Luxury venue with a difference: hiring a superyacht for the day

31 August 2020

A superyacht charter in Australia is the ultimate blank slate for an unforgettable day.

By Krysia Bonkowski

Australians know that a day on the water is always a day well spent. And when that day is on a superyacht, it takes on a whole new dimension. At a time when personalised events and bespoke experiences are becoming the norm, superyachts are in a league of their own, offering fully customisable luxury on elite craft that are equally unique.

Australia is one of the few places in the world where it’s possible to charter a superyacht on an hourly basis. With Australia emerging as a world-class superyacht destination, there are charters available to host everything from an intimate open-air wedding to a full-blown corporate affair, and at prices accessible to mere mortals.

David Good, CEO of Superyacht Australia, says chartering a superyacht can be surprisingly affordable. “When you take 12 people and split the costs of chartering, a superyacht is not as expensive as you might imagine,” he says.

From parties to daytrips

Event planners have already seized on superyachts as envy-inducing settings for launch parties and corporate shindigs. But superyachts make an equally alluring option for private events and daytrippers craving something utterly different.

Joachim Howard, managing director of luxury yacht agency Ocean Alliance, says: “Hosting an event on a superyacht delivers a unique experience. The combination of an exclusive environment, the backdrop of Australia’s showcase destinations and the casual nature of being onboard a yacht is an incredible platform.”

Besides the obvious appeal of expert crew and luxe surrounds, superyachts offer the freedom of cruising where many others can’t. Adding to the allure of Australia’s short-term charters is the variety offered by our nation’s vast coastline. The scale of the country means agencies such as Ocean Alliance are able to offer superyacht charters somewhere in Australia 365 days of the year, with many destinations doable in a day. “We’ve got an incredible diversity of cruising options,” Howard says.

Whether it’s partying in the new year on Sydney Harbour; discovering pristine little Rottnest Island off Perth; sampling Victoria’s renowned food and wine as you sail its wild coast; or finding nooks of the Great Barrier Reef possibly never seen through a snorkel mask before, there’s more to experience in a single day on a superyacht in Australia than many people cram into entire holidays.

Sydney to the reef

Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, is a city best seen by water. Yachts are a familiar sight in hidden bays around the iconic harbour, with passengers swimming, paddleboarding and sunning themselves on deck. Further afield there’s the quiet Pittwater and Hawksbury River, where lush forest is interspersed with quaint towns and waterfront mansions.

Sydney’s varied day-charter fleet boasts vessels such as Australia’s newest superyacht Oneworld, which can host up to 120 for lavish events, or Infinity Pacific, with its collection of watercraft and blow-up slide. Sydney’s charter calendar is fullest on Christmas Day, Boxing Day (for the start of the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race), and, the night of nights, New Year’s Eve, when a superyacht offers the best seat in the house for the fireworks cascading off Sydney Harbour Bridge.

When Sydney cools in winter, many superyachts can be found further north, around the Whitsunday Islands and Great Barrier Reef. Made up of 74 islands – many deserted – spread over the calm, turquoise waters of the Coral Sea, the Whitsundays are peppered with remote anchorages and empty beaches. These islands, along with the bustling ports of Cairns and Airlie Beach, are key launchpads for the Great Barrier Reef.

Joanne Drake, manager of the Super Yacht Group Great Barrier Reef, says it’s possible to uncover secluded corners of the reef on a shorter schedule. “Guests who only have a day to spare could fly by light aircraft from Cairns to Lizard Island, rendezvous with their vessel and then sail directly to Ribbon Reefs [a chain of 10 linking reefs],” she says, by way of example. “There’s year-round snorkelling, diving and fishing, and in winter, the spectacle of migrating whales, too.”

On Drake’s books are yachts such as the 35-metre (115-foot) Spirit, which can transport 12 guests from Port Douglas, the Whitsundays or Cairns for a day of discovering the reef’s secrets. Drake has helped pull off many events on Spirit’s decks, including exclusive wine tastings and cocktail parties serenaded by string quartet.

Wherever it sails, a superyacht never delivers the same day twice. Customisation is a key component of the charter experience, with guests able to curate every element of their time on the water.

Good says: “That’s the beauty of chartering a superyacht. It’s a very bespoke experience – so if you have a preferred brand of champagne or a particular cocktail you like, that will be stocked especially for you.”

No matter if it’s a chilled-out afternoon on the water or celebrating a major milestone with panache, a superyacht promises a day that won’t be forgotten.

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