Superyacht charters in Greece
If you’re looking for charter ideas for summer 2024, Greece should be among your top candidates. And with the new Camper & Nicholsons office in Athens, the Aegean Sea is more accessible than ever.
Words: Nick Hung; Photos: Camper & Nicholsons
Elafonisos is about 100nm southwest of Athens and 120nm west of Santorini
With over 6,000 islands to choose from, Greece has been called ‘the Caribbean of Europe’. And it’s currently one of the world’s hottest spots to charter, with about a quarter of global superyacht charters starting, ending or cruising in Greece, according to Camper & Nicholsons.
Julien Solari, Camper & Nicholsons’ Chief Commercial Officer Asia, says: “Greece is one of the very best destination for charterers from all over the world. From the iconic islands of Mykonos and Santorini in the amazing Cyclades to the marvellous and historical city of Athens, this country offers incredible scenery and experiences for charterers.
“We’ve witnessed lots of interest from our clients in Asia for this destination. Many booked charters last summer and we’re already booking yachts for summer 2024.”
Santorini (pictured) and Mykonos are the most famous of the Cyclades islands
To cater to a growing global demand for charters and local appetite for yachts, Camper & Nicholsons has opened a new office in Athens headed by Christos Chatzigiakoumis, the company’s Managing Director for Greece, who says the country’s coastline has a mix of ancient and modern.
“You might spend your day on a remote beach with transparent waters, have a barbecue on shore, then a few hours later be at an extravagant beach bar surrounded by celebrities,” he explains.
Interestingly, the new Athens bureau is located on the old international airport site. Thirty thousand square metres of tarmac, together with the concrete terminal hall, are currently being upcycled into Europe’s largest urban park – surpassing London’s Hyde Park – with 31,000 native trees and three million indigenous plants.
Eratosthenes, a Swan 112, is among Camper & Nicholsons’ Greece-based charter yachts
Hellenikon Metropolitan Park will reopen with 400 marina berths in 2025. “It proves Athens is a key entertainment hub for luxury travellers and international yachtsmen,” Chatzigiakoumis says. “The Hellenikon project’s 10,000 new residences will give a new dimension to Greek yachting by generating a new clientele.”
The main charter season is from May until the end of October, when “it’s still beautiful in southern destinations like Santorini,” according to Sylvia Katsamaki, Charter Manager and Charter Broker at Camper & Nicholsons.
“Greece offers a unique charter experience from geographical and cultural perspectives,” she says. “One aim of our new office is to make Athens a principal Mediterranean charter hub. The Athens bureau can organise helicopter tours over the Acropolis, down to Cape Sounion and the Temple of Poseidon, and across to the Greek islands. There are many touch-and-go helipads around Greece.”
CIRCLING THE CYCLADES
Highlights are a vivid mix of ancient and modern. Take Mykonos, which swells with a summer population of 50,000. The beach club Scorpios looks like a Mayan temple dedicated to hedonistic pleasure. On summer evenings, beach fires usher shamanic rituals, bouzouki beats and DJ sets.
The stunning Kolona Beach on Kythnos about 50nm southeast of Athens
At midnight, alfresco club Astra throbs with hands-in-the-air tunes under swaying palms. At dawn, yoga starts with a sun salutation above the island’s sugar cube houses. Mykonos has barely slept since Herodotus wrote about it in 430 BCE.
Too intense? Sail on to Delos, 10 minutes away. One of the ancient world’s most sacred islands has a population of just 14. The island birthplace of Apollo and Artemis features a Doric temple, a Dionysian theatre and a pre-Christian synagogue. In Greece, there’s something for every age and interest. And all within a few nautical miles.
Particularly popular for charters are the 220 islands of the Cyclades, which translates as ‘circle’, enabling guests to experience destinations like Mykonos, Amorgos and Santorini in one sun-kissed loop.
Stunning Greek architecture along the Elafonisos coast
Greece’s first cookbook author was born on Sifnos. On the island, guests can eat mastelo, an only munch-here stew featuring goat, red wine, dill and vine twigs. Lunches can be walked off on the Sifnos Trails. “In the Cyclades, we’ve seen a trend for live-like-a-local activities,” Katsamaki says.
DIVING IN THE SPORADES
One classic Aegean sight has only just opened – after 2,500 years. The Peristera shipwreck was discovered by fisherman Dimitris Mavrikis in 19m of gin-clear ocean in the Sporades islands, north of Athens.
The site rewrites history by proving that vessels could carry 150 tonnes of luxurious cargo – in this case black-glazed bowls, lavish tableware and 4,200 amphoras of wine – before the Roman (or indeed superyacht) age.
Guests can now dive what has been dubbed “the Parthenon of shipwrecks”. Camper & Nicholsons charter brokers can liaise with a local dive team to arrange the descent.
As this scuba site is governed by Greece’s Department of Maritime Antiquities, a maximum of eight divers can scour the artefacts peppered on the Poseidon grass during strict time slots. They may not be alone. The Peristera shipwreck sits within the Alonissos Marine Park, a watery thoroughfare for sperm whales, striped dolphins and rare Mediterranean monk seals.
The shipwreck is not the only treasure in the 24 islands of the Sporades, which translates as ‘sporadic’, as they are strewn haphazardly like emerald mountains on an indigo carpet. Only four of the islands – Skiathos, Skopelos, Alonissos and Skyros – are inhabited. On Skiathos beaches like Agia Paraskevi, you’re more likely to see a loggerhead turtle than another superyacht.
Alfresco dining is always a pleasure in Greece
“It’s little wonder that more yachts are being chartered and purchased for Aegean cruising than ever before,” says Chatzigiakoumis, who believes several variables led to the recent surge. He points out the growing professionalism of Greek crews, the reinvention of Greece as a high-net-worth tourism hub, and rising wealth across the Aegean.
“All of this culminates in a superyacht metamorphosis. It makes me believe Greece can lure an increasing number of new buyers, charterers and customers.”
YACHTS FOR CHARTER
Camper & Nicholsons has a diverse range of yachts for charter in the Mediterranean and we highlight five recommended for exploring Greece. Ranging from €58,000 per week to €1,200,000 per week, all are managed by the Athens office and include three based in the country.
The 88m Project X was built in Greece by Golden Yachts and delivered in 2022
The new 88m Project X is a lavish option and although it only charters in Greece on request, it holds a special local connection as it was built in the country by Golden Yachts and only launched last year when it was a star at the Monaco Yacht Show. Looked after by 28 crew, the yacht offers nine cabins for up to 12 guests including a master suite facing a private forward deck with jacuzzi.
Outdoor attractions include a beach club with fold-down balconies and a 7.5m-long swimming pool on the aft main deck, where an outdoor cinema can be set up. The sun deck has a well-equipped gym and a jacuzzi, while guests can also relax in a wellness suite with spa, Hammam, Finnish sauna and beauty salon.
Project X is among the most luxurious ways of exploring the islands
The vast saloon includes a self-playing piano and a taste of the Greek artwork seen throughout the yacht. The formal dining room includes a long, 16-seat table and vast wine ‘fridge’, while other indoor attractions include a triple-height glass atrium and a large cylinder lift linking all the decks.
The yacht is served by four tenders – a 10m limousine, 9m classic chase boat and two 6.25m sport RIBs – while toys include four Sea-Doo jet-skis, three Seabobs, a Fliteboard, four kayaks, two paddleboards, wakeboards, water-skis, waterslide, net pool, towable inflatables, plus diving and fishing equipment. There are even eight bikes for trips on land.
Meamima is a 59m six-cabin Benetti with two tenders, two jet-skis, Seabobs and waterslide
Meamina, meanwhile, is a 59m Benetti tri-deck with 15 crew and offers accommodation for up to 12 guests in six cabins led by a split-level, full-beam master suite with a study. The VIP is on the bridge deck. The main saloon includes a piano, while meals can be enjoyed in the formal indoor dining area, alfresco on the aft upper deck or even on the sun deck.
The yacht has a child-friendly set-up, while toys include a 9m RIB, 7.4m Pascoe tender, two Sea-Doo jet-skis, Seabobs and paddleboards. However, the crowd favourite may be the waterslide that starts from the sun deck, where other attractions include an inviting Jacuzzi and a gym.
The 50m, six-cabin La Pellegrina 1 is among Camper & Nicholsons’ charter fleet
The 50m Couach La Pellegrina 1 was recently purchased by a Greek owner and will be based in Greece. Managed by a crew of 10, the sleek tri-deck has six guest cabins with marble en-suite bathrooms. The master suite on the bridge deck even has a private deck and gym equipment, while the VIP is forward on the main deck.
Outdoor areas include a stunning sun deck with a central jacuzzi, sunpads and sofas, as well as a covered dining area. Guests can also dine indoors or outdoors on the main deck.
Sevens S, a Greece-based Custom Line with five cabins
Seven S, also based in Greece, is a 30m Custom Line motor yacht maintained by a full-time, professional crew of five. Fresh from a 2021 refit, the yacht offers accommodation for up to 12 guests in five en-suite cabins comprising a main-deck master suite, two doubles and two twins with an extra Pullman berth. The light, elegant saloon includes an eight-seat dining table, while the aft cockpit offers alfresco dining.
The flybridge also offers covered dining as well as sunpads and a crane that helps deploy some of the water toys, which include a Williams SportJet 435 tender, jet-ski, Seabobs, kayaks, paddleboards, water-skis, kneeboard, wakeboard and snorkelling equipment. There’s also a floating platform and towable inflatables.
The 34m Eratosthenes offers a stunning way of sailing the islands
If you’re looking for a sailing yacht, the 34m Eratosthenes is a Greece-based Swan 112 that has benefited from a 2021 refit at the Nautor Swan shipyard in Finland. The clean aft deck can be dressed in sunpads and outdoor furniture, while the protected cockpit has four sides of seating and two foldable tables. Water toys include paddleboards, a kayak, water-skis and fishing tackle.
The bright interior features the stunning woodwork the Finnish shipyard is known for and has a saloon and dining area on separate levels. There’s a full-beam master suite and two twin cabins with a Pullman, plus accommodation for six crew.
Katsamaki says: “If you love sailing and charter a yacht like Eratosthenes, you get an unforgettable sailing experience around the Aegean Sea to the east or Ionian Islands to the west. You can benefit from the Greek winds yet enjoy sheltered bays everywhere. If you charter a motor yacht, you can easily do island hoping and wake up in a different place every morning.
“For me, Greece is the definition of summer and there’s no better way to experience it than cruising around the islands on a yacht. There are hundreds of islands to visit, many different route options and mainland attractions people shouldn’t miss. And if you charter once, you’ll want to come back again and again.”