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Need help to choose a cruise excursion in Santorini?

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After I read the reviews here, I decided to do excursion with NCL (first off the ship, drop off in Athinios). Norwegian Star is scheduled to arrive into Santorini at 2 pm, leave at 10 pm. This is our first to Santorini, and we are super excited to see the charming villages (Oia from I've read). I narrowed down to 3 tours:

1. Ultimate Santorini (7 hours): description says to visit Akrotiri for archaeological sites (we are not much into Archaeology), then Oia, lunch in Imerovigli (volcano?), then ends in Fira.

2. Greek Style celebration (6 hours): tender to Athinios, visit Pyrgos, then lunch at Oia, ends in Fira.

3. Charming Oia (3 hours). This is just Oia I assume.

 

We are looking to enjoy the classic Santorini scenery, and have time to explore Oia on our own. Anyone done these tours? What was your experience and recommendation?

Many thanks!

Michael

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to be honest I wouldn't do any of them for the money NCL charges for their shore excursions

 

number 1 discount on basis you aren't interested in archaeology

 

number 2-Greek style entertainment means a cheesy group of dancers in traditional costume-is that of interest to you?

 

 

number 3 will be a coach direct to Oia to wander round .The only scenery you will see is from coach window there and back

 

you say you are interested in scenery and villages

 

If you're not interested in hiring a private tour to take you off the beaten track and see some of that countryside[what we did]

 

Then why not consider the boat from where tender drops you off at foot of cliffs at Fira which goes to Oia where you can spend whatever time you like

It includes bus back from Oia to Fira

you will have to get back down to pier by cable car or walk but you will have to do that anyway if you take an NCL tour as tender to Athionis is only on way there

 

You can still be one of the first off the ship if you make sure you have one of the first tender numbers

NCL run 2 tender operations at same time from different parts of ship

Ships excursions go from 1 tender to Athionis where meet coaches to transport up winding cliff

Those doing their own thing are on another boat to drop off at dock at Fira

 

hope that helps

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Thanks so much for your detailed analysis, it was indeed very helpful! Good to know that NCL runs tenders simultaneously for their excursion passengers and for the other passengers. I shall look into private tour in Santorini.

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I'm not sure what I'd advise for you, but probably not the 7-hour tour since you say you like to have time to explore on your own.

 

Also, the ruins at the bronze age site of Akrotiri -- while fascinating if you have an interest -- are not going to be as easy to interpret as, for example, Pompeii or the Acropolis. So unless you're really into archaeology I'd give them a miss.

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FIRA to OIA...

We took the local bus to Oia ...

In case you are interested,

here is video

 

Santorini is great to explore on your own... we also took a full day tour

 

Be sure to allow enough time to go down by cable car unless you want to walk down 588 steps. We had to do this when there were 3 ships in port ...see

 

Santorini is a beautiful island. Enjoy your cruise!

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Can I ask what you did as your day trip to Oia?

We are cruising mid September on Star and have the same port time, 2-10pm, and would like to get to Oia the most

 

Im concerned about DIY, we have never done crusiing before, and we want ease and see the most

 

Id love to hear how you went about it

 

Thanks

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1 hour ago, blondelinda said:

Can I ask what you did as your day trip to Oia?

We are cruising mid September on Star and have the same port time, 2-10pm, and would like to get to Oia the most

 

Im concerned about DIY, we have never done crusiing before, and we want ease and see the most

 

Id love to hear how you went about it

 

Thanks

Not who you asked but we just returned from a port stop in Santorini and used  Greek Traveling ( The Oia Experience tour) with a group we booked with members from our roll call. Once off our tender we met our guide and then took a boat directly to Oia getting there early to avoid the crowds. Our tour then took a bus to Fira and then a winery but more than half of us opted to skip the winery and spend more time in Fira. 

 

Google this company as they offer a great tour and we're very glad we used them.

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@ Ashalnd

 

Thank you for that

How did you preorganise a group tour?

Did somebody make a post and ask for committments?

Im new to crusing so have no idea. Are you able to tell us did you have to prepay an amount each, and what was the total cost of the tour each in comparision to the ship excursion?

Thanks

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, blondelinda said:

@ Ashalnd

 

Thank you for that

How did you preorganise a group tour?

Did somebody make a post and ask for committments?

Im new to crusing so have no idea. Are you able to tell us did you have to prepay an amount each, and what was the total cost of the tour each in comparision to the ship excursion?

Thanks

I just posted about the tour on my roll call (which was so slow one of the most inactive I've been on) but a couple people from there did join after seeing my information about this tour and it seemed some had booked without even being on the roll call.

 

Each person booked directly on the Greek Traveling website with them...easy to do..I didn't do or have to any organizing at all, and the communication from the company via email was excellent...usually from Cristos.

 

I followed their easy instructions for payment it may have been on PayPal. 82 Euros pp. I had no concerns with pre-payment with this highly recommended company. So please don't have any worries. They will send you a confirmation and instructions for meeting the guide and they kept in touch during the booking process...and as we got closer to the tour and even since I've gotten home to make sure I was happy with using their company. I did of course print the conformation and took it with us...always something you should do, but the guide had our name on his list and there were no problems, he was expecting us and all the other's that had booked with them....There was a total of 16 of us on this tour...a very nice group size for this kind of tour and were all strangers to us but became friends by the end of the tour and we ended up being on a couple of other privately booked tours with some of them in other ports and of course then recognized them on the ship.

 

This was a great tour and I have no concerns recommending them. To be honest I have no idea what the ship would have charged (but I do know their prices are usually crazy overpriced and are way too many people) as I prefer to always book private group tours. Something we have been doing during our 25 + cruises to date.

 

I'm happy to share with you any and all info I can...Enjoy your cruise and keep in touch if I can help again !!

 

Ashland

Edited by Ashland

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On 1/14/2018 at 11:38 AM, fabnfortysomething said:

 

 

Then why not consider the boat from where tender drops you off at foot of cliffs at Fira which goes to Oia where you can spend whatever time you like

It includes bus back from Oia to Fira

 

 

I agree with Fabn40+'s precis of the NCL (or any ship-sponsored) tours.

 

For those not on ship's tours, getting from the tender jetty below Fira up to the town (and especially back down) can be fraught because of lines for the inadequate cablecar or donkeys, altho walking back down on the zig-zag path isn't too bad for most folk & takes about 25 minutes.

Hence the little ferry from the jetty to Oia avoids that problem of getting up to Fira. It includes a bus shuttle from the jetty below Oia up to Oia village, but I'm pretty certain it no longer includes a bus back to Fira :classic_sad:

 

The local tour booked by Ashland sounds excellent. :classic_smile:

 

JB :classic_smile:

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9 hours ago, Ashland said:

I just posted about the tour on my roll call (which was so slow one of the most inactive I've been on) but a couple people from there did join after seeing my information about this tour and it seemed some had booked without even being on the roll call.

 

Each person booked directly on the Greek Traveling website with them...easy to do..I didn't do or have to any organizing at all, and the communication from the company via email was excellent...usually from Cristos.

 

I followed their easy instructions for payment it may have been on PayPal. 82 Euros pp. I had no concerns with pre-payment with this highly recommended company. So please don't have any worries. They will send you a confirmation and instructions for meeting the guide and they kept in touch during the booking process...and as we got closer to the tour and even since I've gotten home to make sure I was happy with using their company. I did of course print the conformation and took it with us...always something you should do, but the guide had our name on his list and there were no problems, he was expecting us and all the other's that had booked with them....There was a total of 16 of us on this tour...a very nice group size for this kind of tour and were all strangers to us but became friends by the end of the tour and we ended up being on a couple of other privately booked tours with some of them in other ports and of course then recognized them on the ship.

 

This was a great tour and I have no concerns recommending them. To be honest I have no idea what the ship would have charged (but I do know their prices are usually crazy overpriced and are way too many people) as I prefer to always book private group tours. Something we have been doing during our 25 + cruises to date.

 

I'm happy to share with you any and all info I can...Enjoy your cruise and keep in touch if I can help again !!

 

Ashland

Ashland,

Thanks for the details of the Santorini port tour.  I'll definitely look into it.  We will be traveling on the NCL Jade in April 2020.  Right now there are only 2 of us on the Roll Call I started, very disappointing.  I'm hoping it picks up like the other cruises we've been on.  I research and plan private tours, advertise on CC for others and even create a google doc to keep all the details in one place.  

I'm searching for tour companies that offer small group tours for Kotor, Montenegro; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Corfu/Athens/Mykonos, Greece; Naples/Pompeii/Florence/Pisa, Italy and Cannes, France.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you.

Rita & Michael Lee

West Chester, PA 

 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, ChocolateLover919 said:

Ashland,

Thanks for the details of the Santorini port tour.  I'll definitely look into it.  We will be traveling on the NCL Jade in April 2020.  Right now there are only 2 of us on the Roll Call I started, very disappointing.  I'm hoping it picks up like the other cruises we've been on.  I research and plan private tours, advertise on CC for others and even create a google doc to keep all the details in one place.  

I'm searching for tour companies that offer small group tours for Kotor, Montenegro; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Corfu/Athens/Mykonos, Greece; Naples/Pompeii/Florence/Pisa, Italy and Cannes, France.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you.

Rita & Michael Lee

West Chester, PA 

 

You're so very welcome. From the list above you've given I can only comment/offer on the ones we personally did.

 

Athens.....PK Travel...they were just an amazing tour company...easy to work with and lot's of recommendations and I now completely agree. Full day tour in Athens was 65 Euros pp. Book directly with them on their website...easy to do.

 

Mykonos....we just opted for DIY as this was a port intensive itinerary but many on our cruise booked a trip to the ruins,

not sure which company but it was with a private provider.

 

Florence....Since we have been there before we opted to just use the ship offered roundtrip transportation only to just get

us there and back as it's quite a drive. 

 

Cannes.....ShoreExcursioneer.....Another amazing tour well recommended. $135.00 (USD) per couple...also booked

with them directly on their website.

 

You should have no trouble finding tours that are highly recommended for your other ports. I assume you're on your roll call.

I thought our roll call would pick up also...it never did RCI Vision May 18, 2019. Besides a couple of roll calls we had joined for Asia cruises this Med/Greece was the slowest we've ever been part of. But all worked out well in the end and we enjoyed the tours we booked for this most recent cruise...especially Valletta Malta !!

Edited by Ashland

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2 hours ago, Ashland said:

You're so very welcome. From the list above you've given I can only comment/offer on the ones we personally did.

 

Athens.....PK Travel...they were just an amazing tour company...easy to work with and lot's of recommendations and I now completely agree. Full day tour in Athens was 65 Euros pp. Book directly with them on their website...easy to do.

 

Mykonos....we just opted for DIY as this was a port intensive itinerary but many on our cruise booked a trip to the ruins,

not sure which company but it was with a private provider.

 

Florence....Since we have been there before we opted to just use the ship offered roundtrip transportation only to just get

us there and back as it's quite a drive. 

 

Cannes.....ShoreExcursioneer.....Another amazing tour well recommended. $135.00 (USD) per couple...also booked

with them directly on their website.

 

You should have no trouble finding tours that are highly recommended for your other ports. I assume you're on your roll call.

I thought our roll call would pick up also...it never did RCI Vision May 18, 2019. Besides a couple of roll calls we had joined for Asia cruises this Med/Greece was the slowest we've ever been part of. But all worked out well in the end and we enjoyed the tours we booked for this most recent cruise...especially Valletta Malta !!

Thanks for sharing your tours/adventures.  In March 2019, we did a 12 day NCL from Singapore to Hong Kong.  And then Holland America 15 day from HK to Tokyo.  Both had over 85 people interested in the Meet & Mingle and many private tours posted on the google doc I created.  In previous years and prior to knowing about Cruise Critic, we always took the cruise tours.  Once you have the comfort level with private tours with small groups, going to places busloads can't go and lower cost, it's hard to take a cruise tour.

Enjoy your next adventure.

Rita & Michael Lee

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2 hours ago, ChocolateLover919 said:

Thanks for sharing your tours/adventures.  In March 2019, we did a 12 day NCL from Singapore to Hong Kong.  And then Holland America 15 day from HK to Tokyo.  Both had over 85 people interested in the Meet & Mingle and many private tours posted on the google doc I created.  In previous years and prior to knowing about Cruise Critic, we always took the cruise tours.  Once you have the comfort level with private tours with small groups, going to places busloads can't go and lower cost, it's hard to take a cruise tour.

Enjoy your next adventure.

Rita & Michael Lee

 

ChocolateLover, I agree with what you say. All these years I have shared and received so many tips from the RCs, but our Alaska sailing next month has barely 4 pages and the May 2020 is still on page 1! Understand now people have FB groups instead...🤔

 

I second PK Travel for Athens, they’re excellent. On Mykonos do visit Delos, easy to DIY, it’s just a short ferry ride away. 

 

On Santorini we rented a car and drove first to Oia before the tour buses got there. Spent a couple of hours, then came to Santo Winery, where you have probably some of the best views ever. Then back to Fira where we returned the vehicle and walked around, had a late lunch and then took the cable car down to the ship.

 

 

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20 hours ago, Ashland said:

Not who you asked but we just returned from a port stop in Santorini and used  Greek Traveling ( The Oia Experience tour) with a group we booked with members from our roll call. Once off our tender we met our guide and then took a boat directly to Oia getting there early to avoid the crowds. Our tour then took a bus to Fira and then a winery but more than half of us opted to skip the winery and spend more time in Fira. 

 

Google this company as they offer a great tour and we're very glad we used them.

We just did this same exact tour with the same company June first or so.  

If I had to do it all over again, I would do it on my own and spend more time in Fira and Oia.  It’s not that the tour was subpar, it’s that Santorini was way too crowded and could be even worse in July.  Add in increased temp and humidity. The paths through Oia are twisty and crowded with irregular steps throughout. I heard a passenger from our ship actually broke her leg in Oia. I would have enjoyed a more relaxed time on this beautiful island, but we were hurried and skipped enjoying a refreshing meal, so we could get to the cable cars and back. The cable car lines were about 75-90 minutes. That alone was a circus. 

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30 minutes ago, Cachecara said:

We just did this same exact tour with the same company June first or so.  

If I had to do it all over again, I would do it on my own and spend more time in Fira and Oia.  It’s not that the tour was subpar, it’s that Santorini was way too crowded and could be even worse in July.  Add in increased temp and humidity. The paths through Oia are twisty and crowded with irregular steps throughout. I heard a passenger from our ship actually broke her leg in Oia. I would have enjoyed a more relaxed time on this beautiful island, but we were hurried and skipped enjoying a refreshing meal, so we could get to the cable cars and back. The cable car lines were about 75-90 minutes. That alone was a circus. 

We find it sometimes best for first time port visits to book a tour than the next time we have more of a comfort level and can do it on our own. Santorini is going to definitely be one of those places next time.

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23 hours ago, Ashland said:

Not who you asked but we just returned from a port stop in Santorini and used  Greek Traveling ( The Oia Experience tour) with a group we booked with members from our roll call. Once off our tender we met our guide and then took a boat directly to Oia getting there early to avoid the crowds. Our tour then took a bus to Fira and then a winery but more than half of us opted to skip the winery and spend more time in Fira. 

 

Google this company as they offer a great tour and we're very glad we used them.

How was the tendering and cable car experience ? Especially getting back. We're doing independent so curious about getting back on time. Thank you

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Our tendering off Vision was quick and easy.

The cable car back down at the end of our day was going to be a 1 1/2 hour wait according to those in line when we walked by and asked at approx 2:45pm. We started the walk down but I quickly realized it was going to be hard, heat & mule poop besides. I opted for the mule ride.....brutal....not sure I made the right choice...but do I now have a runaway mule train story to tell  :classic_ohmy:

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15 hours ago, prish said:

 

ChocolateLover, I agree with what you say. All these years I have shared and received so many tips from the RCs, but our Alaska sailing next month has barely 4 pages and the May 2020 is still on page 1! Understand now people have FB groups instead...🤔

 

I second PK Travel for Athens, they’re excellent. On Mykonos do visit Delos, easy to DIY, it’s just a short ferry ride away. 

 

On Santorini we rented a car and drove first to Oia before the tour buses got there. Spent a couple of hours, then came to Santo Winery, where you have probably some of the best views ever. Then back to Fira where we returned the vehicle and walked around, had a late lunch and then took the cable car down to the ship.

 

 

Thanks for your information.

 

Interesting about FB groups being the go to spot looking for information and private tours rather than Cruise Critic that has a roll call for your specific cruise.  After recently reading this, I did join the FB page for NCL Jade.  Until someone creates a specific page just for our cruise, it's a jumble of information from everyone on those ships that stop in ports around the world.  

 

We look forward to visiting the Greek Isles 😎

 

Rita & Michael Lee

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12 hours ago, Ashland said:

Our tendering off Vision was quick and easy.

The cable car back down at the end of our day was going to be a 1 1/2 hour wait according to those in line when we walked by and asked at approx 2:45pm. We started the walk down but I quickly realized it was going to be hard, heat & mule poop besides. I opted for the mule ride.....brutal....not sure I made the right choice...but do I now have a runaway mule train story to tell  :classic_ohmy:

Yikes about the mule ride!  I will make sure to leave plenty of time for the cable car.

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12 hours ago, Ashland said:

We started the walk down but I quickly realized it was going to be hard, heat & mule poop besides. I opted for the mule ride.....brutal....not sure I made the right choice...but do I now have a runaway mule train story to tell  :classic_ohmy:

 

We found the walk down pretty easy - and we're aware that the mules are a lot less foot-sure going down :classic_tongue:.

 

But not all the mule poop goes on the path.

Riding the mules going up, one pooped all over my g/f's leg.

We all found that very amusing. 

Well, all of us except one :classic_biggrin:

 

JB :classic_smile:

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@ Ashland

 

At your suggestion I contacted the greektravelling guy. He was quick and prompt with all the details

 

He did however say he couldnt off the standard "Oia Experience" for those on Star, i think it has to do with the time we are in port and not working in with others? Im not sure

 

He did come up with an itineray, pretty much the same, in a private version for us, and the more we add it comes down in price per person. I worked it out, if we get 10, then its the same price as his tour he runs. But he is offering this a a custom tour to us to meet us for our schedule

 

I dont know if this will be harder to organise than yours, I am assuming you jumped on the "Oia Experience: tour he runs? Or was yours like ours, a customised one to suit the boats port arrival? 

I have put the post on our roll call, so im hoping to get some interest, but wondering if you where in the same position as us, or you where able to get in his pre organised tour?

 

Thanks

 

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2 hours ago, blondelinda said:

@ Ashland

 

At your suggestion I contacted the greektravelling guy. He was quick and prompt with all the details

 

He did however say he couldnt off the standard "Oia Experience" for those on Star, i think it has to do with the time we are in port and not working in with others? Im not sure

 

He did come up with an itineray, pretty much the same, in a private version for us, and the more we add it comes down in price per person. I worked it out, if we get 10, then its the same price as his tour he runs. But he is offering this a a custom tour to us to meet us for our schedule

 

I dont know if this will be harder to organise than yours, I am assuming you jumped on the "Oia Experience: tour he runs? Or was yours like ours, a customised one to suit the boats port arrival? 

I have put the post on our roll call, so im hoping to get some interest, but wondering if you where in the same position as us, or you where able to get in his pre organised tour?

 

Thanks

 

Our port times were easy 7:00am-5:00pm so his "Oia Experience" worked out well. I'm not surprised Greek Traveling is offering to work with you for your port times...their a great local company with a good reputation.

 

I just hope your roll call is more active than our's and you have no trouble..best of luck !

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@Ashland

 

It appears my roll call only has 1 registered! Im following the roll call, I dont even know how to "add myself to it" even though ivew commeneted! lol

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Posted (edited)

I just checked your roll call and it looks like there are 4 other's besides you.....and your post's are certainly there....no worries about that. Hopefully with the good detail about the tour you've posted and adding Christos reply you'll get some others interested.

Edited by Ashland

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