As a Travel Writer on the move, I have heard of the “Yachting Phenomenon” particularly the Mediterranean locales like the French Riviera, Cannes, Monaco etc…and how over the past decades, this region has truly evolved as the Playground of the Rich & Famous.
On my last trip to Italy, lady luck finally smiled at me and to my utter surprise, I meet a guy named Guiliano who was sitting next to me at a street-side cafe in downtown Rome. On a chilly winter afternoon as our friendly conversations dragged on over cups of piping hot Cappuccino coffee, Guiliano invited me to visit the Benetti boatyard at Viareggio to have a firsthand feel of the Yachting scene in Europe.
At first, I felt I would be hard-pressed for time as I was on an official assignment, but Guiliano kept on persisting and finally, I said yes.
Like any other day, I freshened up, had a sumptuous breakfast and hopped into Guiliano’s car, little realising that I was heading to one of the world’s largest mega-yacht builders – Azimut Yachts, a name that symbolizes the very epitome of yachting elegance and luxury.
Once inside, I was taken on a round of the boatyard and a well informed English-speaking guide took me to every nook and corner of this historic boatyard where some of the world’s most luxurious Yachts are manufactured. I was told that the Azimut Benetti Group has been conferred with the enviable tag of being the World’s Number 1 Luxury Yacht Manufacturer for 13 successive years, which in itself is stupendous.
Each Azimut Yacht is symbolic of cutting edge design, innovative technological inputs and classy interiors, making them a true global yachting behemoth. Today, some of the most celebrated brands like Yachtique, Lusben, Fraser Yachts, Marina di Varazze and Royal Yacht Club Moscow, offers some of the most impressive yachts that range from 34 foot to the 100 metre plus yachts built by the Azimut group.
Luxury yachts require a high level of production efficiency, and the ability to be innovative and above all long-lasting. Unless the splendour of a yacht can confront the weather and its elegance arouse passion on the high seas, it is no yacht at all. Italians by nature are sea-lovers and very passionate, which is very well reflected in every Azimut Yacht – an unmistakable Italian class.
Apart from style, elegance and sophistication, what drives business tycoons and celebrities to opt for Azimut Yachts were best summed up by Guiliano himself, who has been working in the R&D of Azimut Group for the last five years thus – “ Yacht owners are always desirous of something more than just their choice and the acquisition. They yearn the boatyard that constructs the yachts of their dreams to also boast of a rich sense of history, a network of service centres that truly mirrors the booming image and last but not the least – a trustworthy company”.
Having spent a considerable amount of time at the world-famous Azimut Boatyard at Viareggio, may I put it straight – the Azimut group will continue to be the flag bearer of the global luxury yachting scene in the foreseeable future as well.
Mediterranean Yachting Scene
The Mediterranean has historically been the most preferred yachting location for luxury yacht charters and the 2018 – 19 period will be no exception. This is where some of the world’s most prestigious superyachts are located and being blessed with a stupendous diversity of locales and cultures just adds up to the popularity of the region.
The Mediterranean stretch has everything that a passionate yacht enthusiast can ask for – diverse countries, fascinating cultures and stunning landscapes.
The best part of yachting in the Mediterranean stretch is that all the countries are kind of huddled close to each other, thereby, enabling yacht enthusiasts to plan itineraries that are high on action. Needless to say, the yachting infrastructure in the Mediterranean is absolutely world-class that are privy to some of the most prestigious superyachts, designer shops, elegant restaurants, cosy bars and miscellaneous conveniences that you might need.
Southern France has been a European yachting hotspot since the late 18th Century. The reason isn’t hard to guess. Blessed as it is with around 300 days of sunshine per year, a pulsating nightlife and an eclectic mix of over 3000 restaurants to satiate your gastronomic urges, makes the French Riviera an all-time great yachting destination.
For the benefit of yachting enthusiasts, the sun-kissed Mediterranean has been divided into two exclusive areas – Med West and Med East. Both these regions are culturally distinctive and blessed with a multiplicity of stunning beaches, secreted coves, magnificent ports and yachts of all sizes and shapes pass through this paradise-like setting.
Popular Mediterranean Yachting Routes
The French Riviera, The Italian Riviera, Croatia, Spain, Turkey and Greece.
Best Season for the Mediterranean
The peak season for Mediterranean yacht charter is from April to October. Charter bookings are at their peak in the period between July and August, as the climate is salubrious and the wind speed is ideal for yachting.
Another excellent time to charter yachts in the Mediterranean is from April to May and September to October. During these periods the temperatures are still very comfortable. During these periods you have greater flexibility in choosing berths and marinas. The onshore tourists too aren’t large in numbers.
Charter Cost in the Mediterranean
Typically Mediterranean Luxury Superyacht charters may cost in the range of 30,000 Euro to over 1,000,000 per week. An “Advanced Provisioning Allowance” or (APA) to has to be paid. Inclusive type vacations may cost between Euro 15,000 to 50,000 per week.
Caribbean Yacht Scene
Oh! To be in the Caribbean! The very name evokes images of gorgeous balmy beaches, lush green rainforests and warm and friendly locals where the rich and the famous come to holiday. In this era of exclusivity, there are enough escape routes in these islands of paradise. Be it the Sulphur Springs of St.Lucia or exploring the Spice Island of the Caribbean – Grenada. There are a plethora of surprises awaiting the visitors.
Many visitors, who are taken aback by the sheer beauty of the natural panorama of the Caribbean, opt for driving across the island to discover the hidden treasures of this island.
Just imagine spending your days on the blissful beaches of the world-class Caribbean islands from the deck of your luxury yacht and being rejuvenated by the distinct aromas of the islands.
The sheer variety of recreational options in the Caribbean Islands will baffle you, ranging from Antigua’s world-class sailing wonderland to Puerto Rico’s Spanish Virgin Islands. Sailors have for centuries fallen in love with the bewitching charms of the Caribbean and the waterways in this part of the world are truly sailor-friendly with a fascinating array of onshore and offshore activities.
Not many are aware that the Caribbean is a cluster of 7000 islands, out of which only 10 % is inhabited, leaving a tremendous amount of spaces that are ideal for secretive island hideaways. I asked a just-returned Caribbean island hopper at Mumbai International Airport about the kind of experience he had on his Yachting Vacation in the Caribbean and lazily his reply was – “The Palm fringed Caribbean beaches are soaked in rum, rocked by music, rolled by change, lapped by emerald blue waters and blown by hurricanes”. That perhaps suffices the essence of the Caribbean.
Popular Caribbean Yachting Routes
Antigua, St Barts, Anguilla, St Martin, The British Virgin Islands, The US Virgin Islands, the Grenadines.
Best Season for Caribbean
The peak Caribbean yachting season begins in November and lasts till July. The yachting phenomenon reaches its crescendo from mid-December to March, which coincides with the winter in North America and Europe. Needless to say, yachting enthusiasts from these two regions outnumber arrivals from other parts of the world.
While booking your yacht vacations in the Caribbean, always keep in mind the “Hurricane Season” from late July to early October. In the southern Caribbean, hurricanes don’t occur as frequently as it does places like Cuba, Bahamas and the East Coast of the U.S. . This being the offseason, many cost-conscious yacht enthusiasts opt for chartering yachts in the Caribbean and a plethora of truly enticing deals are also available. Although there is always the risk of sea-storms, the wind velocity is on the lighter side.
Charter Costs in the Caribbean
In the Caribbean yacht charter, prices may vary according to age, design and size of the yacht. You can expect anything from USD 30,000 to USD 1,000,000 per week. In the Caribbean, they have a system of “Advance Provisioning Allowance” or (APA). So one has to take that into account as well. However, if you are interested in “Inclusive” type yacht holidays, the cost might range between USD 15,000 to USD 50,000 per week.
Traveller’s Fact File
Planning Your Luxury Yacht Charter Vacations
Since embarking on luxury yacht charters are once in a lifetime experience, you must have a well thought out plan. You need to be aware of what activities and services are included in the booking. All Yacht Charters have a Base Charter Fee, but you need to know what is included and what additional expenses you might incur in course of your voyage so as to avoid any onboard hassles.
There are multiplicities of Charter contracts and you need to figure out which one is best suited for your style of navigation and lifestyle.
Choosing the right contract depends a lot on which part of the world you are voyaging, as there are various methods in the yachting industry that determines how the payment structure is designed. For instance, an MYBA (Worldwide Yachting Association), the contract is under the jurisdiction of Western Mediterranean Terms (WMT) and is by far the most widely accepted contract for yachts on the Mediterranean stretch.
This contract is popularly referred to as a “plus all expenses” contract and makes it mandatory for the charterer to pay for fuel, food, beverages and marina fees as additional costs, exclusive of the Base Charter Fee. Thanks to technology, these expenses can also be tracked using an Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA).
Fuel & Dock Fees
Fuel cost depends on the distance navigated and the speed of navigation. Fuel cost is borne by the charterer, inclusive of Jet Skis and generators used at the marina to generate electricity.
Value Added Tax
In European countries and the Caribbean islands, VAT is applicable if you wish to disembark in their territorial waters. However if the yachts are commercially registered, they are VAT exempt.
While booking a yacht charter consider the following tips –
- Profile of the yacht builder.
- Fleet size.
- Age of the yacht (3 years or less is ideal).
- Insist on state-of-the-art equipments.
- Interior designing.
- Destination Profile.
- Itineraries based on your lifestyle and navigation style.
- Off – shore activities.