Greek Island Cruise Questions

Jul 12th, 2010, 07:30 PM
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Greek Island Cruise Questions

There will be four of us going on a Greek Island cruise this August. I’m having a problem finding good maps and schedules. We’re not on the ship for the ship itself; we want to get a taste of the islands. I know our time in the ports of call is very limited, so I have several questions:

Split, Croatia 10:00-18:00
We figured we’d just walk to Diocletian's Palace. Any hints about a route to take through it?

Corfu 10:00-18:00
This is the only island on our trip that I’ve been able to find a blue grotto. I’ve read that once you get to Paleokastritsa you can take a boat out from there. Is it easy to catch a bus to Paleokastritsa, or would we be better off getting a taxi since there are four of us? What are the walking directions from the port to get to the bus or taxi? What are the directions to where you can get the boat once you get off the bus/taxi?

Santorini 16:00-23:00
I know we would like to take a tour here, but don’t know which to do. We don’t care about shopping or bar-hopping, and like nature, museums, and archeology. I know we want to take the cable car up to Fira, just for the sake of riding it, but we also don’t want to spend the little time we have standing in line. Walking the steps is not an option for us. Is it possible that since we will be there in the afternoon into the evening that the cable cars might not be so busy? Would we be better off to get a boat tour that goes out from Skala Fira?

Mykonos 8:00-16:00
Delos is the one absolutely definite thing we all want to do. From where our ship tenders us into town, how hard is it to get to where you can get a boat to Delos? What are the walking directions to get there? Would it be better to take a tour so we could have a guide who could help make sure we get back on the correct boat to get back in time to make the ship? If we use a tour, does anyone recommend a particular one? Also, should we by tickets ahead of time online or wait until we get there? I read that the Orca was the best boat to take if you get motion sickness. Does it really matter which one you take?

Crete 7:00-12:00
We are going to Knossos. What are the walking directions from the dock to the bus that can take us there? Or, once again, would we be better off with a taxi? We’d love to do the Archeological Museum, but we won’t have time, will we?

We appreciate any suggestions or comments anyone may have!
pearce24601 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2010, 11:25 AM
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I can help you with Delos, and agree it is the one thing to do while on Mykonos! Your cruise ship will probably dock at the new port, Tourlos, which is about a mile out of Mykonos Town. Get a taxi or bus to the old port from there, or walk if you feel like some exercise. You can check out the webcams and zoom in on the map at the bottom of this page to see where things are located: http://www.mykon.net/mtest/index.php

Boats leave from the old harbour at 9, 10, and 11 AM for Delos, and the last boat returns to Mykonos in early afternoon. If you can get there in time for the 9 AM boat you will beat most of the crowds. A guide would be an advantage, but if you do some research ahead of time you can guide yourself around with the map you are given along with the entry ticket. My favorite tactic is to go the opposite way from the guidebook (anti-clockwise), which gets you to the House of the Dolphins and other mosaics before the masses arrive. ;-)
Heimdall is offline  
Jul 13th, 2010, 12:32 PM
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Thank you Heimdall for the info. We will be tendered in, so I'm hoping that means we'll be coming into the old harbour. We will definitely be doing research of Delos, so we might save some money and try it on our own--assuming what we need on-site will be in English! I love your idea of going backwards to beat the crowds. We'll do that!
pearce24601 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2010, 12:43 PM
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We traveled independently, not on a cruise ship, but have visited many of the places you are asking about.We arrived in Santorini by ferry and took a taxi up through Fira to Oia. Aren't there taxis at the cruise ship docks? We never saw any cable cars. There is a very public bus service from Fira to Oia.
Delos is a must. The boat took out of Mykonos included a walking tour with a guide and waasn't very expensive.Sorry I don't recall the cost. The boat left from Mykonos Town.Mykonos Town is charming.
Split: we enjoyed Split. You can walk to and through Diocletian's Palace..there are shops there with local goods for sale, a church. Laundry was hanging out of the palace windows.. Walk beyond the palace and through the city. Walk along the seafront too.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
Jul 13th, 2010, 01:57 PM
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When you get to the entrance at Delos you will be given a map (which I still have) that shows the route and all the major attractions with numbers. The tours head off to the left, which is mostly open areas, and can be seen easily even when crowded. If, instead, you head off to the right, you will go past the House with the Trident, House with the Masks, House with the Dolphins, etc., which are beautiful mosiacs, but can only be seen through small gaps. Once the crowds arrive, you will have to wait your turn to get even a quick glimpse. When I got to that area early in the morning it was almost deserted, and took some really good photographs. Continue around and you will reach the museum and Sacred Lake area, where there are some interesting ruins, including Lions of the Naxians.
Heimdall is offline  
Jul 13th, 2010, 04:06 PM
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pearce24601

I can add little to the superb information already given to you about Delos by my learned friend Heimdall but, as always, I recommend using the Orca rather than the Delos Express. The former is larger, faster and much more stable (ex-Navy boat) therefore could be better if you suffer from motion sickness.

bill
billbarr is online now  
Jul 13th, 2010, 04:29 PM
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Santorini: No, if you're on a cruise ship, it goes to the cable car location in Fira. I think there might be taxis at the ferry port, however. We were on a cruise ship in September, and didn't have that much of a wait for the cable car. However, we were on a relatively small ship (700 pax - Oceania - wonderful!) so maybe that was why there wasn't much wait. We rented an ATV up top and tooled up to Oia (absolutely loved it) and then around the rest of the island a little bit. Our favorite port in the world...so far anyway!

Delos: Our ship actually stopped there, so I can't comment on how to get there. However, I remember it being closed on the day we were there - Monday I think, so check that out before you go. I was glad I was signed up for the excursion on Oceania, because otherwise I don't think we would have been able to go. Loved it.

Mykonos is a really pretty place. If you have even an hour or two after Delos, I'd suggest walking around, especially to see the windmills and the beautiful white church there - not far from where we were tendered in.

It sounds like you're going on a wonderful trip - I'm jealous!
ruthruthruth is offline  
Jul 13th, 2010, 05:14 PM
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The advice to take the "backwards route" on Delos is a good tip! We did that, and we felt like we had the whole island almost to ourselves. We had the lions to ourselves, the mosaics to ourselves, everything. We could see the tour groups, but they were far away and very tiny.

I would also collect as much info as possible on Delos before going. We had printouts from Fodors, Lonely Planet, Rick Steves, plus a few other guides, and took turns playing tourguide and reading to each other from the guides, complete with Vanna arm motions. If you do the "backwards" route and go it alone without a tourguide, you want to know what you are looking at and there is so much to see there. It won't be very interesting if you are just walking around and not knowing the significance of everything.
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Jul 13th, 2010, 05:51 PM
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kwren is online now  
Jul 15th, 2010, 11:54 AM
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Thanks everyone for your advice. I have another question now. I know this is a matter of opinion, but here goes: would a boat or a ground tour be better at Santorini? It would be cool to go over to the live part of the volcano and swim in the hot springs, but is that worth missing the views and the villages of the main island? Can we go to the different color beaches from the land tour? I've found a 5 hour private tour for the 4 of us for 180 euros. Is that too much? I know it's more than regular tours, but this way we can pick out just where we want to go (as soon as we figure that out!)
pearce24601 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2010, 11:56 PM
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Never been tempted to take the boat tour to the volcano. Those that have can give you a better account, but walking up a barren track to the volcano, and swimming across from your boat to the luke-warm water in the "hot springs" holds no attractions for me. ;-)

Instead, spend some time on the beautiful island of Santorini! Every calendar and picture postcard collection will have photos of the stunning caldera views from Fira, Oia, and other villages. Check out the tour offered by your cruise ship before deciding to do it on your own. For the limited time you have on the island, they may have the best package.
Heimdall is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 12:15 AM
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The cable car in Santorini is to the left of where the tenders dock. Depending on what other ships are in port, you may or may not have to wait to get to the top of the cliff. Don't be tempted to use the donkeys though--they are not well treated or kept and there has been a big campaign to get them properly regulated, rather than the lip service the Greeks pay to their welfare.

Paleokastritsa is up on the top left of the island from Kerkyra (Corfu Town) and is a fair distance away. Taxis are around the port all the time when ships are docking. It would be a very expensive return taxi trip up to there and the bus will take a good chunk of time out of your onshore day, perhaps too much to be viable.
Lifeman is offline  
Jul 16th, 2010, 12:20 AM
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Should have wrote: "Every calendar and picture postcard collection of the Greek Isles...". lol
Heimdall is offline  
Jul 17th, 2010, 12:52 AM
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Re: Corfu A friend has just returned from Corfu and tells me that that Paleokastritsa is about 45 mins to an hour from Corfu Town, depending on traffic, by car. The bus takes significantly longer. Whilst it's not that far in distance, Corfu is a very busy island in the Summer, especially in August.

The important thing is to agree a price with the driver BEFORE you go. The price should be somewhere around €40 each way. You will get ripped off by drivers if you don't ask the price before you get in the car.
Lifeman is offline  
Jul 18th, 2010, 03:56 PM
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Les
 
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Just got back from Greece in May (not a cruise). Some advice about Santorini: we were down in the old harbor to catch a caldera cruise (it was nothing special). There were 3 cruise ships disgorging passengers via tenders, and the line for the cable car stretched almost all the way across the port - I would estimate at least a 2 hour wait, in the broiling sun! My advice would be to sign up for the earliest tender possible (if you have a choice). Otherwise, you're gonna waste a good portion of your island time, and start out hot and miserable.
We're so glad chose not to cruise the islands!
Les is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2010, 01:15 PM
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Thanks again everyone for your suggestions! I think we'll also take a private tour at Corfu as well as Santorini. They are about a third of the price of what the cruise ship charges.

I used this site for helping plan our trip to London several years ago and got invaluable information. I think it really helps to get the tips here that make the most of our time on vacation. We appreciate it all!
pearce24601 is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2010, 10:57 PM
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Pearce- who did u use for the private tour of Santorini? we are a party of 6 and 3 of us can't walk really well due to knee injuries-- the walking wounded are taking on Greece1! LOL

Anyway, if you could tell me on this forum or email me direct, I would love the name and number and email of the person u decided on...

thanks !
andy is offline  
Sep 23rd, 2010, 04:25 PM
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Such great information. Have any of you done a cruise or island tours in November?
Sassafrass is online now  
Sep 24th, 2010, 01:08 AM
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November isn't an ideal time for the Greek Islands. Summer is over, weather turning cold, and most shops and restaurants that cater for tourists closed for the winter. I'm not a cruiser, but would imagine that November is the last gasp in the Mediterranean before cruise ships are moved to the Caribbean or other warmer climes.

My tip for November: SE Australia. It's the beginning of summer and weather is perfect in NSW and southern Queensland. For island-hopping go a little further north to the Whitsundays.
Heimdall is offline  
Sep 24th, 2010, 04:24 AM
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Sassafrass -- clicking on y our profile, one sees that you are not a newcomer to Europe. Therefore you should be aware that the Med is NOT the caribbean ... and Greece really is meant to be seen between April and late October. Furthermore, if one persists in the cruise thing, it really should be done in SPring or early summer, when the Med is calmest ... in October, the winds can play havoc, sometimes you cannot go to a certain port, and the cruise experience is not ideal.... Beyond that (as regulars on this board keep trying to educate) a cruise is not really seeing the Greek isles. It is instead mainly about a sea voyaga, and shipboard life, with BRIEF stops at a very restricted list of islands... sometimes for as short a time as 4 hours; you can barely et ashore, take a few snapshots, then line up to board your ship again.

If you really want to see the islands, and don't want to do any prep yourself (booking etc) there are a number of Greece-based agencies who can deftly do it for you... booking hotels, either domestic flights or ferries, transfers from port or airport to/from hotels, even setting up car rentals and/or bus tours around an island. Is that more what you want??
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