Q: Rob, 22:
“I’m trying to decide whether to fly to Antibes or Palma to start my job search. I’ve got a few friends that work on yachts, and they are completely divided on which place is better. I’m not ruling motoryachts out, but I think I want to work on sailboats and I’ve heard that Palma is better for that? Then again some people seem to think the big sailboats are all around the French Riviera – who should I listen to?”
A: The Crew Coach:
Ah, the old Antibes vs Palma debate. It’s been going on for decades-and the truth is that there are real benefits to both places, depending on what you’re looking for, your budget, and a few other aspects that really come down to your personal preferences.
The pros and cons of Antibes
Antibes is concentrated. As one of the world’s biggest superyacht hubs, it’s a small town that lives and breathes yachting in the spring, when literally hundreds of people arrive to look for jobs. There are crew agents, training schools, uniform shops and English bars everywhere you look- and masses of crew walking around in polo shirts. You could not escape yachting in Antibes in the springtime if you tried. As a newcomer, this can feel wonderful- you’re right in the middle of it – but it can also feel a bit intense and competitive. Also, Antibes is expensive.
Because it has the international quay for very large yachts, Antibes prot does attract more motoryachts than sailboats. However, having said that, Antibes is brilliantly centered on a coast chock-full of marinas, with every type of yacht you can imagine. You can jump on the train and dockwalk the French coast from St Raphael right up past Monaco and across the Italian border to Imperia and Genoa. In this, Antibes has a definite advantage over Palma. The season also starts a little earlier in Antibes because so many job-hunters come earlier each year, but with Easter falling so early this year we can have an earlier start to the season than usual.
The pros and cons of Palma
Palma, on the other hand, is a living, breathing city; one where yachting is important, but not all-consuming. The docks are huge, stretching all along the palm-lined Paseo, with plenty of small to medium sailboats and motoryachts, as well as the large motoryachts docked at Club de Mar. You’ll find the crew agencies, training schools, uniform shops etc that you will in Antibes, but they’re more spread out, without that centralised yachting feel of Antibes. Palma has an extremely different feel to Antibes, with a huge dining and nightlife scene that quite frankly puts Antibes to shame. It’s a great deal of fun with plenty to do, but doesn’t have the same networking opportunities as small, centralised Antibes, although it does still have yachting bars to meet and network with crew.
As a gross generalisation, sailors do tend to prefer Palma. There are a few reasons for this; not least that many sailboats head to Palma for their yard periods over winter, and crew up there in the spring. Palma tends to have a more casual sailing feel, with not quite as many big motoryachts. Having said that you’re only a short hop away from Barcelona where there are shipyards and large marinas with big yachts. Palma is also less expensive than Antibes; whether it’s accommodation, taxis, food or beer you’re after, it will all be cheaper in Spain than on the French Riviera. When you’re job hunting, you should be bringing enough money to last minimum 6-8 weeks, so if cash is an issue for you, then Palma could be a good choice. Some people say there is also more available rental accommodation in Palma, whereas in Antibes it gets booked up fast.
Which has more jobs?
Tough call. I’d say for motoryachts Antibes is a better bet, just because there are more big motoryachts with big crews, and more big crew agencies that field jobs all over the world. However, if you’re leaning towards sailboats, you’re probably not that interested in the megayachts with loads of crew, so that might not be such a factor for you.
Something else to consider is that interesting things are happening in the Balearics at present. The Spanish yachting industry is in excellent health since a prohibitive charter tax was dropped for foreign vessels. I know, snore, but this tax change translates to lots of lovely jobs for those based in the Balearics. The Palma Yacht Show is great and growing by the year, while the rapid growth of Barcelona as a yachting hub is just drawing more and more yachts to the region.
Also, don’t forget that lots of France-based yachting businesses operate internationally between Antibes and Palma. For instance, because The Crew Coach operates online and over Skype, I can just as easily coach crew to success in Palma (or anywhere in the world) as in France. Like most yachting professionals, I come to Palma frequently to meet with crew and attend events such as the ACREW event I’ll be joining during the Palma show in May.
So, which one?
There are jobs in both places, and all the infrastructure you need to succeed in your job-hunt. While Antibes has a stronger motoryacht emphasis, there are still sailboat jobs aplenty, both in Antibes and along the entire Riviera. However, the Balearics is in a growth phase for yachting and it’s a good financial choice if you’re short on money.
Industry predictions indicate a great charter season is ahead of us, meaning your chances of success are pretty good this year; whichever starting you choose. Both Antibes and Palma have pros and cons, and at the end of the day, whether people love one or the other often comes down to something as woolly as the ‘vibe’ of the place, the luck they’ve had there, and the friends they’ve made. In your yachting career you will probably end up spending time in both so you will ultimately get to make your own decision about which is best!
All you experienced crew, which yachting hub do you prefer and why? Share your comments below!