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More than a few people from the United States and beyond have been frustrated the past few years when attempting to book a charter vacation. In 2020, the pandemic pretty much shut down international travel, forcing widespread booking cancellations. All those charters got rebooked into 2021 and 2022, often at the same time yacht owners were pulling their vessels off the charter market and instead keeping them for private, socially distanced use. And there were shipyard shutdowns that hampered construction schedules, leading to fewer new charter yachts entering the market than in previous years. By summer 2022, even longtime charter clients were frustrated trying to find a ride.
“The market wasn’t prepared for the amount of demand that we had, especially from mid-June through August,” says Ben Harwood, head of charter for Burgess.
The booking backlog left charter yachts packed: Burgess says it handled 860 charters in 2022, while Camper & Nicholsons International reports 700 charters booked. “If you were looking to book a boat of quality at the last minute,” Harwood says, especially from mid-June through August, “it was very challenging.”
Things are looking better for this summer and going into winter 2023-24. Harwood says he still expects summer to be busy, but Burgess has a strategy in place for clients who are ready to book now.
“We have a number of yachts that are coming onto the market; they’re being delivered in May or June, but we’re not advertising them until we know they’re going to deliver on time,” he says. “They’re new builds that no one knows about, but we can talk to clients on a case-by-case basis.”
Charter Yacht Artisan: One of Benetti’s Biggest
The 207-foot Artisan, launched in 2019 and refitted in 2022, is one of the biggest yachts that Italian yard Benetti has built to date. Accommodations are for 12 guests in seven staterooms, with the owner’s stateroom alone spanning more than 1,700 square feet. Burgess says charter inquiries are being accepted now for bookings this summer in the West Mediterranean, and during the winter season in the Bahamas and Caribbean.