Yacht Charter in Alaska

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A yacht charter in Alaska is a breathtaking experience.

A yacht charter in Alaska is a breathtaking experience. (Unsplash/Darrin Henein/)

Chris fagan made his first trip to Alaska aboard the 130-foot Westport Serengeti in 2014. Back then, he was the mate; this summer, he’s doing his fourth season on the yacht as captain.

The place never gets old.

“It’s the best nature and wildlife ­cruising ground that there is,” he says. “Just given the vastness of the wilderness and the abundance of gigantic wildlife, it’s a reminder of what the world is capable of. It doesn’t matter who goes with us, whether they’ve chartered all over the world or it’s their first time: Everyone leaves with their minds blown.”

The good news for charter clients, he says, is that even ­despite the grandeur to be explored, precious few yachts with ­professional crew make the run to Alaska each summer. A lot of times, ­Serengeti has had an anchorage all to herself.

The bad news for charter clients, Fagan says, is that given the small number of available yachts and the short season, primarily from June through August, the best boats tend to book up fast. As of early May, Serengeti already had nine charters scheduled for this summer.

“I would say a year out is when you start getting the first bookings, and it’s wise to book six months in advance,” he says, “especially if you want a prime date.”

Clients wanting to book any boat in Alaska, he says, should look not only for an experienced crew, but also for a boat that’s outfitted for the area. Serengeti, for instance, has Isinglass on the main and top decks, allowing wide views without cold winds.

And it’s the views that count—especially given the realities of climate change.

“Of course, the glaciers are slowly receding, but they’re still there,” he says. “Who knows? A hundred years from now, some of them may be backed up farther than we can get to in a boat, but anybody who goes up now can experience that beauty.”

This 130-foot Westport, part of the Northrop & Johnson fleet, is among a handful of crewed charter yachts that visit Alaska every summer. The crew have figured out ­everything from onshore provisioners to ­onboard Wi-Fi. The yacht
is a 2002 build that was refitted in 2014 and was in the yard for annual maintenance as of early May. Tenders include a 34-foot Regulator that can be rigged for fishing, as well as an 18-foot Novurania for zipping in and out of ports from Juneau to Sitka. The lowest weekly base rate is $120,000 for 10 to 12 guests.

This 130-foot Westport, part of the Northrop & Johnson fleet, is among a handful of crewed charter yachts that visit Alaska every summer. The crew have figured out ­everything from onshore provisioners to ­onboard Wi-Fi. The yacht
is a 2002 build that was refitted in 2014 and was in the yard for annual maintenance as of early May. Tenders include a 34-foot Regulator that can be rigged for fishing, as well as an 18-foot Novurania for zipping in and out of ports from Juneau to Sitka. The lowest weekly base rate is $120,000 for 10 to 12 guests. (Courtesy Northrop & Johnson/)

Part of the Infinity Yacht Charters fleet, this 105-foot Broward also bases in Alaska each year, giving the crew advantages—compared with yachts visiting for just one season—when it comes to planning itineraries and experiences. She’s a 1982 build that, since 2012, has had more than $1.4 million in refit work. Most recently, in 2018, a new northern-lights generator was added. ­Accommodations are for six guests in three staterooms, and the weekly rate of $59,000 includes meals, fuel and some additional expenses that other yachts charge as add-ons.

Part of the Infinity Yacht Charters fleet, this 105-foot Broward also bases in Alaska each year, giving the crew advantages—compared with yachts visiting for just one season—when it comes to planning itineraries and experiences. She’s a 1982 build that, since 2012, has had more than $1.4 million in refit work. Most recently, in 2018, a new northern-lights generator was added. ­Accommodations are for six guests in three staterooms, and the weekly rate of $59,000 includes meals, fuel and some additional expenses that other yachts charge as add-ons. (Courtesy Infinity Yacht Charters/)

What to expect in Alaska

  • Charter Itineraries typically take place between Juneau, Alaska’s capital, and Sitka, in the southeast part of the state that borders Canada.
  • The sounds of the glaciers as they calve, cracking off chunks and dropping them into the sea, is as loud as the roar of lions or a low-flying plane.
  • Whales, bears, bald eagles and other wildlife are all around, so have a camera ready, ideally with a long lens.
  • Try the candied salmon, which is eaten as a stick, kind of like beef jerky.

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