The predominant means of transport between the Greek islands is by ferry. Inter island connections via air is almost non existent, except for the few connections with small airliners such as www.skyexpress.gr a small Cretan based airliner using small jet stream planes [30 or 15 seaters, covering some connections with Crete, Dodecanese, NE Aegean Islands and the Cyclades. These small planes have a luggage limitation of only 12 kgs, over which must pay the difference. The two conventional domestic airlines, Aegean and Olympic Air, do not usually offer inter island connections and, in most cases, to connect between two islands by air, one must travel through Athens once again.

Bluestar ferries are  the most conventional modern fleet operational  today, with timetables extending primarily throughout the central Cyclades islands. Their schedules are published quite early in the new year and most schedules are fixed every year. Bluestar ferries runs schedules from Athens to central and east Cyclades, Dodecanese and recently it started schedules to Chios and Lesvos, www.bluestarferries.com .

The other major company operating in the Aegean Sea is Hellenic Seaways, that constitutes the main form of travel with catamaran or hydrofoil, between the Cyclades, Saronic Gulf and Sporades Islands, www.hellenicseaways.gr  The ferry company Sea Jets www.seajets.gr also provides fast catamaran travel between the Athenian ports of Piraeus and Rafina to Cyclades and from Crete (Heraklion) to Santorini. The other major company operating in the Aegean Sea is Nel Lines, www.nel.gr , operating an interesting complex schedule throughout the Eastern, central Cyclades, together with the NE Aegean sea.

These ferry companies usually announce their ferry schedules early and gives the possibility to book ferry tickets online. You can book Greek ferry tickets through various websites, such as www.ferries.gr, danae.gr and www.ferriesingreece.com

Note that the actual tickets must be collected [or sent by courier service at your home with an additional cost] prior to departure. Unfortunately e-ticketing does not apply for Greece yet and passengers must have the printed tickets at hand in order to board the ferry.

Small local Greek companies release their ferry schedules no earlier than three-four weeks prior to departure, upon port authority approval. Frustrating, it's true, but only speculation is possible, plus research into past years itineraries, through a search engine, such as www.openseas.gr which retains past schedules to a certain degree. Current schedules may be found at www.gtp.gr as well as www.openseas.gr Some other companies (with small ferries) do not even allow online booking and passengers have to buy tickets at the port before departure.

Ferry tickets for the most sought after fast catamarans and hydrofoils should be purchased in advance for the high season, mid July and August, possibly for the beginning of September as well. Similarly for sought after dates, such as long weekends, {one may check here for Greek public holidays, www.argies.gr } In general, May, June and from 15.09, is considered middle season, and pre-advance ferry tickets may not be necessary.

Some conventional ferries offer class distinctions, economy/deck which  translates to interior plus deck free seating. Some ferries have cabin accommodation at a different cost range, and A class lounge seating areas. Bluestar ferries and NEL lines offer the option of pre-assigned economy seats at an additional minimal cost, securing your seat  in economy, rather than a free for all choice. Catamarans provide designated seating, whilst the smaller hydrofoils usually allow free seating, in the allocated seating area. The older conventional ferries may not offer a separate A class lounge area, nor a distinction with economy seating.

With regard to weather conditions, the hydrofoils and the catamarans are small and subject to a bumpier ride in strong wind conditions, and are cancelled with rare conditions nearing 8 beaufort wind strength, possibly less. In general, those prone to sea sickness, should opt for the more conventional ferries, which may offer a longer, but smoother and cheaper ride [about half to 2/3 of the cost} . For example, Bluestar ferries are large and thus rarely cancelled due to wind conditions, and offer a reasonably smooth journey at increased wind strength.

Cancellations due to bad weather conditions are rare, and is termed "faux majeure", and passengers are liable for their own expenses as a result- most likely insurance policies do not cover this clause, although many ferry or air companies may try to accommodate the ticket, according to their own discretion.

It is highly recommended to provide yourselves to have one ferry in hand, prior to your departure flight ex Athens airport. This decision needs to be balanced with the possible costs which one may encounter due to a missed international connection, insurance covers, and the flexibility of the international ticket which has been purchased, plus ongoing travel plans and commitments after Athens. For this reason, it is usually recommended that Athens is kept as a final destination, after island hopping in the Greek islands.

Another way to travel between the Greek Islands is by chartering your own sailing boat, yacht or motorboat. There are a number of companies who can connect you with your own boat (and can also add a skipper if you don't know how to operate a boat). There are local charter companies on each island that you can get in touch with, and there are boat rental companies such as Zizoo (www.zizoo.com) who work with all charter companies in the Greek Islands and can offer many different options for renting a boat on different islands.  

Happy travels!