What It's Like To Charter An 88ft Luxury Motoryacht In Mallorca!
Motor Boat & Yachting|October 2021
A magical few days on board Boats.co.uk’s latest Princess 88 charter vessel gives a glimpse of just how special a charter holiday can be
Hugo Andreae

Given the number of boats we write about in MBY, it might come as a surprise how rarely we get to enjoy them as they’re meant to be enjoyed. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a pleasure and privilege to sea trial all those fabulous craft but most of the time that involves running up and down a familiar stretch of British coastline measuring speed, noise and fuel consumption while taking notes and making sure the photographer gets the photos and video we need.

Cruising somewhere just for the sake of it is a rare luxury, let alone eating or sleeping on board or, heaven forbid, having friends and family to share those experiences with.

But every now and again we get a brief chance to pull back the curtain and immerse ourselves in the kind of boating that we spend most of our days dreaming about. So when an email dropped into my inbox inviting us to spend a few days on board Boats.co.uk’s latest charter boat J4, a Princess 88 based in Palma Mallorca, I felt it was my journalistic duty to take one for the team! And given that no paying guest would ever choose to share their precious holiday time with a mere scribbler, I am even allowed to fill the other seven beds with family and friends so that I can get a taste of the full ‘charter experience’. Needless to say, I never knew I had so many friends keen to show-off their boating skills!

I can’t say the run-up to our four-day booking at the beginning of July was entirely relaxing. Rising Covid rates in both the UK and Spain and constant changes in travel rules and testing regulations, not to mention the risk of being pinged by the dreaded NHS app meant we never truly relaxed until we were all safely on the plane. Once we’d worked out how to fill out the various Spanish health forms and show our vaccination passes it was no different to any other flight, but stepping onto foreign soil after 18 months of lockdowns, it all felt strangely illicit, like we were a bunch of schoolkids bunking off school for a few days.

HAPPY DAYS

The sight of J4 sparkling in the mid-morning sunshine in Palma’s Marina Moll Vell soon puts paid to that, especially when we are welcomed on board by J4’s smartly dressed crew bearing glasses of chilled champagne. We already know our captain Paul and his partner/chef/chief stew/deckhand Victoria from a previous charter holiday, so there is none of the usual awkwardness as guests and crew size each other up. The minute we step across the passerelle, we are instantly at ease. We still have to go through the motions of the safety briefing before the real fun starts but that only serves to heighten the anticipation.

If you’ve ever watched an episode of the ghastly yet compelling reality TV show Below Decks about life on board a charter yacht, you’ll know how the tour of the boat unfolds, but there is something truly magical about being shown round a properly luxurious boat for the first time, especially if your guests have never been on one before. And J4 is right up there with the best.

Stepping through the big glass doors into the Princess 88’s saloon with its floor-to-ceiling windows, plush sofas and folding balcony is like walking into another world. You don’t just put your shoes in the basket before crossing the threshold, you park your worries there too. The minute our toes sink into that lush silk carpet, we know we’re in for something special. And the cabins are in a different league. All three double guest cabins have ensuite bathrooms with big, comfy beds, large hull windows and all the amenities from built-in televisions and USB sockets to fluffy white towelling robes and Molten Brown toiletries. There is even a box of chocolates resting on our beds. And then there’s the owner’s suite. The only downside of being the ‘primary’ charter guest is that, however generous you may at first appear to your friends, the minute they see your cabin they’ll know where they really stand in the pecking order. It is quite simply immense with a bed the size of a trampoline, windows like cinema screens and a bathroom stolen from the Burj Al Arab. It even has an actual bath in it, right next to one of the hull windows, so you can wallow up to your neck in scented bubbles while gazing out across the sea.

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