As we look ahead to the future of yacht charter amid the Coronavirus crisis, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Caribbean will experience a bumper number of bookings this year.
For those considering a luxury getaway, a private yacht charter in these expansive cruising grounds is the ultimate way to enjoy a Social Distancing vacation while exploring new destinations and enjoying time spent with friends and family.
Until a vaccine for the new SARS-COV-2 virus is developed, it’s evident that socially disruptive measures will continue to affect travel and vacations until well after travel restrictions are eased and the global lockdown is lifted. Read our Social Distancing Yacht Charter article for more information.
With its many islands, quiet anchorages and secluded beaches, the Caribbean is perfectly-suited to Social Distancing at sea.
In fact, most yacht charter itineraries won't need to be heavily altered to optimize them for Social Distancing. The Caribbean's main attractions are scenic beauty, natural wonders and isolated islets, and you can still enjoy all of this and more on your next superyacht charter in the region.
Whether you choose the Bahamas, the Leeward Islands or the Windward Islands, you can expect relaxation, peace and serenity. This island oasis will give you the chance to escape the stress of everyday life and enjoy some down time with your loved ones.
Ahead of the winter charter season, we're answering the question; what can you expect from the 2020 Caribbean yacht charter season?
Early reports from brokers suggest that the Mediterranean season will bounce back towards the middle and end of the summer. Already, brokers are reporting an upswing in inquiries, and bookings are expected to follow suit as travel restrictions begin to relax. The season might also be extended, with charters taking place in September and even October in certain destinations.
This will lead to a huge demand for superyachts later in the summer season, meaning that many yacht-goers might not be able to secure their dream yacht, on their preferred dates in their desired destination.
This means that many charterers will miss out on a late-season escape. Couple that with lost time at the start of the season due to travel restrictions, and you can see why the Caribbean will be a popular alternative for a Social Distancing vacation at sea for those who have missed the boat in the Mediterranean.
The Caribbean is an invariably popular charter destination for holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.
In the past few years, we’ve seen a huge upswing in charter bookings on these particular dates. Sometimes, the Caribbean can be a bit quiet outside of these holidays; particularly when compared to the Mediterranean, which is busy all summer.
In 2020, we predict that’s going to change. In line with an increased demand for yacht charters across the Caribbean, we can also expect to see a longer Caribbean season.
The Windward Islands sit a couple of hundred kilometers south of Leeward Islands and are composed of St. Lucia, St Vincent, the Grenadines, St Nevis and Kitts. The Windward Islands are every bit as beautiful as the Leeward Islands, and include incredible sights such as the pitons of St Lucia, the nature reserve of Nevis, and the black sand beaches of St Kitts.
It's possible that this winter will see an increase in the demand for yacht charters in the Windward Islands, as charterers seek out less crowded destinations where they can escape the crowds and experience some true peace and serenity. It's also possible that being in lockdown may have ignited a wanderlust for long-time charterers who may now be looking to travel further afield and explore a tropical new destination.
For those of you based in the USA who are looking to charter closer to home this winter, the Caribbean is a great destination on your doorstep.
The many islands of the Caribbean are great for flying in privately, with plenty of airlines that offer private jets and chartered flights, as well as airports that are accustomed to receiving private aviation.
The closest destination to the USA is the Bahamas. While this string of 700 islands technically doesn't sit in the Caribbean sea, many Bahamians consider their islands to be a part of the Caribbean as they share the same tropical climate and general geography.
It's easy to arrange private flights between Miami and the various islands of the Bahamas, with a flight time of just half an hour between Miami and Nassau- add another ten minutes if you're looking to fly directly into another island in the Bahamas such as Staniel Cay or Chub Cay.
Meanwhile, the Leeward Island chain is located further north, and includes yachting gems such as Antigua, St Barts and the Virgin Islands. Here, you'll find sun-baked beaches, pretty little islands and kaleidoscopic coral reefs. Flight time is a little over 3 hours from Miami- other cities in the USA vary, with a flight time of around 8 hours from New York.
The Windward Islands sit even further north. Flight time from the States is around 10 hours (but only 4 from Miami) and there are plenty of private options that promise the utmost comfort while you're in transit. The destination is easily worth it when you arrive; the islands of St Lucia, Martinique, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada are an unspoilt paradise.
Hurricanes Irma and Maria made landfall across the Caribbean back in August and September 2017, and left a trail of devastation their wake.
Both storms occurred at the peak of Hurricane Season, and the most affected areas were the Leeward Islands Chain; the rest of the Caribbean escaped unscathed.
During the winter charter seasons of 2018 and 2019, some of the islands were still feeling the effects of the storm.
Now though, most of the islands of the Caribbean have bounced back almost completely. Most venues across Antigua will up and running in full swing for 2020, and the same goes for the USVI's and St Barts.
The biggest exception is Saba Rock, an exclusive island and resort in the heart of the BVI's which is home to the Bitter End Yacht Club. The island was devastated in the storm, but it has taken the opportunity to give itself a full-scale modern makeover, hence why it's taken a little longer to get back up and running.
The Caribbean hurricane season officially runs between June and November, but the season reaches its peak in August, September and October.
Not all destinations in the Caribbean are typically affected by the hurricane season. Many of the Windward Islands sit below the hurricane belt, and the risk of a hurricane having a devastating impact on the Grenadines, and Nevis and St Kitts is generally considered to be very low. However, be sure to reach out to your broker for specific advice about your chosen dates.
It's also worth noting that while the Bahamas shares the same hurricane season as the central Caribbean, it generally doesn't experience as many hurricanes on average.
As we've said, a private superyacht charter is the ultimate form of Social Distancing vacation. Yachts are hygienic, self-contained and controlled environments with a select number of crew living and working on board.
They're a much less risky option than cruises or skiing vacations in the context of COVID-19. Most cruises don't offer an exclusive environment, with thousands of other guests and hundreds of crew members living in confined spaces. Skiing is similar, with lots of other people around you coupled with cold, wintry conditions that act as a breeding ground for viruses.
Besides which, if you've missed out on a summer vacation this year, you'll more than likely be seeking some sun. It's likely that when travel restrictions are completely lifted, the Caribbean yacht charter season will be right on the horizon; giving you enough time to plan your itinerary and pick your preferred yacht with the help of a yacht charter broker.
There's a great selection of superyachts of all sizes available to charter in the Caribbean.
- The 146' (44m) motor yacht MILESTONE. She charters from $165,000 p/week + expenses
- The 234' (72m) luxury yacht UTOPIA. She charters from €435,000 p/week + expenses (Approx $480,500)
- The 282' (86m) sailing yacht AQUIJO. She charters from €450,000 p/week + expenses (Approx $497,000)
- The 196' (60m) luxury yacht ELYSIAN. She charters from $392,000 p/week + expenses
- The 83ft (25m) crewed sailing yacht 'Blue Gryphon'. She charters from $54,000 p/week + expenses.