Yacht Charter Update Coronavirus for May 2020
The British Virgin Islands
Yacht Charters in the BVI are still closed. The country has recently opened up the internal economy but still has it’s borders closed. The latest declarations from the Premiere state that when the BVI opens up on June 1st, then only Belongers and Residents will be allowed to return for three months. Every person entering the territory will have to quarantine for two weeks. Premiere Fahie also announced that the next phase of Belongers and Residents returning will last for three months. That will put the date on September 1st, 2020, which is smack dab in the middle of the hurricane season. When the borders reopen on June 1st, all traffic will come through Beef Island airport. I do not anticipate any real charter activity taking place in the British Virgin Islands until November. I will keep you updated as I receive new information.
The US Virgin Islands
Yacht Charters in the US Virgin Islands are still closed, however, as long as there are not any outbreaks or changes in the situation in May, then June 1st, 2020 will be the opening date for hotels and yacht charters on the US side although it does come with a caveat. Many yachts are required by their insurance companies to relocate by the end of June. Many will head down island to the Grenadines and Grenada. It remains to be seen how this plays out. Only a US-based crew can perform a complete charter in the US Virgin Islands. The foreign crew who often DO pick up their charter guests on St Thomas, have to be checked out of the USVI within 24 hours of picking up charter guests. Many yachts that have permission to pick up in the USVI will not be able to perform the charter. Here is a link to the Governor’s Order. VIPCA has put out best practices for yachts in the USVI on cleaning in between and throughout yacht charters, and you can read it here.
Airlines resume service to the USVI
- After several weeks of reduced airlift to the U.S. Virgin Islands due to the coronavirus pandemic, air service to the USVI will resume this month. VIPA provided the following update regarding the airlines that service the territory. Many thanks to the VI Consortium for this airline information.
- Air Sunshine is providing flights to different Caribbean islands based on demand.
- American Airlines is operating one roundtrip flight per day from Miami, FL to St. Thomas and one flight a day from Miami, FL to St. Croix.
- Cape Air is providing service between St. Thomas, St. Croix, and San Juan with cancellations as necessary based on passenger loads.
More Airline schedules to St Thomas (STT) from the United States
- Delta Air Line will resume service on May 2 with roundtrip service between Atlanta, Georgia, and St. Thomas and Atlanta to St. Croix. Beginning May 8, Delta will provide flights to St. Thomas on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
- JetBlue is providing service between St. Thomas and San Juan.
- LIAT has extended its suspension of service between Antigua and St. Thomas until May 15, 2020.
- Seaflight will provide service between St. Thomas and St. Croix on demand.
- Silver Airways (Seaborne) is operating its airport and seaplane service with cancellations as necessary based on passenger loads. There will be no seaplane service on May 2 and May 3.
- Spirit resumed roundtrip service from Ft. Lauderdale to the USVI today, May 1. The flight will arrive in St. Thomas, connect through St. Croix, and return to Ft. Lauderdale. Spirit will provide service on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays during May.
- United Airlines will provide a roundtrip flight from Houston, TX to San Juan, then to St. Thomas beginning May 8.
Grenada Yacht Charters
Grenada is currently closed. Many charter yachts are hoping for a summer opening as they haul out their boats for the off-season in this area. Many boats also have charters booked this summer. I have no new information to show at this time.
The Bahamas is firmly closed and locked down for any yachts as of now. Cruisers even have to submit a plan to get permission in advance to transit through the Bahamas. I don’t believe they will be opening any time soon with their proximity to the United States. Yacht Charters are in phase 5 of the reopening plans below. Optimistic plans are for June.
- The Mediterranean is a large area, and the “feeling” in the yacht charter industry is we won’t see any loosening until the second half of summer in many of the West Med countries.
- Turkey and Greece have been hit less by COVID 19, and although currently closed, July is looking potentially like an opening for charter yacht business.
- Montenegro is available for booking.
- Croatia is accepting charters.
- Majorca in Spain and Spain, in general, look like it may be possible after June 4th. All things going well.
- France is not looking good for International guests until August at this point in time.
One question that remains is whether the European Union will let anyone other than their citizens in this summer for tourism purposes, especially from the United States of America is looking, to me, doubtful.
Many yachts are looking at potentially cruising in the Annapolis area, Newport, or Florida this summer. United States yacht charters will be handy for those who live within driving distance of these destinations. Alaska IS open. However, Canada is currently not. Repositioning yachts up to Alaska now cannot go through Canada. We will see what June brings on this. As of May 4th, anyone arriving from the tri-state area of New York or Louisiana is supposed to quarantine for two weeks in Florida. The Florida keys currently have NO open marinas, nor are you allowed to go to shore until at least June 1st.
Yacht Charter Update Coronavirus- my thoughts
I like the idea of last-minute bookings for yacht charters this summer when and if conditions allow. We do have many yachts in locations that are offering a “no risk” deposit that would be returned up until three weeks before a charter if health conditions warrant it. I am happy to provide you information on booking charters under those conditions. Frankly, I believe a measured approach in bookings right now is a wise decision, allowing time for the situation to stabilize.