How to Plan and Book the Perfect Yacht Charter
A misconception about booking a luxury yacht charter is that it’s stressful. However, the opposite is true:
Planning a yacht charter is full of excitement, as you choose the details to make your luxury getaway a trip you’ll never forget. The key, however, is to work with an established charter broker.
Charter brokers specialize in booking luxury charter vacations. You tell the charter broker what type of experience you want (or get suggestions if you aren’t sure), and your broker manages all the details. They help you choose a destination, select a yacht, and manage payments and itineraries.
You might be wondering: What’s the process for booking a yacht charter? From choosing a destination, to selecting a yacht, you’ll learn everything you need to know about planning a magical, memorable luxury vacation at sea.
Step 1: Work with a Charter Broker
Booking yacht charters is easier when you have a guide through the entire process – a yacht charter broker. Yacht brokers help guests plan and enjoy luxury charters in the world’s most desirable destinations like the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and Greece.
You can think of a charter broker as a personal concierge. They help you plan and manage the details of a charter, including:
- Finding the perfect yacht – The best charter brokers can help you access exclusive private yachts in every destination. From catamarans, to sailing yachts and superyachts, brokers simply booking yachts that have all the amenities you’re looking for.
- Choosing the best destination – Brokers have traveled to and know the ins and outs of top charter destinations like Italy, Croatia, and the Bahamas. This insider knowledge helps you carefully curate your itinerary to ensure you experience all the best sights, attractions, and adventures a destination has to offer.
- Managing costs, taxes and legalities – Charter contracts, taxes, visa requirements, and costs are cumbersome to understand. Charter brokers walk you through the contract process, and ensure you understand all your obligations.
Step 2: Select the Perfect Charter Destination
For some, the ideal yacht charter would be an adventure on the untouched beaches of Tahiti, while others dream of carousing with A Listers in Ibiza. The best charter destination, in other words, is one that matches the experience you desire.
If you’re looking for adventure, Alaska, the fjord lands of Norway, or Australia’s Great Barrier Reef all make perfect destinations to travel to. If you prefer nightlife, Ibiza in Spain, Miami, or Nassau all fit the bill.
Not sure which destination you want to travel to? Charter brokers provide in-depth knowledge of each destination and can help you book exclusive yachts in the most popular charter destinations like:
- Mediterranean – The Mediterranean – which includes the charter grounds of the French Riviera, Monaco, Italy, and Spain – are some of the world’s most desirable spots for luxury charters. The Med offers Old World history, excellent cuisine and wine, beautiful beaches, nightlife, festivals, and incredible scenery.
- The Bahamas – With hundreds of islands, the Bahamas offers some of the best cruising in the Caribbean. Highlights include premier golf clubs of Nassau, snorkeling and scuba, and the pink sand beaches of the Exumas.
- Alaska – If you’re after adventure, a charter in Alaska offers the chance to kayak next to glaciers, whale watch, and hike in some of the most pristine forests in the U.S.
- New England – There are dozens of charter hotspots in New England, from Martha’s Vineyard and Newport to the lighthouses of Nantucket. New England is known for its picturesque coastlines, summer regattas, and charming historic districts to explore.
- Greece – The sun-soaked islands of Greece provide the perfect backdrop for a luxury charter getaway. Known for its historic ruins, beautiful beaches, and out-of-this-world cuisine, Greece is an idyll locale for some R&R.
Step 3: Decide When to Charter: Destinations by Season
Every destination has a “charter season.” During peak season, conditions are ideal, and more yachts may be available. The two most common seasons are winter and summer:
- Summer destinations – Summer in the Northern Hemisphere offers prime charter conditions in locations in the U.S., including New England and Alaska. However, nothing says summer like a charter in the Mediterranean. Typically, the summer season runs from late May through August.
- Winter destinations – Winter season runs from December through March, and popular winter charter destinations include the Caribbean (the Bahamas, Cuba, St. Vincent, St. Martin), and the Florida Keys / Miami.
- Shoulder Season – Outside of the peak summer / winter seasons, charters are still available. During the so-called shoulder season, which includes May, September (for summer destinations), and October, November, and April (for winter destinations), you can still charter.
- Spring / Fall Destinations – Tahiti offers charters year-round. However, between April and October, the trade winds blow, which offers a cooling respite. Therefore, spring and fall are two of the best times to charter in Tahiti.
What about off season charters? During the charter season, you’ll find the best access to amenities, attractions, and a wider variety of charter yachts for hire. However, many destinations offer year-round cruising. For example, in the Bahamas, charters are available year-round. One benefit of an off-season charter: Costs are typically lower during off-peak months.
Step 4: Choose the Right Type of Yacht
One of the most important decisions when you plan a charter is the yacht. There are many different types of yachts available, each offering a different type of cruising experience. The three types of yachts you might choose include:
- Motor Yachts – Motor yachts range from 20 feet to 200+ feet in length and have many different styles including tri-deck and flybridge. Motor yachts generally offer a comfortable cruising experience, thanks to their advanced stabilizing systems. Motor yachts are available in nearly every destination.
- Catamarans – Catamarans are dull-hulled vessels that offer supreme stability at sea, as well as spacious decks and interior. There are two types: Motor catamarans and sailing catamarans. Catamarans are popular in the Mediterranean and Caribbean.
- Sailing Yachts – A sailing yacht is a classic sailboat, and they offer an adventurous cruising experience. Sailing yachts tend to have a large main deck, with areas for lounging and dining al fresco, as well as comfortable cabin accommodations.
Step 5: Understanding Yacht Options: Amenities, Crews, Itineraries
Choosing a yacht shouldn’t just come down to the type. You need to also consider what the yacht offers. For example, some motor yachts have scuba and snorkel gear onboard, allowing you to dive and explore reefs. They may also offer scuba certification programs to guests.
Other yachts have small crews that provide just basic services, while others have a full crew, including stewardesses, a chef, and a full deck crew. Some of the options you should consider is:
- Water Sports – Large yachts typically include a variety of water toys. Some of the most popular include: a tender for water excursions, paddleboards, jet skis, ski bobs, and water slides.
- Scuba and Snorkel – Some yachts are outfitted with scuba and snorkel gear. Some of these yachts may also include scuba instruction to help you get certified, if necessary. Typically, scuba is an added charge on most yachts.
- Onboard Amenities – The most luxurious yachts offer amenities that can elevate the experience. Some of the most popular include saunas, massage rooms, hot tubs, fitness centers, steam rooms, cinemas, and beach clubs.
- Crew – The crew makes your charter experience more memorable. From the food to the service, a great crew will ensure that you are taken care of at all times. Brokers tend to have insider’s knowledge of the best crews and the top charter chefs.
- Itineraries – Another consideration is your itinerary. Most yachts offer 7-day itineraries that allow you to see a region’s best sights and attractions. A broker can help you plan an itinerary that’s personalized to your specific needs.
Step 6: Understand Charter Costs
Costs for a yacht charter can vary wildly, and there are many factors that can affect pricing, including the destination, the type of yacht, and provisioning requests. For more compact motor yachts in the Caribbean, a week-long charter can cost around $10,000, while the most luxurious superyachts can set you back north of $250,000 per week.
There are two main considerations when it comes to costs of a charter:
- All-inclusive charters – With all-inclusive charters, costs like fuel, food and drinks, and water sports are included in the price. The only additional charge would be dockage fees and taxes. All-inclusive charters are common in some destinations in the Caribbean like the Virgin Islands.
- Plus-expenses charters – Large motor yachts generally offer plus-expenses charters. This means the base price includes only the yacht. Additional expenses, including bar, fuel, dockage, taxes, etc., are not included in the price. Charter guests provide an allowance, the Advanced Provision Allowance – which is usually 35% of the base price – to cover these costs.
Charter costs can also be affected by the destination. During peak season, charter base prices generally increase and are discounted during the off-season. Charter yachts in destinations with smaller fleets, like the Galapagos Islands, tend to also have elevated base costs.
Step 7: Charter Contract FAQs
Prior to your charter, you’ll sign an agreement with the owner of the yacht. This contract includes important details about your charter and outlines your obligations prior to charter. Some of the most common questions we hear about yacht charter contracts are:
What’s Covered in the Contract?
Charter contracts cover all the details of your charter, including:
- Dates / locations
- Your rights as a charterer
- Your financial obligations and payment structures
- Insurance details / cancellation policies
What Types of Contracts Are Offered?
There are three main types of charter contracts, including:
- Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association Terms – This is a comprehensive contract that covers plus-expenses charters in the Mediterranean. It outlines which expenses a charter guest is responsible for, what expenses are included, and payment details.
- Caribbean Terms Inclusive – This type of contract is used for smaller vessels in the Caribbean and covers all-inclusive charters.
- Standard Eastern Mediterranean Terms – This type of contract is used for semi-all-inclusive charters in the Mediterranean. However, the contract only includes two meals per day. Fuel, berthing fees, beverages, and additional fuel costs aren’t included in the price.
Can I Include a Non-Disclosure Agreement?
Many guests want to protect their privacy. As such, they can request a non-disclosure agreement to be signed by the crew and charter broker. For example, a celebrity might want to protect the details of their travel plans to prevent paparazzi from learning about where they will be.
NDAs are very common in the charter industry. If you would like one signed, ask your charter broker for more information.
What If I Have Questions about the Contract?
Often, charter contracts are multi-page documents that are full of information. That’s why working with a charter broker can be so beneficial. A charter broker will walk you through the entire document to ensure you fully understand the terms.
Step 8: Protect Yourself with Trip Insurance
In this age of travel restrictions, trip insurance is a good investment whenever you book a vacation. That’s especially true for yacht charters. Trip insurance is strongly recommended for charter guests.
However, there are a variety of trip insurance plans you might consider that can protect you if something unexpected comes up. They include:
- Trip cancellation insurance – This type of insurance protects your trip if you need to cancel. However, these plans generally only include cancellations for a limited number of reasons like:
- Death of a travel companion or immediate family member
- Sudden job loss
- Severe weather
- Military orders
- Family emergency
- Full cancelation insurance – Standard trip insurance plans generally only allow cancellations for reasons outlined in the policy. However, many insurers off full cancellation policies, which include cancellations for any reason. These plans typically increase the policy cost by 50%, but ensure if something comes up, your investment is protected.
- Medical insurance – Some destinations require travelers to obtain medical insurance prior to travel. A comprehensive medical travel insurance plan will protect you and your guests from unexpected healthcare costs.
Step 9: Be Flexible
One key piece of advice: Be prepared for the unexpected. Although your crew will work hard to provide an experience that’s as close to your plans as possible, sometimes unexpected events can change
For example, weather can affect your itinerary. Rough conditions might require you to stay in a sheltered port. But the good news is that your charter crew will work to make the most of bad weather, offering shoreside excursions or entertainment, while you wait for better weather.
Step 10: Book Your Next Yacht Charter with Worldwide Boat
The best piece of advice when it comes to booking a yacht charter is this: Work with an establish brokerage. Brokers save you time, help you avoid stress, and ensure your charter is a truly incredible experience.
Worldwide Boat offers a team of dedicated brokers and charter planners that can help you enjoy a world-class experience in the world’s most desirable destinations. Contact our team today to learn more about your luxury charter options.