To charter a superyacht is many people’s dream. Yachting Pages spoke to Dave Stanley and Dina Street from Southern Cross Blue Cruising about their love of sailing and how this transpires to their leading charter company.
1) When and how was your business founded?
Southern Cross Blue Cruising was founded in 2004 when Dave came to Turkey and fell in love with the country, a gulet and a girl. The girl was in fact the manager of the company from which he purchased the gulet from... we still own that 18m gullet. Our company currently leases 24m and 35m luxury gulets, manages a couple of others and we are also agents for approximately 35 quality gulets, sailing yachts and motor yachts.
2) How has Southern Cross Blue Cruising developed over the years?
The first years were gradual - we started with just one laptop on the table beside the pool. Since then, it has been a learning curve. We’ve gone from doing 20 odd charters a year, jumping up to organising 75 charters a season, which is about the optimum number. Any more would be too hard to handle with the service and quality we want to offer our clients.
3) What makes you different from your competitors?
Possibly our 24-hour availability, our very fast response to enquiries or our dedication to quality in all aspects. Also, always having owned our own boats, we know what we would expect and relay this to all the boats we work with. Dina’s dual nationality (Turkish/American) and fluency in three languages is also a great asset.
4) Are you working on any new developments at the moment?
We are always developing new things within our structure to help with charter sales and to help clients get a real feel for what they will experience. Upgrading our website is on the agenda, as we have just done with our sister business Bodrum Yacht Services.
5) What are the biggest challenges that you face at the moment?
Well as far as Turkey goes we don’t see many motor yacht charters, historically clients come here for the traditional gulets. However, we are now getting more enquiries for the motor yacht market so will be expanding this – but finding the right boats/crews may be a challenge.
6) Have you been affected by the recession?
Every year that we have been operating there has been some major drama, from bird flu and terrorism to world economic and regional economic crises. Notwithstanding, our business and especially the client quality and the more expensive boats have increased. This year was marginally down on numbers but about the same financially and we have to consider there was a large investment in the two boats we took on.
7) What are your top tips for people deciding on where to charter?
The most important thing is to know what you want from your charter. Next, make sure your charter agent understands those expectations and let them advise you on areas that are uncertain. Be precise and clear as to your exact needs, whether it’s to do with the yacht, crew, itinerary or provisioning and drinks. Also, don’t leave it to the last minute expecting your dream yacht to still be available.
8) What are your top tips for people deciding what kind of boat to charter?
Again, know what you, your family or group wants to do and what your expectations are. Mr X who charters a 40m M/Y will be disappointed if his family is expecting a sailing holiday. Don’t dismiss boat types you aren’t familiar with; do some homework and be open to suggestions based upon your expectations.
9) What is the most bizarre client request you’ve received?
We had a client once who wanted to include Beirut in his seven-day Aegean Blue cruise.
10) What are the current trends that you’ve noticed?
There’s a taverna in Leros that has been voted one of the top ten restaurants in the world by CNN. Suprisingly, suddenly everyone wants to go for lunch there.
11) Are you attending any upcoming boat shows?
We will be at the 2015 Marmaris International Yacht Charter show from 9th to 13th May and have been invited to be on the advisory committee.
For more information, visit Southern Cross Blue Cruising.
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