Sunday, June 16, 2024
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Sailing with Charlie: Mega Yacht Charters

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Mega yachts are back in the Caribbean this season. They are getting bigger and bigger with more luxury, toys and facilities than ever. Charter prices reflect this and $250K for a week for a five-stateroom gin palace is not unusual. It’s a mind-boggling figure that highlights the fact that some have disposable income but most do not. It’s the way of the world.

Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre
Graphics by Anouk Sylvestre

Crews on mega yachts do not need exacting qualifications – except the captain, engineer and the chef. But what they do need is the ability to provide absolute excellence in all aspects of activities, service, decorum, etiquette and cuisine. If a server drops a splash of red wine on a guest’s white evening gown he won’t be there for the next charter. If the caviar is a little over pungent the chef will be reprimanded in no uncertain terms. If the captain allows the anchor to drag or drives the vessel into uncomfortable seas he won’t last long.

Crews must be well versed in diplomacy. Privacy is also a major requirement and signed documents may be necessary for the crew to sign so that names of the rich, famous and questionable are not divulged. Many of those in these categories live in fear of lawyers, paparazzi and their own karma.

Sailing with Charlie: Mega Rich

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Charlie once heard of a mega yacht owner who required a cage to be lowered into the sea before he went swimming to protect him from life endangering monsters that he thought would be waiting for him at every turn. What level of bad karma/fear instigated that measure!

Guests on a week’s cruise demand satisfaction; their every whim to be met. Guests fill out a preference sheet of culinary wishes before arrival but this does not preclude extra demands being made during the cruise. If a guest decides he wants oysters or frog legs or snails then every effort must be made to provide them. And if a Chinese billionaire decides he needs some rhinoceros horn to help him please his gorgeous young concubine, then so be it; it must be delivered. Whether it’s a hit or myth the yacht will be blameless – if it’s the latter perhaps conch ceviche can be offered instead (Hint: crush a bit of Viagra into the recipe). When it works, pat yourself on the back for helping save the endangered rhino.

Sailing With Charlie: Wines

It’s often hard to please a billionaire who has everything. Many of the super-rich are somewhat jaded so it’s hard to get rave reviews from rich guests who’ve been pampered all their lives. Mega yachts cruise in stabilized comfort. Guests sit on sun beds by a pool and eat on an upper deck or behind tinted windows. Perhaps they will be gently massaged by a jacuzzi or an Asian masseuse specially hired for the week. But there’s no thrill in any of this…

So, what’s the answer? It could be an adrenaline producing exciting activity. Something like kite boarding or fun sailing in a sporty toy like a J70. Sailing close hauled in 20kts, spray flying, rail in the water could be an invigorating solution. Success in the yacht chartering business lies in providing something different. Let the wind call the tune, let the sun bronze jaded bodies out on the briny blue. Provide some thrills to make lasting memories. 

Don’t forget – “These are the days.”

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Julian Putley is the author of ‘The Drinking Man’s Guide to the BVI’, ‘Sunfun Calypso’, and ‘Sunfun Gospel’.

So Caribbean you can almost taste the rum...

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