Vacation solved: Make waves with a luxury yacht charter


Sail away on your next adventure in a privately rented vessel.


This article is part of a lifestyle series brought to you by RBC Echelon, a suite of private wealth management services for ultra-high-net-worth clients. Each article will explore different topics of interest for ultra-high-net-worth families, including design, travel and more.

Imagine a week filled with sparkling waves, fine dining and downtime with your favorite people, and you’ll likely find yourself dreaming of a stay at an exclusive tropical resort. Because of continued COVID-19 concerns, however, the evolving travel climate may have many vacationers seeking enhanced privacy, safety and seclusion for their next getaway—and chartering a yacht is an elegant solution. These spacious vessels are an excellent choice for groups and multi-generational travel, offering a voyage that appeals to grandparents and grandchildren alike. Combining the benefits of a luxurious setting, customizable amenities and a self-directed itinerary, yachting courts sunseekers of all ages with the promise of an unforgettable journey.

While yachts vary in size and type, these luxury vessels are more universally defined by the caliber of their settings and amenities. Your floating vacation home may boast a hot tub and sauna, smaller boats for excursions, equipment for water-based activities, and even a swimming pool or helicopter pad. For an experience that’ll leave you free to focus on your adventure, opt for a crewed charter complete with a knowledgeable captain who can assist with itinerary planning, and a chef who can whip up impeccable meals. Here are five customizable itineraries to get you underway.

glacier bay national park landscape

An Alaskan excursion for nature lovers

Experience Alaska’s stark beauty and majestic wildlife with a charter through the fjords of the state’s Inside Passage. This adventure begins in Juneau, where you can ride a tramway 1,800 feet up Mount Roberts to a panoramic view of striking landscapes. Choose a vessel equipped with a hot tub so you can stargaze submerged in warmth after a dinner of fresh-caught salmon or crab.

On this journey you’ll stop at incredible Glacier Bay National Park, with hikes to breathtaking vistas and activities to learn about the geological forces that shape the rugged landscape. You’ll also have the chance to observe humpback whales and orcas slicing through the water as you sail south through the passage. Ensure you go ashore in the community of Ketchikan to learn about Indigenous Alaskan culture—the community boasts the largest number of totem poles in Alaska.

divers-photographing coral reefs

A classic cruise in Florida

Follow in the wake of generations of yachters drawn to the gentle breezes of the Florida coast with a cruise from West Palm Beach to Sanibel Island. Start with a little retail therapy in the boutiques along West Palm Beach’s Worth Avenue before sailing south. In South Beach and Miami, dock for a high-energy day in the Design District topped off with an evening at a rooftop club. Recharge as you continue sailing the Florida Keys.

Enjoy the region’s natural splendor with a beachside picnic packed by your chef, and spend an afternoon snorkeling among the area’s beautiful reefs. Go ashore in Key West to walk its historic quarter—including the Hemingway House and Museum—before sailing north through the Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge, a protected area full of birds and sea turtles. Conclude your charter at Sanibel Island with a spa treatment at a luxury resort or a round of golf at a world-class club.

A hidden gem in Puerto Rico

Step back in time with an excursion around the captivating island of Puerto Rico, an unincorporated U.S. territory brimming with history, delicious cuisine and Caribbean charm. Before you sail, roam the old city of San Juan, home to Spanish colonial buildings, centuries-old churches, and the El Morro and La Fortaleza fortresses. At the Plaza del Mercado de Santurce, you can find fresh produce for an on-board feast and watch the market transform into a local nightlife hotspot.

A short cruise east from San Juan will bring you to the beaches and resorts of Isla Verde, where you can revel in an evening at a lavish casino. The next day, set out for the crystal waters of Palomino, Icacos, and Lobo Cay islands. These jewels off the northeastern coast feature secluded beaches ideal for lazy afternoons. Just make sure your yacht carries paddleboards or a kayak so you can skim the bioluminescent water of Laguna Grande, Fajardo, before returning to San Juan.

For a change of pace, coastal conditions from November to January offer the opportunity to experience the romance of a sailing yacht (equipped with a 21st-century motor).

A relaxing escape in Baja

Rich in biodiversity and UNESCO-protected islands, the Gulf of California’s turquoise waters provide a feel that’s truly away-from-it-all. Charter your vessel in San Diego and sail down the Pacific coast toward Los Cabo. Spend a day in the Mexican town of San Jose del Cabo to stroll through art galleries and dine at the restaurant in the historic One&Only Palmilla before cruising into the gulf, also known as the Sea of Cortez.

Here your getaway begins in earnest, with endless options to sail around uninhabited islands in balmy waters ideal for diving with whale sharks, sea turtles and seals. You can even try your hand at fishing grouper or halibut, which your chef can turn into a sumptuous meal. Follow this by pairing a glorious sunset viewing with some champagne.

Please note: the gulf waters are governed by Mexico, and your charter agent will need to take care of the appropriate permissions before you sail.

A family adventure in Hawaii

World-class water activities, Michelin-starred dining, and an Aloha spirit await with a week-long family-friendly cruise through the Hawaiian archipelago’s six accessible main islands. Your agent or captain’s advice will be invaluable when it comes to itinerary planning. However, we recommend that you begin your adventure in Honolulu with the beloved tradition of high tea at the Moana Surfrider.

You can then sail northwest to the garden island of Kauai to relish the lush landscapes made famous by Jurassic Park before exploring the coasts of Molokai for snorkeling and Maui for surfing. Be sure to dock on the island of Hawaii, where you can explore the wonders of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Mauna Kea Observatories, and the Sadie Seymour Botanical Gardens.

From the pristine vistas of the north to the azure waters of the south, a yachting vacation is truly as much about the journey as the destination, and a charter puts you at the helm of your voyage. Prepare for the experience of a lifetime as you plot your course and sail for the horizon.

RBC Wealth Management, a division of RBC Capital Markets, LLC, registered investment adviser and Member NYSE/FINRA/SIPC.

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