Yacht transport in high demand, despite cargo competition

Jul 28, 2022 by Jim Bronstien
Credit: Photos courtesy of Yacht Transport

Here are some pointers to keep in mind.

Moving yachts across oceans via transport ships has certainly grown in popularity over the years. For new yachts, this may be the only alternative to get these boats to their owners. For brokers, this is often the only way to deliver a boat to the new buyer. And for yacht charters or explorers, transport ships can be the best way to reposition boats to a new destination.

But with all the supply chain and shipping challenges around the world these days, one could easily conclude that the yacht transport market would suffer. Turns out, that segment of the market is as hot and in demand as ever. Conversations with Paul Haber, president of Cross Chartering Yacht Transport, and Uta Scarlata, transatlantic sales director for SevenStar Yacht Transport, confirm this activity. So, it naturally begs the questions:

Why is there so much demand?

Backlogs of newbuilds have not eased, and these new boats are being shipping to their destinations in as large numbers as ever. Large volume builders in Europe, as well as builders in Asia, are moving a lot of boats. Also, to meet the high demand for boats, new or used, yacht brokers are reaching farther afield to find them, resulting in more newly purchased boats needing to be shipped across oceans.

Are prices up?

Compared with a couple of years ago, prices could be up 30%, they could be up double. It depends on where and when the transport goes. Price increases are very much a function of global supply chain issues and the demand to ship other goods.

ADVICE: It is still a competitive industry and there are a number of viable players in it — some own their own ships, some are operators chartering vessels, and some are just brokers or “forwarders” — so, shop the professional carriers and have some flexibility in your schedule. Rates are calculated on a square-meter rate/weight ratio and vary widely based on destination and distance.

Are yachts being bumped for more lucrative cargo?

Standard containers, which are stackable on decks and easier to handle than yachts, are now commanding prices that are three to four times what they used to be, so some ships may prefer more containers than they otherwise would. Even windmill blades, a bulky cargo in high demand, have been known to replace some yachts on decks. Space is at a premium.

ADVICE: Ask your yacht transport carrier to explain the conditions of your transport and what else may be shipped with the boats, as well as the conditions whereby your reservation may be compromised and how you can be guaranteed a spot.

Is port congestion affecting deliveries?

If you have been around any major shipping ports over the past year, you will have seen dozens of ships waiting for their turn to enter a port and load or unload their cargo. Two-week backlogs in ports are now commonplace, with no real sign of that easing anytime soon.

ADVICE: Plan your schedule with flex time built in and assume delays may occur outside the control of your shipping company. If you plan on flying to meet the boat, get a ticket with a changeable reservation — because things may change!

The bottom line?

Despite the issues noted, if you need to get from Point A to Point B and it’s too much to do on your own bottom, you’ve still got great options.