By admin ~ April 26th, 2011. Filed under: Features.
Crewed charter yacht vacations in the Bahamas
are not just for movie stars.By Chris Caswell
Let’s say you’re planning a vacation with two other couples and you’re thinking about renting a villa in the Bahamas for a week. A very nice idea; but consider that for a few dollars more, you could charter a luxury yacht and use it to visit a new island every day.
There are a lot of misconceptions about hiring charter yachts among people who have never tried them, usually because the vessels that the likes of Oprah, Brangelina, Tom and Katie typically hire can run a quarter of a million dollars a week and up. Those charter rates are for newly launched yachts that are 200-plus feet in length, sleep 12 guests and have a one-to-one crew ratio, however. There are plenty of luxury charter yachts available in the 70- to 100-foot range that charter for a range of less than $15,000 to about $45,000 per week, plus expenses; sleep three couples onboard, and come with the services of a captain and a private chef.
While many charter clients choose to cruise the Mediterranean in the summer season and the Caribbean in winter, the Bahamas are a more convenient travel destination for many U.S. clients, along with providing a fabulous island setting and excellent charter values.
“People think they have to go to the Maldives or the Seychelles to get that beautiful water. Then, when I arrange a Bahamas charter vacation for clients who haven’t cruised there before, they always come back and say, “Why did it take me ten years to listen to you?” said Jennifer M. Saia, charter specialist with International Yacht Collection (iyc.com). “They can’t wait to go back.”
Take IYC’s featured charter yacht Destiny, for example. A 98-foot Westship staffed by a captain, a chef and two crew members, she sleeps six in three ensuite cabins, including a master stateroom with king berth and his-and-her heads. She is equipped with a CD and a DVD library for indoor entertainment. Her tenders and toys include a 31-foot Contender tow-behind with 225-hp Yamaha outboards, two personal watercraft, fishing gear, water skis, a wakeboard and a portable barbecue the crew will take to a deserted beach for a picnic. Destiny is offered for charter in the Bahamas starting at $30,000 per week, plus expenses.
If you are looking for something smaller, Jeff Shaffer, charter marketing director of Neptune Group Yachting (NGYI.com), suggests Temptation, a 76-foot Hatteras based year-round in the Bahamas with a captain and chef onboard. She has three private ensuite staterooms, including a master with king berth, full WiFi and an extensive movie library. Her top speed, which is listed at 28 knots, will get you from island to island in a hurry. Once there, her 23-foot Dusky center console, Tempted, can take you waterskiing or fishing. Temptation’s charter rate is an $19,500 per week, plus expenses.
Or consider Evy’s Angel, a 70-foot Hatteras offered for charter out of Nassau for $13,500 a week, plus expenses. Marian Walker at The Marine Group (marinegroup.com) reports the yacht has three staterooms, all with private heads, including a king-berth master; a comfortable saloon with a large TV and a complete library of movies. Evy’s Angel’s charter rate also includes a captain and chef, a tender for waterskiing and wakeboarding, kayaks, a windsurfer, and a sailing dinghy, as well as fishing and snorkel gear.
These are just a few of the many different charter vessel options, which vary widely not only in size but also in category, including motor yachts and sailboats, high-speed and long-range cruisers. But all the charter yachts operating in the Bahamas do have one thing in common: a custom itinerary that you can design with your charter broker and captain to fulfill your dream vacation afloat in the Bahamas.
If you haven’t chartered a crewed yacht before, keep in mind that “plus expenses” means you’re responsible for the food and beverages consumed during the trip. If you have Champagne dreams and caviar wishes, well, you’ll pay for them. If you’re on a budget, however, the charter broker and the yacht’s chef will be happy to suggest a menu that suits both your pocketbook and tastes. In addition, you’ll pay for the fuel used, not just while the yacht is moving from harbor to harbor, but also what’s consumed by the generators at anchor. Be sure to ask your charter agent if delivering the yacht to the Bahamas is included in the charter rate. Gas for the tenders is extra, and some yachts charge an additional fee for towing a large center console that guests can use for fishing expeditions. If you choose to tie up at marinas, you are responsible for paying the dockage. In round numbers, expect to add 35 percent for food and drink, fuel, and extras. It is also customary to give the crew a tip of up to 20 percent of the charter fee at the end of your vacation.
So where can you go? Nassau is a popular starting point for two reasons: It’s a short airline flight from many U.S. cities, and it’s a good jumping-off spot for a lot of great Bahamas cruising destinations. You might depart Nassau and mosey over to Highborne Cay to spend a night at anchor in blissful solitude, then visit the huge iguanas at Allan’s Cay (they’ll nibble fruit chunks from your hands), stop at Shroud Cay (a protected park) for superb snorkeling, and have dinner on Norman’s Cay at MacDuff’s, a Bahamian legend.
Or you might prefer to head, via Royal Island and Spanish Wells, to upscale Harbour Island on Eleuthera, where you’ll find pink beaches, fine dining, pastel cottages, great shopping, and perhaps a few celebrities on their charter yachts….
Crewed yachts are perfect for special occasions such as birthdays or anniversaries and, since they include a chef and full housekeeping, they are truly a vacation for everyone in your party. If you already own a boat and are thinking of stepping up to a larger one, a charter vessel also can give you an opportunity to sample the crewed yacht lifestyle before you make a commitment.
Whatever your agenda, a luxury charter vacation will let you spend your days sprawled comfortably with a trashy novel, snorkeling in the clear Bahamas water, putting the first footsteps on a pristine beach, and settling in for alfresco gourmet meals overlooking a beautiful anchorage. Oh, and here comes the stewardess to refill your glasses. This truly is the good life.
No cruise to Long Island is complete without a road
trip to spot the elusive Bahamas National Bird.By Sara Lewis
Due to its strategic location and the shelter it provides from the tradewinds, Salt Pond, Long Island, is a favorite destination for adventurous cruisers. It’s a short day’s sail for those wanting to venture farther than Elizabeth Harbour, Great Exuma, and a perfect staging area for a trip to the Ragged Islands or Conception and Rum Cay.
There is plenty to do and see within an easy dinghy ride of the anchorage, including a bi-monthly fresh market held at the old school. But a visit to Long Island won’t be complete without a land trip, either by “catching a ride” with cordial natives or by renting a car. From the dinghy dock, it’s a short walk to the Fox Auto, where cars and vans can be rented.
The nearly 100-mile ribbon of Queen’s Highway has something for everyone. To the north are the Columbus Monument, caves, and several places for a great lunch and a cold Kalik, like Cape Santa Maria, Stella Maris Inn, and Beach Bungalows. Not to be missed to the south are Dean’s Blue Hole and the view from the Catholic Church tower in Clarence Town. Our new favorite attraction, however, is the marvelous local flock of flamingos.
In a country that has half a hundred shades of blue in its sea and sky, why wouldn’t the national bird be a bright pink? These stunning long-legged birds are seen throughout the southeastern Bahamas but weren’t necessarily in residence on Long Island until this year.
The Great Lake near Mortimers in the south end of the island now has a flock of a couple of dozen flamingos, probably lured by their favorite diet of brine shrimp, which paints their feathers a distinctive bright pink with crimson highlights.
It is not the casual birdwatcher who gets to see these elusive creatures. It is the diligent stalker, who listens for their gobble-chatter and quietly pads across dry lake bed into mangrove mud and is rewarded with a glimpse of their spectacular plumage. A peek through the mangroves reveals the tall straight necks of the guard birds. The rest of the flock’s heads and beaks are in the water, filtering through the mud for lunch. When their five-foot-wide wings flap, their black-ruffled tutus flounce.
Long Island has charms that make cruiser want to stay longer. Yes, it’s the Bahamas, but an island like no other.