The internet has been abuzz since August 5, when fitness guru Jillian Michaels, formerly of “The Biggest Loser” reality show, put out a Facebook post to her 3 million or so followers claiming that an Italy yacht charter booked through broker Amanda Brilliante at CharterWorld had gone wretchedly wrong.
Michaels’ post—shared nearly 600 times on the social-media site—states that her charter yacht vacation turned “terrifying and involved veiled threats to mine and my families well being if we didn’t pay up ‘additional funds.'” Michaels described her charter yacht, the 78-foot Maiora Never One (part of the Rome-based Sea & Sea S.r.l. charter fleet), as “not only filthy, but it had no hot water, no air con when not docked, no wifi, partial electricity, it was clearly in total disrepair. If that would be all it would be one thing, but this situation turned aggressive and threatening. By the third day of our charter we were being extorted for money and things became so escalated we literally feared for our safety.”
Jillian Michaels Facebook Post
Mainstream media worldwide picked up on Michaels’ story, with her claims appearing everywhere from TMZ to the New York Daily News, Britain’s Daily Mail and People magazine.
Tonight, we are hearing for the first time from CharterWorld, the company that booked the yacht charter vacation—in a statement that says Michaels breached her charter contract and that it was the yacht’s owner/captain, not Michaels, who ended the Italy yacht charter early.
Here is Charterworld’s statement in full:
“Ms. Michaels has embarked on a media campaign through a series of public posts listing unfounded allegations designed to smear the excellent reputation of CharterWorld. CharterWorld emphatically denies these allegations.
“We act as brokers for the charter of yachts between yacht owners, yacht managers and the charter parties. We had no physical involvement in the operation of the local yacht concerned.
“CharterWorld is the largest and most respected retail yacht charter broker in the world. CharterWorld’s brokers have arranged 1000’s of successful superyacht charters for 1000’s of very satisfied VIP clients, a large portion of whom are American. See client endorsements: (http://www.charterworld.com/index.html?sub=charter-testimonials)
“While we are dealing with the unfounded allegations surrounding the recent charter in Italy we will continue to respect the absolute privacy of our all of our VIP clientele.
“In respect of this charter, while we strongly disagree with Ms. Michaels’ version of events, and with the privacy of all of our clients in mind, we have no further comment beyond our confirmation below.
“Our broker, despite difficult circumstances, did everything reasonably within her power to try to resolve the issues on board during the charter, including securing a partial refund. Ms. Michaels elected to commence the charter after personal inspection of the yacht and continued with the charter until it was terminated early by the Captain/Owner days later due to Ms. Michaels’ breaches of the terms of the contract.”
Maiora Charter Yacht Never One
In any case of this nature, there is always an element of he said/she said, but a few key points that mainstream media have omitted are important to note:
— CharterWorld broker Amanda Brilliante is a member of CYBA International, a professional organization with a Code of Ethics. A broker’s responsibilities in a case like this one include being responsive to the client when a complaint is lodged, and working with the client to get any refund that is due.
— The CYBA Ethics Committee is investigating the Michaels case. CYBA President Trish Cronan sent CharterWave this statement via email: “This is a very unfortunate situation. Until a determination has been made, it is CYBA’s policy is to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of all parties involved. Ethical complaints are referred to our Ethics committee, which gathers evidence from both parties. The committee will then make a determination as to whether the broker violated CYBA’s Code of Ethics in the manner in which he or she conducted business. CYBA, as an international association of charter yacht brokers, has no jurisdiction over yacht owners, managers and crews.” AUGUST 22, 2016 UPDATE: CYBA’s Ethics Committee voted unanimously that Brilliante did not violate the group’s Code of Ethics.
— The owner of the charter yacht Never One put out a statement in Italian (you can read the story here with Google Translate) stating that Michaels’ comments online were slander and lies, and that he’ll be seeking damages in court because of canceled charters that followed her Facebook post.
— Sea & Sea S.r.l., which manages the yacht in question, has a website that states it uses MYBA contracts, which are put out by MYBA: The Worldwide Yachting Association. The MYBA contract is generally believed to be the strongest contract that any charter client can sign, with protections for clients that some other types of yacht-charter contracts do not offer. While it has not been publicly revealed whether Michaels signed a MYBA contract, the terms of those contracts do, in fact, allow yacht owners and captains to terminate a charter for numerous reasons without a refund.
There certainly will be more to come with this story. Stay tuned.
Editor’s Note: CharterWorld is a longtime sponsor of CharterWave, which, since its inception in 2006, has only accepted advertising revenue from charter companies that are members of top professional organizations worldwide.