Chartering Luxury Yachts

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By James Rothaar

yacht charter vacations

Yachts are unquestionably vogue again. Yacht Charter is at the top of the list for preferred luxury vacations by prestigious travelers. The private-yacht-chartering industry is booking so many excursions that there is a lack of available full crews to meet the demand.

Business is booming, as numerous jetsetters 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.

Yacht Rampage 38 Express

Yacht 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 luxury 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 Luxury Yachts to Charter

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.

Yacht Lavezzi 40

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.

Yacht Charter Bareboat

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 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.

Tim Nelson of Seven Seas Yacht Charters

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 charter areas are the Mediterranean for the summer months and the Caribbean for the winter months. Also, Greece and New England are excellent options for the summer months. Florida and the Bahamas are nice for the winter and spring seasons. Conversely, June1 to November 30, which is the hurricane season, is not a good time for Florida, the Bahamas, or the Caribbean Islands. The rep of the yacht-charter firm should offer clients complete details regarding such matters.

  5. Down payments of up to 50 percent are generally expected at the time arrangements are made.
    Many times deposits for mega-yachts are done via wire transfers. Some smaller yachts with minimal crews do not accept credit cards for down payments. In most cases, the balance owed is to be paid 30 to 45 days prior to the charter date.

  6. Don't forget about the APA fees.
    APA means "advanced-provisioning allowance" and includes such items as the cost of fuel, food, wine, liquor, dockage, communication systems, and so forth. The fee is normally 30 to 35 percent of the charter fee and is due in full 30 to 45 days prior to the charter date. If less is spent on the APA, the difference is refunded; and vice-versa if the amount is higher.

  7. There are few more additional costs that should be stated.
    Tipping the crew can range from 10 to 20 percent of the charter fee. Tipping is not as common in European countries. However, a gratuity of five to 10 percent of the charter fee is recommended. Additionally, a broker should inform clients whether their chartered yacht is subject to taxes.

Recommended Sources

Seven Seas Yacht Charters

Obviously, we strongly recommend Seven Seas Yacht Charters. This seaworthy firm offers yacht excursions worldwide in mono-hull sailboats, powered catamarans or motor yachts that lavishly accommodate as few as two or more than 10 guests. SSYC obtains appropriate vessels for trips involving any of the seven seas for seven-, 14-, or 21-day charters. The organization, with its 19-plus years of know-how, is firmly established in the yacht-chartering industry. Luxury mega-yachts, such as the Alexander and the Turama are approximately 400 feet long and can accommodate 50 to 60 guests, are also available.

Inter Yacht Charter

Inter Yacht Charter has over 1,300 yachts available at over 130 locations. The firm's goal is to provide the largest accessible network to clients seeking yachts from 10 to 70 meters long. The company's FAQ section hooked us with its vast serving of across-the-board, worthwhile information on how to prepare for an outing on a yacht.

Allied Yacht Charter

Allied Yacht Charter has over 25 in-house charter yachts and is capable of securing hundreds of others through a vast network of yacht chartering services. Trips are available from the coast of Africa to the island of Zanzibar. Visit the Mediterranean Sea and stop off at the Greek Isles, or take in the Caribbean or the Bahamas. Check out Allied's 94 Ferretti. It has four staterooms and a hot tub on the top deck. It accommodates eight overnight guests and up to 12 day guests. Prices of private luxury yacht charters for a week range from $5,000 to $150,000. Power or sail yachts are available.

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