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Santorini - Fira on your own excursion


emp244
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Hi - we are thinking of the Fira on your own excursion for Santorini. It looks like a bus from the Athenios (shore excursion) port up to Fira. But it says  to get back from Fira, "your comfortable ride back to the port awaits, allowing you to depart at your convenience." Is this a bus back down to the port?  I am concerned about being stuck in a 3 hour line to go down the cable car. It does NOT mention anything about cable car tickets in the description. Any insight would be very much appreciated! 

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When we did that excursion the tender took us to Oia and we were bussed up to the top. We had free time to look around, shop, etc. After that we were bussed to Fira where the guide left us and we were on our own. Ours did come with a tram ticket so not sure why yours doesn’t. We had no wait at all for the tram down. The guide didn’t do a whole lot of talking. She was mostly there to get us on the bus and up to Oia and then to Fira. We would definitely do it again.

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I reserved the same excursion. Do you mean that they will not bring you back to the ship with a bus?

 

The excursion text tells this about the trip:

  • Upon arrival, board a motor coach for a scenic transfer to the island's capital, where whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets beckon exploration.
  • Wander through the narrow alleys adorned with bougainvillea, browse boutique shops offering handmade crafts and souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the laid-back ambiance of this iconic Greek destination.
  • Enjoy the freedom to design your own itinerary, whether it involves savoring a traditional Greek coffee at a quaint cafe, sampling local delicacies at a charming taverna, or simply soaking in the breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea.
  • Escape the hustle and bustle of the town's rush hours and embrace the leisurely pace of Santorini life, knowing that your comfortable ride back to the port awaits, allowing you to depart at your convenience.
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1 hour ago, emp244 said:

Hi - we are thinking of the Fira on your own excursion for Santorini. It looks like a bus from the Athenios (shore excursion) port up to Fira. But it says  to get back from Fira, "your comfortable ride back to the port awaits, allowing you to depart at your convenience." Is this a bus back down to the port?  I am concerned about being stuck in a 3 hour line to go down the cable car. It does NOT mention anything about cable car tickets in the description. Any insight would be very much appreciated! 

 

18 minutes ago, pokerfaceleon said:

I reserved the same excursion. Do you mean that they will not bring you back to the ship with a bus?

 

The excursion text tells this about the trip:

  • Upon arrival, board a motor coach for a scenic transfer to the island's capital, where whitewashed buildings and cobblestone streets beckon exploration.
  • Wander through the narrow alleys adorned with bougainvillea, browse boutique shops offering handmade crafts and souvenirs, and immerse yourself in the laid-back ambiance of this iconic Greek destination.
  • Enjoy the freedom to design your own itinerary, whether it involves savoring a traditional Greek coffee at a quaint cafe, sampling local delicacies at a charming taverna, or simply soaking in the breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea.
  • Escape the hustle and bustle of the town's rush hours and embrace the leisurely pace of Santorini life, knowing that your comfortable ride back to the port awaits, allowing you to depart at your convenience.

No...you are given a cable car voucher & return when you choose to.

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Posted (edited)

We actually got off the ship’s tender and walked past the furnicular to the boat that was taking people to Oia, purchased our tickets and enjoyed the lovely scenery on the way.  This also included a choice of times to return by bus.  This was our third time visiting, so sometimes the third time is the charm.  We were on the first or second tender with only 15 or so people on the boat.  Getting there early allowed for some great photos, shopping and time for a snack.  We took an earlier bus back, missing the crowds and enjoying a very short line for the funicular down where a tender was waiting.  The total island tour was too long, not to mention we saw so many homes in progress that were just left unfinished, not to mention the long lunch. Personally, I love simple!   Just thought I’d share this for anyone who can get an early tender.  I actually tried to everything by boat, but my research at that time never found that type of excursion🤷‍♀️.

Edited by Lastdance
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Is looks like they will also take you back by motor coach:

 

"Escape the hustle and bustle of the town's rush hours and embrace the leisurely pace of Santorini life, knowing that your comfortable ride back to the port awaits, allowing you to depart at your convenience."

 

Can some one explain if I'm right?

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/4/2024 at 1:55 AM, pokerfaceleon said:

Is looks like they will also take you back by motor coach:

 

"Escape the hustle and bustle of the town's rush hours and embrace the leisurely pace of Santorini life, knowing that your comfortable ride back to the port awaits, allowing you to depart at your convenience."

 

Can some one explain if I'm right?

Hard to say for sure, there is some "excursion description" text in there that needs decoded !   "Depart at your convenience" sounds like they are taking you back to Fira, and if so you would need to take cable cars down to old harbor.   Maybe they are referring to Fira as the "port".    

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An absolute waste of good money.  If you simply want to see Fira you can just take the tender to the island (which lands you below Fira) and take the cable cars or donkeys up to Fira.  Once in Fira, you simply walk everywhere.  If you take an excursion to Fira your guide will walk you as a group and say intellectual things like "this is a jewelry store,"  "this is a cafe,"  etc.

 

Like most Santorini excursions, it leaves you in Fira to get back on your own.  From Fira you can wait in the queues (which can be very long) to take the cable car down to Gialos (the small port below Fira) where you catch a shore-based tender back to your ship.  If you don't want to take the cable car you can walk down the donkey train (about 600 steps) or, some folks will actually take a donkey down (last month we watched a cruiser fall off his donkey and injure himself).

 

Speaking of Fira, it is a clifftop town where the ony way to get around is on your feet!  The town has hundreds of jewelry shops, plenty of eating venues and can be charming if not full of cruisers (and other tourists).

 

Hank

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm confused about Santorini and its surrounding places.  We are coming in on the Oceania Riviera, and will be tendering in.  Where does the tender drop us off at? I know that you have to take a cable car from that point to Fira (?) and from there you can go to Oia and other places. But what, exactly, is there where the tender docks? Is that Santorini? Is there a town there to explore? Our ship is in Santorini from 8 am to 10 pm. 

 

I've looked at excursions that take us to Oia, Firostefani, Megalochori, the Black Beach in Perivols and/or Profit Ilias, but the tours I have looked at are only about 4-5 hours.  I'd rather not have to take the tender back and forth to the ship, I'd rather stay in Santorini, but I really have no idea whether that means Fira, or where the ship docks.  Can anyone clarify this for me?

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, cruisegal415 said:

I'm confused about Santorini and its surrounding places.  We are coming in on the Oceania Riviera, and will be tendering in.  Where does the tender drop us off at? I know that you have to take a cable car from that point to Fira (?) and from there you can go to Oia and other places. But what, exactly, is there where the tender docks? Is that Santorini? Is there a town there to explore? Our ship is in Santorini from 8 am to 10 pm. 

 

I've looked at excursions that take us to Oia, Firostefani, Megalochori, the Black Beach in Perivols and/or Profit Ilias, but the tours I have looked at are only about 4-5 hours.  I'd rather not have to take the tender back and forth to the ship, I'd rather stay in Santorini, but I really have no idea whether that means Fira, or where the ship docks.  Can anyone clarify this for me?

 

Santorini is the entire island. Fira is the capital and main town. Oia is the pretty town in all the photos with the blue domes which is at the far end of the island of Santorini. Most cruise ships tender their independent passengers to the old port below Fira which does not have road access. The only way up to Fira is the cable car or stairs (walk or donkey ride). Most cruise ships tender their shore excursion passengers to the new Athinios Ferry Port which does have road access so the passengers can go directly from the tender to their excursion bus.

 

This photo is of various cruise ships moored in Santorini on June 17. You can see tenders going from Celebrity Infinity (the one in the middle) to the old port below Fira and the Athinios Ferry Port is to the left of the photo.

 

IMG_20240716_200617.thumb.jpg.f2d0aba9878b5be09ac546a65125ac95.jpg

 

You could ring Oceania and ask how they operate in Santorini in case they have a different system to the above.

 

Edited by PurpleTraveller
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On 6/3/2024 at 5:30 PM, emp244 said:

Hi - we are thinking of the Fira on your own excursion for Santorini. It looks like a bus from the Athenios (shore excursion) port up to Fira. But it says  to get back from Fira, "your comfortable ride back to the port awaits, allowing you to depart at your convenience." Is this a bus back down to the port?  I am concerned about being stuck in a 3 hour line to go down the cable car. It does NOT mention anything about cable car tickets in the description. Any insight would be very much appreciated! 

 

 

You need to check, because on Santorini " comfortable ride back to the port" and "depart at your convenience " don't sit well in the same sentence.

 

All cruise excursions take you to the ferry harbour at Athinios, where a bus awaits you on the quayside.

 

At the end of the excursion most drop their passengers in the town of Fira, and they decide for themselves when "at their convenience" they want to take the cablecar or the zig-zag donkey path down to the old Fira harbour for a regular tender back to the ship.

 

But a couple of cruise lines (Celebrity and I think NCL) take their passengers for "their comfortable ride back to to the port" ( Athinios) where ship's excursion tender/s take them back to the ship. Clearly the bus/buses depart (probably from Fira) at a set time, so that can't be described as "at their convenience"

 

If indeed Fira is the last stop on that excursion, I can think of no reason why those on the excursion can't choose for themselves whether to get back to the bus in time for the drive back to Athinios, or to spend longer in Fira and go down to Fira old harbour

But they'd have to choose to either "depart at their convenience" or "comfortable ride back to the port" cos they can't do both.

Sadly the phraseology is ambiguous.🙄

 

JB 🙂

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On 6/18/2024 at 2:12 AM, Hlitner said:

The town has hundreds of jewelry shops, plenty of eating venues and can be charming if not full of cruisers (and other tourists).

 

On 7/16/2024 at 2:15 AM, cruisegal415 said:

I'd rather stay in Santorini, but I really have no idea whether that means Fira,

There are also a small number of very good museums (Prehistoric and Archaeological) located centrally in Fira/Thira showcasing artefacts and wall paintings/frescoes from  the archaeological site of Akrotiri. Tthey are small, but should you have an interest, worth a short visit

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On 7/15/2024 at 9:15 PM, cruisegal415 said:

I'm confused about Santorini and its surrounding places.  We are coming in on the Oceania Riviera, and will be tendering in.  Where does the tender drop us off at? I know that you have to take a cable car from that point to Fira (?) and from there you can go to Oia and other places. But what, exactly, is there where the tender docks? Is that Santorini? Is there a town there to explore? Our ship is in Santorini from 8 am to 10 pm. 

 

I've looked at excursions that take us to Oia, Firostefani, Megalochori, the Black Beach in Perivols and/or Profit Ilias, but the tours I have looked at are only about 4-5 hours.  I'd rather not have to take the tender back and forth to the ship, I'd rather stay in Santorini, but I really have no idea whether that means Fira, or where the ship docks.  Can anyone clarify this for me?

Lets try to clarify the situation.  No cruise ship docks in Santorini, they all use shore-based tenders.  The tenders can get folks ashore in two different places: 1. Athinios - which is where there is a small ferry port and access for vehicles which include tour buses. and 2.  Skala - which is a small tender port that lies below the main city of Fira.  Skala can only be accessed by small boat/tender, donkey, cable car, or foot.

 

Tendering to the port of Athinos is limited to only those who have booked cruise line excursions that are scheduled to use buses boarded at that small port.  All other folks (including all independent crusiers) will be tendered into Skala.

 

If you go off on your own, you must tender to Skala from where you use the cable car, donkeys, a small boat tour or you could walk up to Fira via the donkey trail.  That walk includes over 600 steps (all uphill) and tends to have more than its share of donkey poo.

 

Finally, I should mention that although Santorini is a relatively small island, it does have several towns (including Fira and Oia), some ancient ruins, wineries, an airport, and a few beaches.  One can get around the island by using taxis, local buses, or various types of rental vehicles.

 

Hank

 

Hank

 

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I called Oceania and asked where the tenders drop us off, they said it was the "old port."  She didn't know what that meant.  Am I to understand that from there, the tenders ferry you to either Athenios or Skala? So if I take the excursion that says "meet at the top of the cable car" we need to tender to Skala, and if we take the excursion that provides a mini-bus, we should go to Athenios?  Do they really give us a choice when we get off the ship?

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1 hour ago, cruisegal415 said:

I called Oceania and asked where the tenders drop us off, they said it was the "old port."  She didn't know what that meant.  Am I to understand that from there, the tenders ferry you to either Athenios or Skala? So if I take the excursion that says "meet at the top of the cable car" we need to tender to Skala, and if we take the excursion that provides a mini-bus, we should go to Athenios?  Do they really give us a choice when we get off the ship?

The "Old Port" is the same as Skala.  Most folks have no clue to the name of that tiny port.  You cannot actually choose to go to Athinios as that is only used for the cruise line's own excursions.  If you don't take one of O's excursions that use Athinios. you either go to Skala (Old Port) or stay on the ship.

 

If you book a small private tour (on your own such as what you might find on the CC Roll Call board) you will need to take the tender into Skalos (Old Port) and would likely be told to meet your guide/tour at the upper station of the cable car or somewhere within easy walking distance of the upper cable car station.  There is a fee, to use the cable car, and depending on how many cruise ships are tendering there could be a queue.  The cable car only moves about 600 persons (each way) per hour.  On our many visits, the lines to go up on the cable car have never been very long.  The real bottleneck on Santorini is when lots of cruisers try to get down, on the cable car and it seems like everyone is heading down at the same time (mid to late afternoon).

 

Hank

 

Hank

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Thanks Hank for the detailed explanation. I’m anxious about booking an excursion that requires us to meet at the top of the cable car because I’ve heard it can take up to an hour due to the crowds. Also Oceania boards the tenders first with pax taking their own excursions so we will likely not even get the tender for at least a half hour (it took us about an hour when we were in Amalfi last time). So the excursions that say they leave at like 9 or 9:30 don’t sound plausible. 

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7 hours ago, cruisegal415 said:

Thanks Hank for the detailed explanation. I’m anxious about booking an excursion that requires us to meet at the top of the cable car because I’ve heard it can take up to an hour due to the crowds. Also Oceania boards the tenders first with pax taking their own excursions so we will likely not even get the tender for at least a half hour (it took us about an hour when we were in Amalfi last time). So the excursions that say they leave at like 9 or 9:30 don’t sound plausible. 


We’ll be in Santorini on Vista in a few weeks & I’ve arranged a private small boat tour from Skala through Santorini View. They’ve been great - very responsive to e-mails & adjusted  the timing of our 5 hour tour to make sure we can tender back in time without rushing. While we won’t walk on the island I certainly will be glad to avoid the crowds & cable car crush.

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