Pandemic drives a domestic demand for yacht rentals

Yacht rental company the Moorings has partnered with Sailing Florida to offer domestic charters out of St. Petersburg, Fla. Photo Credit: The Moorings
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

As Covid-19-weary Americans look to escape their homes safely, there's been a lot of talk about the booming demand for RV and private home rentals.

But travel sellers say they have also found yet another luxury niche: private yacht charters.

The Moorings, a Clearwater, Fla.-based company that has for years sold charters across more than 20 international destinations, recently announced the launch of its first domestic itinerary out of St. Petersburg, Fla.

The Moorings said it has partnered with Sailing Florida to offer the domestic charters, which give Americans yet another private, drive-to vacation alternative.

The Moorings said through the new partnership they are offering a variety of yacht types for the sailings, which take guests from St. Pete to the Florida Keys.

Trips are typically a week and offer opportunities for a variety of activities, including fishing, dolphin-watching, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding. They can also visit the beaches of Captiva and Sanibel islands.

Prices vary widely based on the type of yacht but generally range from  $2,500 to $13,000, the company said.
Charter guests can sail the yachts themselves (if they are licensed) or hire a captain. But fully crewed, all-inclusive options aren't available on the domestic itinerary as they are on international charters.

Sylvia Lebovitch, an advisor for Ovation Travel Group in Brooklyn, N.Y., says that while she has long sold yacht experiences in places like Italy and Greece, this year marks the first time she has sold them domestically.

And they have been very popular, she said, including in the Northeast in places like Maine, the Hamptons, Sag Harbor and Shelter Island.

"I think because people want to be socially isolated in a way," Lebovitch said. "When they're  on the yacht, they don't need to think or worry about everything that's going on with Covid. They don't have to wear a mask. They don't have to worry, they're with their family or whatever friends they've chosen to be with, and they can really just feel that they're in this private, safe environment."

Lebovitch says she has three favorite charter companies: Ahoy Club Yacht Charters, Abiego Yachts and Northrop and Johnson.

This report was updated Aug. 14 with additional information about yacht-charter companies.

Jamie Biesiada contributed to this report.

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