Parthenon of Athens at dusk time, Greece

Cruising with Elena

This year, Elena made an Abba fan’s dream come true!

MAMA MIA, WHAT A CRUISE!

Since the Mama Mia movies, I’ve had a lot of clients wanting to charter a yacht with an itinerary that calls at Skopelos – the Greek island where the films were shot on location. It’s located in the Northern Sporades islands, more or less halfway between Athens and Greece`s second largest city Thessaloniki. It’s a beautiful and picturesque place, relatively undiscovered by tourism until recent years. With a population of less than 5,000 it’s still very much authentic Greece and you can only reach it by boat.

So, when a new client, Rupert, called saying his wife Katharine was a massive Abba fan and he’d promised to take her to visit, I knew exactly how to help. The thing is that it’s a bit off the beaten track, so I needed to find out where else he wanted to go, what sort of yacht was he looking for and what other arrangements did he require?

It was just him and Katharine travelling, along with their young children. He was used to service of the highest quality, he had a good budget, and he wanted a holiday where he and his wife could really relax with brilliant food and wonderful service. I immediately thought of a vessel called Absolute King – a lovely 100-foot yacht with superb levels of creature comfort and a private Chef called Markos whose food I could eat all day long (which would be very dangerous for my figure!)

Apart from insisting on Skopelos, Rupert and Katharine were happy to leave the itinerary for me to suggest and also impressed by our philosophy of sustainable cruising and travel. I always like to talk to guests about our vision for the sea and the efforts we are making as a business to maintain the welfare of our beaches, shorelines and marine life. It took no time for him go ahead and book.

Read here about our vision of sustainability in the yachting industry

First though he wanted to stay 3 nights in Athens to see some of the classic sights. Not many people know about the Athenian Riviera – a stretch of wonderful beaches that run from the south Athens suburbs straight along to Cape Sounion. I found him a 5 star hotel about a 30-minute taxi ride from the center of the city and also booked him onto a Classic Athens discovery tour and a day trip to visit Delphi with my friends at Explore Greece Holidays.

The cruise started at Marina Zeas, a short cab ride from the hotel, with a first stop under the Temple of Poseidon at Cape Sounion. I always make sure the Captain stops for a photo-call as it’s one of the most photographed places in Greece. As Absolute King carries a jet ski most guests can’t resist a quick whizz around the bay.

The next port of call was Skiathos, a beautiful harbor surrounded by whitewashed houses with colourful flowers in the alleyways. There are some excellent tavernas here and guests normally choose to dine ashore. The following day’s itinerary called for a stop at a beautiful beach called Koukounaries Bay. I had planned for just an afternoon there, but Rupert liked it so much (well, it really is idyllic) that he decided to stay overnight and spend the next morning there too – that’s the beauty of a charter, you can stop and go when you please.

Days 4 and 5 were spent on Skopelos. There is a great Mama Mia Tour that shows lots of the film locations, so I’d naturally booked that for them. The island’s capital, Patitiri, is just about as Greek as it gets and you simply have to visit to sit and people-watch over a cold beer or glass of local wine.

The remainder of the itinerary was designed to be completely off the beaten track. First the tiny island of Kyra Panagia, next the turquoise waters of Alonnisos, then a cruise between Evia and mainland Greece. During this passage, from habit, the captain regales his guests with the legend of ‘The 300’ – where Spartan warriors fought the battle of Thermopylae against the Persian army of Xerxes. From there the final beat is via the untouched Petalious islands back to Marina Zea.

I always contact guests upon their return to see how they enjoyed their charter and see if there is anything else we should be doing to make their experience even better. Rupert reported that the itinerary was exactly what they had hoped for and that he had particularly been blown away by the food and service.

I must make a dinner date to visit Absolute King next time she’s in port!

If you would like Elena to organize your yacht charter and itinerary email elena@greeceyahctscharters.com