Sailing the Cyclades in two mega yachts
Back in the Aegean Sea! My wife, my daughter and I were invited to cruise the Cyclades Islands on two mega yachts.
Thanks to the fact that Variety Cruises’ yachts are “small”, compared to the typical giants the traditional cruise lines use, we were able to dock in smaller and lesser known but wonderful ports.
First we spent a couple of days in Athens, at the very nice and chic Athens Capital Center hotel, with a perfect view of the Acropolis from its rooftop swimming pool, located at the heart of Kolonaki, the most elegant area of Athens, next to the historical and picturesque Plaka neighborhoods and just a short stroll away from Monastiraki’s traditional flea market, and Voukourestiou high-end street. Photos here.
On Friday, August 5th, we boarded the Galileo in Marina Zeas (Piraeus-Athens), right next to the Olympiacos soccer club’s HQ. It’s a 47m/157ft motor sailer with a crew of 18 and 24 cabins. Cruising at 11 knots in old fashion wooden sailboat style, we visited the following ports of call:
- Poros (Πόρος), in the Saronic Gulf, is in fact two islands (the larger and forested Kalavria with nice beaches, and smaller Sferia where Poros town is located). We had an evening stroll in the picturesque town, and got to enjoy some of the boat living vibe you can feel at the port and the first of many spectacular sunsets. Photos here.
- Poliegos (Polyaigos) and Folegandros (Φολέγανδρος) - The next morning, on the way to Folegrandros, we stopped at the largest uninhabited island in the Aegean: Poliegos, the Island of Goats. The dinghy took us straight to the beach. The cliffs, caves and monk seals (which we did not see at the Galakteri cave, as it was too early or late in the season) are great, but the transparent turquoise waters are hypnotic. You can’t stop looking at them. After some walks, kayaking, and SUP, we departed for Folegandros, where we saw the sunset on Chora’s clifftop, and had dinner in one of their many open terrace restaurants. Photos here.
- Santorini - Sunday August 7th we returned to Santorini. Leaving the yacht ealry in the morning to avoid the long lines at the cable car, we rode it up to Fira, took a taxi, and went to Oia, were we took pictures and walked around a bit. Then we took the bus back to Fira and had a surprisingly good and affordable lunch at Arcobaleno Sunset Cafe Bar, with great service and incredible views. After going back to the yacht to nap and change, in the evening we charted a catamaran to sail around the caldera and the volcano, take us to the white and red beaches, swim at the hotsprings, and watch the amazing sunset while dining on excellent shrimp. What a day! Photos here.
- Paros - Parikia and Naoussa - The next day we sailed to Paros, the largest of the Cyclades Islands. First we had lunch at the Parikia port, by the sea. Then, after visiting the Panagia Ekatondapyliani, one of the most important Byzantine monuments still standing in Greece, and the Venetian castle (fortified inner neighborhood) of Kastro, we went to Naoussa. What a precious and picturesque town! We ended the day with some traditional folklore dancers performing on the yacht’s upper deck at sunset. Photos here.
- Mykonos - On Tuesday we sailed to Delos, which we skipped as we had visited it recently, and then to Mykonos. Since my wife had work to do, she stayed in the stateroom while my daughter and I rented a quad and took off. We strolled around Mykonos town, had lunch by the sea at Sunset Taverna, where Petros the pink pelican visited us at our table, then rode to Agois Ioannis beach, and went clubbing and dancing (not me) at Paranga beach. To end the day, we picked up my wife and had dinner at Compass Mykonos right in front of our yacht. Photos here.
- Syros - The next day we disembarked the Galileo in Syros, and boarded the Voyager, a much more modern 68m/223ft mega yacht with a crew of 32 and 36 cabins. Syros is the capital of the Cyclades. After settling in our cabins, we went to Ermoupolis, took a taxi to Ano Syros, strolled through its winding and steep little streets (we loved the Rosa Negra store), then went back to Ermoupolis where we had an excellent and affordable lunch at Stin Ithaki tou (Ai Στην Ιθάκη του Αή), after which my wife and my daughter went back to their cabins, and I took the camera to capture the beauty of the Vaporia neighborhood. We ended the day with a captain’s farewell dinner. Photos here.
- Hydra - our last port of call before ending the cruise in Athens. Cruising at 13 knots we sailed to Παραλία στο Τζέμι where we anchored for breakfast and a dive from the yacht. The water was perfect, and kayaking was challenging with the yacht swinging and creating currents. Then the dinghy took us to Hydra, where we enjoyed a stroll through the beautiful town and met many of its cats. Photos here.
The next day we disembarked in Athens, and flew back home. It was a very enjoyable sailing experience, and we can wait to be back on the sea!