In today’s #ExperienceOfTheWeek series we’re getting off the shore. This time, we’ve had a chance to talk to Jerome, the founder of Xanemo Sailing, offering one of the most beautiful and unique sailing tours from Naxos to surrounding off-shore locations. If you’re planning your next holiday in Greece, there’s nothing else we would recommend more than spending a whole day exploring the Aegean sea, diving, relaxing, tasting delicious food, and simply having a great time on one of Jerome’s private cruises. Let’s get to know Jerome and Xanemo Sailing a little more, shall we?
Q1: Hi Jerome, how are you doing?
Hi there! I’m great thank you. The coronavirus storm has been quite hard to weather, to be honest, but we did our best. And quite frankly I think we’ve been doing more than okay. Long story short, we learned a lot from this, improved a lot, and I am personally already excited for the 2021 season!
Q2: Tell us more about Xanemo Sailing. Where did the idea come from?
Well, I bought SY Xanemo in 2012 for personal use. At that time, Naxos tourism was starting to boom and only a handful of companies were doing cruises from Naxos. So my wife and I thought that it would be a good idea to share the sailing experience with people coming to Naxos for holidays. A few weeks later, our website was online, and we were ready to go.
In general, sailing cruises anywhere in Greece consist of putting a maximum of people on a boat for the day, with no or little interaction with the crew. We both wanted to do something a bit different. We decided to go the other way by offering more exclusive tours, with food, drinks, and all-inclusive. By all, I also mean the human connection with us as well, and I think this is what makes us different. A fully passionate couple you can speak to during your cruise. About Naxos, about sailing, or about life in general.
Q3: Greece is an amazing destination and I bet there are dozens of things to show to fellow travelers. What destinations can travelers visit on your cruises?
You’re right! So many options! On day cruises, we obviously have to come back in the late afternoon so we can’t go too far. That being said, there are incredible places at reach! From caves to explore and cliffs to jump from to World War II airplane wreck!
We adapt our cruises to the weather to ensure a great day, every day. Our customers have no idea where we will go when they book with us, and this is very powerful. It gives us the ability to adapt the cruise depending on the weather of course but also depending on where other boats are going so we make sure we don’t end up in a crowded spot. This way, we also have customers coming with us every year, following a new route each time.
Q4: A full day on a luxury yacht somewhere in Greece sounds like a dream. How does a typical day with Xanemo Sailing look like?
It IS like a dream! Imagine a full day sailing around, surrounded by dolphins and sea turtles. A morning swim followed by a delicious snack (and a refreshing beer or glass of wine) in a secluded bay.
Then, we go to another spot for lunch, sailing if weather permits, or just relaxing on deck exchanging life tips, anecdotes and jokes. Lunch is being cooked onboard while everybody swims or relax. We all eat together, relaxed, like if we are the only boat in the whole world.
One last stop for swimming in the mid-afternoon, after siesta time (well, not for me of course! Somebody has to keep a good lookout and watch for dolphins!). We get back to our base at 6 pm, after a full day of awesomeness, kissed by the sun, salty, happy, and relaxed.
Q5: Your selection of experiences is literally endless and apart from day tours, you also offer other services, such as food & wine tastings, honeymoon, and sunset cruises. What are the most popular activities among your clients?
Yes, we try to diversify our offer! Most popular tours are the classic day tours of course, but we definitely see a trend where our multiple days’ private charters are getting very famous especially the 3 days private tour. It is all customized to our customers’ needs.
I remember last year, our customer wanted to see a nice traditional village so we went to Naoussa in the North of Paros. The day after, the husband said to me “ok, we’ve seen enough life. I don’t want to see any other human than us for the next two days!”. I replied, “challenge accepted”! That was in September, and we managed to find places empty of human life (but full of goats!). We really had a blast!
Honeymoon day tours are quite famous as well. This is a very luxury version of our private day tour, with wild fresh fish on the grill for lunch, champagne, and the right amount of privacy.
Q6: Today many people travel and plan their itineraries on their own. Why would you recommend booking one of your experiences for our travelers?
Yes, and they are doing great! The best way to see something different on an island is to get lost there. I’ve been living in Naxos for the last 10 years, and I’ve got lost many times. Now, I can get people lost in a “properly organized way”. We go places off the beaten paths, where you cannot go if you don’t have a boat and if you don’t know the surroundings. Some of our best spots are not even on nautical maps!
Another piece of advice: book soon! As soon as you can, actually. You will get the best prices, and you are sure to secure the cruise you like. In a normal, non-covid year, we spend a crazy amount of time saying to people that we are fully booked. It sounds good for our business, but it kills us when we see the look on their faces.
Q7: The travel industry is in uncharted waters right now but we all hope it will rebound soon. What does the situation in Greece look like right now? How was your summer season?
We are confident about a rebound as well. I’m guessing it will take some time to restore confidence in the market, but I will not try to predict anything here as there is no precedent in this situation.
Greece has been doing great in terms of health care. We haven’t had a lot of cases, 420 deaths, I really think that things have been done at the right time to protect us. And this is also why our summer season was not as bad as expected. Greece was the safest place to go on holiday in Europe this year, and people understood this.
We implemented a set of guidelines more strict than the ones imposed by the government. I think it was our responsibility to do as much as we could to protect our customers, but also our local community. (and population on the islands is older than on the mainland) We were the only company with guidelines approved by the World Travel and Tourism Council, we communicated about this, and customers definitely felt safer with us.
Q8: Last but not least, what is your favorite spot around Greece that you’d take your friends to see or experience? Tips from a true local are always worth it 🙂
This is a really hard question for me as my favorite spot is the sea. So I would say that it is when the sails are up, the engine is off, and we only have the sound of the elements to listen to. That feeling of liberty, moving forward with only the power of the wind, seeing shores getting smaller and smaller, this is my favorite spot.