Help! we are cruising in Greece in less than a month, and the shore excursion prices are horrible! I need to know if I can take buses or taxis from the ports to town in each or most of my destinations-how difficult is it? They are: Dubrovnik; Kerkira, Corfu; Katakolon (Olympia 25 miles away); Thira in Santorini; Kusadasi in Ephesus; Messina, Italy. Since it's summer, with many people, will it be hard to find a bus? Anyone with experience in these places?
Santorini: Buses and taxis are available. Buses will all be very crowded. Your first consideration when considering a DIY tour is how long you have ashore before you have to return to the ship. You might need to reconsider if the time is short as those cruisers who sign up for the ship's excursion get first priority for debarking, and it usually takes at least an hour or more since in June there will possbly be MANY ships all trying to do the same thing at the same time.
Suzanne, I agree with Lee's comments about Santorini. Did the cruise brochures indicate how long the ship will be in port there? When I was there last year, the cruise ships seemed to be docking offshore from the "old port" area at Thira. Passengers have a choice of walking ~435 steps up to the town, riding up on the back of a Donkey or taking the small Cable Car. I'd recommend the Cable Car or walking, as a trip on the Donkey will impart an "odour" to your clothing. If you only have a few hours, browsing the shops or checking out some of the restaurants in Thira is a good way to spend a few hours. If you have more time and want to visit Oia, a Taxi would probably be the easiest method. Be sure to allow enough time to get back to the Port area, as there will probably be lots of demand for the Taxi's. At times there's a bit of a queue for the Cable Car, so allow some leeway there also. The town becomes quite "crowded" on days when there are one or more cruise ships docked, so you'll be "rubbing elbows" with lots of people. AFAIK, the ruins at Akrotiri are still closed so that won't be an option. Happy travels!
Do as everybody says. Bite the bullet and only go with cruise sponsored tours. Otherwise, you might miss the ship. I know somebody who did. Elaine, Mission Viejo, Ca.
If you haven't yet been on cruisecritic.com - that's your best source for cruise info (ports/excursions/ships/ itineraries - lots of information. We don't take many excursions, but we did at Olympia and Ephesus - they were too far away and Olympia was a shorter stop. The excursion to Ephesus was very well done - very informed local guides with commentary all the way out and back, plus the guided tour of Ephesus itself - don't miss it! I think you could do Olympia on your own, but we decided that since the stop of short (6 hours, I think), we didn't want to risk missing the boat - definitely worth seeing. Dubrovnik - you don't need an excursion - it's right there and great walking (don't miss the walk along the wall and the back streets). Beautiful old city. Santorini - everything I've read indicates to me that if you want to see around the island, you'll want a tour - but, if you want to just wander the main town (Thira/Fira), see a few sights and the caldera, you'll be fine - just a lot of people trying to take limited transportation up the side of the cliff (non-excursion folks are last off the ship AND it's a tender, no dock). There are bus tours around the island, but I don't know if they would fit the ship's schedule, or if they are all booked for the excursions. Taxis are available, too.
Thanks so much for all of the info and advice, everyone-really appreciate it. Yes, I did find cruisecritic-discovered it a couple of days ago-what a time-saver that has been! Great site!