By Chris Sweeney, author who has written for various UK newspapers, including The Times, The Sun, The Daily Record, and magazines
Social distancing is key to safety amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and what better place than the high seas to stay away from everyone? That is, if you can afford a luxury super-yacht, not one of those infection-teeming cruises.
Private yachts are typically seen as the height of luxury and the ultimate status symbol. But now, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, they’re the height of safety – but only if you’ve got a bank balance that resembles the GDP of a small African country.
Yacht charter firms have switched promotional strategies and are starting to advertise their vessels as the safest places to self-isolate – and stay healthy. Quite simply, there’s no chance of bumping into anyone or being coughed-on whilst you’re bobbing about on the high seas. Still, it’s only an option for the wealthy, with prices ranging from $120,000 to $600,000 per week, depending on the size of the vessel.
While thousands of helpless passengers have had to endure the nightmare of cruise ships, which have been turned into floating prisons as the virus spreads rapidly within them, it’s a different story for those with plenty of cash.
The luxury yachts are all being carefully sanitized before anyone comes on and any crew coming aboard are being tested for the virus, so everyone is given the green light before pulling up the anchor.
Speaking to the Robb Report, Daniel Ziriakus, chief operating officer of brokers Northrop & Johnson, admitted: “There’s an extra level of watchfulness going on at the moment.”
And Stefanos Makrymichalos, CEO of the International Yacht Company, explained: “Each yacht is disinfected between groups on board, the air is purified on most yachts, and cleanliness standards are very high.
“Some of the yachts use special air filters that control the spread of pathogens and the Ozone generator can be taken room to room for extra sanitation.”
Not only is there a change in reasons for setting sail, there is also a change in destination.
The Italian Rivera is normally a summer hotspot but is being avoided due to the extent of the outbreak there.
Passengers are asking charter companies about setting course for normally unheard-of places, like Norway or Alaska, as they seek to be alone and stay clear of coming into contact with Covid-19.
Here’s also a look at a few of the world’s spectacular yachts and where they currently are.
Oligarch Roman Abramovich owns this gorgeous feat of engineering.
It’s the fourth-longest yacht in the world at 162.5 metres, it has two swimming pools, with one capable of adjusting its depth so it can be turned into a dance floor, plus an anti-paparazzi shield to dazzle digital cameras, and its own missile defense system.
Right now, it’s just off the coast of the Caribbean island, Saint Barthélemy.
This is one of the prized possessions of Pakistani/American mogul Shahid Khan, who made his fortune from the automotive chain Flex-N-Gate and now owns NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Kismet was recently in Sint Maarten in the Caribbean and is now heading back to Florida were Shahid lives, so there’s a good chance he might be jumping on and self-isolating in style.
Rumors have swirled around that this $400 million behemoth is owned by Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, which the company denies.
But whoever is on it right now is heading to drop anchor at the private Bandos Island resort in the Maldives.
James Bond has been aboard this vessel, seen in Never Say Never Again. Its owners have been Adnan Khashoggi, the Sultan of Brunei, Donald Trump and its current captain is Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal from Saudi Arabia. She has five decks and 11 opulent suites. Currently, she’s in dock in Sam Remo.
This stunner belongs to billionaire Joe Lewis, who owns Tottenham Hotspur FC in the UK and the investment organisation Tavistock Group.
He won’t miss out on playing his favourite sports, tennis and squash, as the Aviva has an indoor paddle court.
Right now, she’s in port at Florida’s Fernandina Beach.
Honorable mention: Gene Machine
At least one person rich enough to afford a super-yacht isn’t just using it to put some distance between himself and us plebs – or so he says. The ‘modest’ 55-metre Gene Machine was recently moored up in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where its owner, entrepreneur Jonathan Rothberg, was trying to come up with a Covid-19 home test kit which would let someone know if they have the virus within 30 minutes, or at least directing land-based scientists to do so.