|The Next Horizon|
Expedition yachts built to travel the globe are beginning to offer exciting options for charterers.
By Kim Kavin - October 2003
How would you like to sit on the deck of a charter yacht and sip coffee iced with chips from Perito Moreno Glacier, one of the most awesome sights in all of Patagonia?
Perhaps you would prefer to splash off your kayak for a little snorkeling in the warm waters of Bora Bora’s Coral Garden underwater park, then paddle back to the yacht for a cool shower in your stateroom’s marble head.
Or maybe you dream of cruising Costa Rica’s Pacific beaches, hiking amid white-faced capuchin monkeys and three-toed sloths before returning to the boat for a gourmet dinner of freshly caught fish steamed in just-picked banana leaves.
These are all fantasy adventures, to be sure, for charter guests and brokers alike. While crewed motoryacht charters offer a variety of fantastic experiences aboard an array of different-style boats, most of those yachts tend to ply Caribbean, Mediterranean, and New England waters, where the yachting infrastructure is established. Sure, a few head off each season for Alaska, Australia, and other points afar, but for the most part, charter yachts tend to cruise near perfectly pleasant hubs equipped with marinas, day labor, and provisioning houses, places like Newport, Sint Maarten, and Antibes.
That’s what makes the handful of expedition yachts that are now entering the charter market—and the myriad possibilities these vessels represent—so exciting.
It’s easy at first glance to mistake these behemoths for the work boats they resemble. They are built not to turn heads amid the sleek, white speedsters in St. Tropez, but to have the kind of fuel and water capacity, ballast, equipment and systems design, and heavy-duty construction that make them self-sustaining as they circumnavigate the globe. But look beyond the exterior. The trend is refitting commercial craft or building new yachts that look like them for elegant expeditions, keeping the characteristics that allow for true worldwide adventure while providing all, if not more, of the comfort, decor, and toys found aboard more traditional charter yachts. That means the best of all worlds for charter guests who want five-star accommodations in wild, undeveloped lands.
The calls for such travel started coming around the mid-1990’s, says Jan Henry, a charter broker with Fraser Yachts Worldwide in Fort Lauderdale. Younger clients—generally late 30s to early 50s—had chartered in the well-traveled destinations and wanted to venture somewhere new. She and her associates were frequently frustrated with the lack of options available. “Quite frankly, I don’t know of any expedition yachts that were out there even five years ago,” she says.
Then, one by one during the past few years, a handful of expedition yachts became available for charter. Brokers immediately saw the potential. The boats are typically more fuel efficient than traditional motoryachts, which means money saved for the charter guest. They tend to be beamier, which usually means larger living spaces. Their interiors are just as luxurious as today’s newest deliveries from Holland and Italy. They often have more deck space, which translates into more toys. They can go places where no shore-based infrastructure exists to support them, which means more adventurous itineraries.
And yet, the boats initially were a tough sell. “Especially [for] the women,” Henry says. “The women have to be convinced. They know the Feadship look.”
Next page > Part 2: “They’re wanting to go far away and do something different.” > Page 1, 2, 3
This article originally appeared in the September 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.