Phones started ringing at the IYC charter office as soon as the decision was announced: The European Union was easing travel restrictions for visitors vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Inquiries have definitely increased with the news,” Heather Hatcher, IYC charter management director, told Yachting in late May. “Just this week, I’ve gone to contract for three charters in Greece and the South of France. We’re still using our COVID addendums that say what happens if the charter party or the boat is affected by COVID, but I think people are starting to feel more comfortable.”
For Americans, there’s still time to get in on the fun. Many charter yachts in the West Mediterranean are now completing bookings that had to be rescheduled during 2020′s pandemic shutdowns, but Hatcher says opportunities for new bookings remain. Usually, IYC sees clients booking Mediterranean charters 90 to 120 days in advance. This year, new bookings are happening with 30- to 60-day notice, leaving more yachts available as the high season finishes.
“The end of August and September are a nice time when there aren’t a lot of people around,” she says. “If you’re looking to book something at the last minute, I think you’ll still have options in September—and that’s when the rates usually drop down 10 to 20 percent for bookings.”
In fact, she says, Americans booking now are likely to find the reverse of what traditionally happens at this time of year, with more yachts available in the West Mediterranean than in the East Med. Greece and Croatia have been allowing charters during the pandemic, so clients have been flocking there. The shift means less demand for charter yachts on the French and Italian Rivieras. “It should be a good opportunity for end-of-season bookings,” Hatcher says, “even with the limited availability.”