Greece has an extensive network of ferries – the only means of reaching many of the islands. Schedules are often subject to delays due to poor weather (note: this is a safety precaution) plus the occasional industrial action, and prices fluctuate regularly. Timetables are not announced until just prior to the season due to competition for route licences. In summer, ferries run regular services between all but the most out-of-the-way destinations; however, services seriously slow down in winter (and in some cases stop completely).
Ferry companies have local offices on many of the islands. The big companies compete for routes annually (and seem to merge and demerge regularly), so the following may have changed by the time you read this.
Aegean Flying Dolphins (www.aegeanflyingdolphins.gr) Hydrofoils between Athens, Aegina and the Sporades.
Aegean Speed Lines (www.aegeanspeedlines.gr) Super-speedy boats between Athens and the Cyclades.
Aegeon Pelagos (www.anek.gr) A subsidiary of ANEK Lines.
ANEK Lines (www.anek.gr) Crete-based long-haul ferries.
ANEK/Superfast Ferries (www.superfast.com) Patras to Bari and Igoumenitsa to Ancona and Venice.
ANES (www.anes.gr) Old-style ferries servicing Evia and the Sporades.
Anna Express (www.annaexpress.eu) Small, fast ferry connecting the northern Dodecanese.
Blue Star Ferries (www.bluestarferries.com) Long-haul, high-speed ferries and Seajets catamarans between the mainland, the Cyclades, the northeastern Aegean Islands, Crete and the Dodecanese.
Dodekanisos Seaways (www.12ne.gr) Runs large, high-speed catamarans in the Dodecanese.
Fast Ferries (www.fastferries.com.gr) Comfortable ferries from Rafina to the Cyclades islands of Andros, Tinos, Naxos and Mykonos.
Glyfa Ferries (www.ferriesglyfa.gr) Comfortable short-haul ferry services between Glyfa on the mainland and Agiokambos in northern Evia.
Hellenic Seaways (www.hellenicseaways.gr) Part of Blue Star Ferries, Hellenic Seaways offers catamarans from the mainland to the Cyclades and between the Sporades and Saronic islands.
Ionian Ferries (www.ionianferries.gr) Large ferries serving the Ionian Islands.
LANE Lines (www.ferries.gr/lane) Long-haul ferries serving the Ionians, Dodecanese and Crete.
Minoan Lines (www.minoan.gr) High-speed luxury ferries between Piraeus and Iraklio.
Patmos Star (www.patmos-star.com) Small, local ferry linking Patmos, Leros and Lipsi in the Dodecanese.
SAOS Lines (www.saos.gr) Big, slow boats between Samothoraki and Alexandroupoli.
Seajets (www.seajets.gr) Catamarans calling at Athens, Crete, Santorini (Thira), Paros and many islands in between.
Skyros Shipping Company (www.sne.gr) Slow boat between the Sporades plus between Kymi and Evia.
Zante Ferries (www.zanteferries.gr) Older ferries connecting the mainland (Piraeus) with the western Cyclades.