Having completed a significant refit over the winter, 50m MY Odessa was a main attraction at the MYBA Charter Show. When Captain James Ollemans rejoined Odessa two years ago, she was already a very well-established and busy charter yacht. At the time, the boat was doing 11 weeks of charter during the Mediterranean season, which increased to 13 weeks the following year. Looking towards this summer, the boat already has nine weeks booked, meaning the crew is likely to have an even busier season ahead.
Captain Ollemans attributes Odessa’s popularity on the charter market to her family-orientated design and flexible cabin arrangements, but also to the programme’s ongoing investment into attracting, and keeping, the right crew. “The crew are young and energetic and the owner recognises the need to keep them,” he explains. “We offer packages to the crew to build their skills and experience, which in turn ensures that they are contributing to the boat.”
Captain Ollemans also believes that their busy season ahead is partly down to certain trends in the charter market. “There are fewer last minute bookings and we are seeing clients booking their charters early,” he comments. “And people are still drawn to the South of France as a destination.”
Like many others in the sector, Captain Ollemans has observed a decline in charter activity in the Caribbean. “While there will always be a market for charters in St Barths, I think the market has started moving towards South-East Asia as the region opens up more to superyachts,” he explains.
Regarding the future of the charter market, there are certain barriers that Captain Ollemans foresees having an impact, which might lead to fewer charter yachts.
“There seems to be a lot of new boats coming onto the market but the pool of charter clients is not growing at the same rate,” he considers. “This, combined with increasing tax legislation, means that there are not the same benefits to being a commercially-registered yacht as there used to be. A privately-run vessel is much easier for both captain and owner, so I think a lot of charter yachts will be turning private.”