Sales of luxury yachts may be down but the world’s megarich have found another, more instantaneous way to get their high seas kicks — chartering a swanky boat instead.

Total chartered days for yachts longer than 50 meters has increased since 2020, according to IYC, a global firm specializing in the sale and charters of luxury yachts. Vessels between 60 to 70 meters posted the most growth last year, at 10%, whereas shorter yachts aren’t nearly as popular as before.

IYC Chief Executive Officer Raphael Sauleau said he’s seeing more customers willing to pay a higher premium for the ultimate ocean experience. Clients are willing to pay more for a so-called advanced provisioning allowance, which covers on-board expenses like food and service, of up to 40% compared to the standard 30% of the total charter fee, he said.

New customers are coming to yachting “with an appetite for larger yachts,” Sauleau said. Compared with smaller vessels, these floating villas come with more privacy, better facilities and a larger crew. A bigger range of large models that’s become available over the past three years has also contributed to higher bookings, he added.

Fraser Yachts, a major international broker, is experiencing a similar phenomenon, receiving 7% more charter bookings for yachts over 60 meters in 2023 versus prior years. Across yachts of all sizes however, the number of charter days reported last year was 19% down on 2021.

It’s a quirk that would seem to chime with the trend of super luxury brands defying a broader luxury slowdown. Hermes International SCA, for example, saw Chinese buyers snap up its products. Hermes typically caters to the most affluent customers, making it more resilient in a challenging luxury goods market.

At the same time, sales of floating palaces are waning, the Superyacht Times said in a report in March. Sales of superyachts, generally defined as boats longer than 30 meters, contracted 20% in 2023 from 2022 and are well down on 2021, when many rich people splurged on boats to travel in a safe and exclusive way.

Stacy Fischer-Rosenthal, the president of luxury travel and lifestyle consultancy Fischer Travel Enterprises, said she’s expecting to help clients charter at least 10 yachts this year. Most of the interest is around megayachts — or yachts above 60 meters — and prices range from about $700,000 to $2 million a week, she said.

Wealthy people may be shying away from outright purchases due to geopolitical worries and global conflicts.

Fear of more widespread fighting in the Middle East and Russian’s war in Ukraine “seem to make some buyers nervous, particularly those in the market for very large new builds,” the Superyacht Times said.

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