Greece has around 6,000 islands — though the precise number depends on when an island becomes a mere islet or just a large rock — of which only 227 are inhabited. This means that there are hundreds of secluded coves and beaches, accessible only to those with a private yacht. Having your own boat also enables you to visit small picturesque ports, far from cruise ships and tourist crowds. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has also provided an incentive to charter a yacht, as it enables travelers to enjoy the security of a self-contained environment.
Personally, I prefer to explore the Aegean archipelago aboard a sailboat, imagining a distant kinship with the wanderings of Odysseus, though I realize that I am in a minority. Motor yachts are invariably more spacious and comfortable, as well as not being subject to the vagaries of the wind, especially the meltemi, which, in July and August, is sometimes sufficiently strong to confine sailors to port for several days at a time.
Andrew Harper Travel works with longstanding partner All Yachts Worldwide, based in Fort Lauderdale, which has an extensive portfolio of vessels operating out of Piraeus, the port of Athens. These range from Zen, an 88-foot motor yacht with a crew of five and accommodations for nine passengers, and Souraya, a 125-foot vessel with a crew of eight and cabins for 12 guests, to impressive craft such as Serenity, a 236-foot superyacht with a crew of 30 and room for 28 travelers. All such vessels come with tenders, Jet Skis, water skis, kayaks, paddleboards, wakeboards and snorkeling equipment.
Companies are now required to thoroughly disinfect boats between charters in order to obtain a certificate of decontamination. As you would expect, enhanced daily cleaning procedures have been put in place, and provisions are handled with extreme care in order to safeguard the health of those on board.
From Piraeus, it takes only an hour or so to reach the Saronic Islands — Salamis, Aegina, Agistri and Poros — while the charming Peloponnesian islands of Hydra and Spetses are just a little farther to the south. However, many visitors to Greece opt for a weeklong itinerary among the Cyclades, a journey that will likely take them to around 10 islands. Some of these are crowded in high season and offer nightlife calculated to appeal to a younger crowd (Mykonos, Ios and Santorini), while others are peaceful and unspoiled (Sifnos, Serifos and Kythnos). Longer trips, of two weeks or more, may well include time spent cruising among the islands of the Dodecanese, such as Patmos, Kos, Leros, Tilos and Symi, which extend from close to the coast of Turkey to Karpathos, a remote island off the northeast coast of Crete.