Date toured: December 2004
I had a fascinating conversation at an industry-only charter yacht show with the first mate onboard the 152-foot motoryacht Montigne. Our talk reminded me once again that when choosing a charter, you need to look as carefully at the crew as you do at the yacht itself.
Matthew, the first mate, was showing me the yacht’s crew quarters when I noticed a large world map on the wall with pins stuck all over it. They marked all of the places where Montigne had cruised in recent years, making her one of the few yachts that actually has traveled the globe (a few times over).
I asked Matthew what it was like taking a luxury yacht to developing areas, and the completely undeveloped areas beyond them. He responded by saying he’d learned a heck of a lot about handling pirates in places where most charter yachts never even dream of passing through—and where Montigne of course does not bring charter guests or even stop for any period of time.
“It’s organized crime,” he explained. “You can see 30 boats coming right at you on the radar. We get all the crew up, everybody has a radio, and if we’re boarded, we send the women to the engine room. A lot of times, them knowing that we see them is deterrent enough. They’re looking for opportunity. It sounds scary, but it really isn’t. We turn on the flood lights. We don’t even carry guns aboard.”
Matthew was incredibly nonchalant in telling me this story, actually shrugging his shoulders and adding, “It sounds scary, but it’s not.”
Again, no charter guests are taken onboard in places where piracy is a known problem, but Matthew’s experienced professionalism—even in the face of something the rest of us might find terrifying—reminded me that charter is always as much about the crew as it is about the boat. This is particularly true for charters in emerging destinations, places where Western civilization’s idea of ideal tourism is a far cry from reality.
If you’re looking to book an emerging-market charter, be sure you ask your broker whether the crew is as well-experienced as the one onboard Montigne. Her weekly base rate is $115,000 per week for ten guests, or about $14,400 per person with 25-percent expenses included.—Kim Kavin