by Kim Kavin
When the 2012 Olympic Games opened in London, news reports around the world talked about snarled traffic, overstuffed hotels, and jam-packed sidewalks. What precious few news outlets reported was the way that yacht owners and charter clients were enjoying relaxing accommodations and private, elegant parties aboard yachts docked in London specifically for the Games.
It’s no secret that the yachts were there, since a number of them announced plans to attend well before the Games even began. They included the 146-foot Feadship Harle with Northrop and Johnson, the 168-foot Schweers Legend with Edmiston and Company, and the 246-foot Peenewerft Leander with Peter Insull’s —the last of which arrived in London with the Queen onboard as part of her Diamond Jubilee, just before the Games opened.
What’s noteworthy about yachts that attend the Olympics—or any major happening, for that matter—is that they are advertised differently than regular charter yachts. Yes, of course these boats still offer traditional charters, but they also are capable of hosting serious dockside events. Not every charter yacht is set up for that, and not every charter crew has experience with it.
When booking a yacht for a major event charter, here are four things to look for:
1. Capacity at the dock. This is a safety-agency rating that tells you how many people can be onboard as long as the yacht stays tied to the quay. Some yachts that can take only 10 or 12 overnight guests can legally accommodate 75 or more people for dockside events.
2. A yacht with a track record of hosting such parties. That often means having a chef onboard with some kind of catering experience, as well as a crew that is used to providing service for groups that are on the larger side. It’s an entirely different skill set, to host a party for 75 people, than it is to serve a single family on charter.
3. The design of the yacht itself. Some charter yachts are custom-built to be party-ready. Harle, for instance, has movable modular furniture that allows the sky lounge to become an extension of the outside deck and the sundeck above, creating a huge flowing space for party guests. Leander has a big open space on an upper deck that the crew regularly turns into a dance floor with bands or disc jockeys, adjacent to a sky lounge with a bar. Not all charter yachts have these types of spaces, which can make or break a big party.
4. Look for a charter yacht that has relationships with local security agencies. Depending on your guest list, you may need some extra help with security during a yacht party at a marina surrounded by large crowds.
Plenty of yachts are advertised for event charters nowadays, so there are options out there in the Mediterranean, Caribbean, and beyond. Even after the Olympics, there’s no reason for the party to stop.