The heat is on for the Caribbean yacht charter season. While the general atmosphere is maybe slower than usual, it’s a tropical heaven for those lucky enough to be cruising these idyllic sailing grounds. The hurricane of 2017 has knocked confidence in how beautiful these islands and their waters are. Bear in mind that only around 20% of the island chain was affected at all and you will begin to understand this is unfounded. Most of these jewelled islands were untouched by the hand of fate and remain as delightful as ever – maybe more so given there are a few less visitors to share your anchorage. And for those that were damaged, the majority are back to white beaches, pristine waters and abundant flowers and foliage as the rains rejuvenated the hillsides within the first few months after the skies cleared.
The annual Antigua Yacht Charter Yacht Show in early December 2018 was a testament to the solidarity of the charter fleet. More than 80 gleaming yachts ranging from 20 – 90 meters with matching crew were on display – the standard as high as ever.
Of the fleet on display about 73% were motor yachts, 20% were catamaran and, sad for me to say, only around 7% monohull sailing yachts
CHARTER TRENDS FOR 2019
WATERSPORTS AND LEISURE. I noticed a keen focus on the latest water sports and leisure kit. The general move in the direction of activity, health and fitness is reflected in the collections of sports gear on board. Dependent on the size of the yacht and its ‘garage’ or beach club, there’s been a big investment in keeping clients happy with the latest overwater and underwater gadgets. Whether it’s the latest flyboards or clear view SUP, the quality of the equipment is paramount. Seabobs (under/over water scooters) are ubiquitous as are floating islands and underwater cameras. Many of the larger yachts have slides, jet skis, submarines and oodles more. Even these have been upgraded – slides no longer have a simple ‘top to bottom’ ride, but a humback in the middle and a kick at the end to send the glider flying off into the water.
DINING ON BOARD. A sharp shift from the chefs towards ever healthier menus. Unless specifically requested by guests, gone are the rich butter and cream sauces and hello to the alternatives of non-dairy enrichers and less animal based emollients. There’s a focus on strong, clear contrasting flavours zinging with colour and vitality with clean lean cuts of meat and fish or excellent vegetarian and vegan choices. Chefs have also honed their skills in being able to cater for a wide range of dietary requirements – whether it is purely for guests who’d like to leave the yacht looking a little more sleek than when they arrived or those who are vegan or have food intolerances. The choice is yours.
ACTIVITIES AND THERAPY. There’s a crew fit to work with many of the hobbies guests may like to find out more about while on their charter. Whether it’s marine life, yoga, fitness training or photography, the skill base of the crew is ever expanding and, time permitting, they are delighted to share their knowledge with guests.
ECO AWARENESS. I’m excited to say the majority of the charter fleet is embracing an eco-aware charter philosophy. More to follow on this subject in another post …
SUMMARY. All in all the charter fleet is in very good shape and guests are in a great position to take advantage of the lower than normal bookings this season in the Caribbean. There are a few very good offers from the larger yachts, a little more availability in the calendars of those, as yet, less known vessels (don’t worry – we’ll have inspected them for you!) and a real enthusiasm on the part of the crew to entice guests back to loving the Caribbean again.
MEDITERRANEAN SUMMER 2019. In contrast to the Caribbean lull I suspect it’s likely to be a very busy season brewing in the Mediterranean. If you are thinking of booking for this coming summer, get in touch sooner than later to secure your first choice of yacht in the area you’d most like to cruise. The last 2 – 3 years have seen a surge in bookings in fashionable southern Italy and also back in Greece. As reported by one Greek manager, early December 2017, her boats had 33 weeks charter booked for the following summer. By same time 2018, they had 98 weeks booked already.
FAVOURITE CRUISING. Other popular destinations are the quintessential Corsica and Sardinia cruise, the Croatian Islands with the choice of the busier Dalmatian Coast boasting Hvar, Korcula, Brac and Dubrovnik and the less visited islands of the Kornati National Park. I’m also optimistic that this year will see the return of many visitors to Turkish shores and it’s extraordinary fleet of super yachts
INDIGO BAY YACHT CHARTERS. Our expertise is in helping you plan a bespoke itinerary, taking all your ideas into consideration and creating a perfect yacht charter –
Wishing you all fair winds and a great 2019