Seas of Tranquility
Business Traveler|October/November 2020
Private yacht charters refine the art of social distancing
DAVID YESKEL

In recent years, upmarket travelers have gravitated to small-ship ocean and river cruising, both of which offer the sought after combination of relative intimacy, personalized service, gourmet, prepared-to-order cuisine and soft adventure excursions. Along with per-diem fares that typically range from $700 to $1,000 per day, these voyages come with their own set of high expectations.

But with a near-total cruise industry shut down due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, private yacht charters are conveniently filling that luxe niche, offering guests a mix of exploration and relaxation, with the added safety and security of a private yacht. Social distancing is, in essence, inherent to yachting.

And while yachts can’t offer all of the public areas and features found on small, ocean-going or river cruise vessels, they do present – after months of isolation – a viable option for families and friends to “quaranteam” by traveling together and reconnecting aboard these safe sanctuaries at sea. Vessel capacity varies by company, but the yachts typically accommodate from 8 to 12 guests on worldwide voyages ranging from 3 to 15 days.

All of the operators below are following current health and safety procedures to mitigate the coronavirus threat, and are sanitizing all high-touch surfaces before and after charters. And although many operate in several regions around the world, the current focus is mostly on sailings in Mexico, the Bahamas and the US Virgin Islands, bowing to the realities of destinations now open to US travelers. Some of the industry’s leading players in the luxury yacht charter niche follow.

1. EXCLUSIVE RESORTS

“The Club” offers weeklong, private itineraries for up to 8 travelers. Fall dates for the 7-day excursions to the Bahamas or Virgin Islands begin in November 2020 and run through summer 2021. And since the club’s yachts sail in warm waters year-round, off-the-boat options include swimming, snorkeling, diving, hiking and day visits to remote beaches. A minimum 2-day turnaround between each trip guarantees that the yachts are cleaned and sanitized prior to the arrival of the next group.

Exclusive Resorts is a members-only vacation club that accepts only 100 new families per year. Weeklong yacht charters range from $65,000 to $75,000 and are truly all-inclusive, encompassing even crew gratuities, which typically comprise 10 to 20 percent of the charter fee. Once a reservation is made, members work with a dedicated Yacht Concierge – at no extra cost – to assist them with every aspect of their vacation, from menu customization to planning private island excursions with off-the-beaten-path exclusivity. exclusiveresorts.com

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