With the worldwide coronavirus pandemic causing unprecedented travel restrictions and borer closures, the superyacht charter industry shares their insight on the current COVID-19 situation and advice if you are planning a luxury yacht charter.
How is the charter industry being impacted by coronavirus?
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic is inevitably having an enormous impact across the travel industry and superyacht charter is also being heavily affected. “The coronavirus outbreak is unlike anything the yachting industry has experienced before,” said Jamie Edmiston, of Edmiston & Company. “The immediate impact has been significant – with many spring charters being postponed or cancelled.”
“The charter market has reacted and the level of enquiries has decreased,” said Bob Denison of Denison Yachting. “The uncertainty around the ability to travel has been one of the major factors to this reduction in numbers.”
As a result of the outbreak numerous superyacht events have been affected, including the MYBA Charter Show, plus many marinas are either closed or running under strict regulations. Ocean Independence agreed that the entire industry is in “unchartered waters”. “We are all facing, reacting to and dealing with unprecedented times. We can only liken this to being caught in a hurricane and all having to bolt to safety,” the brokerage firm said in a statement.
Can you still book a superyacht charter?
Despite the situation, brokerage firms are still keen to take immediate and advanced charter bookings. “We have seen a number of clients choosing to book last-minute long-term charters starting immediately to escape the isolation being imposed by the virus,” said Edmiston.
Many brokerage firms, including Northrop & Johnson, are offering greater reassurances to clients booking charters. “Most charter bookings at this time are requesting an addendum of some sort that allows them to re-book or cancel in the event of a travel ban,” said Cromwell Littlejohn, commercial director US, of Northrop & Johnson. “In addition, Northrop & Johnson charter brokers are able to offer charter trip cancellation insurance for new bookings."
Some brokerage firms are offering penalty free cancellations in order to further reassure customers. IYC has announced that a selection of charter yachts in Greece, including _Wind of Fortune _and Ouranos, are offering a "cancellation without penalty" if the charter is impacted by the global pandemic. "Charterers can plan their summer holidays, stress-free," said the IYC charter management team
Brokerage firm Edmiston have seen “a number of clients choosing to book last-minute long-term charters" in order to undergo isolation at sea rather than at home.
How will the charter market recover?
There is optimism across the industry that the charter market will be quick to bounce back once the coronavirus situation improves. Edmiston said it was still “too early to anticipate” what would happen in the summer months but that “longer term” he expected the charter market rebound. “Assuming the travel restrictions are lifted we anticipate the summer months will see charter demand,” he added. “The timing of this is the question we cannot answer as yet.”
“Once certainty has returned, we would envisage that the appetite to get away on board a yacht will be as strong as ever, we also see that those wanting to spend time on board in a safe environment will also increase,” said Denison.
Y.CO’s Will Christie thinks that the current situation will actually lead to a “pent up demand to go yachting”. “Those who are now forced to isolate themselves at home with family are very keen to go out and enjoy life again,” he added.
Brokers have reassured clients that a yacht charter can actually be the safest holiday option.
Is a Superyacht Charter Safe?
One of the factors that is expected to fuel charter demand is the secure environment that a yacht can provide. Ocean Independence argues that a yacht charter can be an “excellent alternative” to other luxury holiday options. “Private charter ensures guests can stay safeguarded in smaller, immaculately-clean environments, while minimising the need to frequent public areas where risks naturally increase,” the brokerage firm said in a statement.
SuperYachtsMonaco also pointed out the advantage of a superyacht holiday. “In more ‘normal’ times a yacht offers an easily controlled environment in terms of the comings and goings of guests and other personnel. The passerelle is effectively a drawbridge and nobody need step on board the yacht as deliveries are left on the quay and loaded by the permanent crew,” the firm added.
In light of the coronavirus pandemic charter companies are going further than ever before to ensure that yachts are entirely safe. “The yachts in our charter fleet have enhanced their current cleaning and hygiene regimes and are putting new protocols into place to ensure the health and safety of both charter guests and their crews,” said Northrop & Johnson’s Littlejohn.
“To offer peace of mind to guests, prior to each charter, yacht crews are screened and extensive daily cleaning takes place on board,” Ocean Independence said.
All images courtesy of Adobe Stock.
Destinations such as the Anambas Islands, home to the Bawah Reserve, could provide a safe charter option once restrictions are lifted
Which destinations might be the safest charter in?
With the situation constantly evolving it is hard to predict, which regions are likely to be less impacted. However, brokerage firms are expecting to see increased interest in charters in more remote destinations.
"The safest destinations are probably the ones that are remote and secluded, which few or no other people," Northrop & Johnson Asia said in a statement. "Pending the lifting of travel bans and travel restrictions, we can recommend various beautiful locations in out of the way places such as Alaska, and in Southeast Asia. South Thailand and the Anambas Islands are perfect for a tropical summer holiday (June – September) without crowds but with the excitement of a Robinson Crusoe experience, an abundance of nature, water sports, swimming, snorkeling, and diving."