Magazine article The Spectator

NOTES ON . . . Classic Cruising

Magazine article The Spectator

NOTES ON . . . Classic Cruising

Article excerpt

We arrive at the tiny Greek island of Sikinos on a blustery day, making landing rather difficult. Is there transport to take us to the extraordinary, now deconsecrated, perhaps 6th-century church of Episkopi inside a 3rd century AD Roman mausoleum/temple? The mayor appears: yes, we can use the island's one bus, and off we go to the magnificent site miles from nowhere. A bonus too: the tiny 14th-century monastery next door is being restored, wall paintings and all. Back to the harbour via a vineyard to taste the local wine - the mayor has his chums - and by now a storm has set in. At the third attempt the gulet gets a line ashore, and as the boat heaves up and down we time our leaps one by one up on to the gangway into the boat, and off we go.

This is a fairly typical day aboard a gulet run by Westminster Classic Tours along the Turkish coast and round the Greek islands.

It is not cheap; one had better be mobile;

and rough seas on a gulet holding 12 to 18 people are, well, rough. But the rhythm of life is magical: a coast-hugging morning, a swim, fresh food, ashore to superb, empty sites often visitable no other way, another swim, drinks, dinner in some empty cove under the stars.

So what does the big cruise liner offer?

Air conditioning, for one; relatively spacious cabins; room service; a wide choice of food;

proper breakfast (toast! ); in-boat entertainment; a fully structured day. At the luxury end of the market, the sites are almost an irrelevance: it's the cooking, wines, service and status of guests that count. …

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