We could all use a vacation right about now. The coronavirus outbreak has made that nearly impossible. It’s also put the cruise industry and the travel industry as a whole on pause. But people still are looking for a way to travel. More wealthy individuals are booking private jets and expensive country homes during this time to get away from the urban epicenters of the pandemic. And interestingly enough, private yacht charter owners say the business is booming. People across all income levels are looking to go on a vacation in a “safe” way. “Due to COVID-19, there is an accelerated shift away from a crowded holiday in hotels, big resorts, or a cruise ship to more private and safer alternatives,” Adrian Walker, co-founder and CEO of BoatAffair, a company that offers “boutique yacht experiences.” We are witnessing a double-digit increase in terms of booking requests from clients who are looking to switch from a hotel stay to a yacht vacation.”
BoatAffair is just one of four private yacht charter companies that spoke with Travel + Leisure and told them that their business is booming. “People are saying that they will not and should not give up on a holiday in 2020,” Walker said. “Everyone is always so busy and works so much on their projects or on their job- they are looking for ways to holiday in 2020 and they are looking to do so in a safe manner. We do believe and our clients confirm that a yacht charter is a safer alternative for holiday seekers (right now).”
Alvaro Nunez, co-founder of Super Luxury Group, also said, “Chartering a yacht gives travelers peace of mind and a sense of relief that is needed in the current travel environment. Nunez’s co-founder, Daniel Tzinker, added: “Yachts are a controlled private environment where everyone aboard is properly screened, the sanitizing procedures are more manageable and can be as frequent as desired.” Dan Lockyer, VP of global tourism at Dream Yacht Charter said, “You decide the itinerary and choose when and where you stop ashore. You can be self-sufficient on the water without need to go ashore as our boats have generators and watermakers.” Lockyer and others have adapted to the tightening of borders by relocating their boats to domestic ports. “Among U.S. customers, there is increased demand for domestic travel and sailing this year from our USA destinations, such as Annapolis, Newport, and St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands,” Lockyer said. He also added that the new bases in St. Thomas and Italy have been opened. “The situation continues to evolve and we are adapting accordingly.”
You might be saying to yourself, “Yeah, that’s nice and all, but a private yacht must cost a pretty penny.” But the truth is that private yacht charters are totally affordable. They aren’t just for the super-rich! Walker said, “This is not just for very rich people- we have many families and groups of friends who are now enquiring with us to switch from a hotel to a yacht. A catamaran in Fiji can be had for $15,000 (which includes fuel, food- 3 meals a day- crew, and local taxes) for a week for up to six guests.” This averages out to $2,500 a person- less than a week at a nice hotel.