I arrived at the port in Naxos with just under an hour until my ferry was set to depart. Little did I know, our Greek ferry would be delayed several hours for reasons unseen. Traveling by ferry around the Greek islands is often the only way to get from island to island. However, if you aren’t prepared for a few commonplace practices, the Greek ferry system can seem as complicated and confusing as the Greek language.
Know Your Boat: In Greece, there are plenty of different ferry companies that can take you from island to island. However, not all of these boats are created equally. When you are researching a route to take, be sure to get the name of the company and the type of boat you will be taking. Some boats are high speed, cutting back on your travel time. Other boats are slower with lengthy journeys and frequent stops. And if you are prone to seasickness, you will want to avoid any of the smaller ferries that don’t always have smooth rides in rough seas.
Expect Delays: I would frequently arrive for my Greek ferry just under an hour from its set departure time. In the long run, I spent a great deal of time waiting for late boats. As most of the island ports are nothing more than concrete benches, you don’t want to arrive to port too early. On windy days when the seas are rough, it is also a good idea to check with the port police or a travel agency to see just how delayed your boat maybe. The ferries in the Greek islands tend to make several stops a day. If one stop gets off on time, your boat will most likely be later than the time listed on your ticket.
Select Your Seat or Suffer: As I was taking several different ferries to several different islands, I would wait a day or two in advance to purchase my tickets in case my plans changed. This was a mistake in most cases in the seating department. Many of the best seats on the high-speed ferries were all booked up by the time I got around to purchasing my tickets. I also made the mistake of sitting down in an open window seat on one ferry, only to realize that I had an assigned seat listed on my ticket. If you are taking a high-speed ferry, most likely your seat is assigned to you. If you don’t want to be in the middle of the boat wedged in between two other people, select your seat well in advance to avoid the discomfort.
Come Prepared For Seasickness: Island hopping in Greece sounds quite idyllic until you are in the midst of seasickness. The travel time in between stops is often quite lengthy that if you do get sick, there is no way out for a few hours time. Even if you have never had trouble with seasickness, it is best to come prepared on each ferry ride you take. Medication, motion sickness wristbands and ginger products can help with the nausea associated with seasickness. It also helps to know what to do if you do encounter seasickness onboard. It is best to gaze at the horizon if you can and try to keep your mind off of those rough seas.
Keep in Mind Ferry Schedules Change Out of Season: Traveling to Greece right at the end of tourist season proved beneficial in many regards. There were fewer crowds than in June and lines were shorter. At the same time, I encountered issues with traveling by ferry in the off-season. Many routes change or are scaled back beginning in September in Greece. While you might read that a ferry route connects two islands, it is best to confirm this is the case out of the high season.
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