Today, chartering a yacht is easier than it has ever been. You can book a yacht charter in a few minutes with an app, using a yacht rental website, or even by calling the owner via an ad on CraigsList.
These options mean more and more people are looking to yachting as a viable option for their vacations, events, and family celebrations. The fact is, whether you’re in the market for something glamorous, adventurous, wellness-focused, or just plain fun, there is a yacht charter for you.
However, although chartering a yacht is more accessible, it is not without its complications. Yacht charters involve more variables and added fees than a hotel room, and breaking down at sea without support or arriving at a port without knowledge about its specific tax system is a sure way to ruin any trip.
Managing your booking via a specialist yacht broker is a great way to help ensure the whole process and trip goes smoothly from start to finish. But whether you work with a yacht broker or not, there are several key steps to consider when booking your yacht charter.
Yachts come equipped for every kind of trip and are based in different locations around the world throughout the year. And so, the first step in chartering your yacht is choosing where you would like to go and when.
The most common migration is the Mediterranean in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. But you can also find yachts cruising all year round in the waters of Central and South America, Australia and New Zealand, Northern Europe, Greece, Italy, and Antarctica.
The destination and date question heavily depends on the purpose of your trip. Are you looking for a relaxing snorkeling vacation in the Bahamas? Or a more adventurous island hopping holiday in the Adriatic Sea? Or maybe you need a venue for hosting a business meeting in the marina at St. Barts or Dubai or Monaco?
Defining the type of trip, its duration, the flexibility of your dates, and the activities you will be doing will make it much easier to book a yacht charter. For example, if you plan to explore coastal towns, the yacht’s speed, size, draft depth, and flag will determine how many stops you can make and where. Likewise, if your yacht cruises at 12 knots, you may only get to see a few ports as opposed to if it cruises at 24.
Once you know when and where you’re heading, the next step in booking a yacht charter is defining how many people will be traveling with you. Most charter yachts are certified to carry up to 12 guests plus crew. Any more than that and you need a PYC- or SOLAS-class yacht which is licensed for up to 36 passengers.
The number of guests will also determine the size of the crew and the type of service you need. The size of the crew ranges from around six to twenty and typically includes a captain, deckhands, engineers, stewards, housekeepers, and chefs. Other crew members include dive instructors, yoga instructors, spa therapists, babysitters, security guards, and beauticians.
To book a yacht charter you also need to know who you are traveling with. Many yachts have cabins designed for children or teens bunking together, owner's decks, and separate quarters for staff such as personal assistants, babysitters, or other security guards.
When it comes to what type of yacht you need, the main question is whether you want a sailing yacht or a motor yacht. In other words, do you want a classically romantic experience for the experienced sailor (sailing yacht) or more space, facilities, speed, and ease (motor yacht)?
Motor yachts make up the majority of yacht charters. No sail and more power mean room for facilities such as jacuzzis and water toys, as well as the ability to travel larger distances with little to no sailing experience. Motor yachts can also accommodate more guests and may include accessibility features such as stair-climbers for those with limited mobility.
If you have no particular boat preference, a yacht charter specialist will ask you several questions to help determine the best yacht type for your needs, group, and trip.
Most modern motor yachts come with certain facilities and amenities, including wifi, sun pads, and basic gear for snorkeling. However, there are endless other features and services to choose from.
For instance, luxury superyachts often come with facilities such as a beach club, movie theatre, owner’s deck, gym, sauna, spa, scuba gear, inflatables, and water toys such as jet skis and personal submarines. A specialist yacht broker may also help you arrange anything you need for specific events and celebrations, including catering, decorations, and other highly personalized additions.
What’s Your Budget?
The overall cost of a yacht charter adds up to much more than solely the cost of the yacht rental. Once you have included the security deposit, tax, gratuity, and APA, you can reasonably expect to be paying an additional 30 to 50 percent of the charter rate of your trip.
APA is the Advanced Provision Account that acts as a kind of open purse for your trip. This purse typically covers fuel consumption, all food and drink, activities and excursions, expenses for docking, tips for the crew, and other fees. The MYBA (Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association) suggests a five to 15 percent gratuity as customary.
A specialist yacht broker will ensure an adequate APA is included in your budget, that all receipts are kept during the trip, and that any money left over is returned to you at the end of the trip.
Your yacht broker should adhere to global guidelines at the MYBA and that of the International Yacht Brokers Association. The contracts they use should also come from a trusted association such as MYBA and include a reliable cancellation policy in the event you can't go ahead with the trip due to personal reasons, COVID regulations, or other contingencies.
It can be tempting to book a yacht charter on your own to try and avoid unnecessary costs. However, this can leave you unprotected and open to risk. Almost all yacht charters involve some technical difficulty or challenge, and so working with a reputable yacht broker is paramount.
A specialist yacht broker can also help with planning the perfect itinerary for your trip. Their expertise includes industry knowledge of the best locations and best times of the year to visit as well as relations with the most respected crews, familiarity with port taxes, and insight into the constantly changing landscape of COVID regulations.
Like any other vacation, booking a yacht charter over high-demand periods such as spring break or popular events such as the Monaco Grand Prix requires you to do so well in advance. This could be anything from six months to a year in advance.
If you are flexible with both your dates and the type of yacht, most trusted yacht brokers will be able to find the perfect yacht for you. Once they send you the selection, make sure to do a review and check they fit your requirements. The yacht broker should then help you secure the deal and ensure smooth sailing from there on out.
Your yacht charter vacation should be about relaxation, quality time with loved ones, and making memories—not being stressed by paperwork and technical problems. With many years of experience as a specialist yacht broker, we can help with everything from pre-trip itineraries to APA to choosing the right yacht so you can make the most out of every moment of your trip.