The Hellenic Charter Brokers Association had its annual brokerage show, or “Symposium” as they call it, in Poros, Greece in May. Delightful setting I may add – Poros is a winner because it’s away from, the hustle and bustle of Athens (Piraeus) and is a beautiful little place that has some great food and great hotels. We stayed at the 7 Brothers Hotel which is in the village center and within walking distance to the show - reasonably priced and very clean. The other two major hotels are the Image and the Syrene that are outside the downtown area but may brokers prefer them since they are more luxurious. I use the word “downtown” carefully since Poros is really a quaint little village.
People tell me that the broker attendance at the show was down from last year, probably due to fewer American brokers being there. The airfares and hotels and transportation in Euros make things very expensive. Furthermore, the pricing of Greek charters reflects the current Dollar – Euro imbalance and makes them pretty pricey. The value of the Euro is really making it difficult for Americans to travel and charter yachts in the Mediterranean.
Certainly this year’s show emphasized motor yachts over sailing yachts. There was a huge selection of Mega Yachts, most of them built and owned by wealthy Greek businessmen for their own use and who charter them when not being used. There was also quite an array of medium sized Ferretti’s between 75’ and 90’ – these seem to be the favorites at around E20 to E30K a week.
Greek (generally European) designed motor yachts seem to reflect closer family and friends relationships since most are designed to accommodate 10 to 12 guests and some up to 14 and 16 guests..!! This is virtually unheard of in the US and Caribbean. This may be due to USCG regulations but I don’t know why that would affect the Caribbean??
The Greek ferry system simply amazed us, every island is connected by an incredible network of ferries, most of which originate in Piraeus, just West of Athens. The ferries are relatively inexpensive and pretty much run on time in good weather. We took the hydro-foil ferry from Piraeus to Poros and the darn thing travels at about 40 kts, cutting a 2 ½ hour ride down to one hour.
How to get to Poros: Take the ferry (Hellenic Seaways) from Piraeus to Poros. The same ferry takes passengers onwards to Spetses and Hydra so you can also visit these islands easily from Poros. For the record, these islands and generally the waters of the Saronic Gulf are much more protected than the Cyclades (Mykonos, Santorini). If the weather forecast looks iffy, stick to Aegina, Poros, Hydra, Spetses, and the Corinthian Canal and Gulf.
We got “sidetracked” to the island of Rodos (Rhodes), in Greece so as to take the ferry from Rodos to Marmaris in Turkey for the Marmaris brokerage show. This is easier than flying to Turkey, if you need to get to Marmaris which is kind of in the middle between the airports of Bodrum and Delaman in Turkey and you have to fly through Istanbul to take a local Turkish flight. Rodos is a trip – full of British, German and Russian tourists. Nice historical sites like the fortress and the “old city” that the Knights of St. John built in the 7th century and many other archeological treasures. Well worth the trip there, even if you are just passing through.