Sophia Tutino proudly mediated a webinar for industry professionals hosted by IYBA and Yacht Club de Monaco regarding cruising destinations this Fall in the Mediterranean. Occurring during the 20th of July, the experts covered the benefits of chartering during low season at these premium destinations including: France, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Greece and Turkey. With increasing slack in Covid restrictions and the pent up wanderlust for many charterers, everyone is eager to get back to sea. The problem is that everyone seems to be taking their vacation time from now until September. The hot weather, the crowds, and the most popular (interesting) sites being unavailable during the high season makes the upcoming month of August the most complicated month to vacation. As mentioned before, a yacht charter is a unique experience that can allow you to visit many destinations within a shorter amount of time without the hassle of transferring accommodations. It also allows you to experience different cultures, cuisines and countries with your guests and provides the flexibility to enjoy the company of family and friends in the best possible way with a tailored Itinerary.
Among the experts were Marsha Turola for Italy, Maja Ban for Croatia, Patricia Bullock for Spain, and Ben Marshall for Greece. Our correspondents from France and Turkey sadly could not join the webinar. Their insight on reasons to consider these destinations in the fall versus the summer were invaluable. They explained that the main reasons charterers should prefer these destinations in the fall is that the low season has much less intense hot weather and that it is less crowded by swarms of tourists. Plus, during the low season, the low season rates to charter are significantly less. This provides a much better value for money. Additionally, by this time, it is everyone’s hope that many more Europeans will be vaccinated which will facilitate travel and the opening of shops, restaurants and other tourist sites. The main themes that the experts covered for their respective countries popped up again and again.
Italy by Marsha Turola
Marsha focused on the possibility of experiencing activities during the fall which are otherwise impossible to do in the summer due to the heat/humidity and mass tourism. Based in Naples, of which it’s city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site, she described the various historical sites such as castles and palaces, archaeological museums, excavation sites, Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, and even churches to be seen. In and around Naples, there are plenty of smaller cities along the Amalfi coast, plus others which have ancient Greek and Roman ruins as well as excavations sites. In the fall, going on a tour of a few hours would be much more enjoyable due to a much more relaxed atmosphere. Since the locals are not on holiday during this time, there are also less yachts on the ports and in the seas so one can enjoy the unobstructed views and sunsets. It is also cooler in the evening but maintains a warm water temperature for a refreshing swim. Also there are no anchor’s fees..
Greece by Ben Marshall
Ben highlighted that the weather during the fall would be much more ideally suited to do excursions onshore since it is much less hot and windy than in July and August. The sea is still lovely and warm at around 23 degrees but not blaring down and making it unpleasant above the water. He suggested that the best way to spend your days are to see some wonderful archaeological site, vineyard, harbour, or different small and secluded island during the day and then in the second half of the day after lunch to go for a swim or a relaxing sail. Due to construction on the Corinth Canal, charterers have had to take a scenic detour which has allowed them to explore closer to the south of the Peloponnese, one of the prettiest spots in Greece, Ben claims. In the fall, there are not too many tourists putting pressure on each small city’s infrastructure and is much easier to enjoy the restaurants, architecture, culture and historical sites. Among the most popular are Santorini, Mykonos, Athens and even the underwater city of Pavlopetri. Plus, there is wildlife to been discovered in the off season such as the pods of Sperm Whales.
Croatia by Maia Ban
Croatia was very welcoming to tourists since the start of last summer despite Covid, unlike most other EU countries. As Croatia is a smaller country, it seemed to have remained under the radar. Maia mentioned that Croatia’s unassuming reputation allows more privacy to some of the high profile clients that are looking for a getaway without being disturbed. This is true even more so on a yacht. Those who were able to visit, experienced less crowded beaches and got the opportunity to experience Dubrovnik (main filming location of Game of Thrones) in a more relaxed environment. While there, one can visit all the nature, the islands and national parks along the nice stretch of coast. Plus, more shops and restaurant have opened since last year as Covid has eased up. Maja reminded us that global climate change is making summer too hot and we should adapt by staggering and postponing our summer holidays to the fall.
Patricia Bullock for Spain-Balearic Archipelago
Finally, Patricia informed us on the various ports and marinas in the Balearic Islands of which there are 5 main ones. Most importantly is the Palma de Mallorca, the capital of Mallorca where there are additional places for yachts 50 meters or over. She also explained that Palma and Ibiza city are among the most convenient to visit while chartering a yacht because of their accessibility and proximity to the marina. The charterers and their guests can dock and then enjoy a nice evening at the copious amounts of Michelin star restaurants and lovely beaches with a lively nightlife. In some areas there are Covid restrictions, however, to take precautions for health and safety. If one is looking for a quieter and calmer scene, Mallorca is full of culture, agriculture/greenery and beautiful architecture. During the fall, the weather is just perfect because in September, the wind starts to blow and the humidity decreases by about 50%. A popular route runs from there to Barcelona and Valencia as well. Most importantly in the fall, Spain attracts sport, cultural and music enthusiasts. There are several sports tournaments for football, tennis, regatta and golf etc. as well as festivals and cultural events which provides a vibrant scene.
Each of the speakers had come to a consensus that there are still a number of requirements for travellers. The difference obviously depends on those traveling within vs. those coming from outside the EU and several rules can apply…After a few months of continuous vaccinations and varying levels between red and green countries most of the EU countries have mandated the PLF (Passenger Locator Form) which is filled out and then presented as a QR code. Additionally, within the EU, there are Green passports for those who are vaccinated in the EU that allows them to travel among themselves. For those traveling from outside, the vaccination card is valid. Even so, most travellers must either take an Antigen test 24 hours before arrival, a PCR test 72 hours before, or provide a certificate of recovery. If none of these documents can be presented or if the person comes with a positive Covid result, they must fulfil a 10-day quarantine. This is required of all passengers and crew on board the yachts. As we have learned from Maia, Croatia no longer allows quarantine on the yachts due to previous breaches in the quarantine rules. Instead they must self-isolate in a selected quarantine hotel.