After my one and only Yacht Week trip, I feel like there is a lot missing on the internet about how to do it effectively…especially for the Greece-Athens leg. I’m sure I am missing quite a bit, so if anyone has any other thoughts/recommendations, please send them my way.
First of all, The Blonde Abroad does a great job giving advice for what you need to choose a route, pack, and various other things. She’s done a few different routes and so she has a good perspective. Her links are below:
My advice will be broken into two parts: general advice and Athens-Route specific advice. For context, our group was aged in the upper twenties, early 30’s, and a good mix of personalities but all very responsible.
General Advice – Start looking for boats very early. You can get good deals if you look early. Don’t worry about having 11 people committed; you will find people as you wait 8 months for your trip, and you can later open up registration to strangers.
Also, try to just have a central person to handle everything with the skipper if you can. It made things really easy for me to already have the money, and then give the skipper what he needed as it happened. We had more accountability this way and I think made things cheaper.
Flags – Bring 3×5 foot flags, and expect the Americans to bring their university flags. If you’re American, bring your university flags. There is room for probably 10 3×5 flags.
I’m going to include an excel sheet of costs to help you budget. For a week on Yacht Week, the boat, skipper, food, alcohol, fees, tip and 2 of 3 nights of bottle service, we paid roughly $1,100/person. Most people paid as much as $3,000/person, and so it pays to pay attention.
Hostess – I would do a hostess if you don’t know everyone on your boat, and if you have a crew that wants to party hard. They’re expensive, and it comes out to like $15/meal, per person, but they do a great job and make things easier. We ended up not needing one at all, and I’m glad we used that money on other things instead, but I also knew everyone really well.
Misc. Fees – Tip your skipper, they don’t get an awful lot, and they carry a lot of liability. Some people say it should be a percentage, others that it should be $50/person, and so there is no rule of them for yacht week. We tipped $500 and our skipper was happy. I think no less than $250 for a small boat, and $500 for a big boat, is about right.
Skipper – You will be expected to take your skipper with you everywhere, and pay for them. Establish early on that you’ll pay for your skipper if most of your boat is present, but not if it is just one or two people. If your crew wants to pay for him/her themselves, great, but otherwise, they can eat whatever is on the boat.
Food – This is really hard to get right, and so I’ll just say that you should budget at least $50 per person for food and alcohol. You’ll want to eat on shore a lot, and you won’t eat many dinners on the boat. Do sandwiches for breakfast and snacks (cheap, low cleanup, etc.), When you eat on the boat spaghetti is fine. Other than that, 1 or 2 frozen pizzas for munchies and you’re fine. We threw out a ton of eggs, milk, and cereal because that is a pain to use on a rocking boat.
Alcohol – I’d budget $100/person for this. Maybe spend 2/3 at the first port, and save some money for when you inevitably run out of tequila and beer.
For water, I’d get 6 1.5 liters per person for the week. We had a bunch leftover because everyone said we’d run out and so we over-compensated.
Greece – Athens Route –
First of all, this route is not the best parts of Greece. They’re cool because few tourists are here from outside the country, but you aren’t seeing Santorini, Sparta, Delphi, Thermopylae, etc. So, get fancy beaches or historical sites out of your head. On this route, you’ll see pretty sea-side towns that Greeks vacation to. You’ll party a lot but don’t feel like you have to. I partied once per day and that was about enough, and there is enough to do in the cities you stop in for half a day, but not much.
The First Day – If you are in Illavrio you should try to get there early and go see the Temple of Poseidon;
it is beautiful and awesome. Either do it here, or the last day, but try to see it. If you are in Piraeus, you’re lucky.
The Last Day – This is important because no one else talks about it, but that last day from Hydra to Illavrio is an absolute beat-down. It is rocky, people get sick, and 10% of our fleet didn’t make it back to land with their engines, if at all. If I were to do this route again I would straight up just take a ferry from Hydra to Piraeus and straight to Athens. The party the last night is between Piraeus and Illavrio, but no one ends up staying in Illavrio because they’re all tired, sick, and just want to get back to Athens. We were all going to stay on the boat that last night, and by the time we got back to shore, everyone bailed.
Overall, Yacht Week is a really great experience, but I don’t think I will do it again. If I do, it will be a more relaxed route like Italy. Croatia is probably the craziest, and then either Thailand or Greece. I was incredibly impressed with the staff, and emphasis on safety for the skippers, but there is a bit too much emphasis on partying for me and you skip a lot of the history. That said, I think it is worth going to once, especially if you can get a crew of your good friends to go. Just think of it as a yacht trip on the ocean, and not that you’re going to “see” another country. This way, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you find, and your expectations that were set will certainly be met.