Stacy Fischer-Rosenthal and her 30-strong team have had a busy summer booking private yachts for bankers, CEOs and other high fliers now liberated from the shackles of Covid-19 and willing to pay millions of dollars for week-long luxury cruises. Bookings for superyachts through Fischer Travel Enterprises, where Fischer-Rosenthal is president, have spiked 20 per cent this year from already high levels in 2021, a trend also seen by other companies chartering out luxury vessels that come with all the frills – from Michelin-starred cuisine to cinemas and submarines . “Yacht charters are very popular because our clients want the privacy, security and flexibility that it gives them,” Fischer-Rosenthal said. Her company charges US$150,000 just to join its members only service, through which superyachts can be chartered anywhere in the world. “They want to have a luxurious experience.” Ritz-Carlton’s new superyacht brings five-star luxury to the sea American celebrities and bankers on superyachts Americans are a growing client base, helping to fill gaps left by wealthy Russians who aren’t travelling as much due to restrictions following the invasion of Ukraine. And it’s not just the likes of Elon Musk or Beyoncé and Jay-Z hiring out these glitzy floating palaces. Fischer-Rosenthal said a couple from the US enjoyed their cruise in Greece and Türkiye in July so much they booked another in Italy soon after and invited friends along. Fraser Yachts, which sells and manages superyachts as well as arranging charters, booked nearly 500 private trips in the first half of 2022, according to director of marketing and business development Mark Duncan. Bookings are up 32 per cent from last year, and again most of the growth is being driven by Americans, many of whom are renting for the first time, said Duncan, who is based in Monaco. Among the megayachts the company hires out is Wheels, a 75-metre-long vessel with a gym and a nightclub. Mukesh Ambani splashes out on ‘Dubai’s most expensive home’ for son Anant The number of Americans with a net worth of between US$1 million and US$5 million grew 8 per cent in 2021 to more than 12 million households, while those worth US$25 million or more climbed 18 per cent, according to research firm Spectrem Group. The boom in luxury cruises after Covid-19 “Our clients are high net worth individuals, running banks and hedge funds,” Fischer-Rosenthal said. “They’ve made a lot of money in the last few years. Now they want to travel again and they want the best.” Customers are also getting younger, now averaging in their 50s rather than the 60-65 age bracket of the last two decades, Duncan said. This year, about 35 per cent of Fraser’s clients are new to yachting, compared with up to 15 per cent previously, he said. Cruises involving several generations from the same family are also more popular. “During the pandemic, people couldn’t be with their families,” Duncan said. “Yachts can be big enough for all to be together. Unlike a home, you’re not stuck in one place. And you can control the environment and test everyone for Covid-19 if that’s a concern.” The trend of families and friends travelling together is spurring demand for bigger superyachts. Monaco-based Camper & Nicholsons International Ltd. is seeing highest demand in the 50-60-metre range, said Jacqui Lockhart, Europe head of charter management. Why luxury travellers are seeking five-star experiences in the wilderness “They often know exactly what they want – a big yacht that’s less than three years old,” said Lockhart, adding that the company’s overall bookings are up as much as 30 per cent this year. “They know the style of yacht they want, from which shipbuilder even.” Octopus, the opulent superyacht for rent One of the world’s most expensive superyachts, available for charter through Camper & Nicholsons, is the 126-metre Octopus, which counts among its features two helipads, an elevator and basketball court. Previously owned by the late Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, Octopus costs from US$2.2 million a week to rent. As many as 42 crew are on board to cater to a maximum of 12 guests. It is booked for three weeks in Antarctica this winter and Camper & Nicholsons said it is already fielding requests for month-long excursions next summer in the Mediterranean. There are about 3,100 private yachts available for charter globally, according to Fraser’s Duncan, but the number of superyachts has dipped as sanctions on Russia removed some from the market. One of those, the 72-metre Axioma, was owned by Russian billionaire Dmitry Pumpyansky and had been listed for charter for about US$632,000 a week in peak summer. It was seized at the start of the war in Ukraine and put up for sale at public auction in August. There is also more scrutiny on private rentals “Clients are asking about the yachts and the ownership,” said Alexandru Zamfirescu, an independent yacht broker based in Monaco. “They want to steer away from any trouble.” Still, business is good and brokers are focused on getting clients onto boats, advising them to book within days of getting a quote. There’s usually no negotiation with owners on prices. “Luxury yachting is thriving,” Zamfirescu added. Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .