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Insight: Interview with Yacht Charters Guru

Insights about working as yacht charter brokers in the private, professionally crewed luxury charter market in the Caribbean and Mediterranean

How did you get started?

We learned to sail after enjoying a private yacht charter in the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands in 1989! It was fabulous! On our return home, when our flight made its approach to land at BNA in Nashville, TN, we noticed a sailboat race nearby at Percy Priest Lake. Within 3 months, we bought our first boat! After learning to sail confidently, we gathered groups of friends for flotilla charters in the U.S. Virgin Islands and British Virgin Islands. We came to love and cherish the USVI & BVI. So much so, that we sold everything we owned in 1997 when a friend offered to be our partner in buying a 72' sailboat!

Capt. Randy and Shelly Tucker from Yacht Charters Guru at a Crewed Yacht Charter Show in the British Virgin Islands

By this time, Randy had enough hours to earn his USCG Captain's License and we moved onboard our yacht in Florida. We prepared the yacht with everything it needed for charter and sailed to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Eighteen years and nearly 300 charters later, we sold the yacht to return home to take care of aging parents.

Our becoming CYBA yacht charter brokers was an easy segue because we were already respected in the industry and we knew everyone!

What is your favorite thing about working as a yacht charter broker?

We are always up for the unique challenges that come with planning the perfect private yacht vacation. Each day is different from the last, and when we start our day, we don't always know where it will lead us, but it's never dull and always rewarding. We love every aspect of the business, from going to charter yacht shows & interviewing the yacht crews to the initial contact with a client, learning their specific needs & wants, and then making it happen.

Our favorite aspect about the business is the opportunity it has given us to become a valuable asset to our clients. We love the investigation and research of each yacht and crew. With over 26 years of hands-on experience in the Caribbean, we possess an extensive knowledge of the area that transcends typical vacations. we take great pleasure in connecting the dots to find which yachts best suit their individual lifestyles and connecting them with that ideal crew.

How do you go above and beyond for your clients?

We cultivate enduring friendships with our clients extending well beyond the conclusion of a 7-night yacht vacation. By availing ourselves to our clients whenever they require aid, even beyond the realm of yacht travel, we are able to assist them in a multitude of ways. If their needs exceed our expertise, they have faith that w’eII connect them with the right experts and the necessary support. We are grateful that our work enables us to serve and assist people.

Our top priority is always our clients' needs and fulfilling their expectations. It's crucial that they feel comfortable and never pressured during the process. One of the things we enjoy most about our job is serving people and being a trusted advisor throughout their yacht vacation journey. The job doesn’t end after the first charter, rather it begins! One yacht charter trip makes our clients realize that they won’t ever be happy sitting in a hotel looking at the same beach for a week. It’s more fun to explore a new island every day!

What sets you apart from other yacht charter brokers?

Yacht charter brokers are part of a fun family of business people worldwide who respect each other. We are a longtime married team in the truest sense of the word, and this allows us to give the most seamless attention to our clients. We pride ourselves on loyalty and commitment to our clients. The yacht charter industry changes like the weather, so it’s helpful to know local changes in territorial governments and maritime law. It helps that we have worked as owner/operators of a yacht for 18 years and personally sailed from Florida all the way to South America multiple times.

How have you grown?

Our eyes were opened to how differently each type of yacht as well as yacht crew performs from our first professional yacht charter broker show in 2015. We are extremely grateful that our job allow us to travel all over the world to the broker's charter yacht shows. We're regularly invited to join "familiarization trips" in the luxury travel industry. Our exposure to living onboard a yacht with a professional crew, how they interact with each other as a team as well as how they take care of our needs helps ensure that our clients receive top-notch service and unforgettable experiences.

We literally became the "ultimate matchmakers"! We understand that each client is unique, and we tailor each charter to meet the client's individual preferences and needs. Whether our clients are looking for a relaxing getaway in the Caribbean, an adventurous or a cultural journey through the Mediterranean, we have the knowledge and resources to make their dreams a reality. From start to finish, we handle every detail with precision and care, creating a truly seamless and stress-free experience for our clients.

At our core, we are passionate about providing exceptional service and creating lasting memories for our clients and we expect the same from the crews. We strive to exceed expectations and deliver unparalleled luxury yacht charter experiences.

Captain Randy and Shelly Tucker interviewing and visiting crewed yachts in the British Virgin Islands

Do things ever go wrong?

The "Devil is in the Details" and we ask a lot of questions when we begin the process of booking a new charter. When our clients honestly tell us what they personally enjoy for activities and food & beverages, the charter is well-planned and potential problems can be avoided. When or if things go wrong, it's usually a technical issue with the yacht, which unfortunately is out of everyone's control. CYBA, MYBA and AYCA charter contracts state how things are handled if something does go wrong. If there is an unforeseen issue, everyone from the yacht Captain & Crew, to the broker and yacht manager work together quickly to find a satisfactory outcome.

What is the best advice you offer someone planning a privately crewed yacht charter vacation?

Work with an experienced yacht charter broker - a qualified, professionally certified broker will help walk you through contracts & payments, making sure that your valuable vacation dollars are well protected throughout the process. Ask for references from recent charter clients. A travel agent is great for booking flights, hotels and cruise ships; but they are not qualified by CYBA, MYBA or AYCA to book a charter on a motor yacht, catamaran or sailboat; nor do they have the experience of personally visiting every yacht we represent.

If you aren't certain if your yacht charter broker is certified, read this article.

Why use a CYBA Certified Yacht Charter Broker?

As a member of CYBA, the Charter Yacht Broker’s Association, we adhere to strict yacht charter booking protocols. We have access to the CYBA industry escrow account and E-Contract to protect your money. This is made available by CYBA for electronic use only by established, industry recognized and reputable Yacht Brokers.

Charter yacht crews, yacht owners and travel agents do not have access to this account.

If it is a busy yacht with lots of charters, the crew are taking care of guests onboard and they honestly do not have time to answer a lot of travel questions. This is what differentiates professionally licensed yacht brokers from anyone else trying to book charters.

Very Important! It is not safe to send your hard-earned money directly to a business or yacht that is not accredited by a professional charter industry association to handle yacht charter client funds. Always ask!

Choose from an extensive list of yachts, including our spacious and stable catamaran charters, power catamarans, traditional monohull sailboat vacations, or high-end luxury motor yacht charters in the U.S. Virgin Islands, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Belize, French Polynesia, Croatia, Greece, and other parts of the Mediterranean.

We do not sell yachts like many other agencies so there is no conflict or distraction in our focus for your yacht charter. Our service is free to you. We travel extensively to boat shows and yacht charter shows year-round to personally view and inspect as many of the yachts as possible.

How is Yacht Charters Guru Qualified?

1. As Members of 3 professional industry associations, The Charter Yacht Brokers Association, The Virgin Islands Professional Charter Yacht League, and the BVI Charter Yacht Society, we maintain contact with the yachts to keep abreast of the very latest information on crew/yacht conditions and new yachts entering the arena.

2. We stay on top of local and Federal Governments to keep informed about changes in our industry, as well as involve ourselves with the changes in the environment in which we offer charters.

3. We engage in open dialogue with local publications to help keep the government and the public aware of this important industry in our islands.

4. We attend multiple charter yacht industry shows in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, go aboard each of the yachts, meet the crews, attend association meetings and seminars. We'll happily share our notes about changes to the boats and crews and confirm any newly added features and upgrades as well as re-fits to the boat’s decor like new carpets, interior and exterior soft goods & fun new water toys.

5. As a seasoned charter yacht Owner & Crew, we have access to the "inner circle" and know all the insider facts. 6. We've developed a longtime friendship with vendors of services such as local taxi drivers, ferry companies, good places to stay on land, great restaurants, and much more.

Do you think you'll continue work as a yacht charter broker?

Yes! Most definitely! We love what we do and it shows! Many professional yacht charter brokers have been working in the industry for 15+ years. We foresee that we'll be here for our clients until retirement age and beyond!

Yacht Charter Broker Captain Randy Tucker in the British Virgin Islands

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