Staying On A Private Yacht Wasn't What I Expected
Staying on a private Yacht with your family and exploring the Ionian islands of Greece sounds like paradise doesn't it? Well, I'm here to tell you the reality of it.
Don't worry this post isn't full of horror stories, in fact, this holiday was honestly one of my best (if not *the* best trip I've been on) but it's only fair to tell you the highs and the lows - I know that's what I wanted when I was thinking about going on this trip. SPOILER: There were very few lows and a whole lot of highs.
To celebrate my mum's 50th birthday we thought we’d do something none of us had ever done before. We would all live on a boat for a week traveling around Greece - with the help of a Skipper and a host of course. Basically, we pretended we were the Kardashians for 7 days whilst living on a yacht that was 1/80th the size of theirs. We decided to book this through Yacht Getaways - and we were all very impressed, genuinely would recommend.
The highs of the trip are pretty obvious, we swam in the clearest ocean I've ever seen multiple times a day in different spots, we got to explore different towns, try different food and have a beer looking out at a different part of the ocean each evening - I'm still not sure if anything can beat a sunset over the sea. One night we even docked in a little cove - I don't think that's the correct terminology but basically, we were the only boat by this little beach so we woke up to what seemed like our own little paradise and in the evening you bet we danced on the yacht like nobody was watching - because literally, nobody was around. We even had a midnight swim and just so happened to witness the rare bioluminescent phytoplankton - which I call stars in the sea. If you've seen the movie 'The Beach' you'll know exactly what I mean, if not you have to google it because it was incredible. This holiday was honestly the perfect mixture of adventure and relaxation, but there were a few things that I also learned about this type of trip.
You are going to get close. We stayed on a very spacious (in comparison to some) Bali 4.3 catamaran which had 4 bedrooms. This worked great for us as we hired the boat as a family of 3 couples + 1 (my brother had a room to himself). Usually you'd just pay for yourself or a couple and therefore would end up staying on a boat with other couples who you haven’t met before- which I'm not sure I'd enjoy nearly as much, only because it would be uncomfortable to be stuck on a boat with someone that I didn’t get on with. You see even for us as a close family (who have all lived together for years including partners) the space got tight. Due to your rooms being very small the only real space you have is the table where you eat your meals as a group or at the front of the boat - which is perfect unless you want to escape the group - it's practically impossible when the boats moving. You can of course go to your room but if you're boats anything like ours then your room will be very stuffy during the day, most probably hotter than anywhere on the boat and definitely a bit smelly because of the toilets. Don’t get me wrong, the boat was lovely and felt incredibly luxurious, I just thought I’d tell you about the possible negatives too.
Oh the toilets. Now I was expecting the worst, I mean it's literally a boat, the loo/shower situation isn't going to be like a 5* hotel. However to my surprise we did actually have an ensuite per room, which is pretty incredible when you think about how they've squeezed 4 bathrooms and 4 bedrooms on such a small boat. The downside with having your own bathroom was that it was very close to you bed. Technically you had a door separating your bathroom from your bedroom but it didn't feel like one. I don't know why but the toilets all smelt really bad on our boat (maybe it's a standard boat thing) and it did mean that you constantly smelt the toilet in your room - whether you've been to the loo or not. Pretty gross but at the same time you aren't on this holiday for the toilet, you're here for the incredible adventure, the views, the sea and exploring Greece - so it's not a game changer but not very nice.
I felt safe. Barnaby and Reeve were about the same age as myself and I can't explain to you how safe I felt in their hands. Age really didn't matter here at all, they were perfect. I did however worry one evening about the safety of our belongings. For some reason every evening it felt ok for us all to leave our boat unlocked and our belongings on it - I did question Barnaby about this and he said it's just what everyone does. A very weird one but we didn't have anything stolen so I guess he was right.
They sailed the boat for us, made us breakfast/lunch and honestly were such great people. Usually in the evening once we docked in a town we would split away from Barnaby and Reeve so they could have some down time (we might be on holiday but they're working) so this is when the Mandeville family would go for an explore and grab some dinner or grab some drinks. But a few times we actually ended up going out with Barnaby and Reeve which just shows you how much we got on with them. I can't help thinking that the holiday could have been very different if we had the wrong Skipper and Host on board with us though. This holiday worked for us because we were made to feel relaxed, we felt safe and felt like we had two friends on board, I'm not sure I would've enjoyed it as much if we hadn't have had them both on board our boat.
Other than that the only other things I wish I knew before I went on this trip was: Nobody in my family got sea sick (though it doesn't hurt to be prepared). Sleeping on the boat was fine, It did feel weird when you walked on land after being on the boat all day but you get used to it after a day or two. We all did get bitten a lot by mosquitos, so bring insect repellent even if you are told you don't need to. Finally, this was worth every penny and the only reason we aren't booking this again is because we are worried it won't match up to the last one, I don't just think it's possible. It honestly was a holiday of a life time. -G,x
Photos taken by @henrymandeville