Feature: The Magnificent Seven
Eric Hiss

The modern world offers many ways to get from Point A to Point B, but few are as redolent of romance, history and sublime relaxation as a passage on a grand yacht, where the journey truly is the adventure. We have searched the seven seas and come up with a selection of our favorite vessels afloat. Exceptional features—full spa, coveted itineraries, and unparalleled design and performance—mark these yachts as best of breed. Before you navigate the world of chartering, however, take the time to speak with experts in the field to ensure smooth sailing.

Pangaea is a steel-hulled expedition yacht perfect for exploring off-the-navigation-charts locales. 

Ushering in a new gilded age of exploration, the steel-hulled expedition yacht Pangaea is ruggedly designed for far-flung global journeys while providing a refined shipboard experience. The 184-foot Halter trilevel accommodates 12 guests in six staterooms, including an owner’s suite with a private deck, and has a crew of 12. Generously proportioned with over 7,000 square feet of interior and deck space, Pangaea also features a gym, formal dining room and oversize Jacuzzi on the sun deck. Underscoring its explorer cachet, Pangaea’s adventure quotient is also high, with a quiver of state-of-the-art water toys, including three tenders (one is a 36-foot Predator sportfish equipped with tournament fishing gear), 16 sets of scuba gear, SeaDoos and underwater scooters.

Charter rate: $175,000 per week
Cruising areas: Summer—Mediterranean; Winter—Caribbean, Central America

The 210-foot, aluminum-hulled Felicita West is the latest yacht from Perini Navi. It comes with two tenders, three Lasers and kayaks.

Felicita West
True yachters know what is in a name, and the Perini Navi marque is beyond reproach, especially when speaking about new build Felicita West, the largest of the storied vessels yet introduced. A quintessential sailing yacht, the 210-foot aluminum-hulled cruising ketch combines generous space, refined comfort and the true sailing performance expected from a Ron Holland design incorporating 10,000 square feet of billowing sails. Below, she features a full-beam owner’s stateroom, four luxurious suites and impeccable joinery and styling resulting from a collaboration between Nuvolari Lenard and the Perini Interior Design team. A long list of water toys includes two tenders, three Lasers and sea kayaks.

Charter rate: $180,000 to $210,000 per week
Cruising areas: Summer—Caribbean; Winter—Mediterranean

Excellence III
A new addition to the charter fleet, the trilevel motor yacht Excellence III is a superlative example of stylish form meeting function. The striking, blue-hulled 187-foot Abeking & Rasmussen vessel designed by Donald Starkey features rich detailing throughout, including mahogany paneling and such luxe accents as myrtle wood and honey onyx. Sleeping 12 guests, the vessel features plasma screen televisions and steam showers in every stateroom. 

The vast deck space allows for a cocktail bar and Jacuzzi, while another intelligent use of space is a sky lounge that converts to a surround-sound home theater featuring advanced Linn components. Active cruisers can take advantage of a gym with Precor equipment and a full complement of water toys.

Charter rate: $325,000 per week
Cruising areas: Summer—Western Mediterranean; Winter—Caribbean

Think of 1960s steel-hulled trawlers as the Hummers of the high seas. These heavy-duty beasts are ideal for those seeking exotic ports of call way off the beaten path. Trawlers can go great distances, have incredible range and are, in effect, like expedition vessels. Askari ‘s three-year refit and renovation has resulted in tailored interiors and levels of comfort (including a sundeck Jacuzzi) at home on any megayacht. The 108-foot trawler accommodates 10 guests and, befitting her adventurous spirit, features a wide array of water toys, including Laser sailing dinghies, sea kayaks and dive compressors.

Charter rate: $56,000 per week
Cruising area: Open (recent passages include Panama, South Pacific, Australia)

A spectacular new build making her debut this winter, the 280-foot trilevel Annaliesse is now the ne plus ultra in amenities afloat. In addition to a state-of-the-art gym, wine cellar and sundeck plunge pool, the 36-passenger yacht boasts a spa that rivals any deluxe land facility, with saunas, steam rooms, cold plunge pools, a beauty salon and treatment areas. A business center and conference room integrated with an internal LAN for computers and peripherals is also available. Water toys include a flotilla of six Jet Skis, scuba gear and wind surfers.

Charter rate: $110,000 per day
Cruising areas: Summer—Mediterranean; Winter 2004—Mediterranean, Winter 2005—Caribbean

Elite Yacht Charters

The 143-foot Starship is the only charter yacht equipped with its own Bell Jet Ranger helicopter.

A star has just been reborn in the trilevel motor yacht Starship, a 143-foot Van Mill that has recently undergone a major refit. An ever-popular diva of the world charter fleet, Starship features five staterooms and a new interior by Claudette Bonville to complement other recent enhancements, including a steam room in the master stateroom and a Jacuzzi on the flybridge. Known for its extensive toy box, including a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter (it is the world’s only charter yacht that carries a helicopter onboard), two kayaks, two 17-foot sailboats, two Waverunners and water skis, Starship features the same veteran crew that has earned her such a stellar reputation.

Charter rate: $89,500 per week
Cruising areas: Summer—New England; Winter—Caribbean

Big Easy is a 125-foot Trinity yacht that specializes in cruising the glaciers of Alaska and the beaches of Baja California.

Big Easy

Big Easy brings the sleek silhouette of a prestigious trilevel motor yacht to waters not often plied by professionally staffed megayachts. With a skipper experienced in cruising Alaska’s coastline and a British chef, the 125-foot Trinity yacht provides such onboard delights as a spacious flybridge with a cocktail bar, granite and marble en suite bathrooms and a generous aft deck that can be enclosed during cold weather sails. Its four staterooms in leather and hardwoods feature full entertainment systems and accommodate eight passengers. Exploration of Baja’s empty beaches and Alaskan glaciers is made easy with an armada of water toys, including two high-performance tenders. 

Charter rate: $65,000 to $72,000 per week
Cruising areas: Summer—Alaska, Mexico; Winter—Caribbean