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Santorini, Greece

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We are scheduled to visit Santorini in June.

According to the ship's itinerary and the port schedule for Santorini we will be there from 2pm to 11pm.

However, the excursions available through the ship all start at 9am +/- ...... Feels like a shitty start to the day having to swim ashore a few hours before we get there.

I have asked just about every avenue at Royal that I can (Regular #, C&A #, Excursions, Group Excursions, my TA called in and we even called the Casino line) ... no answers just bounced from department to department.

I did find one travel blog that mentioned that the cruise ships dont dock but technically do two tender stops in Santorini. First one is to drop off passengers booked on ship excursions and then they relocated to the second tender area to drop off all other passengers and eventually pick up all passengers.

Is anyone able to shed any light on how it works in Santorini? Seems like a no brainer to do a ship excursion if it gets me 6 extra hours in port but not sure I really believe that explanation.


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I have been to Santorini in August 2022. I will be back this August. I did not do an excursion in 2022 just got off the ship via tender. waited in line for the cable car (like 15 minutes) and then walked around Santorini. I did some shopping. Found a new favourite wine 🙂  and then ate an amazing lunch overlooking the cruise ship. I will see if I can find some photos to upload. 

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The excursions are synchronized with port arrival times.  I've had issues with Cruise Planner excursions being all messed up for our Med cruise.  So I wouldn't worry if you booked with Royal -- you will be given updated excursion times on the ship.  Also, the itinerary may change as you get closer to sail date.

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It is a tender port.  Ship excursions do get 1st priority off the ship with diamond and above members(must get ticket from in the lounge)

All other passengers not on ship excursions will have to get ticket from designated location.

Depending on weather conditions, ship excursions are tendered over and buses are lined up at different area AWAY from the cable car platform.

It is very feasible to book independent excursions and much cheaper.  Tour operators are waiting at top of platform. We did independent and thoroughly enjoyed.  Much smaller group only 10, price cheaper and had quality experience.

We were 1st group off ship and at top of platform within 20 minutes.  Be prepared for long lines for cable car back at end of day.  We ended up taking steps back to ship but be cautious of being slippery and donkeys.

It doesn't matter whether a ship excursions or not, everyone takes Cable car back ad no priority line for ship excursions.

You can't buy tickets ahead nor round trip 

Enjoy Santorini

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  • 2 months later...


Sailing our first ever cruise and going with RC at end of May with a stop in Santorini.  Completely cruise clueless so trying to do research ahead for stops.   We're not keen on specific excursions and want to explore independently.   Just checking how we can book for a tender boat to get off the ship?   Do we do this onboard in advance or can it just be done on the day - this is for all stops that don't dock, not just Santorini.     

The "explore Santorini on your own" excursion is sold out... so that's when alarm bells rang - hoping we don't end up having to stay on the ship!

Thanks in advance!


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There will usually be an announcement as to when people who don't have a Royal Caribbean excursions can line up for tenders, or the information will be in the Cruise Compass.  I don't know that I'd book an excursion to explore Santorini on my own.  I'd probably just explore it on my own without paying Royal 🙂

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It is quite feasible to do on your own.  Only difference with ship excursion is those groups get on tenders 1st.

Every time we go, night before we get a tender ticket for non ship excursion.  We have gotten off ship in no time and explored on our own.  There will be many tender boats operating.  Public transportation is very easy to use there.

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Thank you very much for your replies! I’m glad we aren’t limited to booking excursions to get off the ship lol! I’ll look out for details even on board.

Will deal with the crowds as expected and mindful of queues in return too.

Excited but also nervous for our first cruise - so unsure what to expect!

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