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Coronavirus and Yacht Charter: Your questions, answered by the experts

Industry news

By Katia Damborsky  10 March 2020

If you're thinking about booking a yacht charter in summer 2020, Coronavirus may leave you with questions about cancellations, insurance, travel restrictions and safety. Our team is here to answer all of your questions about superyacht rental during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

In the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak, we've received lots of questions about chartering a yacht for summer 2020. "Should I still book a yacht charter during the Coronavirus outbreak? What happens if I have to cancel? Is it still safe to charter?"

Questions and concerns are understandable, and YachtCharterFleet is putting the media panic aside to bring you a comprehensive overview of the developing Coronavirus situation and how it could affect your yacht charter vacation. 

We believe it's important to get all the facts and make an informed choice and we will be reviewing this article daily to bring you the most up-to-date information and advice.

Here's our COVID-19 and superyacht charter FAQ guide:

Contents:

  • Is it still safe to charter a yacht during the Coronavirus outbreak?

  • If I arrange a yacht charter now, will my contract protect me if I have to cancel because of COVID-19?

  • I've already booked my charter and signed the contract. What happens if I need to cancel my charter because of the new Coronavirus?

  • Can I book now and travel later?

  • Where can I charter a yacht during the COVID-19 outbreak?

  • Travel bans have been lifted and I'd like to charter a yacht. What will my yacht charter vacation be like in the aftermath of the travel restrictions? 

  • I am based in the USA and I usually charter in the Med, but now I would rather stay closer to home. What can I do?

Is it still safe to charter a yacht during the Coronavirus outbreak?

First of all, it's important to note that not all travel can ever be 100% risk free.

But objectively, a yacht charter is a much safer vacation option when compared to hotel stays or cruise liners for a number of reasons.

1. Limited exposure to other people

End-to-end private transport means you don't have to interact with other members of the public. If you're concerned about air travel, consider a private flight.

The flexibility of a yacht charter also means you can choose where you want to go- you can simply choose to avoid crowded areas on land and stick to peaceful spots like little beaches and hidden coves. 

2. Less staff means lower risk 

Yachts only have a handful of crew members on board, so it's much easier to keep track of potential exposure to the virus. Crew members also live on board, limiting their contact with members of the public. Crews and brokerage firms are being extra vigilant about crew at the moment, and are not prepared to take any risks when it comes to potential cases of Coronavirus. 

3. A clean and hygienic environment 

Yacht crews spend hours cleaning every day to ensure a clean and sterile on-board space for their guests. From the social areas to the accommodation, everywhere on board is cleaned to the highest and most hygienic standard. 

4. Self-sufficiency

Cruising down the coasts and hopping between islands, yachts are like little havens on the water. There's really no need to come on shore at all, with the exception of refuelling, waste disposal or inclement weather. But for the most part, you can spend your whole vacation on deck if you want to, enjoying five-star dining, playing with water toys and making the most out of all the yacht's facilities. 

If I arrange a yacht charter now, will my contract protect me if I have to cancel because of COVID-19?

Brokerage firms are starting to add addendums and clauses to their contracts to account for any cancellation that occurs as a result of the Coronavirus. In general, these clauses are designed to allow both parties to cancel without fault. 

As the situation develops, we will more than likely start to see more brokerage firms following suit. 

Such amendments are designed to give you peace of mind when booking.

You can also elect to take out private travel insurance, with many companies now offering special coverage for Coronavirus and yacht charter. 

Remember, the yachting industry wants to ensure the best possible outcome for all involved parties. 

Yachts are like little havens on the water and the flexibility of a yacht charter means you choose to avoid crowded areas if you feel it necessary.

I've already booked my charter and signed the contract. What happens if I need to cancel my charter because of the Coronavirus?

The industry is keeping a close eye on the situation as it evolves, but as of yet, it's unclear what will happen if you need to cancel on account of COVID-19.

Amenable solutions are key for ensuring that everyone is satisfied with the end result, should you need to cancel as a result of the Coronavirus. 

Can I book now and travel later?

We would highly recommend that you book now and travel later.

If one thing's clear in these uncertain times, it's that these travel restrictions will lift soon. When they do, we can expect to see a huge upswing in bookings on yacht charters and a shortage of charter yachts later in the summer months, particularly in July, August and September.

To avoid disappointment, you should book your yacht now for future dates. Key data suggests that travel restrictions may last anywhere between 3 - 6 weeks, so bear that in mind and ask your broker about cancellation policies and insurance. 

What are yacht crews doing to protect against Coronavirus?

Yacht crews are being extra vigilant to ensure that they and their guests are not exposed to COVID-19. Here are a few precautions you can expect on board superyachts:

  • COVID-19 testing prior to boarding
  • Crew must be able to prove they haven’t been to affected areas within 21 days of commencement of the charter
  • Preventative measures aboard (eg. taking temperatures daily)
  • Yachts may require full sanitization prior to and after the charter 

Where can I charter a yacht during the COVID-19 outbreak?

It's important to remember that chartering a yacht is a totally different concept to other vacation types. You can still charter a yacht in any destination as long as the yacht is available, the ports are open and there are no travel restrictions in place that would prevent you from arriving to meet the yacht. 

The following information is correct as of March 30. It is subject to change as new regulations and travel restrictions are put in place or lifted.

In the Caribbean, many destinations have closed their doors in a precautionary bid to keep the virus out. Most destinations are closed to visitors for a period of 14-30 days, both by air and sea. St Lucia is one exception and will be re-opening to visitors on April 5. 

All destinations in the Caribbean are being stringent about past travel, and will not permit individuals to enter the country if they have recently visited a region heavily affected by COVID-19.

As we move into the Mediterranean yacht charter season, we will be keeping a close eye on which destinations are open and which are closed. 

Travel bans have been lifted and I'd like to charter a yacht. What will my yacht charter vacation be like in the aftermath of the travel restrictions? 

In the months after the travel restrictions are eased, we can expect yacht charter to continue as normal.

However in the immediate weeks after travel bans are lifted, you may want to take precautionary steps for your own peace of mind. 

If you'd like to continue practicing social distancing, speak to your yacht charter broker about altering your itinerary to avoid the more crowded areas on shore.

Many restaurants, beach clubs and other venues have shut as a result of the Coronavirus as well, and they may not all be up and running during your yacht charter. 

You may also find that you're more likely to moor in peaceful bays and secluded coves, rather than in ports. Some destinations are perfect for this type of vacation, including the Bahamas, the BVIs, Greece, Croatia, Montenegro and Turkey.

Ultimately, you can expect your yacht charter to be much more focused on rest and relaxation. Enjoy more downtime on deck with your loved ones and more opportunities to discover secluded beaches and swim in tranquil bays. Choose a yacht with a good water toy selection and plenty of exterior deck space, and you'll be entertained for hours on end. 

I am based in the USA and I usually charter in the Med, but now I would rather stay closer to home. What can I do?

If you're chartering a yacht this summer, you may have concerns about traveling overseas. You may feel safer closer to home, or you may be flying privately and looking to make a domestic journey. 

There are plenty of great destinations on your doorstep. One is the Bahamas, which is a short trip from the USA and has many small airports that cater to private flights. The sheer number of islands in the Bahamas also means you can steer clear of the crowds and stick to quiet beaches and idyllic islets.

Another option is New England, with its charming towns and pretty coastlines. It's a great destination for nature-lovers this summer, with plenty of opportunities for whale-watching. Private aviation is also easy to arrange here.

For those looking for a truly different experience, consider Alaska. With its majestic landscapes and thriving bear population, a yacht charter in this region promises a vacation you'll never forget.

LAST UPDATED: March 30

For more information, keep an eye on the individual travel information for your chosen destination and get in touch with your preferred yacht charter broker for further advice and guidance.

Remember to follow the advice set out by your local government. 


 
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