How to Charter a Superyacht in the Caribbean

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If you’re thinking about chartering a super yacht, it’s important to be prepared, whether you’re looking to charter a super yacht this year or simply planning far ahead.

When the opportunity comes knocking for your superyacht charter and you sail off into the Caribbean sunset, it’s a good thing to have a perspective of what’s involved and what is actually out there for you to charter and then, how to do it.

It’s also a fascinating world and we wanted to offer an insight into how it all works.

So Caribbean Journal  connected with one of the world’s top yacht charter companies  and brokers, Diana Brody at Camper and Nicholsons, to ask for their help in understanding the most important questions about chartering a superyacht.

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How do you define superyacht? What’s the difference between a superyacht and a megayacht?

There really is no difference between a superyacht and a megayacht these days. I believe they define these as over 50 meters.

What Super Yachts are available in the Caribbean and when? 

Typically the larger yachts are in the Caribbean from the middle of November thru the end of March/middle of April.   From April onwards the boats will either go down to the Grenadines or Panama, or come up to the Bahamas.  As a local, we know the best time to visit the Bahamas is in the summer – light winds, calm seas, warm waters, turtles, sharks, swimming pigs, large iguanas, etc.   I could go on and on about the Bahamas…

For the winter season in the mainstream Caribbean, the motor yachts we deal with range from 80’ up to 300’.  For catamarans we do have an inventory of boats in the 50’ – 60’ size range.  Monohull sailboats start at 80’ and go to over 150’ in length.

In the summer, the boats that typically stay further south are up to 120’, while the Bahamas will see an influx of boats up to 175’ in length. For the Bahamas one must always look at the draft of the yacht to ensure they can explore the islands.

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How do you match a charter yacht to a client? 

First you determine what type of charter experience the client is looking for. Are they adventurous, divers, fishing enthusiasts?  Do they wish some pampering of massages? Are they into hiking? What is the range of ages of the group? Are they into sailing or do they prefer the motor yacht experience? Once you have this information you start to look at yachts that have the features that the client feels will make his charter a success.

That all sounds easy, but it is also a matter of knowing the crew to determine if the captain/chef/mate/stewardess will best suit the client’s needs.

There are some crew that are more child friendly than others.  Some that excel in diving and hiking.  A few yachts will have a massage therapist in the crew compliment.

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Which Caribbean Destinations and Marinas are best for super yachts?

IGY Marinas has a wonderful concept for operating marinas. This is the brain child of Andrew Farkas, who realized that there is a need for a marina that not only looks after the owner and the yacht, but also looks after the crew.

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The following marinas are really good for starting/ending a charter:  IGY, St Thomas, St Maarten (one must take note of bridge openings) Grenada –Port Luis Marina (with Dani who runs the place).

IGY, if you look at their website, also has marinas in out of the way places such as Columbia and Panama.

Antigua – the Antigua Yacht Club, Falmouth Harbour and Nelson’s Dockyard are all very good marina facilities for starting/ending a charter, and offer a unique historical experience as well.   On Sundays it is a must to go to Shirley Heights for a spectacular view and to hear the local steel drum bands play.

Bahamas – there are only 2 really good marinas for the superyachts – Albany and Atlantis in Nassau.   The benefit of Albany is if one is going to cruise the other islands i.e. the Exumas, Abacos, or Eleuthra it is a much shorter distance to reach these islands. It is also only about 20 minutes from the airport.  If however, one wishes to experience the wonders of the water park and the casino, Atlantis is the place to go.  Many people will stay here at the dock for a day or two simply to have the best of both worlds.

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Can you arrange a wedding or a meeting on board a yacht?  

We have not only arranged for weddings and meetings, but have also done corporate travel for those companies that wish to reward their employees.

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Let’s say I want to sail 4-5 weeks a year; Is charter a better option than purchasing? 

The benefit of chartering is that one can experience an area, yacht and crew, and simply walk off the yacht without the many additional variables that come with yacht ownership.  You do not have to worry about yard work, crew, and the logistics involved in owning a boat.

Another benefit is that if you are considering purchasing a yacht, you are able to explore the different options that are available and determine what is the best type of yacht for you – a sailing boat, catamaran, exploration vessel, motor yacht.

Beyond my budget, what’s the most important consideration?

Crew is the most important part of a successful charter.  There are older yachts on the charter market that have a stellar crew that we know and will give our clients the perfect charter.  If you have the right crew, all will be great!