Journeys

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Three experienced charter brokers reflect on their best trips and bucket lists.

By Dominique Afacan | 28 March 2019
Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Seonaid Thomas. Photo: Burgess

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Seonaid Thomas. Photo: Burgess

Seonaid Thomas, Burgess

I started in the yachting industry 14 years ago and both the choice of destinations and activities have improved immeasurably since I began. We used to stick to the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, with the odd Bahamas or Australian charter, or maybe even Costa Rica. Today, it’s not unusual to discuss trips to Antarctica, Greenland, Norway, Myanmar, Papua New Guinea and Raja Ampat, for example.

The design of the yachts has changed as well. It used to be all about the sundeck and Jacuzzi, but now the attractions include beach clubs, balconies, sundeck cinemas and private dining areas on the bow. There will also be on-board spas and fully-equipped gyms, beach clubs filled with toys such as SeaBobs, Flyboards, slides, jetsurfs and swimming pools.

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Nero. Photo: Burgess

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Nero. Photo: Burgess

Each charter is special in its own way, but I was really delighted to work with a yacht called Nero for a three-generation family, cruising from the lesser-known Greek Sporades islands down through the Cyclades and ending in Gocek, along the Turquoise Coast of Turkey. There were birthdays to celebrate, but also activities to suit the different ages. I had to draw out as much information as I could from the client to find the details needed that would allow the crew to create lots of special touches to delight the family throughout the charter. I find it’s the little details that make all the difference.

Yachts are a great way to escape and having a great crew to look after you also has a huge impact. Parents can just relax and spend time enjoying activities that they don’t usually have the time or opportunity to do with their family. For once, they are getting looked after too.

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Photo: Burgess

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Photo: Burgess

I was invited to spend a week on board a yacht in Antarctica last February. It was exceptional because there was so much to learn about the destination, such beauty in the landscapes and thrilling moments watching a pod of 16 orcas play around our tender for an hour, not to mention the leopard seals, penguins and humpback whales. It was a mind-blowing and emotionally charged experience that has had an impact on how I view the world today.

Exploring the beauty of the Whitsundays in Australia or taking my time going around Corsica and Sardinia by yacht off-season would be wonderful and are still on my bucket list. There are stunning beaches, great anchorages, wonderful food in local restaurants and beautiful scenery. What more could you want?”

 

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Sussie Kidd. Photo: Camper and Nicholsons

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Sussie Kidd. Photo: Camper and Nicholsons

Sussie Kidd, Camper and Nicholsons

“The possibilities of a charter holiday really are endless; every boat, every crew and every destination is different. There is no other way you can have your own private 5-star hotel move around the world with you, with dedicated staff catering to only you and your family’s wishes. Nothing else is comparable. You can have access to places, and even people, that so few others get to see in their lives.

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Raja Ampat. Photo: Camper and Nicholsons

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Raja Ampat. Photo: Camper and Nicholsons

As brokers, we are very lucky to get invited on board yachts and there are just too many great memories to recount – dinner under a sky of infinite stars in the Raja Ampat, snorkelling on the Barrier Reef, getting dropped off at Marina Piccola in Capri and driving around the island…. the list goes on and on. However, I think that the most appreciated aspect of chartering for the majority of my clients (apart from the awesome food, outstanding service and fun they have on board) is the quality time they get to spend with their loved ones or friends. It gives multi-generation families time together in an environment that usually has something for everyone.

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Venice

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Venice

If money was no object, I would do at least four charters a year so that I could follow the seasons. I might head to the Caribbean first for a bit of regatta sailing; then head over to the Greek Islands and finish in Venice a month later; then a cruise to Amalfi and over to St Tropez at the end of the season in September and then down to SE Asia. Then I would just keep going and do something different every year; Alaska, Antarctica, Norway, Vietnam – my bucket list is still pretty full. I certainly have a lot of great suggestions if anybody out there is bored!”

 

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Valeria Alekhina. Photo: TWW Yachts

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Valeria Alekhina. Photo: TWW Yachts

Valeria Alekhina, TWW Yachts

“Having been in the industry for many years now I have organised countless charters, but perhaps my most memorable was for some repeat Russian clients who, having ‘been everywhere and seen everything,’ were looking for something different. There were to be three generations on board, and they wanted some quality time together.

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Hanse Explorer. Photo: Justin Hoffman/EYOS Expeditions

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Hanse Explorer. Photo: Justin Hoffman/EYOS Expeditions

I suggested a charter on board a yacht called the Hanse Explorer in the High Arctic. Together with the captain and crew, as well as local guides, we put together an amazing itinerary in one of the most remote and exciting destinations on earth. When you have a few generations travelling together, yachts are ideal, because there is inevitably an activity for every age. It is my job as a broker to make everyone in the party happy – we know that these trips are often annual family reunions and as such, it’s really important that we get it right.

I have been lucky enough to experience superyachts myself. I still remember sailing with the owners of a yacht called Prana from Montenegro to Croatia. Her captain had sailed some of the most famous classic yachts over the course of his career. I remember the first time he put up all of Prana’s sails and I felt like we were flying across the surface of the Adriatic. I cried, as I felt so grateful to experience such joy.

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Greek Islands

Holidays at sea (and the people who organise them)

Greek Islands

If I was to charter a yacht myself, I would probably opt for a classic sailing yacht and go for three weeks from Bodrum to Corfu, following the winds. We would visit all the amazing Greek islands, learn about Greek mythology on board and face the elements just like the ancient Greeks did. I would only eat locally-caught fish and I’d go with the yacht chef to the village market every morning to get baskets of local vegetables, fruit and cheese. I’d probably have David Bowie’s ‘Wild is the Wind’ playing on repeat for the entire trip!”

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