Greece / Santorini

Cruising on a Catamaran in Santorini, the Most Beautiful Activity on the Island

Santorini is a magnificent island, famous for its cliffside villages, volcanic hot springs, and breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. A catamaran cruise is the ideal way to explore Santorini in a unique way.

Whether you want to swim in crystal-clear waters, taste wine, or admire the coastal beaches and cliffs, a cruise is your salvation.

There are over 200 different cruises in Santorini, but how do you choose the one that suits your needs best? In this article, I will answer all your questions about cruises in Santorini and introduce you to the best options, along with links, prices, and their specifics. Embark on an unforgettable cruise experience.

Boat near Santorini

Why Take a Catamaran Cruise in Santorini?

A catamaran cruise in Santorini is the perfect way to explore this beautiful island in a unique way. For millennia, adventurers and merchants have sailed around the island, and this tradition is still alive today. Santorini was built by the sea, and by sailing around the island, you can witness this heritage.

You’ll see the churches that watch over Santorin’s ancient powerful fleet, the caldera, the volcanoes, and their remnants after the last eruption of the Great Thera 3,500 years ago. The cruise also offers a unique perspective on the modest fishing ports along the water and the high-altitude villages.

Moreover, during your catamaran cruise in Santorini, you can swim in crystal-clear waters, taste wine and delicious dishes, admire the cliffs, and enjoy breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea. It’s also an opportunity to see the fleet of catamarans and cruise ships that sail around the island in the summer.

There are plenty of other boats in the summer, but that doesn’t take away from the magic, as you’ll be in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, sailing on the thousand shades of blue waters of the Aegean Sea. It’s the kind of experience that creates lasting memories.

It’s important to choose a cruise that includes the activities that interest you the most to make the most of your day at sea. A catamaran cruise in Santorini is a must-do activity for all nature lovers in Greece, and I’ll help you choose the right one.

Catamaran Cruise in Santorini

The Best Time for a Catamaran Cruise in Santorini

The best time to sail in Santorini depends on your preferences and planned activities. In general, the season extends from May to October, with pleasant temperatures and little risk of bad weather. Check When to Go for more information.

If you want to enjoy swimming and diving, the summer months (June to August) are the most suitable. The water is warm, there’s little wind, and the sun shines brightly. If you prefer to avoid tourist crowds, May and September are the best choices, with cooler but still pleasant temperatures.

Activities Included with the Catamaran Cruise

Sailing around Santorini on a catamaran is an opportunity to experience unique and unforgettable moments. Depending on the season, you can enjoy various exciting activities.

Dive into the crystal-clear waters of the Aegean Sea, explore the underwater world through snorkeling or free diving. Swimming enthusiasts will be delighted to discover the island’s hot springs. Soak up the sun’s rays on the catamaran’s deck while basking in the sun. Enjoy a hearty and delicious meal prepared on board, accompanied by refreshing drinks. Take a sunset cruise to witness the incredible spectacle of the sun setting over the Aegean Sea. For the more adventurous, it’s also possible to combine the cruise with on-land excursions such as wine tastings, guided village tours, or exploration of the volcano or the island of Thirassia. There’s something for everyone!

  • Swimming in the Aegean Sea directly from the boat
  • Snorkeling and free diving to admire the underwater world and local fish
  • Hot springs at the foot of the volcano
  • Hearty and delicious meals on board the boat
  • Refreshing self-service drinks (including alcohol!)
  • Sunset among the most beautiful in the world
  • Wine tasting excursions
  • Guided village tours
  • Exploration of the volcano
  • Visit to the island of Thirassia

What’s Included with Your Catamaran Cruise in Santorini

During your catamaran cruise in Santorini, you can expect a range of services. These may vary depending on the tour you choose, but in general, you will have access to the following:

  • The most luxurious cruises include round-trip transfers from your accommodation.
  • 4 to 8 hours of sailing around the Caldera.
  • Stops for swimming and snorkeling.
  • A stop at the hot springs of the volcano for a refreshing swim.
  • Freshly prepared meals on board while enjoying the breathtaking views of the Aegean Sea.
  • Drinks, alcohol, and snacks are included, as well as towels, changing rooms, restrooms, floats, and sun loungers.
  • Indoor and outdoor space on the boat to relax and listen to music.
Kind of meal included on the cruise

Where Does the Boat Sail During the Cruise?

A catamaran cruise in Santorini offers you the opportunity to explore the island from a different perspective. The most popular itineraries take you through the Caldera, on the west side of the island.

Common Stops

Some longer cruises include a stop at the small island behind the volcano: Thirasia. I haven’t personally done it, but I’ve heard great things about it.

There are many different options, but these are by far the most common stops. They provide a view of the sunset over the volcano and a magnificent sight of the cliffside villages along the Caldera.

Jumping into the Turquoise Waters of the Aegean Sea

Departure and Arrival Port for Cruises

All cruises include departure and arrival at the Vlichada port in the south of Santorini. Don’t worry about transportation; you will be picked up by a minibus directly from your hotel by the company you choose.

A Popular Attraction That Draws Crowds

Keep in mind that you won’t be alone at sea, and there will be other catamarans sailing on the waters of Santorini. When boarding the boat, you’ll notice a number of boats at the port embarking at the same time as you. However, this doesn’t diminish the incredible experience you’ll have on board the catamaran, and the boats quickly spread out from each other.

How to Book a Catamaran Cruise in Santorini

To book the ideal catamaran cruise in Santorini, it’s important to consider several factors. The experience can vary greatly depending on the seasons, and you may see significant price variations. Note that many cruise companies close during the winter months.

I’ve seen numerous options for cruises in Santorini, ranging from private, semi-private, luxury catamaran cruises to tours on fishing boats. Most cruises include pick-up by minivan from your hotel, but if not, it’s usually possible to add this option at an extra cost.

Check the cancellation and reservation policies on the tickets. I like that most of the time, you can cancel up to 24 hours before the cruise. This way, if the weather is bad, you can reschedule the excursion. You also receive electronic tickets immediately, which you can download to your smartphone.

Daytime Cruise or Sunset Cruise?

The decision to choose between a daytime or sunset cruise can be difficult because each offers unique experiences.

Daytime Cruise

If you’re looking for relaxation and stunning views of neighboring islands, a daytime cruise might be the best option for you. You can enjoy warm temperatures and exciting activities such as snorkeling and swimming.

Sunset Cruise

On the other hand, a sunset cruise is a romantic and memorable choice. Imagine yourself relaxing on the catamaran’s deck, admiring the changing colors of the sky as the sun sets on the horizon. It’s the perfect opportunity to take incredible photos and celebrate special moments like birthdays or proposals.

Combining Both

But why choose one or the other? Why not opt for a cruise that combines both experiences?

Some cruises offer a daytime exploration of the island’s beaches and hidden caves while enjoying the breathtaking views of Santorini’s cliffs. Then, as the sun sets on the horizon, you can settle comfortably on the deck to witness the sunset in all its splendor. It’s the perfect opportunity to take souvenir photos, sip a cocktail, or even dance under the stars.

These combined cruises are particularly popular because they allow you to have a complete experience and not miss out on the wonders that Santorini has to offer. So why hesitate? Embark on a catamaran cruise that will show you the island from every angle and create an unforgettable moment.

My Catamaran Cruise Experience in Santorini

During my last catamaran cruise in Santorini, I chose to go during the day. However, I was pleasantly surprised to also be able to admire the sunset as the boat returned to port. Although we were in motion, it didn’t diminish the magic of the moment in any way. The red and orange hues of the sky reflecting on the Aegean Sea made this scene even more breathtaking. So, in reality, you can catch a bit of the sunset by simply taking a daytime cruise, which is a bit cheaper.

In the end, the choice depends on your personal preferences and what you want to experience during your cruise in Santorini.

How Long Does the Cruise Last?

The duration of cruises varies between 4 and 10 hours, depending on the chosen itinerary and offered activities. Most cruises last approximately 5 hours, with a scheduled departure one hour (or sometimes 90 minutes) before the cruise sets sail.

Expect an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on your location on the island, for the minibus to pick you up and drop you off. You will be informed of the precise timing by email and SMS.

Transfers to and from Your Hotel

I’ll let you know right away; the transfers can be a bit chaotic. Every day, dozens of minibusses pick up hundreds of tourists to take them to the boats, and naturally, there can be some traffic.

We sat in the minibus (air-conditioned) for about 20 minutes while those in front of us boarded the ships. Be patient; I promise it’s worth it.

Where Do They Pick You Up?

Generally, they pick you up directly from your hotel, or within a few minutes’ walk to a more accessible location for minibusses. They will send you an SMS or email beforehand to ask where you are staying. You can enter whatever you like, even a location other than your hotel if it suits you.

If you only provide the name of the hotel, be sure to at least specify in which town/village it is located. Sometimes, several hotels have the same name.

What Are the Differences Between the Cruises?

Catamaran cruises in Santorini come in various options to cater to the needs and budgets of all travelers. You can find private cruises, semi-private cruises, small group cruises, and larger group cruises.

Private Cruises: These are reserved for exclusive groups who want a tailored experience. You can choose the number of people you want to travel with and pay accordingly. It’s the ideal option for honeymoons or trips with friends.

Semi-Private Cruises: Also known as “small cruises,” these are more intimate and can accommodate between 12 and 25 passengers. This is what I personally did, and I must say I loved it. It’s relatively intimate, far from the crowded market.

Small Group Cruises: These are typically smaller-sized boats that can accommodate around 20 people. These cruises are often advertised as small group cruises.

Large Group Cruises: These are any cruises that accommodate more than 25 passengers, often up to 50 people. These cruises offer a livelier cruise experience with more opportunities to meet new people. But it’s quite different from what I envision as a Santorini cruise.

Different Cruise Classes

Each of them has its own features and inclusions that can influence your choice. Here’s an overview of the differences between standard, premium, and luxury cruises:

Standard Cruises: These cruises are the most basic and the cheapest. They may not include items like towels or meals. The drinks offered may also be limited, often without alcohol.

Premium Cruises: These cruises offer a bit more than standard cruises. Passengers can expect a freshly prepared meal on the boat, such as a Greek barbecue. Drinks are also unlimited and may include alcohol. These are usually the most popular cruises. This is what I recommend.

Luxury Cruises: Luxury cruises are the highest-end and offer premium experiences. Passengers can expect a more elaborate meal and a selection of cocktails. Onboard services can also be enhanced, such as additional entertainment or exclusive relaxation areas.

I’m not a strong swimmer; can I still go on a cruise?

Yes, you absolutely do not have to swim during the cruise. Most stops are in relatively deep waters. If you’re not comfortable with the idea, you can simply stay on the boat like many others.

Furthermore, if you’re traveling during the off-season, the water can simply be too cold for your liking. Yes, even in Greece, the sea is not always at 25 degrees Celsius.

When to Swim During a Santorini Cruise? Is the Water Warm?

The water temperature in the Aegean Sea around Santorini can vary depending on the seasons. In summer, it’s generally pleasant and warm, offering ideal conditions for swimming during your catamaran cruise.

However, outside of the summer season, the water can become cooler, and for those who are, like me, sensitive to cold, it can be more challenging to swim. Take the season into account when planning your catamaran cruise in Santorini if you want to swim.

Otherwise, you can explore the island’s hot springs at the base of the volcano. But… these springs aren’t really hot, more like lukewarm.

However, a Santorini cruise can be just as enjoyable without swimming. I promise it won’t diminish your experience!

Crystal water

What to Wear During the Cruise and What Should I Bring?

Prepare adequately for your Santorini cruise to make the most of it. It’s imperative to protect yourself from the sun’s rays by using sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat—even in winter!

It’s also important to wear a swimsuit, comfortable and easy-to-remove clothing so you can jump into the water at any time. Note that the warm and sulfurous waters of the hot springs can stain clothing. Red volcanic mud gets everywhere, so don’t wear your finest attire. I ruined my swimsuit that way.

If you’re taking the cruise in winter, you can bring a windbreaker and some cold-resistant clothing, as the cold can be more intense at times.

Surreal Santorini Sunset

Conclusion – Taking a Catamaran Cruise in Santorini

Taking a cruise in Santorini is an incredible experience that allows you to discover this beautiful island in a unique and unforgettable way. Whether you opt for boat rental, an organized cruise, or a catamaran excursion, you will be amazed by the landscapes, beaches, and villages of Santorini. Feel free to plan your next trip to Santorini by exploring my other articles and tips.

FAQ – Catamaran Cruise in Santorini, Greece

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Article mis à jours le 4 October 2023 par Pierre Bouyer

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