No need to own a boat
The breathtaking panorama of Caribbean lands has made tourism a pillar of the national economies of countries in the region. Holiday seekers in ever-increasing numbers travel long distances to experience the sheer beauty of this tropical environment. Airline flights from Europe and the USA log daily flights to Caribbean destinations.
The largest cruise ships on Earth criss-cross Caribbean waters year-round, and increasingly, operators of private pleasure craft, some the size of small ships, have been booking slots in Caribbean marinas in all four language groups represented in the region.
Caribbean marinas provide yacht owners and guests the pleasure and privacy of a gorgeous, secluded, protected environment away from the hustle and crush of commercial tourism. As a result, this sub-sector and the services that it sustains is in growth mode.
Most Caribbean countries are island states and therefore seaport operations are central to sustaining life and development in each. Wharves to receive essential domestic cargo and from which local produce is shipped to market are an obvious necessity of island states. But seaport infrastructure development across the region of more than 20 countries increasingly reflects the economic importance of tourism. Cruise ship terminals with passenger reception services and conveniences are therefore to be found in most Caribbean territories.
The growth in global tourism over recent decades is manifested not just in (hotel) room occupancy and cruise passenger arrivals, but also in the numbers of private yachts slipping in and out of Caribbean marinas. Yachts of the rich and famous have been slow boating their wealthy owners in and out of Caribbean marinas for half a century and more. And this has continued.
The yachts have become bigger and more luxurious. And on-board amenities are of the finest. But you do not need to own a boat to enjoy the Caribbean from the deck of a state-of-the-art superyacht.
Increasingly, yachts up to mega-yacht size are being chartered by private groups for holidays of quietude and placidity; for fun party events, for special corporate occasions, and for international yachting events, such as the 2,800 nautical miles Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (popularly known as The ARC) from Gran Canaria across the Atlantic Ocean to Saint Lucia’s Rodney Bay marina.
Charter rates vary across the region, depending on resources and facilities offered by a marina. But more so, on the age, size and type of yacht, its comforts and amenities; the special needs or requests of passengers and the duration of the charter.
With the steady growth in popularity of yachting, this maritime sub-sector has experienced a continuing expansion of support services. Charter brokers, seasoned professionals with knowledge and experience, will arrange everything. Once engaged, they will plan, organise and deliver the perfect yachting experience, including locating and selecting the yacht that best meets their clients’ needs and budget. Services in this regard include itinerary planning, menu consultation, food and drink acquisition, and all other issues related to international travel and marinas.
The growth of yachting in the Caribbean has accelerated. Indeed, two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, has apparently stimulated growth in production of yachts of all sizes. Orders booked for yacht builds look healthy for the coming years with demand already extending delivery schedules for new contracts. 
- First published May 1, 2022