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Private Yacht Bookings Are Becoming Increasingly Popular

In the aftermath of Covid isolation, private yacht charters are seen as a more intimate way to travel

by Jillian Dara

December 21, 2023

In the sea off Thailand / Photo: Nikldn/Unsplash

Private yachts, available as luxury sailing vessels and motor charters, have long been touted for their exclusivity, privacy and immaculate service. And given the forced isolation bubble that Covid created, there was a reluctance to spend time with anyone but those in our closest circles.

Luxury travel specialist Wendy Denny of Luxe Cruise and Tour says that during this time people discovered private yacht charters as an intimate way to travel. “They could control the itinerary and size of the group, in addition to the kind of food, drinks and experiences they wanted.” Though yachts are often associated with superships anchored around Monaco or Mustique, there are varying sizes and styles. “Approximately 2,900 yachts are available for charter,” says Debbi Claxton, founder of Luxury Travel by Debbi. Claxton adds that party sizes can range between four and 36 people: A 300-foot yacht can fit 36 passengers at a rate of more than $2 million per week, while a 121-foot yacht goes for $298,000 per week. For this reason, private yacht charters are attractive for family vacations, reunions with friends, or any group “who may always rent a villa but want to try something new,” says Tracy Schatz of Elite Travel Journeys.

Sailing in Greece / Audry/Unsplash

Among the surge of private yacht bookings, a new subtrend has emerged: corporate charters. Advisors are now witnessing yacht bookings for company retreats and incentive travel. “It makes a lot of sense when you’re bringing high-level executives together to bond and discuss strategies and not be cooped up in a conference room,” says Jessica Parker, founder of Trip Whisperer.

Additionally, private sailings are ideal for client entertainment. “Most clients have been wined and dined to death,” says Jonathan Puleio, president of Windward Sailing Charters. “Yacht charters are a great alternative.”

Even in high season, yacht guests are cocooned in an atmosphere of indulgent privacy, their accommodation floating offshore with every luxury possible onboard (think gyms stocked with personal trainers, spa services, golf tees, helipads, Jacuzzis and beauty salons). “Chartering a luxury yacht is comparable to white-glove service at a five-star hotel,” says Astra Williams of Astra Williams Yacht Charters.

Though every private yacht booking varies—some are not all-inclusive—they’re typically more cost-effective, especially when opting for a sailing yacht versus a motor yacht, says Kaleigh Kirkpatrick, founder and luxury advisor at The Shameless Tourist. “You absolutely can get more bang for your buck. Having all food, alcohol, onboard water sports and more included, you can really have a stress-free trip knowing all has been paid for in advance.” Plus, there’s flexibility—since it’s your party, you can typically alter your itinerary at any given time. This year, the Cyclades (Greece) and Croatia emerged as two popular destinations, but as private yacht travel continues to navigate forward, advisors are watching the British and U.S. Virgin Islands for their sudden growth in popularity, and even predict the Whitsundays in Australia as a destination to watch.