When city breaks and yacht vacations collide…
Contributed by: Jo Morgan
When you hear the words ‘superyacht charter’, you probably immediately think of tropical beaches, sparkling seas, and sunshine, right? You probably don’t think of baseball and world-class museums, and you’re certainly not alone on this—few people do. Yet why not?
By associating yachts only with summer sunshine and watersports, many of us are missing the huge potential and dazzling excitement of a big city yacht charter. Whether it’s attending a major sporting game in New York, discovering London with a history and theatre tour, floating around beautiful Sydney Harbour, or exploring the stunning architecture in Barcelona, big city yacht charters are a superb indulgence.
There’s nothing like docking under the skyscrapers in a giant metropolis and throwing a glittering cocktail party on the sundeck, bathed in the reflection of the city lights. When you have a downtown berth in one of the great cities of the world, it’s all too easy to step off the passerelle onto the dock and head into town—spending the evening taking in a Broadway show, eating at a Michelin star restaurant with a stunning city view, or hitting a glamorous rooftop bar or A-list nightclub. The shopping, of course, is second-to-none in these major cities, promising flagship designer stores, funky boutiques, and bustling markets selling clothes and antiques.
Because we believe that city yacht charters are one of the next big things in yachting, we’ve put together a list of some of the greatest cities on earth to visit on a superyacht.
As we know lots of you can’t resist the beach, most of our featured destinations also have a brilliant cruising ground nearby for summer fun —but remember, an advantage of big city charters is that they’re not dependent on perfect weather, meaning you can take advantage of the low-season charter rates.
Top Cities for Big City Yacht Charters
There is nothing else on earth like cruising along the Hudson on a superyacht, passing by the Statue of Liberty, and docking your yacht under Manhattan’s skyscrapers. As far as once-in-a-lifetime experiences go, approaching New York by water is enough to give you goosebumps.
On a New York City yacht charter you can take in a Broadway Show in Times Square, or watch the Mets take on the Yankees at iconic Yankee Stadium. You might want to see the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, wander through Central Park on a sunny day, or see the huge metropolis spread out below you from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. For the culturally inclined, a concert at Carnegie Hall is simply a must, while New York’s museums and art galleries are world-beaters, whether the Guggenheim, the Met, or the American Museum of Natural History.
New York is the ultimate luxury destination, with ultra-high end shopping along Fifth Avenue, glamorous day spas, and some of the best restaurants on earth. After you’ve had your fill of city excitement, your private yacht is the perfect place to retreat from the buzz and crowds of the Big Apple.
The Hamptons, one of the world’s most exclusive yachting playgrounds, is within a day’s cruise, with the stunning lighthouses, forests and beaches of New England also within reach.
Your yacht powers up the river Thames, and you approach Tower Bridge with its blue and grey fairytale towers, and the drawbridge starts to rise. The red double-decker buses and iconic London black cabs start banking up in the traffic on either side as you pass through one of the great landmarks on earth, and feel the thrill of it rush up your spine.
You dock by Tower Bridge, and start to explore the city, taking in the West End shows, the fine restaurants, the Tower of London and Buckingham Palace. Wander through Hyde Park, stroll past Shakespeare’s Globe, visit the Tate Modern, and shop at the antique markets on Portobello Road. Take high tea at the Savoy, stock up at Harrods for a luxury London picnic, or visit Hamley’s, the oldest toy shop in the world. Back on the yacht you can throw a party on the sundeck, have dinner parties in the refined dining room, or take a leisurely cruise up the Thames past the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Perhaps you’re here to enjoy a sporting event, maybe eating strawberries and cream at Wimbledon centre court, watching a Rugby Game at Twickenham, or heading to the Lords, one of the world’s most historic cricket grounds. In London, history, sport, and the high life combine in the most marvellous way.
If you’d like some more traditional yachting pleasures, then it’s only a short cruise to the beauty of the Solent, where sailboats race in summer winds, and families enjoy the seaside.
A Sydney Harbour cruise at sunset is one of the great Australian experiences, as you pass beneath the massive arch of Sydney Harbour Bridge and look up to see the Australian flag flying proudly from the thick steel girders. Just off to one side is the Opera House, its white sails curving against the huge southern sky, and behind the skyscrapers reflect the dramatic pinks and oranges of the Australian sunset. As you explore the meandering waterways of Sydney Harbour (one of the largest natural harbours in the world) you’ll find pretty, crystal-clear coves shaded by gum trees and gleaming modern mansions. Little islands dot the harbour with Aboriginal, military and convict heritage on show, and pretty beaches provide the perfect spot to anchor off for a long lazy lunch on deck, or to jump in a kayak and explore the winding shoreline.
On a charter in Sydney you might explore the cobbled streets and colonial buildings of the Rock, or shop along Oxford Street, or visit splendid Taronga Zoo, with its giraffes and elephants presiding over a stunning city view. Sydney is one of the great food capitals of the world, and years could be spent exploring the restaurants- from the fine dining on the waterfront to delicious Asian street food in Chinatown. No-one can visit Sydney without visiting the beautiful beaches of Manly and Bondi, famous world-over for their rolling breakers, beautiful blondes, and sun-bronzed surfers.
The city is chock-full of things to do, but if you feel like a change of scenery, then head out through the immense cliffs of Sydney Heads to enjoy the stunning national parks, endless sandy beaches, and the pretty Hawkesbury River.
While it’s long been known as a jumping off point for the sea and sunshine of the mesmerising Balearic Islands, Barcelona is now rising as a yacht charter destination in its own right. And no wonder, for this exciting Mediterranean city is an absolute powerhouse of architecture, art, history, music, and gastronomy.
In Barcelona, you can dock your yacht downtown at luxury Marina Port Vell, taking advantage of the excellent location to launch your city adventure. The fairytale modernist architecture of Gaudi brings quirkiness and colour to the city skyline, while grand old theatres dripping in gold leaf and red velvet are the perfect place to settle in for a night of world-class music. Art is everywhere in Barcelona, from the grand Fundació Joan Miró museum and the famous MNAC, to the ever-changing street art scene which brings colour and life to the laneways and train sidings.
Spend happy afternoons strolling and shopping in the designer boutiques, watch street performers tumble and dance in cobbled squares, or laze about on the long sweep of sand at Barcelona beach. When the sun finally sets and the music starts to drift from the bars, it’s time to adjourn to a tapas bar or award-winning restaurant to indulge in one of the best gastronomic and cocktail scenes on the planet.
If sunshine, orange groves and crystal clear seas are calling your name, the Balearic Islands are just a short cruise from Barcelona and are a brilliant inclusion on your Barcelona yacht charter.
This is just a tiny fragment of the cities you could visit on a private yacht charter. Boston, Dubai and San Francisco could also sit very happily on this list for a start. The potential for big city yacht charters is immense, promising luxury and fun in equal measure.