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Suggestions for cruisers stopping in Corfu, Santorini and Mykonos

Our ports of call on our forthcoming cruise in August are as follows:
Corfu - 10 am to 4 pm
Santorini - 2 to 10 pm
Mykonos - 8 am to 4 pm

Is it possible to tour these places on our own. In Satorini, we would like to view the sunset from Oia. Is there public transportation going there? We also want to swim in the beach(es). If not practical to do tours on our own, please suggest reliable tour groups. The excursions offered by the cruise ships tend to be more expensive. Thanks.

Posted by
3588 posts

Hope this doesn't show up twice -- computer hiccupped and everything went blank. You can tour Santorini and Mykonos on you own if you stay close to port and the tender dock. If you go very far away a ship excursion may be worth the extra money. If the return of a ship excursion is delayed the ship will wait. That's not always true if you are touring on your own. Several times we have seen people left running along the pier as the ship departed. In Mykonos do go to Delos if you have any interest at all in mythology. Absolutely fantastic place. Google it and see what you think. I'm sure the ship will offer an excursion, or you can get there using local boat shuttles.

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks for the response. If you were to choose between Oia and the Black beach, what would it be?

Posted by
3588 posts

Not a beach person so can't really comment with regard to beaches, but Oia itself is supposed to be very pretty.

Posted by
2795 posts

You are going to learn that a "cruise of the islands" is basically a sea voyage for 80% of the time, NOT a true visit to Greek Isles. our time onshore will be a rushed & crowded scene, surrounded by your fellow-cruisers most of the time --- sometimes 3-4 cruise ships dock at same port at same time, so up to 8,000 cruisers can be flocking thru the narrow streets, cramming on to the same busses. You are gong to have to plan carefully (and in some cases, spend $$$) to get away from the mob scene. I realize you don't want to hear this, but better to know beforehand, so you can strategize to improve your experience.

First of all, Start Googling: you might try a very specific question "6 hours on (name of island) on a budget: Help!" then you will get info YOU can use, not suggestions for posh deluxe private tours, but answers that budgeteer have found. It will help if you do some homework on your own, i.e., find maps of each island, look at guidebooks, not expecting to learn eerything from a travel forum.

I've never been to Corfu, but can give you my insights into the other 2 islands. Expect the time ashore to be MUCH less than listed becaue you have to factor in the time to disembark and re-board your ship (sometimes loooong lines).

SANTORINI -- The Cruise Liners really rip you off on this one, for an improtant reason. All Cruise ships do not dock at the modern port, where you can step onto the pier and get a taxi or bus on a road up to the Top of the cliff. Instead they moor out the caldera , and passengers must be brought in on launches to the OLD plier... and then must get up to the top via cable car, which is quite limited. You can imagine if 2,000 people want to come ashore, this process can take well over an hour. AND the Cruise line puts excursion-buyers At the FRONT of the LINE. So unfair! So resign yourself... and ask (bribe?) a crew member on how to get onto the first launch AFTER the excursion group. Don't count on getting to top of the cliff, into Fira Town, until at least 3 pm, maybe later. And because of cable-car limitations, you'd better be back in line there by 9 pm. So basically you have 6 hours. What to do?
The DONTS ==
• DON'T trek to black beaches; they are volcanic GRIT, burning hot in August, like a diner grill! Wait til Mykonos for Swims
• DONT Count on Museum, alas. It's lovely & tells all about ancient volcano event, but it closes at 3 pm
• DONT attempt sunset at OIA!! It's Madness; worse than Times Square at Rush Hour -- endless ballyhoo about "OIA Sunset" has created a monster! The rim parapets are JAMMED with thousands of people nightly, Sunset won't be until 8 PM, then they all try to get onto the same bus, impossible ... you would miss your ship! Don't believe? Here are pictures! http://tinyurl.com/lnquk6h Don't worry; I have better answers.

The DO's -- USE this MAP -- https://dessylovetravelling.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/map-of-fira-santorini-greece.jpg
• When u get off cable car (N on map) locate STANI RESTAURANT -- it's on that same lane -- ask at any store. Here is link. http://www.stani.gr Go to top-floor terrace and see STUNNING view. Pick a table and make a reservation for 7 PM -- they WILL honor it (I have done this before). They have authentic Greek food at decent prices & like kids (I see on another thread you are taking "kids" along -- for hevvins sake, when you want good advice tell us important stuff like this )
• Go get snacks, And walk to BUS Yard ("O" on Map) to get public bus to OIA ... don't arrive before 4 pm, that is when cruise mobs start thinning out... From 4-6, least crowded time in OIA... you can wander around & take photos Keep track of Bus schedule!! Catch bus by 6: 15, to get back to Fira Town in time to stroll along promenade past Cathedral, and get to STANI for nice meal.
• After Sunset, you'll have time to buy souvenirs, and be in the cable-car line by 9 pm.

For Mykonos see messge #2

Posted by
2795 posts

Hello again -- R Steves doesn't like lengthy answers, so we must split them up.

MYKONOS -- ISLAND MAP - http://ontheworldmap.com/greece/islands/mykonos/mykonos-beaches-map.html
TOWN MAP -- https://tinyurl.com/kbh8q8s
BEACH DESCRIPTIONS -- http://www.greekisland.co.uk/mykonos/mykonos.htm

What you do on Mykonos depends very much on what your family's up for. Since I saw your other threads a bout heavy-duty sightseeing in Italy, you may not want to spend 2-3 superhot hours on Delo (no shade, no water, no cafe), unless your family includes a very well-read fan of ancient Greece... no indication so far of this. Therefore... Mykonos will be for beaches and wandering the town. You dock at 8, you will get to a bus about 9, you can have 4-5 hours at a beach, then lunch & re-board

• GETTING ORIENTED - Look at town map. Your cruise ship will at least dock at a pier onthis island but it is not at the Old Port, it is a new pier built specifically for those Mega-ships... it is along the shore about half=a-mile so you may have to taxi just to et to this Old Harbor. Do NOT eat lunch around here... huge crowds, high prices etc. Read the "BEACH DESCRIPTIONS" and decide which beach you want to try for. The Island Map shows where they are. If it requires a bus, head for the "Bus Square"

TO the BUSSES - walk to "TOWN HALL" turn inland down the lane marke K. Georgouili (BTW there are NO street signs, just keep heading down that lane -- it becomes Mitropoleos, (keep some greenery & a schoolyard on your left) and and you'll end up at a BUS SQUARE. 3-4 busses will be there... find the one for your beach. While you are t here, yo umight ask if there are busses that run out to the cruise dock -- you might be able to save a taxi fare.

BEACHES -- Be prepared for STIFF prices for sunbeds/umbrellas ... Stay away from Paradise beach/Superparadise beach = €20 per sunbed. also on the latter there may be more nudity as the day wears on. There are cafes for lunch at all beaches.... or if you don't eat at the beach, right near the "Bus Square" there's a good outdoor cafe, Marko Polo, v. good food, good prices.

AFTER BEACH TIME -- You may want to wander some of the lanes, take pictures in front of the Windmills (altho they don't run), and shop for stuff. One souvenir that is pretty much unique to Mykonos is the famous "Greek Fisherman's Cap" ... not found on most other islands. If your husband likes caps, get one. REMEMBER: at 3 pm start thinkng about return to ship; either know where there is a bus, or a taxi rank -- there are limited taxis in Mykonos & you may have to trudge a long way in hot sun if you delay.

Posted by
8 posts

Have you tried CruiseCritic.com? Their forum has a category for Ports of Call and you can find out more cruise specific information about day trips and you can find recommendations for tour vendors catering to cruisers. You can also look at a roll call for your cruise date and see if others on your ship are arranging tours outside of the cruise line-sometimes they are looking for another couple of single to fill a group.

When our cruise stopped in Santorini there were 10,000 in port on a November day. Our ship tour took us immediately from the port to Oia and beat the crowd there. By the time we left, the streets had become very crowded and our tour took us to the other side of the island, where we visited the tour guide's home village and had a great meal overlooking the non caldera side of the island. It took over an hour to wait in line for the cable car to go back to the ship.

Cruising into the caldera at Santorini is beautiful, something that you can only get on a cruise ship, so keep that in mind while fighting the crowds on shore:-)

Posted by
964 posts

Just a bit nit picky but you can also get the caldera experience on the many ferries that go to Santorini daily.
Just to add to Janets great advice you might want to pay for a ships excursion on Santorini because the return to the ship is a bit difficult and time consuming and the ship will wait for you..

No problem for Mykonos. You can take the local bus out to the beaches and then return to town to wander the back alleys. If you are interested in Delops you don't need the ships tour just get over to the town and there are ferries that take you to to Delos. I think they are about 20 euros for the return trip. You can do Delos first and will still have time to wander the town.
This is what you can expect
Day trip Delos and Mykonos http://www.flickr.com/photos/stanbr54/sets/72157637922138466/

Posted by
24 posts

Thank you to TC, Therese and stanbr for all your suggestions. Thank you especially to Janet for your very detailed description of the islands. I have printed the maps and will likely follow most of your recommendations. I read on Cruisemapper.com that there will be 6 ships on our port day in Santorini. 4 ships will leave at 5 pm and another one at 8 pm. So it'll be 2,348 passengers from our ship. I have read on some posts that it sometimes takes 2 hours, so I guess lining up at 9 pm is enough time to get on the cable car and the tender.

Posted by
7456 posts

Santorini is not known for each beaches so don’t waste any time doing that; Mykonos has superior beaches. Most important place to visit on Santorini is Akrotiri, the ancient Minoan archeological site. There are also wineries to visit.
There are buses from Fira to Oia. Sunset in Oia will be mobbed in public places. We could see the sunsets from our hotel room balcony but they weren’t anything special during our visit. Maybe you’ll be lucky and see a colorful one.
Another fun thing to do is walk down from Oia to Amoudi Bay and have a meal at a seafood restaurant.
Allow enough time to get down the cliff to your ship’s tender. The gondola/funicular can have very very long lines for cruise ship passengers.

Posted by
24 posts

8am arrival in Mykonos is perfect; mornings are deliciously cool, even in the middle of August. And you will get your choice of loungers. If you want to maximize your beach time, you might consider walking north to Agios Stefanos, about 1/2 mile from the 'new port'. The walk is moderately strenuous. Lounger / umbrella prices are more reasonable here. After lunch (both beach restaurants are good), you can ask your server to call a taxi to take you into town, as by then it'll be too hot to walk the mile. Then you can catch your cruise bus back to the ship. Delos is doable, if you take the 9am (or is it 9:30am?) boat there, but then you won't have time for the beach; it's one or the other. Later boats will put you on Delos when it begins to fry.... That said, Delos is of course wonderful and evocative.