In the past, yachting seasons have worked on a very simple format: the Mediterranean and East Coast US in summer to make the most of the balmy long twilights and calm seas, Caribbean and Florida in the depths of winter to escape the Northern hemisphere chill. And for the most part, that’s still true.
Yet as the globe opens up to exciting new ‘world-travelling’ yachting itineraries and the established seasons stretch longer, it’s worth knowing a little bit more about yacht seasons: where they happen, how long they last and when the peak season will push prices up to a premium, as well as the seasons in the ‘off the beaten track’ cruising grounds. High season prices can be up to double those of low season, so it’s worth taking the time to understand the way yacht seasons work.
Your professional yacht broker will be able to answer all your questions about yacht charter seasons around the world, but here’s a Yacht Charter Seasons Rough Guide courtesy of the private charter holiday managers, Worth Avenue Yachts to get you started.
SUMMER YACHT CHARTER SEASONS
Mediterranean & America
The Mediterranean and US East Coast yachting season runs from April to October, with the high season spanning July and August: this is the most expensive time to charter a yacht.
It is common however to see charter yachts out on the water as early as April, running right through to October, particularly further south where the weather remains warmer.
May, while technically low season, sees very high charter rates around certain events, such as the extremely sought after Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix (be aware that berthing fees will also rise steeply during these events.)
The ‘low season’ months do have some advantages: lower competition for berths and restaurants etc, as well as lower charter rates. June and September are generally very pleasant months for cruising, particularly September when the sea temperature is at its warmest.
Florida and the Bahamas, due to the sub-tropical climate, is often considered a year-round destination. Many people still use their yachts there during summer, but this region is vulnerable to hurricanes so is considered a winter yachting destination.
Off the beaten track
The remote north. If heading north to Alaska and Canada or Northern Europe, be aware that the season is much shorter, and marinas and facilities will often shut by September or even earlier. Ask your broker for more information.
South Pacific. May – October is the cooler drier season in the South Pacific and very pleasant cruising weather, while November to April is the official cyclone (hurricane) season and receives more rain.
WINTER YACHT CHARTER SEASONS
It is worth bearing in mind that winter charter rates for many yachts are often slightly lower than in summer.
The Caribbean yachting season normally runs from November to April, with the high season running from mid-December to March, with Christmas, New Year and Spring Break at a premium.
There will be less yachts available for charter in late March and April as many yachts have by this time started their crossing back to the Mediterranean or have gone into shipyards for maintenance work before the summer season begins again.
However, the quiet months from April – July often offer up some lovely weather with light winds, although storms are possible. Due to the warm climate, one could probably charter in the Eastern Caribbean year-round, for while hurricanes are possible they rarely land in the Eastern Caribbean.
The yachting high season in the Bahamas also runs November to April.
Off the beaten track
Indian Ocean. The Seychelles and Maldives have been a popular yachting destination for some years now but are growing in popularity as many yacht owners are seeking new cruising grounds in the winter months.
South East Asia. The weather in South East Asia is warm and tropical year-round, but typhoon (hurricane) season runs from May to October.
Australasia. New Zealand has long cold winters, so the southern hemisphere summer (northern hemisphere winter) is the time to charter here. While the northern part of Australia stays warm year round, it gets surprisingly cool during the winter in the south. September through to May tend to be warm weather, although there is a risk of cyclones and tropical downpours in the north from November through March/April.
The Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos are an all year round charter destination, due to their proximity to the Equator. A destination like no other, the islands are often referred to as a ‘living museum and showcase of evolution’.
When planning your yachting holiday, always take into account the yachting seasons in different parts of the world. You can often get very good deals by avoiding the peak months, and still enjoy extraordinary cruising in good weather and warm seas.