It’s happening again.
This past summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, charter bookings from US clients surged in places such as the Florida Keys and New England. That same pattern was already repeating itself this past spring in the southeast, with all indicators suggesting a similar crush of demand for New England bookings this summer.
“In March and April, there were not enough boats in the Florida Keys and the Bahamas to fill last-minute charter requests,” says Jennifer Saia, president of B&B Yacht Charters in Newport, Rhode Island. And, she says, as far back as April, she was already having trouble finding charter yachts to book for clients in New England during July.
Even with more yachts staying in East Coast waters instead of going to Europe because of continuing travel restrictions, demand for US bookings is outstripping supply. Clients wanting to charter this summer and fall out of Newport need to call sooner rather than later.
“More boats are coming than usual; last year, we saw more boats than usual,” Saia says. “The harbor and the docks were full. Boats that would normally be in the Med—the big, big boats—were littering Narragansett Bay and Nantucket.”
The region is tourism-ready, she says, with the bustling vibe returning along Newport’s waterfront.
”The restaurants have plexiglass up,” Saia says. “There’s less capacity. People are wearing masks—but it’s busy.”
And in some cases, she says, clients are realizing they don’t have to fly around the world for a great vacation. A New Hampshire family scheduled to charter in Greece instead booked out of Newport last summer and were as surprised as anyone about the result.
“They saw Martha’s Vineyard, Cuttyhunk, Nantucket, all of it,” Saia says. “I can’t tell you how they were smiling at the end of that charter.”