When we left Athens, we told the taxi driver to take us to Marina Zea in Piraeus. From the map the marina looked huge and capable of docking scores of boats. My concern about finding the right dock was allayed by the fact that we were looking for a 110 ft. yacht, probably the biggest boat in the marina. I expected it to be docked at the end of one of the piers as it was too big for the slips. As we drove onto the service road of the vast complex, the driver said, “Isn’t that your boat, right there?” And sure enough, it was stern-docked right against the service road. And it was probably the smallest yacht in the entire marina. The place looked like a cruise ship parking lot that would make Marina Jack’s look like a rowboat way station. You could actually smell the money. Drug dealers don’t have yachts this big.
The crew was on the back deck waiting to welcome us aboard. They took our luggage, showed us our suite, and gave us a tour of the entire mini-ship. Not only was the yacht immaculate, including the engine room, but the large salon and staterooms were beautifully appointed and decorated. There was a master suite, two queen suites and and two-bed suite, each with its own bathroom. The salon had a dining table for eight, a large lounge with a TV, and two covered decks with dining and lounge furniture. When all seven of us arrived, the crew toasted us with Moët Champagne.
The crew turned out to be of the same caliber as the ship. Captain Paul, a Brit is an experienced seaman who sailed around the world solo at age 23 in a 21-foot sailboat. He is also an excellent mechanic and storyteller. I can’t say enough about Paul’s responsibilities. He is constantly aware of all 360 degrees around the yacht, the activities of the crew, the performance of the many systems that run the boat, and of course the guests. And he has to make it look easy. Aga, short for Agnieszka (I can’t pronounce it either) his attractive life partner was our chef. And she is an amazing cook as well as hostess. She was assisted Marlena, also Polish, and also beautiful, who smothered us with TLC and kept us entertained with her quick sense of humor. She simply anticipated our every need and was ready before we could ask. Our fourth crew member was Charlie, a Croatian who was our engineer. Although quieter than the others, he did join us for a drink one afternoon, became more comfortable and social, and was very helpful when we embarked or disembarked.
The first two days we sailed rough seas (rough for us). Although two of the crew got sick, we were all borderline nauseous. After that, the sailing was smooth and the destinations were fascinating. Aga prepared wonderful breakfasts every morning. On days we toured, she prepared lunch or dinner when we were on board, and her meals easily rivaled any restaurant in taste and presentation. Marlena was a tireless server, deftly handling every chore short of spoon-feeding us. At each port we visited, Paul shuttled us ashore on the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) after we moored in the harbor. When we arrived at Kithnos, the adjoining coves were littered with boats of every size, from kayaks to small ships. Everyone was jockeying for mooring space where they could park overnight without worrying about colliding with another boat. A French-flagged sailboat, manned by five Germans pulled right up next to us and dropped anchor. Paul had to gently advise them that they were too close and they should move to prevent the inevitable collision during the night. At first they ignored him, but he stood there with his arms folded until they moved. The second location was no better than the first, but Paul gave up. As expected, in the early morning, they were broadside us within three feet of our swim deck. Aga and Marlena were preparing breakfast, saw their proximity, and began calling them. They were obviously still asleep, so Charlie got a boat hook and started banging on their porthole. That got them up. They apologized and moved to a safe distance.
And then there was Poros, a beautiful, lush area in stark contrast to the barren rock landscape of the other islands. Poros has serious hotels, homes the size of hotels, and endless restaurants, all along the miles of shoreline.
Although the cruise was only a week, it was jam packed with fun and adventure, and memories that will last our lifetime.