Captains Discuss Itineraries at the Seminar, EMMYS 2024, Poros

Saturday, April 27, 2024

We recently attended the EMMYS (East Mediterranean Multihull and Yacht Charter Show) in Poros and MEDYS (Mediterranean Yacht Show) 2024 in Poros and Nafplion, Greece. During these events, we explored over a hundred yachts and met their captains and crews. One question we repeatedly asked was, ‘Where is your favorite place to take a charter?’

This query was inspired by a discussion at the Captains’ Seminar on Saturday, April 27th, where a panel of five seasoned captains discussed Greek charter itineraries and answered questions from brokers. Their message was clear: it’s time to broaden the horizons beyond the famed islands of Mykonos and Santorini.

The concerns raised during the seminar were compelling. Captain of Catamaran Alexandra II, Evan Hadjicostas. gave his insights on the drawbacks of the popular destinations, labeling Mykonos and Santorini as “crowded, expensive, and far from ideal for yachting.” The whole panel agreed on this. Challenges such as the persistent Meltemi winds, which can reach force 8-9 during summer, and the deep waters around Santorini make the island less accommodating for yachts. The captains also highlighted the unpredictability of moorings, which work on a ‘first come, first serve’ basis in Greece, and the impact of adverse weather, which can disrupt even well-planned activities like upscale dining reservations.

Captains Seminar at the EMMYS (East Mediterranean Multihull & Yacht Charter Show) in Poros 2024

The captains emphasized the importance of guest awareness and flexibility. Captain Christos Loukatos of Catamaran White Caps noted that while visits to high-demand locations are possible under favorable conditions, guests should be ready for last-minute changes due to weather conditions, which can often only be predicted about a week in advance.

But the purpose of the seminar was not just to highlight the challenges that come with chartering in Greece’s windiest region but to share ideas and insights into the fantastic places Greece has to offer, especially those that are not found in your typical travel brochure.

Throughout the discussions, the captains shared their personal favorite destinations, drawing from their many years of experience sailing around Greece and exploring also the less-talked-about Greek islands. Their firsthand knowledge presents a treasure trove of enchanting alternatives, free from the congestion of the more tourist-heavy islands.

The captains’ advocacy for pushing other locales is about more than avoiding logistical hassles; it’s about enriching the charter experience with diverse and lesser-hyped spots. As the yachting community looks to the future, the emphasis is on discovering these hidden gems, ensuring guests have the most memorable and comfortable experiences on the Greek seas.

Captains’ Tips

  • Stay Flexible: Remember, the weather sets our course. It’s always wise to have an adaptable itinerary when sailing.
  • Ease into Sailing: If you’re new to charters, consider an itinerary closer to Athens. The shorter distances between the stunning islands not only minimize the effects of weather but also allow for more time to explore ashore.
  • Value Your Captain’s Insight: Your captain is your best guide to the real Greece. Their recommendations can lead you to hidden gems and the most memorable experiences.
  • Optimize Your Santorini Visit: To truly capture the magic of Santorini, consider staying in a hotel before or after your charter. You’ll enjoy the spectacular views without any of the sea’s unpredictability.
  • Look Beyond the Usual: While Mykonos and Santorini are stunning, our guests often find themselves most enchanted by other, less-hyped destinations.

The following list of Greek yacht charter destinations is based on discussions from the Captains’ Seminar in Poros 2024 and feedback from Captains who attended the EMMYS and MEDYS boat shows. These locations are ranked by the number of recommendations they received from the Captains, with number one being the most favored. Captains were asked why they liked these spots, the highlights, available activities for guests, accessibility of the islands, and feedback from previous charters.

CAPTAINS’ TOP PICKS

Top 10 Destinations in the Cyclades for Yacht Charters 2024

Naxos Yacht Charter Greece
Koufonisia Greek Yacht Chartere

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10. Kythnos – Iconic Double Bay & Hotsprings

Kythnos was one of the first islands mentioned at the captains’ seminar and one of the Cyclades islands closest to Athens. This under-the-radar Greek island is known for its chill vibe and stunning spots like Kolona Beach, also known as Double Bay – one of Greece’s most unique beaches. Kolona Beach features a narrow strip of sand that splits the sea into two beautiful bays—perfect for a day of sunbathing and swimming.

View of Kolona Beach on Kythnos, featuring a narrow isthmus of golden sand flanked by azure waters with yachts moored on both sides under a clear blue sky.
The isthmus of Kolona Beach, also known as Double Bay, on Kythnos.

Captain of Catamaran Alexandra II, Evan Hadjicostasof, one of the panelists at the Poros Boat Show Seminar, highlighted the allure of Kythnos, noting its natural hot springs in Loutra as a key attraction. The island features two hot springs, one at about 35 degrees Celsius and the other at around 52 degrees, providing a mineral-rich natural spa experience that is very popular with guests seeking rejuvenation after a day of exploration.

Kythnos isn’t just about relaxation; it’s also rich in history with numerous archaeological sites and offers a rugged landscape ideal for hiking. Moreover, the island’s traditional Greek towns offer a genuine glimpse into local life. These quaint, less touristy towns present an authentic experience that deeply resonates with visitors wanting to experience real Greece.

Kythnos Greece Yacht Charters
Kythnos, Greece

9. Antiparos – Hollywood’s Favorite Greek Island

Antiparos is a top pick for a yacht charter. It’s just a quick trip from the bigger and busier Paros, also included in this list, yet it still manages to stay pretty quiet on the tourism front. Antiparos is a totally underrated and undisturbed paradise with low-key luxury, which is also why Hollywood star Tom Hanks has chosen this island for his summer home.

But Tom Hanks is not the only Hollywood star who has fallen in love with Antiparos. Celebs like Nia Vardalos, Whoopi Goldberg, and Matthew McConaughey have all been spotted kicking back and enjoying its relaxed vibe. The island has even seen its fair share of A-list gatherings, like the time Jeff Bezos and Anderson Cooper showed up for a dinner hosted by Barry Diller and Diane von Furstenberg. More recently, Eva Mendes and Ryan Gosling were seen just hanging out here with their kids.

But it is not for its Hollywood stars that Captain of Catamaran Kimata, Stavros Dritsas, likes it, but because it is a small island with a big charm that checks all the boxes for a true Greek experience: It offers clear waters and stunning beaches, ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and just soaking up the sun. The main town is known for its traditional Cycladic architecture, with narrow, winding streets lined with white-washed houses, vibrant bougainvillea, and trendy boutiques and eateries. As night falls, the town comes alive with a variety of dining and nightlife options, providing a cozy yet vibrant evening scene.

Stalactites seen in the cave of Antiparos in Greece
A must-visit attraction on the island is the amazing Cave of Antiparos, which is full of beautiful stalactites and stalagmites and has more than 400 steps descending into the cave.
Located in the Chora on Antiparos, Vassilenas Blue proposes modern Greek cuisine dishes. From 2022, it is the island outpost of the highly acclaimed and award-winning Vassilenas restaurant of Athens, established in 1920. They are both run by the third-generation owners of the same family. They promise to bring to the island the same high-quality flavors and exquisite service for which they have been so praised in Athens.

DANIEL ASMUS

OWNER, CHARTER BROKER, ACTIVE CYBA MEMBER, IYBA, ECPY

daniel@dmayachting.com

MARTINA ASMUS

OWNER, CHARTER BROKER, ACTIVE CYBA MEMBER, IYBA, ECPY

martina@dmayachting.com

YANNA PRISTAS

SENIOR CHARTER BROKER, ASSOCIATE CYBA MEMBER

yanna.pristas@dmayachting.com

CHRIS DE KOCK

CHARTER BROKER

chris@dmayachting.com

WILLIAM MC NALLY

CHARTER BROKER

william@dmayachting.com

MARCELLE HAILWAX

CHARTER BROKER

marcelle@dmayachting.com

SARAH KLISCHE

CHARTER BROKER

sarah.klische@dmayachting.com

NADJA ASMUS

CHARTER BROKER

nadja@dmayachting.com

LOUIS LAMPRELL

CHARTER BROKER

louis@dmayachting.com

ANDREA PRISTAS

CHARTER BROKER

andrea.pristas@dmayachting.com

ALEX HAILWAX

CHARTER BROKER

alex@dmayachting.com

MO PRISTAS

CHARTER BROKER

mo@dmayachting.com

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8. Sifnos – The Traditional Pottery Island

Featured in Vogue’s ’11 Best Places in the World to Travel 2024 & National Geographic’s ’10 Best Destinations in the World 2012′

Apart from being a stunning island, Sifnos is renowned for its rich pottery tradition—a craft deeply rooted in its culture. This island is a favorite among captains and guests alike, especially for those interested in experiencing a hands-on piece of Greek heritage. Captain Evan of Alexandra II highlights how much his guests, particularly families with kids, enjoy taking pottery classes here. It’s not only a fun and creative way to spend the day, but it also allows guests to take a piece of Sifnos home with them.

View of the harbor, Livadi village and Sifnos island in the distance from Chora, Serifos island in Greece.

Beyond the pottery, Sifnos offers a tranquil escape with its charming towns and beautiful landscapes, making it a top pick for a more laid-back and culturally enriching yacht charter experience.

Pottery of Sifnos
Pottery of Sifnos

7. Syros – The Island of Ancient Rock Engravings

Syros emerged as quite a compelling destination during the captains’ seminar, distinguished not only by its cultural richness but also by its significant historical artifacts, including ancient rock engravings dating back to around 2500 to 2000 BC, during the early Cycladic period.

Ermoupoli - town of Hermes, on the island of Syros. On a yacht charter, you'll more likely stay in one of it's numerous "private" bays - ideal for watersports.

These engravings, also known as petroglyphs, feature simple geometric shapes, symbols, and images of ships. They were likely made for navigation purposes or as part of religious rituals. These carvings provide a glimpse into the lives of ancient civilizations in the Cyclades, showing their connection to the sea and their religious practices. They are a key attraction for anyone interested in the deep history of the region.

Don’t Miss:

  • Ermoupoli: The capital features stunning neoclassical architecture and is home to the elegant Apollon Theater, inspired by Milan’s La Scala.
  • Ancient Rock Engravings: Found around Chalandriani, these petroglyphs date back to the early Cycladic period and offer insights into ancient maritime and religious practices.
  • Beaches: Galissas and Kini beaches are known for their serene environments, ideal for relaxation and enjoying the natural beauty of the island.
  • Church of Saint Nicholas: A major architectural and spiritual landmark, showcasing the religious heritage of Syros.

Ermoupoli, the capital of Syros, is celebrated for its historical and architectural significance within the Cyclades. The city is adorned with well-preserved neoclassical buildings and the elegant Apollon Theater, which draws inspiration from Milan’s La Scala and serves as a cultural beacon. The city, along with the serene beaches of Galissas and Kini, and the majestic Church of Saint Nicholas, enriches Syros’ cultural and spiritual landscape.

6. Naxos – The Breadbasket of Greece

If you want a taste of real Greece, this is your island. Often referred to as the ‘Breadbasket’ of Greece, Naxos is one of the region’s most fertile islands and an agricultural gem. Olives, grapes, figs, and citrus fruit are just some of the produce growing on this island.

As the largest island in the Cyclades, Naxos is home to Mount Zeus, the tallest peak in the archipelago and the legendary birthplace of Zeus, king of the Greek gods.

Naxos Yacht Charter Greece
Naxos, the up and coming island that's gaining popularity as Santorini and Mykonos become saturated with travelers. In our side story, we'll be following the story of Theseus, son of Aegeus, who killed the Minotaur. It is on Naxos where Theseus lost the love of Ariadne, who helped him in the Labytinth. It is here that Ariadne found love of another... The story goes backwards, pay attention.

The Iconic Portara 

Another major attraction of Naxos is the Portara or the Great Door. This massive marble gateway is the remains of an unfinished temple dedicated to Apollo, which dates back to the 6th century BC. It stands on the islet of Palatia, which is connected to Naxos Town by a causeway. The Portara has become an iconic symbol of Naxos and is especially famous for its stunning views during sunset. The structure frames the setting sun perfectly during certain times of the year, making it a popular spot for both photographers and visitors looking to capture a quintessential Greek sunset.

White sculpture of Theseus killing the Minotaur
Theseus killing the Minotaur
The legend of the Portara of tells of Theseus and his journey back to Athens after killing the Minotaur. According to the myth, Theseus had agreed with his father, King Aegeus of Athens, that if he were successful in his mission to kill the Minotaur, he would change the black sails of his ship to white as a signal of his victory upon returning. This was to be a sign that he was returning home alive. However, in his grief at leaving Ariadne behind on Naxos, Theseus forgot to change the sails from black to white. Seeing the black sails from afar and presuming his son was dead, King Aegeus threw himself into the sea, which is thus known as the Aegean Sea.

Don’t Miss:

  • Portara: The iconic marble gateway that dates back to the 6th century BC, offering stunning sunset views and a deep connection to ancient Greek mythology.
  • Mount Zeus: The highest peak in the Cyclades, believed to be the birthplace of Zeus, ideal for hiking enthusiasts looking to explore scenic trails with panoramic views.
  • Old Town and Castle: Wander through the narrow alleys of Naxos Town, exploring the medieval castle area that includes historical museums and traditional shops.
  • Agios Prokopios and Plaka Beaches: Renowned for their long stretches of golden sand and crystal-clear waters, perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
  • Temple of Demeter: A beautifully restored 6th-century BC temple dedicated to Demeter, located near the village of Sangri. This site highlights the classical architectural style of the period.
  • Villages of Apiranthos and Halki: Explore these charming villages with distinct architecture, local crafts, and quaint cafes. Apiranthos boasts marble-paved streets and Venetian towers, while Halki features neoclassical buildings and a vibrant atmosphere.
  • Archaeological Museum of Naxos: Located in Naxos Town, this museum houses a collection of artifacts that trace the island’s history from the Neolithic to the early Christian period.
  • Marble Quarries of Apollonas: Visit the ancient quarries where Naxos’ famous marble was extracted, including a partially finished kouros statue left from the 6th century BC.

We like to Meet the Crew of the Yachts we Charter

At DMA Yachting, we are proud to have a team of individuals who not only work in the yachting industry but also live it. Many of our brokers have extensive experience with yachts, either working onboard charter yachts or even living onboard, sailing purely for fun, in everything from bay races to circumnavigations.

Our team’s firsthand experience is crucial—it means we’ve been in the shoes of both the crew and the clients. We understand the nuances of life at sea, which drastically differs from life on land.

Catamarans at the EMMYS 2024, Poros, Greece
Catamarans at the EMMYS 2024, Poros, Greece
Onboard Alexandra II, at the East Med Yacht Show in Poros 2024, Captain Evan gives us a rundown of his ideal itinerary
Onboard Catamaran Alexandra II, at the East Med Yacht Show in Poros 2024, Captain Evan gives us a thorough rundown of his ideal itinerary around the Cyclades Islands. It is these type of interactions that make the yacht shows so special.

Understanding how yachts operate also allows our brokers to ask the right questions and spot the finest details during yacht inspections. This inside knowledge ensures that we know precisely what to look for, whether it’s gauging the quality of the onboard amenities or evaluating the professionalism of the crew. Our brokers aren’t just checking boxes; they’re assessing how each element contributes to the sublime experience our clients expect.

Participation in yacht shows is fundamental to our approach. By engaging directly with crews and industry professionals at events like the EMMYS and MEDYS, where our presence was notably strong this year, we exchange ideas, gather insights, and forge great connections. These interactions are invaluable as they allow us to refine our understanding of market trends and client expectations continuously.

This year’s yacht shows have been particularly inspiring, showcasing more and larger yachts, each maintaining exceptionally high standards of service. Our team returned with notebooks brimming with new knowledge, ready to apply these fresh insights to benefit our future clients.

Our Broker Sarah Klische talking to the Crew onboard Catamaran Namaste at the East Med Yacht Show 2024
Our Broker Sarah Klische talking to the Crew onboard Catamaran Namaste at the East Med Yacht Show 2024

5. Paros – The best place to Dine by the Water

Paros, located right next to Naxos, is another destination that constantly came up when talking best destinations in the Cyclades with both Captains and Crew. It seems that the reason why Paros is so popular is because it is an island with everything. It has numerous stunning beaches like Kolymbithres and Golden Beach, to name a few, and charming Santorini-like villages like Naoussa and Parikia, which offer vibrant nightlife and historical sites. The island is a haven for watersports enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike, with opportunities for windsurfing, hiking, and exploring ancient marble quarries.

Naxos Greece restaurant right at the water in evening light with a small local boat moored of the wall
Naxos, Greece

Australian Captain Kristy Steindl named Paros her favorite island in the Cyclades, with Naoussa, the small fishing village on the northern coast, being the number one place to dine by the water. Naoussa offers a plethora of seafood restaurants right on the water’s edge, providing a matchless real Greek culinary experience against the backdrop of the serene waters. The bay offers excellent protection for anchoring, ensuring a peaceful stay. Captain Kristy insists that Paros surpasses Santorini in terms of diversity and beauty with its abundance of stunning beaches. “Sure, Santorini is famous for its breathtaking views from land overlooking the sea. But since we’re living on the water, I’d argue that the view from the sea looking over the land is just as crucial. And in my opinion, Paros, by far, has the better view. It’s a stunning island!”

4. Koufonisia –  The Opposite Twin Islands

Just off the Southeast corner of Naxos, you will find Koufonisia, often described as the paradise islands. Koufonisia consists of two small islands lying right next to each other: Ano Koufonisi (Upper Koufonisi) and Kato Koufonisi (Lower Koufonisi). Despite their close proximity, these islands offer very contrasting experiences, earning them the nickname “opposite twins.”

Koufonisia Greek Yacht Chartere
Koufonisia, Greece

Ano Koufonisi is the livelier of the two islands, with bustling tavernas, beach bars, and a vibrant nightlife scene. Its main beach, Fanos Beach, is a hub of activity during the day, offering water sports and sunbeds for visitors to enjoy. Ano Koufonisi is ideal for travelers looking for a more energetic and social experience.

On the other hand, Kato Koufonisi is known for its wild natural beauty and has some of the best beaches in the Cyclades; the most popular options are Nero, Detis, and Panagia.

Small local fishing boats anchored off Ano Koufonisi in turquoise water, with white houses ashore.
Ano Koufonisi, Greece
Greece, small Cyclades islands. Kato Koufonisi secluded beaches aerial drone view. Rocky cliffs over clear turquoise sea water. Sunny day, tranquil summer vacation destination for yacht charters.
Kato Koufonisi, Greece

3. Folegandros – A Paradise Away from the Crowds

When onboard Jewel, a 51-foot Catamaran, we asked Captain George Iliopoulos about his favorite destinations in the Cyclades. He did not hesitate a moment before he said Folegandros. His description of the island showed true enthusiasm for this place, which he has returned to so many times, both with charters and privately.

A panoramic view of Folegandros, Greece during sunset. The image captures the rugged, mountainous landscape bathed in golden light, highlighting the traditional white buildings scattered along the sloping terrain. The calm sea extends into the horizon under a clear sky, and a distinct church with a prominent white dome sits atop the hill, overseeing the scenic village below.
Folegandros, Greece

Unlike some of its more popular neighbors, it’s peaceful and untouched by mass tourism. Chora, the main town, sits up high on a cliff, giving you some of the best views of the Aegean Sea you’ll ever see. It’s got this old-world charm with its narrow streets and classic Greek architecture that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped back in time.

Beautiful Bay in Folegandros, Cyclades Islands, Greece
Folegandros, Cyclades Islands, Greece

Captain George also highlighted the island’s fantastic beaches, specifically mentioning Agali and Ambeli as favorites. One of their favorite charter activities for guests is a traditional Greek fish barbecue on the beach, enjoyed as the sun sets. Hostess and Chef Melina Chroni added that after a delicious meal of fresh seafood, cocktails around the fire always make for a memorable evening.

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2. Milos – The Old Pirate Island

Did you know that during the Middle Ages and through the Ottoman era, piracy thrived in the Aegean Sea? And Milos was actually a central hub due to its strategic location on key maritime routes. Milos, often dubbed “Pirate Island,” was ideal for pirate activities thanks to its complex coastline filled with coves, caves, and tunnels that served as perfect hideouts. These natural harbors not only allowed pirates to evade naval authorities but also to ambush passing ships and swiftly conceal their plundered treasures.

The Papafragkas caves on Milos - a secret catamaran jump from Monemvasia to Milos on the way to Santorini
The Papafragkas caves on Milos. Milos is full of intricate cave systems some of which you can dive into and explore underwater.

Milos was one of the most talked about destinations by Captains and Crew both at the Seminar as well as during onboard inspections at the show. They especially highlighted places like Sarakiniko Beach, known for its otherworldly, moon-like landscape and secluded bays.

Onboard Catamaran Explorion, Captain Konstantinos Perdikaris tells us: “I especially like the south of Milos, where you will find the best water and connected caves. It is just amazing. And you can only go there by boat; you cannot access it by land, and there are not even any ferries going there. It is very special and secluded.” Captain Konstantinos also points out that the port of Milos is one of the best-protected ports in the Cyclades, making this the perfect hideout even in strong weather.

Beautiful sandy beach on Milos Island in Greece with steep cliffs and blue sea

1. Polyaigos – One of Greece’s most Protected Nature Reserve

Part of Natura 2000 as a nature reserve unbothered by humans.

Polyaigos was by far the most mentioned favorite destination by Captains and Crew and was many times highlighted as one of the most amazing places to arrive on a yacht.

Polyaigos, literally meaning ‘many goats,’ is the biggest uninhabited island in the Aegean Sea. The reason for its name, is the huge wild goat population which live on the island.

But goats aside, Polyaigos is a deeply fascinating destination, primarily known for its dramatic natural landscape and rich biodiversity. It is part of the Natura 2000 network, which is a network of nature protection areas within the European Union. It is included notably because it supports a significant population of Mediterranean monk seals, which are among the most endangered marine mammals in the world.

Bird eye view from the lighthouse of Polyaigos island, Cyclades, Greece

The island’s untouched natural landscapes offer a haven not just for these seals but also for rare birds and unique plant species, making it a spectacular destination for yacht charters seeking truly untouched nature and wildlife observation.

Don’t Miss:

  • Blue Bay (Galazia Nera) is famous for its vibrant, deep blue waters, which are strikingly clear and attract swimmers and divers.
  • Ormos Polyaigou is a larger bay that shelters boats, making it a favored anchor spot for yachts. The bay is surrounded by rugged landscapes and offers beautiful sunset views.
  • The Lighthouse, known locally as “Faros,” is situated at the northern tip of the island. It stands as a prominent beacon, guiding mariners through the surrounding waters. The lighthouse is an iconic structure on the island and offers spectacular panoramic views, especially at sunset.
  • The Church of St. George is another significant landmark on Polyaigos. It is dedicated to Saint George and is found in a scenic setting, providing not only a spiritual retreat but also stunning views of the surrounding landscape and sea.
Sailing boats in star formation in Greece (Polyaigos, Cyclades) the largest uninhabited island of the Aegean Sea and one of the best and most beautiful sailing destinations
Sailing boats in star formation in Greece (Polyaigos, Cyclades) the largest uninhabited island of the Aegean Sea and one of the best and most beautiful sailing destinations.

We have reached the end of the list, and while we might have shown you the cream of the crop in this list, we have far from covered all the amazing destinations within the Cyclades. For more destinations and other Greek sailing areas, check out our suggested itineraries below.

BH

Beth Hecimovich

Jan 05, 2024

Daniel and Martina were outstanding and helped us execute the trip of a lifetime ! Very responsive and available to assist with anything and everything. They made sure that every detail was addressed and that our family was treated well. We have worked with other Charter Brokers in the past and DMA Yachting service and knowledge was far superior. Highly recommend.

S

Skye

Jan 08, 2024

Chris was incredibly helpful in our first charter experience every step of the way. He helped us select the right boat, walked us through all the options available to us and helped ensure that we had an incredibly memorable experience. Thank you to the entire team for making our New Years celebration once in a lifetime! We are already looking forward to planning our next charter through DMA.

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Here are just a few of our favorite itineraries to get you started, but for the complete list, make sure to check out our ULTIMATE ITINERARY GUIDE. Greece is a treasure trove of experiences, and truly, you could spend a lifetime of charters exploring all it has to offer. Each region is unique, not only in its attractions but also in its weather conditions, which can affect which yacht is suitable for your journey. If you’re wondering where to begin or which yacht fits your specific needs, our expert brokers are ready to assist. Contact us to tailor your ideal yachting itinerary.

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