Saturday, June 14, 2008
International Luxury Yacht Charter Directory Launches Certified Yacht Charter Program to Guarantee the Quality and Reputation of its Listing Vessels
Fort Lauderdale, Florida Wednesday June 11, 2008 – eYachtCharter.com announced the launch of its Luxury Yacht Charter Certification Program today. The program has been established to help maintain the web based international directory’s high standards of excellence and bring a recognizable logo that will aid prospective clients in discerning which vessels can be trusted in the charter market today.
While the Fort Lauderdale based company has the opportunity to inspect many of the vessels that come into its own port, the certification program will be aiding its fleet recruiters to locate luxury yachts all over the globe from Thailand to Croatia. Prior to EYC taking on any vessels in its yacht charter marketing program, each vessel in its directory will be expected to meet specific criteria.
The standards of the certification program ensure that each luxury vessel is in fully operational and in sanitary condition. Captain and Crew’s licensing and certifications must be available for review; each vessel must also be fully licensed and insured specifically for charter. Several other criteria must be met such as being able to provide charter agent referrals and listing agent contracts upon request.
This program is intended to control the quality of vessels that are presented in the EYC directory and to fulfill the responsibilities that the EYC brand has to its visitors who are looking to the site as a trusted source for luxury
yacht charters . The firm works with an experienced team of yachting professionals such as captains, crew members, agents and other associates who regularly attend international brokerage and charter shows or personally refer the yachts listed within the system.
To learn more about the certified yacht charter
program or to submit your luxury yacht charter fleet for review please visit eyachtcharter.com or contact +1 877-979-2248.
eYachtCharter.com is a comprehensive directory of luxury sail and motor yachts for charter to exotic destinations worldwide. In addition to yacht charter marketing services, EYC is the leading resource provider of luxury travel destination and yachting news from around the world.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
The luxury yacht charter industry takes menu and provision preparation very seriously when coordinating dream vacations for its affluent clientele. Some of the best chefs in the world have been recruited from five star kitchens to work on luxury yachts. Since the industry is so detail oriented, it is often its own toughest critic which keeps the caliber of talent extremely high.
There are two definitive charter shows each year in December that allow the industry professionals to inspect the world’s finest yachts for charter and sample chef cuisine. The St. Maarten and Antigua Yacht Charter shows attract the most talented yacht crews and charter experts looking to make their recommendations for the best charter vessels for the upcoming Caribbean Yacht Charter and Mediterranean Yacht Charter seasons.
The shows fill up two weeks worth of non-stop events including captain conferences, wine tasting events and most importantly, gourmet cuisine competitions. The 2007 winner at the Antigua Yacht Charter Competition, was Emma Rye who works aboard Lazy Z. She received accolade in several of the judging categories including best table display and best overall cuisine.
Emma Rye was an England native who developed a passion for cooking as a child when she would vacation in France and make exotic deserts with her father. Rye got her start as a chef when she won a scholarship in a one-day cookoff to attend the Academie de Culinaire in France. She then went on to study as an apprentice at the Savoy Hotel and the Michelin restaurant in London.
After college, Emma got her first call from the head chef of the 416 foot mega yacht, The Octupus which was owned by one of the Co-Founders of Microsoft, Paul Allen. She went to work as their villa chef in the South of France and became accustomed to cooking on boats. Rye also gained experience as a second chef on a yacht before she found a home as head chef on Lazy Z.
Lazy Z is a 165’ Oceano that can accommodate a party of 12 for a motor yacht charter. The vessel is maintained by a crew of 12 who are available to facilitate each guest’s wish. A one week luxury yacht vacation aboard Lazy Z is like a stay aboard a floating 5 star luxe resort with every amenity you can imagine. The 165 footer comes with all of the toys, she has a top of the line Jacuzzi 2 wave runners, water skis that are pulled by a versatile tender, compressor, scuba & snorkel gear, ski-biscuit, skurfer, kneeboard, volley ball set-up, beach tent and games.
The vessel has one king and two queen staterooms with six single berths. The yacht typically charters in Caribbean locations such as Leeward Islands, Virgin Islands during the winter months and Mediterranean locales such as French Riviera, Gulf of Naples and Sardinia in the summer months.
Lazy Z is just one of the many luxury vessels that provide excellent service and decadent fare, the worldly lifestyle of the yachting industry has attracted the most talented chefs from across the globe and contributes to some vacationer’s most memorable travel experiences. If you plan a luxury yacht charter vacation, you can be sure that the menu will be one of the most extravagant elements of your experience and unparalleled to any commercial cruisline vacation.
If it’s the first time you’ve traveled on a Bahamas Yacht Charter or if you haven’t chartered within the last five years than you may want to know that a few of the custom laws have changed. Whether you are traveling by yacht or car outside of the United States you will need to present additional paperwork when returning from nearby countries.
Both Adults and children who are U.S. citizens will be required to show "proof of citizenship," such as a birth certificate, naturalization certificate or a U.S. passport to enter the country, even if your charter disembarked from a U.S. port such as Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Adults also will need to show government IDs, such as a driver's license.
There will be some leniency for airline travelers coming into South Florida. U.S. citizens coming in from Mexico, Canada, Bermuda or some Caribbean countries will not have to provide a passport when returning.
The majority of marinas where charters disembark from typically do require proof of citizenship already from the passengers coming and disembarking. Since the protocols for the marinas haven’t changed much, U.S. officials expect smooth sailing because most U.S. travelers already show proof of citizenship for re-entry by sea as well. Recently the Fort Lauderdale mayor and U.S. coast guard met with Caribbean officials in St. Maarten to see how they can optimize the customs process for the yachting community.
While some business groups worry that the strict rules may disrupt commerce and travel across the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders for travelers coming into the states by car, the yachting industry does not anticipate being heavily affected.
The Travel Industry Association and Travel Business Roundtable have asked the government to have expressed some concerns about travelers having to provide actual birth certificates and have requested to delay the "proof of citizenship" rule, until it has been modified. The groups have asked that U.S. citizens be required to show only a government-issued ID to re-enter by land or sea.
These new rules are part of the country’s plan to implement tighter border security since September 11, 2001 and the recent Presidential race has made it known that the new President Elect in November of 2008 will have to make the issue a top priority. South Florida marine leaders have forecasted that they don’t see any problems in the future because they have been getting the word out to the mariner community for months through Web sites, travel agents and other channels to those entering the United States by sea.
Many cruise companies, including Miami-based Carnival Cruise Lines, the world's largest, had been requiring their clients to show proof of citizenship to speed processing. And many boaters have been showing birth certificates to authorities to obtain boater numbers for re-entry.
Chris Oswell, captain of the Lady Nancy, a 112-foot private yacht that frequently visits South Florida, said he has operated for several years on the premise that no one comes aboard for a trip to the United States without a passport or green card. He has mentioned that those who cannot provide the documentation will have to be turned away. Most charterers are notified in advance by their charter agent as to what the preparation requirements are for their voyage.
The Lady Nancy arrives like many yacht charters do from the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale and clear customs by phoning an 800 number and giving Homeland Security the passengers' names, passport numbers, dates of birth and addresses. The captain gets a clearance number in return. Guests then have 24 hours to go to an Eller Drive office at Port Everglades and show their passports and clearance numbers.
Travelers shouldn't find it hard to comply with new requirements. Proof of citizenship can even include a U.S. passport that has expired, said Zachary Mann, special agent and spokesman for U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
"We don't expect extensive lines in South Florida because of this rule," Mann said. "And if you don't have the right documents, and you're a U.S. citizen returning, we're not going to keep you out. The processing time for you to enter will just take longer."
A smooth transition will be greatly welcomed in comparison to the law change implemented a few years ago requiring a passport for U.S. citizens flying back from Western Hemisphere countries. So many millions of citizens requested passports that passport offices were overwhelmed. The government had to suspend the rule to clear the backlog before reinstating it.
The passport rule also took a toll on the Caribbean, the world's most tourism-dependent region. Some Americans skipped Caribbean vacations to avert the hassle and cost of obtaining passports. The economies of countries including the Bahamas and Jamaica, who didn’t require a U.S. passport for entry in the past, suffered.
Even Caribbean islands that are part of the United States and excluded from the passport rule, including the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, felt some of the effects, but U.S. travel to the Caribbean is bouncing back this year.
The current processing time for a U.S. passport application is four to six weeks, down from roughly 12 weeks in mid-2007. Passports may still be expedited for an additional premium or under certain sets of circumstances.
For more information about clearance procedures to the Caribbean or questions about traveling on a yacht charter, talk to your charter broker.
Since 2005, the Cayman Islands have been experiencing a reconstruction and building real estate boom similar to Grand Bahama Island. This region has become home to a large international base of white-collar investors and professional experts dealing with clientele from around the globe.
The Cayman Islands financial services industry encompasses banking, mutual funds, captive insurance, reinsurance, vessel registration, companies and partnerships, trusts, structured finance and the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange. As of December 2005, just over 70,000 companies were incorporated on the Cayman Islands including 430 banking and trust companies, 720 captive insurance firms and more than 7,000 funds. The government distinguishes between local (or "ordinary" companies), doing business primarily with the local population, and "exempted" companies conducting business primarily with overseas entities.
The Cayman Islands have been recognized as a focal point for offshore finance and their economy is developing at a rapid pace. In addition to finances being protected in the Caymans, assets are also protected. Yachts of any size may be registered in the Cayman Islands.
A luxury yacht has been considered a safe tax haven for many corporations but has also been utilized by many for corporate yacht charters. Anything from corporate seminars, social events, fundraisers to team building trips throughout the Caribbean have originated from vessels registered in the Cayman Islands. While the many governments and groups have been formed to monitor financial laundering regimes in the Cayman Islands, the laws here have provided logical solutions for international commerce that numerous Caribbean economies have benefited from.
The Cayman Islands’ shallow waters may not provide the optimum waters for a conventional Caribbean Yacht Charter but diving yacht charters, fishing yacht charters and several aquatic adventures are welcome. Its proximity to the U.S., just south of Cuba, has made importation for provisioning a breeze.
With past devastating hurricane seasons and the customs law changes for U.S.citizens traveling to the Caribbean Islands and Bahamas the region has taken an economic blow. However the U.S. governments and travel tourism groups are working together to make traveling within the Western Hemisphere as simple and hassle free as possible. Because of the Cayman Islands international business reputation, and the current real estate boom that is drawing serious American and European investors alike, the local economy has been able to stay afloat as tourism begins to thrive again!
The Miami-Dade County Commission recently approved plans for a $55 Million expansion of Merrill Stevens Boat Yard that will facilitate yacht re-fits and repairs for luxury mega-yachts.
The yard located along the Miami River was pending approval from the Florida department of Environmental protection and two other government agencies. The shipyard has been on the river since 1923 and will soon be breaking ground for this expansion project set to begin in 2009. The firm is still waiting for final approval for the project.
This newly expanded facility is said to bring 500 + high paying marine trade jobs to South Florida. The state-of-the-art facility will refit yachts up to 250 feet, helping South Florida remain one of the most important regions for the global industry.
Facilities like this will continue to service existing boats since there is already such a high demand for new yacht builds. The overflow of those on the waiting list to have a yacht built will bring older vessels to refit shipyards and have them serviced to be put back into the water, will even draw additional revenue to South Florida if the yacht is chartered. The typical maintenance costs per year for a luxury yacht range from about 10-15% of the original cost of the boat.
By public officials working together with marine industry professionals, marine maintenance, dock master and yacht charter services will also be attracting new high paying jobs to South Florida and revenue back into the local economy. If Fort Lauderdale can follow suit by approving new dockage projects, the marine industry will greatly benefit.
For the yacht charter novices who aren’t as familiar with this form of travel there are several inquiries about the customs and routines aboard an opulent vessel. Questions such as when it is appropriate to tip, whether the location of the charter have any relevance or impact on gratuity structure. How do you know which countries and regions should you tip and how much?
The Pros of a Tipping Policy
For yacht charter crews, tips can make up a large portion of their pay. By maintaining this expense as a separate item, the charterer can reward a crew that has done a fabulous job and a crew can feel that if they go the extra mile, they have a chance of getting a bonus for their extra efforts.
Some charterers take advantage of the system. They write copious, glowing notes in the yacht's log book and even on the post charter form they send to when they return home, yet they walk off the boat without leaving a cent. Clients should always be informed of the policy.
A reputable broker will take care to mention the gratuity at the very beginning of the booking process, so that charterers know about this cost when selecting a boat in their price range. When a summary of costs is sent with the contract, for them to look over before they confirm, the gratuity is clearly shown under costs, including a suggested range depending on service received.
Another problem often mentioned by yacht brokers is that the tipping concept can negatively affect sales. Most charterers like the all-inclusive approach and some would rather not bother (or feel awkward) with adding a tip. Some see tipping as an unnecessary and annoying expense. This is particularly true if a yacht charter broker has only brought up the subject after the charter is confirmed. Most brokers are thoroughly reputable, but like any industry, there are a few that twist the rules.
Yacht Charter agents can help the situation by genuinely being up-front with the concept and explaining that crews do many of the things you would normally tip for, from making the beds to serving your meals and entertaining you. Whether a boat could increase bookings by saying a 15% gratuity is included is uncertain - they actually might.
For crews, it is especially difficult, because they are at the mercy of other people. There is nothing worse however, than a crew that drops hints about the tip during the charter. Even mentioning it in an introductory letter to guests, really starts the charter off the wrong way. Providing the charter was booked through an agent or broker, it is better for the crew to ask the broker before the charter if he/she is sure their guests know the yacht charter fee does not include the customary tip. Many crews have no idea how comments on tips can turn off guests, even if said in jest.
So how much should a charterer give? For a Caribbean Yacht Charter, the range is 10 to 20 percent of the charter fee. If the charter fee does not include meals, the tip should be based on just the boat fee. If you felt the crew had done a good job, 15% is a good tip - by giving 10%, you are telling the crew that things were OK but not perfect.
Some ask if the guidelines are the same for owner operators. The answer is yes! Many of these owners work hard to cover the cost of the cruising lifestyle they have chosen and don't have the funds of an absentee owner who might have invested in a boat just for personal vacations. There are of course exceptions - not all absentee owners are wealthy or owner/operators broke, but the same rules apply regarding gratuities!
Checks can be difficult to cash, particularly for a boat cruising in a different area, and every bank charges fees for checks drawn on an overseas account. It is therefore much nicer to give the tip in cash or travelers checks. Leave it in an envelope, perhaps with a nice card or note. Unless you have strong opinions, give just one gratuity, which the crew will divide up between themselves. For enormous charters, where the tip can run well into five figures, it is obviously impractical to use cash and tips are often prepaid or wired to the boat at the end of the charter.
While leaving a five figured tip may seem slightly steep for what you feel is an expensive vacation already, there is no guest service that is even comparable to that provided on aboard a luxury yacht. The majority of crews pander to their guest’s every whim, Stewardesses especially.
As far as the debate as to weather the tip should be autograted into the charter price or left up to the discretion of the charterer has been an issue for discussion but I believe that like most situations in the yachting industry, it comes down to class and reputation.
Charter guests are typically among some of the most affluent individuals in the world. So why shouldn’t world-class service be generously rewarded?
Friday, January 18, 2008
Recently there was an eyachtcharter.com review posted by Kim Kavin from a website called CharterWave.com that reported inaccurate, defamatory information about the yacht listing service. Apparently Charter Wave is a platform where charter brokers can become a sponsor and have favorable reviews written about their services. Being perfectionists, EYC is always open to constructive criticism but the eYachtCharter.com review written by Kavin simply missed the mark.
Kavin’s recent blog entry commented that after reviewing eYachtCharter.com she “didn’t see any reference to the key professional organizations run by reputable charter brokers.” If she is referring to EYC not displaying logos from the associations whom she promotes than she is absolutely correct.
Kavin must have skipped the About eYachtCharter page because she obviously misconstrued the company’s services in her post. EYC is a multiple listing service for yachts that is open for the public to view and provides 24-hour assistance to connect travelers with the best yacht, captain, crew and of course the broker to fit their needs. As for listing rates, they are clearly displayed on the page titled Listing Services, which is located on the site’s top tool bar.
Large firms with outstanding term charter reputations will facilitate $100,000+ per week vacations of the highest caliber, but they don’t necessarily cater to luxury day charters or corporate events that some smaller firms may provide. eYachtCharter.com offers yachts and information for all types of charters whether it is a romantic wine tasting cruise in the San Francisco Bay or a weeklong honeymoon in Greece.
Kavin mentioned in her entry that choosing the yacht is just the beginning of the charter booking experience and seems to profess that the broker is the most important element. That is where she and EYC seem to differ. eYachtCharter believes that the consumer is the most important element of the yacht charter, not just the broker.
On January 2, 2008 eYachtCharter.com announced its official grand opening of its luxury yacht charter directory. The company began accepting listings from reputable listing agents, owners and clearinghouses for sail and motor yachts that charter to exotic destinations throughout the globe.
Being the new kid on the block, EYC wanted to introduce itself to the professionals of the industry. Marine professionals were invited to register on the site and become part of the global yachting community. This was to share a platform that has become one of the top ranking yacht charter websites on the Internet and attracting thousands of highly targeted, unique visitors each month from around the world. This can be attributed in part by the fact that the site is published in nine different languages to provide our international users with an opportunity to receive information in their own vernacular.
All marine professionals including listing agents who may want to be considered to list their yachts, charter agents who could utilize our database to find yachts free of charge, marine professionals who may provide complimentary services to link up and become part of our resources section or captains and crew who would like to share their tales from past charters. The opening was a huge success!
Kavin was invited to contribute to eYachtCharter.com as a yachting resource and declined stating, “you guys are a competitor, and you’re infringing on my way of life.” It was shortly after that conversation that her “review” was posted. This was not an accurate review and many details were neglected. This was simply one misguided individual taking Clintonian cheap shots against their opponents.
She also referred to the Cayman Islands as an improper location for a “Proper Yacht Charter” but what exactly is a proper yacht charter? Does this mean that a three-day scuba diving expedition on a 58’ Catamaran in the Cayman Islands is improper?
Kavin concluded her post with “Buyer Beware” in reference to the yacht charter service and the quality of the yachts listing in its directory while EYC has associates around the world who aid in qualifying each and every one of the yachts before they are included in the system. Due to her irresponsible journalism and unwarranted invective, her credibility has now become subject to question.
While some may not support eYachtCharter’s business model, everyone is entitled to their opinion. eYachtCharter.com is flattered by the attention and looks forward to the competition.