Wave goodbye: yachting holidays catch the high tide in Romania

Paul Barbu 15/08/2019 | 07:48

Yachting vacations are becoming more attractive to Romanians, especially since the prices for a week offshore are not as high as one might expect. Companies with cash to spend who want to make sure their key employees are in the right roles can also hop onboard for teambuilding. BR donned its deck shoes and found out more.

A vacation onboard a yacht gives you the opportunity of diving in the wildest bays of the Mediterranean Sea, anchoring off remote beaches, and swimming in the warm sunshine of the southern seas in complete silence. From time to time, if you feel the need for human contact, you can dock in a Greek port where you can have dinner or shop for groceries for the days at sea.

Sail away: a holiday for every age

“Yachting holidays are an alternative to traditional holidays, a special alternative that offers different optics and a different experience at prices comparable to any other type of holiday. The interest is growing and these types of holidays are sought after. A yacht vacation does not have a strict target group; the age range is wide, from 18 to 60 years old. Sailing vacations for children are also organized, of course, accompanied by their parents. Romanians who opt for such a holiday are usually open-minded, fun, curious and courageous,” said Cristi Marinescu, owner of Private Sea company.

Such holidaymakers are generally people with office jobs and medium to high incomes. “But, not to be misunderstood, yacht holidays are not as expensive as some people think. We’re talking about young people who are now in their second wave of holidays. The first wave was “let’s see the cities” – they have been on European mini-breaks, and after that they start going to the second level of holidays,” commented Christian Simon, manager of Sailing Holidays Romania.

To enjoy the most beautiful sea adventures you do not have to go to the Maldives. Such places are also close to Romania, Greece and the rest of the south of the continent. Yachting holidays are popular in all sea / ocean-going countries, say players.

“Think of a major marina in Athens (Greece), for example, which accommodates more than 1,000 boats. Among the countries close to us, which have very developed tourism in this area, are Croatia (over 60 nautical miles), Italy, Greece, and Turkey,” said skipper Cristi Marinescu.

A major marina in Athens can accommodate more than 1,000 boats

According to Simon, Croatia is the most developed country on this segment, with a fairly extensive marina infrastructure.

“Southern France may have more ports, docks and boats, but there, most boats are privately owned, not charter. The top destinations are, in order of preference, Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Italy. Montenegro is probably fifth, even though it has no islands. The Sardinia Corsica area is very beautiful, but we are already talking about other holiday prices,” Simon noted.

A dream week on the waves at low cost

A holiday on a sailing boat can last from a minimum of one week to two, three or even several weeks, depending on the area you want to visit.

“The main destinations are the islands in your chosen area, and the secondary destinations are the bays, reef areas, and spots where you can see dolphins and any other attraction you can meet along the route. The facilities offered by a yacht are similar to those offered by a hotel: double/single cabins, bathrooms, fully equipped kitchen, lounge space, decking area. In addition, most of the time, you are surrounded by a huge swimming pool (sea/ocean, depending on where you are). There is not a day during the holiday that there isn’t a party on the boat. Besides music and parties, you can do various water sports, from a simple swim to scuba diving,” said the Private Sea skipper.

Croatia is the most developed country in the yachting holidays sector

At his company, costs vary according to the season, size and equipment of the boat, the location, and other things. For one week, costs start at EUR 350-400 (for boat rental alone) per person and can reach EUR 850-900 for a larger yacht in high season.

“Supplies cost extra. Overall, I think that for a full week, it would be hard to spend more than EUR 1,500-1,700 per person including expenses, no matter how much you do. That depends on the individual, of course,” said Marinescu.

A DIY holiday surrounded by the sea

“We try to persuade the tourists who come with us to take a do it yourself and natural kind of holiday, because skipping from one harbor to another is not that exciting. This can be done both by ferry and by car. We take tourists, even if they are accustomed to the luxury of a hotel, to the more deserted bays where we sit at anchor or beacon, along with our three to four yachts. And then, for sure, they will get the idea of greatness and relaxation, even if they have to make their own lunch!” said Simon.

As Marinescu puts it, the big difference between a traditional holidays and a yacht vacation is not that great, unless you take a huge catamaran to a port in southern Italy or some other port.

“But if we talk about a simple yacht holiday, without too many other adventures, through the Greek islands, the price can be kept within a reasonable range. When it comes to scuba diving, the only thing that needs to be taken into account is that the yacht will also need room for the oxygen tubes. If we’re just talking about snorkeling it is not a problem. But for scuba, first of all you need room for a diving instructor on the yacht, then all the equipment for those who want to scuba dive,” Simon says.

Tourists can do various water sports, from a simple swim to scuba diving

At Sailing Holidays Romania, a berth on the yacht costs at least EUR 500 off-season, and can be around EUR 1,000 during high season on a larger vessel.

“We do not add other expenses to these prices because our intention is not to do a coach-type tour and then say ‘look how nice it was’.  We want to keep our flexibility and that is why we do not say exactly what we do. At the time of booking, we discuss it and make the customer a personalized offer, and when we get to the area the customer booked to reach, we have the flexibility to make the holiday a memorable one. For this reason, we do not add any ports or restaurants to the package. For example, if we look at port taxes, in Greece it costs EUR 20 per night for a yacht, in Croatia EUR 80 per night, and in Italy EUR 200 per night. And this amount is divided between the whole crew,” said the Sailing Holidays Romania manager.

Teambuilding in the Mediterranean

According to Simon, the yacht vacation has become a trend in Romania, something that is clear at skipper school. “There are so many skippers now that we are curious what it will be like in two or three years’ time. We can say it’s a four-year trend already,” he noted.

Meanwhile, demand is increasing for onboard teambuilding. “Requests for teambuilding on the boat are growing, which makes us happy. Moreover, regattas are organized for companies, events in which teams compete on water, follow competition regulations and have race referees. The range of companies is quite wide, from IT firms to banks and retailers. It is a teambuilding for almost any field, and depending on the season, the price is somewhere around EUR 500/boat/day,” commented Marinescu.

Regattas for companies are organized on the Black Sea, specifically in Mangalia harbor, and teambuilding can be extended to Bulgarian, or even Turkish marinas, depending on the duration. A big draw is the backdrop of the Black Sea. “With a teambuilding, everyone receives a certain role on a boat or yacht, and generally this is done across several yachts. Through sailing, we can readily identify the pluses and minuses of people and see how they can best be placed in the company. I say this because everyone gets a role on their yacht, but at the same time, they are in competition with the other yachts as in a regatta. There are not many complex games but it does not resemble the games they play in other teambuildings in the mountains, for example. When sailing you can easily identify the leader, the peacemaker, the troublemaker and other such characters you can find in a company,” Simon said.

Yacht not to do: tips for your first onboard vacation

Dress properly and make sure you have the items you need for a sudden change of weather, so pack sunglasses, hat, short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts, shorts, thin trousers, wind/rain jacket, and sailing shoes.

Safety is crucial. The skipper will provide you with a life jacket, which is essential even if you are a very strong swimmer. Be careful not to sit on the ropes or any other mobile things on deck. Wherever you are on deck or in the cockpit, on the deck or preparing snacks for the crew, make sure you have something to hold onto in case the water is choppy.

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