The Wordrobe meets Chris Craven of SuperYachtsMonaco to talk luxury gallivants, chefs at sea and the world’s most incredible charter experiences
Forget the ordinary cruises or boating experiences. Established in 2008, SuperYachtsMonaco represents some of the world’s most iconic yachts – and can make a luxury traveler’s wildest dreams come true.
In this digital-driven day and age, SuperYachtsMonaco takes pride in providing a more human approach to the intricate world of superyachting, offering face-to-face consultations, excellent service and personalised advice.
Having joined the yachting industry in 2001, leading charter broker Chris Craven is deeply involved in all aspects of the business, representing both owners and charter customers.
The Wordrobe’s Editor Sophie Ritchie spoke with Chris to find out more about his industry experiences, the most peculiar client requests and what makes SuperYachtsMonaco so supreme when it comes to exploring the seven seas.
How did you get into the yachting industry? What inspired you to become a charter broker?
I was in the British Army, on an attachment to the French Foreign Legion in Orange (Provence) back in 2000 and had a long weekend off.
I called a friend who at the time was working for a yacht brokerage in Monaco, asking if I could come and stay. I came down to Monaco, had a great time and was exposed to the world of yachting and yacht brokerage.
I maintained close contact with this broker and over the course of a year or so, I left the Army, and began working in Monaco. Initially I worked in Sales for a yacht builder in the US called Hinckley and then subsequently moved to Charter.
Back when I started, charter was seen as a huge developing branch of this industry and the company I was working with needed more brokers in this department and it fitted in perfectly with my interest in yachts, travel, client service and putting the three together.
Talk me through the SuperYachtsMonaco process – what’s the average client turnaround from start to finish?
The turnaround from charter enquiry to the moment clients get to charter the yacht can range anything from a last minute call on a Friday for a day charter the next day, to long, extensive and intricate planning of a three year around the world trip.
The key factor is our interest in what the clients plans are, developing these plans with them using our experience and guidance to get the right yacht, with the right crew to look after them wherever they wish to charter worldwide.
The more lead-time given, generally, the better choice of yachts we can offer.
What makes SuperYachtsMonaco such a personalised experience? How does it differ from its competitors?
The most important thing we offer over the majority of our competitors is experience. All charter brokers at SuperYachtsMonaco have over 10 years’ experience in the job, most of us over 18.
All brokerage companies will have face to face meetings with their clients, understand their demands and then source and secure the best yacht that will suits their needs.
However, we know first-hand the yachts, the crews, the destinations and know how to best streamline, simplify and effectively plan what can arguably be the most expensive holiday on earth. Essentially, within the industry and with our clients, we are a respected authority on yacht charter.
What’s been the strangest client request you’ve received so far & the most luxurious?
My strangest was that once I had the wife of a client, on charter in Greece while I was in Monaco in the office, calling me from the Master Suite to say the air-con was too cold and if I could make arrangements for it to be turned up!
Geographically, I received the strangest request while I was discussing a New Years’ Eve charter in Sydney and the charterer wanted to ‘nip over to Fiji’ for the weekend, before heading home. I said I could arrange a private jet, which I think put the 3,500nm round trip into perspective for them.
My most luxurious request was having very specific chocolate and cigars flown down from New York to the Caribbean by private jet.
How do the yacht designs cater to the demands of a modern day consumer?
In short – very well. Modern day consumers are looking for outstanding connectivity, lots of water toys, interesting and innovative design features, comfort and economic running costs.
As with most things in the world, if you want the best, then quality will come at a price but be worth every penny. Build quality is essential to focus on if you are looking at an older vessel and if so, it is important to check what upgrades and refits have taken place.
The significant difference you see on large yachts now compared to older yachts is the way tenders are hidden in garages and not on deck.
We also see larger windows and folding out sides providing more deck space and light, forward seating areas for more privacy in port, beach clubs and gyms – and the list goes on.
Tell us more about the most iconic yachts on the market…
I personally feel that the most iconic yacht that can be chartered is CHRISTINA O. A floating museum, steeped in history, with a fantastic crew – a great equation.
Of course, Instagram and Social media love to see Motor Yacht and Sailing Yacht A, ZEUS and MALTESE FALCON as they are stand-out iconic yachts in their own right, kicking off the love it or hate it yacht discussion.
What are the most popular charter destinations at the moment?
The ‘charterer’ is becoming far more adventurous. The world is a smaller place, destinations are more accessible, and we are seeing lots greater interest in more far-flung destinations – Antarctica, Galapagos. and the Far East are very much seeing a rise in interest.
On the other hand, it is important to not underestimate the demand for the Med, and then within the Med, we have also experienced a strong move further east now, with the Aegean and Adriatic seas getting lots of interest.
When picking the destination, it is also fundamental to pick the right yacht for it. In fact, I strongly believe that certain yachts are better suited to certain destinations. LEGEND or CLOUDBREAK for Antarctica or Greenland, LAMIMA or MICHIEF for Indonesia, KHALILA for the South of France, MALAHNE for the historic GP in Monaco.
This is because certain yachts suit certain environments, they fit in and are appropriate to the destination and this adds huge value to the whole chartering experience.
What do consumers expect from their modern day yacht experience?
Modern charterers are looking for extraordinary service in the most luxurious environment, being served the most delicious food, surrounded by their friends and family.
However what is becoming more popular is the ‘what more’ request… what more can they do while they are there? Consequently, we are finding ourselves researching more adventurous things to do.
I believe it is important for a charterer and their guests to leave the yacht with memories of new and exciting experiences they have never had before. This can be as simple as learning to waterski, but visiting places ashore they have always wanted to see, having seen marine life they never thought they could come face to face with… and having tasted new foods and incredible flavours and tastes they never thought possible.
Yachts offer such incredible opportunity for this, be in on the yacht, from the yacht or onshore.
Do you have a favourite yachting destination?
From personal experience, I would have no hesitation in saying the Antarctic Peninsula. Its untouched beauty, the wildlife, the serenity and magnitude of the coastline is astonishing.
A close second would be the experience of diving in the Flores Sea with manta rays and reef sharks, then taking a walk ashore to see the Komodo dragons, back to your yacht for a G&T followed by the most delicious curry made by an Indonesian chef – all in one day.
How do meals work onboard the yachts? How do you incorporate gourmet cooking into the experience?
Food on a yacht and a good chef is paramount to a successful charter. The Charterer will be asked for any preferences or allergies prior to the charter and from this the chef will prepare the galley accordingly.
Menus will be prepared and, ideally, presented to the Charterer before they come onboard to give them an idea of the flavour of things to come.
These will then be tweaked and perfected for the arrival of the guests. Talented chefs love to be tested. This doesn’t mean cooking for nine different meal settings a day, with different age groups, eating different food at different times as well as cooking for the 15 crew onboard.
This means to be given the chance to show off their skills with creative menus paired with extraordinary wines. Any traveler that enjoys food will be very impressed by the current level of chefs in the industry.
Many have Michelin star training or indeed stars themselves – so I would advise any charterer to ensure this element is very well prepared in good time.
To find out more and start the adventure, visit superyachtsmonaco.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org