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Yacht charters pick up speed this festive season

Priyanka Joshi  |  Mumbai 

Clients ready to shell out anything between Rs 50,000 and Rs 2 lakh for a few hours’ cruise.

There’s nothing better than a bash on a private boat to heighten the exclusivity quotient. Even as security agencies in Maharashtra have prohibited boat parties on December 31, the order book of several yacht dealers and boat charter agencies has shot up between November and December. The private charter market is pegged to be growing at about 30 per cent annually, and thanks to corporate spending, more to entertain clients, leased luxury yachts, too, are back in demand.

Shazma, an Arabian dhow, is one of the most sought after getaways by high net worth individuals and celebrities. Built in teak, Shazma can accommodate up to 40 passengers and costs a little under Rs 1 lakh for four hours.

Managing Director of West Coast Marine Yacht Services Aashim Mongia, says, “She (Shazma) had been well-received and is booked back-to-back for the festive season. The boat is here to stay.”

Shazma rents for about Rs 1.2 lakh for a day and has seen eight private bookings until now. Mongia, who believes boats like Shazma will be a hot favourite by October 2011, says, “The financial downturn may have knocked the wind out of the luxury yacht market, but leasing boats for occasions like New Year’s, summer vacation, private parties and small getaways will grow steadily.”

A few offer a one-stop shop for a party on a boat such as Giira Yachts. Its co-owner, Meherzad Kajanwalla, claims to have arranged up to 20 boat charters this month alone. “After 2009, this is a welcome change, but confusing security regulations will keep revelers away from boats on New Year’s eve,” he says, adding that boat charters started picking up steam around Diwali and the demand would continue till February.

Due to security concerns, Mumbai harbour has been under strict vigilance and permits to serve alcohol at high sea are hard to get. Nevertheless, entrepreneurs like Kajanwalla and Mongia have secured alcohol permits. Mongia says, “We have alcohol permits (to be served when docked) for Shazma and several other sail boats that are quite popular among revelers. Coupled with security permits that allow boats to sail from Goa and Alibaug, we expect to do good business in the first week of January-February.”

Yachts for charter You pay You get
Speed or power boats Rs 12,000-Rs 15,000 (per hour) Refreshments on board
Sail boats Rs 22,000 - Rs 35,000 (per hour; depends on the boat size and people on board) Trained crew, full meal service and few amenities like on-board salon, small bar or jacuzzi 
Luxury yachts  Rs 50,000 and onwards for a couple of hours; includes crew, boat amenities and refreshments It's common to have amenities like Wi-Fi, spas and therapeutic bath areas, full meal service with trained staff

Managing Director of Mumbai-based Marine Solutions Anju Dutta agrees. “Small speed and power boats are in vogue among youngsters who like to experiment. They are ready to spend up to Rs 20,000 to cruise up to coastal villages in Maharashtra,” she informs. Marine Solutions has seen charter demand grow from two to three bookings to around 20 bookings, every weekend.

With new cruise vacations being planned for summer seasons, yacht charters are expected to multiply in the summer. “We have requests from families who want to take cruises to Goa, or Kochi. While the costs vary, depending on the boat, average prices for cruises is anywhere from Rs 50,000 and can go up to Rs 2 lakh,” says Dutta.

First Published: Thu, December 30 2010. 00:41 IST