Playgrounds Come In Many Forms But The Best Are On The Sea

Porto Montenegro
Porto Montenegro

Jeremy Webb investigates the most sought-after places to park your Gin Palace.

2018 is the year of the Mediterranean but what’s new there. It has been the chosen sea to visit for millennia, with Romans and Greeks having holiday homes on the shores of the sea. Jump forward two thousand years and the Uber rich have their mega-yachts sail to all corners of Med. Well, I say all corners but there are always top spots which have to be visited and to show off the size of your vessel.

The increase in Super Yachts is leading to a crisis in berthing in some of the trendiest ports as space is limited and also restrictive. A couple of new problems face the Captains of these floating homes. Berthing rage and berthing anxiety arise when the owners announce they want to visit one of the harbours on the must go to list. A lot of marinas have long waiting lists for prime berths and rumours are going around that money is exchanging hands to move people up the list.

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What are these must see and be seen places?
St. Tropez in France, Porto Cervo and Capri in Italy, are the top three and that has been the case for many years. When you think of St Tropez you immediately have images of film stars dining at the waterfront cafes or taking a dip in the sea. Brit Ekland, Madonna, George Clooney et Al.

Ibiza has always been of interest to superyachts and has become popular again after the Spanish government relaxed cruising regulations in their waters. Of course, some places are now creeping up on the established harbours because wealth has changed.

Relaxing in the Porto Montenegro Yacht Club pool
Relaxing in the Porto Montenegro Yacht Club pool

Now the age of the mega-wealthy has lowered with pop stars and internet geniuses making huge sums at a very young age. They too want to be seen on their boats but they have different tastes of where to visit. This has led to the Balearics and the Adriatic seeing much more traffic over recent years.

Marinas are having to adapt where they can and enlarge piers and jetties to accommodate the increasing size of Super Yachts. Unfortunately, a lot of the popular harbours are too small to develop and they also have restrictions to keep them from being overdeveloped. They are truly beautiful and want to remain that way. The whole reason people first visited these towns is their picture book look. These giant vessels are now having to moor offshore and use their tenders to transport passengers to and from the towns. The owners now have to have ever grander and luxurious tenders.

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There are some very tricky harbours to navigate into, with Portofino being very small and only having sixteen berths. The owners not only want to get into the port they want the prime spot in that marina. For instance, hefty fees are paid for the berth closest to the famous ice cream shop, Barbarac, or the Café de Paris, in St Tropez. A berth in Ibiza near Lio restaurant is equally sought after.

This leads to the expense of mooring your yacht in one of these prime positions. You can splash out a few thousand Euros a night for a great berth. But when your vessel costs many millions this is small fry.

In Porto Cervo for a 60-metre yacht, it is around €4800 without extra services like divers (for raising the anchor), electricity and water and line handler tips. Capri and St Tropez would be around €3000 to €3500; Ibiza runs about €5000 euros; Cannes €1300 to €1800 and Monaco €1500 to €2000. Tips and gratuities are expected and required if you should want to visit again. You will almost certainly have to go through a Port Agent who will arrange your berth for you in advance, which as mentioned may have to be several years prior to attending.

Yachts are now 100 metres or more in length and the beam (width) are also increasing, leading to difficulties piloting these craft in tight marinas. In some ports, they are now letting the Superyachts berth where cruise liners dock.  If berthing fails to increase it is predicted that Super Yachts will maintain a size of between 50 and 60 metres to allow for easier docking.

Countries that have gained through the lack of berthing in the most popular harbours are Croatia and Montenegro, as well as in Greece and the south of Turkey. These have grabbed the opportunity to attract Mega yachts as they can expand to accommodate larger vessels.

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If you want to live the life of a billionaire but within your budget, you can charter these super vessels.  To charter an average size craft you will pay €15000 a week, without fuel costs or your port entry and berthing fees. This is not too bad if twenty of your friends and family join you and share the costs. You have to book early though as these yachts are in great demand, as chartering is becoming more and more popular.

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