The sheer number of beautiful coastlines and towns to explore in the world’s most popular charter destinations makes it difficult to pick just one for your yacht charter. There’s no better way to appreciate places with beautiful scenery, culture, architecture, art and cuisine than from the vantage point of your own private yacht.
Obtaining your ideal yacht with availability for your preferred dates in the right place is key to your experience, however peak cruising season is when popular yachts are booked far in advance as the demand for yachts is high.
As a result, there is a growing demand for off-season charters where there are plenty of things to keep you entertained, from sports activities to anchoring in tranquil bays and exploring quiet destinations without high season crowds.
Benefits to booking an off-season yacht charter
Professional yacht charter brokers should be your first stop as they know the availability of yachts year-round, their crew and facilities. From sleek sailing yachts to large superyachts, charter clients are rethinking when to capitalise on seasonality and book a yacht to spend time with friends and family.
In peak season, prime berths in marinas can be hard to come by and pricey too, especially if sourced during major events, however choosing to rent a yacht in quieter periods of the year means you get to pay much less. The compromise is that you won’t have a full calendar of social and sporting events, but you’ll still find local attractions and destination highlights to discover.
The French Riviera is renowned for hosting prestigious events throughout summer months, but a yacht charter in quieter months gives you the chance to live like a local without hordes of tourists around. If you’ve dreamed of visiting that Instagram-worthy beach or cove, you’ll have a higher chance of having it all to yourself with less crowded anchorages to base yourself. Or, step ashore to visit annual harvest festivals celebrating chestnuts or truffles, head to the Alps for skiing or ring in the change of seasons with an autumnal vineyard tour.
Today, savvy charter clients have realised there’s a lot more than charter cost that can convince you to look past summer months as an option. Barcelona in Spain and Palma in Mallorca maintain great weather even in winter for charter guests, and are appealing to yachts because there are excellent bars and restaurants, lots of activities for crew during downtime and good shipyard services.
Outside of high season, travel costs can be reduced – flights can be cheaper as airlines won’t be charging premium prices during popular months. Allocating less expense on flights means you can put more consideration towards treating your family or friends to a special occasion dinner, shopping or perhaps you’d like to book a private tour at an art gallery?
What time of year offers the best weather and how will this affect your yacht charter?
It’s ideal to plan your charter itinerary to coincide with the best weather, however the warmer months also mean more crowds. The upside is that Mediterranean yacht charter destinations get fairer weather for longer seasons, unlike northern cruising destinations. Even in quieter periods, the average high temperature in the months March, April, May, September and October is still reaching 23-24° Celsius (73° F), which is pleasant enough for alfresco dining and picnics on the beach.
Alexander Coles, Senior Charter Broker at Bespoke Yacht Charter, shares his advice for booking charters in the off-season. “Chartering outside of the main summer season of July and August is becoming more and more popular. September and October are superb months to charter a yacht in many European destinations, with warm waters, daytime temperatures comfortably in the mid-twenties and no crowds. The majority of yachts will offer weekly rates 15-25% lower for September than in high season, and in October even greater discounts are often possible with many owners keen to maximise the season's income before their yacht enters the winter yard period.”
While most Mediterranean charter destinations offer good weather through to mid-October, two standout destinations at this time of the year are the Amalfi Coast and Adriatic. Alex says: "September is an ideal time of year for those looking for relaxation and to explore all of Croatia’s historic sights. Expect blue skies and great conditions for paddle-boarding and water sports. Mid-October, I enjoyed 25° Celsius (77° F) in Split in Croatia. I recommend an itinerary from Split down to Dubrovnik in the south, perhaps ending in Montenegro. Cruising highlights would include the islands of Hvar, Vis and Korčula, as well as the towns of Split and Dubrovnik. If you’re looking to party in the clubs of Hvar, then it has to be July and August.”
Among the clear benefits to taking a charter in low season is unprecedented access to surrounding towns and coastal zones; there are some things you can really only appreciate at a slower pace.
“The Amalfi Coast is a stunning place to visit at any time of year, but is especially enjoyable in late summer with its legendary villages framed by mountains and vivid blue skies,” Alex continues. “The locals have more time for visitors and the horrendous coastal traffic jams of the summer are a thing of the past. There is no better way to discover this stunning part of Italy than on your own charter yacht. The islands of Ischia and Capri are also wonderful in the quieter months and well worth visiting.”
As autumn transitions into winter, the weather in Mediterranean regions is more changeable with crisp nights and seasonal storms. Blow-up slides, water toys and snorkelling won't be high priority due to cooler water temperature, but you’ll still have all the creature comforts at hand to offset the occasional adverse weather. Throughout the seasons, you can be enjoying a luxurious spa treatment, personal training session or themed party night indoors with the attention of professional crew orchestrating your perfect holiday.
Planning an off-season yacht charter
Chartering a luxury yacht is a thoroughly planned process, so consulting an experienced charter broker will fine-tune crucial details. A charter broker has an important role to arrange all necessary paperwork to secure your desired yacht and coordinate with the vessel’s Captain regarding cruising itinerary, onboard menus, activities and special requests.
Whatever your bucket list charter destination may be, if you’re looking for a tailor-made experience with exceptional standards and lower charter rates, then opt for an off-season yacht charter.
Images: Bespoke Yacht Charter