Private Yacht Vacations Are on the Rise — and They May Not Be As Expensive As You Think

“We are witnessing a double-digit increase in terms of booking requests,” the CEO of BoatAffair, a company that offers boutique yacht experiences, said.

The coronavirus pandemic may have put the cruise industry on pause, but people still want to hit the high seas. While private jets and expensive country homes and bunkers are seeing a boon from people with extra income trying to get away from urban epicenters, private yacht charter owners say their phones are ringing off the hook with people across income levels wanting to vacation in a “safe” way.

“Due to COVID-19, there is an accelerated shift away from a crowded holiday in hotels, big resorts, or a cruise ship to more private and safer alternatives,” Adrian Walker, co-founder and CEO of BoatAffair, a company that offers “boutique yacht experiences,” said. “We are witnessing a double-digit increase in terms of booking requests from clients who are looking to switch from a hotel stay to a yacht vacation.”

BoatAffair is just one of four private yacht charter companies we spoke to that said their business is booming.

“People are saying that they will not and should not give up on a holiday in 2020,” Walker said. “Everyone is always so busy and works so much on their projects or on their job — they are looking for ways to holiday in 2020 and they are looking to do so in a safe manner. We do believe and our clients confirm that a yacht charter is a safer alternative for holiday seekers (right now).”

“Chartering a yacht gives travelers peace of mind and a sense of relief that is needed in the current travel environment,” Alvaro Nunez, co-founder of Super Luxury Group, said.

Yacht at sea
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nunez’s co-founder, Daniel Tzinker, added: “Yachts are a controlled private environment where everyone aboard is properly screened, the sanitizing procedures are more manageable and can be as frequent as desired.”

The destinations themselves are also easier to control on a private yacht.

“You decide the itinerary and choose when and where you stop ashore,” Dan Lockyer, VP of global tourism at Dream Yacht Charter said. “You can be self-sufficient on the water without need to go ashore as our boats have generators and watermakers.”

And while parts of Europe and other countries have tightened their borders during the pandemic, Lockyer and others have adapted by reallocating their fleets to domestic ports.

"Among U.S. customers, there is increased demand for domestic travel and sailing this year from our USA destinations, such as Annapolis, Newport, and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Lockyer said, adding new bases in St. Thomas and La Spezia in Italy have been opened. “The situation continues to evolve and we are adapting accordingly.”

Even better: Private yacht charters aren’t just for the ultra-rich.

As Walker noted, “This is not just for very rich people — we have many families and groups of friends who are now enquiring with us to switch from a hotel to a yacht. A catamaran in Fiji can be had for $15,000 (which includes fuel, food — 3 meals a day — crew, and local taxes) for a week for up to six guests.” This averages out to $2,500 a person — less than a week at a nice hotel.

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