Thinking about using the ferries to explore the Greek Islands? Here's some things we learned...
There are basically two kinds of ferries available-high speed catamarans and big, slow traditional ferries. The big ferries (such as Blue Star Line) are kind of like cruise ships, some even have rooms to sleep in, but they take quite a long time. Athens to Sanorini can be an 8 hour trip. They're good if you're a smoker or prone to seasickness, since you can walk around outside and get fresh air.
We opted for high speed ferries on our trips from Crete to Santorini and from Santorini to Athens. We used Hellenic Seaways both times, first with the Highspeed 5 and then the Highspeed 6.
Overall, we really enjoyed our trip. The ships were bigger than we expected. When the seas got rough you could definitely feel it, but for the most part it was a smooth ride. We took Dramamine just to be safe and had no problems.
After researching ferries online, I took their advice and booked us seats in Business class, which is only a few Euros more than regular economy class. It was SO worth it!
These are our seats below:
Nearby you can find the VIP section, which is the most expensive option (personally I thought it wasn't that much better than Business class, glad I didn't pay any more for it)
By contrast, here is what economy seating looks like: cramped seats, lots of people, not much legroom.
Both times we rode the ferries, Business Class was nearly empty. We had our own bathroom (rather than waiting in long lines like in Economy), a snack bar, comfy reclining chairs, and even outlet plugs to charge your tech gear!
Honestly, the silence alone was worth the extra money we paid, not to mention the big windows that allowed us to see out as we sailed.
Stopping in Ios
Food was available on board, but we had snacks so we didn't try it. The prices weren't as bad as I expected though!
So all in all, upgrading to Business class was well worth it. Why spend 4 hours on a boat being miserable? :)