The Club Med 2 Is The World’s Largest Sailing Yacht That Creates Unforgettable Mediterranean Holidays

Mention Club Med, and conversations invariably turn to wholesome family fun in beachy or snow-capped resorts from Cherating to Kiroro in Japan. Founded in 1950 by Gérard Blitz, Club Med evolved from being a post-war holiday concept to an active fun-in-the-sun getaways idea for single and available individuals in the 1970s. The company pioneered the all-inclusive holiday that included everything from watersports activities, and themed parties to cocktails. Presently owned by Chinese conglomerate Fosun Tourism Group, Club Med is banking on its Exclusive Collection properties (and a ship) to attract a new globally diverse demographic.

Riffing off the all-inclusive idea, the Club Med 2 is the world’s largest yacht with five majestic sails, and is quite literally a holiday resort on sea. (In case you’re wondering what happened to the Club Med 1, the vessel was sold to Windstar Cruises at the end of the past century.) On the 187-metre Club Med 2, there’s a decidedly French imprint on board, from the champagne served at sunset to the themed parties with Eurotunes and Abba-ish dances that take place every night.

The yacht, built in 1992, recently benefitted from a €9 million euro makeover of its restaurants and bars: Le Saint-Barth, Le Cannes and Le Portofino, Le Monte-Carlo, and Le Saint-Tropez.

During the summer months, the Club Med 2 trails the coastlines of Sicily, the Ionian islands of Greece, the French Riviera, Corsica, and the Ligurian coastlines in northwestern Italy. With lesser-known destinations on its radar, the Club Med 2 by virtue of its comparatively diminutive bearing can reach locations that super cruise-liners aren’t able to. So from the Sicilian capital of Palermo, the boat literally sails off into the sunset, travelling at a relatively brisk yet smooth pace to the charming, if tiny, island of Lipari. It’s part of a necklace of Aeolian islands, named after Aeolus—a divine being who controls the winds—and comprising Panarea, Filicudi, Alicudi, Salina, Vulcano, and Stromboli. Vegetation here is lush and thriving, no doubt due to the volcanic soil the region has in abundance. A day trip around Lipari leads us—a motley group of journalists, influencers and an acclaimed Korean actress—on a trek encircling the 30km-wide island, culminating in a visit to Museo Archeologico Eoliano L Bernabo’ Brea’. The museum is a treasure bolthole of ancient artifacts sourced, or more specifically excavated, from settlements on the island.

Between shopping for linen shirts and hunting down the best local gelato shop, there isn’t much time to do anything else. There’s a 5pm cut-off time to return to the yacht, which is due to set sail for its next port of call: Crotone.

The town is known for its football club and the Aragon’s fortress of Le Castella. Guests aboard the Club Med 2 either take off to explore Crotone’s local beach scene or stay on the ship to enjoy the relative peace and quiet of the yacht’s two swimming pools and two fully stocked bars. Soon, it’s time to set off again but not before a couple of long island ice teas from Le Portofino.

After a night’s sail, we arrive at the port of Catania, from which we gain access to Taormina (of The White Lotus season two renown). The group of us embarked on a lightning-fast tour to Mount Etna, an active volcano whose rumblings continue to shape the destinies of the local populace. Then, the afternoon is spent in sun-dappled Taormina, stepping onto the town’s cobblestone thoroughfares with its range of luxury brand and boutique-y stores, and jostling with Europeans and the occasional scouser on holiday, in bustling cafes and open-air trattorias serving arancini, bruschetta (pronounced ‘brusketta’ if you’re local), cicchetti, and sarde a beccafico.

The next morning at around 2am, the Club Med 2 parts from Italian waters and heads to the Ioanian island of Zante (or Zakynthos in Greek). On the west coast of Greece, the lowkey but no less beautiful Zante is an alternative to glitzier Mykonos or Santorini. But what Zante perhaps has that the other two islands do not is access to the Navagio ‘shipwreck’ beach, with its shimmery colour-shifting waters that glisten like liquid turquoise emeralds lit by the sun.

Here, next to these waters are rock formations that speak of stories and legends that would take lifetimes to decode. Perhaps we could start with the rocks that shape the sea god Poseidon’s profile along with other shapes and figures that pop into mind and soul during the hour-long boat ride on choppy waters. These unexpected discoveries make it easier to stomach the queasiness from the rocking boat.

Back in the town of Zante, our group encounters a first-hand experience of Greek hospitality. “Where are you guys from?” asks an animated stranger driving past. “Welcome!” In contrast to Italians who are more subtle (but no less friendly) in demeanour, the locals we meet seem genuinely happy for our visit to their island. We are, after all, just strangers whose ship was merely passing by that night.

Our next destination, Parga, is sleepier, less rambunctious, and retains its former fishing village countenance. The more languid pace of life here also means that the town’s grocery shops are standout places to stock up on lokum and baklava without paying tourist prices.

While on the Club Med 2, the waters around Parga are relatively calm enough for the ship’s Nautical Hall to open. The space resembles a G.I. Joe-style water craft with a dock area that opens onto water. Guests have the run of the Hobie Mirage Eclipse, a stand-up paddleboard with a steering handlebar, water-skiing as well as other thrilling Instagram-algorithm-dominating sea-based activities.

The Club Med 2’s second last port of call for the trip is Corfu. A former Venetian outpost, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is touristy, yes, but it also retains its laidback appeal that was presumably the reason for writer Gerald Durrell and his family’s extended stay in the area during the years preceding World War II. Amble onto a side street away from the tourist hordes, away from shops selling made-in-India clothing, grab a coffee and a pastry from one of the less busy cafes and take in the scene. With only nine hours or so in Corfu, cafe-hopping is the most appealing—and tasty—way to experience the town.

Our group’s Club Med 2’s journey ends in Brindisi, a port city on the Adriatic Sea. Although our destinations on this journey are Italian and Greek in origin, the Club Med 2’s Francophilic personality also provides opportunities for an unexpectedly deep immersion into the predilections, tastes and flavours of French culture and language.

After all, isn’t this the reason we travel? To open our minds and outlooks to places and people who are different—but no less special than ourselves.

Club Med

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