The engine wouldn’t start. All of us charter guests had arrived in Antigua, unpacked in our staterooms, changed into our bathing suits, and amassed on the aft deck for a briefing with the captain about the beach-filled Caribbean charter itinerary ahead. Alas, he informed us, we wouldn’t be going anywhere. The engine room was not cooperating, and the needed parts for repairs wouldn’t arrive for days.
This was my first experience in learning to think about the yacht itself as a destination. For the better part of a week, that captain and crew arranged for fun shore-based expeditions at beaches and more; onboard meals including pizza-making and sushi extravaganzas that were equal parts entertainment and sustenance; and cocktail parties with steel-drum bands and dancers on deck. It didn’t matter that the boat never moved from the dock. A great charter experience was had by all.
That week in Antigua happened years ago, but it has been on my mind since the end of this past December, when the omicron variant became the world’s new nemesis. Charter clients finally re-booking itineraries in their favorite destinations for the coming summer once again faced the prospects of shifting travel restrictions mucking up the plan.
It sure feels like now is a good time to embrace the bright side: The way charter yachts are outfitted nowadays, they offer a getaway pretty much anywhere. It doesn’t matter so much whether guests step aboard in the Bahamas or French Riviera. Getting away from civilization—by way of a yacht that’s fun unto itself—is a vacation.
Today’s charter yachts have everything from onboard cinemas to spas. Some have a theme-park-level dedication to the latest water toys. They have chefs whose creations rival the offerings at Michelin-starred restaurants and a crew whose tablescaping skills can make dining tables feel like brand-new settings at every meal.
Today’s charter yachts bring the fun and relaxation with them, no matter where guests are able to get aboard. And that’s a welcome ray of sunshine no matter where the anchor drops next.
Aboard the 147-foot Intermarine M3, guests have access to a 35-foot everglades tender for sport fishing, snorkeling and more. The 101-foot Hargrave Cynderella has a water-toy stash that includes Hobie Mirage Eclipse paddleboards and a Lift eFoil electric scooter. The 172-foot Palmer Johnson DB9 has an open-air cinema on the sun deck. The 148-foot Nicolini Curiosity has an onboard sushi bar on the upper deck, along with a hot tub and gym.
The 197-foot Alia Samurai has a portuguese bridge for sundowner cocktails. From aboard the 254-foot explorer yacht Legend, charter guests can explore underwater with a submersible or go air-bound with the yacht’s helicopter operations. The 134-foot Benetti Northern Escape has an onboard infinity pool overlooking the water. The 126-foot Ferretti Custom Line Never Blue has a salon with sole-to-ceiling windows for a glass-lounge ambience.