Image courtesy of Camper & Nicholsons Port Louis Marina.
As this year’s winter charter season kicks off, experts from the superyacht industry share their advice and top tips for 2020/2021 charters.
A Slow Start
Unsurprisingly, brokers have noticed that travel restrictions have made clients more hesitant to book far ahead in advance for this winter season. But this could mean greater choice for charterers eager to get out on the water.
Senior charter manager at Ocean Independence, Daphne D’Offay, has noticed that “clients seem to be taking more time to commit” although “the current level of interest is quite high for the holidays.”
Chief commercial officer at Northrop & Johnson, Cromwell Littlejohn, has seen bookings start to roll in “a few months later than usual” but the season could still turn out considerably better than summer 2020, as brokers from Merle Wood, Burgess, YPI and Denison agree. Littlejohn also confirmed that the “shoulder seasons” in the fall and spring, as well as the Thanksgiving holiday, have seen a greater interest than previous years.
For optimal ease and added privacy for health and safety measures, brokers from Bluewater and Burgess propose flying private. “A good way to ensure flexibility is to fly privately where possible so adjustments can be easily made if required”, suggest Burgess experts Craig Cohen and Biance Nestor.
To further facilitate private jet travel for charter clients, Camper & Nicholsons have partnered with VistaJet airlines to launch a new Jet-to-Yacht service. Speaking about the partnership, CEO of Camper & Nicholsons Paolo Casani commented: “Our mission is to give our clients the safest travel experience while enjoying life aboard some of the world’s most stunning yachts. We are delighted to have a partner, VistaJet, that supports our mission in creating the most exclusive and safest way of travelling, hassle free.”
Flexibility is Key
Brokers have agreed that clients should remain flexible in case restrictions cause a charter to be postponed. Although charter yachts and their crew can respond adeptly to last minute changes, Burgess' Cohen and Nestor suggest, “keeping an open mind with regards to your itinerary” as “each island has their own protocols for entry which can change anytime in response to the climate.” Agne Pavia from YPI recommends that “different scenarios are considered when signing the agreement. Should the virus prevent guests from travelling, have a plan B agreed with the yacht.”
Above all, industry experts stress that charterers should ensure a cancellation addendum is included in the contract. “We have spent a lot of time perfecting our COVID-19 addendums ensuring that our clients are not exposing themselves to potential loss due to cancellation” says Northrop & Johnson’s Littlejohn, with experts from Bluewater adding that working with a qualified charter broker from a reputable brokerage firm will ensure clients' finances are protected in case of cancellation.
As expected, Caribbean destinations such as the Bahamas, St. Barths and the Leeward Islands are looking to be hotspots this season as charterers and owners look to escape the cold and soak up some winter sun. However, some destinations in more remote locations have been receiving greater attention over the last few months as well.