Summer cruises are no longer for the lucky few as more people are deciding to rent a boat rather than a hotel room. This year in particular, owners of Greek tourist craft are preparing for one of the best years in recent times, given the apparently heightened demand. Even the most luxury category, otherwise known as mini-cruise ships which take up to 50 passengers, are seeing a 200 percent increase in demand. Other categories are not far behind with increases of 15 and 10 percent. «Until recently, advertising for yachting in Greece was aimed at foreign visitors. Recently there has been an effort to attract Greek tourists, to get them to rent boats so as to see five to 10 islands during their holidays,» said Antonis Steliatos, general secretary of the Union of Greek Tourism Boat Owners. «Yachting can be the best way to attract upmarket tourism. That is why both the Merchant Marine and Tourism ministries have been making efforts in this direction. Despite a heightened interest among Greeks, our main customers are foreigners, mainly Americans,» he added. Boats for rent fall into two categories. One is «bare boats» (that is, those that do not require a crew and can be rented by anyone with a license). These take up to 10 people and are rented for about 2,000 euros a week. The other category consists of larger boats (22-25 meters) with a crew of five to eight that can take up to 12 people for a fee of 5,500-9,000 euros a week. Mini cruise ships (45-70 meters) can take up to 50 people for a fee of 12,000-20,000 euros per day. The union has 3,500 members, which means 3,500 pleasure boats for rent. Of these, 600 are luxury yachts with crews.