Santorini (Athinios) Port | The Sh*t Show
The upside to the overpriced ride were the views. The black lava cliffs are steep and scenic in all directions as we make our way down a never ending series of switch backs. Very far below we see the port.
The taxi driver drops us off, luggage, bags and people are everywhere. The Athinios port is full of tourists, souvenir shops, surly waiters trying to get you to stop at their overpriced cafe.
Not sure where to buy our ferry ticket. The sun is oppressive. The air is stagnant. Long lines everywhere we look. We are following along not really knowing where to go.
It’s a sweaty cattle call, no one we ask answers our question.
It’s a shit show, huge ferries pull into the port, throngs of people coming off, loud announcements in Greek, which ferry is ours? The impossible man at the ticket counter told everyone to head to the same gate. Apparently ALL ferries leave from Gate #4, even though the port had several ferries wide lined up side by side.
We end up in a line that we aren’t even sure is ours. Off in the distance, I noticed a sign that said Naxos-Mykonos. We were heading to Koufonisia and I imagined that the boat could only be so big. A man was holding a small Koufonisia/Seajets placard, so I jumped out of line and asked him where we should go. He directed us to a much smaller line.
It’s well past the scheduled time. The loud whistle of the ferry arriving is felt in my chest. Metal bangs against metal. Cars roll off the ship.
The kids are getting testy. I’m getting testy. I’m hot, I’m sweaty and I just want to leave.
The shit show continues, to get to our boarding area, we now have to drag our luggage through 25 parked cards, trailers and tour busses vying to get through a very overcrowded port.
We are next in line. The salty dock works rips our tickets in half. Well he didn’t tell us not to get on the boat so I’m assuming we are good.
Can’t ask him because he doesn’t speak English and I don’t speak Greek.
The last group of passengers to board, we feel rushed, dragging our bags onto the first deck.
We stop for a minute to catch our breath.
The engines are loud, the ferry turns quickly, we don’t have our bearings, we can only gesture to one another that look of relief that we all felt. We made it.
As we take our seats, Santorini is postcard perfect behind us.
[Santorini was a little bit more crowded than we expected]
Here is a little info taken from the Athinios Ferry Port website:
Athinios can be very crowded. Thus Santorini Port Authority suggests travelers to be there no later than 45 minutes before the ship sets sail. That is to ensure timely processing and boarding. If for any reason tourists end up being late, the ship will NOT wait for them.
Don’t confuse the ferry port with the cruise ship port
The Athinios Santorini port is the new one and serves passenger ferries and cargo. It services more than 12 million passengers a year. On the other hand, cruise ships dock at the old port of Thira of which the name is Skala. Cruise passengers seeking info about their arrival in Santorini should visit the old port’s official site at santoriniport.com