With the end of October and the official end of summer time in the West, I find the daylight savings malarkey leaves me confused and suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). This year I plan to beat the winter blues and head to Oman for some winter sun. I have always wanted to revisit after a brief introduction to the stunning country during the Louise Vuitton America’s Cup World Series in 2016. I will be recharging my batteries at Six Senses Zighy Bay. For those of you looking to exchange snowfall for sunshine then there are plenty of options as some of the most exotic places in the world welcome the finest superyachts to their shores. So, as the nights grow darker and the weather becomes increasingly miserable, we have selected a handful of yachts and cruising grounds to entice you out of hibernation.
We start with the Caribbean. A playground for superyachts for many years, the far-flung islands cover a vast area and offer countless cruising possibilities. The devastation caused by the recent hurricanes have made some areas off-limits this winter, but 75% of the Caribbean was untouched by the hurricanes, and one of the most direct ways to help is to visit. So, rather than avoid this stunning cruising ground why not head to the Caribbean’s Windward islands of St Lucia, Grenada and the Grenadines? The UK and many of the major European capitals all have direct flights to St Lucia, Martinique or Grenada. And for anyone based in the US and looking for a shorter travel time, the Bahamas are a fantastic option. The Leeward Island of Antigua has confirmed that the marinas are all welcoming yachts for the season, while St Maarten and St Barth’s main marinas have advised that they will be up and running next month, ready for New Year festivities.
The 34m (111’7) motor yacht Solis is available to charter in the Caribbean and the Bahamas this winter season. With accommodation for up to eight guests and a crew of six, she is often referred to as a beach house on the water and is the perfect yacht for lounging or enjoying cocktails at sundown. With a versatile layout, both inside and out on deck, she is an award winning yacht and, I have been told, she only charters during the winter months. Just look at those sun pads. Prices from US$120,000 per week.
Everyone talks about Indonesia being the next big thing, and judging from the amount of coverage these cruising grounds are garnering, it can’t all be hype. I haven’t been myself as commitments have always meant that, due to the lengthy journey time to reach the destination, I would simply have time to high five the captain and get back on the plane. However, I have been told that it is worth the journey ten times over. The unspoiled waters are blessed with year round temperatures and ideal sailing conditions. Most of the islands are uninhabited, with pristine beaches, amazing underwater life, and well-protected anchorages. Dragon spotting in the Komodo archipelago is certainly on my bucket list.
Merging traditional Indonesian design with modern superyacht opulence, the 65.2m (213’1) Lamima sleeps up to 14 guests (and the 19 crew members who attend to their every wish). Expect ample deck space for sunbathing, yoga with the onboard instructor, or an outdoor massage with the onboard masseuse therapist. Dine on freshly caught fish (your own catch should you be a keen fisherman) and scuba dive the alluring sea life of Southeast Asia – Lamima even has its own scuba-certified dive centre onboard so you might come home with a certificate! Prices from US$126,000 per week.
The Indian Ocean provides a stunning selection of cruising areas. The stereo-typical honeymoon destination (yes, I had my honeymoon here), the 115 islands of the Seychelles lend themselves perfectly to cruising. A fantastic alternative winter charter destination to the Caribbean, they comprise ancient granite and coral atolls with aquamarine lagoons and powdery sands. This is the place to head if you are looking for pure escapism.
The islands are best viewed from the deck of a yacht, and the panoramic sundeck on board the 55m (180’4) Ocean Paradise is just the ticket. Her lavish interior has an open plan arrangement providing flexible living options, making her perfect for families or groups of friends. 12 guests are accommodated in six staterooms, including a full beam master suite on the main deck and a VIP suite on the upper deck. The sun can be strong in the Indian Ocean and Ocean Paradise has plenty of shaded deck space for al fresco dining and relaxation. But for those wanting to soak up the sunshine, her large sundeck has everything you would expect from a Benetti build with a Jacuzzi, bar and seating area, and both shaded and sun soaked lounging areas. And, should guests be looking to explore the stunning underwater world that the Seychelles has to offer, or to simply jump in for a paddle, she boasts a huge swimming platform and beach club area, allowing guests to access to the water and her plethora of water toys. Prices from US$275,000 per week.
Equally dazzling, the thousands of islands of the Maldives are, in my opinion, in a league of their own. I have had the privilege of visiting three of the islands, as well as the capital, and I have to say, when it comes to tropical getaways the Maldives cannot be beaten. Amazing diving, fishing and snorkeling, amazing cuisine ashore, and peaceful anchorages galore - the 1,000+ desert islands are perfect for those wishing to drift Robinson Crusoe style.
Heading to the Maldives this winter, the 77m (252’6) Silver Fast, is not a yacht to drift on. She is in fact the largest and fastest aluminium motor yacht afloat and can reach top speeds of up to 27 knots. She is proven for long ocean passages and is quiet and vibration free for night-time passages between the atolls, and boasts Quantum zero speed stablisers, making her equally comfortable at anchor. Her shallow draft (2.6-metres) makes her perfect for cruising the Maldives. Boasting a spacious sea level beach club, a stunning sun deck with Jacuzzi, and a private deck area for the owner’s apartment, she embodies outdoor living at its finest. And if the heat is overwhelming, guests can head into the winter garden – an air-conditioned space that allows for flexible indoor/outdoor dining for up to 20 guests. Prices from €650,000 per week.
For those looking for an established yachting area that still retains an off-the-beaten-track appeal then Thailand’s Andaman coastline is ideal. Wonderfully diverse, with a colourful culture and fantastic cuisine, these cruising grounds are flourishing in ancient traditions with a fusion of 21st century vitality. The secret of any cruising experience here is to mix the two faces of the nation and spend time ashore partying on the larger islands, then recovering on board and exploring the untouched isles that seem to be a million miles from anywhere.
Offering two master suites or one large penthouse, the 62.5m (205’) Party Girl is ideally suited for chartering and is available in Southeast Asia this winter season. 12 guests are accommodated in a variety of accommodation layouts, including two twin cabins that can be converted into doubles, and an additional two double cabins to the usual six guest cabin layout found on yacht's of her size. Suited to her surroundings, her interior offers a Zen-like atmosphere that is ideally suited for relaxation, while out on deck she provides ample areas to enjoy the alfresco lifestyle that cruising the stunning coastline of Thailand and her off-lying islands demands. All this, and an 18-person crew to cater to your every need, you will want to be friends with this girl for a long time. Prices from US$490,000 per week.