Why Skippered Yacht Charters Make Unforgettable Sailing Holidays

Why Skippered Yacht Charters Make Unforgettable Sailing Holidays

My sailing lessons were a disaster. Mostly because I had no idea where the wind was coming from. Honestly to me, the wind was in my hair and it was coming from everywhere. Would I take a bareboat yacht charter anywhere? Other than being supremely unqualified, it’s way too much like hard work. My idea of unforgettable sailing holidays involve either a skippered yacht charter or a crewed yacht charters doing the actual sailing while I lounge about with a drink in my hand. We’ve been on a few skippered yacht charters in the past and are now considering a skippered yacht charter in the Mediterranean, specifically the Greek Islands.

Choosing Among Sailing Holidays

When you are looking at using a private yacht rental, you may come across several different types of sailing holidays.

A bareboat yacht charter requires proven sailing skills in the form of a sailing competence certification before a company will let you sail off into the sunset.. You and your yacht are on your own and it’s blissful isolation. And a lot of work. Yet, people like my old boss who sailed his yacht from the USA to England find the work of sailing a boat (strangely IMHO) relaxing.

A skippered yacht charter has a skipper on board who will take on the responsibility of the helm. You can help the skipper to the extent you wish.

My perfect sailing holidays include plenty of R&R
My perfect sailing holidays include plenty of R&R!

A fully crewed yacht charter has a skipper as well as other members of staff to see to your every needs for a truly luxurious escape.

A flotilla sailing holiday is like going on a cruise but without the endless buffets, activities, etc. You have your own private yacht charter and you sail with a team of other yachts. You meet up for social evenings and events. There is a team of able sailors on hand to help so that you don’t float off into the wild blue yonder on your own.

Sailing in a flotilla is great for inexperienced sailors who want to learn to skipper during a sailing holiday.
Sailing in a flotilla is great for inexperienced sailors who want to learn to skipper during a sailing holiday.

Why We Prefer Skippered Yacht Holidays

Having had great experiences with hired skippered yacht charters in the past, we would do a skippered yacht charter again. Why?

We’ve been on a few skippered yacht charters in the past and are now considering a skippered yacht charter in the Mediterranean, specifically the Greek Islands. Having had great experiences with hired skippered yacht charters in the past, we totally want to do it again. Why? Check out 5 reasons why a skippered yacht charter in Greece is a great idea for the vacation of a lifetime.

We’ve been on a few skippered yacht charters in the past and are now considering a
skippered yacht charter in the Mediterranean, specifically the Greek Islands. Having had
great experiences with hired skippered yacht charters in the past, we totally want to do it
again. Why? Check out 5 reasons why a skippered yacht charter in Greece is a great idea
for the vacation of a lifetime.

Smaller Yachts

Skippered yacht charter boats tend to be smaller than the crewed yacht charter ones. You only need accommodation for the skipper as opposed to an entire staff. Besides, we don’t need staff to fetch our drinks – we have children!

Sailboats in a harbor in Greece
Sailboats in a harbor in Greece

Friendly Skippers

We have gotten friendly with previous owners of skippered yacht charter boats, such as that of the Sea Witch in Martha’s Vineyard which we take out most years. They are fun company and know so much about the places we visit.

Sailing holidays in Greece allow you to explore different islands easily.
Sailing holidays in Greece allow you to explore different islands easily.

Rest & Relaxation

My son has been going to sailing camp in the summers and is a much better at the whole thing than I ever was. Do I trust him to helm our luxury yacht charter in the Mediterranean? No. He’s a relative newbie at sailing. Moreover, I need him to fetch me my drinks.

Kid-friendly Entertainment

On the other hand, my kids enjoy scampering around the boat and doing ‘stuff’. Wifi at sea is notoriously bad so they are reduced to actually having to interact with people in real life. Helping out with the sailing tasks is good practice for them to reinforce what they learn at sailing camp.

User-Driven Experiences

You can get off the beaten track with someone who has experience of where you are sailing, e.g., the best coves, the best snorkelling etc. Unlike a flotilla you don’t have to sail where everyone else is sailing. You can stay longer somewhere you like because it’s all about you!

Stunning sunset in the Mediterranean
Stunning sunset in the Mediterranean

Interested in day trip sailing options in the Greek islands? Check out these trips if you want to try before you commit to a full sailing holiday:

 

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Why Skippered Yacht Charters Make Unforgettable Sailing Holidays

My sailing lessons were a disaster.Would I take a bareboat yacht charter anywhere? It’s way too much like hard work. My idea of unforgettable sailing holidays involve either a skippered yacht charter or a crewed yacht charters doing the actual sailing while I lounge about with a drink in my hand. Check out 5 reasons to choose a skippered yacht holiday this summer...maybe in Greece? #yachting #sailing #sailingholidays #yachtcharter

My sailing lessons were a disaster.Would I take a bareboat yacht charter anywhere? It’s way
too much like hard work. My idea of unforgettable sailing holidays involve either a skippered
yacht charter or a crewed yacht charters doing the actual sailing while I lounge about with a
drink in my hand. Check out 5 reasons to choose a skippered yacht holiday this
summer…maybe in Greece? #yachting #sailing #sailingholidays #yachtcharter

My idea of unforgettable sailing holidays involve either a skippered
yacht charter or a crewed yacht charters doing the actual sailing while I lounge about with a drink in my hand. Check out 5 reasons to choose a skippered yacht holiday this summer. #yachting #sailing #sailingholidays #yachtcharter

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The Hidden Charms of Sifnos Greece Is a Well-Kept Secret

The Hidden Charms of Sifnos Greece Is a Well-Kept Secret

The Cyclades are what everyone thinks of when you think of the Greek islands – beautiful beaches and whitewashed houses where the blue sky meets the even bluer sea. Make no mistake though the most popular of the Cyclades – Mykonos, Santorini and Ios – can get very crowded during the summer. If you want to avoid the crowds but still have a picture-perfect Greek island holiday, check out the Western Cyclades.  These islands are easily accessible from the mainland by ferry. For example, the high-speed ferry runs regularly from Piraeus (the main port of Athens) and takes only 3 hours to Sifnos.

The Hidden Charms of Sifnos Greece Is a Well-Kept Secret

Sifnos is the perfect Cyclades island for luxury-loving foodies and families.

The Western Cyclades

The four islands in the Western Cyclades are Kea, Kythnos, Serifos and Sifnos.  Of these islands, Sifnos is the largest and most popular. Yet, when I say popular we are not talking the Santorini levels of tourism where the island gets saturated in the summer with tourists.  In fact, Sifnos doesn’t even have an airport (hence our honeymoon at an airport hotel would have never occurred!). The only way to reach this island is by ferry.

The Hidden Charms of Sifnos Greece Is a Well-Kept Secret

The port of Kamares in Sifnos where the ferry boats and catamarans land from Piraeus.

Why Sifnos Greece Is Perfect

Sifnos is a beautiful island with great beaches and a reputation for being a foodie paradise. The ferries from Piraeus all come into the little town of Kamares.

When you get tired of lazing in the sunshine and feel motivated to work off all that excellent food, Sifnos is known for its hiking trails.  Most of the trails are classified as either easy or moderate. Many of the trails are marked as kid-friendly and less than 5 kilometres long.

The Hidden Charms of Sifnos Greece Is a Well-Kept Secret

A traditional Greek taverna in Sifnos Greece

For a luxury vacation in Greece, look no further than the Verina group of hotels. Small and stylish the Verina hotels has three options to pick from – the clifftop Verina Astra with 7 suites, Verina Suites which has apartments by the beach and Verina Villas perfect for groups of families and friends.

The Greek luxury villa rentals at Verina Villas is located near the picture perfect village of Vathi. The sheltered harbour means a lot of boats moor here. Vathi has a sheltered sand beach with shallow water perfect for children (and a couple of tavernas for the parents to enjoy!). Some people think that Vathi is one of the best beach villages in all of Greece! Now that is a reputation worth checking out!

Sifnos is a small, quiet island perfect for enjoying the famous Greek sunshine. If you want crowds and parties, look elsewhere.  If like us, you enjoy good food and quality time spent relaxing with family, then Sifnos is the perfect Greek island for you.

The Hidden Charms of Sifnos Greece Is a Well-Kept Secret

The beautiful island of Sifnos is known for its great beaches, food, and hiking trails.

Not convinced yet?  If you would like to read more about Sifnos, check out [easyazon_link identifier=”0994933304″ locale=”US” tag=”jg20-20″]The Sifnos Chronicles: Tales from a Greek Isle by Sharon Blomfield[/easyazon_link]. She writes lyrically of the Greek isle we dream off – the Greek isle you imagine from the movie Mama Mia that might still exist.

If you feel like checking out the other islands, there are ferry connections from Sifnos to the other islands such as Santorini. I’m betting, however, that you will fall in love with Sifnos and don’t want to leave.

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Misadventures on A Picture Perfect Santorini Honeymoon

Misadventures on A Picture Perfect Santorini Honeymoon

Santorini is where we spent one week of our honeymoon.  The views are as magical as these photos show. We spent time in Athens and then flew onwards onto Santorini.  As it turned out, we and the Santorini airport would become well acquainted!

The Santorini Hotel Fiasco

We wished we had such a nice view from the hotel though.  Although I had booked a junior suite at one of the luxury hotels, I mixed up the dates.  Both my now-husband/then-fiance were working crazy hours in finance and we didn’t double check anything.  The wedding planners completely ran the wedding and the only thing left for us to plan was the honeymoon. Clearly we had no time for that either!

We only found out when the hotel called me in June and asked me if I was showing up.  Our wedding was in August.  Cue: panic.  At that late date, we had our flights booked but no where to stay in high season in Santorini.  We finally found availability at the one and only hotel that had availability:  the airport hotel.

Santorini hotel

Not your typical honeymoon hotel

So we spent our honeymoon at the Santorini airport hotel. Santorini is ranked as one of the most romantic places in the world, just maybe not its airport!  The airport runway ran alongside the hotel pool.  We realised in later years that our plane-obsessed son would have loved this hotel!  Hanging out in a pool and frequent plane sightings would be his idea of heaven.

Luckily, Santorini has a small airport and the flights are not that frequent. The room was perfectly adequate.  The hotel insisted on family-style meals though which we absolutely refused. We bailed on their meals because we did not want to spend our honeymoon having to make small talk with strangers.

On the plus side, we spent a lot of time exploring the island of Santorini in our beat-up old jeep rental because there didn’t seem to be any point in hanging out at the hotel.

The Crazy Donkey of Santorini

When I read recently that a cruise passenger had been killed by a donkey on the trail ride up the hill from the port at Thira, I was not surprised.  I had a completely crazy donkey. Or, maybe just stupid.  Someone had told this donkey that he had to hug the cliff on his way up the hill.  He would push the other donkeys and jockey his way to the right side which was nearest the wall.  Unfortunately for me, my leg was between his side and the wall.  I was wearing shorts and so had a painful scraped leg by the time I reached the top of the hill.

donkey in Oia in Greece

Sunset Skirmish at Oia

We’d heard about the sunsets at Oia and so we moseyed along to see one. Clearly we should have been prepared for the crowds but we weren’t thinking (obviously as per the hotel mishap). We wound up returning another day so that we could camp out early and get a primo spot for the sunset.

It was indeed beautiful and worth the high praise it received.  We had no problem getting a nice dinner spot after the sunset. It seems the crowds gather specifically for the sunset but then start their evening meals later.

Sunset in Santorini

Why I’d Return to Santorini

Despite these mishaps, I’d return to Santorini in a heartbeat.  It is stunningly beautiful.  We explored lots of different beaches including black and red beaches.  I’ve since seen black beaches in Tenerife and Iceland but never have I ever seen a red beach again. It’s a perfect late summer/autumn destination. We went to Santorini on our honeymoon in September. This island is also one of the best places to visit in Greece in October for a last gasp of Mediterranean sunshine as I found out in my city break to Athens.

The food was also amazing.  We found this seaside shack that served up fresh fish perfectly grilled.  We also worked our way through some of the higher-end restaurants as well, including one in the hotel where we were supposed to have stayed.

Needless to say, everyone at our wedding heard about the honeymoon hotel fiasco and we were given a lot of grief for it.  On the other hand, I’m glad we decided to sick with Santorini even after the mix-up.  It provided for a funny story and some great memories.

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picture perfect santorini in Greece

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Why I Got My Trip To Athens All Wrong

Why I Got My Trip To Athens All Wrong

Although my children were on a school holiday during the time, I did not take them with me to Athens (much to their disappointment) for a travel conference.  Instead, the children got sent off to their grandparents for a long weekend.

My husband and I decided the political situation in Athens was tenuous and we did not want our children anywhere near any rioting.  I remember the news coverage of the Greek man who set himself on fire in the middle of a square because his financial situation was so dire.  It was an impossible scenario to forget.

In retrospect, I wish I had taken my children because they would have really enjoyed a weekend city break to Athens.  Here’s why:

1. Acropolis

Children love to clamber over rocks.  At the Acropolis, there are plenty of rocks to climb and a giant hill to boot.  My children love to read the traditional Greek myths and the Percy Jackson books are also a firm favourite.  Visiting the Acropolis would make it all very real for them.

The Acropolis

2. Easy Transportation

There are these cute toy trains going around the centre of Athens.  How could any child not want to ride on this train?

Athens Toy Train

The actually city transportation is really easy, fast and cheap as well. You can also take public transportation to the nearby beaches.  As shown by our trip to Venice, any city with public transportation and a beach is bound to be a hit with my children.

Syntagma Square metro stop

3. Great Food

Greek food is very family-friendly in my opinion.  Even my fussy eater would be happy with simple yet delicious grilled meat and vegetables.

Taverna sign

4. Great Museums

Athens has a lot of interesting museums.  My absolute favourite was the Acropolis Museum.  Not only are the works of art beautiful but also the museum itself.  On the ground floor of the museum, there are clear floor panels which lets you see through to the archeological digs.  There is also a children’s activity trail to keep the young ones occupied.

Another museum I enjoyed was the Folk Art Museum.  It is small and so good for limited attention spans! On display are examples of Greek folk costumes, masks, shadow puppets and traditional toys.

Greek Mask

5. Syntagma Square and the National Gardens

Syntagma Square in front of the Houses of Parliament is great for people watching.  Between the buskers and the skateboarders, there is plenty to keep young ones occupied.   Nearby Syntagma Square, there are the National Gardens.  Along with the shaded paths and random ancient ruins, you have lots of ducks, cats and turtles.  The gardens are huge and perfect for a good run-around.

We would definitely recommend our hotel, the 5 star Hotel Grand Bretagne. Located on Syntagma Square, you can watch buskers for your evening entertainment and wake up to breakfast with a view of the Acropolis. The hotel also will store your extra bags if you wanted to take a jaunt from Athens to the Greek islands, like Santorini (which we combined with Athens for our honeymoon).

Greek Parliament

The Greek Parliament

Did I see any anti-austerity protests?  Yes, I did.  This group was protesting in front of the Greek Parliament.  The protesters were a relatively calm bunch.  Moreover, there was at least 3 riot police for every protestor.  Frankly, I’ve felt more threatened on a Friday night in Islington.

Greek protestors

The Mayor of Athens has spoken about how difficult the drop in tourism has been for his city.  Many financially strapped Greeks rely on tourist money into the country, such as the taxi drivers and the hoteliers. This money trickles down into other parts of the population – the suppliers of food or hotel linen for example.  The Mayor wanted to emphasise that his city and his country was safe, hospitable and friendly.  From my experience, I would agree with him.

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Athens is such a beautiful city… but I wish I knew a few things before visiting! Click and discover the top reasons why you need to visit Athens, Greece + a list of the best things to do in Athens and some useful Athens travel tips. #athens #greece #europetravel

Athens is such a beautiful city… but I wish I knew a few things before visiting! Click and
discover the top reasons why you need to visit Athens, Greece + a list of the best things to
do in Athens and some useful Athens travel tips. #athens #greece #europetravel

Athens is the dream city for history lovers… but there are a few things you should know before visiting Athens with kids! Check out why you need to visit Athens, Greece + a list of the best things to do in Athens and some useful Athens travel tips to visit Athens with children. #athens #greece #europetravel #kidstravel #travelwithkids

Athens is the dream city for history lovers… but there are a few things you should know
before visiting Athens with kids! Check out why you need to visit Athens, Greece + a list of
the best things to do in Athens and some useful Athens travel tips to visit Athens with
children.

 

 

 

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