Greece family cruising

A good captain can transform a voyage. In Greece, it’s captains like Thanos who make your week on a traditional Greek caique so much more than a cruise. “He is an amazing character – he is so passionate about this part of Greece. We’ve worked with him for over 15 years,” Antony Barton, from our specialist vacation company Explore explains.

The part of Greece in question is Evia, where Thanos has sailed since he was a child. It’s strange how few people have heard of this island, despite being Greece’s second largest. Sadly, it made headlines in summer 2019 for wildfires so large that they suffused nearby Athens in smoke. Trips like this help to put the island back on the map for the right reasons: pretty Aegean Sea coastline, silvery valleys of olive trees and waterfront taverns, all which tempt Greeks out of their capital on the weekends.
At Eretria you can see ruins of an immense ancient city, including a temple to Apollo razed by Persians around 2,500 years ago.
Nowhere is Thanos’s local knowledge more apparent than when you go out for dinner. “The whole group is ushered in like honoured guests,” Antony says. “There’s a special place where they sit. Thanos gets involved and advises everyone on what to order. Then he’ll come out and serve them the food.” Whether they follow Thanos’s food recommendations or not, families will be in capable hands.

What do family cruises in Greece entail?

There are only a handful of Greek caiques (pronounced ‘kai-ee-keys’) in operation in Greece today – most were destroyed in World War II and not replaced. They’re small, perky fishing vessels that look like they’ve sailed straight out of a postcard. They’re fitted with a motor, which runs a generator that provides electricity on board, and so don’t generally use sails any more. Thanos’s boat is family-owned, built in 1962 and since converted to carry small groups of three or so families together.

There’s no extra charge for solo occupancy, and if you’re a single parent, or parents of a single child, you’ll make plenty of friends. The minimum age for a trip like this is seven – and everyone will need to be able to swim. In general, the average age of children on board is 12 years old. There are a few snorkels on board, but bring your own if your kids are particularly keen.
Small boats like this are brilliantly social. Whilst the kids quickly band together for diving competitions off the stern, the adults can relax with a group of like-minded individuals. Thanks to the caique’s small size you can stick close to the sheltered shoreline, soaking in the views. The itinerary takes you up a portion of the southwest coast of Evia, where there are ruins in walking distance from the shore, deserted islands a short swim away, and you’re only a short cruise away from a plate of grilled octopus, wilted greens and skordalia, a garlicky dip.
You’ll dine on board for breakfast and lunch. Thanos shops in port throughout the trip, picking up fresh bread from the bakery. “We’ll stop each night at little taverns. They are relatively modest, you’ll look at it and not think much at first,” Antony explains. As you’ll soon discover, it’s the food inside, which comes from the sea, the nearby farms, or from people’s gardens, that counts.

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Travel Team
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Best time to go on a family cruise in Greece

These trips take place in high summer: July and August, fitting nicely into your school vacations. It’s also when the weather is at its hottest, finest best, and temperatures easily reach highs of over 30°C. This is peak tourist season in Greece but, whilst Athens might be busy when you arrive, once you get out onto the boat your captain will find more secluded anchorages away from the crowds. If it gets too hot on board you might prefer to take your bedding out on deck – where you can stargaze yourself to sleep. Your itinerary may change in bad weather or rough seas, but both are unlikely at this time of year.
Written by Eloise Barker
Photo credits: [Page banner: Explore] [All images: Explore]