NEW YORK -- Cruising in Aegean and eastern Mediterranean waters
aboard a chartered yacht is often a convenient and affordable way
to explore little-known islands, secluded coves and ancient ruins
that most tourists miss.
Among the selling points of chartered yachting, according to
Cynthia Orr, president of Philadelphia-based Greek Private Sailing
Club, are that groups have the yacht to themselves and a yachting
vacation comes with transportation by water, accommodations, meal
plans according to choice and sightseeing.
Yachting is not for those collecting ports of call; rather, it
offers the chance to see more of certain islands at a leisurely
pace, to swim from the boat whenever clear waters beckon and to
dress casually for dinner.
Some 15 years ago, my husband and I sailed with six friends in
the Greek Cyclades islands, from Athens to Santorini, on a refitted
caique (a traditional wooden Greek boat).
We chartered the crewed 80-foot motor sailer directly from a broker
in Athens; the cost came at a mid-1980s price of $150 per person,
per day, with two meals daily.
Our routing included such off-beat ports of call as Sifnos,
known for its hill town of Kastro, and Tinos, a scenic island
dotted with pretty villages.
Ten years later, we were again a party of eight, cruising the
Turkish coast on a stylish but informal crewed gulet (traditional
Turkish wooden boat) along the Mediterranean coast between Bodrum
Chartered through the World of Oz in Virginia Beach, Va., the
mid-1990s cost still was about $150 per person, per day, with daily
breakfast and lunch.
Generally, chartering a Turkish gulet is cheaper than chartering
a comparable vessel in Greece.
Our vessel was first class, but according to company director
Wynn Oz, custom-made deluxe gulets are available, with en suite
bathrooms, hair dryers, queen-size beds and on-board amenities such
as fax machines and satellite TV.
The cost of a deluxe six-cabin vessel for a weeklong charter
ranges from $825 to $1,650; for eight cabins, $900 to $1,725. Meals
A two-meal-per-day plan costs $40 per person; three meals costs
$50 per day.
With two passengers per cabin, this comes to $69 to $137 per
person for a six-cabin vessel, and $56 to $108 for an eight-cabin
Recently, my husband and I celebrated a wedding anniversary in
Greece and, along with 10 friends, sprang for a top-of-the-line
clipper schooner, the Ariadne, with a crew of six.
Chartered through the Greek Private Sailing Club, the clipper
schooner is a 123-foot-long vessel with automatic sail rigging,
spacious deck and seating areas aft and such cruising frills as
televisions and stereo (piped to cabins), Jet Skis and dinghies
available for beach excursions.
Our cruising ground for seven nights was the Saronic Gulf, with
an added circuit route to the southeast coast of the Peloponnesian
It is an ideal private yachting ground, as distances are fairly
short between islands and mainland harbors, leaving lots of time
for visits to classical ruins and Byzantine monasteries.
We spent the first night in Poros, dining at a harborside cafe.
The next morning we took the 10-minute water-taxi crossing to the
mainland port of Galatas and then an hour overland-taxi ride to the
ancient city of Epidaurus.
We stayed the next afternoon and evening tied up at the pretty
harbor at Spetses, hiking along the coast toward the lighthouse and
the old harbor of Paleo Limani.
The Ariadne then headed for the mainland, where highlights were
the rock-bound medieval village of Monemvasia and the ruined
palaces and Byzantine monasteries of Mystra, a day's excursion
Returning to the Saronic Islands, we spent the last two nights
anchored in Hydra, a town that rises like an amphitheater behind
Late afternoon in Hydra, when the cruise ships are gone, is a
good time for shopping. We had delicious grilled fish dinners in
little restaurants, the best of which we found tucked off streets
away from the harbor.
The sightseers among us rented donkeys -- fitted with incredibly
uncomfortable slatted-wood saddles without stirrups -- for the
staggering ride up the rocky incline to the monasteries of Prophet
Elijah and St. Euphrasia.
En route back to the Athens port of Piraeus, we docked on Aegina
Island for a swim and a walk to the fifth century Temple of Aphaia
This year's cost to charter the most deluxe yachts, such as the
eight-to-12-passenger Ariadne, is $5,500 per day.
The per day charter price of the top-notch motor sailer, the
10-passenger Hermina, is $3,200.
Yacht charters come in all sizes and price ranges, but meals and
wine are always additional.
Aboard deluxe yachts, the per person additional cost is $45 for
the modified American plan; $55 for three meals daily.
Greek Private Sailing Club
Phone: (800) 732-6786 or (212) 247-3903
Fax: (215) 247-1505
World of Oz
Phone: (800) 248-0234 or (757) 496-8108
Fax: (757) 496-8097