by Kim Kavin
The global economic recession has left the marketplace far heavier on supply than it is on demand, and yacht owners are slashing weekly rates to try to entice more bookings. Even in the Mediterranean at the height of the summer—the time when as much as three-quarters of the world’s annual crewed charter revenue is earned—discounts as high as 35 percent were being regularly advertised.
It might seem like any yacht offering such a deep discount is a great deal, but there’s a real difference between “good value” and “bargain option.” Just because a discount is being advertised doesn’t mean the yacht is ideal for your charter needs. It’s just as with anything else you see on sale. There’s always an element of “buyer beware.”
One thing to look for is the reason why the discount is being offered. If it’s an older charter yacht, it may be because the yacht’s age gives people concern and bookings are slow to come in. The fact is that older charter yachts can be outstanding values as long as they have been regularly maintained and upgraded with great crew. An older yacht offering a discount, with all of those other elements in place, is usually a good value for your charter dollar.
Another thing to look for is a yacht that has had a recent cancellation. People cancel charters for all kinds of reasons, such as a family member’s illness or a business obligation. This leaves the yacht owner wanting to fill a specific calendar slot and itinerary, and often the owner will give a substantial discount to entice a booking at the last minute. Those yachts are often good values, as well, as opposed to bargain options.
A good way to sniff out potential issues is to ask about the yacht’s recent maintenance and crew changes. Ask the broker if there has been sudden crew turnover, or if the yacht has stayed out of the shipyard to save the owner money on maintenance costs. In those cases, the discount may be a way for the owner to mask problems that the yacht has onboard.
Asking a few questions will usually suss out these types of boats quickly, so that you can move on to a discount option aboard a good charter yacht without those kinds of problems.