Yacht charter saw significant activity in 2020 due to the desire to safely distance. Increased charter inquiries continue to come in to brokers worldwide. As much as the yachts and yacht crews are taking precautions, however, you should know several things before you go. For advice on yacht charter during the pandemic, we spoke with Lori Eastes of Worth Avenue Yachts. With more than 20 years of professional hospitality experience, Eastes regularly recommends her clients do the following:
1. Quarantine and get tested. Some countries, and yachts, require proof of a negative virus test within 72 hours to five days of your planned arrival. “Quarantine for 14 days before you need to get your COVID-19 test so you are most likely to test negative,” she advises.
2. Make sure you have a COVID-19 addendum in your contract. Thankfully, contracts for yacht charter during the pandemic have evolved. Last spring, Eastes says, clients needed to request rebooking and cancellation flexibility. (Editor’s note: See our article on force majeure clauses in yacht charter agreements.) Now, however, the standard contract that reputable brokers use includes this addendum. “I haven’t come across a boat that doesn’t have one,” Eastes asserts. “If something happens and you need to cancel, you can reschedule at no cost, or if you cancel you can get most of your money back.” Still, though, she makes contract changes for her clients, especially for rebooking. The owners of the charter yachts tend to be agreeable, too. “Most owners are pretty good because it’s up and down,” she says, referring to how countries have been opening and shutting down their borders.
3. Buy insurance. Even with the benefit of a COVID-19 addendum, Eastes says, “Definitely get travel insurance.” Many policies currently include pandemic-specific coverage if you get sick while on your trip.
4. Consider countries with responsive COVID-19 approaches. “The biggest right now is the Bahamas,” Eastes says. The country recently lifted its so-called “vacation in place” 14-day quarantine on arrival. Furthermore, even when it locked down, charter guests could remain onboard. “You still have a fabulous chef onboard and a great crew,” Eastes told her clients in this scenario, adding that the only limitation was not being permitted to venture on land. Further consider Mexico, she says, since it’s been easy to arrive and depart. And, of course, U.S. destinations like the Florida Keys, Miami, and Fort Lauderdale are all good options, Eastes adds.
5. Feel free to inquire about the yacht’s protocol. Some clients have asked Eastes how often the crews get tested, for example. Others, meanwhile, want to know the onboard cleaning practices. Yacht charter during the pandemic commonly sees one to two days between trips to ensure sanitizing, she says. Plus, the crews test regularly.
The bottom line: “The crews have adapted really well to all of this,” Eastes reflects. “I have to give the captains, owners, and crew a lot of credit.”
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