Do you ever dream of luxury living while you’re sailing on the high seas? If you have the desire, you can charter a yacht to cater to your every whim while you’re living your best life on the open waters.
How do you charter a yacht and what should you look for? You can charter a yacht through a broker or website after researching and choosing the following aspects; destination, yacht size, and amenities.
We’ll tell you exactly how to charter a yacht as well as what to look out for and why. Bear in mind you will have to do research to pick out your perfect yacht. Keep reading for a complete guide to your most luxurious vacation yet.
Steps on How to Charter A Yacht
Before you lay out cash for your once in a lifetime vacation, there are decisions you must make. These will be critical to your overall enjoyment of your trip. Let’s go over the most important decisions you will make before embarking:
- Broker or app?
- Where and when to go
- What amenities do you want?
- How much do you want to spend?
1. Broker or App?
There are two basic ways to charter a yacht. One of these is choosing a charter broker, who will find the perfect yacht for you, or selecting a yacht yourself via an app or website.
You can find a listing of charter brokers at MYBA, the Worldwide Yachting Association, or you can contact a yacht charter brokerage to find one. A brokerage will manage charter yachts on behalf of the owner and lease those yachts to individuals or companies.
A charter broker will handle the leasing and renting agreements for the yachts. However, a good charter broker will become something like a concierge for your yacht vacation. They will walk you through the entire process, offering their guidance to make sure your trips special.
A broker can help you in three key ways:
- Choosing the Right Yacht
- Destination and Itineraries
- Legalities and Taxes
Choosing the right yacht may be the most important part of your vacation. You will want one large enough to accommodate your entire party with enough crew to be able to maintain the ship and look after you and everyone with you.
A good charter broker will visit yachts and meet with crews to get an idea of the experience guests can expect on the yacht. If they’ve done their homework correctly, they can match up the perfect yacht to the guest.
A charter broker can also help you with your destination and itinerary. Whether you want to visit the Mediterranean or charter a yacht to travel the Alaskan coast, a broker can tell you the best times to visit, as well as what to do once you’re in port.
Each destination comes with Its own taxes and legal requirements. Even if you don’t know all the rules, a broker will and can explain them to you so you avoid any problems while you’re on vacation. They will take care of all the taxes and permits so that you don’t have any worries.
Yacht brokers invoice their fees to the yacht owner, so you don’t pay any fees directly to the broker. However, those fees will likely be included in the overall charter price for the yacht so they could make your price go up for the service. Charter brokers currently make an average of $121,000 per year.
Another option is to charter the yacht yourself. There are apps and websites that can help you do that. A few of these that are reliable include:
- YOTHA – A website that enables you to virtually explore and choose a yacht yourself, as well as your destination. You will talk directly to the yacht owner and handle all details yourself.
- Ahoy Club – This is available as an app or website. You can not only charter a yacht for a vacation but they also have yachts for sale.
- Dream Yacht Charter – They have a large fleet of yachts for charter and a wide range of destinations.
If you have chartered a yacht before and know where you want to go and when then choosing a yacht through a website can be a good idea if you want to save a little money. You’re cutting out the middleman and dealing directly with the yacht’s owner yourself.
Remember that, in dealing directly with a yacht owner, you’re responsible for all taxes, fees, and liabilities that come with that yacht. You’ll have to do all the paperwork yourself. Setting up an escrow account and returning the preference sheet will become your responsibility.
If you’re new to chartering a yacht, we would recommend using a charter broker. You can explain your needs and wants, and they’ll do the grunt work while you relax. If you’re familiar with yachts and know exactly what you want, you can save some money by chartering a yacht directly.
2. Where and When to Go
There are several considerations when you’re thinking of chartering a yacht for a vacation. Different yachts are based in different locations and they move at certain times of the year. You’ll find many yachts in the Mediterranean in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter. Beyond that, you can find yachts at almost every coast you can think of, from Antarctica to Alaska.
This is when you will want to do your research. Unless you have a specific destination in mind, there is virtually no limit to the sites you can choose. Some of the more popular sites you can choose include:
- Fiji – In the Southwest Pacific with over 300 islands to explore
- Tortola, British Virgin Islands – Tortola has line-of-site navigation and many sheltered anchorages
- Thailand – Traveling along the shore of Thailand gives you hidden coves and warm waters, perfect for snorkeling and diving
- Sicily, Italy – Sicily has ancient cities to explore, as well as secluded anchorages and beaches
- Croatia – Offering over 1,000 islands, you can find your own private cove here
- St. Martin – You can experience French and Netherland culture on this island, and white, sandy beaches
- Greece – One of the best places to charter a yacht, it offers ancient archaeology and stunning landscapes
These are some of the most popular destinations for yachts, but you literally have hundreds of more options. You can choose volcanic hot springs in the Antarctic or search for El Dorado in Chile. Once you’ve decided to charter a yacht, choosing a destination will be a fun decision to make.
3. What Amenities do you Want?
You have a host of choices to choose from when choosing a yacht and you should choose the one that best suits your vacation needs. Do you want a relaxing vacation, with quiet coves and sunbathing? Or would you prefer a busier vacation, with jet skis during the day and a port with a busy nightlife?
Your yacht may come equipped with all kinds of amenities on board. You should pick a yacht based on the amenities you and your guests want. Some of the amenities that can be found on a yacht include:
- Swimming Pools
- Hot Tubs
- Private theaters
- Wellness Centers
- Tennis courts
Yachts have tenders, or a boat, that will transport people or supplies from shore to ship and vice versa. These tenders are vital to a yacht in that they can carry you to any onshore destination you want from your yacht.
Think of your yacht as a 5-star hotel. The crew is on hand to anticipate and take care of your every need. Typical activities on a yacht will include:
- Jet skis
- Scuba diving
Check with your broker or the yacht owner to see what your yacht will offer. Along with price and size, you can choose your yacht based on the offered amenities.
4. How Much Do You Want To Spend?
If you’re considering chartering a yacht for your vacation, have your pocketbook ready. Yachts aren’t cheap, whether you are renting or buying. Chartering a yacht comes with two options:
All-inclusive is just like going to an all-inclusive resort. All of your extras are included in the cost. You pay one price upfront and you don’t have to worry about it for the rest of the vacation. Dockage and taxes may be charged separately, although you can get that included too, through a broker. Gratuities are also not included, so you will have to tip the crew yourself at the end of your vacation. Included in an all-inclusive yacht charter are:
- Water sports
A plus expenses charter will only charge you for the yacht and the crew. Your other expenses, like food and water sports, are charged separately. Typically, in this type of charter, you would put up 35% of the base price, from which expenses can be deducted.
How much will it cost for you to charter a yacht? It depends on three key factors:
- The yacht
If you choose a luxurious, large yacht with loads of amenities such as air conditioning, private chef etc then expect to pay more than if you choose a simple sailing yacht under 80 feet. Prices will also increase depending on the season, just as they would if you were doing more traditional travel. Expect to pay more for a yacht in the Mediterranean during the summertime than you would in winter, the off-season.
Destination is also important. If you choose a location that has a large charter fleet, like the Bahamas, the price will be more competitive. If you choose a destination that doesn’t have many yachts, such as the Antarctic, you can expect to pay more money.
Handy Hint: Are you a fan of the Below Deck TV series? Did you know you can charter some of the famous yachts from the show? Here’s how you do that.
Here are the current base prices you can expect to pay for a yacht:
- Sailing Yacht under 80 feet: $10,000 to $20,000
- Sailing Yacht between 120 and 150 feet: $50,000 to $100,000
- Sailing Yacht over 150 feet: $100,000 to $200,000
- Catamaran under 50 feet: $10,000 to $15,000
- Catamaran between 50 feet and 65 feet: $15,000 to $30,000
- Catamaran between 65 feet and 80 feet: $25,000 to $50,000
- Catamaran over 80 feet: $40,000 to $100,000
- Motor Yacht under 80 feet: $15,000 to $35,000
- Motor Yacht between 80 and 120 feet: $35,000 to $80,000
- Motor Yacht between 120 and 150 feet: $80,000 to $150,000
- Motor Yacht over 150 feet: $150,000 to $500,000
Sailing yachts are the smallest of the yachts and use sails as their main power. Catamarans also use sails, but they balance on two hulls and have more space and more comfort than a regular sailing yacht. Both these will probably have engines as well but rely on sails for the majority of power. Both of these types of yachts offer a laid-back, relaxed sailing experience.
Motor yachts are just that – they have a motor and can get you where you want to go quickly. If your desire is to travel to different ports rather than relax at sea, a motor yacht may be the best bet for you. These typically offer more space and more amenities, like watercraft. It will be more expensive, mainly due to the fuel you’re using.
If you’re in the market for a superyacht, you can expect to pay upwards of $500,000 for the experience. With taxes, expenses, and gratuities thrown in, you could be looking at a cost between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000. These are the luxury homes of the sea with all the amenities you can think of.
Even a smaller Superyacht can cost up to a quarter of a million dollars. In the instance of a superyacht, you’re also paying for the crew’s time and experience. If you’re licensed to captain the boat yourself, you can save money on crew costs if you get a smaller sailing yacht. This is called chartering a bareboat yacht, in that you just get the boat and not the crew.
In your consideration of the yacht experience and the cost, keep in mind that taxes can cost up to 22% of your total base cost. Gratuities for the crew will run 15% to 20% of your base cost. If you purchase cancellation and curtailment insurance, your cost will be higher as well.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Chartering a Yacht
Chartering a yacht is like buying out an entire 5-star resort for your own personal use. It can be your ultimate vacation. Some advantages of chartering a crewed yacht as opposed to a traditional vacation include:
- 360-degree views
- Ability to move from island to island and port to port
- Maid service
- Gourmet meals
- Secluded beaches
- Open bar
- No pre-set schedule
- Included water sports
- Exotic locales
Chartering a yacht isn’t for everyone. But, if you have the money, it’s hard to beat the all-inclusive service you get aboard a luxury yacht.
With a commercial cruise, the prices are cheaper, but you have a set schedule for visits to shore. You will also wait in line for your amenities and, of course, there will be a lot of other people to contend with.
With a chartered yacht, you can choose which destinations to visit, and how long you will stay at each port.
There are some disadvantages to chartering a yacht as well, although they are not nearly as numerous as the advantages. They include:
- Need to plan well in advance for popular destinations
- Rules and guidelines passengers must follow
With yachting, popular destinations will run out of yachts quickly, especially during the busy season. You may need to book up to a year in advance to get the perfect yacht at your perfect destination.
There will also be several rules and guidelines you will likely have to follow on-board. Some of these rules may prohibit pets or demand that you are fully certified before scuba diving. Rules and guidelines vary per chartering business and you will have a list of them before you depart.
Price is noted above but it’s not going to be cheap for you to charter a yacht, even a small one. However, with all-inclusive prices, and negotiation, a small yacht could be as cheap for your family as a regular week-long vacation would be.
It is hard to understate the luxuriousness of chartering a fully crewed yacht for a week or two. Sailing on the open waters with a drink in your hand and the breeze in your hair can be the ultimate in decadent vacations.
It’s important to do your research before you charter a yacht. Follow the steps above and decide what you want before you sign on the dotted line. Pick a yacht that’s suitable for you and your guests with the size you require and the amenities you crave.
By doing your homework, you can get the best deal on the vacation of a lifetime. Chartering a yacht doesn’t have to be difficult. Happy yachting!