Well as it was explained to me, the ferry companies submit their proposed schedule for the week to the ministry 2 weeks in advance for approval. So if you are booking in January for a trip in July the schedules posted are not approved which means they can be changed. So in other words it is a 'projected' ferry schedule. If you are going to a popular island with several ferries a day then booking a ticket on-line is not such a risk. The worst that could happen is there will be a slight hassle of exchanging it for another ticket on a ferry leaving that day.
But if you are going to an island that does not have daily connections to Pireaus or another island that you are planning to go to and have booked your hotel then you may have problems. Yes we all love the ease in which we can go to a website and click on a few hotels and have an instant holiday on the Greek islands. As someone wrote to me "I have successfully booked my hotels through exped-o-locity and now I need to book my ferries". My reply was "how do you know you were successful? Do yourself a favor. Unless you have an aversion to working with someone more knowledgeable than you about a country go to www.
If you are contacting a travel agent to book just ferry tickets, good luck. They probably won't do it. The commissions are too low and it's too much work for nothing. However they do it for the customers who book accommodations with them. If you are going deck don't take it literally.
It just means without a cabin, usually the cheapest ticket which comes with a numbered seat you can usually buy your tickets a day before and in many cases right at the boat. Cabins you will need to do in advance.
As you may have figured out, the people who book their accommodations in advance with an agency will most likely have the cabins booked up before you get there. Anyway it's only the overnight boats that you will need a cabin for. Go for the 1st class cabins or the Lux, especially if you are a couple. The 2nd class cabins are not co-ed.
What that means is that you may end up in a cabin with 3 strangers though all of the same sex. If you are 3 people in a cabin of 4 you can find yourself with a roomate you don't know.
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Don't worry. They don't care if you show up without a child. Dolphin has a site for booking tickets which I recommend using if you are traveling with a car, want a cabin, coming from or going to Italy, or are traveling during a busy weekend or in August. See www. There are now companies that sell ferry tickets that advertise on the internet that are worth checking out.
Its probably a good idea to try several before you settle on one in case some ferry companies are represented on one website and not on another. Be sure to read the section on ticket pick-up and delivery before you book. You want to book with a company that allows you to pick up your tickets at the port, at the closest ticket office to the boat.
The best ferry booking site I have found is Ferryhopper. They pay half price for a berth in a cabin. Children from years of age travel half price on the highspeeds. Only students from Greek public universities are entitled to student's discount. Also if the ferry is cancelled because of bad weather, by government order or because the ferry company has decided not to go that day, passengers are entitled to a full refund.
However, the ferry booking site may not be the one responsible for your refund so always read the General Terms and Conditions carefully. However buying three of them was a little too much for the company to survive at a time when the price of fuel is up and travel is down. One of them, the Speedrunner, is the first to break the all-Greek monopoly of the sea and flies the British flag.
Now there are a number of Speedrunners doing routes in the Cyclades. If a trip normally takes 12 hours they can do it in 8. The newer Crete ferries are the same, leaving at 9pm and arriving at 6am. These are the best way to get to Hydra and Spetses. In fact from Pireaus the highspeeds are the only way to get to Hydra and Spetses. They pretty much go back and forth all day until nightfall. If you are prone to seasickness the only boats that may be a problem are the Flying Dolphins which were built for river and lakes, not the Aegean.
But since they only use them in the Saronic Gulf your experience even on one of these should be OK. We used to howl at their spaghetti westerns and classical epics whose heroes dived off the Parthenon into the sea, before heading off to Blueberry Hill near the school to dance under the stars.
But Spetses has a reputation of being a party island, so seek and ye shall find. There are bars and clubs all along the waterfront and concentrated in the Old Harbor and Baltiza inner harbor. The younger members of our family prefer the Spetsa Bar at Agios Mamas. Naturally, there are any number of places to eat.
Fish fanatics may opt for grilled octopus without frills at the Fish Market near Dapia or Patralis on the water at Kounoupitsa. The latter is fancier but a good place to splurge because the food and service are always excellent. Traditional home cooking and fish are available every day of the year at Roussos Taverna near Agios Mamas, the town beach. You can choose your dish from the stew pots and baking pans behind the counter and the prices are reasonable.
At these places, where the elite meet, you can be sure to see friends, eat well and pay handsomely for the pleasure of sitting right on the water. Good food, very agreeable owners. Costa lived in Italy for years and knows how pizzas should taste and how to keep people coming back for more, year after year. Continuing on the road all the way around the Baltiza, usually jammed with yachts three-deep in summer and the odd fishing kaiki, will bring you to the promontory with the lighthouse at its tip.
More than a great place to escape bikes and people, especially in the early evening, it is also an open-air sculpture museum scattered with highly imaginative animals crafted by Natalia Mela out of unlikely materials. Nata, a well known Athenian sculptor who made Spetses her summer home, is in her 80s and still producing delightful work from found objects like chains, rakes, tools and sheepbells.
Besides her goats and bulls are a mermaid on the shore, a freedom fighter under the lighthouse and, on the new jetty near the Posidonion, a statue of Bouboulina. The latter does a sort of contemporary take on Greek cuisine and anyone who is anyone goes there. They queue for tables The tuna carpaccio and the black ink risotto are fabulous. Patralis is at the other end of the town - an old, established restaurant but is still very good for fish. Of the bars Balkoni does champagne cocktails and the Dapia has the incomparable Stambolis' Kafeneion.
There's also a good Greek Taverna for lunch called Boubalina's!! Be sure to visit the two art galleries near Dapia, Kapopoulos and Galerie Nord. For more information about his work see jamesfootwatercolours. But what about swimming? Spetses has the kind of beaches I like: more little coves hemmed by rocks than great expanses of fine sand. The story goes that their wily menfolk placed fezzes on the asphodels that grow by the hundreds near the lighthouse and frightened the enemy away.
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By now all the larger beaches are equipped with sunbeds, brollies and tavernas. The beach here is a bit stony but I love it in the morning before the wind chops its glassy surface into waves. Otherwise, Tzortzis on the right offers the same view for much less and a less exciting but adequate menu. The pines are much diminished since the last fire two-three years ago and the once scarily isolated house above the beach, said to be where the Magus lived, stands exposed and bereft of fantasy. The pines have re-seeded themselves though, so one hopes they will be allowed to grow.
Zogeria , the final biggish bay, faces north. It has always had a taverna and is popular with yachts. When feeling lazy, I often go to the sliver of beach below Agios Nikolaos, the monastery overlooking the Old Harbor. Every old house and some new have them with their own characteristic symbols, but these are open to public view. Which sends me into paroxysms of un-Christian rage every time I see it looming above the charming two-story houses in its vicinity.
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