7 things to know about the charter market this summer

There are shifting trends in the Mediterranean

The summer season has summoned a flurry of superyachts to the Mediterranean, where people will be enjoying this year's Cannes Film Festival before the Monaco Grand Prix. Looking ahead to the warmer months, we ask the experts what to expect from the charter market.

"In 2016, for the first time since our records began Cannes has lost its place as the most popular individual port to embark a charter to Palma de Mallorca," says Toby Maclaurin, sales and marketing director at Ocean Independence. "So far in 2017 Cannes leads for the moment, but with Palma and Tivat very closely behind and good to see Bodrum already beating its total of 2016 charter embarkations."

People are planning their superyacht vacation earlier

It seems that people are getting more organised with their summer superyacht vacations and the market has been busy, with bookings starting earlier than in previous years.

“In my opinion, the charter season for 2017 should be the strongest since the crash of 2008,” Jim Acher, sales and charter broker at bluewater yachting, says. “There is a now a pool of around 220 vessels available in the 30-45 metre segment in the West Mediterranean and the numbers are continuing to improve month on month: Only 14% have nothing booked yet (including owner-use), down from 23% in April, down from 38% in March and down from 44% in February. It is important to note that the statistic above covers all yachts in that size bracket, not just the newest or best value vessels, displacement or high-performance vessels.”

"The charter market does seem to be healthy with good demand this year and bookings starting early," adds Sarah Piggin, charter broke at YPI.

Increase demand for charter vacations in Greece and the Balearics

Greece and its islands have endured a couple of tough seasons, but demand for yacht charters in the area is on the rise.

"After a few quiet years the beautiful Cyclades have been in demand as many guests take advantage of the extended East Med season," Tamsin Priestley, director of yacht charter at Y.CO, says. "Charterers are increasingly keen to avoid marinas and major ports and head to islands and more remote coastal options."

Neil Moore, director of charter management at Burgess, also mentioned Greece's returning popularity: "The market is buoyant with a good level of charter activity across the Mediterranean, including an increased level of business for Greece."

Additionally, more and more yachts have been getting their Spanish charter licenses and taking advantage of the new tax exemptions for superyachts that have been in place since 2013.

"There is now demand for larger yachts in the Balearics and two our 50 metre plus yachts have just acquired their licenses," Moore adds.

Remote destinations are becoming more popular

In recent years, a noticeable interest in explorer yachts and adventure-focused vacations has been on the rise. Though the Caribbean and the Mediterranean are always going to be popular, more and more charterers are looking to take superyachts to destinations such as Australia, Fiji, Antarctica or Greenland.

Francesca Fenucci, communications manager at BWA Yachting, says: "I think that the attention is recently moving to unexplored countries or islands, and this is something which can be easily found along the Dalmatian coast."

Priestley says: "We have seen an increase in charters in more remote destinations, with considerable interest in Alaska, Antarctica and we have organised several charters in Greenland and sail/ski charters in Norway.

"While it's not a major sector of the market yet, we increasingly receive enquiries for explorer type vessels with a view to chartering further afield."

Wellness continues to be a popular request on board

As with the more general travelling trend, people are still more concerned with their personal health and well-being than ever before — rather than gargantuan breakfasts and lavish lunches, people are continuing with their chosen diet while on vacation and are even travelling to luxurious destinations and retreats to further that experience.

"Healthy living continues to be central to charter in 2017 — we're increasingly asked for yachts with gyms, qualified personal trainers as part of the crew and water toys that involve fitness such as stand up paddleboards and resistance pools," says Priestley. "Additionally, raw food, Paleo diet menus, low carb and good fat diets have been requested."

Moore adds: "On the larger yachts spa and fitness facilities, including dedicated treatment areas and comprehensive gym areas continue to be in high demand."

There is a growing demand for larger superyachts

Since the announcements that superyachts such as Cloud 9 (74 metres), Here Comes the Sun (83 metres), Savannah (83.5 metres) and Aquijo (86 metres) have become available for charter in the last year, a noticeable interest with larger superyachts is on the rise.

"As ever we charter a wide variety of yachts to our clients," Priestley says. "It is notable that the 80 metre plus market has been particularly busy in the lead up to summer 2017."

Toys continue to be a deciding factor when chartering

Predictably, people are still keen to have superyachts with the latest and greatest toys and technology, looking out for the most up-to-date gadgets available on charters.

"Looking at amenities, the most important elements after the captain and crew are connectivity and toys," says Acher. "The more options and fun things to do, the more attractive the vessel will be compared to its rivals. The ability to have hi-speed internet and WiFi are essential, as all guests want to get online."

Moore adds: "Toys are still very important for clients when considering their choice of yacht and we have seen a good number of yachts upgrading their inventory of water toys to match expectations."

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