We are arriving from a cruise ship in May 2015. I am seeing that the gondola on the way up can be crowded and difficult to time it out to get back to the ship if still crowded. It is also not recommended to walk due to the donkey poop and not to take a donkey ride as they are abused. So, who has hired a company to drive them for the day? Who do you recommend? I am interested in having a driver meet me and my family of 4, take us to a winery and then around the island to soak in the beautiful scenery, photo ops etc. Suggestions anyone on a company to do this? A favorite cafe to eat in etc? Thanks!
There's no road down to the cruise ship tender dock, so you'll have to choose between the cable car and the steps. Please don't be tempted by the poor abused donkeys.
You may also have the option of taking a water taxi from the tender dock to Amoudi Bay below Oia. You'll have to ask at their office once you're on the dock. The ticket price includes a shuttle up the cliff from Amoudi into Oia and a busride back to Fira. I believe it's €20 per passenger. They don't leave until they're full, so waiting for the cable car might still be the faster option.
Depending on how fearless you are a fairly affordable way around Santorini is using a scooter or ATV. I was in Santorini for several days. Also, if you stay in a town like Oia, with the donkeys, it is easy enough to walk around. The few times we used a cab were expensive but not too bad.
As the previous poster said, there's no road from that port to Fira, so either walking up or the gondola are the only options. Once you're up there, we don't personally know of any drivers who can pick you up but I did a wine tour through Sun Marine Travel Services who might be able to find something similar for you. You can email them (the woman I worked with is Maria) at email@example.com. I really liked the Domaine Sigalas winery which is very close to Oia, the most picturesque part of the island. There are lots of great restaurants throughout this town as well.