Covid-19 has done a stellar job of disrupting transport modes across the world. It is almost certain that the airline industry will require major bailouts to survive the downturn, while even local cabs are seeing a devastating loss in client numbers. One industry’s outlook that is not yet entirely negative is the yacht business. On one end of the spectrum, cruise ships are taking quite a beating with marinas and ports denying them entry worldwide.
Of particular interest to Floridians would be the plight of the Zaandam that is crossing the Panama Canal and headed to Florida. The Fort Lauderdale port commission had delayed making a decision on a request by the cruise ship to allow passengers disembark. Though the Zaandam did not originate from Florida, it does have some resident passengers who are eager to get back home. In the meantime, its owner company, Holland America, is sending additional supplies, testing kits, and personnel on another vessel that will rendezvous.
For much of the first quarter of 2020, yachts and superyachts have still very much been able to access marina services, albeit on a reduced level in some places. Camper & Nicholson in the Caribbean are still open to this demographic. They note the smaller passenger number on these vessels as being more manageable and safer to handle than what cruise ships bring in. In early March, both Miami Beach Marina and One Island Park had reduced their hours of operation with extra cleaning measures having been instituted. Currently, Miami Beach Marina has confirmed its closure in accordance with the Miami Dade County Emergency Order. This closure has meant a stop of any yacht transport to the Mediterranean and other destinations.
There has also been some disruption to boat shows. The highly-anticipated and well-attended Palm Beach International Boat Show was slated for March 26-29. The event has however since been postponed to May 14-17 to adhere to social distancing and crowd avoidance recommendations in the wake of the pandemic. Smaller events like the Suncoast Boat Show have been canceled and are expected to resume in 2021. Further East, there have also been calendar changes with the Caribbean International Boat Show that was to take place in March now postponed to June 12-14.
With Caribbean countries still dealing with the effects of dengue fever, there have been moves to stem the tide of the coronavirus. Travel advisories against countries already suffering the pandemic have been announced, including travelers from the U.S. that has put a halt tourist and business travel to the islands, including yacht transport to the Caribbean. Several nations have closed their airports and heavily restricted seaport entry. Others are under total lockdown until specified dates.
Thanks to the current lockdowns and closure of ports and marinas, the yacht business has ground to a standstill with minimal movement and construction going on. It is hoped that the problem will be quickly overcome and that postponed events will hold on the announced dates.