If you're gearing up to book that winter getaway, a superyacht charter is one of the safest and most luxurious options for soaking up some sun in privacy. But where to go? Charter experts give the lowdown on the top yachting destinations to visit on a superyacht charter in winter 2021/22.
The Caribbean remains favoured as the winter destination for superyacht charterers. Ocean Independence broker Hanneke Maljaars says that “the Caribbean and Bahamas are firm favourites due to their accessibility from both Europe & the US.” Lauren Littlejohn, a broker at the company’s Fort Lauderdale office, adds that “The Bahamas still stands as one of the top destinations this winter, especially with relatively easy access and COVID protocols for visitors.”
Both Alastair Callender and Lotte Barker-Hahlo, who are brokers for Hill Robinson's Moravia Yachting and Burgess respectively, concur that St Barths is a favourite for New Year’s Eve charters thanks to the bustling nightlife scene. Barker-Hahlo adds that the US and British Virgin Islands “enjoy quite a stable influx of yachts throughout the season due to their beautiful bays and topography,” while “Antigua offers something for everyone with its great restaurants, 365 beaches and stunning waters.”
Competition for charterers’ attention is starting to spring up in further-flung destinations, however. “People are being forced to look in other directions due to the changing COVID restrictions,” says Burgess’ Barker-Hahlo, citing the Indian Ocean and the South Pacific as popular alternatives to the Caribbean milk run.
Moravia Yachting’s Callender has seen an uptick of enquiries for “Patagonia, The Galapagos and South East Asia,” while head of charter retail at YPI, Nickie Tannock-Vincent, has seen increased interest in “the Maldives and Indian Ocean, the Red Sea and as far afield as Raja Ampat in Indonesia.”
“I have also had a few enquiries for south and central America,” says Tannock-Vincent, specifying that Costa Rica is “more in the picture than ever before.”
Cold weather cruising
Charterers looking to go further afield in 2021 and 2022 are also considering cooler climes as unique charter destinations, brokers have acknowledged. This has been connected to an increasing interest in explorer-type vessels, according to Maljaars and Callender. “Wonderful ‘off-the-beaten-path’ locations can be best experienced via the benefits of an explorer superyacht,” says Callender, adding that “these yachts provide an incredible range and luxury in the utmost seclusion.”
Maljaars adds that Norway and Antarctica have been the most popular destinations for clients booking an explorer charter through Ocean Independence. Tannock-Vincent also acknowledged a greater interest in Antarctic adventures, with “more yachts going in that direction,” than seen before.
Advice for adventurers
Brokers have all agreed that this winter season is one of the most engaged they’ve ever seen, so they’re advising clients to book as soon as possible. “The Caribbean is seeing one of its busiest years to date, and we are struggling to find yachts for everyone who wants them,” reveals Burgess’ Barker-Hahlo, adding that “towards the end of January and onwards there is much more availability,” for those booking charters through Burgess. YPI’s Tannock-Vincent also noted that “most of our inhouse yachts are all booked up already with only a few gaps remaining.”
Callender has also “seen record levels of both charter enquiries and bookings” at Moravia Yachting, and suggests that clients avoid the peak times of Christmas and New Year if possible; “for those that have flexibility on vacation dates, the best deals can be negotiated – as it will help fill the gaps in a yacht’s existing charter schedule,” he advises.
With bookings quickly being snapped up for winter, Callender and Ocean Independence broker Maljaars have both been making bookings for spring and summer 2022 Mediterranean charters already “for those clients that want to guarantee specific dates on board the world’s finest superyachts,” Callender says.
Callender and Maljaars have also both noted that first time charterers are making up a large portion of the winter bookings this season, and are linking this to the current difficulties around travel which can be offset when on board a luxury superyacht. Winter superyacht charters allow multi-generational groups to gather over the festive period, with “the additional benefits of unprecedented privacy and level of service, coupled with the safety of travelling within your own bubble,” says Callender, adding: “a tailor-made yacht charter vacation is simply unmatched.”