Updated: November 14, 2017
- Don’t do a cruise to Santorini. You only get a few hours to see the island and it’s busy and packed with tourists whenever a cruise ship is in port.
- If you want to see what makes Santorini the most magical island in Europe you need to stay overnight.
- Five to seven days is what I recommend for most visitors but even a one night stay is better than visiting on a cruise.
- If you absolutely must do a Greek island cruise then book a small yacht sailing tour.
Looking out a cruise ship from the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Fira, Santorini. (Staying in Santorini is much better than visiting on a cruise.)
Cruises to Santorini and the Greek Islands
Santorini is a popular cruise destination but I don’t recommend visiting Santorini on a cruise ship for two reason: you get a limited amount of time on the island (just 4 to 8 hours) and only see the island when it’s crowded with other cruise ship passengers (your shipmates).
After the cruise ships have departed, Santorini returns to a calmer and more tranquil pace. So if you can stay a few nights on the Santorini you’ll see a completely different side of the towns, restaurants, and attractions. It’s just much funner, more relaxing, and more beautiful on the island after the cruise ships have departed.
This is what visiting the island is like when you come to Santorini on a cruise: You walk around a few designated parts of the island as part of a large group. You’ve got limited time and can only see a few spots in Fira and Oia.
Here’s one of the large tour groups from a cruise. Are you in group 20?
Maybe you’re in group 22?
Or maybe it’s 32? Regardless: this sucks.
This looks fun: waiting for the cable car ride back to the cruise port.
This is just a small part of the line – it can stretch far back and around a corner. Occasionally cruise passengers will be left behind on the island because they can’t get back to the ship in time. They then have to arrange their own transportation to another island to meet-up with the cruise. Certainly this is rare, but it’s always in the back of your mind: what time is it? – we can’t miss our departure time.
Oia is a great town, but everyone staying on the island knows: don’t go mid-day because it’s packed with tours from the cruise ships.
This is the Santorini you get to experience when you stay on the island and enjoy it at your own pace.
Get up early and there are more donkeys on the streets than people.
A quiet breakfast view in Imerovigli.
When the cruise ships have departed even a popular restaurant can be quiet and relaxing. And the views just seem better when there aren’t mobs of people.