Wonderful though it is to relax on board a private charter yacht among the cruising grounds of the world’s most exclusive yacht charter destinations, a particularly memorable shoreside detour can add a fresh and welcome dimension to your Princess Yacht Charter holiday. As you would expect, pretty coastal towns and villages, as well as beaches, bars, restaurants, shops and buzzing party venues tend to form a fairly standard backdrop for most yacht charter destinations. But if you want a less obvious attraction away from the charter throng that can add an extraordinary contrast to your yacht-based entertainments and create lifelong memories for you and your guests, one of the following four inland diversions are a great place to look.
- Tuscany’s jewel: falling in love with Florence
Let’s face it. If you’re lucky enough to find yourself among the rustic fishing towns of the Italian Riviera, you’re unlikely to feel the need to tear yourself away. Everywhere you look, there is first-rate food, luxury pampering, spectacular scenery and warm, crystal-clear water. And that’s to say nothing of the coastal destinations themselves. You have the slick Ligurian resort of San Remo, the fabled fishing village of Portofino and the impossibly lovely headland settlement of Porto Venere, with its unhurried elegance and its easy access to the famously unspoiled fishing villages of the Cinque Terre. But if you make your way down to La Spezia, Livorno or the seaside resort of Viareggio and you fancy trading the youthful energy of its upmarket beach scene for something more distinctive, then why not treat yourself to an overnight stay in the incredibly elegant Tuscan capital, Florence?
As a UNESCO World Heritage site, the entire historic centre of this ancient Roman city feels like a private window on the Italian Renaissance. There are iconic 15th and 16th century architectural masterpieces everywhere you look, interspersed with globally significant works of sculpture and world-famous art, all knitted together with cobbled streets and romantic café-lined squares. And there’s plenty of modern cultural significance too. As the birthplace of Gucci, both the shopping and the general sense of style here are very cool and urbane. And Florence’s proudly Tuscan cuisine is every bit as special, mixing the ingenuity of precocious young chefs with the city’s time-honoured tradition to create some of the most memorable (and culturally authentic) gourmet cuisine you will ever experience.
- Norway’s wilderness: light up the sky
For something altogether wilder and less cultivated, it’s tough to beat Norway. Such is the scale and majesty of West Norway’s fjords that they feel like quite a profound inland detour in their own right. These long, narrow sea inlets between steep glacial cliffs extend deep into Norway’s mountainous interior, providing an endless labyrinth of cruising opportunities. It’s a place of thousand-metre cliffs, vast reefs, wonderful diving, blissful kayaking and even better fishing. You can catch enormous halibut, king crab, octopus and shrimp. And if you want to take a detour away from water-based pursuits, the mountains offer a great way to make good your escape. Venturing deep into the wilderness by helicopter is a superb way to immerse yourself in Norwegian outdoor culture. The best time to see the norther lights from Northern Norway is September to March, when its dark from just after lunchtime until late morning the next day. You could be fortunate enough to witness the wonderous northern lights dancing across the sky in a spectacular show of vibrant colour at Lofoten Islands.
- France’s alpine escape: skiing in the Cote d’Azure
The French Riviera is uniquely versatile as a charter yacht destination. In addition to the beaches, the boutique shopping and the premium restaurants, it has both bustling port towns and unspoiled island hideaways. You can explore vineyards, visit glitzy casinos, trawl the food markets or attend world-famous events. You can fish for sea bream and tuna or you can head offshore and watch the sperm whales at play between St Tropez and San Remo. But if you want to really tap into the Cote d’Azure’s unique versatility as a yacht charter venue, then it’s worth looking inland toward the Alps.
If you pick a week’s yacht charter in early spring, you could be sipping decadent cocktails on the sundeck of your charter yacht one moment – and the next, you could be carving dramatic turns through fresh snow in the clean cold air of an Alpine ski slope. There are some very attractive ski resorts as little as 40 or 50 miles north of Nice, which means a simple helicopter transfer can take you from beach to piste in as little as 20 minutes without even the slightest inconvenience. With its variety of slopes, its lofty altitude and a long season that extends right through until the end of April, Isola 2000 is a particular favourite among yacht charter skiing fans. Just make sure you let your broker know your intentions at the planning stages so that everything can be factored into your itinerary.
- England’s southwest: exploring estuary gems
While for many, London might seem like Britain’s ultimate ‘inland’ yacht charter detour, England’s south-western estuaries are among the most seductive and diverting anywhere in the world. On the River Dart in south Devon, for instance, as you head up past the castles, the tightly packed multi-coloured houses of Dartmouth and the magnificent hilltop Naval College, it could hardly be more charming. Leaving your Princess Charter Yacht moored in the deep-water channel and continuing by tender, you can visit the atmospheric estate of famous crime writer, Agatha Christie, ‘Greenway’ with its rambling grounds and half-hidden boathouse. And from here, you can hail the river taxi with a clang of the bell and pop across to the other side of the estuary, where the famous old Ferry Boat Inn (FBI) provides onsite moorings with lovely views.
Further on still, down a little creek, the Maltsters Arms at Tuckenhay, which was once owned by eccentric TV chef, Keith Floyd, retains all the eclectic loveliness that made the man himself so magnetic. And back on the main channel as it winds its way toward the feel-good hippy-flavoured hilltop town of Totnes, you will find the Sharpham vineyard on the western bank, where you can step ashore for memorable tours and for award-winning wines and cheeses.
The nearby Salcombe and Fowey estuaries are also absolutely superb ways to venture deep into the lush verdant hills of the southwest. And, as the third largest natural harbour in the world, with a long maritime history and a wide range of shoreside settlements, the Fal Estuary (also known as Carrick Roads) in the popular town of Falmouth, is one of the most scenic, diverse and entertaining of the lot.