Hidden coves. Uninhabited islands. Deserted beaches. Marine life in its natural habitat. Some places are best explored by sea. But if the idea of a luxury yachting vacation seems out of reach – i.e. you aren’t a billionaire, don’t own a yacht or know nothing about the boating life – think again. Cruising the high seas can still be yours now that luxury yacht adventures have not only become more accessible, they are the new vacation du jour.
Crew it Yourself
For those who do have a boating license and know the ropes, the sea really is your oyster. Yachtico, based in Florida’s Boca Raton, has an inventory of over 5000 yachts (motor and sail) that offer luxury yacht charters in stunning spots like Greece, Croatia, the South of France, Italy, Thailand and the Caribbean. For experienced boaters, opt for a ‘bareboat charter’ – just you and your closest crew. Or to truly relax, add on a captain (per diem rate) to do the navigation for you, if just for a day. While prices vary (depending on yacht type, size, location and crew), many yacht vacations – and especially self-propelled excursions – are surprisingly affordable.
Cruising through Croatia in a six-bedroom, 46-foot-long catamaran is a dream come true. Croatia occupies almost the entire eastern Adriatic Sea coastline and this 7-day sail along the Dalmatian Coast will take you past an astounding 1,244 islands. Some inhabited, some not.
What to Expect
The rate for 7 nights starts at $4,900 and if you choose to go without a skipper or crew, it may be necessary to obtain an ICC (International Certificate of Competence) certificate and VHF radio license (Yachtico can assist). It’s also worth noting on all private yacht charters, guests – in addition to the weekly rate – are responsible for expenses including food and beverage aboard the yacht, dockage, fuel, taxes, and gratuity.
Private Luxury Yacht Charter
The Vespucci, a dreamy 100-foot superyacht, featuring four cabins was originally built in 1978 and painstakingly restored in 2018 to its original glory. Run by a top-notch captain and crew, The stylish Vespucci stays true to its late 1970s design, gleaming teak, retro stools and furniture, and champagne-neutral fabrics set off with pops of Riva’s trademark sky blues and lobster reds. Standouts include the VIP cabin (with bold splashes of red); the impressive master suite (swirls of blue), and newly added oversized sundeck perfect for sundowners and dinners alfresco. The Vespucci can accommodate 10 people and has four bedrooms (cabins), four bathrooms, kitchen and huge outdoor entertaining space.
Fun fact: The current owner first came across a model of the original ship decades before, when at just ten years old, he accompanied his father to Monaco Boat Service where he was mesmerized by an oversized model of legendary boat designer Carlo Riva’s own vessel.
Operated by Northrop & Johnson, go for the 8 day cruise of Sardinia, Italy. The waters off Sardinia offer some of the best boating conditions in the world. At the heart of the Costa Smeralda lies the exclusive enclave of Porto Cervo, long favored by the jet set, for its designer boutiques and toiny restaurants, perfect for stopover.
What to Expect
The cruise can accommodate 10 people and the cost of $47,000 includes seven nights, eight days. You’ll have your own captain and five crew members who attend to your every need. It also comes equipped with fabulous water toys: paddleboards, wakeboards, water skis, even an inflatable platform and sailboat.
Yacht Adventure for Wildlife Enthusiasts
Based in the Galápagos Islands, made famous by Charles Darwin, the 237-foot Stella Maris (which translates to ‘star of the sea’) offers wildlife enthusiasts a luxurious knowledge-based charter in the heart of the world’s most diverse ecosystem. The yacht comes with a crew of ten and seven cabins accommodating up to 14 guests. The décor is chic with soft colors and furnishings, and the master suite features panoramic windows and private access to an outdoor lounge, and there are two VIP staterooms (cabins) located on the main deck and four on the lower. A swanky bar, central staircase separating the formal dining and living areas and spacious sundeck with Jacuzzi and sun loungers round out the living space.
Operated by Burgess, two seven-night itineraries are offered, both personalized, and both spectacular. But for the ultimate Galapagos immersion, we love the San Cristobal to Twin Craters route. Glimpse blue-footed boobies on San Cristobal Island, swim with sea lions off Lobos Island and visit a private reserve of centurion-old tortoises. The true standouts of this experience are the personalized shore excursions led by the yacht’s handpicked naturalist guides.
What to Expect
The seven-night, eight-day cruise can accommodate 14 and costs from $180,500, which includes the charter fee, meals served onboard (Stella is known for her gastronomic experience), shore excursions, naturalist guides, snorkeling gear and equipment. Guests also pay an ‘advance provisioning allowance’ that covers expenses such as food, beverages and other expenses not included in the charter fee; the unused balance is returned.
Over The Top Luxury
If living large is on your travel bucket list, the 164-foot superyacht EIV – with its five staterooms and crew of nine – fits the bill. Literally (you need deep pockets for this one). Melding classic Italian design (by Rossinavi) with American ingenuity, EIV is based in US and Caribbean waters but is capable of crossing the oceans and cruising in areas characterized by shallow waters. The yacht’s elegant Italian interior, a mix of contemporary and modern, features four cabins (each with ensuite bathroom) plus a master suite on the main deck, complete with private terrace. Designed by Venice-based Enrico Gobbi, the vibe is superluxe meets laidback with custom décor; onyx, leather, marble, bronzed brass metal, Murano glass and fabrics by Hermès, Rubelli and Armani Casa. Outdoor spaces include an oversized swimming pool, sundeck and bar.
The Mediterranean and Caribbean on the crown jewels. In winter the Bahamas, and specifically Exuma, is a preferred favorite among EIV devotees. And for good reason. Exuma’s 365 cays are known for their laid-back way of life, which explains why many of the rich and famous have homes here. The shallow waters exclude large cruise ships so EIV passengers are privy to pristine beaches far from the crowds. Snorkeling, diving and a visit to Exuma’s most famous residents, the swimming pigs, is a must.
What to Expect
Operated by IYC, the cruises are around eight days and seven nights and cost $245,000, which includes crew, charter, and amenities. Beyond the glamor of it all, the superyacht is also equipped with an elevator, gym, steam room, bicycles, canoes and fishing gear.