Once upon a time (i.e., pre-pandemic), yacht adventures to exotic locales were, by and large, enough. But as the lockdowns lifted, expectations around onboard experiences skyrocketed to fit the resurgent YOLO mood, suddenly including everything from curated wine tastings to performances by A-list musicians. The most rarefied and in-demand bookings are the purview of agencies with CIA-level connections, COO-level organizational skills, and a crack team that appreciates how time, rather than money, is the most important currency.
Max Whitaker, head of bespoke at Thom Sweeney, says that a yacht actually constitutes a convenient meeting place for a visiting tailor. “A vessel tends to be a secluded, relaxed spot for fitting a suit,” he says. “If someone spends several months on their yacht, we can visit them for multiple fittings—just a tailor and tape measure—a process that may not happen if they’re in the office all summer.” Tailors at Henry Poole, meanwhile, often have appointments aboard superyachts moored on the Thames for special events, while also traveling frequently to Monaco and Sardinia. “The beauty of a yacht,” says managing director Simon Cundey, is that “it’s a home away from home where we often fit for everything, rather than one season at a time.”
Elevating onboard cuisine into the exalted constellation of Michelin stars is the mission of the Superyacht Foodie Experience, which transforms a section of a vessel into an immersive pop-up restaurant. “We take over the dining experience for a night,” says founder Titta Uoti-Vaisanen, noting that chefs Kim Mikkola and Karoliina Jaakkola of the team at Michelin-starred Inari, in Helsinki, recently concocted a 10-course Nordic tasting menu aboard the motoryacht Curiosity for the owner’s family. The aurora borealis–themed event included creating a darker ambiance in the dining room, with a dappled ceiling hinting at the northern lights, and a faint bonfire aroma in the salon to replicate forest nights in the far north.
For oenophiles, travel company Pelorus has combined forces with Liam Steevenson, the youngest person to earn the Master of Wine title, to craft a dramatic custom tasting extravaganza. Imagine cruising Greece’s azure waters while enjoying a Champagne aperitif accompanied by the soundtrack from Mamma Mia!—performed live. “We can arrange anything from singers to a flash mob of actors replicating scenes from the movie,” says Gayle Patterson, director of yachting at Pelorus.
GF Entertainment, meanwhile, has a black book of A-listers, including Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Drake, and Ariana Grande, among others, who do private concerts. “Our founder has a background in the music industry that gives us a unique position,” says David Smith, the outfit’s director of superyacht entertainment. “We eliminate layers of red tape—that inhibit discussions with the artists—to keep the process fast-moving. There’s nothing like a front-row seat in an intimate setting.”
Then there’s Grammy-nominated pianist Vincent Corver, who will play original music he composed for films including Inception, Schindler’s List, Gladiator, and more. GF’s Immersive Piano Add-on Experience includes transporting a grand piano onto a vessel along with an audio reproduction system and engineer to handle signal mixing. Corver, an official Steinway artist, will also cut original scores for video montages of anniversaries, birthdays, and other family milestones. “I love taking a select audience into emotive musical worlds that often go beyond the conscious mind,” he says.
And while it’s one thing to hire a massage therapist for a day while in port, it’s quite another to create an onboard wellness retreat with health practitioners, personal trainers, and dietitians. “Most people charter to party,” says Shannon McCoy, a broker with Worth Avenue Yachts. “But these particular clients were big into fitness and wanted structured workouts through the week—we even had a nutritionist from Miami’s Pritikin Wellness Center to design the meals.” McCoy adds that, besides losing weight, they “had a blast.”
Your idea of fun might vary—and probably does. Luckily, that’s the beauty of the new trend for all things on board: No matter what you’re into, you don’t have to leave it ashore, even as you sail away from it all.