I recently traveled on the overnight ferry to Crete with Minoan Lines, a great way to get to Greece’s largest island. Here’s why.
Overnight Ferry to Crete with Minoan Lines
While many may opt for flying to Crete, taking the overnight ferry to Crete with Minoan Lines is a great option too. A ferry ride is the only way to get it to the island with a car. We were taking ours. Athens to Crete is not a short trip, in my view. The journey takes nine to 10 hours from the port of Piraeus, Athens’ main port.
Knowing we’d be on the ferry for so long, we opted for a cabin. The journey is typically an overnight one, so it seemed like the perfect way to get some sleep and be fresh for the what lay ahead for our trip. Our ferry was scheduled to leave at 9 p.m. and arrive at the port of Heraklion at 6:30 a.m.
Parking Inside the Ferry
After we drove into the belly of the humongous ferry, the parking staff asked us what time we wanted to leave the boat. We learned we didn’t have to leave right at 6:30 a.m. when the ferry would reach port. We could get a bit more rest and leave around 8 a.m. If you want to do that, the staff will direct you in a different parking area so your car won’t block the early birds.
The Overnight Ferry Room
Upon entering the surprisingly shiny reception area you’ll find a line of uniformed hosts waiting for guests. Once you get your key you are matched with one host who will walk you to your room.
The room itself is just right for a one-night stay. We reserved a two-person sleeper room. Each room has a total of four beds. Two were folded up like bunk beds above our individual beds.
The entire space was very clean. The shower had excellent water pressure with lots of hot water. The room came with towel sets for each person and shampoo and soap.
The Ferry Boat
I have taken many ferries to get to the islands but never an overnight one. Ferries to different Greek islands vary in size and what they offer in terms of amenities. I found it all depends on the company that runs them.
I would compare Minoan Lines ferry environment to being on a small cruise ship. There are two restaurants (one a la carte and one self-serve cafeteria), clothing and souvenir shops, two outdoor cafes and even a pool and night club. Since it was off season, the pool and club were closed.
Options to Get to Crete
On the overnight ferry to Crete we booked a two-person sleeper cabin. However, there are other options depending on your travel preferences.
The following are full-fare prices, per person, one-way ticket:
- Inside (meaning no window) 3-person sleeper cabin €70
- Outside (with a window) 4-bed cabin €80
- Inside (no window) 4-bed sleeper €68
- Airplane VIP Business Seats with TV €57
- Deck Seats €46
- Vehicles (6 meters in length and 2 meters in height), one-way ticket €87
- Motorcycle, one-way ticket €23
Minoan offers various travel discounts. So be sure to ask about:
- 50 percent discount for children between 4-16 years of age.
- 20 percent discount when the return trip is issued at time of purchase.
- Infants to four-year-old children travel for free.
- 10 percent discount for Minoan Lines Bonus Club Members and collect points for free tickets. Gold Minoan bonus club members get a 20 percent discount.
- Discounts on summer midday itineraries, four-bed cabin discounts and seasonal offers.
Overall Experience on the Overnight Ferry to Crete
I found the rooms very comfortable. Everything was very clean and tidy, and the shower was super strong with plenty of hot water. We had dinner in the cafeteria on the way back which was around €10 each person for a decent home cooked meal. It was nice to stroll around the top deck and have a coffee, too.
I had originally planned to leave Crete from Chania. However, Minoan doesn’t leave from Chania. We really liked our experience that much, we made a point to drive about two hours from Chania to Heraklion to make sure we took a Minoan Lines ferry. It turned out to be a good opportunity to spend the day poking in and around some villages along Crete’s beach road that leads to Heraklion since the ferry left at 9:30 p.m.
Next thing you know I woke up in Athens at around 7:00 a.m. It was a smooth ride, and I got a lot of rest before I headed back to life in the city.
Tips for Booking an Overnight Ferry to Crete
- Understand which type of seating or cabin you want. Inquire about any discounts especially if you are traveling in groups, with children or if you plan to take a midday ferry.
- You can book over the phone with a credit card. You will get a confirmation number and will pick up your ticket by the Minoan Lines kiosk by the ferry boat at the port.
- You should arrive at the ferry one hour before the scheduled departure time.
- If you have your car, pack a small overnight bag and leave your big luggage in the car. The rooms are small so you’ll have more space without unnecessary items with you. Plus, it will be easier to get to and from your car. The ferry is big!
- As I have found with most Greek ferries, Wi-Fi isn’t the best, sometimes due to weather conditions. On Minoan, you can buy a €5 Wi-Fi Internet card. I appreciated how the sales person told me I shouldn’t buy it because the signal wasn’t great due to the weather or something. In any case, the 3G on my iPhone worked fine everywhere.
- You can take food on the ferry and eat in outdoor areas on the boat. The restaurants on board area also very good options for dinner.
- There is a general wake up call over the loudspeaker when you arrive at the port.
To Book Ferry Tickets on Minoan Lines
- You can call Minoan Lines +30 2810 229602
- You can book online from their official site www.minoan.gr
- You can also find Minoan Lines on Twitter and Facebook to keep up with announcements the company may have.
How to Get to Crete By Air
Two airports, Heraklion and Chania, service regular flights to and from Athens and Thessaloniki. The airport of Heraklion also services flights to Rhodes, Kos and other Greek islands in summer.
International travelers arrive by air, usually with a change in Athens. You can find the best flight deals with Kiwi.
Getting Around Crete
The easiest way to get from point A to point B on the island is by driving. An international car rental company I can highly recommend is Avis Europe.
A local company I can also recommend is Rental Center Crete.
Where to Stay in Crete
Check out my post: Where to Stay in Crete for my tried and tested suggestions.
What to Do in Crete
For a rundown of what I experienced the first time around during my visit to Crete, check out my post: 10 Things I Learned in Crete in 7 Days
Some of the best beaches in Greece are in Crete, check out: Photo Tour: Beaches of Crete to get inspired.
Have you ever taken an overnight ferry to Crete or another Greek island? How was your experience?