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Greece: Is it Yachting as Usual?

By Sue Richards last modified Jul 20, 2015 10:49 AM
With the current economic uncertainty in Greece, many cruisers are asking how the climate currently stands for visiting cruising yachts. Hopefully this feedback from a number of noonsite contacts in Greece might help cruisers who are planning on heading to Greece soon.

Published: 2015-07-13 23:00:00
Countries: Greece

Greece: Is it Yachting as Usual?

Kos Harbour fishing boat - courtesy of SY Big Sky

SUBSEQUENT FEEDBACK

Please also see "comments" from cruisers at the bottom of this report.

14 July
From
Stratos Paisios, Customs Officer at at Kastelorizo (Dodecanese, 2nm south of the Turkish mainland)

The situation in Greece is hard for the locals in general – as it used to be - but for tourists nothing has changed. Things are calm, procedures are the same and services are provided in a normal way, as always. I know that the media don’t help at all when they present things in a dramatic way, but the reality is not so tragic for our visitors. On the contrary. There is no problem with medicines or other products of course. The only thing that people should take care of is having credit or debit cards because of the temporary capital control. ATM machines give 50 or 60 every day per card.

FEEDBACK RECEIVED 13 JULY, 2015

MY LeeZe
Have been in Greece since the start of the season.
Currently in Kavala, Northern Greece.

In a nutshell, cruising boats should come, but with the following understood:

- Have enough Euros to pay for your berth before arrival. I estimate most will pay under 10 Euros per day for berthing, electricity, and water. Anchoring is of course cheaper, but at many places we have been to we were required to moor on the quay. If we wanted to anchor, we would have had a 2-3 nm tender trip to get to shore.

- Ashore, most meals cost us under 10 Euros per person without alcohol, and  cash is king.

- Credit cards: Usage is spotty but usually you can use them at major supermarkets and for rental cars.

- Shops are open but many are also closed up. Cafes during the days and bars at night remain lively, in spite of the economic times. The three nearest cafes to us have cut nearly all of their menu items by 30-50%, and therefore, are busy.

- Places to stay away from: Big cities like Piraeus (Athens) etc. Crowds there are more like to demonstrate and those can quickly turn ugly. We ran into a protest here in Kavala last night that was noisy because of the bullhorn being used. About 100 people were marching and the police were quietly watching them and giving them space, even allowing them to block traffic, so as not to provoke an incident. It fizzled out in 30 minutes.

- The islands were expensive last year and more so this year as they just lost their 30% income tax deduction. VAT is also going up to 23 % on things we boaters do, which is a double whammy on the islands.

- I recommend to stay away from Alexandroupolis and Kavala as they are not friendly to boaters at all. It is almost as if they do not want us. We are in Kavala now and while the port control has been nice to us, it has required us to donate a pound of flesh for that to happen.

- ATMs allow me to withdraw my daily limi - which is far higher that the locals can. But many ATMs have run dry and until the banks re-open, more will run dry. Therefore, come with all the cash you need.

- Get a receipt for every purchase, even a loaf of bread! We were asked to show ours by what I assume to be a government official being escorted by a local police officer who was fully armed to the teeth. We had one for the 1 euro bread we had just bought, so he dismissed us.

SY Funny Girl
Have been in Greece since 2014
Currently in Volos, Northern Greece

In Volos city and also at the Islands, there is not a problem for foreigners. We tried and got 600 € in one action at an ATM. It is a pity for the Greeks however as their maximum withdrawl is 60€.

At Skiathos (Northern Sporades) we found one empty ATM machine, but there were several in the same street so no problem.

I think the problem is concentrated in Athens.

Our friends sailing in the Cyclades and the Ionian Islands have found the same story and are able to get money when they want and the amount they want.

Al these situations/stories are from the last 7 days.

Diesel or food or fruit or bread is no problem to get. The diesel pump last Monday however, refused my credit card and wanted cash! Everybody wants cash.

Jim Baerselman
CA member and cruiser based in Messinia (SW
Peloponnese), Greece
Creator of the excellent website for cruisers in Europe www.jimbsail.info

I live here half the year, and used to be a tour operator working Greece, Italy, Spain and Turkey. I've spoken with several hoteliers and businessmen working in Messinia, and I've also kept abreast of CA reports and YBW reports, as well Yotties passing by.

The foreign office advice says it all. Bring adequate euro cash for your intended stay. For longer stays (like us) there has been no difficulty accessing amounts up to our limit (from a non-Greek debit card) of €500 each. So far, that is….

Local businesses say there has been no breakdown (yet) on internal inter-bank transactions, but they're very aware that one or another bank may lose liquidity without external intervention, which would then force a cash economy. At that stage, some interbank services may fail, and with it, ATM's attached to a particular bank.

There appears to be no difficulty for yachts ordering goods from overseas as long as they're paid (or pre-paid) through a non-Greek bank. Courier services seem to work adequately for deliveries.

My personal take is that someone with €10,000 cash should easily survive a year here, even if banking services fall apart.

It's locally (Messinia) noticeable that there's a drop of about 30% German visitors. Those who do come speculate this is caused by a 5 year (rather poisonous) campaign by Das Bild, saying that Greek slackers should not be supported by taxes on German pensioners. Some Germans worry they may not have a friendly reception as a result.

These are just reports from a person on the spot. But I started businesses here in drachmae, when capital controls were rampant both in Greece and in UK. I don't see anything like that arising. Greece is a net exporter of food products. Surviving here won't be a problem.

Other Reports

Superyacht News published an article on 7 July covering the yacht charter market in Greece.

See http://www.superyachtnews.com/business/23325/waiting-at-the-foot-of-the-acropolis.html

For latest advice from the UK Foreign Office re. Travel to Greece see https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/greece

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jul 20, 2015 10:49 AM

Report 18 July from MY LeeZe in Kavala, Northern Greece:
We just came back from Thessaloniki (bus trip) and found the city to be open for business, that is the 50% of the business store fronts that are still open. Nearly any business that were running sales were full and those that were not were not.

Thessaloniki is Greece’s second biggest city and is far more expensive than Kavala.

I am writing because we have had friends asking “Do we feel safe in Greece.”

Interesting since until those questions came in, I had not given it much thought.

At an ATM, I can withdraw 8-10 times more than the Greeks can, so as a matter of courtesy, I tend to put the money right into the wallet and not count it as I used too before departing the ATM.

Athens rioted but per the news reports, 12 people the police caught throwing petrol bombs: well none of them were Greeks.

There were no riots in Thessaloniki, nor any evidence that there was one or more. Police presence was spartan as usual.

So, taking a few precautions and some common sense, yes we feel safe. No more or no less than usual so thanks for asking!

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jul 20, 2015 10:46 AM

From Gov.UK: Banks will reopen nationwide from 20 July, but with only limited services. Continued need to bring enough Euros for the duration of your stay in Greece.

consprenger
consprenger says:
Jul 15, 2015 01:51 AM

We just arrived in Kavala (July 14th, 2015). Friendly person helped us dock at the charter boat area, and helped arrange for diesel fuel, we felt warmly welcomed. Indeed cash is king, line-ups at the ATM are longer here than we noticed in the smaller towns, most machines are still working. Use of bank cards has not been a problem, but it is wise to have enough cash for anticipated purchases. Some of the shelves in the super market are empty, don't know what was on them, so we haven't missed any products. No sign of heavily armed police checking on purchases.
We have been in Northern Greece since April of 2015 and not seen much change with previous visits to Greece, people are friendly, courteous and generous. The cost of living is very affordable, we have not encountered a shortage of docking space.

Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Jul 13, 2015 08:56 PM

Update from MY LeeZe in Kavala, Northern Greece:
The picture is quite bleak here.
The Greek agreement has been received and while the country has probably not had a chance to absorb it, the local business people I talked with today said that the pain of implementation will be intense, but if that is the price to stay with the euro, we will endure, as we have for the past 2000 years.

But they are beaten, broken depressed, too tired to be angry, and still in shock that the banks are NOT open.

The cafes are full as nearly all have cut their prices by as much as 50% but the mood in general seems sombre, especially among those that are retired (they look retired) and those with children to raise.

Unemployment is over 26% and with this new package, expect it to go to over 30%.

ATM lines are long, and many are empty. Retirees wait in line to be let into the bank to get their funds as they never thought they needed an ATM card.

Lee (MY LeeZe)

rgreen
rgreen says:
Jul 13, 2015 07:47 PM

I have been in the Ionion now for about five weeks and have not encountered any problems with obtaining supplies and diesel. Cash appears to be king as usual and in most common currencies!! I have not seen personally any change when compared to previous seasons. As I write this I understand a "new deal" has been in principle agreed today. From my personal experience I see no immediate problems. Just bring plenty of cash, sun tan cream and insect repellents. Its business as usual. Please note I am only referring to the Ionion as we have not sailed elsewhere
Rupert Green
S/Y Tifys 11

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