Coined by many brokers as an ideal destination for unique and tranquil charters, more yachts are being seen advertised for availability in northern Europe, offering less developed cruising grounds, with immense natural beauty and unusual itineraries. spoke to the industry to ask if there are any trends in charter activity in northern Europe and if it could be a viable alternative to cruising the more established European destinations.

Currently available for charter in Norway and the Baltic through Ocean Independence is 42.6m motoryacht Daydream, which has had an encouraging amount of interest and bookings for the summer. “There has been steady interest in Daydream for summer cruising in Norway and we have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of enquiries and final bookings already made,” explains Stephanie Archer, the yacht’s charter manager. “We thought it may take a little longer for clients to try a new area, one that offers something quite different to the classic cruising in the Mediterranean. However, many charterers seem to be well informed about Norway. Bookings for this summer are so far in the areas of Alesund, Kristiansund, Bergen and Stavanger in Norway but we are also marketing Daydream elsewhere in the Baltic towards the end of the summer.

Daydream cruising in Norway. Image courtesy of Ocean Independence.

“We have found that clients, especially Russian clients, are knowledgeable about what Norway has to offer - the dramatic scenery, the long summer days, the midnight sun and the fabulous fishing. Norway and Denmark also benefit from easier travel arrangements than, for example, on the other side of the Baltic in St Petersburg, Russia, where it can prove time-consuming and circuitous to obtain all of the paperwork and visas for a yacht and her crew to charter there.”

“The level of demand for northern European charters is quite constant and makes up under one per cent of our overall charter contracts each year,” adds Toby Maclaurin, commercial manager at Ocean Independence. “This can be boosted on an industry-wide level by events such as the Olympics in London and, on a company level, Daydream alone has easily seen our figures for the region up on last year. In 2013 we booked one charter in the area, with the other 739 charter contracts being predominantly in the Mediterranean and US and Caribbean regions. In 2014 we already have four charters booked in northern Europe and with still around 40 per cent of our annual business yet to book we may see this rise further. Although our experience is that northern European charters tend not to be last-minute bookings.”

County Kerry, Ireland. Credit: Captain Ben Chaplin

Captain Ben Chaplin of 38.6m motoryacht Katrion will be touring Ireland and the UK this summer. “The difference between cruising the normal Mediterranean milk run and being up here in the cooler climate is the history, the culture and the beauty,” he explains. “We did Norway, Sweden and Denmark a few years ago, which had stunning scenery. The area has become more popular with yachts over the last five years and it is getting a bit more accessible with the services there, yet on the whole it is still very much off-the-beaten track.”

“We can’t currently consider northern European charter as a replacement to southern and western European cruises, but it’s a nice addition to well-known routes,” says Vilena Pavlova, charter broker at Burgess in Moscow. “We recommend Norwegian fjords if a client is ready to explore new horizons and enjoy the unspoiled nature in full privacy. Although one rarely sees a superyacht, this area, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has amazing potential. A cruise to Norwegian fjords should be thoroughly arranged in advance as fishing in the best private waters requires a license and is subject to strict quotation. Furthermore, for safe cruising in unexplored curvy bays, a local pilot or at least a consultant is needed.”

“We can’t currently consider northern European charter as a replacement to southern and western European cruises, but it’s a nice addition to well-known routes.”

“There are fantastic cruising grounds available in northern Europe and a great choice of sporting and cultural activities,” agrees Seonaid Thomas, charter broker at Burgess in Monaco, but notes that this does not necessarily mean an increasing interest in the area. “There is not a huge choice of yachts to offer clients and the cost of fuel and provisioning is very high. Furthermore, there is not a fantastic infrastructure in place, so it is adapted to those who don’t expect superyacht marinas at each stop. Many clients want the warmer seas and warmer weather and are concerned that the summers in Northern Europe don’t offer reliable, steady and good forecasts.”

It seems that northern Europe is still a long way off from competing with the popular charter destinations of the Western Mediterranean, but charter brokers are in agreement that it is a fantastic location for scenic and off-the-beaten-track cruising. But with the Mediterranean becoming increasingly crowded, and unique superyacht destinations becoming more of a trend in the industry, northern Europe may well be seen on more itineraries in the future.

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