Mediterranean Yacht Agents

The Yacht Agents are preparing for the 2021 season and are excited to welcome back the yachts to the Mediterranean and cater for their weird and wonderful needs

The war cry from the yacht agents (and everyone, actually) is ‘Chaaaaarge!’ into the coming season where we are to expect intense activity with longer private and charter cruises that to some extent will help to wipe away the wash-out that many people witnessed last year.

So wandering down to the easterly quaysides of the Mediterranean we check out whether or not our yacht agents are in fine enough fettle to fare the coming furore. And we briefly touch on last year and any advice on any changes to the yachting regulations industry leaders should be aware of as the ‘Come Back Battle’ begins.

Kronos Yacht Agency is based on Rhodes Island and serves the whole of Greece and her islands. Given the fear and uncertainty of last year’s first lockdown, Kronos Yacht Manager Katerina Papageorgopoulou is matter-of-fact: “You can conclude,” she says, “that the last season was low.”

But good news did emerge from 2020 in Greece: it led the yacht agents of the Greek islands to form an association, ENPEN, allowing them to have better access and a stronger voice to communicate with various government ministries.

Says Papageorgopoulou, “The new board members are in constant contact with the Minister of Maritime Affairs to push open the sea boarders sooner than last summer as yachting is one of the safest vacations. We have proposed safety measures and protocols to ensure everyone is as protected as possible so that everyone can be as safe as possible.”

She is buoyant about this year, “I can tell you that we already have requests and reservations from yachts that wish to visit Greece this summer. Our Prime Minister has already promoted a programme in which all islands will be Covid free. There will be universal vaccination on the small islands, and on the larger islands those involved in tourism will be vaccinated. So we are pretty sure that this season will be a very good one.”

She also happily reports that by working together with the Aegean and Ionian mayors of the islands, great progress has been made in convincing the Government to lift the ancient law of ‘cabotage’, a long-time thorn in Greek yachting tourism’s sides. She says, “So we have very good information that changes will soon be made to that old law and as soon as we have news we will inform our clients of the details.”

A small fly in the ointment will be the changes to legislation following Brexit relating to British flagged boats and British crew, “We have to deal with them as ‘a third country’ once they leave EU.” But that of course is not an issue that only Greece will have to deal with.

Nothing is going to flag Katerina Papageorgopoulou‘s enthusiasm for the coming season; with the Covid safety measures in place, she’s pretty sure she’ll be riding the season on the crest of a wave, Nike, the Goddess of victory, not far from her side.

So go on, Katerina, give us one good reason to give Greece a go: “I cannot name one reason but two thousand reasons (as many as our islands) for someone to visit Greece. As the options for privacy and safety provided by our huge coastline are unique. A yacht will enjoy the sun, the crystal clear waters, and our famous hospitality. We are expecting you all in Greece as ‘all you want is Greece!’.

Argentario Yacht Services is based in Tuscany, specifically Monte Argentario, Porto Santo Stefano. From here Rosalia di Perna, Andrea Farinaceo and the team serve yachts cruising in the Tuscan waters of the Ligurian Sea.

Challenging, intense, and always enjoyable thanks to his clients is how Andrea Farinaceo sums up last season. And for the year ahead he’s cautious but optimistic, “It’s difficult to say at the moment what this season will be like,” he says. “I really hope we have the chance to get back to our normal social interactions thanks to the scientific progress and vaccinations but, to be realistic, I think we have to deal with social limitations also this summer. However, I’m optimistic and I’m sure that people can enjoy the summer even though with a little caution.”

Choosing to cruise in Tuscan waters will leave yachts unchallenged by any new laws or regulations apart from, of course, the Covid restrictions to protect public health.

Come what may Farinaceo is ready for it and has his battle plan drawn up, “Restrictions could change at any time. For this reason, we are already prepared with all our suppliers in the area. We have special protocols in place in accordance with the authorities in order to be able to always offer a complete Covid free experience.”

The pandemic did little to thwart the weird requests by the ever inventive yachting owners and guests, but Farinaceo’s most memorable one sums up the uncertainty of last year’s season, He says, “We were asked to book an entire restaurant only for two people because they were scared of Covid. And they wanted all the restaurant’s staff to have a Covid test the same day of the reservation. Finally, they decided to have the dinner on board.”

Farinaceo doesn’t flinch when challenged to say why we should all head Argentario way, “Because you can always find a spot or a bay where the guests can enjoy the crystal water of Argentario in complete privacy no matter what the weather conditions are thanks to the protection of the Argentario promontory. And also because of the different attractions they can find onshore.”

These include: the Michelin star restaurant Il Pellicano, at Porto Ercole; the Argentario Golf Club (covering 77 hectares with BioAgriCert certification it is the only PGA licensed golf facility in Italy); the Maremma natural reserve or wine tours. “Anyone, child and adult, can live enjoyable moments at Argentario!”

Marco Bulatovic, is in charge of Sales and Chartering for Wandering Yacht Agency based at Tivat, the coastal town of south west Montenegro.

He reports 2020 to have been one of the agency’s best years to date.”All of our clients left feeling highly satisfied and this is what is most important to us. The COVID-19 pandemic put us through several challenges to work around, but these were overcome and all demands were catered to successfully!”

With that kind of confidence he’s not expecting anything less from the season ahead. “We believe that there may still be some travel restrictions to work around when forming itineraries, just like last season. Nevertheless we are confident that we can provide amazing experiences for clients and we hope to experience further growth.”

In terms of regulations and new requirements (pandemic restrictions aside) Bulatovic reminds captains that if they want to take advantage of the tax-free fuelling they must leave Montenegrin waters immediately afterwards. “We are often asked about this,” he says.

Nothing’s going to faze Bulatovic this year: requests were up last year despite the pandemic and he has no reason to see why this year will be any different. “Our biggest challenge will be dealing with all these requests at the same time. We have put new systems in place to offer an even more efficient service and have recruited three new members to our team.”

As of his token wonderment of weird, it’s a heart-warmer. “We get many unusual requests, usually where clients like to go over-the-top! On the contrary, last year we had a client pay upfront for a large motor yacht charter. However, just before check-in, the client changed their mind last minute and decided to go for a small sailing yacht instead at only a fraction of the cost, insisting the price stays the same!”

So why should your yacht make it to Montenegro this summer? Bulatovic has his answer ready: “Montenegro is a compact country with an impressively diverse topography and multiple luxury ports – the combination of its natural beauty and state of the art yachting infrastructure will leave you amazed!”

So it seems it doesn’t much matter where you go this season, the yacht agents are on fighting form, ready to duck and dive, catch and match anything that we might care to throw at them. Top level attention to detail and service with a smile is always on the top of the agenda, no matter how bizarre the request.

The troops on the ground to win back the way we were before (kind of) are ready and waiting.