The US Virgin Islands has seen significant growth in its yacht charter season amid the pandemic — and that’s expected to continue into 2022.
Indeed, many yachts have near to fully booked seasons, according to the organizers of the recently-held USVI Charter Yacht Show.
“We are looking at an unprecedented number of sailing and charter vacations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, and this year feels like we are prepared for it,” says Dare Blankenhorn, president of the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association. “The Government support that we have received has allowed us to focus heavily on developing our products within the territory. Every week, we are seeing infrastructure progress and feel the pace and rhythm of the U.S. Virgin Islands increase. Our goal today is to be grateful for our opportunities, and to take care of the things that matter to all of us… protecting our beautiful environment, creating a healthy balance between tourism and our infrastructure needs, and making sure that everyone is living, working, and experiencing the best aspects of the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
The USVI’s government has made no secret of its push to grow the charter yacht industry, particularly in St Thomas, where the Yacht Haven Grande Marina has reached new heights as one of the premier charter marinas in the Caribbean amid the pandemic.
“A year and a half ago we made a conscious decision that we were not going to close our shores to sailors. We were going to honor what is in our Virgin Islands national anthem, the Virgin Islands March, to ‘hold out a welcome for one and all’. That attitude has certainly paid off,” said USVI Governor Albert Bryan Jr. “we are investing in the infrastructure of our blue water economy not only in the charter industry but in fishing and cruising by putting in new ports, new boat launches, and moorings. And we will be putting in a tender pier on St. Croix so charter yachts can not only cruise over but have their passengers come ashore as well as they already enjoy in St. Thomas and St John.”
The recent USVI Charter Yacht Show brought together yachts, crews and brokers, with a boutique fleet of yachts ranging from 45 to 120 feet in length, both monohulls and multihulls, power and sail.
“The show offered a great cross-section of the different boats in the fleet for charter. I do not believe there is any substitution for stepping on the boats, meeting the crews, and interacting with all the different industry personnel,” said Nick Cirillo, based in Havre de Grace, MD, owner of Blue Ocean Charters, and winner of the show’s Broker of the Year award. “Any guest that steps aboard a vessel in the Virgin Islands is about to experience one of the best vacations in the world.”