Navigator talks to Northrop & Johnson’s owners and charter clients about their favorite cruising grounds and the yachts that were an essential part in creating long-lasting memories.
The Inside Scoop
This, from an experienced charter client who has chartered throughout some of the world’s most popular cruising grounds, shows just how different each yachting experience can be. Discovering new destinations is nothing new – after all, explorers have been “discovering” new lands for centuries.
However, exploring the oceans as a leisure pursuit is a relatively recent pastime and, given the surge in demand for luxury yachts venturing further afield, it seems that lesser known, previously undiscovered cruising grounds hold much appeal for today’s charterers. That said, the majority of clients continue to opt for the well-trodden paths, including the French Riviera and the Amalfi Coast throughout the summer months, turning to the Caribbean and The Bahamas during the winter. Just how do these traditional cruising grounds compare to the far-flung shores of the South Pacific and Southeast Asia, or the dramatic landscapes of the Pacific Northwest and the Baltic?
Navigator spoke to a number of owners and repeat charter clients about their favorite cruising grounds and the type of yacht they preferred. The responses were surprising in many ways, their preferences being exceedingly diverse. However, most say they are so happy to be on the water that they don’t mind where they are cruising and on board which yacht. They are just happy in the knowledge that their trusted Northrop & Johnson charter broker only recommends the best of both and, given that every yacht in the charter fleet offers the utmost in luxury and service, they know they are in safe hands.
A Glimpse of the Adventure
What are your most enduring memories from vacations aboard a superyacht?
“Memories from our charter aboard CHASING DAYLIGHT in The Bahamas are those we will always remember,” says a charter guest aboard the 164-foot (50m) motor yacht. “From sportfishing and messing about on her water toys to spectacular diving, the activities on offer are second-to-none and the crew’s fishing expertise and watersports instruction came in handy.”
The owner of a 147-foot (45m) motor yacht says that he has had so many special moments on board his yacht that he can’t pick one specifically. “Right now we are on our second circumnavigation of the Pacific Ocean and have just spent eight days cruising the Society Islands,” he says. “They really are seemingly made for the waterborne, with snorkeling and diving, swimming and kayaking opportunities vying for our time. Ashore, the countless monuments and ruins were equally captivating and we could easily spend several more weeks immersing ourselves in Polynesian culture.”
Before 2020, the owners of the 125-foot (38.1m) ALTAVITA spent a lot of time in Europe. “I have fond memories of waking up early to head out for a morning walk around the local village, seeking out the local markets for some fresh produce.” While the family explored, the deck crew would be busy setting up the water toys for use upon their return. “If we are at anchor, which we love the most, we go for an early morning paddleboard then sit down to our favorite breakfast prepared by our amazing chef. We then would cruise along to our next destination or stay at anchor for a few days where we would relax with our family and friends.”
What type of yacht do you typically charter?
“We are a large family group and usually charter with guests of all ages so our charter broker always recommends a large, modern motor yacht,” says a repeat charter client currently aboard the motor yacht SKYFALL. “It is spacious, stable and absolutely designed for guests’ comfort. When I first started chartering, it was always the larger sailing yachts that appealed the most,” he says. “Even though we tended only to raise the sails on occasion, the flexibility to do so added to the adventure. In my experience, many of the modern sailing yachts have the same facilities as similar sized motor yachts.”
A poll of Northrop & Johnson charter clients revealed that almost every client has cruised in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean, but an overwhelming majority were clear that if offered the chance to explore the remote waters of the Antarctic or cruise through the Northwest Passage they would jump on board. The top five cruising grounds of choice, however, remain the traditional cruising grounds, for the following reasons:
It may not be surprising to hear that the most popular cruising area for many is along the coastline of the French Riviera. The favored ports-of-call varied between St. Tropez and Monaco, with the social scene in these two famous yachting hotspots drawing clients back year after year.
II. Dalmatian Coast
Just a few opted for the Dalmatian Coast, but those who did raved at the stunning backdrops that Dubrovnik, Hvar and Split provide. The cruising grounds of Croatia offer a quieter destination than the Western Mediterranean, with breathtaking coastal scenery and hundreds of islands to discover.
III. The Grenadines
When it comes to cruising in the Caribbean, the Grenadines offer some of the most idyllic, unspoiled islands in the archipelago. Their combination of steady trade winds, short cruising distances, and natural harbors make them a firm favorite for families and sailing yacht charters.
IV. The Bahamas
Thanks to their close proximity to East Coast of the United States and their year-round balmy climate, The Bahamas are one of the preferred winter cruising grounds for the majority of Northrop & Johnson’s clients, while they also ranked high as a summer destination in 2021. With some 700 islands and uninhabited cays spread across shallow waters, The Bahamas—in particular the Exumas—are home to more than 30 diving destinations, unspoiled reefs, shallow fishing waters and fantastic beaches. It is no wonder they are so popular.
The British Virgin Islands were seemingly made for the waterborne, and our clients certainly agree. The most popular cruising area for families with young children and those cruising aboard a sailing yacht is the Sir Francis Drake channel. Here, sailing between islands is never more than a few hours and the steady easterly trade winds and abundance of sheltered coves provide perfect cruising conditions.
Straight from the Voyager’s mouth (Rephrase)
“I actually own a classic sailing yacht, but I recently chartered HANS EXPLORER and cruised along the coastline of Antarctica,” says the charterer of the 158-foot (48m) exploration vessel. “It has to have been the ultimate adventure. Indelible memories of my time on board include the magical light at night as we cruised in the height of the Antarctic summer.”
Those looking to explore more of the coastline of the French Riviera or island-hop through The Bahamas’ Exumas had a preference for smaller performance motor yachts. “We regularly charter in winter in the Exumas, and this winter we are looking forward to cruising aboard the brand new Mangusta DOPAMINE,” says a charter client. “A few summers have been spent cruising between Monaco and Cannes on board VENI VIDI VICI, stopping for lunch at anchor in the Lérins Islands before dinner in Cap-Ferrat.”
“It has to have been the ultimate adventure. Indelible memories of my time on board include the magical light at night as we cruised in the height of the Antarctic summer.”
As a world-leading luxury yacht brokerage, Northrop & Johnson delivers professional services in luxury yacht sales and purchasing, private yacht charter, new yacht construction, charter management, crew placement and more. For all your luxury yachting needs and beyond, contact Northrop & Johnson today.