It was with great surprise last Thursday that I listened to Henk De Vries of Feadship’s Royal De Vries shipyard announce that Feadship has opened its own charter service. I was surprised because several of its yachts are presently available for charter through the top brokers worldwide: Why would the shipyard feel the need to enter the business?
I got my answer after speaking at length that day with D.J. Kiernan, the manager of the new division. (Kiernan previously the marketing manager for Merle Wood & Associates, the American brokerage house that offers sales, charter, and yacht-management services.) According to Kiernan, several Feadship owners have approached both Royal De Vries and Royal Van Lent (the two Feadship yards) in recent years requesting help in offering their yachts to charter clientele, but they either didn’t have experience working with charter brokers or, in some cases, didn’t want to work with them. Regardless of the reason, the owners felt more comfortable working with the Feadship team. Upon further reflection, Kiernan says, Feadship realized it might also successfully introduce some of its yachts to the charter market that might not otherwise participate.
Feadship Charter Division will therefore solely book Feadship yachts. Kiernan says the department will additionally help any of the yards’ clients who are awaiting completion of their projects find other Feadships so that they can enjoy a cruising vacation.
Now, don’t assume Feadship will be circumventing normal charter channels. Kiernan tells me that if a Feadship owner already has his or her yacht available for charter through a broker, the Feadship Charter Division will contact that representative to book her.
The first yacht in the Feadship charter fleet is the 147-foot Harle, pictured here, which launched last October. One of Feadship’s F45 Vantage semicustom series, the yacht has all staterooms on the main deck (purposely for the best views), a sundeck for relaxing and of course sunbathing, and more.
It’s controversial in some circles for a shipyard to enter the charter business–just as it is for a shipyard to enter the brokerage business. The assumption is that the yard will try to steal all of its clients away from the companies currently representing them. Whether or not that assumption has merit, Feadship isn’t the first shipyard to enter the charter business. Perini Navi, for example, is a member of MYBA, one of the most well-respected trade associations for charter, through its Perini Navi USA division. There’s even a designer in MYBA: naval architecture firm Dubois Yachts. And while they’re not MYBA members, Hargrave Custom Yachts and Sunseeker offer their own yachts for charter through separate divisions.
I asked Kiernan if he planned to join MYBA or any of the other trade organizations, such as CYBA or FYBA. For the immediate future, the answer was no, though he says he does plan to attend seminars to further his knowledge.
I hope Feadship Charter Division does end up joining the trade organizations, for these groups strive to hold the bar high on standards, something the entire Feadship team no doubt respects.