Is it symbolic of an endemic push to overcharge wealthy individuals cruising in Italy’s waters that superyacht captains are becoming increasingly disenchanted with amount of clerical errors, unnecessary payments and red tape involved in their journeys? Is this a result of top down pressure from authorities, a bottom up desire to profit where possible, or a simple case of systematic mismanagement and knowledge gaps? SuperyachtNews.com speaks with a 500gt-plus superyacht captain about their recent exeriences.
“It seems like cruising in Italy has become a constant money making endeavour,” starts the captain. “We’ve had to pay for pilots that never boarded, had miscellaneous fees added to our bill with no explanation, been charged for the same service twice on many occasions, paid €40 euros for a stamp, been refused berthing information and, by and large, these issues go unchallenged on other vessels.”
The suggestion seems to be that various Italian maritime factions are attempting to take advantage of ultra-high-net-worth individual’s propensity to pay extra for the convenience of not being waylaid.
“When I contacted an agent and requested a berthing reservation for the coming Friday and Saturday night in a well-known port, they told me it was fully booked, which is okay,” continues the captain. “But, when I asked them what days are available, they said that that information is not available. This is the case at a number of ports and they seem to be creating a false impression of supply and demand in order to drive up the premiums on yacht berthing.”
If one compares Italy to France, arguably the only cruising destination that supersedes Italy in terms of its yachting popularity, the quality of the service, systems and procedural transparency are orders of magnitude different.
“Croatia is a doddle, Turkey was easy, there was some fun and games in Greece, France had no issues at all and Italy was a pain in the arse,” explains the captain. “People think Asia is tricky, Asia is a walk in the park in comparison with Italy. People make mistakes, clerical errors happen, but the regularity with which they seem to happen is dubious, especially when you consider the sums of money in question. If you are paying a 70,000 bill, you expect someone to be going through it with a fine toothcomb.”
How is it then that Italy, a country with such a rich superyachting history, falls so woefully short of the standards that are, rightfully, expected of it?