The summer season might be beginning to show signs of life after a slow and uncertain start, but while travel restrictions remain in place across the world it's hard to be sure of any set plans this summer. As a result, charter brokers and travellers alike are starting to look ahead to the winter season instead, shifting their focus from the Mediterranean to the Caribbean.
Part two of BOAT International’s new live digital series aimed to answer your questions and shed some light on what the Caribbean charter season might look like. Should I book now to get the yacht I want this season? Are remote cruising destinations likely to be more popular? And how will the charter experience be different this winter? BOAT International’s deputy editor Caroline White was joined by Fraser charter broker Diane Fraser, senior charter manager at Ocean Independence Daphne d'Offay, and Captain Calin Bujgoi, of 44m charter yacht Pure Bliss (managed by Ocean Independence), to discuss the upcoming winter season in-depth and answer your questions live.
D'Offay said that interest in the Caribbean had been “quite positive” so far this year, centred primarily in the Virgin Islands, St Maarten and Leeward Islands. She said: "The Bahamas, having opened with a firm protocol on providing negative Covid-19 tests, has given a bit of confidence to all parties... That's already a good start to getting things going, it will set up the boilerplate for how the Caribbean moves forward to help build that confidence."
Fraser agreed and said there had been a “flurry” of activity in the Bahamas due to the “pent up desire" to travel. “We saw it over July 4th here in the States, everybody was on the beach. They can't wait to get outside they can't wait to travel." However, she warns: “Even though we are seeing reassurances with the Bahamas and in the US Virgin Islands, there's a wariness because of the uncertainties in the rest of the Caribbean chain.”
While international flights have resumed into Nassau – often the first port of call for those visiting the Bahamas – travel restrictions currently vary from island to island and visitors may need to provide a negative Covid-19 test result on arrival. However, as the restrictions begin to ease, it is hoped that those travelling to the Caribbean this winter will be able to move much more freely.
Lastly, captain Calin Bujgoi was able to shed some light on how Covid-19 is being handled on board, which includes carefully planned provisioning and limiting time ashore for both guests and crew. "We'll probably see more longer cruising," he said, with "less dining ashore and activities ashore because otherwise it will negate all other measures that we might put in place."