The Best Private Santorini Boat Tour – My Real Review

Santorini is known as a volcanic island perched in the Aegean Sea, and when I was planning the ultimate luxury trip to Santorini, I knew I had to find the best private catamaran cruise on Santorini. I love to be on the water, and for my first trip to Santorini, I wanted a super special experience that would let us see a lot of Santorini in a short time. I decided the best way to do this was with a private tour, and it ended up being one of the best things we did on Santorini.

Spiridakos generously offered me a discounted cruise for my honest review of their private Santorini boat tour. We booked their sunset tour, though they also have a day cruise. If you’re sailing in the summer months, I think a sunset cruise is the best time to go, because the weather will have cooled down a little. My catamaran tour was in late October, and we actually ended up being a bit too cold at sunset. It was breezy and chilly as soon as the sun went down, but I imagine in high seasons, it‘s just about perfect.

From the pre-trip communication to the return ride to our hotel, my experience with Spiridakos was flawless. 

What to Expect on a Private Catamaran Cruise in Santorini

My private boat tour with Spiridakos started with a pickup from our hotel (we stayed at Mystique in Oia). Although the office had sent me the schedule in advance, I was unprepared for the 45 minute drive we took to get to the Vylchada Marina, where Spiridakos is based (my fault, not theirs). For a 5 hour sunset cruise departing at 2:00, we were picked up from our hotel at 1:15.

There are several catamaran companies who operate out of the marina, and it was a busy place. Luckily, our driver got us close to our boat, and we were met at the car by our guide for the day, Panos.

He introduced himself as a producer, actor, and boat captain. A quick introduction to the boat and its safety procedures preceded an introduction of the crew. We were joined by Captain Alkis, Chef Alexandra, and Crewman Renos. 

Since this was a private cruise, we got to pick our route, our speed, and – crucially – our music! The crew was only too happy to connect our phones to the boat speakers via Bluetooth, which made the vibe so much better! As you may not have a boat equipped with such speakers, it’s a good idea to bring a portable waterproof Bluetooth speaker in your bag for the day.

Spiridakos also had nice touches like towels (which we didn’t use because it ended up being too chilly to swim), and blankets (which we did use as the sun went down).

Where Does a Santorini Catamaran Cruise Visit?

The rocks are so red because of the high iron content

On my private Santorini yacht cruise, we had the option of visiting:

  1. Akrotiri’s Red Beach
  2. White Beach, accessible only by boat
  3. Akrotiri Lighthouse
  4. Swim breaks in the sulfur springs, fed from the volcanoes in the caldera
  5. Thirassia Island, which once was part of the Santorini mainland until the volcanic eruption 1,500 years ago
  6. The Santorini caldera for sunset
Up close with the cruise ships

One unscripted but super interesting stop on our tour was getting up close to the four cruise ships in port the day of my cruise. We felt like a tiny toy next to these massive ships, and we were able to get a vantage point almost no one gets to see!

Panos came out and explained what we were seeing at each stop, including how the cliffs got their colors (the red comes from oxidized iron) and the history of the island. It was a nice mix of information without being overwhelming. He also graciously took photos of us at each stop, which was great for me and annoying for my husband 😀

Unfortunately, we sailed on a cloudy day, and there was no amazing Santorini sunset to speak of. The weather in late October was warm enough to be in swimsuits in the afternoon, but turned breezy and colder as day turned to evening. Luckily, the boat was equipped with everything we could need, and the crew quickly equipped us with blankets to curl up under as we headed back to the marina.

The Boat

Our yacht, the Agios Nikolaos, was honestly huge. There was an inside, with the kitchen and a dining area, as well as bedrooms and bathrooms. On the rear of the boat, there was an exterior dining area as well, which is where we ate. I would have slightly preferred eating in front, but the crew docked the boat in such a way that we had a great view of the island of Thirassia as we ate.

Up front, there were cushioned loungers on what I will call the top deck, just in front of the captain’s area. This spot had the highest views, but was really close to the crew and therefore less private.

Down below, in front, there was a semi-circular cushioned seating area, cushioned “beds,” and two netted hammocks. I always get a little wary of laying on the hammocks, but it’s a cool experience to feel the air rushing both above and beneath you. I will say that the ropes aren’t that comfortable to lay on, so you’ll want to towel under you. Or, just do as I did and snap a few pictures before climbing back up to the cushioned seating!

Food and Drinks on the Best Private Santorini Cruise 

I don’t typically expect much from tours that include food and drinks. It usually means low-quality snacks and cheap alcohol. I couldn’t have been more surprised and impressed with the offerings on my private catamaran cruise. 

My husband has a gluten allergy, and I let the Spiridakos folks know ahead of time to see if they could accommodate him or if we needed to pack our own food. I also asked if we could bring our own bottle of local wine, as we had bought a nice bottle of assyrtiko wine from our wine tasting and tour of Estate Argyros. They happily adjusted the menu for my husband’s allergy, and welcomed whatever food and drinks we wanted to bring aboard. If you want to bring your own wine on board, check out our wine tour review of the best wineries in Santorini. 

As soon as we set sail, Panos asked what we’d like to drink. We opted for our bottle of wine, which we then followed with some of the wine the company provided. They also had beer, water, and soft drinks, all included. Panos kept our drinks filled throughout the cruise.

The real highlight, however, was the gourmet dinner. I have no idea how Alexandra cooked such a feast in a small boat kitchen with a small deck-top grill, but she created some magic. We pulled up to idle in a cove at Thirassia and descended to the dining area to find a full meal – enough food for a cruise 3 times our size! 

There was Greek salad, tzatziki, gluten free pasta with grilled shrimp, additional grilled shrimp, grilled lemon pepper chicken, and fried fish. They also had bread (both regular and gluten free) and butter. Everything was fresh, simple, flavorful, and delicious. We ate as much as humanly possible, and I consider this one of the better meals we had in Santorini.

What to Know About Private Yacht Charters

When you’re booking such a unique experience in Santorini, you want to get the most out of your cruise. Here’s the do’s and don’ts you need to know so you have a great time.

Do: Research What You Want To See

The beauty of the best Santorini boat tours is that you can choose your route. Spend a few minutes ahead of time and develop a point of view on what kind of tour your want to have so you get the perfect day you are envisioning. I personally loved getting up close to the volcanic cliffs, where the water was a stunning turquoise and the crevices invited us to explore further. I watched a small group tour with the same company speed past us to get to their next stop, while we were able to hang back a while and go at our own pace.

I was underwhelmed at seeing the various beaches, to be honest. I had heard so much about the beautiful beaches on the island of Santorini, but for me, just cruising past a beach and watching people sunbathe was not that interesting. I much preferred seeing the 19th-century Akrotiri lighthouse and the Santorini volcano and getting to see Oia village from the water.

Do: Plan to Tip

Our crew made it clear, in a roundabout way, that tips were crucial to their livelihoods. They did an excellent job with service, managing the boat, and the delicious wine and food they provided us, and I was only to happy to tip. Plan ahead with cash to tip. I tipped 10% of the cost of the full cruise.

Don’t: Over-drink

I have done a lot of private cruises over the years, and it took a while to properly calibrate how much alcohol to have. There is something about being on a motor yacht on the water with the wind whipping your face and the rocking of the boat that can camouflage how much you’ve had to drink and can make for a very unpleasant return to land. I‘m mostly a wine drinker and for a 5-hour cruise like the Santorini boat trips you will encounter, my personal experience is that 2 bottles of wine is more than enough for a small group. Make sure to drink lots of water and pace yourself. If you need to take a break, tell your host that you’d like another drink, but in about 30 minutes. That way, you know one is coming, but you give yourself time to process what you’ve already had.

A second tip: there is something about boats and bubbly that does not sit well for me, so I have learned not to bring champagne or sparkling wine on luxury yachts. I learned that even drinking the same amount of wine, just still vs sparkling, made a huge difference in how I felt later that day and the next.

Don’t: Be Shy

Your crew on your Santorini sailing cruise is there to help you have an amazing time. Let them know what would mare it a truly special occasion for you – is it specific music? Is it eating at a particular time, or in a particular place? Is it skipping a popular site that you’ve already been to in order to see something new? They can make your sailing trip whatever you want it to be, but only if they know how to meet (and hopefully exceed) your expectations. 

Wrap Up

If you’re looking for the best boat tours on Santorini, look no further than Spiridakos. Though the company generously discounted my cruise, the crew did not know that until late in the cruise, and I can honestly say that their attentiveness, friendliness, and professionalism was top notch. I have no doubt that they treat each of their Santorini sailing tours with the same attention to detail and welcoming spirit. If you’re looking to see Santorini in a new way, don’t hesitate to book them. For me, they are the best Santorini boat trip operator.

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I'm Ashley, the founder of Wanderlux and a travel junkie. When I'm not at home near Seattle, Washington, you can find me on the beach in Mexico or traveling the world. Wherever I am, I aim to travel respectfully, show my kids new things, and learn more than I teach.




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