Article written for 'The Islander Magazine' (2016 February Issue)
The Mediterranean’s Off Season Hotspot – Wintering in Malta
Written by Andrew Azzopardi
Malta is big news right now. It recently placed third on the New York Times’ list of must-visit places in 2016, while constantly-rising tourist numbers prove that the island is gaining popularity, fast.
One person who is no newbie to Malta is super yacht captain Bob Corcoran, who many have nicknamed an ‘unofficial ambassador’ to the island. He has spent time here on super yacht MY Samar since the Grand Harbour Marina opened in late 2000, and the boat now has long-term berth ownership on Malta.
“There’s no shortage of reasons why I think Malta is a great place to spend the winter,” he says. “Strategically, it’s located in the heart of the Mediterranean, so we’re right in the middle of wherever the owner might want to go next.
“Plus, there’s an incredible history to discover, a very cosmopolitan way of life to enjoy, and a government that’s very understanding of the super yacht industry’s significance to the island’s economy. All of this make a big difference to the quality of life that I and my crew members enjoy while we are based here.”
Captain Bob goes on to explain that the Maltese government has also reacted favourably on issues such as Schengen visas and other related issues. “I would definitely list the Maltese government as one of the most forward-thinking ones in the yachting region,” he says.
The fact that the island is predominantly English speaking also makes it easier for international crews to settle in. “When we place an order, we can rest assured that it has been understood and that no misunderstandings will occur,” MY Talisman C’s chief steward John Craven stressed, as he sipped on a glass of wine purchased from Malta-based, international fine wines and spirits provisioners No 12. “This is really important as it gives us peace of mind that the job will get done properly.”
And the benefits of the island’s connection to the UK don’t stop there. “It’s also really easy for us to find the brands the owner loves, such as Colman’s mustard, Branston pickle and Marmite! Lots of shops stock them on the island and it’s very easy to get around in a hire car, so that’s a pleasure too,” says Becky, one of the Talisman C stewardesses who is currently spending her second winter season in Malta.
The fact that Malta is considered to be one of the safest countries in the region also makes it feel like home to the crew that are based here. “Safety is a top priority for me as I want my crew to be able to go out and feel secure – that’s one of the things that really draws me to the island,” continues Captain Bob.
Of course, this all goes hand-in-hand with the facilities and lifestyle found here. “2014 was our first full winter in Malta and the crew questioned it before we arrived. But, by the end of our stay, they were all asking when we would be back! I think this is all testament to what the island offers – from state-of-the-art facilities in the marina, to great restaurants and easy accessibility to everything the island has to offer.”
The crew on board MY Talisman agree. “We find it comforting to be here,” John and Becky explain. “It’s safe, we know what to expect, and we don’t feel like there are any surprises around the corner. Both from a business and social perspective, Malta really is a great Mediterranean location to spend the winter.”
In a nutshell:
Top 5 Reasons to Winter in Malta
· The island and its government have embraced the yachting industry and are constantly improving the related product.
· Malta gets 300 days of sunshine every year, so the weather is warm enough to enjoy all year round.
· The island’s small size makes it easy to travel around, so crews can enjoy everything that there is to offer.
· Malta’s English-speaking business community means that there’s no language barrier, especially when it comes to ordering supplies from local companies.
· Malta is considered to be one of the safest places in the region, so crew members can make the most of their time here without worrying about their security.