It was about 20 years in the making, but when Joe Hollingsworth, Jr. stepped aboard Savannah (above) for a 29-day charter this winter, the long wait was well worth it.
Hollingsworth, an entrepreneur and author, had been planning to treat family and friends to an extended Caribbean yacht cruise, exploring as many islands as possible, for nearly two decades, but try as he might, he was never able to make it happen. “The problem with the idea was it was so big and comprehensive,” he explains. That is, until he met Jennifer Saia, president of The Sacks Group, at last year’s Yacht & Brokerage Show. “He is such a positive spirit that I couldn’t wait to hear his ideas, match them with a realistic itinerary and find the right yacht to make it happen,” she says.
The 118-foot Savannah’s stature as an active megayacht wasn’t the only deciding factor for Saia. Capt. Alvin Burkett and his crew’s can-do attitude came into play, too. In fact, Capt. Burkett worked with Saia, her assistant Ali Kaufmann, and Hollingsworth for about a year to tailor the trip to Hollingsworth’s desires.
One of the things he requested was dividing the trip into five segments of five nights apiece, with a day in between each segment to permit various friends and family to fly in or out. Hollingsworth also wanted each group of guests to have activities planned just for them. Besides creating a comprehensive itinerary describing all of the islands from Grenada to St. Maarten that they would visit and/or pass, the Sacks team and Savannah’s crew planned theme nights and formal dinners, never repeating a menu. Think about that for a minute: While a month-long trip with multiple people requires a lot of planning in general, the avoidance of making the same meal twice had to be a particular challenge.
Some of the most special experiences of the megayacht charter included diving the underwater sculpture gallery off Grenada, pictured above. Created by Jason deCaires Taylor, it’s the world’s first underwater sculpture park, intended to create artificial reefs and promote understanding of sea life. “We introduced 12 new people to scuba diving,” Hollingsworth says.
Other memorable moments: exploring a river covered by a canopy of trees, seen in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean; hiking to a 700-foot-high waterfall; sleeping out on Savannah’s deck beneath the moonlight; and soaking in the yacht’s hot tub. “Most of the people who made this trip spontaneously coined the phrase, ‘This is the trip of my lifetime,’” Hollingsworth relates. This enthusiasm was so infectious that Capt. Burkett says he and his crew ended up having a great time, too.
So what does a dreamer do for an encore? Plan another trip of his lifetime, of course. “We’re already talking about another charter two years from now–a Mediterranean experience,” Saia says.
photos: Vincent Lauro