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On Chartering a Yacht

by Paul Ebeling

#yacht #charter

We have all seen photos of sunglassed and bikini clad celebrities lounging on Sun pads or sipping Champagne in the on-deck hot tub of a large yacht anchored somewhere in the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.

There is a charter-yacht vacation that is right for everyone.

If you are looking for something glamourous, adventurous, wellness-focused, or just plain fun, it is all within easy reach. And starts with a yacht charter, and if you have never done it, it not difficult.

Let us walk you through the need-to-know details of how to charter a yacht. Whether you want to go straight for the best charter yachts on the sea today or something more conservative, we will guide you, as follows:

The 1st step is to determine how you would like to contract for a charter: Would you like the help of a reputable charter broker or do you feel more comfortable charging $100,000 and more to your credit card via an app?

The charter broker will go over all of your options with you and can steer you toward crews that may be better with families, or know how to throw the best beach bash or costume party, or the chef who specializes in your favorite fare. Brokers are good with the personal touch.

You can find a listing of charter brokers and companies that adhere to global guidelines at the MYBA, the yachting industry’s technical and ethics guide, as well as that of the International Yacht Brokers Association.

For those who feel safer behind a screen, several different apps (such as Ahoy Club) and websites (Yotha) have popped up in recent yrs that allow you to scroll and book your yacht. Just be sure you have contact info for a live human in case anything goes wrong on your charter vacation.

Similar to aviation charter memberships, OceanScape Yachts offers tiered memberships for chartering the 30 yachts offered by its partners.

Before you can choose a yacht, where would you like to go and when?

Are you thinking watersports and snorkeling in the Caribbean or Bahamas, or exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites along Croatia in the Adriatic Sea?

Different yachts are based in different locations and usually move throughout the year. The most common migration is the Mediterranean in the Summer and the Caribbean in the Winter.

But, you will also find yachts cruising the waters of Central and South America, Antarctica, Australia and New Zealand, Northern Europe, New England, you name it. Antarctica cruising is best between November and April, while New Zealand and Southeast Asia are in season yr-round.

Part of your destination choice is what you plan to be doing.

Do you picture yourself doing yoga on a stand-up paddleboard, or water-skiing behind a jet tender, or maybe traveling in a sub to the depths of the ocean looking for signs of life?

Most yachts carry the basic water toys and tenders for being towed and simple snorkeling exploration. However, others do carry personal submarines, scuba gear, and inflatable slides.

Depending on the destination and time of yr, different yachts may offer different amenities.

Or maybe you and your fellow travelers are content to relax in the marina at St. Barts or Monaco or Dubai, in which case you will need to make sure the yacht offers what you need to, say, entertain a group of friends or host business meetings.

If you want to keep your yacht on the move, exploring each little town along the coast, the yacht’s speed, size, draft depth, and flag will determine how many stops you can make and where.

For example, cruising in the Bahamas requires a shallow draft if you want to visit the Out Islands, but plenty of ports have deeper waters. Or if your yacht cruises at 12 knots you may see fewer ports than if it cruises at 24.

And how long do you intend to charter?

Do you want 2 wks: 1 wk for friends and 1 wk for family? Or will 1 wk on board be perfect? Charter brokers usually list pricing per wk.

Once you know when and where you are going, how many people will you be traveling with?

Most charter yachts are certified to carry 12 guests plus crew. If you plan to vacation with more than that, you will need a PYC- or SOLAS-class yacht, which is licensed for up to 36 passengers.

Yachts such as the 254-foot Legend, an expedition vessel that cruises Antarctica, has 18 staterooms for 36 guests plus crew.

Many yachts have cabins designed for children bunking together with either twin beds or actual bunk beds, or they may feature a Pullman bed in addition to the regular berth if you want to sleep three people together.

Do not forget to include in your count any personal assistants, babysitters, or other security guards.

Charter brokers can also help you choose a yacht based on the number and type of crew. Some crew members can teach yoga, give massages, and style your hair, while others may make the meanest cocktails on the water right after they teach you how to sail. The level and type of service you are looking for varies with each yacht.

Another question in terms of type of yacht is whether you go sailing yacht or motor yacht?

Do you want a quiet, smooth sail with maybe not as much deck space but the quintessential romance of the sea?

Or do you want to go fast while sipping a cocktail in your on-deck Jacuzzi? Everyone has something in mind when they picture yacht. Does your image have sails or engines? Does it have more intimate spaces or room for all 12 guests to spread out?

So now you have your plan: destination, activities, time of year, length of charter, number of guests, and type of yacht, how far in advance do you need to book? You’ve spoken to your reliable charter broker or swiped and starred any number of yachts; what’s the best window for getting your 1st choice?

Keep in mind that, like any other vacation, chartering over the holidays, Spring break, and other events such as the Monaco Grand Prix makes for the high-demand season.

So, the timing and the yacht are both important, book a year in advance. If you are flexible with both dates and the yacht, most brokers can find a yacht for you and personalize it to your preferences.

The contract next

Most brokers use the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association’s (MYBA) or something similar.

All of these choices and decisions lead down to the bottom line: How much does it actually cost?

As an example, for the 2018 summer season, the 245-foot CRN Cloud 9 superyacht, with eight cabins (but only legally sleeping 12 guests) and 22 crew chartered in the western Mediterranean for from approximately $1,104,000 per wk.

The overall price varies with fuel consumption (staying in port or cruising), location (Central America or South of France), the number of people you are traveling with, food and drink, as well as activities.

Adding in food and drink; expenses for docking, fuel, and other fees; and tips will tack roughly 30 to 50% of the charter rate to your trip.

So if you were on Cloud 9 for a wk this Summer, it most likely cost you between $1,435,200 and $1,656,000 depending on how often the yacht moved, how many bottles of rosé you went through, and what kind of gratuity you left the crew for your incredible stay on board.

MYBA President Gaye Joyeau-Bourgeois on the Charter Process: “When it comes to chartering a yacht, I can safely say that working with a true professional should be your first priority. Making a booking on your own, in order to avoid what might originally seem like unnecessary costs, might be tempting but it will expose you to risks and leave you unprotected. That is why you should choose a charter broker who is experienced, accountable, and knowledgeable when it comes to contractual documents and agreements. They should also possess an excellent track record as far as professional rules and ethical standards are concerned, and they need to be driven by a desire for excellence.

Have an happy, healthy weekend, Keep the Faith!

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