New Tax Isn’t Slowing Down Bahamas Charters

Even with a new tax on charter bookings, the Bahamas has plenty of charter yachts ready to welcome guests.

Hargrave Baba's
Baba’s, part of the Fraser charter fleet, is the largest Hargrave ever built. It charters with a 42-foot Hydra-Sports tender. Courtesy Fraser

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Yes, it will cost more to charter in the Bahamas this winter than it has in years past. The island nation, which used to add only a 4 percent charter fee that went to its port department, has now added an extra 10 percent VAT for all charters booked after July 1, 2022. That means if clients didn’t get their winter charter contracts signed prior to July 1, the bookings will be subject to a total of 14 percent tax on top of the charter fee, crew gratuity and other expenses.

It was unclear, as of mid-September, how much this new tax might affect the availability of charter yachts in the Bahamas. While some superyacht owners seemed likely to move their boats farther south into the Windward and Leeward islands of the Caribbean, quite a few owners of yachts from midrange to larger size were still advertising Bahamas availability for the upcoming winter season.

HMY, as an example, is promoting the 106-foot Sanlorenzo Fifty Shades, which charters with a 33-foot Boston Whaler tender, a Fliteboard e-foil and more water toys. Churchill Yacht Partners says the 140-foot Feadship Never Enough is still bound for the Bahamas, also with a 33-foot Boston Whaler tender and a slew of watersports gear. Camper & Nicholsons International is promoting perennial favorite charter yachts such as the 175-foot Feadship Hurricane Run and the 164-foot Westport Trending with Bahamas itineraries available.

Heesen Lady JJ
The Heesen Lady JJ, part of the Ocean Independence charter fleet, has a massage room, hammam, gymnasium and more. Courtesy Ocean Independence

The Ministry of Finance in the Bahamas is banking (or at least attempting to) on the fact that some of Europe’s popular charter destinations have VAT rates even higher than the new 14 percent hit. Officials point to Spain, which charges 22 percent, and Greece, which tacks on 24 percent, as examples of nations with islands where the desire to cruise is so strong, charter clients will pay extra to be there.

Is it still better in the Bahamas? This winter, we will all find out together.

Abacos Update

The Abacos archipelago continues to rebuild after being pummeled by Category 5 Hurricane Dorian in September 2019. Abaco Beach Resort underwent an extensive rebuild and renovation of the marina, rooms, beach area and helipad. Hope Town continues to come back, with officials saying they have already achieved what they thought would take five years.

In the Exumas

Staniel Cay Yacht Club is serving up food and fun in its dining room, as well as at its bar and outdoor deck overlooking the water. Compass Cay Marina continues to be a favorite spot for the local nurse sharks as well as for all the human visitors who want to take a swim with them. Big Major Cay’s famous swimming pigs remain ready to head out from the beach to greet charter yacht tenders (and the crew, who, smartly, arrive with snacks ready for them).

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