One more thing you need to know before signing on for the Santorini Excursion "Volcano and Hot springs". First of all you do not need to purchase this excursion through the cruise ship. The ship tenders in Santorini and as soon as you get off the tendering boat you will see signs advertising the EXACT same tour you have already paid for but it's half the price. The tour starts with getting on an old fashioned "pirate ship" type boat with loads of black smoke billowing from the engines and you are packed in like sardines with literally a couple hundred people. The boat takes you to the black volcanic island that has some very unusual rock structures. There are not trees or shade so put on loads of sunblock and wear a hat. It takes about 30 minutes to climb to the top and it is quite difficult, many people did not go all the way up. Also, don't be a silly and wear sandals or flip-flops because the ground you are climbing is made up of loose small volcanic rocks that are slippery and can easily get in your open shoes. Getting to the top is quite nice and you can see some smoking ground and feel the heat if you put your hand down a hole. I took a nasty fall on my way down because of the steep and loose rocks, and I was wearing my walking shoes. If it's a really hot day be warned it's bloody hot as Hades sauna on that hill because its pitch black and there is no shade besides the fact that the hill is producing its own heat. If you make it through this you will be happy to get back on the pirate ship. There is a nice boat ride to the other side of the volcanic mountain where the boat is anchored and you are told to jump off the edge of the deck. Many brave souls did so immediately but I could see by the expressions on their faces that it was like a polar dive. The water was quite choppy and so cold that a few minutes after jumping in three people started to drown in separate incidents. The crew quickly threw out life-savers and other swimmers helped the poor (slightly embarrassed individuals) get back on the boat. The distance to the hot springs was quite far because of the rough seas and the fact there was nothing to grab onto for a breather. The hot springs looked like dirty mucky water and I was told that because of the cold temperature of the sea the hot springs were more like "tepid" springs. The swimmers came back to the boat looking exhausted and freezing. A couple more people had to be "saved" as they had developed cramps in their legs. My husband a medical doctor said this was not surprising because of the intense physical strain of the climb followed by difficult swimming conditions in such cold water. Overall this wasn't a terrible excursion, except for the fact that we paid the ship twice the cost for no benefit to us. The craziness of the hot springs swimming party was kind of exciting albeit at some other travelers expense. No one would have drowned, there were highly capable Greek crew members ready to dive in and save the day.
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