The popularity of Adriatic coastal destinations such as Montenegro, Croatia and Greece has been enough to warrant a surge in the construction of new marinas and berths for superyachts. Porto Montenegro, the D-Marin network and Camper & Nicholsons Marinas (CNM) have all launched new projects in these eastern European territories.
But up to now, one country sandwiched in the middle of all this development has missed out on the fruits of market growth.
Albania, which this year celebrates its centenary of independence, is emerging as one to watch as a new destination for marinas and superyachts to berth, according to Dan Hughes, business development director at CNM.

Hughes is literally fresh from a site visit to Albania where CNM are exploring a brand new marina project with a view to expanding its burgeoning Adriatic network.
“Albania is a natural choice, there’s a big gap as you come down that Adriatic coast of Croatia, Montenegro and then Greece and with Albania there’s a bit of a gap. It’s a brand new marketplace which is quite exciting; an embryonic market.”

 Albania's scenic coastline is currently bereft of facilities for superyachts

Perceptions of Albania might range from unspoilt beauty, to a third world nation where none of the decadence of neighbouring Montenegro can be enjoyed. But this is erroneous, argued Hughes, who said he was “very surprised by the wealth that is in Albania.”
“I have never seen so many Range Rovers on the road and I don’t think it is a country that has never seen wealth before. Since the communist government ceded power a lot of people have made a lot of money.”
The country has also benefited from foreign investment. World Bank financing has helped repair or construct 1,700 km of rural roads and 1,300 km of national roads, which has brought positive changes in access to education, health, postal and banking services.

It has also secured access to EU funding as a possible new member of the EU and is part of the focus for the EU’s Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, launched in Zagreb, Croatia on 6 December, which aims to support sustainable development of maritime tourism in the Adriatic.

 Albania's dramatic mountain citadels, one of its many charms for visitors

Added to this, there is a growing familiarity with luxury goods and a small, but significant ultra-high-net-worth population in Albania – ranking above Montenegro and Cyprus in the Wealth X global report 2012 - meaning visiting yachts will not raise as many eyebrows as might be expected.
“At the moment there’s nowhere to keep your boat [in Albania], but with the wealth there, as soon a facility is provided then it will fill because the wealthy will want an additional toy,” said Hughes.
As well as a lack of berthing opportunities security in Albania remains a valid concern. Despite there being no travel restrictions to Albania from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth office, it does say that gun ownership is ‘widespread’ and crime is a problem in some areas.
Threats to security would be more likely however to come not on land, or on the yacht safely berthed in the marina, but in open water.
Dean La-Vey, director at Secure Yacht, which provides security concepts for the protection of superyachts, said:
“They don’t have security in the Adriatic that’s the truth of it. Albania is not geared up for protecting yachts from robbery."
Citing an example of what La-Vey witnesses in the Med, he said attacks would normally happen at night, involving an attack from bandits on a RIB. “All these yachts have security - supposed ex-special forces and all they have time to do is say ‘hands up’. These guys come up out of nowhere.”
Security concerns are, at this stage secondary, with CNM’s own marina project in its earliest stages, not having even been designed or finalised yet. But Albania could emerge as an interesting addition to the Adriatic cruising scene as a viable and popular alternative to the Western Med.

Related Links

Camper & Nicholsons Marinas Profile | Camper & Nicholsons Marinas Website
Foreign & Commonwealth Office country profile of Albania
EU’s Maritime Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Seas
Wealth X Global report 2012
Secure Yacht Website


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