Sarah Sebastian usually knows, by about midsummer, how the winter charter season is going to turn out on Antigua. As a director of Nicholson Yacht Charters & Services, which is based on the Caribbean island, she has a laser-focus on how many clients are booking vacations; and as coordinator of the Antigua Charter Yacht Show, she knows how many yachts are reserving slips for December.
“We’re looking at a great winter,” Sebastian told Yachting in early August. “Because the BVI were really wiped out three years ago, a lot of people did relocate to here and further south to St. Lucia, and they saw how beautiful Antigua was.”
Also on her radar is the island’s V.C. Bird International Airport, where American Airlines just announced daily nonstop flights from New York City to Antigua beginning in November. Those are in addition to regular flights between the island and Miami, giving U.S. residents more scheduling options than in the past.
“It’s making it easier for people to get here,” Sebastian says. “We’re seeing more and more charter pickups here because we have so many international flights coming in now.”
Catamarans and mega-yachts are dominating the charter scene, she says, with a number of superyachts that used to base at Sint Maarten now staying at Antigua, as hurricane repairs on Sint Maarten continue.
“We do have quite a few mega-yachts that base here when they’re not on charter, with the jets landing here and then cruising to St. Barth’s,” she says.
And this winter, those yachts will be more connected than ever, thanks to infrastructure improvements for Wi-Fi.
“They’re all going to have fiber-optic cable this winter,” Sebastian says of the charter-focused marinas. “They’re outside my office right now laying the cable. It’s going to mean super-fast internet for everybody.”
Must-See Antigua Spots
Jacqui O’s Beach House is south of Half Hyde Bay on Antigua’s southwest shore. Yachts can anchor right off the beach, so guests eating lunch have a view of their ride.
Shirley Heights is a restored military lookout with great views of the yachts in English and Falmouth harbors, and some truly rockin’ steel-drum bands. Nelson’s
Dockyard is a national park with buildings from the days when Admiral Horatio Nelson was there for the British navy.