Coronavirus and Yacht Charters

Coronavirus and Yacht Charters - a picture of Coronavirus molecule

There is no doubt yacht charters are affected due to Coronavirus. Coronavirus has created uncertainty and disruption to summer travel plans for many charterers. Charter guests who have booked a yacht charter or are planning to book one have questions about cancellations, insurance, and available destinations. Some common questions we are hearing include:

  • Is it possible to book a yacht charter right now?
  • Can I cancel a yacht charter because of coronavirus?
  • And what areas are open for charters during the coronavirus outbreak?

The Worldwide Boat team wanted to provide our readers with helpful answers to the most common questions we’re hearing. This is everything you need to know about scheduling, rebooking or planning a yacht charter during the coronavirus outbreak.

How Does COVID-19 Affect My Yacht Charter?

Many countries around the world have greatly restricted international travel, and they’re using a variety of measures including suspending flights, border closures, and mandatory quarantines.

These travel restrictions will greatly impact yacht charters in the short term, with charters unavailable in many favorite destinations. Here are a few ways your charter may be affected:

  • Spring 2020 – Charters in March and April 2020 were greatly limited, due to travel restrictions, travel bans and mandatory quarantines. Parts of the Thailand, the South Pacific, and several destinations in the Caribbean allowed charters on a limited basis.
  • Summer 2020 – Whether you’ve already scheduled a charter, or you want to plan one, it’s difficult to know what the situation will be like this summer. Yet, if the virus slows, many destinations will be welcoming travelers.

For up-to-date travel information, check with foreign ministry offices to determine what’s allowed. If you have a booking for a country with a travel ban or restriction, please contact your charter broker to learn more about cancelations and re-bookings.

What happens if I need to cancel my yacht charter because of the Coronavirus?

In general, most yachts do not offer cancellations. Yet, most will offer a complimentary rebooking if your travel will be disrupted due to a travel ban. This might include bans on incoming flights into the country of charter embarkation or bans on departing flights out of the country of disembarkation or the country of residence.

In the majority of cases:

  • Rebooking Is Complimentary – Many yachts are waiving fees for rebooking, and will help make any adjustments as stress-free as possible. Typically, you can rebook for another date during the 2020-2021 charter season. One exception: If you will be rebooking for a more expensive part of the charter season, a surcharge may be required.
  • Contracts for New Bookings Will Be Updated – Many yachts have updated their contracts to include clauses about coronavirus cancellations. This provides protection to both you, the charter guest, and the boat owner. These clauses typically include provisions for no- or low-cost cancellations.
  • Updated Charter Insurance Policies – A variety of travel insurance policies are being created to protect travelers against coronavirus cancellations. On all new bookings, we highly recommend choosing an updated insurance policy.

Coronavirus Yacht Charter Updates: Which Countries Have Restrictions That May Affect My Charter?

A variety of restrictions may affect your travel plans, including board closures, quarantines, flight suspensions, and travel bans. New restrictions are being imposed and lifted regularly, and we are updating as quickly as possible.

Here is a list of travel restrictions that may affect yacht charters:

United States

The U.S. has imposed a travel ban on all foreign nationals into the U.S. from China, Iran, and Europe. The U.S. has also closed its southern and northern borders with Mexico and Canada to non-essential travel. Many flights to major European and Asian hubs have been suspended, including into Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, and Paris.

Yacht Charters: South Florida has opened its marinas and waterways – chartering is allowed for groups up to 10 (including crew). New England states are expected to follow suit soon.

The Caribbean

  • Anguilla

On March 20, Anguilla closed ports and airports for two weeks. Travelers who arrive from outside of the Caribbean are required to self-quarantine for 14 days.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

  • Antigua & Barbuda

Antigua & Barbuda are currently denying entry to any foreign national who has traveled to China, Italy, Iran, Japan, Korea, Singapore, France or Germany in the last 28 days.

Major destination events canceled as a result of the COVID-19 situation include the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta which was scheduled for 1st– 8th April, Antigua Sailing Week- scheduled 23rd- 1st May, Antigua and Barbuda Sport-fishing Tournament- scheduled for 28th-31st May.

Yacht Charters: Limited; but still possible

  • The Bahamas

A ban on international travel to the Bahamas went into effect on March 24 and a strict curfew has been enacted. The decree, which also applies to seaports and private boating, prohibits visitors from disembarking for any reason including transiting through the Bahamas.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

  • The British Virgin Islands

Since March 22, the BVI have closed all airports and seaports for 14 days. All travelers including nationals and foreign nationals will be denied entry.

Yacht Charters: Not possible. Most likely charters won’t resume before September 2020.

  • The US Virgin Islands

US Virgin Islands are starting to ease restrictions on May 16th. Domestic flights from and to the continental USA are permitted and taking place.

Yacht Charters: Expected to resume May 16th.

  • Saint Kitts and Nevis

St. Kitts & Nevis have issued travel advisories for visitors who have traveled to China, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France and Ireland in the last 14 days. Visitors who have traveled to these countries must self-quarantine for 14 days.

Yacht Charters: Limited; but still possible

  • Saint Vincent & the Grenadines

Ban on entry to travelers who have visited China, Italy or Iran in the 14 days before arrival.

Yacht Charters: Limited; but still possible

  • Sint Maarten

All passenger flights have been canceled for two weeks, beginning March 17. The travel restriction also applies to private vessels and cruises. All businesses and services are closed, except those providing essential services. Restaurants are open only for delivery and take-out services.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

  • Turks & Caicos

All airports are closed to non-essential international and regional flights for 21 days (beginning March 24). Seaports are closed to international passenger travel.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

The West Mediterranean

  • France

France’s borders were closed on March 17, and all non-essential travel was limited for 15 days. In addition, the EU has closed its external borders for 30 days, starting March 17. Many international flights have been suspended.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

  • Italy

Italy has restricted non-essential travel until April 3, and many flights have been suspended, including from the U.S., China, and Taiwan. Italy has also banned domestic travel.

Yacht Charters: Not possible.

  • Spain

Spain is denying entry to any foreign national at air and sea ports for 30 days, beginning March 22. The country has also closed land borders, allowing entry only to citizens and residents.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

The East Mediterranean

  • Croatia

On March 19, Croatia closed its borders for 30 days. Visitors arriving from Europe and the U.K. must self-quarantine for 14 days. Many international flights have been suspended.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

  • Greece

Beginning March 23, Greece banned all non-essential travel, and like most EU countries, Greece’s borders are closed to non-citizens or non-residents.  The majority of international flights into Greece have been suspended.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

  • Montenegro

All international flights have been suspended, and Montenegro has closed its borders to non-citizens and non-residents.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

  • Turkey

Turkey has suspended flights from 68 countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Italy and South Korea. The country’s land borders with Greece and Bulgaria have been closed.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

Asia & Oceania

  • Australia

All borders were closed to visitors on March 20. International flights have been suspended, and seaports are closed to international vessels.

Yacht Charters: Not possible

  • Fiji

Fiji is denying entry to travelers who have recently visited China, Iran, Italy and South Korea. A majority of flights have been suspended, and currently, there are no connecting flights through Australia or New Zealand.

Yacht Charters: Limited; but still possible

  • French Polynesia

Beginning March 17, visitors to French Polynesia must self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, and may not travel to islands like Bora Bora until the 14 days have passed. Additionally, all travelers must have a health clean medical health certificate upon arrival.

Yacht Charters: Limited; but still possible

  • Thailand

All visitors into Thailand require a health certificate stating they have shown no evidence of COVID-19 in the 72 hours prior to the departure date. All visitors from affected areas, including China, Italy and South Korea, must self-quarantine for 14 days.

Yacht Charters: Limited; but still possible

Rest of the World

  • Mexico

Some flights have been suspended. Additionally, the Mexico-U.S. border is closed to all non-essential travel, beginning March 21. The border closing will last for 30 days.

Yacht Charters: Limited; but still possible

 

Is it Safe to Charter A Yacht During the Coronavirus Outbreak?

The short answer is a resounding yes! Yacht charters are one of the safest forms of travel, and they provide unparalleled privacy, cleanliness, and seclusion. There are numerous reasons to consider a charter at this time:

  • Limited Contract with Groups/Crowds

A yacht charter provides the best in privacy and seclusion. Plan an itinerary away from tourist hotspots, and instead seek out untouched beaches in the Caribbean, quiet fjords in Alaska or Norway, or hidden coves in Maine. If you’re concerned with air travel, you might also choose to charter a flight, to avoid crowds.

  • Cleanliness and Hygiene Onboard

Your crew works hard to sanitize and clean the boat prior to your arrival and during your time onboard. This includes sanitizing all guest quarters, deck spaces, and service items. In addition, many boats have updated their hygiene guidelines to ensure the highest standards of cleanliness. Bottom line: You’ll have a crew working day and night to keep the space clean.

  • Highly Vetted Crews

Many superyachts have small- to medium-sized crews. This close-knit unit ensures that any exposure is limited and that your contact with others is limited as well. Many captains and crew recruitment firms have increased their vetting to ensure that all crew have had a low-risk of exposure to COVID-19.

Can I Schedule a Yacht Charter Now?

With travel restrictions related to Covid 19 changing daily, it is difficult to plan a yacht charter in the next few months, not knowing what destinations will be open for charters. Luckily, many yachts are now offering Coronavirus penalty-free yacht charter cancellations for bookings made in the next month or two.

This way you can still plan your yachting holiday and have something to look forward to once this situation is over and travel restrictions are lifted.

Please let us know if you have questions about planning a yacht charter at this time, or how Coronavirus may affect your confirmed yacht charter.