In lieu of a traditional cruise, consider a yacht charter

A vessel available to charter by Ocean Scape Yachts.
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Jeri Clausing
Jeri Clausing

It all started a few years back, Todd Beechey said, when he and his wife were on a cruise in the Caribbean and he noticed all the private yachts sitting at marinas, seemingly wasting away.

Thinking that a private yacht trip would be much more enjoyable than vacationing with 4,000 other people, he set out to investigate.

"I started to do the research, trying to figure out what to book, who to book with, what people would need in terms of whether eight people could go on vacation on 50-foot, 80-foot or 100-foot yacht," he said. "It took the better part of the first year to put together the first trip. It turned out quite well, but the process could have been easier."

More than three years and four yacht vacations later, he is ready to share his expertise with agents and travelers through his startup OceanScape Yachts, which puts together vacations that check all the boxes for that growing group of travelers looking for personalized, authentic, small-group, luxury cruising options.

Unlike the megayachts owned and rented by celebrities and the ultrarich, he said his focus has been on a collection of entry-level "super yachts" that can accommodate up to eight guests.

"It's a shame that more people don't know how accessible yacht vacations can be under the right circumstances," said Beechey, an accountant from Ontario. "When you put a group of seven, eight or nine people together, the price is very comparable to other luxury travel options, and the experience is definitely better."

For as low as $8,000 to $10,000 a person, Beechey said, travelers can do an all-inclusive vacation on a  yacht with four bedrooms, which he said are larger and more luxurious than traditional cruise ship cabins. While the size and beds vary between those designed to be master and guest suites, he said all have private bathrooms.

And all the yachts come with a crew of at least four: the captain, chef, a mate and a steward. The price includes food and drink, and most boats come with snorkeling and fishing gear and extras like paddleboards. Some also have jet skis or tenders.

And there is the ability to make calls on private islands and beaches, where it's only the client and friends and family.

A cabin on an Ocean Scape charter vessel.
A cabin on an Ocean Scape charter vessel.

Beechey has compiled a collection of about 30 yachts around the world on his website, but he said he has access to about 1,500 or 2,000 more through charter services.

So all agents or consumers have to do is pick their destination and his company can put together the rest.

"You just arrange the dates that you want to pick up and return," he said. "In between you can do what you want and where you want as long as everybody is staying safe and there is no weather danger."

As for provisions, about 30 days before departures customers fill out a questionnaire about what types of food, wine, liquor and other things they want on board, and they arrive to a fully stocked yacht. The base rate includes a provisions allowance. If the full amount is not used, the customer gets a refund. If they choose very expensive wines or spirits, they may owe more at the end, but Beechey said the allowance, which is about 30% of the base rate of the yacht, is generally about right. The only thing not included is a tip for the crew.

Beechey is currently in the process of ramping up his business and said he is eager to work with agents. All they have to do is bring him the client, and he'll do the rest for a commission ranging between 5% and 10% of the cost of the yacht rental.

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