Guide: Luxury Yacht Charters
The Azimut 39 from Ocean Blue
Vacationing at sea is one of life's great escapes. After all, there's nothing more relaxing than cruising across azure waters under a warming sun, with friends and family.
With the focus of the luxury travel now turning to great experiences, the luxury Indian travel can - and should - explore the sailing route, especially considering the country's vast coast line.
For those planning to sail into the sunset on their next vacations, or simply take a day's pleasure cruise, we spoke to the experts - Aashim Mongia, MD of West Coast Marine and Radhika Jhaveri, head of charters at Ocean Blue - on the logistics of planning a cruise vacation.
He also cautions that you must take into consideration sailing capabilities, both your own and that of your crew. "The longer the yacht, the harder it is to maneuver it," he adds. "The destination where your yacht is to be chartered plays a big role in deciding the size of the yacht."
However, Jhaveri says hiring a bigger yacht for a special celebration can help make a better impression, and talks about a client who chartered a yacht to propose to his girlfriend. "We also helped him with the décor - red heart balloons, roses, and crystal hangings - a delectable menu that included her favourites, champagne and cupcakes, and a guitarist. He decided that the best way to propose would be for the ring to be hidden in a champagne glass. And for the whole thing to be a surprise for her. So he brought her to the jetty blindfolded, post which our expert crew helped her onto a speedboat and then onto the yacht. And as a special gift to them, we arranged for a photographer on board."
You will need to take into consideration not just the cost of chartering a yacht, but things like fuel, and food and beverage as well as permissions.
The cost of renting a yacht in Mumbai can vary from Rs 10,000 per hour upwards to about 25,000 per hour for a group of two to 30. For bigger groups - up to 100 people - rents go up to about Rs 2 lakh for four hours. Costs for longer charters vary.
Of course, with high costs of charters come superb services. In fact, Mongia says you should expect it. "Customer satisfaction is of utmost important. Right from the moment you step onboard to the moment you step away from it your experience should be like no other," he says, adding, "Two hours before one of our yacht was set to sale, the owner wanted us to arrange a charcoal tandoor so he could have tandoori rotis. We were dock at the port in Goa, and to arrange a charcoal tandoor was task as we weren't close to a market. We couldn't even afford a delay as the time to set sail was fixed. We finally sourced on from a restaurant… in fact, we took their live tandoor, which they were using in their kitchen, on board."
Points to Consider
Decide on the type of experience you're looking for. Ask yourself if you're looking for a charter yacht built for speed or leisure. Accordingly, opt for a power or sail boat. When a client wanted to celebrated his farther's 60th birthday, Blue Ocean ogranised sail boat for 25 guests, taking the party to Mandwa beach (near Mumbai) for a day of water sports. "The master of the boat, who is also a certified instructor, taught some of the group the basics of sailing, as well as certificates from the Yachting Association of India for their first sailing experience," Jhaveri says.
Also check the condition of the charter yacht you are hiring. While the yacht might be manufactured by the best in the business, it should be maintained well too. Safety too, should also be a priority, especially if your guests are not used to being on water. Ensure that a professionally trained crew and life saving equipment are onboard with you.
From Mumbai, some of the best sailing routes take in Goa, Kochi, the Maldives, Sri Lanka, the Andamans and even parts of Thailand and Malaysia.
The Indian sailing season extends from October to May, while those who want to travel farther afield can set sail the Mediterranean from May to September, Australia from November to March and the Caribbean from late June to August.
The Lagoon 560
While Ocean Blue's charter list includes yachts like the Azimut 50 and Lagoon 560, West Coast Marine's roster includes the Majesty 66, and the Sporty Silver craft 31 HT.
Grand Soleil 45