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 in winter 2020/21.
“The perennial favourites will continue to be The Bahamas and Caribbean,” said Northrop & Johnson chief commercial officer Cromwell Littlejohn. Brokers from Burgess, Ocean Independence and Merle Wood also agree that both the Bahamas and St Barths will be hotspots as usual with clients eager to return to warmer waters - should travel restrictions permit.
The Bahamas look to be popular again this season, despite previous closures as a result of the pandemic. Picture courtesy of Adobe Stock
Travellers holidaying between the CARICOM nations will also be able to island-hop easily without further testing or quarantine. A travel bubble has now been set up between a number of Caribbean countries that are perfect for cruising - this bubble includes Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Nonetheless, Bluewater brokers assure clients not to expect the usual crowds in destinations such as St Barths, as initial “quarantines and test requirements will reduce volume by likely 50% or more.”
Craig Cohen and Biance Nestor at Burgess added that due to the impact of COVID-19, "this winter season, the charters will provide a far more yacht-centric experience, so destinations like St Lucia and the Grenadines could prove more popular than previous years. Aesthetically they are very beautiful and the epitome of what we envision as the Caribbean.”
The warm waters of the Caribbean usually entice charterers in the winter.Picture courtesy of pixabay
Close to home
Experts at Y.CO have generally noted a significant increase in clients wanting to escape for the holiday season and choosing a superyacht charter to do so amid ever-changing global travel restrictions. Charlie Birkett, Y.CO co-founder and CEO explains: "there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the holiday season, especially with the rapidly changing social restrictions, and it is clear that clients are viewing yacht charter as an attractive option for their Christmas and New Year breaks due to the natural isolation, self-sufficiency, and freedom it offers.”
And while clients normally head to the Caribbean for the winter, the team at Y.CO have seen an uplift in enquiries for European charters this season as restrictions ease and clients look to celebrate the holiday season closer to home. Mediterranean charter destinations now open for foreign travellers include Italy, France, Croatia, Greece and Spain.
Many US-based clients are choosing to charter closer to home, in Florida.Picture courtesy of Unsplash
The pandemic has also forced US charter clients to rethink holiday destinations. Brokers from Denision have received “a large influx of inquiries as guests don’t want to leave the states” and Northrop & Johnson have seen “more inquiries for South Florida than ever before” according to Littlejohn. The sunshine state is open to US travellers hoping to cruise its shores, and was one of the few places to hold a boat show this year, having hosted the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) in October.
Merle Wood broker Pila Pexton suggests that “South Florida, both the west and east coast as well as the Keys, is a great option because clients can easily drive to Florida and avoid air travel.”
French Polynesia is an ideal winter charter location. Image courtesy of Unsplash.
Additionally, brokers have noticed that those wanting to keep to themselves as much as possible will be keen to explore remote destinations such as The Galapagos, Australia and Southeast Asia. “There is no better place to socially isolate than in the middle of nowhere while cruising off-the-beaten-track locations," said Northrop & Johnson’s Littlejohn.
Other remote destinations receiving attention include Costa Rica, Patagonia and the Red Sea, for which YPI broker Agne Pavia has seen “more enquires than usual this year.”
The Maldives and French Polynesia have become "increasingly popular and offer outstanding underwater experiences for guests looking to get closer to sea life,” said Burgess brokers Cohen and Nestor.
Antarctica is receiving more attention than ever as a charter destination. Image courtesy of Christopher Scholey.
Cold weather cruising
The wide spread of destinations enticing charters this year indicates that clients are becoming increasingly explorative about where to set sail. Instead of chasing the sun, brokers have also witnessed an increasing number of clients enquiring into polar adventures. “Charterers are interested in off-the-beaten-path destinations like Greenland and Alaska and Antarctica” notes Littlejohn. Pavia adds that “Antarctica continues to receive a lot of interest for both this year and the next,” among YPI clients. In fact, charterers now have more choice than ever when it comes to ice-cold getaways following the launch of two serious explorers in 2020, Ragnar and La Datcha, both of which are available for charter.
For more information about how to prepare for your next charter, check out our top tips for the winter 2020 charter season.