With over 200 islands to explore, the best way to discover the Cyclades is by boat. A private charter allows you the flexibility to explore as you please, at your own pace. Stop off at waterside taverns, marvel at the ruins of Ancient Greece or anchor at some of the most luxurious islands or explore the nightlife of the Mediterranean.
The yacht charter season in Greece starts from the end of April and ends in late October.
Yacht charters can be bareboat, skippered or crewed:
- Bareboat is chartering the yacht, no skipper or crew included, as you may possess the requisite yacht master certification and experience
- Skippered is when a skipper is hired for the yacht charter, who only provides navigation services (no cooking, bedding etc.)
- Crewed yacht charters are the most comfortable and expensive, where a skipper, a hostess/cook (as well as an optional deck hand) is hired
There are two yacht options are available – Monohulls and Multihulls (Catamarans).
Sailing yachts for charters range anywhere from 30" to 60". Bigger yachts are also available and are only offered as crewed yacht charters which come at a larger supplement. Monohulls almost invariably feature 3 cabins and 1 WC (up to 38"), 3 cabins and 2 WC (up to 42"), 4 cabins and 2 WC (up to 45"), 4 cabins and 3-4 WC (up to 49"), while yachts between 48" and 60" can have 4-6 cabins and 4-5 WC, with or without a humble skipper/crew cabin.
It is a legal requirement that a skipper and co-skipper must be with the boat. The skipper must be certified but the co-skipper can be anyone with some sea experience, even the hostess. A chartered catamaran with skipper cannot be left unattended (without a skipper).
The first 3-4 weeks of August are high season throughout Greece, receiving both domestic and international tourists.
Most yacht charters in Greece begin and end on a Saturday. You would disembark at 09:00 a.m. Saturday, the time being the universal standard in Greek yacht charters, allowing for the boat to be prepared for its consecutive journey. It is important to note that the rule is that although you disembark by 09:00 a.m. on the day the charter ends, you need to be at the disembarkation port before sundown of the previous evening.
Climate in peak season (July/Aug) around Cyclades islands
The weather is warmest during July and August – and can reach up to 42 degrees Celsius – but being out in the sea on a yacht cools things down by about 3-5 degrees. From June to September, the sun shines nearly always, with the exception of rare short-lived rain spells. It should be noted that there is a recurring meteorological phenomenon called “Meltemi", characterized by strong northerly winds, most prominent in the ever popular Cyclades islands complex. It typically lasts for 3-4 weeks starting any time from the 15th of July to the 10th of August.
You bear the cost of provisions, which extends beyond yourself to daily meals and beverages for the staff onboard. Meal plans and allergies may be discussed with the hostess which will allow you to have some flexibility and opportunities to sample Greek delicacies and dishes.
It is common for yachts to offer internet at an extra charge. Typically this would be wireless 2G/Edge/3G/HSPA modem/router to which one can connect to via Wi-Fiwith their device. The average cost is €80 for 5GB-8GB of data.
Weekly Bareboat Charter Rates start from €5,000 to €13,000 excluding fees for skipper, host, food, internet, petrol, bond, shore excursions.
Charter costs will vary, based on a number of factors which include the age and quality of the boat. For a quote, please refer to the requirements listed below.
Please Note: As this is a private charter where clients are able to customize their itinerary, quotes will vary and require the following information:
- Area of sailing (e.g. Cyclades, ArgoSaronic, Ionian Sea, Northern Aegean, Sporades, Dodecanese etc.)
- Number of guests aboard
- Bareboat, skippered or crewed yacht charter
- Monohull or Multihulls (Catamarans)
- Travel dates
Typically, the cheapest chartered yacht rates would be in late-April, and slightly increasing towards the end of May and early June. Rates would progressively become higher as demand peaks between June and August, with August being the most costly. Clients must also factor in fuel costs and consumption, dependent on a multitude of factors – being traveling distance and weather. Under ordinary circumstances, it can be expected that 600 litres will be enough for at least two weeks, costing approximately 900 euros. It is standard policy in the yacht charter industry for the client to receive the boat with full diesel tanks (catamarans have two engines) and to refuel it at the end of their journey at their own cost.
One-way journeys in August are not recommended, and are not typically offered, as shipowners prefer not to have convoluted charter plans. It is recommended that clients take a charter from Athens, as it allows for a larger selection of yachts at competitive rates.
The most popular charter is a return trip from Athens to Cyclades Islands. A charter of 2 – 4 weeks is recommended for the best Greek Island holiday.
I chartered a catamaran in summer 2018 for three weeks, sailing the Cyclades. The most important lesson I learned:
Weather plays the most important part of your holiday. If it’s bad (raining, windy) your boat may not sail till it’s calmer..
Your skipper’s goal is ALWAYS going back to base ON TIME.. if he has any doubt the weather will stop him from returning on time, he will change your planned itinerary.. he will NOT take any risk of not disembarking on time.
Your itinerary should position you at the nearest island at least 1-2 days before sailing to the disembarkation port.
My favorite islands in the Cyclades are:
Milos, Mykonos, Santorini (Thera), Naxos, Ios
Sifnos is great for shopping the ceramic arts, and Kythnos for experiencing hot spring
by Tina Tong