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Travel10 essential tips for first-time luxury yacht charterers

10 essential tips for first-time luxury yacht charterers

A luxury yacht charter is the most idyllic, personalised holiday imaginable and as such planning a charter for the first time can be an exhilarating but daunting experience. It is essential to plan and prepare adequately to make the most of your trip, whether you are celebrating a special occasion or holidaying with extended family and friends, want to sit back and relax on board or venture ashore to experience the delights of your chosen destination … the choice is yours. Following these essential tips will help you navigate the process and create a trip of a lifetime.

Find a good charter broker

The help of a good charter broker cannot be underestimated, so take your time to contact a few and choose someone you feel you can trust with your plans and your money. A good charter broker should be honest, straightforward and independent, with your interest in mind at all times. Anyone can show you great photos, but reliable brokers will be able to talk you through options in detail from personal experience.

When approaching potential brokers, you need to be open and honest as well, so think carefully in advance about what you are looking for, your budget and how many guests will be on board. An experienced broker will ask loads of questions so they can understand what really matters to you and your group.

Choose the right yacht

Luxury yachts come in all sizes and styles, from sleek motor yachts to classic sailing vessels. Select a yacht that suits your group size and desired level of comfort – there is the ideal yacht-crew-destination combination for everyone. A charter broker should present you with a selection of yachts based on the preferences you have already discussed with them. Now is the time to trust their opinion; a good broker will spend time viewing loads of yachts at yacht shows and meeting captains and crews, so they have extensive knowledge about fleets around the world. When presented with a shortlist, enquire as to why they have proposed certain yachts and don’t be afraid to ask questions about the tiniest of details – misunderstandings are best resolved long before you board. You may need to be flexible in some instances, but the more boxes your chosen yacht ticks, the more you will be able to relax and enjoy your time on board.

One final tip, don’t be put off if an experienced broker recommends an older yacht – many are meticulously maintained with regular refits to keep them up to date. If you trust your broker, trust their recommendations.

Research your destination

As important as the yacht is the destination, and as a first-time charterer it is important to consider how you want to spend your time. Many people love the convenience of chartering a private yacht so they can travel between ports and anchorages at their own pace, visiting sites along the way. Others enjoy cruising with only a few stops and spending as much time as possible on board to make the most of the tailored service and luxury amenities. A good charter broker will be able to recommend itineraries based on your interests; whether that be history and culture, food and drink, hiking and biking or just watching the world go by from the sun deck.

If you are new to chartering then choosing a destination and itinerary with short cruising times, plenty of places to stop and opportunities to experience the water toys will create lasting memories and start a love affair with luxury yacht travel. In the Mediterranean, Greece, Corsica and Croatia are fabulous for first-timers, while the Caribbean and Bahamas have an abundance of islands to visit with idyllic shallow anchorages and few restrictions on water toy usage. It is important to create a balanced itinerary – remember you are on holiday, so factor in plenty of time to take things easy and for leisurely lunches to overrun!

It is also important to think about the seasons – high season in the Mediterranean may be low season elsewhere – and travel based on your requirements for perfect weather, quieter towns along the way or perfect winds on a sailing trip.

Be flexible

Finding the middle ground between meticulous planning and embracing spontaneity can be tricky, so it is important to be flexible – it’s often these unplanned moments, at the recommendation of the captain, that make yacht charters memorable. One of the joys of a private charter is that you are not restricted to timetables or limited by availability – within reason, the world is your oyster, so make the most of this unique opportunity.

Book early

Planning and booking early will give you the most choice and options to charter the best yachts with the best crews. Listening to advice and allowing enough time to make the right decision will give you peace of mind, especially if the charter is marking a special occasion. If you have secured your favourite yacht in plenty of time, it affords flexibility in planning the itinerary. With ample time in hand, you and your broker can research activities, attractions, and dining options in your chosen destination, perhaps securing reservations for popular restaurants or tickets to particular events.

Understand the chartering costs, processes and terminology

Planning a yacht charter is an exciting time, but if you are new to the process it can seem like a bewildering prospect – a minefield of forms, contracts and terminology. Once again, a professional and accredited charter broker is key and can guide you through the process to
protect you from being misled or exploited.

Something important to keep in mind is the costs: the headline charter rate covers the cost of the yacht and the crew and is usually seasonally priced. You will also notice the term ‘plus expenses’ alongside the rate, which accounts for all the other costs, including APA, taxes, fuel and any delivery fees. The APA is the Advanced Provisioning Allowance, typically 30-35% of the total charter fee, which covers expenses for food, drinks and docking fees. Paid in advance, any money not used will be returned after the charter.

Once a booking has been agreed upon, the charter yacht’s Central Agent will issue a Charter Agreement to be signed by the charterer and owner/agent. Your broker will assist with this, but MYBA agreements are industry standards, in place to safeguard the interests of all parties involved. The MYBA is the Worldwide Yachting Association whose contracts cover all aspects of the charter including dates, locations, cancellation policies and insurance provisions.

Familiarise yourself with yacht etiquette

It is important to understand the yacht’s rules and regulations before you board – your broker should provide you with general guidelines and those specific to your charter yacht. Most are there for guest’s safety and enjoyment and for the protection of the crew – remember it is their place of work and they have a right to a safe and respectful environment.

The most important things to remember are to listen and follow the captain and crew’s instructions, respect the crew’s boundaries – they will be busy ensuring the success of your charter, don’t expect the crew to be your childcare and absolutely don’t do anything illegal like bringing non-prescription drugs on board.

It is customary to tip the crew at the end of your yacht charter and in general it is advised to tip between 5% and 20% of the charter rate, depending on the yacht and the location. A tip is entirely at the charterer’s discretion and should be considered as a reward for excellent service on board.

Pack smartly

When packing for a private yacht charter be mindful that many yachts have limited storage space on board. You may be asked to bring soft luggage only and it is advisable to pack light based on the itinerary you and your broker have created. Most yachts have a ‘barefoot’ rule and shoes with hard or dark soles are discouraged as they can leave unsightly marks on the decking. Sunglasses, hats and sun protection are essential – the sun may be stronger than you are used to and there will be lots of reflection off the water. Most yachts provide bath and beach towels, slippers and robes and some basic toiletries and medication.

Communicate openly and honestly

A good charter broker will send you preference forms to complete before your charter which include questions about the food you like to eat, what you like to do, how much time you want to spend ashore/using water toys etc. Ensure that you complete these in as much detail as you can as they are an important planning tool for the crew and chef to make sure you enjoy every aspect of your charter. They will plan the provisions on board based on what you tell them, so don’t ask for something you don’t like or expect things you haven’t asked for – remember there may not be access to alternative foods or drinks along the way. Once onboard, communicate openly with the captain and crew about how things are going, their knowledge will enhance your experience and ensure seamless service.

Have fun and make great memories

Above all, savour every moment of your luxury yacht charter. Embrace the breathtaking views, indulge in gourmet meals prepared by talented chefs, and create lasting memories with loved ones.

Bon voyage!

Trina Howes

Trina Howes is a Director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld America is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates outstanding vacations with excellent yachts at amazing prices – worldwide. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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