Michael Sawyer of Infinity Yachts is just back from the 2016 Antigua Charter Yacht Show—the biggest charter show held in the Caribbean each year. Three marinas are filled with charter yachts that are open for tours, interviews, lunches and more. The public cannot attend; it’s an industry-only event designed to let top charter yacht brokers spend quality time getting to know the yachts and crews, before helping clients book vacations.
This was the 15th year that Sawyer has traveled to the Caribbean to inspect charter yachts and meet crews. Here are his thoughts.
What was different about your visit to the Caribbean this year?
I extended my time in the region to add two weeks in the Virgin Islands. I stayed aboard the 50-foot Knysna Invictus, the 47-foot Nautitech Nemo and the 61-foot Privilege Luar—all catamarans—to learn more about their charter programs. I also enjoyed a stellar massage at the Peter Island spa, and fine dining at the Coco Maya and Scaramouche restaurants ashore, so I can discuss those options firsthand with clients as well.
I’ll bet those experiences were a refreshing reminder about all the fun that charter clients can have, after the week you spent touring dozens upon dozens of charter yachts and interviewing crew at the marinas in Antigua.
The Antigua show is a wonderful reminder that there are so many terrific charter options, especially for families, a particular specialty of mine. Charter crews are amazing people—and so enjoyable to spend time with for charter guests. It’s wonderful to see “proven winner” charter yachts maintained to an immaculate standard.
Guests who are new to chartering can often assume that a newer yacht is a better choice, but crewed charter yachts can be maintained to a “like new” standard. Going to shows like the one in Antigua lets me direct clients to those yachts, which are often outstanding values.
Of all the charter yachts you saw, which ones stand out as top options for the Caribbean and Virgin Islands this winter?
Among the sailing catamarans, last year I had found Chef Kristine on the Privilege Xenia 74 to be on a different level, and I heard similar comments from several colleagues. I just love the crew aboard the 62-foot CNB Bordeaux Tiger Lily (they formerly ran the 74-foot Sunreef catamaran 19th Hole). The 61-foot Privilege Bella Principessa is looking terrific after a refit.
The 64-foot Lagoon power catamaran Cute Little Cat is lovely new addition to the charter market, with very experienced French crew. And I had an impressive lunch aboard 19th Hole, which now has an Italian crew of four.
How about the motoryachts? Which of those stood out as the season’s best?
Several big Benetti yachts at the show caught my attention this year. Chef Richard on the 190-foot Illusion V was a bundle of crackling energy, and the yacht has a good website for clients. The 208-foot Lioness V was looking terrific—and she just dropped her Caribbean base rate, excluding holidays, by 20 percent from $425,000 to $340,000.
The 147-foot Moka is a gorgeous yacht that has been private for several years. She is new to charter and we suggested dining chairs to replace benches for top deck outdoor dining.
And beyond the Benetti charter yachts? Which other motoryachts were looking great for the Caribbean season?
The new builds Narvalo (a 108-foot Nauta Air) and Chasseur (a 164-foot Christensen) have magnificent, bright, light interiors. Captain Eric on Chasseur has dazzled clients I have sent him previously aboard other yachts, and chef Kelly served a phenomenal lunch.
The 162-foot Christensen Remember When has a terrific charter program, and the 164-foot Trinity Aspen Alternative was immaculate after refit. The 164-foot Westport Trending had a very clever refit that blends dark wood with new white elements into a smart interior.
The wildly colorful 150-foot Trinity Attitude just dropped her base rate to $112,000 for the Caribbean, Bahamas and Florida, and the Feadship Go, previously 127 feet long, has been extended, which has transformed her.
Did any sailing yachts catch your eye for the Caribbean season?
The 124-foot Perini Navi P2 (a glorious fusion of comfort and performance) and the 183-foot Perini Navi Rosehearty both dazzled. The 195-foot Marin LuxurYachts Germania Nova impressed my colleagues who went sailing, and the wooden classic Eros, a 115-footer built by Brooks Motor Craft in 1939, has been updated by a passionate owner.