We sat down with Charter Broker Fiona Maureso to learn more about a luxury charter yacht holiday.
What is your background within the yachting industry and how did you come to be a charter broker?
After graduating from university, I worked very briefly as crew on a 40-meter motor yacht in Monaco, but soon decided that I was not suited for life at sea. However, thanks to this brief experience, I developed what proved to be a lifelong passion for the yachting industry. For a few years, I worked as a translator, interpreter and teacher, but couldn’t settle. I knew I had to find my way back to yachting. In 1986, I was lucky enough to be hired by a brokerage agency in Antibes as assistant to a sales broker. After several years learning about the construction, sale and purchase of superyachts, I decided to concentrate on yacht charter. I enjoy the matchmaking side of my job, finding the ideal yacht for each client, and making sure that every aspect of the charter is perfect.
What is your best advice to a first-time yacht charterer?
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! The answers your broker gives you will help you crystallize your ideas. This, in turn, will allow the broker to recommend yachts and itineraries to suit your personal requirements. Also, allow your broker to ask you questions; listen to any advice he or she offers you. Brokers know the yachts and the destinations; once they know what you are looking for, they will be able to recommend ideal matches.
What is the most important facet to a successful charter?
I advise my clients not to be too ambitious with their itineraries. Enjoy the yacht, make the most of the precious time with family and friends and allow [time] for lingering in that idyllic secluded bay or spend one more day anchored off that stunning white-sand beach. Equally important is communication. Let the captain and crew know in advance what you expect in terms of activities, catering or service. Your broker will guide you through this process, liaising closely with the captain and chef in the lead up to your charter so that the moment you step on board you feel right at home.
What, in your opinion, are the must-have items of a charter yacht?
Something I have learned over the years is that everyone’s idea of the perfect yacht is completely different. For some, it might be a sporty, fast powerboat that gets you from Monaco to St. Tropez in a trice; for others, a majestic sailing yacht that cruises elegantly from one quiet anchorage to another is the ideal. In any case, one must-have item for any yacht is a crew that is friendly, efficient and can adapt to guests’ personal style.
In your opinion, where do you see the global yacht charter market going in the next five years?
With changes in regulations and investment in infrastructure, I think we’ll be seeing more destinations opening up to yacht charter, for example, the Far East or South America. I’m sure the traditional cruising areas, like the French Riviera or the British Virgin Islands, will always be popular, but already more owners and charterers are looking for new experiences and destinations that are off the beaten track. Having recovered from the global recession, I think the market will continue to grow, and we will see a wider range of yachts on offer. Additionally, there has been a rise of new, younger clientele who demand a different experience.
What makes Northrop & Johnson stand out among other charter companies?
It is clear to me that Northrop & Johnson brokers love what they do and receive a huge amount of satisfaction from ensuring their clients have the experience of a lifetime each and every time they charter. This translates to truly personalized service, one-on-one communication and extraordinary attention to detail. Our charter brokers foster close relationships with the yachts and the crew that we recommend; we are known for our friendly, yet professional approach.
What are your five must-have features on a yacht?
Again, everyone is different, but for me, the perfect yacht must have an excellent chef, an approachable captain, a smiling crew, a sturdy swim platform and a range of watersports equipment for everyone in the family!