After hosting four days of lively parties, informative seminars and tours of 25 world-class yachts worth a combined value of over $100 million, the 34th Newport Charter Yacht Show wrapped up on Thursday, June 25, leaving those who attended with a clear sense of just how strong the charter industry is in New England.
Held at the Newport Yachting Center and Marina on the historic Newport, R.I. waterfront, the industry show is the only one of its kind in the U.S. and invites charter professionals and discriminating consumers (attending with brokers) to explore the many avenues of luxury chartering.
“We already have four, maybe five, charters booked as a result of last week’s show,” said Karen Kelly Shea (Newport, R.I.) of Nicholson Yachts, which represented five of the participating vessels.
“New England books a lot more last-minute charters than the Caribbean or even the Mediterranean, so it is really beneficial for brokers to come to the Newport Charter Yacht Show. Throughout the week we organize charter lunches onboard and invite brokers to experience the yacht and get to know the crew. Very rarely will a broker book one of their clients on a yacht that they haven’t yet been onboard. This gives them the opportunity to get a sense of the crew’s style and hospitality as well as the yacht’s accommodations, so that they can make sure it’s a good match for their clients. It is a very customized process.”
To find that perfect fit, a variety of yachts must be tried on for size, and the show’s selection this year truly ran the gamut, from classic day-sailing vessels like the 32-foot restored wooden Dreamboat Latitude to pristine luxury motoryachts like the 130-foot Plan A and the 172-foot Big Eagle.
This year’s participating vessels’ charter fees ranged from day rates of $800 to weekly rates of $160,000, and there were plenty of options in style as well, including the largest Hinckley ever built: 85-foot sailing yacht Northern Star. “Northern Star is really a sailor’s sailboat with yacht amenities,” said Jared Thomas Lazor who is co-captain of the yacht with his wife Andrea Gray McDonald. “People that like to charter Northern Star are the kinds that want to unplug from technology and explore and relax.”
When asked her opinion on how a charter vacation differs from that of a vacation in a hotel, McDonald said, “This is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and an adventure. Our itinerary is customized to fit exactly what our guest wants to do everyday. It’s our job as captain and crew to make our guests fall in love with the charter lifestyle. The reason that there are so many different charter yachts available is so that potential guests can find the perfect one for them.”
In addition to learning more about the participating yachts, guests engaged in educational seminars and watched as the professionals onboard the yachts put their culinary and hospitality skills to the test in a series of crew competitions.
There was also plenty of waterfront entertainment during the show, including two nights of lively “Yacht Hops” where captains and crews donned costumes, representing their yachts’ themes, and dazzled guests with clever cocktails and tasty hors d’oeuvres. Kick-starting the festivities was the show’s popular Welcome Reception on Monday evening, which took on a Caribbean Carnival theme with the help of the U.S. Virgin Islands – Department of Tourism, a new sponsor.
“It was a truly memorable event with our Caribbean ritual dancers, a mocko jumbie and island music from Image Band,” said U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism Beverly Nicholson-Doty. “Many guests and yacht captains – most of whom are frequent visitors to the territory – noted that it was the best welcome reception in the trade show’s history.”