Not terribly long ago, I sat down and tried to puzzle out how many destinations I’ve visited aboard charter yachts. If I include industry-only boat shows that are held annually, the number of yachts themselves swells well into the hundreds. The destinations are somewhere in the dozens—popular coastlines and islands throughout the Mediterranean and Caribbean, of course, but also less-cruised locales such as the Galápagos Islands, French Polynesia and Indonesia. I’ve snorkeled and dived twice with the wildlife in Fiji, explored the historical architecture in Croatia and Greece several times, and donned a warm jacket in Alaska and Norway for views of glaciers and fjords. The amount of fog surprised me as I sat on board and sipped Cloudy Bay sauvignon blanc near its bottling place in New Zealand, and I couldn’t believe the amount of boat traffic cruising past the Sydney Opera House in Australia. People often ask me, “What’s the best place to charter a yacht?” My answer is always, “That depends. What do you want to do?”
The beauty of a crewed-yacht charter vacation is that it can be virtually anything that anyone wants it to be—an ultimate, customizable getaway. Me? I’m a fan of wildlife and untouched nature. My favorite charters are in places where the sea lions, fish and whales outnumber the people; places where, when the yacht turns off its lights at night, the lack of light pollution lets the stars glow impossibly bright in the sky. For other charter guests, the best possible itinerary is off the South of France during the Monaco Grand Prix or the Cannes Film Festival, hobnobbing with the titans of civilization in between shopping trips at high-end boutiques and dinner ashore with a view of superyachts docked along Billionaires’ Row. These experiences could not be more different, but they’re equally memorable and all well worth enjoying at least once.
The good news this winter is that notable charter yachts of various sizes and price points are positioning themselves all around the world, giving clients options for just about any type of vacation they desire. The 212-foot Benetti Silver Angel, now part of the Edmiston fleet, is accepting inquiries not only for the Caribbean, but also for the Indian Ocean. The 196-foot Perini Navi Perseus^3, also with Edmiston, is expected to head to New Zealand before offering charter bookings next year in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Closer to home, Fraser says the 131-foot Sunseeker Acacia has completed a refit and is available in the Bahamas, with an inflatable beach club and a toy dock for all-day watersports fun. IYC says the 118-foot Intermarine Savannah XOXO has also completed a refit, with bookings available in Florida and the Bahamas. Y.CO is promoting the 242-foot CRN Andrea in the Caribbean and the Bahamas this winter, with 25 crew at the ready, and with eight staterooms for the 12 charter guests to choose among.
None of these destinations are one-and-done locales. The Cyclades archipelago in Greece offers a different experience from the one that charter guests can try in the Dodecanese island chain. St. Vincent and the Grenadines, in the southern Caribbean, feels a whole lot quieter than the busier yacht hubs in the northern islands such as Antigua and St. Maarten. French Polynesia’s Society Islands welcome more tourists than the Tuamotu archipelago, where charter-yacht captains set a course for scuba diving with bigger game. In Croatia, a day exploring Dubrovnik—with Game of Thrones filming sites all around—is different from Korčula’s smaller-scale, but equally mesmerizing, scenery.
The ultimate charter escape can be for a few days, a few weeks or a few months. The only limitations, really, are the boundaries of all the world’s waters.
New to the charter fleet in the Virgin Islands this winter is the 82-foot Horizon Qara, which is managed by RJC Yachts. Qara is a 2001 build that until recently was kept for private use. The yacht underwent a refit this year and is now being offered for six guests at an all-inclusive weekly rate of $42,000. The captain is Mark Sperber, a native of St. Croix, which is also in the Virgin Islands—which means his local knowledge should be unsurpassed. A 27-foot Sea Hunt tender is part of the charter package.
Sól is Hull No. 1 of the 80 Sunreef Power Eco, which is an evolution of the popular Sunreef 80 sailing catamaran. Sól is outfitted with solar panels (including on the hullsides) as well as cruelty-free furnishings that did not involve any animals. The chefs are trained in high-end vegan cuisine, along with traditional dishes. Sól was delivered to its owners earlier this year in New England and then made its way down the East Coast for an official premiere at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Charters are already booked for this winter in the Virgin Islands, with Sól as part of the Regency Yacht Vacations fleet.
The 236-foot CRN Arbema completed a multimillion-dollar refit last winter, according to the charter managers at Edmiston. Updates included a full paint job, technical upgrades, a new interior and upgraded water toys. Plans for this winter are for charters to start at Christmastime in the Caribbean, with inquiries also being accepted for the Bahamas and Central America itineraries. Guest amenities on Arbema include a master stateroom with a fold-out balcony, a beach club with a gymnasium, and a 48-foot chase boat for fun in the sun.
Virtuosity is a 187-foot Sanlorenzo that launched earlier this year and is available for its first-ever Caribbean charter bookings this winter. Fraser, which manages the yacht, says the master stateroom is on the upper deck with a private outdoor terrace and a hot tub. Guest amenities aboard Virtuosity also include a glass-bottom heated swimming pool with jets, a fully equipped gymnasium and a nearly 1,200-square-foot beach club. On the bridge deck, there’s a DJ booth ready for parties near a bar.