A Mediterannean Overview
There are two parts to the Mediterranean, as far as yacht charters go: the Western Mediterranean and the Eastern Mediterranean. The Western Med encompasses everything from the United Kingdom and Portugal to France and Italy, while the Eastern Med primarily refers to Greece, Turkey, and Croatia.
In general, the Western Mediterranean is far more developed in terms of yacht charter – there are a lot more bareboats and crewed yachts available, and the services and infrastructure ashore are generally quite good. By contrast, the Eastern Mediterranean is more up-and-coming. You can definitely find excellent charter yachts there, but they (and the onshore services) will be fewer and farther between.
Most first-time charter guests who choose the Mediterranean for their cruise vacation stick with destinations anywhere from Spain to Italy.
For the purposes of yacht charter, the Western Mediterranean is broken down into several major regions. Because yachts focus on smaller geographic regions than cruise ships, you could visit each one of these major regions a dozen times before you will have truly experienced everything that each destination has to offer.
Chartering in the Balearic Islands
To the west is Spain’s Balearic Islands, due south of Barcelona. Its main island is Mallorca, with Menorca and Ibiza to the east and west, respectively. There are world-renowned discotheques on Ibiza, plus quaint villages such as Valdemossa on Mallorca. It looks like a postcard, with old stone streets lined with boutique shops and outdoor cafes. Palma de Mallorca, where most yachts are based in this region, is a fully modern city functioning within centuries-old architecture.
The French Riviera
Northeast of the Balearics is the Côte d’Azur, or French Riviera. The Côte d’Azur is known for its world-class restaurants and resorts, and it includes both Antibes and St. Tropez–two of the most fashionable, big-money charter destinations in the world. The place is a perfect backdrop for Hollywood stars and billionaire moguls alike.
Italy’s Cinque Terre
If you continue east along the Mediterranean coast from France, you’ll cross the border into Italy and the marinas of San Remo and Genoa. These are favorite pickup and drop-off points for fully crewed yacht charters, which can include itineraries that either head due south to the islands of Corsica and Sardinia, or that stay along the Italian Riviera and head south along the Cinque Terre coastline. The latter is a beautiful stretch, with row after row of buildings painted in almost iridescent reds, oranges, and yellows. Your route here may include a small island called Elba, an old hideout of Napoleon Bonaparte’s.
You can also find charter yachts in southern Italy, between Naples on the mainland and the island of Sicily to the south. The area nearest Naples is known as the Amalfi Coast, and it includes Mount Vesuvius as well as the ruins of Pompeii. Charter brokers who have made the journey rave about the scenery.
Some charter yacht itineraries can combine French and Italian destinations, especially if you book two weeks back-to-back for your Mediterranean cruise.
Following is just one of many possible itineraries in the Western Mediterranean, this one for two weeks and cruising among various French and Italian ports. Don’t be surprised if you see the names of islands that are new to you; charter yachts are small enough to get into places that bigger cruise ships cannot access.
- Day One: Antibes to St. Tropez
- Day Two: St. Tropez to Isles de Lerins.
- Day Three: Isles de Lerins to Calvi, Corsica.
- Day Four: Calvi to La Girolata.
- Day Five: La Girolata to Campomoro.
- Day Six: Campomoro to Bonifacio.
- Day Seven: Bonifacio to Cavallo/Lavezzi.
- Day Eight: Lavezzi to the Budelli Islands.
- Day Nine: Budelli to Porto Cervo, Sardinia.
- Day Ten: Porto Cervo to Cala di Volpe.
- Day Eleven: Cala di Volpe to Porto Rotondo.
- Day Twelve: Porto Rotondo to Olbia.
For a look at additional Mediterranean cruise itineraries (including round-trip options), along with charter yacht itineraries in other parts of the world, you can read Have the Whole Boat: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Charter Vacations, from which this information is adapted.