Thursday, May 7, 2009

American Superyacht Forum 2009

On Sunday I am traveling to Seattle for the 2009 American Superyacht Forum.  It is an event that I look forward to every year, but this year the economy has me wondering. 

The fact is that the superyacht industry is hurting. While there are those that are seemingly immune to the weak economy, or are simply able to endure it without a change in their lifestyle, the fact is that many of the yacht owners are hurting. Cash flow has dried up.  Sales of their "old" yachts has gone from a competition to an almost non-existent event.  And shipyards are having difficulty in keeping highly skilled suppliers around as they go out of business.

But it is not all gloom and doom.  The industry still exists and for me, as a superyacht lawyer, the above problems result in lawsuits over poor quality, defective construction, missed deliveries, deals that have fallen through, etc.  I am hoping the ASF discusses some of these issues.

That said, the fact is that with all the talk about what "luxury" is, the fact is cruise ship "luxury" only occasionally truly rises to the level of superyacht luxury.  There will never be a discussion about how the food was hot or sitting in one section of a dining room is better than another.  Those sorts of things are, well, unthinkable.  People paying $50,000+ per day for a party of 12 expect to go "Wow" time after time after time.

While prior conference have had such luxuries as a 23 Scotch whisky tasting, this year we have having a wine tasting dinner at Château Ste. Michelle.  This is, for me, reason enough to make the trip.  OK, maybe not...but I will certainly enjoy it.

I will keep you posted.