Boat and Ferry Travel

Heraklion and Souda Bay (5 km/3 miles east of Chania) are the island's main ports, but there is regular service as well to Sitia and several-times-a-week service to Rethymnon. Most ferries are overnight, but there are daytime ferries from Piraeus to Heraklion and Chania in the summer. Ferries also connect Crete with other islands, mostly those in the Cyclades and Dodecanese. Service includes fast-ferries between Santorini and Heraklion (cutting travel time to just under two hours) and a ferry linking Sitia with the Dodecanese islands of Kassos, Karpathos, and Rhodes. There is also weekly service from Kalamata and Gythion in the Peloponnese to Kissamos (Kastelli) in the far west of the island. Ships also sail from Heraklion to Limassol, in Cyprus, and to Haifa, Israel. On the overnight runs, you can book either a berth or an airplane-style seat, and there are usually cafeterias, dining rooms, shops, and other services on board. The most economical berth accommodations are in four-berth cabins, which are relatively spacious and comfortable and are equipped with bathrooms.

A one-way fare from Piraeus to Heraklion, Rethymnon, or Chania without accommodations costs about €38, and from about €55 with accommodations. A small discount is given for round-trip tickets. Car fares are about €65 each way, depending on vehicle size. In July and August, a boat service around the Samaria Gorge operates along the southwest coast from Hora Sfakion to Loutro, Ayia Roumeli, Souyia, Lissos, and Paleochora, the main resort on the southwest coast. Ferries also sail from Paleochora to Ghavdos, an island south of Crete, and from Ierapetra to Krissi, an island also to the south. Most travel agencies sell tickets for all ferries and hydrofoils. Make reservations several days in advance during the July to August high season.

Ferry routes change often, but at this writing, among the lines that serve Crete are Anek (Piraeus to Herklion and Chania), Blue Star Ferries (Piraeus to Heraklion), Cretan Lines (Piraeus to Rethymnon), Hellenic Seaways (Heraklion to Santorini, Paros, and Mykonos), and Minoan Lines (Piraeus to Heraklion). Ferry schedules are best checked at www.ferries.gr.

Contacts

Cretan Lines. Piraeus to Rethymnon Sof. Venizelou 15, Rethymnon, Crete, 74100. 28310/21013.

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