Broker Ann E. McHorney of The Sacks Group Yachting Professionals says to keep good deals in mind: “Something I do is look for yachts that don’t charge a repositioning fee from Florida because they already are in The Bahamas with an adjoining charter, or are based there, or will waive the fee. That way, my clients get more value for their money!” Two of the boats she recommends right now in the Bahamas are the 100-foot Broward motoryacht Christine, whose captain and mate both grew up in the Exumas section of the Bahamas, and the 88-foot custom motoryacht Lady Victoria, whose captain and owner each keep residences in the Bahamas.
Broker Reia Stannard of CharterWorld.com suggests heading straight for the Exumas section with your Wild Kingdom hat on: “Ask the chef give you some grapes to feed the iguanas and watch out for the swimming pigs!”
Broker Ann-Wallis White of Ann-Wallis White Charter Yacht Consultants says to take advantage of great offers, such as the current one being promoted by the 58-foot sailing catamaran Ocean’s Seven: $21,500 weekly base rate instead of the usual $24,500 for eight guests in the Bahamas, with more special pricing available for smaller charter parties.
Broker June Montagne of Northrop & Johnson says it’s best to meet your charter yacht in the Bahamas rather than getting aboard in Florida and cruising over: “You would need to cross the Gulf Stream, which can be uncomfortable at times. Nassau is approximately 180 miles from Fort Lauderdale and can take a number of hours to get to. If you meet your boat in the Bahamas instead, this time could rather be spent enjoying the tranquil waters of the islands.”
Montagne also says to remember that the weather and water temperature in the Bahamas are similar to those of Florida, meaning a comfortable environment almost year-round. Look for short, affordable flights to the islands and consider booking your charter when the airfares are lowest.
CharterWave Editor Kim Kavin is a big Bahamas fan (see this article for her “Bahamas Basics”) and has a few suggestions of her own. First up: Know that the biggest boat is not always the best. The Bahamas can be extremely shallow, and you want to be on a yacht that can actually maneuver in and around the islands.
Consider a one-way charter itinerary. If you pick up in Georgetown, for instance, which has a small airport, you can cruise north to Nassau to catch a flight home—instead of going in circles and seeing less of the region on a round-trip itinerary.
Play it casual. The Bahamas are about as laid-back as cruising destinations get. Forget the high heels and evening wear, and instead pack an extra pair of flip-flops for dinners ashore.
Get into the water. It is clearer than just about anywhere else in North America or the Caribbean, with some beautiful reefs and colorful fish that practically beg you to go snorkeling and scuba diving.
Stop for a drink in Hope Town. If your charter is in the Abacos section of the Bahamas, there is no more charming island town for grabbing a Kalik and some conch fritters and laughing the night away at the bar.