Chartering a yacht can be a great way to make your next vacation extra special, giving you a taste of luxury on the water. This is what you need to know about how to charter a yacht
If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a yacht, you’re not alone. These luxury boats are often considered the pinnacle of wealth, providing a mansion-like experience on the high seas. Decked out with everything from multiple bedrooms and gourmet kitchens to on-deck swimming pools and helicopter landing pads, a yacht can essentially serve as a home away from home.
Despite the fun that comes with enjoying a yacht, few people have the income necessary to purchase one outright. With yacht charters, however, it’s possible to taste the spoils of riches without dropping millions of dollars on a large boat. This is what you need to know about chartering your very own yacht for a vacation or a special event.
Why charter a yacht?
Yacht charters can be a wonderful way to take a new approach to any water-centered vacation. Yacht rentals are a unique experience, combining the luxury of a five-star resort with the excitement of a boat trip into one unforgettable experience.
Essentially a floating hotel experience that can take you anywhere you want to go, chartering a yacht opens the door to a whole new kind of vacation. Rather than staying put in a single room or a resort villa, a yacht allows you to experience all of the luxury that comes with a high-end hotel room while simultaneously serving as a form of transportation. Similar to a cruise ship for you and you alone, chartering a yacht comes with a lot of compelling advantages.
A customized experience
Most yacht charters come complete with access to a crew, including a captain, a cleaning staff, and a chef, allowing for a completely customized experience. Rather than relying on a menu, the yacht’s chef can pre-plan meals that fit your mood and palate, no matter where you’re going or what you’re craving. This kind of sailing holiday can give you a customized experience unavailable anywhere else.
Unparalleled personal freedom
A traditional hotel can’t get up and move with you, but a yacht can essentially turn your trip into whatever you want it to be. While fuel is often an additional cost on top of the price to charter a yacht, the only real boundaries to where you can go and what you can do are your own imagination and any local laws that apply to your adventure. With a yacht, how you vacation and where you vacation is completely up to you in a way that other water-bound vacations, like cruises, can’t match. You can visit different cities and ports, explore isolated fishing or scuba diving spots, or just travel the seas while enjoying a life of luxury.
Normally, boats are simply a mode of transportation, but a yacht is more like a mansion than a car. Most yachts are equipped with things like gourmet kitchens, swimming pools, hot tubs, steam rooms and saunas, spa areas, and even smaller boats for day excursions. Mega-yachts may even have things like helicopter landing pads that owners or visitors can enjoy.
Much like a five-star hotel, chartering a yacht provides access to luxury amenities that are unavailable in other vacation options. In a yacht, you can go anywhere and do anything, all without sacrificing the comforts of home.
Points to consider when chartering a yacht
Yacht charters exist in many different forms, most of which will depend on where you live or where you plan to depart from, your budget, and what you hope to accomplish on your trip. Some yacht charters, particularly those in the off-season, may be more affordable than you realize, while larger yachts or longer trips may cost a significant amount of money. Before moving forward with your yacht rental, it’s important to keep these points of consideration in mind.
How much money do you have to spend on a yacht? If your budget is large, you may not find yourself limited by things like size or duration. However, if you don’t want to break the bank on your charter, it’s important to consider the total amount you have to spend, including any incremental costs that might occur, like fuel or paying a crew. Know the maximum limit for your next trip before you spend time pricing potential options.
Prices vary depending on where you are going, the size of the yacht, and the duration of your trip. A week on a smaller yacht or a catamaran may start at around 10,000 USD, while a larger 100-foot yacht will likely be in the 50,000 USD to 80,000 USD range. Superyachts or megayachts may cost 150,000 USD or more for a week-long adventure.
Note that taxes or value-added tax (VAT) may apply based on where you are coming from and where you are going, so keep this in mind as well. VAT and other taxes are generally not included in the base price of a rental.
Inclusive or expense-based charters
Most sailing yacht rentals fall into two distinct categories: inclusive or expense based. Much like inclusive resort stays, inclusive yachts provide everything you will need to enjoy a trip, including all crew members, food and drink, any planned excursions, and all amenities. These tend to be more expensive trips but allow guests to determine ahead of time what they will be spending per person.
Other yacht charters will be priced as a base rate with any other features, such as the use of a captain and crew, fuel costs, and docking fees, as additional expenses. These are owed on top of the cost of the yacht and can vary greatly. In general, estimated incremental expenses are paid, at least in part, by an Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA) of around 35 percent of the cost of the yacht. This is a lump sum paid up front to cover expected expenses. If the entire amount is not used, guests may receive a refund. However, if costs exceed this payment, an additional amount may be owed at the end of the trip.
Inclusive charters provide an up-front rate that can allow for easy budget planning. However, expense-based charters can be more affordable for travelers willing to do extra leg work.
Trip duration and destinations
In general, fuel prices are owed on top of the base price of a private yacht, which means that where you’re going will become a factor in how much you are willing to spend. Those planning to visit many different destinations may find themselves facing steeper fuel charges than those who simply want a fishing trip in the same general area. Once you know how far you plan to travel, it becomes easier to estimate how much more may be owed in costs related to fuel during your charter.
Boat size for yacht charter
As with many things in life, bigger isn’t always better. While a larger yacht may seem like a better way to enjoy a vacation, going too large may simply result in wasted space – or wasted money.
A mega-yacht is fun, but it’s not necessary and will likely end up coming with higher rates and steeper fuel costs. Instead, most yacht charter clients are best served by putting money toward a comfortable luxury experience as well as the right crew. A great captain and a classically-trained chef are worth far more than an extra few feet, so be sure to prioritize comfort over size. In general, 100 to 120 feet in length is an appropriate size for family trips. Larger parties, like family reunions or weddings, may want to consider a larger boat if a sizeable crowd is included in the charter.
Yacht charter due diligence
Before you begin the process of evaluating yacht charters, be sure you invest time in planning your trip, including point of departure. While there are yacht charters leaving from many coastal communities, be aware that the majority of options are found in cities known for boating, such as Fort Lauderdale and Miami in the U.S.
Once you are reasonably sure of the duration of your trip, where you want to go, what you want to spend, and what size of yacht you need, determine where you will be departing if you’re leaving home to do so. Many different sources, including yachting organizations and general boating magazines, can help potential charter clients collect a list of the options in their target areas. But don’t book the first charter you find. Instead, do the same due diligence you would in booking a hotel room or resort stay.
For those new to yacht vacationing, the American Yacht Charter Association is a good place to start in locating approved brokers in the U.S., as is the MYBA The Worldwide Yachting Association and the Royal Yachting Association. Members of these organizations who are involved in chartering must be a known quality yacht charter broker willing to commit to strict standards to take part, so participants are generally reputable with high quality services to offer.
Online reviews can provide an excellent base for evaluating everything from restaurants to crewed yacht charters. Many large and reputable vendors have a presence on top review sites, such as TripAdvisor and yacht-specific sites such as Charter World, providing insight into what prior customers have thought about their yacht rental experience. Reviews can provide a base level of information to guide your expectations, whether for better or for worse.
Speak with area operators
Don’t take website advertisements or even recommendations from friends as the truth—instead, speak with area operators yourself. These can be found via the yachting organizations or the review sites listed above. Get an idea of what yachts are available, average rental duration, destinations visited, and pricing models. Ask any questions you may have – chartering a yacht can be a large expense and so before committing to it, it’s important you’re comfortable and confident in the choices you are making for your upcoming trip.
Any yacht charter operator who is unwilling to share details with you or discuss the finer points of pricing should be carefully vetted before moving forward; legitimate operators should be eager to discuss business arrangements.
While booking a hotel room without seeing it is often a reality, the high costs of yacht chartering puts more at risk.
If you live local to the yacht rental you are considering, request a tour of that yacht’s facilities and similar yachts to be sure the size and scale of the yacht you have in mind is right for your trip. While you’re there, request to meet the captain and any crew members, review what kinds of amenities are available, and verify that the experience you are expecting meets or exceeds your expectations.
Some yacht charters may offer virtual tours for guests coming from far away or offer video chats, but this is dependent on the company or operator in question.
Look for discounts
Yacht charters can be pricey, but saving money on your trip is possible. Just as hotels discount rooms, charter services may offer discounts, particularly for trips that are out of season, longer than normal, shorter than normal, or when trying to fill last minute cancellations. Discounts may or may not be advertised, so be sure to ask while considering your options.
Whether you have an upscale family vacation in mind or a wedding party on the high seas, a yacht charter can be the perfect way to experience a taste of true luxury without springing for your own boat. With charters leaving from most coastal regions across the U.S., a private yacht charter can give you the freedom you deserve to enjoy the trip of a lifetime.
A luxury trip deserves to begin and end in style. With a Blacklane professional chauffeur service, you can get to the departure site for your yacht charter with ease.