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Star - 9 Night Greek Isles Review

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We are visiting Santorini on the Jade in early August and are planning to take the boat from the tender dock to the port below Oia.  I have read many places where there is a bus that takes you up to Oia after the boat docks - was this not offered to you?  I am 75 and in good shape, but I'm not into climbing up a steep hill in the heat.

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The Star offered it 2x.   I believe on the 3rd day and the 6th day.  So in theory you can have your clothes washed and folded 2x for 50 bucks.  Pretty amazing deal if you ask me

 

How do you find out when they offer it, is it in the newsletter or something? And is that just what you can fit in the laundry bas they supply, like in hotels? Sorry we have never cruised, and laundry is something i have wondered about, but didnt want to pay hotel exorbitant prices?

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@Tides

Since we arrived early, they were opening up tender tickets at 11.  I was there around 10:40, and was on tender 7.  Now since the excursions were still scheduled to go at 2, the tender process was extremely efficient, and they were calling for free tender roughly 40 minutes after the ship was cleared.  It did seem as if everyone was on an excursion, and while I wouldn’t say do not do an excursion, I must say Santorini and the majority of these ports are extremely easy to do yourself and avoid the crowds.  We hopped off the boat and headed to buy our tickets to Oia.  For those who are not as familiar, there are two towns to focus on in Santorini, Oia and Fira.  Fira is where the ships disembark, still beautiful, but Oia is the town that you see in all the post cards.  In our opinion both are extremely doable in a day.  We took the speed boat from the dock to Oia, roughly 20 minutes, then began the long walk up to the town.  If I have any advice here, it would be to just get lost.  It is a blast to meander through the small alleys and vistas. The ticket to Oia to Fira was included in our ferry ticket which if I recall was 16 dollars, so we then hopped the bus and headed to Fira, where we wandered the town again getting lost, and ate a wonderful sunset dinner at the Metropolis before making the mad dash back to the boat before 9:30 last call!  I have to say having these late port stays are so wonderful, and really help you have a good feel of the town as a whole.  Also, I cannot stress enough the beauty of enjoying both of these charming villages slowly.  The vistas and views you will discover will be worth the trip alone

 

I am really after some advise on Santorini. Are you saying that you didnt book a tour, you just got off the tender dock and where able to buy a "ferry ticket to Oia" We dock on 25 Sept from 2-10pm, and I am torn about organising a private tour, as we want to go straight to Oia by boat, and not the cable car to Fira first. I assumed you needed to organise an excursion for this, but am i wrong?

 

Also, please excuse silly questions, this is our first cruise, so with tender tickets, when do you get them and how? Do they make an announcement or do regulars just know what to do? I assume with ports like Santorni where everyone wants to get off early, you get to the tender ticket place early to get one correct? And your number on the tender is how quick you get off?

Also, what about getting back on the boat from tender, do you need a ticket for that, or is it just turn up and go?

 

Finally, what was your actual departure time for Santorini, as you mention 9.30 for last call? What time did you make your way down, and did you walk or cable car?

 

If i can get these tips, it sounds like your port stop hours was meant to be as ours is, 2-10 pm, id love to get your tips to make Santorini a great easy stop, as like you its my wish list 🙂

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On 6/21/2019 at 4:24 PM, flahagan said:

We are visiting Santorini on the Jade in early August and are planning to take the boat from the tender dock to the port below Oia.  I have read many places where there is a bus that takes you up to Oia after the boat docks - was this not offered to you?  I am 75 and in good shape, but I'm not into climbing up a steep hill in the heat.

Great Question... And yes, there was apparently a bus.  When we got there, there was a giant line, and after waiting 15 minutes no bus ever came, so we just said screw it and walked.  I hope you guys have better luck than we did in this.... Also there are donkeys taking guests up the hill if you would prefer this option as well.  While it wasn’t a bad walk, if there is a bus, take it!

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12 hours ago, blondelinda said:

The Star offered it 2x.   I believe on the 3rd day and the 6th day.  So in theory you can have your clothes washed and folded 2x for 50 bucks.  Pretty amazing deal if you ask me

 

How do you find out when they offer it, is it in the newsletter or something? And is that just what you can fit in the laundry bas they supply, like in hotels? Sorry we have never cruised, and laundry is something i have wondered about, but didnt want to pay hotel exorbitant prices?

They will advertise this both days, usually the evening of.  In the dailies, there will be a flyer or handout mentioning this deal!  

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12 hours ago, blondelinda said:

@Tides

Since we arrived early, they were opening up tender tickets at 11.  I was there around 10:40, and was on tender 7.  Now since the excursions were still scheduled to go at 2, the tender process was extremely efficient, and they were calling for free tender roughly 40 minutes after the ship was cleared.  It did seem as if everyone was on an excursion, and while I wouldn’t say do not do an excursion, I must say Santorini and the majority of these ports are extremely easy to do yourself and avoid the crowds.  We hopped off the boat and headed to buy our tickets to Oia.  For those who are not as familiar, there are two towns to focus on in Santorini, Oia and Fira.  Fira is where the ships disembark, still beautiful, but Oia is the town that you see in all the post cards.  In our opinion both are extremely doable in a day.  We took the speed boat from the dock to Oia, roughly 20 minutes, then began the long walk up to the town.  If I have any advice here, it would be to just get lost.  It is a blast to meander through the small alleys and vistas. The ticket to Oia to Fira was included in our ferry ticket which if I recall was 16 dollars, so we then hopped the bus and headed to Fira, where we wandered the town again getting lost, and ate a wonderful sunset dinner at the Metropolis before making the mad dash back to the boat before 9:30 last call!  I have to say having these late port stays are so wonderful, and really help you have a good feel of the town as a whole.  Also, I cannot stress enough the beauty of enjoying both of these charming villages slowly.  The vistas and views you will discover will be worth the trip alone

 

I am really after some advise on Santorini. Are you saying that you didnt book a tour, you just got off the tender dock and where able to buy a "ferry ticket to Oia" We dock on 25 Sept from 2-10pm, and I am torn about organising a private tour, as we want to go straight to Oia by boat, and not the cable car to Fira first. I assumed you needed to organise an excursion for this, but am i wrong?

 

Also, please excuse silly questions, this is our first cruise, so with tender tickets, when do you get them and how? Do they make an announcement or do regulars just know what to do? I assume with ports like Santorni where everyone wants to get off early, you get to the tender ticket place early to get one correct? And your number on the tender is how quick you get off?

Also, what about getting back on the boat from tender, do you need a ticket for that, or is it just turn up and go?

 

Finally, what was your actual departure time for Santorini, as you mention 9.30 for last call? What time did you make your way down, and did you walk or cable car?

 

If i can get these tips, it sounds like your port stop hours was meant to be as ours is, 2-10 pm, id love to get your tips to make Santorini a great easy stop, as like you its my wish list 🙂

Hey no not a silly question!  So we did not book a tour.  We had planned in advance to book the ferry to Oia.  I am not sure how the tendering process would change if we had arrived on time, but we felt the tendering process was a breeze.  They will make an announcement roughly 2-3 hours before we dock.  I would work on getting there around 30-45 minutes before they announce calling tender tickets.  They will begin distributing about 15 minutes early!

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@TheTides.

Hey no not a silly question!  So we did not book a tour.  We had planned in advance to book the ferry to Oia.  I am not sure how the tendering process would change if we had arrived on time, but we felt the tendering process was a breeze.  They will make an announcement roughly 2-3 hours before we dock.  I would work on getting there around 30-45 minutes before they announce calling tender tickets.  They will begin distributing about 15 minutes early

 

Sorry, can I confirm the part about we planned in advance to book the ferry to Oia? Does this mean you booked the ferry from the ship, or from home, or just when you tendered? Im so confused, and this is me as I dont know anything about this process lol

 

Also, would you say you can do this Oia from the tender dock with relative ease as DIY or would we need a tour?

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@TheTides

where we wandered the town again getting lost, and ate a wonderful sunset dinner at the Metropolis before making the mad dash back to the boat before 9:30 last call!  

 

AGAIN sorry, but can you explain this part to me please? Can you tell me do you need to book the tender back to the ship or is it just turn up after the walk down or cable car down to the tender and get on? Also, if you say 9.30 was last call, is that for a 10pm departure, AND what time would you say you need to make your way down (cable or walk) to be able to be on the ship at that time? ie allowing for tender etc?

 

Thank you so much

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Hi there I am also planning for getaway next year. Just wanted to know if you used the cable car while going back from Fira and if so how were the queues for it. Thanks...:)

 

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2 hours ago, blondelinda said:

@TheTides

where we wandered the town again getting lost, and ate a wonderful sunset dinner at the Metropolis before making the mad dash back to the boat before 9:30 last call!  

 

AGAIN sorry, but can you explain this part to me please? Can you tell me do you need to book the tender back to the ship or is it just turn up after the walk down or cable car down to the tender and get on? Also, if you say 9.30 was last call, is that for a 10pm departure, AND what time would you say you need to make your way down (cable or walk) to be able to be on the ship at that time? ie allowing for tender etc?

 

Thank you so much

I can answer this for you. You don't need to have a ticket for the tender back, you just queue and then get on an available tender boat. Also with every cruise I have been on, they ask you to be back to the ship 30 minutes before set sail time - meaning that if you have a 10pm departure, you would be need to be back to the ship for 9.30pm. They usually also tell you what time the last tender boat leaves. As for how long you would need to start making your way down, it really all depends on how busy it is that day. The cable car only takes about 5 minutes down and 5 back up but they don't hold a lot of people so if everyone waited until the last possible time, I'm sure it would be very busy and the queues would be long and time-consuming. Basically the answer is you don't know how long it will take until you see how busy it is on the day of.

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Thanks Steph!

 

Onto one of my favorite days, Argostoli, on the island of Kefalonia. You know when looking at our itinerary, and most Greek itineraries in general, Argostoli is an island that usually slips your mind.  You spend most of your focus on Athens, Santorini, Rhodes that you forget you are also going to this beautiful paradise as well that just as well maybe your highlight!  This his a hidden gem for us.  We arrived around 845, and were off by 9 to head to the caves.  If you look at the “best of” tours, they usually involve going to the Melissani caves, see Myrtos (photos look stunning), and enjoy the small villages along the way.  Well, that was our plan, and we hopped off the boat to grab a private taxi (150 euro for a full day tour).  Now here is where we ran into a slight challenge.  We went to an ATM with our cab driver to have cash ready for the trip, and what do you know, the ATM ate our bank card.  In speaking to our kind cab driver, he went into the bank with me to help talk to the tellers and explain the situation.  At the end of it, we had 60 Euros, and no ATM card.  So, we decided to just head to the beach!  For 15 Euro we went to our cab driver’s favorite beach, Costa Costa.  And it was a blast.  It reminded me just of a Caribbean beach with beautiful water, waiters bringing you reasonably priced drinks, and no crowds.  I’m sure this area gets packed for the summer, but if you are in need of a beach break, this would be the perfect spot for it.  If my memory is correct, we paid 28 Euros for 4 padded lounge chairs and umbrellas. Just the perfect way to cap off our last day in Greece by going for a swing and enjoying the beauty around us.  Yes I’m sure we missed some stunning scenery and natural wonders along the way, but we wanted to relax and this was the perfect place for that.  While we hated to leave, we left around 12:30 so we would have an hour and a half to explore Argostoli itself.  Make sure you allow time for this quaint gem.  As you walk along the waterway, there are sea turtles swimming along side you.  The town itself is maybe a mile long along the water, so easy to explore it to its entirety within an hour. We were one of the last back to the ship, where we enjoyed some drinks by the pool and watched Greece sail by!

 

 Tonight was Cagney's.  In reading multiple reviews, Cagneys does not get a very flavorful review on the Star, but we had such wonderful experiences on the Getaway we went for it anyway (why not right).  To be honest with you, one of our least memorable meals on the ship, to the point we were debating skipping dessert, just kinda done.  Please avoid the lobster bisque, it is essentially tomato soup with lower chunks here or there.  We all loved our Wedge salads, but the steaks were all overdone and tasted tough, like they had been sitting under a heat lamp (which they were, we wanted our steaks cook for 5-10 minutes before delivered). Desserts were fine, but please a dry chocolate brownie with vanilla ice cream does not scream upscale steakhouse... more like a Chili’s.  Overall, most unmemorable meal on our cruise.  I really hope for those who try it that you have a much better experience.  But I’d skip this one if I were to do it again.  

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9 hours ago, blondelinda said:

@TheTides.

Hey no not a silly question!  So we did not book a tour.  We had planned in advance to book the ferry to Oia.  I am not sure how the tendering process would change if we had arrived on time, but we felt the tendering process was a breeze.  They will make an announcement roughly 2-3 hours before we dock.  I would work on getting there around 30-45 minutes before they announce calling tender tickets.  They will begin distributing about 15 minutes early

 

Sorry, can I confirm the part about we planned in advance to book the ferry to Oia? Does this mean you booked the ferry from the ship, or from home, or just when you tendered? Im so confused, and this is me as I dont know anything about this process lol

 

Also, would you say you can do this Oia from the tender dock with relative ease as DIY or would we need a tour?

Hello I'm  loving your questions as you are saving me asking them.

We cruise next May, first ever Europe trip from Australia,  so I know nothing.

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@joejoe 59. lol. I know even less! lol

 

Your welcome to contact me after my trip in September and I can tell you more if you like?

 

@cloud_nine.

Thank you. What I meant was not how long it takes to get down, i understand thats dependent on lines etc, but what amount of time we need to allow once down to get the tender to the ship? I wasnt sure if this was a tedious process?

 

So i guess, if we allow 30 minutes to walk down , considering the cable cars might be long, and they want you on ship at 9.30, should we leave by say 8.30 to be down @9 to allow time for tender ferry? Is 30 minutes adeqate for the tender ferry?

 

Thanks

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Posted (edited)
On 6/24/2019 at 6:51 PM, blondelinda said:

@joejoe 59. lol. I know even less! lol

 

Your welcome to contact me after my trip in September and I can tell you more if you like?

 

@cloud_nine.

Thank you. What I meant was not how long it takes to get down, i understand thats dependent on lines etc, but what amount of time we need to allow once down to get the tender to the ship? I wasnt sure if this was a tedious process?

 

So i guess, if we allow 30 minutes to walk down , considering the cable cars might be long, and they want you on ship at 9.30, should we leave by say 8.30 to be down @9 to allow time for tender ferry? Is 30 minutes adeqate for the tender ferry?

 

Thanks

Hi there,

 

I just wanted to chime in about Santorini as it was one of the stops on the cruise I just took (NCL Jade). The tender boats ran continuously until the last tender (which is usually 30 minutes before the ship is scheduled to sail - you will get that information in the cruise bulletin and announcements). Walking down the donkey path is not advised and I hear is a very strenuous walk down steep steps that can be uneven and slippery. Keep in mind that the donkeys use those same steps in transporting visitors up and down so they will have the right-a-way. After seeing a Youtube clip and researching those steps, I felt it would not be safe for me to even attempt walking down those steps. The cable car would be your best bet. Depending upon the number of ships in port, the waits for the cable car can be extensive (http://crew-center.com/cruise-ships-ports-schedules-2019 is a site that has the schedule of crew ships at each port and that's how I found out that there would be 5 ships in port when we did Santorini). Our last tender was at 9:30 so I planned to get to the cable car station by 6:30pm to allow myself enough time in the event of a long queue. What actually happened was that I got a bit heat exhausted from one of my excursions that I ended up leaving around 4:30pm and waited approximately 30 minutes for the cable car. I waited maybe 5 minutes for the tender as they run continuously through the day. 

Edited by mscajackson

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Thank you TheTides for your great review of your cruise. I just returned last week from an amazing 11-day Greek/Italian cruise on the NCL Jade and would love to experience more of Greece on a future cruise. In hindsight, I booked too many excursions through NCL and not given myself enough time to self-explore. Lesson learned for a future sailing. 

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55 minutes ago, mscajackson said:

Hi there,

 

I just wanted to chime in about Santorini as it was one of the stops on the cruise I just took (NCL Jade). The tender boats ran continuously until the last tender (which is usually 30 minutes before the ship is scheduled to sail - you will get that information in the cruise bulletin and announcements). Walking down the donkey path is not advised and I hear is a very strenuous walk down steep steps that can be uneven and slippery. Keep in mind that the donkeys use those same steps in transporting visitors up and down so they will have the right-a-way. After seeing a Youtube clip and researching those steps, I felt it would not be safe for me to even attempt walking down those steps. The cable car would be your best bet. Depending upon the number of ships in port, the waits for the cable car can be extensive (http://crew-center.com/cruise-ships-ports-schedules-2019 is a site that has the schedule of crew ships at each port and that's how I found out that there would be 5 ships in port when we did Santorini). Our last tender was at 9:30 so I planned to get to the cable car station by 6:30pm to allow myself enough time in the event of a long queue. What actually happened was that I got a bit heat exhausted from one of my excursions that I ended up leaving around 4:30pm and waited approximately 30 minutes for the cable car. I waited maybe 5 minutes for the tender as they run continuously through the day. 

Great info thank you.

I'll  have to  see if there is a port schedule for 2020.

5 ship's  in at the same time is huge.

 

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On 6/25/2019 at 11:51 AM, blondelinda said:

@joejoe 59. lol. I know even less! lol

 

Your welcome to contact me after my trip in September and I can tell you more if you like?

 

@cloud_nine.

Thank you. What I meant was not how long it takes to get down, i understand thats dependent on lines etc, but what amount of time we need to allow once down to get the tender to the ship? I wasnt sure if this was a tedious process?

 

So i guess, if we allow 30 minutes to walk down , considering the cable cars might be long, and they want you on ship at 9.30, should we leave by say 8.30 to be down @9 to allow time for tender ferry? Is 30 minutes adeqate for the tender ferry?

 

Thanks

Thank you.

Maybe you could write a review when you return with all your new found knowledge. 

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Last but not least.... Dubrovnik. So I have never watched Game of Thrones, but this place is GOT (Game of thrones) ((learned this from reading reviews of Dubrovnik)) crazy.  If you learn more of the history of this city, Star Wars, GOT, and James Bond were/are also filmed here.  Anyway, if there is any tip here, GET HERE EARLY!!! Please! Get here early.  When we were there there was only 2 ships in port, and by 10 am the place was like Disney for New Years, body to body.  I digress..

 

We Bought the NCL bus package for 12 dollars per person to take a bus into Old Town.  We felt like this was the easiest way to get to/from the city, and it was very simple.  I will say a cab cost 25 Euro, and there are plenty of them.  So this is an equally appealing option and going back I would probably use a cab service.  It takes about 10-15 minutes depending on traffic to get to the old town, and we arrived a little before 8.  The city was a ghost town, and it was fantastic.  If you look at what to do in Dubrovnik (besides the GOT tour) the man focus would be to walk the walls of the old city, and they really are spectacular.  So, advice here... Where the taxi/bus drops you off, walk through the main gate, and to your left is where you purchase tickets to the wall. Even though the wall opens at 8, stand there for 15 minutes to be one of the first on the wall.  It really is magical to walk around with no crowds and just explore the views of the city from the walls.  As we were leaving around 9:30 it was quite crowded and not as enjoyable.  Now the tickets to the wall are 30 bucks pp USD, but Ill let the photos speak for themselves.  It’s well worth it, and if that money is going to preserving this medieval city, I am all about it. From here, we just wandered the city avoiding the crowds.  Could definitely see ourselves exploring this beautiful country, but I think I would go back to Greece before Croatia after this experience.  From there, we wandered to the separate castle on the cliff outside the gate (where the bus drops you off). This is also included in the 30 USD ticket for the wall and had some really nice views of the city, but Ill let the photos speak for us.  

 

Since the ship was leaving at 1, we caught the 12:15 bus back to the port.  Really sad to have our cruise come to a close, but once again, another spectacular sail away.   Be sure to at least enjoy the water while you cruise past Croatia to Venice.  While the dailies were packed of things to do, we mostly chose to relax and watch the world cruise past by the pool.  As we got closer to Venice, it began to get pretty chilly, so we wandered back to pack and get ready for dinner at La Cucina.  But first, some wings and mudslides at Osheehans.  

 

La Cucina was fantastic. Service was spotty but still okay. But the food was the stand out.  The fillet was probably one of my favorite dishes of our entire trip.  The appetizer pastas were all home runs.  I’d probably skip the calamari, but the rest was delicious, including the desserts.  So if you are following my review, skip Cagneys, goto Le Bistro and La Cucina, which gets a lot of hate on these boards.  I have not been back since our less than impressive meal on the epic, but much better this go-round.  

 

Last will be getting to the airport/final thoughts.  Thanks to all who have helped answer so many questions!  And please ask away.  The beauty of these boards is we all learn from each other to plan a memorable vacation with the people we love. 

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I have a question about money in Dubrovnik. Did they take Euros or did you have to change money?

 

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Thanks for your post on Dubrovnik, its made it easier in my head to do this on our own, and as we arrive in port early, I will be off and running lol

 

Yes did you find they took euro, credit cards or did you need Kuna i think it is?

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