How to Buy a Yacht Charter in the Lower Caribbean

I enjoy blogging, because it’s a place where a salesperson can publish reactions to things we see in the industry that aren’t 100% right and set them straight.  I have two points to make today, both having to do with how to buy a yacht charter….

Yachts are not like a box of chocolates, where each yacht is equal in its offerings, and you get to choose equally from amongst a wide array of equal chocolates. Given supply and demand, particularly in the Lower Caribbean, not all yachts are equal.  Sometimes you can’t judge a yacht by its cover.  Let me share a story to illustrate my point. Many years ago a journalist was writing an article about a yacht charter.  She was a lifelong sailor and had an idea of the type of yacht she wanted, but her broker, Julie Nicholson, an experienced round the worlder, recommended a motor sailor.  The journalist began her story by sharing how she kept an open mind and went on to describe how delightful the crew was, how spectacular the cruising ground, and best of all how charming the yacht was!  My point is this:  a broker knows their yachts!  When recommending a yacht to a client, we have to meet a client’s requirements for dates, ports, price, and cabin configuration, but often times, given the paucity of yachts in the Lower Caribbean as compared to the Virgin Islands and Mediterranean, the style of the perfect yacht comes in a different form from the one a client might like.  This is because there aren’t a huge number of yachts in the Lower Caribbean. The perfect yacht for a client may be a monohull sailng yacht instead of a catamaran, or a catamaran instead of a power yacht.  Power yachts and catamarans are quite scarce down there.  When guests keep an open mind and accept a recommendation from a broker over one that checks all the boxes literally, the chances are much greater that your experience is going to be 100 watt success.  The point is this:  We’d rather you come back to us saying the cruise was a 10 – you were right – everything was sensational – I needn’t have had any reservations – than come back and say your experience was only so-so.  The Lower Eastern Caribbean from St. Maarten to Grenada is a huge area spanning 400 miles.  Only a handful of yachts service guests, cruising this area.  In order to find the perfect yacht in this area, guests need to consider monohull sailing yachts in this area.  The Eastern Caribbean has lots of excellent, crewed, monohull sailing yachts, whose crew are as nice as they can be and give their guests a wonderful holiday.

Having accepted a recommendation, stay relaxed. This is the second point….  I see clients accepting recommendations of yachts and then get completely anxious about their selection leading up to the charter.  This anxious attitude spoils the cruise for the rest of your cruising companions, as well as the crew.  And there’s no need to be upset.  Our recommendations are based on having inspected the yacht, knowing the owner, knowing the type of crew he/she employs…  While we make every effort to recommend a yacht with a good crew, there is a lot of crew turnaround in our industry, effecting the most problems for people who book nine or more months in advance, which you have to do, if you’re sailing at Christmas.  Working on a charter yacht is a lot of work, especially for the chef.  It’s demanding on a crew, because they work back to back charters in season for weeks on end, often without a day off in-between.  This is tiring.  It’s not unusual that charter yachts see a high crew turnaround.  So let me explain how crew hiring works.  Crew finding companies abound in our industry, where yacht owners find experienced replacement crews.  These companies check out references, field experienced crews from the not so experienced.  Yacht owners are guaranteed an almost endless supply of experienced personnel in the yacht charter industry, and vice versa.   A crew can take time off and return to the industry any time they want to.  If it ever happens to you that the yacht you have chartered is experiencing a high crew turnover rate, this does not necessarily reflect the quality of your experience. Remember the salient points of a recommendation of a yacht from your broker.  We’d rather you go with an open mind and come back to us saying your cruise did not live up to your expectations than go down and ruin what could have been a perfectly relaxing holiday.  If you don’t like your cruise, you need to leave the boat immediately.  You won’t get any charter money back if you stay onboard the duration of your stay.  But if you leave, you might get some back.