Sailing the Caribbean: Couple Gives Glimpse of Luxury Charters


As with most pandemic industries, the Caribbean charter sailing industry was hit hard last year as the world locked in to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

But as some countries, namely the United States, have reopened and vaccinations have increased, the travel industry in the region has slowly come back to life with the charter industry gaining momentum in course.

Nim and Fabiola Hirschhorn, owners of Sailing Play Dinner, a luxury charter brokerage in the Caribbean, has seen firsthand how the pandemic has affected its industry.

“Before the pandemic started, we were pretty busy, it was a popular holiday, but we think now with the pandemic it’s even more,” Nim told Loop News.

“There were always a lot of people, but now we are booked faster,” added Fabiola, his wife. “Most of the boats are also full for this season. “

The rental season runs from November to July.

Nim and Fabiola Hirschhorn

Nim explained that before COVID, boats would be booked a year in advance, but during the early parts of the pandemic, due to uncertainty about the future, people started to book at short notice.

“People were afraid to plan so far in advance,” he said, although they noted long-term bookings are making a comeback.

Fabiola also explained that thanks to the pandemic, more and more people preferred the privacy and security that a chartered boat gave them while on vacation.

Looking at the profile of these charter yacht bookings, Nim said customers vary by income mix. When you visit their site, you can book an experience based on your budget, type of boat, and duration.

“The more people you have on a yacht, generally the price per person is lower, but there are also more luxury boats that are not as luxurious. I’m not sure if this has anything to do with the pandemic, but we’ve had a lot of bookings from single couples or from two couples. Certainly we think when we have six passengers the budget is often kind of a concern, ”he said.

Topography is one of the factors that determine the popularity of a destination

The Hirschhorns are based in the US Virgin Islands.

USVI reopened its borders in June 2020 and has not closed them since, which has helped the charter industry grow there.

In May, Alani Henneman-Todman, deputy commissioner, Department of Tourism, USVI, said that outside of the airlift, the maritime industry has been a critical part of their recovery.

Speaking at a press conference at the Caribbean Hotels and Tourism Association Travel Market She said: “The pre-COVID maritime industry was losing its luster, the competition was stable, the territory itself was not positioned as a key destination for the Marquis as in the past. Because we stayed open, it gave our charter companies a chance to revisit the Virgin Islands and reconnect. “

USVI benefited from the closure of BVI seaports. Nim explained that previously customers flew to USVIs and sailed to BVIs, but with the seaport closed, they either had to fly directly to BVIs or some prefer to stay at USVIs.

It was one of the challenges he identified that was brought on by the pandemic.

Another challenge, he said, was the adjustment of the USVI to the high demand for charter boats and the adjustment it took for companies to scale up to offer the support services that were needed. Consequently.

There has also been an expansion of bareboat charters (unmanned boats) to USVIs.

Fabiola is a chef who creates delicious dishes like this conch salad for customers who charter their catamaran.

The couple said the United States and British Virgin Islands were the top-ranked destinations for Caribbean sea charters along with the Bahamas and Grenadines, rounding out the top three. The Grenadines, they said, are particularly popular for charters during the summer months.

Belize, St Barths, Antigua and Barbuda, and Sint Maarten are some of the other popular destinations for charter flights.

Asked what determines the popularity of a destination, they answered access from the United States, the main market, the topography of the country which allows mooring in hidden bays and coves, and activities ashore. .

“Some of the big destinations have activities ashore, in the BVI there are a lot of beach bars, in the Grenadines there are a lot of beach barbecues and in the USVI we have a lot of hiking trails. The most popular destinations have more to offer than water, ”said Nim.

While charters are popular with foreigners, there hasn’t been much of a rise from Caribbean nationals except Puerto Ricans. Fabiola said they might not be promoted enough in the area so people don’t know this is a vacation option.

In addition to operating a charter brokerage company, the Hirschhorns also charter their own catamaran called Moon, on which they live. Fabiola is a chef who concocts delicious meals for customers as they navigate.

The couple met in Puerto Rico when Nim, from Israel, quit his job as CEO of an IT company, to live on the water and ended up in the Caribbean.

Here are some of the best yacht rentals for the Virgin Islands that the couple recommend.

Chaos Interrupted, 2016 Lagoon Catamaran 45 feet (up to 6 people)

Economical, fun and active scuba diving available.

LUNA, 2019 Lagoon Catamaran 45 feet (up to 6 people)

Perfect for foodies, a relaxing vacation.

Le Reve, 2017 Lagoon Catamaran 62 feet (up to 6 people)

Space and luxury, fun and active.

Barefeet Retreat, 2020 Royal Cape Catamaran 57ft (up to 10 people)

Perfect for large groups or families, scuba diving available

Lady Sharon Gale, 1998 Motor Yacht 112 feet (up to 8 people or up to 10 people if there are children)

Motor yacht experience, crew of 4 taking care of you and your party


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