Best of the Best: Charter Yachts
A polished crew and exquisite details make the Dutch yacht sparkle.
Every prospective charter client should consider five elements when hunting for the perfect yacht: quality of the build, accommodations and amenities, crew experience, chef’s expertise, and destination. Should a handful of yachts meet a given vacation criteria, the choice is often based on details—the little touches that an owner has incorporated for himself but happen to enhance the charter experience. In the selective universe of 12-guest charter yachts, such details set Paraffin apart.
Feadship delivered the 197-footer in 2001 to Michael Kittredge, founder of Yankee Candle Co. He and his family used Paraffin almost exclusively until last fall, when a new baby kept them close to home. Consequently, the yacht has become more available for charter clients, though its open dates are being booked quickly. (The weekly base rate is $340,000 in the Caribbean or the Mediterranean. Before Paraffin’s first public showing in December, one client had reserved the yacht for an entire month; after the show, enough interest was generated that Mediterranean bookings for this summer are now almost full.)
Chef Robert Shepherd says the only comparable vessels he and the Paraffin crew have seen on the world’s waters were the 204-foot Feadship Cakewalk, the 189-foot Oceanco Pegasus, and the 192-foot Lürssen Capri. Kittredge even took his captain and chef on a two-week charter aboard Cakewalk from Athens to Venice to ensure that the service Paraffin offered would be better. “Captain Niels Ackermans is the epitome of a perfect charter captain,” says Patricia Saks, charter marketing agent at Fraser Yachts Worldwide. “He speaks five languages. He’s polished. He deals with presidents, high-end celebrities, and high-maintenance people with grace and ease.”
Virtually every space aboard Paraffin exhibits a subtle yet thoughtful touch. The bathrooms, for instance, have heated mirrors (to prevent fogging) as well as heated floors. In the main-deck master suite, the alarm clock is set not to buzz but to open the drapes quietly. “His” side of the double closet features lighted sock drawers so that you can easily distinguish the blues from the blacks. Guests are treated to 500-count Frette sheets and Frette bathrobes plus canvas luggage for souvenirs. Laundry service takes one hour, and the cleaned clothing is delivered to each room wrapped in tissue paper with a Paraffin seal.
Details that are even more discreet include the furniture placement in the main saloon, where there are pathways behind every sofa to allow service without imposition. Aft of the galley, the pantry’s lights and radio are linked to the door that opens into the dining room. When waitstaff enters to serve the guests seated at the table, light and noise from the crew area automatically turn off so that they do not disturb the room’s ambience. The yacht carries 400 bottles of wine, and 450 wineglasses are at the ready for tastings hosted by Paraffin’s 16-member crew. When guests are aboard this yacht, they have much to toast.
Fraser Yachts Worldwide
As a nod to its inimitability among megayachts, North American Yachts and Shipbuilding initially christened this boat Genesis 153. The yacht, which has since been renamed Argyll, is virtually 100 percent accessible to wheelchair users. Having lost the use of his legs, the man who purchased the boat after its 2002 launch had presumed, before encountering the 153-footer, that his days on the water were finished. After a tour of Argyll, however, he wrote a check and wept with joy.
Now with a new owner, Argyll is available for charter. Special features include wide side decks, smartly arranged furniture, and an elevator that services all four decks. The elevator opens directly to the master stateroom on the boat deck and one of the VIP cabins below, giving wheelchair users a choice of accommodations.
Argyll and its 10-member crew can accommodate 10 guests for $125,300 per week, plus expenses and gratuities. Argyll will be in New England this summer, the Caribbean this winter, and the Mediterranean in summer 2005.
Yachting Partners International
Going the Distance
Expedition yachts, the behemoths built to explore exotic, heretofore unreachable destinations, are becoming increasingly available for charter. Unfortunately, most of these circumnavigators remain in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, trying to drum up business in the usual ports of call. Setting off on a two-year world cruise, Pangaea is a notable exception.
The 184-foot Halter Marine vessel, which is manned by an 11-member crew, can accommodate 12 guests for $175,000 per week plus expenses. (Pangaea is currently featuring a summer special for $150,000 per week through August 2004.) The ship is heading through the Panama Canal en route to Costa Rica, the Galápagos Islands, Mexico, Alaska, and the South Pacific. All are rare destinations for charter yachts, let alone ones as luxurious as Pangaea.
The master suite encompasses an entire deck, and chef Mitchell Davis is well known for his culinary creations. Also aboard are scuba gear, high-speed Internet access, a gymnasium, multiple tenders, and just about anything else a person could want, no matter where he finds himself in the world.
The Sacks Group
Oceanfast’s Aussie Rules, the 228-foot yacht built for golfer Greg Norman, initially created much chatter because of its high-profile owner, but the talk now centers on the amenities available to its charter clients.
The yacht, which will be in the Mediterranean this summer and the South Pacific during the winter (with prices ranging from $301,000 to $315,000 per week, not including expenses and gratuities), can accommodate 12 guests, has a cinema with a 5-foot plasma screen, and features a spa pool with a bar and submerged stools. Aussie Rules also sports a collection of water toys, including a 42-foot Sportfisherman for anglers, two tenders, two flats boats, and four WaveRunners. Fishing rods, snorkeling and scuba gear, and even surfboards are also available for charter clients’ use. After a day at play, guests can choose from the 550 bottles of wine aboard. Of course, the stock includes Norman’s own label.