Through the glamor of television and movies, we are constantly wowed and swept away by scenes of the rich and famous boarding luxury yachts for long weekends–like the popular series, Below Deck, or the James Bond classic, Casino Royale. But, did you know that you, too, can board a luxury yacht in lieu of a big cruise ship for your next vacation?
I recently had the pleasure to board the Cristal, a charter yacht and just one ship within the larger fleet under Goolets, a global yacht charter agency. Goolets provides cruising adventures that range from Croatia to Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Indonesia, and the Caribbean. For this particular weekend, the Cristal set sail on the Adriatic Sea, hopping along the Dalmation Coast of Croatia, where we visited Split, as well as the islands of Hvar and Vis.
What is a superyacht?
Goolets has a new line of DS Yachts (Dalmatico Super Yachts) that provide a high-end sailing experience. But what is a superyacht?
A superyacht is usually privately owned, professionally run, and at least approximately 80 feet or longer. There is a crew on board that provides best-in-class service to guests–a captain, a chef, a deck crew, and other crew members that provide room service, bartending, serving, etc. For small or large groups of people who want to cruise together, this means private, attentive service at sea.
To accommodate a slightly larger group, the Cristal had 15 cabins and 11 crew members. It included a dining space with bar service, a sundeck with a jacuzzi and workout area, a bow deck with chaise lounges, as well as other lounge spaces around the vessel. To top it off, the boat provided a jet ski, SeaBob, E-foil, paddle boards, and even a giant waterslide that ran from the top sundeck straight down to the water. So, if you wanna play, you’ve got the best water toys to choose from.
Goolets’ line of DS Yachts also strives to follow a “smart yachting movement,” which focuses on affordability and environmentally conscious sailing, such as lowering daily fuel consumption.
How does booking it work?
If you want to book a private yacht, then it’s time to gather your group. Goolets offers ships that range from 4 to 18 rooms for an 8-day excursion of your choice. The price of the ship for a week seems high at first glance, but decreases when split between guests. For a ship like the Cristal, with the full food and drink options, it would all boil down to about $5,000 per person for a group to sail in luxury for a week.
Full food on board would include a buffet breakfast, and a 3-course lunch and dinner, all prepared daily by the chef with fresh local ingredients. There are also three tiers of drink packages to choose from.
The perks of booking privately is that everything becomes customizable. From the moment you book, you begin to personalize the trip with a “concierge” who will gather all allergies and preferences, as well as design the itinerary to your liking. You can choose which islands you may want to stop at along the way, or even request to put on a party to celebrate an event like a birthday. For example, on our last night, we had a barbeque on the top deck and danced to a DJ all night long under the stars.
What’s more, you can ask to go to a port early on a specific day, or to stay in the water and splash around a bit longer. The trip becomes your own! No need to memorize departure and arrival schedules that bigger cruise lines have in place for their guests. But, the best part of the experience, in my opinion, was the crew. The Cristal crew was professional and personal–just all around lovely people to get to know.
So I’ve booked the yacht…what now?
Like any cruise, consider flying in a day or two beforehand just in case of any unexpected flight delays or cancellations. You can ask your concierge to help connect you with a hotel at your starting port. In our case, this was Split, a medieval town that hums along the Riva Promenade during the day and comes alive within the confines of Diocletian’s Palace at night.
Then, each day is truly yours. Once sailing, I’d sometimes find myself alone on a plush couch on the sun deck reading my book, wind rushing around me. I’d gaze up every once in a while to see another boat passing by. Other times I’d have a cup of café and chat with a friend in the lounge space. Once we’d anchored in a little nook at the edge of an island, I’d clamor to get into the queue to test my balance on the E-foil.
Island time is also on your call. You can stay and enjoy the amenities on board, or, on your own time and dime, you can opt to grab a bite at a local restaurant, take a hike, or shop at artisan vendors along the shoreline.
Upon docking at Hvar one sunny evening, a group of us on the Cristal took a journey up to the fortress, Fortica, to get a bird’s eye view of the island at sunset. There was actually a restaurant on top where people were enjoying a night cap for the evening. The next day we reached Vis: small and quiet, with locals on their way to school and work. Here, some cruisers grabbed ice cream, while others took a leisurely walk to the peninsula of Prirovo, where a 16th century church and the Monastery of St. Jerome stood on the foundation of an old Roman theater.
Sail the Mediterranean in style
Other Goolets itineraries may take you to the popular city of Dubrovnik, a well-known Game of Thrones location, or to Kotor in the neighboring country of Montenegro. The list of possibilities goes on…and the journey is all up to you.
Be mindful that the Mediterranean is a popular place to cruise, so pricing will vary by season, with late June through August typically being the most expensive and in demand. And while your group has the ship all to themselves, remember that the islands are popular ports for other tourists visiting for the day, too. Our trip fell during October, at the very end of the yachting season, which was a perfect way to take advantage of the destinations’ shoulder season.
Prior to this experience, I didn’t know yachting could be this accessible–it’s certainly changed the way I think about cruising. If you’re looking for both personalization and a hands-off approach to exploring, then superyachting will be a choice that grants you both luxuries.
And who doesn’t want to feel like a celebrity for a week?
For more information, and to book your own private cruise on a Goolets charter yacht, visit goolets.net.
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