Charter yacht broker Kathleen Mullen of Regency Yacht Charters is just back from the 2016 charter yacht shows in the U.S. and British Virgin Islands. Here’s her take on the status of the charter market in the Virgin Islands as well as a few yachts from her fleet that showed well this year.
How is the charter market shaping up for the Virgin Islands this winter?
It looks like a good season. In fact, it looked like a good season early on. It’s a little softer for the brand-new boats, because in an election year, you get people on the fence who are feeling anxious. But what usually happens, and it is happening this time, is that you get through the election and people say, ‘Oh, the world didn’t end,’ and they book their charters. They’re predicting a very cold winter, so that’s going to help too.”
What trends do you see for Virgin Islands yacht charter this year?
We have more eight-guest boats being built faster than ever. They’re sportier than the megayachts often are, but also more casual, and the level of food that these chefs are putting out, you could put them on a megayacht. It’s astounding. The catamarans are getting bigger and much more luxurious. They have all the water-sports toys. I have two in my charter fleet that have slides that launch from the top deck.
That means charter clients with a party of eight guests can now have a lot of the amenities of a megayacht, but at a much lower catamaran price, right?
Right. The majority of clients are asking for a catamaran. If they can’t afford a powerboat, they’re finding that the newer catamarans have everything they want—stall showers, media systems, good water sports, bigger tenders, all of that stuff. It really hits a sweet spot in the market.
Is there still Virgin Islands availability for Christmas and New Year’s yacht charters?
The holidays are pretty well booked. I have one monohull in my fleet still to book for New Year’s, and four boats still to book for Christmas. Other than that, everybody is booked, which means this is a strong, solid season. We actually are getting some 2018 charters already—and not just holiday weeks. We’re talking regular charters.
Which yachts in the Regency Yacht Charters fleet looked top-notch at the shows this year?
The 62-foot sailing catamaran Elysium had a brand-new crew. It’s their second year in charter, and they were in St. Thomas and showed very well. We also had the Best of the BVI Show winner, the 67-foot sailing catamaran LIR. That’s a new boat to the Regency fleet. It’s a new crew, and they do a great job. They’re the former crew from the 60-foot Beneteau Blue Passion. The boat is really going to be attractive.
What else should CharterWave readers know about booking a charter yacht this winter in the Virgin Islands?
We are anxiously awaiting BVI Airline to start flying Miami to Tortola direct. They’re in the process of acquiring planes, so we’re hoping that will start this winter.
Also important is a change in what was known as the “six-pack” law in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The boats now have much more flexibility for eight-guest or 10-guest pickups out of St. Thomas. It’s easy for direct flights from America, if you can’t get into Tortola in the BVI. For last-minute bookings, that can be key.
To book a Virgin Islands charter yacht this winter, contact Kathleen Mullen at Regency Yacht Charters.