About Kim Kavin

Kim Kavin is an award-winning writer, editor and photographer who specializes in marine travel. She is the author of six books including Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Vacations, and is editor of the online yacht vacation magazine www.CharterWave.com.

€40,000 Discount on a West Med Feadship

charter yacht JanaI think it’s safe to say that we have reached the apex of what can accurately be called “discount season” in the West Med, what with all the offers flooding in for the remainder of August. The latest neck-snapping head-turner is a nearly 35-percent price reduction aboard a Feadship motoryacht, with the management company practically shouting that charter clients “can have a 150-foot vessel for the sort of money you would pay for a 115-foot vessel!”

That’s the word from Ocean Independence with regard to the 152-foot Feadship motoryacht Jana, whose weekly base rate has just been dropped from €120,000 to €80,000 for the remainder of August–when high-season premium pricing typically would apply. Jana is also dropping her low-season base rate from €100,000 to €77,000, most likely starting September 1.

Jana is currently based in Genoa, Italy, and is open to charter inquiries throughout the Western and Eastern Mediterranean, Ocean Independence says. That’s also noteworthy, that a yacht of Jana‘s caliber would be willing (or, perhaps, would feel the need) to leave popular West Med waters in order to secure a few last-minute bookings at the height of the summer season.

Jana is a 1986 build that was most recently refit in 2009. She used to be known as Montigne and has enjoyed a good reputation in the charter industry for years. I was last aboard in 2004, when I wrote this First Impression review.

Any reputable charter broker can tell you more about Jana or help you book a week onboard at the newly announced discount rates.

Sailing Yacht Offers $1,500 Discount on 2008 Rates

charter yacht Pacific Wave crewThe custom-built, 72-foot sailing yacht Pacific Wave is offering a $1,500 discount on charters taken between November 1 and May 31, with the pre-discount base rates for those dates being the same as they were back in 2008.

So, for two guests, the weekly rate with the discount is $14,500. For four guests, it’s $15,500, and for six guests, it’s $16,500.

As is common in the Caribbean, the rates include everything except taxes, dockage, communications, and gratuity. And because Pacific Wave is scheduled to be in the Virgin Islands during the added discount dates, the rates can also include that region’s customary free scuba diving and ship’s bar (which means the basics like local beer, minus premium liquors and wines).

I was aboard Pacific Wave about a year and a half ago, when the yacht made an impressive debut at the industry-only charter yacht show on Antigua. Co-owner/Capt. Lynn Griffiths (at left in the photograph) made a smart impression in this exclusive interview that I snagged, and co-owner/chef Mark Miles (at right in the photo) earned a second-place finish in the highly competitive chef’s contest.

More recently, Griffiths announced that Pacific Wave is undergoing annual maintenance and will feature all new linens and towels, plus upgraded air conditioning, when the yacht starts the charter season later this fall.

Pacific Wave is part of the Nicholson Yachts charter fleet. Any reputable charter broker can help you book a week onboard at the newly announced discount rate.


Editor’s Note: Nicholson Yachts is a sponsor of CharterWave, where this blog originates.

Christmas Discount: 8 Nights for Price of 7

charter yacht KapaluaIt’s been about a month since I received the first major discount announcement for a holiday charter during the winter 2010-11 season. That was a 15-percent rate break aboard the 252-foot motoryacht Samar, which is part of the Edmiston and Company fleet. As I told you at the time, it was the first public announcement of a serious price reduction for a major motoryacht in the Caribbean this winter.

Now comes another offer aboard a well-respected motoryacht for the winter holidays in the Caribbean. The 115-foot Crescent motoryacht Kapalua, which is part of the Northrop and Johnson fleet, is offering eight days for the price of seven on dates when most other yachts historically have demanded two-week minimum bookings.

The Kapalua deal is good for December 18-26 in the Virgin Islands. It appears that the charter could be extended if it is started earlier, but no extensions are available after the 26th because Kapalua begins another charter on December 27 in St. Thomas.

The base rate for those Christmas holiday dates is $44,000. Any reputable charter broker can tell you more about Kapalua or help you get the eight-days-for-seven discount.


Editor’s note: Northrop and Johnson is a sponsor of CharterWave, where this blog originates.



Premier CNI Yachts to Charter in Indian Ocean

the MaldivesIt’s always tough to pinpoint the moment when something becomes a trend, but during the past few years, there has been an increasingly steady trickle of motoryachts skipping the winter season in the Caribbean to instead offer charters in the Indian Ocean, and in particular in the lovely island nations of the Maldives and the Seychelles. (That’s the Maldives at right. The water was so warm and clean, I could have lounged all day!)

Now comes word from Camper and Nicholsons International that four of its premier charter yachts will be heading to the Indian Ocean this winter. That’s not only a noteworthy number of yachts, but the yachts are also noteworthy in and of themselves.

First is the 184-foot Benetti motoryacht Galaxy, which has earned a reputation among industry insiders as one of the finest yachts in her class, especially for gourmands. You might recall my blog post from May 2009, after I attended an impressive seven-course tasting dinner for 24 guests onboard. Galaxy will be bringing her five-star service to the Maldives during the month of November, after which she will become available for charter in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Tahiti well into 2011.

Also moving to the Indian Ocean this winter are the 211-foot Benetti motoryacht Silver Angel, the 196-foot CMN motoryacht Cloud 9, and the 184-foot Perini Navi sailing yacht Panthalassa. Each of these yachts is a recent build that turns heads thanks to modern features and design. They are the types of yachts that tend to stay in the Mediterranean and Caribbean for at least a few years after launching, since their very newness makes them top options for charter even in locations that some guests have previously visited.

I mentioned in Monday’s blog post that newly released data show Caribbean charter bookings being down about 15 percent for 2009 versus 2008. What I didn’t mention is that the same set of data show “further afield” destinations such as the Indian Ocean holding their own in terms of demand, despite the continuing global recession. It will be interesting to see whether that situation continues for the calendar year 2010, and whether we will, in fact, be able to call the Indian Ocean a seriously rising trend line in the charter industry as soon as 2011.

Any reputable charter broker can help you book these yachts in the Indian Ocean this winter.

Fraser Touts New Discounts, Including Free Week of Charter

charter yacht Paraffin, 197-foot Feadship motoryachtFraser Yachts Worldwide has just issued a slew of discount announcements for late-summer yacht charters in the Western Mediterranean, Eastern Mediterranean, Florida, and Bahamas–including one that gives you an entire week of charter for free.

Most noteworthy is the 111-foot Inace motoryacht Sudami, which takes 10 guests in Florida and the Bahamas. Since the end of March, Sudami has been offering a deal in which charter clients pay the regular weekly base rate of $68,500 for the first week, a 50-percent discounted rate of $34,250 for the second week, and a halved again base rate of $17,125 for the third week. Now, Fraser tells me that Sudami is offering one week at the regular base rate of $68,500, and the second week for free. Your first week must be used between now and October, and the second week can be taken until May 2011, excluding holidays.

Wow. I’ve seen a lot of significant discounts as we get deeper into August, but that’s the first time I’ve seen an owner offer up an entire week for free.

Also from Fraser this week comes a discount offer aboard one of my all-time favorite Feadship motoryachts: the 197-foot Paraffin. Shown in the photograph at right, she is currently in the Western Mediterranean, where her weekly base rate for August is typically €330,000 for 12 guests. Now, that rate has been reduced to €290,000, a savings of more than 10 percent.

Also in the Western Mediterranean is the 164-foot Feadship motoryacht Inevitable, whose weekly base rate for 10 guests is typically $225,000. Inevitable is now being offered at a base rate of $190,000 for September charters, a 15-percent price break. Other options aboard Inevitable include 12 days for the price of 11 at a base rate $300,000, or 14 days at a base rate of $350,00, which is a more than 20-percent price break.

The 150-foot Trinity motoryacht Magic, whose chef Betsy McDonald I can recommend with great praise (ask for the pina colada pancakes!), is offering a discount in the Western Mediterranean as well as in Croatia. Magic is usually available at a weekly base rate of $165,000 for 10 guests. Now, you can get 10 days for the price of eight, for a total base rate of $188,570.

Yet another Western Mediterranean discount option is the 143-foot custom motoryacht Antinea. Her weekly base rate for 12 guests is usually €125,000, but she is now being offered with “flexibility options on the rate according to the length of the charter.” It’s fair to guess that the longer the length of your charter, the more you’ll save percentage-wise.

In the Eastern Mediterranean, Fraser is promoting the 141-foot Feadship motoryacht Eclipse. Her weekly base rate for 12 guests is typically €150,000, but between now and September 15, you can book her at seven days for €120,000 (a 20-percent discount) or €220,000 for two weeks (a more than 25-percent discount).

Also in the Eastern Mediterranean cruising grounds of Croatia is the 78-foot Ferretti motoryacht Orlando L. Her weekly base rate for eight guests is usually €50,000, which includes the 10-percent Croatian cruising tax. Now, Orlando L is being offered at a base rate of €35,000, also including the tax. That’s a discount of 30 percent.

Any reputable charter broker can help you book any of these yachts at the newly announced discount rates.

New Data: Value of Charter Market Sank 30 Percent in 2009

Superyachting IndexCamper and Nicholsons International has just released the third edition of its Superyachting Index, the world’s most comprehensive compilation of data about the new construction, brokerage sales, and yacht charter industries for boats larger than 80 feet. The 48-page report provides market analysis of the calendar year 2009, which was the first full year following the global economic downturn.

As expected, the new report shows that the charter industry took a hit. In blunt numbers, the hit was to all segments of the market at levels that vary from about 25 percent to nearly 50 percent.

In the charter market, the industry segment that suffered the biggest blow was corporate charter, according to the Index. Corporate charter bookings were off by nearly 50 percent, “hardly a surprise,” as Camper rightly notes, given all the corporate cutbacks and budget slashing that followed the economic downturn.

Among charter yachts in all size ranges, Camper estimates that weekly base rates dropped about 20 percent on average. The core of the charter market, which is yachts 100 to 165 feet long, dropped to 2007 levels. The total number of charter weeks booked in 2009 was about 2,680, which is actually lower than 2007 levels despite the same number of charter yachts being available for charter.

In terms of overall value generated, 80- to 100-foot charter yachts were at $28 million in 2009, a decline of 35 percent from 2008. The 100- to 165-foot segment saw a decline of 40 percent from 2008, and yachts larger than 165 feet saw a drop of 24 percent. In total, the overall value of the charter industry fell to $72 million in 2009 compared with $100 million in 2008, a decrease of nearly 30 percent.

The charter bookings that did occur were, in general, shorter than in years past. The average charter lasted 8.3 days in 2009, down from 8.8 days in 2008. This translates into an average of 3.15 weeks per charter aboard each yacht, compared with an average of 4 weeks of charter per yacht in 2008.

That last figure is significant, as it helps to explain why Camper is reporting a 15 percent decrease in the overall size of the world’s charter fleet for 2009. A good number of yacht owners, seeing decreasing rates as well as a decrease in the number of bookings, chose to forgo charter altogether until market conditions improve.

The segment of the market that shrank the most in terms of yachts available is the 80- to 100-foot range, according to the Index. Now at about 230 yachts, that segment has been reduced in size by nearly one-third from 2008.

Camper’s new Index also discusses charter destinations. The Mediterranean continues to be, by far, the world’s most popular location for charter bookings, with some 75 percent market share. The Western Med continues to dominate the Eastern Med in popularity, although the duration of charters in the West Med decreased for 2009 while the duration of East Med charters remained static.

The Caribbean is still the second most popular charter locale, with about 14 percent of all charter bookings. Even so, Caribbean bookings were down to about 375 weeks in 2009 versus 435 weeks in 2008, a drop of about 15 percent in overall business.

Worst hit has been the Florida and Bahamas region, which the Index states saw about 80 weeks of charter bookings in 2009. That is down from 160 weeks in 2008 and 195 weeks in 2007. It’s a business loss of 60 percent in just two years.

Why is Charter Recovering Slower than Brokerage?

A good number of yachting industry insiders have contacted me during the past two weeks, wondering aloud about the current status of the crewed charter market. Those who carefully watch sales statistics are seeing what appears to be an emerging trend: the brokerage market is recovering from the global recession faster than the charter market.

This apparent trend is counterintuitive. When cash flow has tightened in the past, the wealthy have turned to charter as a less-expensive option compared with the outright purchase of a yacht. And with the current firestorm about bank bailouts and overcompensated CEOs, it would seem that charter is the smarter choice. It is, quite frankly, much easier to “hide out” on a charter yacht for a week than it is to purchase and use a yacht of your own, no matter the scandal that lands you and your salary on the television news. Just ask Tony Hayward of British Petroleum about his Farr 52.

One of the more intriguing lines of reasoning I’m beginning to hear is that brokerage is recovering faster than charter because the brokerage market has undergone a serious market correction in terms of pricing. It has, for lack of a better phrase, “bottomed out” while the charter market continues to struggle in an effort to avoid that likely reality.

For instance, many owners of yachts on the brokerage market have dropped their asking prices both substantially and definitively. They’re not saying, “The real price is $14 million, but I’ll give it to you for $12 million for the next couple of months until the recession eases.” They’re instead saying, “I previously asked $14 million for this yacht, but now I realize the actual value has dropped to at least $12 million, so we can begin the negotiations there.”

By contrast, many owners of charter yachts that survived the recession’s first blows remain unwilling to adjust their weekly rates. Yes, the market is currently being flooded with discount offers, but they are just that–discount offers. They are not a serious and definitive market correction in pricing. They are a temporary nod to the current circumstances, a nod that may not be big enough for the industry to recover in the long run, a nod that is being made with the other eye firmly gazing upon a hard line in the financial sand.

It’s of course impossible to say whether this line of thinking is correct, but it’s the first reasoning I’ve heard that seems logical in trying to explain why brokerage seems to be recovering faster than charter. I look forward to revisiting the discussion at this time next summer, when the 25-percent discounts being heralded today may in fact be the newly adjusted, permanent weekly base rates for some charter yachts. Stay tuned.

2 New "Fill the Gap" Discount Offers

charter yacht Pure OneIt may be just a coincidence, or it may be an indication that we have reached the “drop dead date” for yacht owners who have been holding out in futile hopes of booking their yachts at the full weekly charter rates this high season. Either way, management house Edmiston and Company sent out a pair of back-to-back discount announcements yesterday in an attempt to fill “last-minute gaps” aboard well-regarded charter yachts in the Mediterranean.

First is the 120-foot Shamrock V, a J-Class sailing yacht built in the 1930s to race in pursuit of the America’s Cup. Her most recent refit, in 2000, left her gorgeously restored as a truly unique and historic sailing yacht within the world’s charter fleet. She has a hole in her calendar from August 13-23, so the owner is offering a 10-percent discount off the regular weekly base rate of €50,000 for itineraries that include Montenegro and Croatia. That’s a savings of €10,000.

Second is the 150-foot Leopard Arno motoryacht Pure One, which is shown in the photograph at right. She recently has been advertising an offer of 10 days instead of seven for the high-season weekly base rate of €195,000. Now, to fill the dates of August 10-18 in the South of France, the owner is dropping the weekly base rate to €150,000 for seven days. That’s a straight one-week discount of about 25 percent.

The one thing safe to say is that no matter the reason for these offers, they’re highly unusual for well-regarded yachts during the most popular charter month in the most popular charter location in the world. Ten to 25 percent off in the Mediterranean in mid-August? Definitely worth a call to a reputable charter broker today if you’ve been on the fence about booking and waiting for a last-minute deal.

Book 5 Days in New England, Get 2 Free

charter yacht Allegria VManagement company C U Yacht Charters tells me that it has signed the 68-foot Azimut motoryacht Allegria V into the charter fleet. The yacht is currently en route to Long Island, New York, where she will spend the rest of the summer offering charters for eight guests at a lowest weekly base rate of $24,000.

To get business going, the owner is offering two free days of charter to anyone who books five days this summer. Single-day charters are also being made available at a base rate of $4,000.

Long Island is not far from my home state of New Jersey, and I can tell you that we are coming into the nicest time of year for being on charter. The summer sun has heated the water to a comfortable swimming temperature, the bulk of summer vacationers will be departing for home in the next few weeks, and the weather will stay beautiful well into October if trends from the past few years continue. Don’t let the calendar fool you; there’s plenty of summer fun left to be had in the cruising grounds where Allegria V will be available, including East Hampton, N.Y., and Newport, Rhode Island.

Allegria V is a 2007 build that cruises at 26 knots and has a maximum speed of 34 knots. Her layout is ideal for two families with children to charter, since two cabins have queen-size beds and two cabins have twin-size beds.

Any reputable charter broker can tell you more or help you book a week onboard when Allegria V arrives in the Northeast United States.


Editor’s Note: C U Yacht Charters is a sponsor of CharterWave, where this blog originates.

Charter Broker Makes Environment a Top Priority

yacht charter broker Sherry YatesAbout five years ago, I was at a luncheon aboard a motoryacht where the conversation turned to charter yacht brochures. Digital brochures were beginning to become an option, and some people saw them as a threat to the charter industry. At my table were about a half-dozen leading charter brokers, many of whom have longtime experience in the industry. I listened to them discuss how their clients would absolutely, positively, never, ever stop asking for printed brochures. These brokers insisted that charters would be impossible to sell if yacht management companies and charter yacht owners stopped printing expensive, glossy marketing materials.

“Clients like the feeling of luxury between their fingertips,” one broker told me in a tone that attempted outright gravitas. “That simply cannot be replicated in a digital format.”

I was reminded of that conversation yesterday, when I uploaded this interview with charter broker Sherry Yates of Yates Yachts, who is shown in the photograph at right. She’s running an entire charter-booking operation not only without printed brochures, but also without new paper of any kind.

“Yates Yachts is a green company,” she told me, explaining how she learned the importance of the environment while living aboard her own boat in the Caribbean for 10 years. “In addition to supporting yachts that advertise their efforts at sustaining our planet—recycling, reusable water bottles for guests, wind and solar energy, and the like—all of my correspondence is done electronically. That includes inquiry replies, yacht brochures, and charter agreements. Any paper I do generate is recycled.”

Yates is so serious about “going green” that her office is heated by solar power, and the radio she listens to is powered by wind.

“I know brokers who send out hundreds of packets and brochures, and they all get thrown away,” she said. “I am trying to limit what I put into the environment.”

“Going green” is becoming a trend in the charter industry, for sure. Large management companies such as Camper and Nicholsons International and Burgess Yachts regularly tout their efforts to operate in a carbon-neutral fashion. The retail-booking agency Boatbookings offers a button on its website that lets you purchase carbon credits at the time you book your charter, for an instant offset. New motoryachts such as the 147-foot McMullen and Wing Big Fish generate hot water from heat exchangers on the generator and main engine, as opposed to using a traditionally separate, electricity-guzzling water heater. New sailing yachts such as the 190-foot Royal Huisman Ethereal work with firms like the CarbonNeutral Company to offset the emissions from charter vacations. Even smaller yachts that are several years old, like the 76-foot sailing catamaran Akasha, are going green by installing water chillers that let them replace plastic water bottles with reusable, refillable water bottles for guests. That’s no small shakes: Akasha‘s crew told me that they previously would go through about 22 cases of bottled water during each charter week. With 24 bottles per case, the refillable bottles are saving the landfill from more than 500 empty plastic bottles per week.

I am encouraged every time I hear of another yacht like these, or about a broker like Yates who is striving to lead by example. They are proving every day that yacht charter remains one of the most forward-thinking vacation options when it comes to environmental stewardship. My hat is off to them, and I hope you will support them with your charter business.


Editor’s Note: Boatbookings is a sponsor of CharterWave, where this blog originates.