there are always places to find where you can be away from the crowds.

Posted by
2135 posts

Years ago we took a lovely sunset cruise in Santorini, which seems to be what you’re looking for. It gives you some time on the water without the hassle of luggage and changing hotels. Just go to Google — you’ll find many choices.

Posted by
1829 posts

JoLui: yes that is precisely what I was thinking.
We will be there in just a few weeks so will be high season and crowded I cannot avoid that and not really trying to avoid the crowds.
I just don't know if the crowds equal lines and chaos that would make it feel like a burden more than a fun activity.
Much in the way I would not recommend flying on a commercial flight somewhere for the fun/experience. To me that is just a means of transport and nothing more.

I should also mention the last boat trip we took ; my wife and daughter did not really enjoy and my daughter is now nervous of going on a small boat. Last boat was this Jan we went on a whale watch in Mexico on a small zodiak boat and the seas were roughed so we were tossed around quite a bit. Scared my daughter and my wife hurt her back. The large slow ferry would of course be totally different and in my eyes a good way to convince her that a boat is fun again as she used to like any chance to go on a boat.

We would not stay overnight ; nor pack a bag. Might bring a tote with a beach towel or similar but will be easy to carry anything we want just for a very short trip.

My options of using the ferry Santorini-Ios
There are early morning slow ferries on both days but I think although they give us much more time in Ios it changes the entire feel of the trip ; getting up at 5 AM just no longer sounds like enjoyable day of vacation so have nixed that.

Option A:
Tuesday - slow ferry; tickets only 6 euro p/p Dionisios Solomos ; about 20 euro for an assigned inside seat in business class
timing: 1 hr, 20 min
Leave at 11:30 get to Ios at 12:50

Stay only 1 hr. and 40 min (I realize this means really only 1 hour on Ios)
Would take a taxi from the port in Ios to the beach which is a 4 min drive away and spend the short amount of time there.
If once landed decide we don't want to see the beach ; could instead just go to the town and walk around for an hour.
Plan on having snacks / drinks on the ferry so we wouldn't arrive hungry.

Return ferry - slow ferry ; tickets only 12 euro p/p Anemos ; similarly can pay a little higher for an assigned seat in econ or a few more for business.
timing: 1 hr., 30 min
Leave Ios at 14:30

Advantage of this plan is we get back to Ios in enough time to still do anything we want this day and the cost is so cheap.
Anywhere between 20 euro and 40 euro per person which just to be able to get on a boat ride for that cost is not easy.
Of course the big downside is it only gives us such a short time on Ios to see basically just 1 thing quickly. If the ferry leaving Santorini is late than that is even less time.
Really if the boat is not enjoyable than plan A is quite flawed.
Not worried about missing the ferry return though or such issues as would not matter to us if late, and there is fast ferry that leaves slightly later we could catch instead should something happen.

Option B: next post below
Option C: scrap this and go on a more standard sunset cruise or similar excursion boat.
A private boat really is not within the budget.

Posted by
1829 posts

OPTION B:
Wedensday - if avoiding the 6 AM option there is no slow ferry to get there
Fast ferry - World Champion Jet ; tickets 65 euro p/p ; no outside area so this cost includes a seat.
timing: 35 min so super short trip so feel no need to pay more for business class
Leave at 12:20 get to Ios at 12:55

Stay a little less than 5 hours on Ios
Should have time to see both the main beach and walk some streets in the Chora.

Return ferry - slow ferry ; tickets only 6 euro p/p Dionisios Solomos ; about 20 euro for business.
timing: 1 hr., 20 min
Leave Ios at 17:45 ; gets to Santorini at 19:05

Advantage of this plan is we have much more time in Ios
Cost is much higher due to taking the fast ferry
The other thing I don't like is we get in after 7 PM ; we will miss sunset where we are staying in Oia and I know the town becomes an absolute zoo at this time so getting back to town is likely a mess.
If we did this would likely make dinner plans elsewhere and not return to Oia until later in the evening.
For many this would be great but for me is not ideal. Taking as many sunset photos in Oia is part of this trip plan (and yes I am aware of what this entails and means in terms of crowds). For this reason a sunset boat trip is not of huge interest to me.

This plan has more downside risk if something were to happen with that ferry as it is the last one for the day but really not a big worry as we are not rushing back for any specific time and worst case if we spend a night on Ios and ferry back in the morning it would more just be a story to tell than ruin the trip.

Posted by
1829 posts

For either A or B ;
my rough plan is to use our rental car to drive from Oia to either Fira and take the bus from Fira or may be even better to avoid Fira and try to find parking at or near Santos Winery ; taking the same bus from that stop to the port and back.
If we did that I would make a tour or table reservation for our return time at Santos Winery as the view looks great and it was something we were planning on doing at some point in the stay anyway.
Might be able to get away with parking there for hours if we have a later reservation???

It sounds like trying to find parking at the port is unlikely.

Posted by
1877 posts

I just don't know if the crowds equal lines and chaos that would make
it feel like a burden more than a fun activity.

In Santorini, in terms of crowds and access to the port, here is what you should expect:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N27eR7JlS5E

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dYeLDXfB_A

The positive side is that once you are on the ferry it will certainly be more pleasant.

Ferry schedules are not always reliable and it is not uncommon for a ferry to be 30 minutes or more late

about 20 euro for an assigned inside seat in business class

For a journey of less than two hours I do not recommend that you take business seats because there is no point in staying seated inside the ferry, whereas with economy class tickets you can walk on the decks , sit where you want outside where there are plenty of chairs and tables and enjoy the view

It sounds like trying to find parking at the port is unlikely.

Indeed, it is not possible to park at the port.
The best option is the bus (or taxi).

Note that the buses schedules to and from the port are based on ferry arrivals and departures (even if there is a departure or arrival in the middle of the night)

These timetables are displayed at the Fira bus terminal

Posted by
381 posts

Being ON the ferry can be relaxing

However, getting a ride to the port, waiting at the port with all the crowds, waiting for your ferry after it inevitably gets delayed, getting on the ferry, and getting off it are quite hectic. It's like being at the airport except you are in the hot sun. There's no rhyme or reason to the boarding process, it's a mad cattle rush

I just don't know if the crowds equal lines and chaos that would make it feel like a burden more than a fun activity.

If you are just looking for something to do for a day, IMHO there are better options. Are you going to Athens at all? There is the 1 day cruise from Piraeus that is a pretty relaxing day

Posted by
1829 posts

Yes, that makes sense and definitely what gives me pause.

We are starting our trip in Athens. Decided to fly from Athens to Santorini ; while I think being on the ferry boat for 6 hours or so we would not like as much.

Giving some re-consideration to going with that early 6:45 AM ferry on Tuesday. I suspect at that time the ferry port in Santorini is much calmer and would not be waiting in the sun also wherever I decide to park the rental car should be easier to find a good spot at that early hour. Avoids some of that chaos at the expense of our sleep. Would return on the 14:30 ferry from Ios getting to Santorini at 16:00 which I like the option of and with 6 hours on Ios we won't feel short changed there.