Best of the Maldives: Historical Cruising – Velaa

Velaa - boat

If you want to live the maritime heritage of the Maldivian dhoni with all the conveniences and luxuries of this modern day paradise destination, then Velaa offers a distinctive dhoni crusing yacht, “Baththeli Anna”.

  • Baththeli Anna, the prncess of the Southern Seas. Designed to ensure the utmost comfort for her guests, Anna is a beautiful custom built Maldivian baththeli (“baththeli” – boat on Dhivehi language). This luxurious, uniquely designed traditional sailboat was laid down in April of 2012. Then crafted under the supervision of the Master Boat Builder, Matias Luhmann, himself alongside the proficient team of Gladonia Maldives Pvt Ltd. The idea of its elegant lines and comfortable spaces was conceived by the boat design, Philippe Laurella, French at birth, but Maldivian in Spirit.”

One of my biggest pastimes is the sport of rowing. The carbon-fiber sculls are the state-of-the-art, but I’m afraid that I’m still smitten by the aesthetic romance of a boat sculpted out of wood.

Specifications:

  • Length – 76 feet
  • Weight – 45 ton
  • Overnight guest capacity – 3
  • Day touring guest capacity – 8
  • Maximum speed – 12 knots.
  • 2 Hour, 4 person Sunset Dolphin Cruise – $1,695
  • 5 hour, 2 person Desert Island Dinner Cruise – $7,440
  • 2.5 hour, 4 person Luxury Private Snorkel Trip – $1,895
  • 8 hour, 4 person Charter Cruise – $5,495

With this post, I’ve added a new “Cruising” tag as the highest end resorts seem to be extended their super-premium arms race into a naval battle of yachts.

Velaa - dhoni 2

Velaa - dhoni 1

Velaa - dhoni 3

Best of the Maldives: Biggest Yacht – Dhigufaru

Dhigufaru - yacht 2

We’re gonna need a bigger boat” – Martin Brody, Jaws

Well, not for the sharks (or “sand puppies” as we call them). More for the marina flashonista set, . Dhigufaru has introduced the largest resort yacht in the Maldives. The Dhaainkan’baa is 41m (LOA) and has 7 Staterooms (6 Doubles and one Twin). That compares to the Four Seasons Explorer at 39 m (although the Explorer does have 10 staterooms and one Explorer Suite).

Fully equipped for diving, motorised water sports, fitness equipment and spa therapies. You can get more massive details from the Fact Sheet here.

Dhigufaru - yacht

Dhigufaru - yacht 3

Best of the Maldives: Equatorial Cruise – Outrigger Konotta

Outrigger Konotta - equatorial cruise

For a deeper ocean experience, you can visit one of the most famous lines in the world – the Equator. Visitors to Gan get a certificate for flying over it, but visitors to Outrigger Konotta can take an excursion to swim right in it (and get a certificate)…

  • “Equator Cruise is a specialty cruise unique to Outrigger Konotta Maldives and lies its roots deep within the folklore history of Maldivian culture and traditions. It is a long cruise that begins with a wonderful on-cruise breakfast while the guests are on the way to the equator line. The hosts will be giving a brief history and briefing about the equator and historical stories related to Maldives. Upon arrival to the location, guests are required to change costumes to Local sarong, with Traditional fisherman Hat or Handmade Coconut palm leaves hat and Necklaces of tree root with corals or shells. The captain or main host will then make the announcement and will have a stick referred to as “King Neptune Pole stick.” The yacht will then put a balloon on the equator line. All guest will be instructed to go to the back of the yacht and say King of sea, Neptune..please let me cross your world and then jump. The guests will then need to swim 5 meters to cross the line. Lunch will be served on the way back to the resort where our GM and senior management will be waiting at the jetty to receive the guests and present them with certificates of participation. A group photo will be taken and framed to give to the participating guests upon departure.”

That really crosses the line!

Outrigger Konotta - equatorial cruise 2

Outrigger Konotta - equatorial cruise 3

Best of the Maldives: Room Bonus – Safari Island

Safari Island - dhoni room bonus

Bonus room! Not just an extra bed, but a completely distinctive experience sleeping on the water. Not just in a water villa perched over the water, but in a Maldivian-styled dhoni yacht. Not just hearing the ocean gently sloshing below you, but feeling the ocean languidly rock you to sleep.

If you are lucky, some resorts will occasionally offer a free upgrade for a night or more from their beach villas to their water bungalows.  But Safari Island, if you stay 7 nights you get a free dhoni tour like a sunset cruise or fishing. If you stay 14 nights, then you get a free night on the dhoni.

Best of the Maldives: Modern Boat Villa – Soneva Fushi

Soneva Fushi - Soneva in Aqua

Beloved Wives Day today (husbands in China must shout out declarations of love to their wives). And I am taking my beloved wife, Lori, for a quick escape from English wind, rain and cold. Down to the French Riviera for some friends’ New Years celebration and a quick stay in Monaco. The sunny Med shores have made them a magnet for yachts from all over the world.

One yacht that won’t be straying quite that far from home is Soneva Fushi’s new concept “suite” – “Soneva In Aqua”. A sort of mobile “water villa”. Great to see this concept revised every since the demise of The Rania Experience and Dhoni Island. Of course, the resort will provide the crew you need. Not the only boat villa in the Maldives (eg. Conrad Rangali’s “Goma”, LUX Maldives “Kokomo”), but the distinctive in its modern styling and spacious accommodation..

“Soneva In Aqua will further elevate guest experience by offering the option of a boat villa which will combine all the benefits of this iconic resort’s services and amenities with the freedom and exclusivity associated with a private boat charter.”

LORI, MY LOVE FOR YOU IS AS WARM AS THE MALDIVIAN OCEAN BREEZES AND MY PASSION AS HOT AS ITS TROPICAL SUN!!

Soneva Fushi - In Aqua

Best of the Maldives: Catamaran – LUX Maldives

 

Of all the yachts, there is a special fondness in our family for the doubly-sleek, but twice as stable catamarans. Our brother-in-law took us on his 30 foot cat the “Nauti-Gail” (named after Lori’s sister Gail) and recently they custom-built a 54 foot floating palace (“Nauti-Gail II”).

Reethi Rah’s fleet has a bigger cat, but I prefer their styling of LUX Maldives’ “Kokomo” which it offers up for cruises with some very experienced hands…

“[LUX] have an amazing Maldivian captain that has been sailing boats for past 20 years (believe it or not there are very few Maldivians with sailing experience!) and he combines the charters with a lot of local knowledge. He teaches guests the basics of sailing, shows guests secret snorkeling spots or shows guests old Maldivian recipes when cooking the freshly caught fish on the boats BBQ.”

Cat fight!

Best of the Maldives: Yacht Fleet – One & Only Reethi Rah

Reethi Rah yacht Gulf Craft

The New Year brings a new model year for a range of luxuries and this weekend’s annual London Boat Show kicks off the range of new yachts for the maritime elite. One & Only Reethi Rah is a virtual Maldives Boat Show every day of the year with its extravagant fleet of sleek cruisers (first in list above and rest below in order)…

  • 55 foot Gulf Craft with 3 air conditioned cabins (above)
  • 50 foot Majesty
  • 42 foot Leopard catamaran
  • 52 foot luxury sailing dhoni
  • 131 safari yacht
  • 70 foot Azimut

 

One and only Reethi Rah yacht Majesty

 

One and Only Reethi Rah yacht Leopard catamaran

 

One and Only Reethi Rah yacht luxury sailing dhoni

 

One and Only Reethi Rah yacht safari boat

 

One and Only Reethi Rah yacht Azimut speed boat

Best of the Maldives: Live Aboard Combo – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa / Landaa Giraavaru

Four Seasons Explorer

Maldives Complete also doesn’t do boats in its profiles or ‘Best of’ reviews. I’ve shied away from getting into the whole ‘Live Aboard’ segment of Maldives holidays because, like Guest Houses, I’ve never been on one so I wouldn’t know which criteria to feature or how to write about it.

But, this post’s distinction is sort of a resort/cruise hybrid so it just passes. It’s sort of the ultimate water villa. A mobile water villa.

We have always fantasized about taking a cruise boat actually as a way to see lots of nooks and crannies of this mystical archipelago. Having been to many resorts and enjoying the discovery of new gems, the notion of touring along a stopping at all sorts of little islands off the beaten path and then retiring to the ultimate in ‘water villas’ sounded entrancing.

We can see the appeal of such a floating holiday…

  • If you ever wanted to try out the mega-yacht life for the experience of your very own (ever see those gigantic yachts parked in swish harbours with ports of call on their bow for ‘C.I.’ and ‘V.I.’ and wonder what staying on them would be like?).
  • If you’ve ever thought of going beyond even the picnic island excursions of resorts to the most secluded and far flung hidden parts of the Maldives strung together like your own customised ‘virtual’ resort.
  • If you are thinking of an extended (time and budget) holiday over say two weeks and definitely want to split into two resorts

Well, any of these have crossed your mind, then the Four Seasons has an offer for you with their Four Seasons combo offer on the exquisite Four Seasons Explorer offers a brilliant option.

  • 22 guests
  • 39 meters
  • 1 suite
  • 10 state rooms
  • Wi-fi (this surprised me…I thought I would have to forfeit my digital connection for the tour)
  • Underwater videography
  • Kayak, snorkel, water-ski
  • Spa therapist on board

Another possible title for this post is “Billionaire for a Week”. Like my “Billionaire for a Day” post. The price of chartering the Four Seasons Explorer is $16,000 per day (last I checked) for whole yacht. For 22 people that’s a bit over £500 per day which isn’t exactly billionaire price bracket. But it certainly is the billionaire lifestyle.

 

 

Four Seasons Explorer 2

Best of the Maldives: Boat Deck – Shangri-La Vilingili

Shangri-La Villingili Horizon boat deck

For a bigger sailing sunrise and cruise that is just as enjoyable in silence, Shangri-La Vilingili has one of the best bows I have seen for relaxing in the best seat in the house. Sofa on the foredeck. Brill.

Lori and I have done our fair share of boating from your brother-in-law’s 50 foot catamaran on the North Carolina Intercoastal waterway to sailing with various friends. One of the favourite places to settle down for the ride is the very bow of the boat. A la Titanicking of the world’ style. The problem is that it never seems to be that comfortable up there. Anchor chains and other rigging get in the way of truly stretching out. While not at the tippy-tip of the prow, I nonetheless love the Villingili luxury yacht Horizon’s sofa situated on the foredeck for languid place to stretch out and truly enjoy the ride.

Sitting on the sofa at home watching Graham Norton somehow doesn’t compare with sitting here and watching the sunrise.

Best of the Maldives: Yachting – The Rania Experience

The Rania Experience yacht

A number of the most upscale resorts offer some nice boats for day excursions or more. When we stayed at the Conrad Maldives Rangali Island several years ago, we had a delightful sunrise cruise on the wooden ship Goma that they kept there. Several have dhonis including obviously Dhoni Island where water villas are inspired by dhonis.

But if you are keen on your very own flash motor yacht, then The Rania Experience is the place for you. It’s very tag line is “One island, one yacht, one million possibilities.”

The web site describes…

“The RANIA yacht, a majesty 86-foot Gulf Craft luxury speed cruiser is at the guest’s disposal daily for 3 hours and any additional hour rental is at a minimal rental fee of US$ 2,000 per hour.”

Methinks that Rania also might just score the ‘Best Of’ superlative of the Maldives’ ‘Most Expensive Excursion.’