With thousands of islands to choose from, plotting your exploration of the Greek Islands will likely take some time. When we were planning our Greek Island itinerary, I found myself overwhelmed with choice – both of islands and how to travel between them. After scouring blogs, social media and asking like-minded families we decided to split our time between Santorini, Naxos and Paros and to travel between them using Blue Star Ferries. After taking them 5 times during our travels, we would highly recommend using them for island hopping families. You can read more about our full Greek itinerary here, but here are our top tips to make your Blue Star Ferry experience smooth sailing!
Pre-book your tickets using Ferryhopper: As a general rule, we try to pre-book as much as possible when traveling with kids. We find having travel and activities pre-arranged helps keep stress levels lower as we know what the plan is and guides our daily planning. This general rule also applies for inter-island ferry travel. In our searches, we found many of the websites confusing and hard to navigate until we found Ferryhopper. Ferryhopper is easy to navigate and allowed us to book our tickets directly. We would definitely recommend.
Splurge on business class: When we travel, we typically book the lowest fares that will get us from point A to point B. With Blue Star Ferries, unless you want a sleeper cabin, you have 3 fare options: deck/lounge space ($), standard seating ($$), business ($$$). The deck/lounge space is usually overcrowded and noisy, so I wouldn’t recommend for traveling with kids, especially little ones. The standard seating is very comfortable, but that said, business class fares on Blue Star Ferries are only marginally more expensive and much more practical for families so I would argue that it is money well spent. Business class is spacious and set-up much like a restaurant with tables, comfortable chairs, big windows and a dedicated café. Kiddos can stretch out, not be confined to airplane style seating, and there are plenty of snacks and views to enjoy for kids and parents alike!
Arrive early, but not too early: Many of the ports in Greece are crowded (I am talking about you Santorini!!!) and confusing so make sure to give yourself enough time to orient yourself and be ready to board. The turnaround time at each port is pretty quick so you need to be ready to go when the ferry arrives. That said, no need to arrive “extra early” because in many cases there is little to do at the port besides bake in the sun or indulge in overpriced gyros and calamari!
If you are travelling with a baby or toddler, stick to the right when boarding: You know how people line up and push and shove to get on the airplane first, well its like this to the extreme when getting on the ferry and with very little oversight. That said, Greek people love (and more importantly treat families with young kiddos with a ton of respect) and with that often comes priority treatment. To take full advantage, stick to the right side of the ramp when you board and try to make eye contact as early as possible with a Blue Star staff member. In our experience, the staff person will usher you to the right away from the crowds to take the elevator to the correct floor.
Sit back, order a fancy coffee and enjoy the view: In our experience, the lattes and cappuccinos on board the ferry are delicious so don’t forget to sit back, relax and enjoy the view. Happy Sailing!
- Check the weather forecast in the days leading up to your ferry ride and check the Blue Star Ferries website for updates. This is something we never really considered until we found out that due to a rare Mediterranean Hurricane the Greek Coast Guard had cancelled all sailings for 24+ hours!
- If you are sailing out of Piraeus in Athens, stop in at Attika Bakery to stock up on delicious Greek treats and coffee for your voyage. Try the Bougatsa, you won’t regret it!
- Parents still using strollers, you can wheel your stroller right on to the ferry and onto the elevator. No need to stress about collapsing it or trying to baby wear and carry everything in your hands.