Hi everyone. The winter holidays are the busiest time of year for the Caribbean charter fleet and we thought you’d appreciate a quick and nasty appraisal of the pro’s and cons of chartering a yacht over the holiday season. Frankly it seems like everyone and his brother is in the islands over Christmas or New Year, especially the latter.
Here’s Why You SHOULD Do It
a) It’s a school holiday. Most kids and grand-kids are off school from around the December 20th to January 3rd or 4th. So, if it’s a family affair, this is one of the times to get everyone together for that mid-winter getaway.
b) Even if it’s not family, it’s a great time for a mid-winter break with a group of friends or college buddies.
c) It’s always a nice winter escape to the islands with your wife or girlfriend if one or both of you have vacations from work or if you you have the week off between Christmas and New Year.
Here’s Why You SHOULDN’T Do It
b) Mooring balls and space in the anchorages spots are hard to find, you have to get up at the crack of dawn to get to your destination before 12 noon in order to even have a CHANCE of finding a spot close to where you want to be..
c) It’s the most expensive time of year. Everyone wants to cash in on the crowds. The boats have a surcharge and a minimum number of days and a minimum number of guests, no price breaks, no negotiation, the boats KNOW they are going to get booked anyway.
The restaurants seem to be more expensive, the hotels even more so (assuming you may need to spend at least one night ashore on the inbound or outbound).
d) No breaks on airfares either, everywhere you turn seems to be a conspiracy to relieve you of your hard-earned dollars (or Euros) as quickly and efficiently as possible. The Caribbean locals are incredibly inventive in achieving exactly that – they know what they have and if you want to share it, PAY UP.
Especially in the protected waters of the BVI and on the lee side of many of the Leeward islands like St. Maarten and Anguilla, St. Barth, etc.
Some Things to Consider
Having said all of this, and for those of you who are looking forward to that holiday season getaway, here’s a update of the situation as it stands today. There are still some good yachts, sailing boats, and catamarans available out there.
New Year bookings on the best boats, barring cancellations, are almost impossible to come by at this stage. There are still some pretty good boats available for Christmas.
If you fall into the eminently flexible category of NOT having to worry about kids vacations or time-off-work issues, I strongly recommend that you look at the pre- holiday season time of the second half of November through the first 15 days of December. Also look at the post-holiday-season weeks of January.
Say, from the 5th or 6th of January to the end of February. So you still get to break up the winter, but you won’t find it as crowded and there is still some room for a little horse-trading.
In March, of course, you get the beginning of the spring-break crowd with a mass of inebriated college kids from every conceivable university in the western hemisphere, mostly on large 50′ plus bareboats with long-suffering skippers. This lasts until Easter.
After Easter, there is a very nice time of year for the Caribbean that lasts from May 1st through June 30th.
July is also very nice and a lot less crowded. However this is definitely school holiday time with a LOT of families and especially the Puerto Rican contigent with their fast power sport fishing boats that literally invade the Caribbean, especially the BVI, and have SALSA and REGGAETON music blasting at you from every angle.
August, September and the first half of October are definitely the most hurricane prone months. It’s HOT but nice. Make sure you take out trip cancellation insurance.
In summary, many of us have no alternative. Our family and our work life often dictate our vacation schedule. It is what it is. I just hope that this article has given you some insight into the seasonality of the Caribbean islands and what to look out for and what to expect.
Please call us at 877-759-8263 or send us an email via our handy contact form for the latest availability. You can also look for available boats and yachts on our website by using our amazing little search engine that will look for both fully crewed yachts and also bareboats with or without skipper.