In the late 19th century Britain held a foreign policy known as ‘Splendid Isolation.’ It has always seemed a fitting name for a luxury private yacht (MY Splendid Isolation, anyone?). And never so much as now. In the age of coronavirus, isolation has never been so splendid.
A charter yacht is perfectly equipped for riding out or recovering from a pandemic, all the while still offering the glamorous surroundings, exquisite food, and pampering one can expect of the world’s most elite vacation option. Days on a yacht charter are spent diving and snorkelling, swimming off the yacht, and exploring quiet beaches and hidden forest paths. The yacht has WIFI, an abundance of onboard entertainment and watertoys, and a professional crew including a private chef. There is no need to go ashore at all.
A yacht is a floating luxury island with its very own drawbridge. In times like these, it is a fortress.
With many yachting regions in lockdown, it’s clear that right now is not the time to charter in much of the world. But when quarantine ends, people will desperately want to go on holiday with their loved ones again – to feel the sunshine on their faces, the water on their skin, and revel in the heady rush of newfound freedom. Families will be looking for safe, low-risk holiday options– ones which don’t involve crowds, hotels, or cruise ships. Vacations where they can leave the world and its worries behind.
In times of uncertainty, there is no safer vacation option than a private yacht.
Looking forward: Charter in Summer 2020
The peak of the virus in Europe is expected sometime in the next month, and it is predicted that life will begin to look more like normal in July. The fact that we are now in mid April means that the Mediterranean yacht charter season can likely be salvaged. It may start in July and run a little later than usual, but as the charter season has been extending further into autumn with each passing year, we can reasonably expect a good number of September and October charters in addition to those in July and August.
Of course, there is no certainty, but those clients feeling cautious have no need to delay making a booking, as new MYBA charter contracts are being drawn up with an addendum allowing the client to cancel or postpone their charter in the event that the situation becomes dangerous or the charterer cannot get to the yacht due to border closures. In fact, those who act now might even get a bargain on charter rates and have their pick of popular charter yachts which would normally be booked out a year in advance. There’s another upside too: for those chartering early in the recovery as countries just start to open up again, they may experience a Mediterranean yacht season quite unlike any other, with quiet anchorages, crystal clear waters, and crowd-free beaches.
Here are some reassuring reasons why a yacht charter in summer 2020 is still a good idea.
Yachts have enviable self-sufficiency
A well-stocked yacht is the perfect place to be during a pandemic, or as Europe begins its recovery.
The reason for this is what is referred to as a yacht’s ‘autonomy’: the self-sufficiency of a yacht in regards to its water, fuel, and food supply. Because any yachts with transatlantic range need to be self-sufficient for a minimum of two weeks, these vessels can conduct long charters without needing to return to port. Explorer charter yachts are particularly well-suited, as they are built for long-range and remote cruising with high levels of self-sufficiency.
Yachts have their own watermakers and sewerage systems, refrigeration and storage capabilities. Garbage disposal can be done via tender runs to port, and the yacht’s fuel supply is also used to run generators to power the yacht’s electricity needs. When the yacht does need to be restocked, it doesn’t even have to come into a marina; crew can order what they need through dedicated yacht provisioners, who deliver the supplies to the dock or to the boat at anchor. Packaging contamination isn’t a concern either, as yacht crews are already in the habit of disposing of cardboard and extra packaging on the dock before loading.
In fact, yacht brokers and captains have been engaging in these kinds of logistics for years, organising for seaplanes to drop off caviar and rare wines in the Maldives and Alaskan King Crabs to be flown to yachts in Mykonos or St Barts. No new systems are required, as their networks of provisioners are already in place. The yachting industry is already in good practice for this event (even though we didn’t know it!)
A small group of guests and a screened crew
In a hotel, you cannot help but come into contact with strangers – in the restaurant, at the pool, in the lobby. When you venture out to explore, it will be by taxi or bus. The staff of hotels are enormous – many of whom you will never see, but will in some way touch your things – from the laundry staff to housekeeping to the chefs that handle your food. Add in the people you do have direct contact with – the concierge and receptionists, the porters and the wait staff – and you have hundreds of potential infection points. As for cruises, they have always been known as a hotbed of contagion, with vast numbers of people mixing together and rushed cleaning schedules.
Yachts are the polar opposite: with very small groups, no strangers, and hyper-clean environments. On a yacht, you have a small group of crew who will be tested for COVID-19 before each charter. You know each of their faces, and you know they are healthy. As a precaution, guests will also be screened before boarding, so that no outbreak can happen on board and you can cruise into your holiday without fear.
On a yacht, cleanliness is (always) next to godliness
People planning holidays in the aftermath of the lockdowns will be seeking one thing above all: a low-risk holiday that is far from crowds and germ-filled environments. Which is where a yacht excels beyond all other forms of holidays.
A luxury yacht is astonishingly clean – almost certainly the cleanest space you will ever spend time in – and far, far cleaner than hotels, with their daily turnovers and rushed housekeeping staff. Before the charter starts, the yacht crew spend several days cleaning, with an army of cotton buds and toothbrushes, sprays and polishes. Air conditioning vents are swept out with cotton buds, and every fabric is laundered and vacuumed, freshened and ironed. Even the walls are washed. When the charter commences, your cabin and ensuite is cleaned a minimum of twice daily – all fingerprints gone, every droplet of water wiped out of sinks and showers, fluffy fresh towels appearing as if by magic. On the exterior, it is the same standard: every surface soaped and squeegeed, buffed and shined, until it gleams in the Mediterranean sun.
On a yacht, dust is not welcome. Yacht windows rarely open, and doors are kept shut to preserve the pristine, almost hermetically sealed cleanliness of the interior. No soil or street dirt is walked onto the yacht, as shoes are taken off at the passerelle.
Remember, this is normal procedure. Yachts are always this immaculate. Additional steps have been taken during the COVID-19 crisis to step up these cleaning regimes even further, with the addition of disinfectants and even air filters which remove pathogens.
When it comes to cleanliness, there is no vacation option than even comes close. And with thousands of crew currently in lockdown on their yachts across the Mediterranean and having nothing else to do but clean, charter yachts will never be cleaner than in the summer of 2020. Crew will be well-rested after a long break from charters and keen to get back to work.
Charter yachts are required to have impressive medical supplies on board (often including defibrillators), large yachts have an appointed health officer, and all crew are required to have some degree of first aid training, with the captain also trained in Advanced First Aid. There’s also a remote health service expressly set up for yachts to access medical support over the phone. In the unlikely event someone did get ill on board, the crew would act professionally and swiftly to contain the situation. All charter yacht crews have been required to implement new emergency procedures and systems to be ready for any COVID-19 cases.
Able to ‘raise the drawbridge’ at the first sign of trouble and power away from land, a yacht is one of the most secure holiday types imaginable. Additionally, charter yacht crew are required to have undertaken a module of security training, and when in port, there is someone to guard the passerelle at all times, as well as CCTV cameras stationed around the decks. Yachts are also accustomed to accommodating additional security personnel on board. Your captain will be running risk assessments of every anchorage and town the yacht visits; if there are any health developments, you will simply return to the yacht and retreat to safety.
Any risk is further minimised where charter clients arrive at the yachting destination by private jet at a private terminal, followed by private transfer to the yacht. A yacht charter broker can assist with organising private jet transport that radically minimises your contact points.
It’s a place your children can be safe, have fun, and be ‘yacht-schooled’
For charter clients with children, this situation has brought about a whole new set of challenges. At this stage, no-one knows when schools will reopen across Europe, but there’s every chance that the school break will extend through the six-week summer holiday. Which means that children are going to go a long, long time without traditional schooling.
A yacht always offers lots of fun for kids, but it can also provide a different kind of education – one where the chef can give cooking lessons, the captain teaches kids to read the radar or plot a course, and the engineer gives a tour of the engine room, explaining how the generators and engines work. The stewardesses might help the children dress the dinner table and do crafts, and the deck crew can continue teaching the kids fishing and watersports.
You may be surprised at some of the degrees your yacht crew hold, (don’t be surprised if they tell you they studied in marine biology, politics, or even astrophysics) so there may also be an opportunity for some really interesting lessons. The places a yacht cruises can lead to some fascinating history projects, while a dive or snorkel can be followed by looking through a fish identification book, or drawing what they’ve seen. From birdwatching to learning to gut a fish, your child could discover new passions and skills, and come out with a more varied education.
Please do note that crew aren’t employed as babysitters, and important to realise that crew daily schedules are already extremely full. However, these are unconventional times, and parents who are willing to accept some trade-offs (for example an easy, fuss-free lunch in exchange for the chef having time to give their kids a cooking lesson) will find that their children’s education may well be enriched in new ways. We would, however, strongly encourage that a tutor or nanny is brought on board, and that any crew-led activities with children are considered merely supplementary.
After a time of fear and quarantine, it will be high time to make happy memories. At Bespoke Yacht Charters, we’re not underestimating the scope of this crisis. But we will be here to provide the holiday of a lifetime on the other side.