It has been a good decade for chartering. Boats have been refreshed, new bases added, new differentiating “products” have been introduced, and it’s easier than ever to learn about cool opportunities and last minute deals. Let’s look at how you can be in-the-know and get out on the water in 2019.
The Moorings Turns 50
Fifty is fabulous—if you’re a company, that is. The Moorings (moorings.com) celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with a look back to 1969 when Charlie and Ginny Cary opened their first base in the British Virgin Islands with just six Pearson yachts. Today, the company has 400 vessels in over 20 destinations and is a premium brand in the charter space.
The Moorings is celebrating in myriad ways, including launching a new Moorings 5000 catamaran—which seems only fitting given the year. Additionally, Moorings will mark its half-century birthday with two rendezvous events: Croatia (October 12-19) and the British Virgin Islands (November 10-16). Each event will feature a special itinerary and a guide boat to lead the group. Dinners ashore, exclusive parties and great swag will also be part of the festivities.
To reinforce the party atmosphere, Moorings has also opened a new location in Martinique. Bareboat and skippered charters aboard monohulls, and sail and power catamarans are all now on offer in La Marine du Marin: what’s been called the “Culinary Capital of the Caribbean.” Between the sailing, hiking and culture, there’s much to do in this lush spot at the top of the Windward Isles.
Sunsail Keeps Differentiating
Charter has grown well beyond just bareboat and crewed vacations, and Sunsail (sunsail.com) has been experimenting with various different product offerings. Specifically, in the past two years, it has created specialty cruises for foodies, oenophiles, rum aficionados and even kite-boarders. As a result, guests have been able to combine their passions with a vacation that satisfies all members of their group.
Sunsail has also pioneered the “by-the-cabin” concept, whereby strangers can come together and share a boat to reduce costs and make new friends. Flotillas have been popular too, with groups of sailors chartering their own boats, while benefitting from a guide boat’s local knowledge and insider tips. At last count, I believe there were 14 flotilla routes, including such cruising grounds as Croatia, Greece and the BVI.
Dream Yacht Charter Grows
Dream Yacht (dreamyachtcharter.com) has been swallowing up independent charter fleets around the world for the past decade, and its extraordinary growth, whether by acquisition or organic expansion, has been a whirlwind. Most recently, the company has introduced several new bases, including in the Exumas, St. Lucia, Belize, Maldives and Turkey. DYC has also penetrated the French Atlantic Coast with its purchase of a Brittany-based outfit and has re-opened its base in Madagascar. Its new, larger facility in the BVI is on Scrub Island.
On the ownership side, DYC has also introduced a fractional ownership model, allowing yet more sailors to say they own a yacht in the Caribbean.
Voyage Gets Innovative
Voyage Yacht Charters (voyagecharters.com) continues to offer unique yachts in the BVI and is currently ramping up with its new Voyage 480, Electrified (see Just Launched, page 20), sporting eco-friendly electric drives. With less impact on the environment as well as the guest’s wallet, this uncommon yacht will likely draw both the curious and the technology-minded. The future is indeed electric.
Most of the fleets of Caribbean-based companies such as Horizon, CYOA, Conch, Virgin Islands Sailing and others have been refreshed. Following Hurricane Irma, new boats flowed into the fleets to replace those that were damaged or sunk. This means plenty of shiny-new boats just waiting to be taken out for a spin. You have to get you some of that.
Be an Insider
With so much going on, the best way to keep track is to sign up for each company’s newsletter via their websites. You’ll learn about new bases, new products and last-minute discounts, which can be great deals if your schedule is flexible. New bases may also offer savings as companies entice guests to test out fresh destinations. And let’s face it, any time someone turns 50, that’s a party that you can’t miss.