One of a series of interviews with captains at the Antigua Charter Yacht Show last month, The Crew Report speaks to Captain Frank Ficken on board 33m S/Y Marae about his view of the charter industry.


Captain Frank Ficken and chef Sue Ficken

TCR: How do you view the state of the charter market at the moment?

Captain Ficken: I would use the word resurgent because it is definitely picking up. We have seen an uptick in bookings this season, certainly over last season, and everybody I have spoken too is saying essentially the same thing. The brokers that I have met here at the show, I know they are always a hopeful group, but when you ask them about the concrete numbers - not whether they hearing about more interest or getting more enquiries - but if they are getting more bookings, they are all saying yes.

TCR: Are you experiencing this uptick on board Marae?


Captain Ficken: I know for a fact that it applies to us too. We are looking to fill a specific charter book and so there are a certain number of charters that we want to do this season. Right now we would be nearly at that amount if we didn’t have a couple of conflicting dates with owner trips. If it weren’t for those conflicting dates then we would almost be at our full winter booking.

TCR: Do you think this is just in the Caribbean or across the board?

Captain Ficken: I think everybody is hopeful, but everyone up top from brokers to captains are all saying that there is a definite uptick in the Caribbean charter market. Interestingly, this did not seem to be applicable in the Mediterranean this summer. Everybody in the Med said that it was pretty slow.


S/Y Marae, image courtesy of Marae and Superyacht Media

TCR: How valuable is the Antigua Charter Yacht Show for the industry?

Captain Ficken: As a yacht, it's really important for us to be here. We have a Caribbean and New England charter programme and the main thing we need is visibility and exposure. I think it is really hard for a broker to sell a boat that they haven't seen so the show is a great chance for us to come and show the boat and more importantly the brokers get to meet the crew.

TCR: How do you try and make the most of the show?


Captain Ficken:  We try to have as many broker lunches as possible because it fits in really well with the ethos of the boat. The best thing for us to do is to sit down with four or five brokers everyday, have lunch and this way they get to meet the crew, the chef and the captain, talk with them for an hour or two and get to know them because that's what will separate us from our competition. You can only do that at a show like this; we have exposure in magazines, we have a brand new website, but I think to get that extra connection with the market, it comes through the brokers.

Look out for a full interview with Captain Ficken about the ethos on board Marae in an upcoming issue of The Crew Report.