Charter Basics

Whether it's your first time chartering, or if you are a seasoned veteran with several charters under your belt, a yacht charter is an experience like no other. With yachts available for charter around the world, you can go anywhere there is water- from the fjords of Norway to the atolls in the South Pacific. Your destination may be one of the most important factors in determining your yacht charter, however, there are several other things to take into consideration, such as:

How many guests will you have? This plays a major factor in determining the appropriate size yacht.

What type of activities do you enjoy? Some destinations, such as the Bahamas, are more associated with water activities and secluded beaches, whereas the Mediterranean can offer a personalized tour of some of the world's greatest historic sites and glamorous seaside locales.

When do you plan on chartering? If you are looking for a charter to celebrate New Year's Eve in the hotspot destination of St Barth's, you will need to book months in advance.

How much would you like to spend on your yacht charter? Rates vary for a variety of reasons.

There are many additional factors that go into booking your yacht charter, and with the help of a charter specialist, you will be able to find the perfect yacht that will undoubtedly exceed your expectations.

Signing A Charter Contract

When booking a charter you will be required to sign a legally binding charter contract that essentially makes you the "owner" of the yacht for the duration of your stay onboard. There are several types of charter contracts, however the majority of yachts use the standard AYCA (American Yacht Charter Association) or MYBA (Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association) contract. The owner of the yacht, the yacht's central agent, the charter broker, and you sign the contract. A broker will help explain everything in detail so that you fully understand the contract.

What Does A Yacht Charter Cost?

Yacht Charter rates range in cost depending on the location of the charter, the time of the year, the length of your trip, and the type and size of the boat. It is important to understand that the charter rate is only a part of the total cost of your trip. You must also include an advanced provisioning allowance (APA) of 30%. This includes any onboard expenses such as food, fuel and dockage. It is also industry standard to provide a crew gratuity of +/- 15% at the end of your charter. Many destinations also charge a sales tax or VAT "value added tax", and your charter broker will know the rates for different locations.

Where And When Can You Charter?

You can charter a boat almost anywhere there is water. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer charter season runs June through September. You can choose to cruise the US's New England region, or cross the pond and tour the West or Eastern Mediterranean. Alaska is a popular destination during June and July when the sun shines for almost 24 hours a day. The Bahamas are popular year round, as are South Florida and the Florida Keys. During the winter, the yachts head south for the tropical islands of the Caribbean. You can also find charter yachts in Australia, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Middle East, or even cruising down the Amazon River.

Will My Yacht Have A Professional Crew?

Yes. Yachts over 20 meters generally have a Captain and Professional Crew to run the vessel. This allows you to kick back and relax! A professional crew generally consists of a Captain, Deck Crew, Interior Staff, Chef, and Engineer.

The Captain is the "keeper" of the vessel, arranges an itinerary with you, and ensures the safety of all during your voyage.

The Deck Crew assists the Captain and is also onboard to show you the ropes for riding jet skis, teach you how to water-ski, or to take you snorkeling or offshore fishing.

The Interior Staff is responsible for making you feel comfortable and right at home during your stay. They keep the interior of the boat in tip-top condition, perform laundry service, and serve all your meals onboard.

Yacht Chefs range from the self-taught variety to those who have been masterfully trained at world-class culinary schools. No matter what their background, the yacht chef will have proven himself to the owner and will undoubtedly delight your taste buds.

Larger yachts have one or more crewmembers dedicated only to the maintenance of the vessel. You may never see the Engineer during the charter, but rest assured he or she is below deck maintaining the vessel to the highest standard.

What else should I know before stepping aboard my luxury charter yacht?

Although signing the charter contract essentially makes you the "owner" of the yacht, remember you are staying in someone's "home away from home".

Can I view the engine room and crew area during my charter? For the most part, the yacht is yours to explore. However, certain areas may be prohibited (the engine room) or deemed "invitation only" (the crew's living quarters).

Can I wear shoes onboard? Probably not. There will be a "shoe basket" before you step onboard for you to place your shoes in. Some yachts allow certain types of rubber-soled shoes on deck, but be aware those high heels are for solid ground only.

There are smokers in my charter party, will they be allowed to smoke onboard? There will likely be a designated area for anyone who wishes to smoke, check with your Captain for details.

Will there be a way for me to communicate back home during my charter? Yachts are equipped with all the latest and greatest technology; from onboard satellite phones, Wi-Fi capabilities and VSAT. If you need to call home, it will be an easy request to fill. However, costs can rise the further offshore you are, or if you are calling from one country to another. Check with your Captain before dialing that number.