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Info on the HAL excursion - Panoramic Santorini???

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Yes, that is the only tour that avoids having to use the cable car (or donkeys). The tenders drop you off at Athinios and a bus will take you on the tour, and they drop you back there after the tour. All other tours drop you at Athinios, but at the end, they drop you off near Fira, where you are forced to walk through the town (and past all of the shops) to reach the boarding station for the cable car. That's not too bad, unless you are unlucky and your ship is one of 4 or 5 for the day. Then you can prepare for a 2 hour or more wait for the cable car line. The merchants in the shops love it, and I think that may be part of the grand scheme of forcing all ending tours to wind their way through Fira to reach the cable car (or donkeys).

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Do you remember was this only offered one time, in the morning?I am thinking that this is factor that allows them do this.


I hate that it is such a short tour... but I understand that this is probably the ONLY way that they can do the return ferry from Althinios.


I have some real, true, vertigo... and the cable cars are def. an issue!


But, I don't want to travel that far and spend that kind of money to cruise Europe, only to be back on the ship by noon.


I think I would actually consider booking the cheapest HAL tour that would get me to Althinios or Oia, and then ditching that, if possible at all, to continue on our own, or have a Private tour guide waiting. That would still leave the cable car going back down.


The long line and wait at the cable cars should not be an issue in our case, as, for now, this HAL cruise would be the only good sized cruise ship in port that day. This makes a big difference! Lucky!

Edited by Wishing on a star
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Yes, in a way, it is an obvious "Exit queue trap'!!!

But, the thing is, that is not the purpose of this situation....

Santorini just is not equipped with ports, roadway access, etc... to handle the number of visitors.

If there is any way, at all, geographically, that they could build a real cruise shop dock, with adequate access roadways, etc... (and their very well might not be). The powers that be would never want to let that happen to this special island!


I understand that they are now limiting Cruise Ships arriving to the island to be capped at 8000 passengers a day.


It just is a real concern for people like me, that even with arrangements at additional cost, they simply will not allow any passengers to ferry back from Althinios.


I am thinking that there might be tourist boat tour operators that can do this, but they can not legally operate as a water taxi. One would have to book a tour, with the minimum allowed by law, to be 2 hours. And even then, I am not sure it is still possible to drop off at cruise dock below Fira?

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On our visit to Santorini and based on advice from fellow CC’ers we booked a ferry from the tender port, they have a kiosk there. You then board a boat which takes you across to the port for Oia where buses are waiting to take you up to the town. A time is agreed for the pickup for the bus to take you back down for the return by boat

to the tender port. This was a great trip and gave us plenty of time to visit Oia which is really beautiful.


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Cruiseaholic, Has this been some time ago?

It seems that for quite a while now, there is no return boat/watertaxi from the port below Oia and the cruise port below Fira.

The only option, other than the one excursion that I am seeing, is to eventually travel ( by bus) to Fira and take the cable cars back down.


Not sure. how this one HAL excursion is able to offer return to the cruise port, from Athinios, below Oia.

Maybe because it is such a short excursion, and they can return you to the cruise port from Athinios when the last ferries are transporting passengers TO Althinios.


I am not seeing private tour companies that offer to pick guests up at the Althinios dock.

I am thinking that they are not allowed to do this. Only the coaches that are approved and allowed to run group, cruise ship, excursions. I have not gotten a good response from any private tour operators yet. But from everything I am seeing, they will offer pick up at the airport, hotel, or near the top of the cable cars.


Private tour operators may be able to drive down and pick up passengers at Althinios dock????

But I am not seeing this offered.

The roadway, parking, etc... simply might not be able to handle the traffic.

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I've been to Santorini twice now on cruises. One time we took the ferry to Oia and then picked up a bus to return. The other time I took the cable car up the hill and back down (we got a taxi to Oia to see the village). It has been a few years since I was last there, so couldn't be sure if the ferrys are still running.

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We did the ferry to Oia last October. You take a tender from the ship to the dock below Fira. There are two ferry operators who will take you to the dock below Oia. The ticket includes a bus ride from the dock up to Oia. There are no buses that will take you back down to the Oia dock. The only way to get back to the ship is to use the return bus ticket supplied with your ferry ticket, and they drop you in Fira, for the usual trek through the town in the line for the cable car. The bus from Oia to Fira leaves every hour, up to about 14:30. This whole system is planned to force all cruise ship tourists to have to walk through the town of Fira to reach the cable car, donkeys, or the 800+ steps to get down to the tender dock. Only one exception is allowed and that is the single short tour that uses Athinios for arrival and departure.

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It sounds like we can still tender to the Cruise Dock, then water-taxi over to Althinios, then the bus up to Oia...

And, then possibly meet a tour guide - without taking the cable cars up.

We could also consider booking a cruise ship excursion, if this option is available, to be able to tender directly to Althinios. and, if possible, just ditch the excursion group.. so as not to be spending time being herded around by huge coach, and have a tour guide meet us there at Oia.


I know this all sounds so completely silly and over the top. But, with my major 'true vertigo', I. swear I would do almost anything to avoid those cable cars!!!!


On a trip to Sedona AZ, we did the Pink Jeep Tour, that ends up going out on those ledges outside of Sedona. Think smaller Grand Canyon... OMG.... I think it was almost two weeks before I could walk up a flight of stairs without vertigo hitting.

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I think you might be under the impression that Athinios is the dock below Oia. I don't believe it is. When I did the HAL tour that uses Athinios, it is to the right of the other tender landing when one is facing the island. Oia is some distance to the left of both the tender landing and Athinios. You might want to check on Google Maps to confirm before finalizing your plans.

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There are 2 docks that ship tenders call at. The main dock is 800 ft below the town of Fira. That dock is for all private and DIY tours. The dock at Athinios is for most ship tours. That dock has a road going down to it, so ship's tours that use vans and buses drop you off there. You cannot return to that dock because there are no tenders to take you back to the ship, except for that one unique tour that begins and ends in Athinios.

The town of Oia is a great distance away from both Fira and Athinios. You can buy a ticket at the Fira dock that will get you a boat ride to the Oia dock, a short bus ride up to Oia, and then a bus ride back to Fira. All tours must end in Fira, and the requisite cable car ride down, or a donkey, or a huge bunch of steps down. There is only one tour that is allowed to bypass Fira and end in Athinios, and that one is very short. There are no tenders heading back to the ships from Athinios or Oia dock, except that single tour.

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