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Caribbean Ready for Yacht Charter

Even amid the rise of new COVID-19 variants, it appears yacht-charter demand could exceed supply.

Caribbean islands
Caribbean yacht charter should be easier this winter. Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Here’s the good news: We are in a much better place heading into the winter 2021-22 Caribbean charter season than we were at this time last year.

It wasn’t until mid-December 2020 that the US government gave emergency-use authorization to the first COVID-19 vaccines. It was the time of year when charter bookings are usually already in place. The yachts, by then, are in the Caribbean with guests arriving, and with crews preparing for the big winter holidays.

Last winter, cancellations were widespread well before December, and many yacht owners decided not to move their boats to the Caribbean at all. But this year, even with the Delta variant of the coronavirus surging, there is more certainty for charter clients.

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As of this writing, brokers say, a more-typical number of yacht owners have committed to moving their boats to the islands. Most yachts are booked for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and contracts are being executed with COVID-19 addenda, just in case problems arise. Crews have updated cleaning procedures, and those crewmembers as well as clients are being vaccinated in great numbers. The islands all have clearly updated COVID-19 protocols, so itineraries can be planned.

Charter brokers, as of early September, were reporting strong interest in post-holiday bookings—with most clients holding off on actual bookings as they wait to see how travel restrictions evolve this winter. Brokers from numerous companies said they were bracing for a surge of last-minute requests. Once it’s clear which islands will be the easiest to travel to, bookings are expected to flood in.

The upshot for anyone thinking about a Caribbean yacht charter: Expect to be able to go, but be ready to be flexible. As with so many things in the pandemic right now, demand is likely to outstrip supply.  

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The Yachts

Dona Lola
This 130-foot Westport , Dona Lola, is part of the Churchill Yacht Partners fleet. Bookings include use of a 30-foot Intrepid center-console for watersports fun in the islands. Courtesy Churchill Yacht Partners
Skylark
This 72-foot catamaran, Skylark, is built by Aquidneck Custom Composites of Bristol, Rhode Island. Nicholson Yachts is marketing the vessel for charter throughout the Caribbean. Courtesy Nicholson Yachts
Soaring
Built in 2020, this 223-foot Abeking & Rasmussen, Soaring is part of the Ocean Independence charter fleet. All guest staterooms are on the main deck, with an upper-deck master. Courtesy Ocean Independence

Planning Tools

Charter brokers always have the latest information about changing Caribbean pandemic protocols. Check with them first about booking options.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a map that lets you click on each Caribbean island for current risk levels. Visit the CDC’s travel recommendation page for more information.  Reuters created an online COVID-19 Global Tracker that shows daily infections and trends over time, clickable island by island.

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