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Cruising with Elena -The Manu Of The Moment

Milionaire’s Cruising In The Ionian

We have this absolutely wonderful motor yacht called Manu. She’s like something out of a James Bond movie, the perfect combination of sleek and chic with hi-tec lines that carve the blue waters like a hot knife through ouzo. I love it when people charter her, as the feedback I get is brilliant.

With four cabins that sleep up to 8 people, she’s perfect for a ‘multi-generational’ charter and recently she did just that on a cruise around the beautiful islands in the Ionian seas. The party was made up of two grandparents, their daughter and son-in-law, two young children and a nanny. Trust me – I almost applied for the job as the nanny!

Captain Nikos and Chef/Hostess Fofo (she’s never told anybody how she got the name!) welcomed the guests on board in Zakynthos, also known as Zante, where the harbour is a very short distance from the airport. The brief I had been given for the itinerary was to go off the beaten track so, once the family had embarked, settled in, and the grown-ups had enjoyed a welcome cocktail with the safety briefing – apple juice for the kids – Captain Nikos cast off and cruised round to a deserted bay for a swim.

Dinner that night was taken on board, Fofo magicking-up some simple-but-sumptuous Greek fare served al fresco on the stern. I find that guests find it more relaxing to eat on board having spent the day travelling.

Manu has a cruising speed of up to 23 knots. Captain Nikos likes to make a good run on the first day to show off Manu’s power and the passage north to Fiskardo, at the top of Kefalonia, is a good 4-hour cruise plus swim stops. The last part takes you through a beautiful channel with Kefalonia to port and the lovely island of Ithaka to starboard.  Fiskardo is known as the ‘Venetian’ village and has some lovely old traditional architecture. Originally a fishing port, the waterfront tavernas are brilliant for seafood.

The next day Manu headed around the top of Ithaka bound for the deep-water harbour in the beautiful bay at Vathy, the island’s capital. The vibe here is much more modern than Fiskardo and the night-life along the waterfront is very cosmopolitan. There are still some lovely traditional areas, some of which have been lovingly reconstructed following an earthquake in 1953.

The next port of call was Nidri on Lefkada (or Levkas), a really lovely beach resort with wonderful east-facing views across to the mountains of the mainland. This area is famous for its spectacular sunrises which, even in summer, are not that early. The island is a place of much legend and supposedly the home of the river Styx. More recently it’s also home to some excellent local wine which goes perfectly with octopus or grilled fish.

Finally, no visit to the Ionian would be complete without a circumnavigation of the island of Skorpios – a private island where Aristotle Onassis famously married Jackie Kennedy in 1968. He is buried there, but the island has passed into other hands and, rumour has it, it will be developed as a luxury resort. Actually, who cares – when you’ve chartered Manu to cruise in, you feel like a multi-millionaire all day long.