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Ferries to and from Crete

"The journey is the thing"

A superb way of enjoying the journey to Crete is to fly to Athens and take the ferry from Piraeus (Pireas) - the port serving Athens.

The new Athens airport makes this a slightly slower process because it is further from the port, but it's worth the extra time for a still-romantic way to travel. A trip to Greece has long been associated with the idea of approaching the island of your dreams, early in the morning, standing on the deck of one of those famous ferries - an enthralling and gentle way to arrive at a promising destination.

Thus, some suggestions to help you get the best out of your sea voyage.

Pireas* to Heraklion sailings take about 5 - 8 hours on standard ferries. These overnight ferries arrive at their destination between 5.30 and 6.30 in the morning.

*Pireas is also spelled "Piraeus", and is Athens' port.

Tickets can be bought in advance for all ferries via our website (coming soon).

Accommodation On Board Ship

Deluxe cabins are a treat (spacious, well furnished with TV and refrigerator) - some double beds available on the Knossos or Festos (Phaestos) Palace.

First class cabins are a notch down in decor and space, but still provide a good compact hotel-room-on-the-water.

There are outside cabins with windows (much to be preferred) or inside cabins (cheaper). Available with 2, 3 or 4 beds. Travelling alone, you can pay about 50% extra to have the cabin to yourself. All cabins have a shower and toilet.

Large or heavy pieces of luggage can be stored in a luggage room on the car deck - ask as you board (it's a good idea, avoiding carrying all your luggage to the cabin). Even though porters take you and luggage to your cabin, you do have to haul it - often up steps, escalator if you are lucky - to the equivalent of the second or third floor of a building, before you reach the reception.

If you choose a more economical fare you can buy a simple ticket and sleep wherever you find it most comfortable - or talk and play cards, watch TV with fellow travellers. Viewing passing ships from the decks or the occasional distant lights from an island, is another pastime. There are pullman style seats available. A simple ticket allows you to use and enjoy most of the ship (sometimes a bar area or two are reserved for first and deluxe class passengers) - there is no such thing however, as "deck class", so you do not have to spend the night out on deck!

Food on the ships is satisfactory. There are both self service and full service restaurants - pricing in each is similar [Price category D - 7 to 10 euros and up].

Board Early

You can if you wish board the ship 2 to 3 hours before sailing and enjoy the experience (providing the ship is already in port and previous passengers have fully disembarked). In fact at Pireas this gives you a good opportunity to explore the area, perhaps have something to eat, visit churches and wander around the port with views of ferries and their signs to various destinations, their "clocks" displaying the departure time. 

These large ships carry passengers and all manner of vehicles and if you board close to departure there can be a rather crazed and unnerving rush of people, trucks, cars, motorcycles and all manner of moving items to battle with! 

It's a good idea - a very good idea, to board early.

Slumber and Relax in Your Cabin

If you feel you'd like to avoid being woken and turned out of your cabin at five or six o'clock the next morning (the ship may have "arrived" even earlier), speak to the most authoritative person at the reception desk, when you board, ask them if you can stay in the cabin a little later. If you are going straight to a hotel when you arrive, this makes sense, as they may not have your room available until later in the morning.

The Knossos Palace people told us they are happy to let people hold onto their cabin as late as they'd like - do let us know if you find this is so.

{Suggestion: If arriving in Heraklion first head to Lion Square for Bhougatsa and coffee - if arriving in Chania head for the Venetian harbour. At Pireas (Athens port) there is a good cafe just inside the train/Metro station for snacks, light meals and coffee.

Favourite Vessels

On the route to and from Heraklion in Crete, the highspeed Knossos Palace and the Festos Palace ships (Minoan Lines) are the newer ferries. They include amongst their facilities a cinema, internet cafe as well as a swimming pool and music club. Interiors are reasonably comfortable. Cabins - of course especially the deluxe categories - are very pleasant indeed.

The new Superfast XII ferry is also an interesting addition. Our favourite until now has been the Venizelos, not so often used now on the routes to Crete, but the very new Minoan ferries are hard to beat.

The other ships on the route of Pireas-Crete include Vitsentzos Kornaros, Ierapetra (LANE Lines), Elyros, Prevelis, Kriti II, Lissos, Lato (ANEK Lines) and, though not very new, still provide an excellent trip - possibly a more personal feel, as they are smaller and have a more classic design than the new high-speed ferries.

Weather and Ferries

Important note : The ferries sail when the weather is considered suitable and stable conditions are predicted. If the weather is bad, sailings will be canceled (not often - but there are a few such days every year), and you should be accommodated on the next available sailing.

Advice : Allow flexibility in your schedule when traveling by ferry as part of an ongoing journey. If delayed, see some of the sights of interest you may have missed!  The shipping companies are prone to changing which ships they use on any given route - so as always, call to check if you want to book on a particular ship.

Find timetables, prices and availability for ferries and make your reservations online. via our our website(coming soon).

Pireaus - Heraklion & Heraklion - Pireaus

As Crete is well served by ferry, there are at least two dalily departures from Pireaus (near Athens) to Heraklon year-round and three or four per day in Summer.

Find timetables, prices and availability for ferries and make your reservations online. via our our website (coming soon).

Pireaus - Chania & Chania - Pireaus

There is at least one daily departures from Pireaus (near Athens) to  Chania (Souda Port)  year-round and two (not during all months) per day in Summer.

Find timetables, prices and availability for ferries and make your reservations online. via our our website (coming soon).

Pireaus - Rethimno & Rethimno - Pireaus

Good News!!!

As of July 21st 2012 the Elli T has officially started operating on the line Rethymnon - Piraeus. The ferry leaves Rethymon (marina area) on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays at 21.00hrs. It will depart from Piraeus on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 21.00hrs and on Sundays at 09.00hrs.

The Rethymnon office of Cretan Lines is located at Sof. Venizelou 15 (near the entrane to the marina); Tel: 28310 21013, Fax: 28310 42222, Email: info@cretanlines.gr.

Find timetables, prices and availability for ferries and make your reservations online. via our our website (coming soon).

If you need help with your stay in Crete : www.cretetravel.com