Yachting Extravagance: Ripples of Luxury in Waters
Popular as the playground for the rich and famous, yachting holidays are gaining quick global popularity for their array of options and whiff of luxury
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. – 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 on me and to my utter surprise, I met 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, 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 was persistent 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 symbolises 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 among the most impressive yachts that range from 34 foot to the 100 metre plus yachts built by the Azimut group.
Apart from style, elegance and sophistication, what drives business tycoons and celebrities to opt for Azimut Yachts was 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 construct 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 flagbearer of the global luxury yachting scene in the foreseeable future as well.
Mediterranean Yacht Scene
The best part of yachting in the Mediterranean stretch is that all the countries are kind of huddled close, 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 and privy to some of the most prestigious super yachts, 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 3,000 restaurants to satiate your gastronomic urges – the French Riviera is 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 multiplicity of stunning beaches, secreted coves, magnificent ports and yachts of all sizes and shapes pass through this paradise like setting.
Popular Yachting Routes
The French Riviera, The Italian Riviera, Croatia, Spain, Turkey and Greece.
Best Season for Mediterranean
The peak season for Mediterranean yacht charter is from April to October. Charter bookings are at their peak 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. You also have greater flexibility in choosing berths and marinas. The onshore tourists too aren't large in numbers.
Charter CostS in the Mediterranean
Typically, a 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) too 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 visitors. 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 7,000 islands, out of which only 10 per cent is inhabited, leaving 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 Caribbean.
Best Season for Caribbean
The peak Caribbean yachting season begins from 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 in places like Cuba, Bahamas and the East Coast of the US. This being the off-season, 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 also have a system of APA and one must take that into account too. However if you are interested in an inclusive yacht holiday, the cost might range between USD 15,000 to USD 50,000 per week.