The Caribbean’s crewed charter yacht season kicks off with three broker shows. These floating open houses not only feature an outstanding selection of well-outfitted yachts, they are also a chance for brokers to get to know the islands, island happenings and island culture.
VICL Fall Yacht Show, St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
A discount with a deadline spurred an early sign-up of 28 yachts by the end of August, well over halfway to the 40 vessels anticipated. Over 40 brokers, with businesses based in the Caribbean and U.S. mainland, were also registered by late summer. Brokers can take advantage of the same corporate discount at Marriott Frenchman’s Reef Resort for the show as they offer to their charter clients throughout the year.
Kelly Kiernan, acting director of the Virgin Islands Charteryacht League (VICL) and director of the clearing-house, Flagship, says this year’s fleet will feature something new. “We’ll have a luxury catamaran and that’s encouraging to me. It shows we’re not just a budget industry. This vessel is a 2012 Fountaine-Pajot that can take up to ten guests and charters for around $20,000 a week. It’s big and beautiful, with clean lines and lots of toys.”
In addition, a power cat will show for the first time, Kiernan adds. “It’s a South African build that’s specifically geared toward sports fishing.”
Shoreside activities will see the Virgin Islands’ Governor join the first day’s dock walk to get a close up look at the industry, rather than host the traditional fete of industry members at the government’s historic mansion at Catherineberg. The Captains’ Cocktail Contest happens at the same time, followed by the governor’s dockside toast to a productive season ahead. A Culinary Contest and 80s Dance Party will follow the next night.
BVI Charter Yacht Show, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
A capacity show with 70 yachts is on tap for the Charter Yacht Society’s (CYS) BVI Charter Yacht Show. Only eight are monohulls, four of which are motor yachts, the rest are multihulls. Over a hundred brokers will walk the docks, most travelling from the U.S., but a dozen or more from Canada and Europe.
Janet Oliver, executive director of the CYS says, “At least 15 yachts are new to the industry. Some were featured in the BVI May show hosted by CharterPort, however, there are a notable number debuting at the November show.”
A two-hour crew orientation seminar that debuted in 2012 proved successful and will return this year. Topics include everything from ‘how to navigate government departments’ and ‘how to prep for a boat show’ to ‘what role the CYS plays in the industry’. The CYS will also continue its Environmental Seminar. The show received Gold Certification in 2012 by Sailors for the Sea.
Social activities include the Governor’s Reception, beachside Expo Night where local businesses present their goods and services, and Travel the Nations Yacht Hop.
New this year, chefs will be required to use a common ingredient in each category in the Culinary Contest. Other criteria will reinforce the use of local fresh produce.
There will also be helicopter sightseeing tours offered by Antilles Helicopter Services with special rates for brokers.
Antigua Charter Yacht Show, Antigua
A fabulous fleet of over 100 yachts – everything from 60-plus-foot sailing monohulls and catamarans to 200-plus-foot super yachts – will go on show. New: Yachts, brokers and vendors will not see their registration live on the show’s website until all fees are paid. This is to prevent cancellations without notification. In addition, there’s a limit of only two vendors per company.
Sarah Sebastian, show manager, explains, “We don’t want to have more vendors than agents. After all, it’s an opportunity for brokers to inspect and sell charter yacht vacations in the Caribbean and for captains and crews to market their vessels. This was the original intent of the Nicholson’s when they started the show.”
Another first-time feature is day tours around Antigua & Barbuda for show participants. These include visits to plush resorts, restaurants, and spas, zip-lining in the rainforest, and a complimentary boat trip with lunch to Antigua’s premier anchorages at Green Bay.
Finally, the theme for this year’s highly anticipated Chef Competition is the Raw Food Luncheon Challenge, says Sebastian. “Raw foods are fashionable right now and it fits well with our theme of fresh local Caribbean ingredients. It’s not necessarily vegetarian and it’s not just about sushi and salad. We have a resource page on our website for chefs. They are all very resourceful and creative and it will be exciting to see what they present.”