Taking the Hellenic Seaway Ferry, Greece With a Dog

Taking the Hellenic Seaway Ferry, Greece With a Dog

Mom Looking for her Wallet – a Treat before we Board! YAY!

One of the great things about traveling in Greece is how accessible the islands actually are from the mainland. You can leave from Piraeus (Athens) and go … pretty much anywhere – even outside of Greek waters!

There are slow ferries and there are fast ferries.  The difference in time can be substantial (several hours) depending on how far you have to travel, and in our case that was pretty far; from Piraeus to Thira (Athens to Santorini — I know having multiple names for places can be confusing… but bear with me!).

Time was of the essence and we didn’t fancy spending an entire day on a slow ferry that could take 9 or more hours depending on weather conditions. Even if the slow ferries are larger, and you can spend more time outside enjoying the sun because they have more decks… we really just wanted to get to Santorini and start our vacation.  We figured it would be better to take only 5 hours.

But of course, the first question that comes to mind is: Can a canine travel on the fast ferry?

We can. But…

According to their website (depending on the vessel you choose) four-legged “fellow-passengers”, (according to legislation) are forbidden to be inside the vessel area, however beloved pets can travel:

• On the deck and under your personal supervision (Slow Ferry)
• Stay in the specially designated kennels, which are located on all vessels’ (Any Ferry)

Taking the Hellenic Seaway Ferry, Greece With a Dog

On Board Kennel – Not in Use on our Return Trip!

In a nutshell, dogs are not allowed inside the passenger area. They do however have special kennels, near where the luggage is stored for all animal companions. It sounds terrible but it’s not that bad I assure you.  There was a boxer chewing happily on a bone in one of those kennels when I traveled to Santorini and he seemed quite happy and use to the process. I am guessing he was a frequent traveler.

Basically if you don’t want to place your pet in the special kennel, you have to go with the slow ferry.

So how did I get on a fast ferry and travel in cabin? Well, luckily for me, Hellenic Seaway does recognize service animals and Emotional Support Animals (ESAs).

It is important to note, that in order to avoid abuse of the ESA recognition, Hellenic Seaways can (and does) require proof of ESA certification and registration with an authorized psychiatrist (your family doctor is not qualified and will not do).  I am registered with NSRA (National Service Animal Registry) and have documentation from their panel of psychiatrists. The letter must be less than a year old and faxed to the number they provide you within 48 hours or more before you board. I am not including that number because it changed twice during our booking and I assume it will likely change again.

As for the ride we can’t complain.

Taking the Hellenic Seaway Ferry, Greece With a Dog

being given some VIP privilege!

It was quick, comfortable, very well organized. The seats were plush and roomy. Because it had been flagged there was an ESA on board; the hostess on the intercom called Mom and me shortly after we started off. I was introduced and the hostess was wonderfully sweet, letting us know that the ferry captain and crew had been made aware that there was a “special needs” passenger and service dog on board and to not hesitate to let them know if we needed any assistance. Mom was a little taken aback by it at first – feeling weirded out by being called special needs… but then realized that it was in fact a very kind gesture.  It meant that if something did go wrong there would be no need to explain it then and there. It actually made all of us relax a lot more.

Taking the Hellenic Seaway Ferry, Greece With a Dog

Comfort and Style! (Tip: front seats have loads of legroom!)

Because of very strong north winds our ferry was delayed (2 hours!) but we did get to Sanotrini safely and they did refund 30% of the ticket price for the inconvenience.

We have to say that as far as methods of travel go, our experience with Hellenic Seaway was stellar.  We were really well treated by staff, who on our way back recognized Mom and my carrier and just nodded towards us after a little hand wave and gave us a “we know you are here…welcome back!” look and smile — instead of calling us again on the intercom. Considering the hundreds of people they see every day … we were genuinely impressed.

So, if you need to travel around the Greek islands with your pet, Hellenic Seaway provides you with two options!

  1. The kennels: give you the most flexibility in terms of vessel type.
  2. On deck/outside:  take in the fresh air, pack a book and a picnic and … enjoy a slower pace.

The good news is you CAN travel with your beloved pet (even if not an ESA or Service Animal) with Hellenic Seaway.

And for that we are grateful!

15 Comments on “Taking the Hellenic Seaway Ferry, Greece With a Dog

  1. I can imagine you want to travel faster after already being delayed with the start of your trip. But we always took the slow way.

    I remember the ferries for our islands trips during the mid 90’s. We, the tourists wondered and watched a comic show for real. Goats, donkeys traveled together with humans on the decks. No kennels, no separated animaldecks of places. So we could watch screaming Greek men running around the passengerdecks trying to catch a loose goat or donkey.

    Departure and arrival times were always ‘estimated’, depending of the weatherconditions or other mysterious Greek circumstances. Whatever that meant?

    But things have also really changed in Greece.
    It is great to hear that Greece accepts ESA’s.Even my ‘civilized’ country Belgium does not recognize ESA’s as real assistance dogs.

    • OMG’s Hebert – you know I think I would absolutely LOVE to see the Greek men chasing a goat or donkey on a ferry. Seriously … Ah the stories!!

      As for ESA’s not being recognized a lot of times we have found it to be a question of “educating” them. They have made exceptions for me in Belgium. 🙂 Next time we are there … WE MUST meet up!

      • I would certainly like to meet you and your bipeds if you come to Belgium. I can be your tourguide, not in a fancy Mercedes like George and his taxi crew, but we’ll manage.

        They do make exceptions in Belgium for foreign visitors, but as an Belgian resident you can’t get a furry friend recognized as an emotional assistance dog. It exists, but the dog doesn’t get any privileges. Way to go for the old world.

        And for the Greek stories? A lot of them, certainly when Greece was not yet invaded by the tourists…

        But I am awaiting your further adventures from you and your bipeds!

        • You are on!! Next time we are in Belgium or near we will let you know! We have some family in Brussels that I think I need to meet soon. 🙂 Is Bruges as nice as it looks to me?

          • Bruges is indeed a very nice place to visit.
            They call it ‘Venice of the North’.

            As long as you don’t visit the restaurants at the heart of the town because of the bad service, very high prices for food which is not good enough to feed the pigs.
            This is what a quality newspaper wrote about and to be honest, I can confirm.
            Sorry for the link which is only available in Dutch: http://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20130830_003

            Best to look for restaurants outside the citycenter

          • We will be lucky to have such a great guide!! Wow now we want to go!! 🙂
            If we had 10 days … what would you suggest as journey? What “must see” places would you recomend… if you don’t mind me asking.

  2. Montecristo and Family, it sounds like you all had a very pleasant time! We truly enjoyed reading all about it! Thank you for sharing.

  3. Great to know! Your well written posts are always filled with wonderful images, sensitivity, insight and valuable information! Thank you for sharing it with us at Have Pet Will Travel!!

  4. Thank you for the comprehensive insight Monte – no one else could give us such an informative guide 🙂
    PS I love the that you wore your ‘harness appropriate’ for the boat trip 😉

    • But … OF COURSE!! I mean the harness was a MUST. That morning I said to Mama “make sure you dress me right!” she just smiled and said “of course little man … of course.”

      Glad you found this informative!

  5. Lisa stole the words right out of my maw. Man, your wardrobe is impressive. All I have is an Eagles football (American football) shirt — and, they, to excuse my human, suck. Do you get seasick, Monte.

    Your phurry Philly phriend,

    PS: We visited Bruges. We highly recommend it. Of course, I hadn’t been born yet, but my bipeds tell me they liked it a lot. They have a different type of glass for every type of beer. They even tried cherry beer. They also toured the nearby World War I battlefields of Flanders — the Ypres Salient. Fascinating and sobering. They are still digging up live unexploded shells from WWI all over. When you drive on the country roads you see little piles of shells (i.e. bombs, not seashells) by the side of the road that the farmers leave for the bomb squad to deal with .

    • I don’t get seasick Dino … lucky for me. Neither does Dad. Mom on the other hand … poor soul.

      My Mom is part Belgian … so we know we will go visit family at some point! They are in Brussels … but we will have to see more than just the one city.

  6. Thanks for sharing such great article about cats. The social adaptations of pets and humans are similar enough that dogs can live perfectly happy lives surrounded by humans and vice versa. Dogs are pampered with the best of food and medical care, frequently sleeping in their owners’ comfortable beds.Do you have any other articles about dogs?

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