Our option is a shore excursion to the Karadi Monastery and Braoudakis Winery or a tour of Chania area villages (Vamos, Gavalochori) on eastern side of the island; wondering if anyone has experienced these sites. Our ship is there 8am until 9pm, a good amount of time. Thanks in advance.
Sorry, I have not experienced or heard about those four sites. I did enjoy staying in the town of Chania itself, with it's old town and Venetian port.
In late October, we took the city bus from Chania to Souda to catch our overnight ferry to Piraeus. It was cheap and fun, giving us a chance to see parts of the city we did not get even close to on foot. This Virtual Tourist link about transportation into town from the port indicates that there are other, more specific options when ships arrive there. We were actually on the #13 bus shown and mentioned.
We stayed in the old part of Chania and spent all our time there except when we went to the Go-Kart track for my husband to drive a kart for awhile. In that case, the track gives a free ride from Chania to it and back.
I know nothing about the things you list except that Chania is on the western side of Crete and Vamos appears to be east of Souda on the map. Honestly, it also looks kind of like a "made for tourists" town, but perhaps others who have been there will be more positive about that. This is how the description of it starts off, "Vamos Traditional Village is a small local company specializing in holidays with a difference that focus on the cultural aspects of the Vamos area and which promote ethical sustainable eco-tourism and agro-tourism."
You might want to see what else is possible from other companies. When I was on Crete I walked part of the Samaria Gorge. It was very nice. Here's a link with some suggestions. We didn't get to Chania, but from what I've read and what others say here, it sounds like a good choice.
I'm not familiar with the excursions you mentioned either. Looking back to our trip to Crete (we spent 2 weeks) my best memories are from a trip to Knossos and hiking the Samaria Gorge. For me, those are the highlights of Crete and both are doable as a day trip.
I think your best use of the time would be to explore the wonderful Old Town section of Chania with a knowledgeable guide who lives there. Here is a website http://www.chania-oldtown-walks.com for a woman who's intelligent, multilingual, knows & loves the city. She doesn't give a price for conducting walks, but there's an e-mail to inquire: if a few of you on the ship would get together, it would be v. reasonable & a lot more enjoyable. As a glimpse of the Old Town's charm, here's a video: http://www.explorecrete.com/videos/Chania-town-video.html
As for the Villages, Vamos is nice as a brief stop while driving around.... but I wonder if it would be fun as a busload of tourists saying, what's happening here? They might put on some kind of fake "show" for you. There are some cooking lessons sometime, but with a busload, nobody could participate much. Gavalochori is a village that features a lot of crafts, nice for a couple driving, stopping to browse & to have a coffee in a cafe... but again, what kind of experience a busfull of cruisers would have, I wonder. Traveling with a big bunch changes the whole experience.
Diktynna tours in Chania offers outstanding tours which, if you group together with a few others on your ship, probably are cheaper & certainly better than a cruise offers. They have a 2.5 hour walking tour of Chania at 25E per person, including pick-up & return http://www.diktynna-travel.gr/Categories/WaysToExplore/DayTours/Chania/CityTour/index.en.html Also for 80E, a stunning 6.5 hour tour of an ancient site, countryside, vineyards, 2 small villages with a coffee stop, plus a rustic luncheon with wine -- http://www.diktynna-travel.gr/Categories/WaysToExplore/DayTours/Chania/CretanVillages/index.en.html These are for given days, but by prior arrangement can be at other times.