Luxury Yacht Charters 101

Luxury Yachts: Chartering a yacht is at the top of the list for preferred luxury vacations by affluent travelers. The private-yacht-chartering industry remains busy, as jet setters are seeking to create their exclusive entertaining getaway on the sea. With so many options available, it can be somewhat tricky securing the what, where, why, how, and when of it all. Our objective here is to offer some input on how to efficiently plan, arrange, and book such a splashy, no-holds-barred adventurous escapade. It is best to begin with the basics before plunging into it too deeply.

Size Does Matter
It is important to determine the size of the yacht to charter. The number of occupants and the type of activities desired are key factors to consider. The general rule of thumb is that two guests can occupy a cabin. So, if two couples are chartering a yacht, two cabins should be sufficient space to accommodate four guests. Generally, the length of yachts can range from 38 feet up to 400-plus feet. The majority of yachts chartered are from 75 to approximately 200 feet long. Smaller yachts, ranging from 40 to 75 feet in length, are usually chartered for short trips, such as one-to-three-day trips. Many sports-fishing adventures are done with yachts around 40 to 50 feet in length, such as the Rampage 38 Express.

At the higher end, a ship as long as 80 feet, which could accommodate up to 12 guests, may be available with a full crew for a one-day affair and cost more than $10,000. Most private yacht charters are legally permitted a maximum of 12 passengers only. The weekly rate to charter a boat large enough to accommodate more than 12 guests with a full crew for a week may begin at around $350,000.

Types of Yachts
It also is important to determine the type of yacht that would best suit needs. Aside from small, medium, and large vessels, there are motor yachts and sailing yachts. Sailing yachts do have engines but are predominantly powered by wind and the know-how of savvy sailors. A sailing yacht generally ranges from 20 to 60 meters (approximately 60 to 175 feet). Crews for sailing yachts usually are based upon the size of the boat. A full crew for a 60-meter yacht could be as many as 16, including the captain. Two to five crewmembers are the norm for sailing yachts that are 60 to 100 feet long. A catamaran is another option for those seeking a sailing experience. It is a sailboat with two-parallel hulls that are held together by a single deck. The modern catamaran is usually about 12 meters (40 feet) in length. Compared to other boats, the catamaran is very swift, reaching speeds as high as 20 mph.

The Lavezzi 40 by Fountaine Pajot is an excellent example of a luxury-catamaran offering.

Numerous selections are available when chartering motor yachts. Many firms offer ships that range from around 13 meters up to 83 meters. A crew of one, which is a captain only, is doable with a smaller yacht, whereas longer yachts require more skilled hands to smoothly maintain order. A 30- or 40-meter motor yacht would generally require a full crew of six to eight members. An 83-meter (275 feet) luxury yacht could require 18 to 21 crewmembers.

Crew's Control
Chartering a yacht and being its captain, too, is also an option. This is called a bareboat charter; "bare" meaning without a designated captain and crew. Albeit such a mode does provide the most freedom for vacationers, it also makes the travelers assume the highest level of accompanying risks. The majority of yacht-chartering firms will insist that at least two passengers onboard possess proven competency, which generally means a combination of experience and certifications, before allowing such privileges.

Competence must be objectively proven above and beyond question. It is a black-and-white matter with zero gray area. Lightly bumping into a bumper of a car in a parking lot is one thing. Bumping into a dock with a $2 million yacht, even if it is a very, very gentle bump, would probably leave a big black cloud lingering over the remainder of a vacation. It is hard to remain upbeat and festive when you are worrying about a potential six-figure repair bill. Rest assured in knowing that a competent yacht-chartering outfit would never allow this to happen to a client. Experience is the best teacher. Even a certification-course graduate is not qualified to instantly ascend to being a captain of a yacht.

The Real Deal
Tim Nelson of Seven Seas Yacht Charters, which is located in Nokomis, Florida, provided us with excellent input on how to go about chartering a luxury yacht. In providing info on his company, Tim stated, "Seven Seas doesn't really offer 'vacation or tour packages.' We view individual yacht charters as customized vacations. Once the trip is plotted, we, along with the crew, work with a client to establish an itinerary based on the guests' preferences."

With Tim's assistance, we have put together a checklist for those seeking to charter a yacht. The purpose is to provide sufficient guidelines so that travelers will have a better understanding of the process and to get everything they desire from indulging in such an elaborate undertaking.

1. Determine your budget. It is very important to establish an amount before proceeding. Tim qualified his position by stating, "My idea of luxury may be the $700,000-a-week boat, while yours may be the $5,000-per-week package. Both are nice but obviously do not offer the same level of luxury features."

2. Provide specific dates and book in advance when chartering a yacht. Most firms require a minimum charter length of three days. Keep in mind that when a chartered trip is less than seven days, many companies will charge a premium for the charter.

"Plus," Tim quipped, "if you go for less than a week, I know that you aren't going to be ready to leave the yacht after only a few days aboard!"

It also is a good idea to book well in advance of the trip date. Some outfits prefer to have up to six months to book the arrangements. This is not an ironclad industry standard. However, it is a good benchmark.

3. Know the total number of guests and children who will be traveling. Some charter companies have a minimum age for children. Keep in mind that crewmembers are not permitted to serve as babysitters due to potential legal ramifications that may arise. Children at all times will need to be under the supervision of a member of the charter.

4. Know your desired destination and the forecasted weather conditions of the area. The primary chart

James Rothaar

James has written content for and other leading online luxury lifestyle magazines. Rothaar previously served as the senior-tenured staff writer for JustLuxe, having worked with the digital magazine since 2005. He resides in Jacksonville, Florida, and works as an independent marketing consultant and freelance writer and copywriter. He is the co-owner of Wild Owl Digital, a boutique mar...(Read More)

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