How to charter a luxury yacht
This charter guide outlines the process of chartering a luxury yacht and details the costs involved. It should cover everything you need to know about luxury yacht charter – but if you have any further questions, please contact us.
How do I charter a yacht?
There are a few key steps you need to follow when thinking about booking a luxury yacht charter:
- Think about where you want to go. Take a look at our charter destinations for some inspiration
- Narrow down your requirements. What is your budget? How many people do you want to invite? Do you want adventure, romance or both?
- Get an idea of the type of yachts you like
- Let the charter broker find you the most suitable superyachts, and pick your favourite
- Start planning: the broker will arrange your itinerary and any other details
How much does it cost to charter a yacht?
You’ll usually see two rates for charter yachts: the high season and low season rate. But that’s not all that you need to budget for. You need to factor in:
- The running costs of the charter, which usually ends up being 25-30% of the charter depending on your group and itinerary. It’s called the Advanced Provisioning Allowance, and we explain this in more detail below
- VAT or local cruising taxes, that can vary from 0 to 22%
- Delivery costs and/or redelivery cost, if you want to charter the vessel away from his home port area or far from current bookings in place. This doesn’t always apply, so check with your broker
- A security deposit. This is mainly requested if an event is part of your charter, but depending on the make-up of the group, some owners will require this on the contract.
- A crew tip is offered at your discretion but in planning the overall cost, this is something to consider. We explain tips in more detail later on in this guide
What is the advanced provisioning allowance?
Advanced provisioning allowance (APA) is the extra fee that you pay in advance to cover the cost of provisions for your charter. It helps to think of the advanced provisioning allowance as like opening a petty cash account for your captain and chef, because it’s the simplest way of tracking charter expenses while you’re on board.
The APA allows the Captain and Crew to fully prepare and customize the experience to exactly how you want to live on board. A ‘preference sheet’ will be prepared in detail between you and your broker and sent to the Captain in good time for him to prepare the yacht for your arrival.
FAQs: Yacht charter etiquette
How should I interact with the crew?
The crew are valued employees, ensuring the yacht is run safely, operates smoothly and that service levels are optimised for you and your guests.
Can I invite friends on the yacht?
You’re encouraged to entertain guests during your charter, but please let the crew know if you’re thinking about inviting friends on board. If you give the crew plenty of time to plan, you’ll have the very best experience.
Can I hold a party on board?
Some yachts are happy to hold events on board, but they will need to adhere to regulations as to how many guests can be there at any one time and research local rules for noise levels and events. The yacht may request a security deposit, in case of any damage caused during the charter.
There are also events such as the Monaco Grand Prix, Cannes Film Festival, MIPIM and Venice Film Festival that charter yachts actively encourage charters for guests to have their parties and meetings on.
The number of guests for events varies with the size of yacht, their flag registry rules, their insurance levels and the owner’s comfort level.
Can I bring staff in addition to my guests to stay on board?
Any essential staff such as nannies or physicians may be accommodated if the yacht has suitable cabins available for them. This is requested on a case-by-case basis and full employment status of the individuals will need to be provided. The yacht crew will ensure that the staff are given any necessary safety training and advise them on how service works on the yacht.
Can I bring my pet?
Most yachts are not set up to accommodate pets on charter but there are some that give them a warm welcome. When enquiring for your charter please do state if you have a pet hoping to travel with you, their size, breed (if relevant) and ideally also send a photo.
What happens while the crew clean?
The crew are very skilled at making sure everything is shipshape – but they always appreciate it when guests take their morning coffee on the sundeck, for example, as it gives them a chance to make sure your stateroom is made up and ready.
What happens if I have a problem?
Every member of the crew wants you to have the very best experience. But if you have any questions or concerns, a quick chat with the Captain is the best thing to do.
Are any areas off-limits?
Please don’t enter the crew areas without permission. The Captain or First Officer will give you a safety briefing upon embarkation, which will go over how to stay safe on board. For your own safety, take the time to familiarise yourself with all the information provided about lifejackets and the lifeboat drill.
Do I have to take my shoes off?
Please make sure you’re barefoot during the charter or wear the slippers many yachts provide. Teak decks are notoriously fragile and dents and scuffs on the well-polished wood are a big no-no. Similarly, street shoes can damage a yacht’s antique carpets or custom flooring. Most crews will provide a shoe basket at the end of the gangway to keep your favourite shoes safe.
Can I smoke onboard?
As a general rule, most superyachts don’t allow smoking inside the yacht anymore – but check the policy for each yacht. There’s often a designated smoking area on deck for those who fancy an after-dinner cigar.
What luggage should I use?
Soft luggage that can be easily folded up and stowed away is the best option for packing. That’s because although guest staterooms are beautifully designed, storage is always an issue. Hardshell luggage is difficult to store at the best of times.
FAQs: Preference sheet
What is a preference sheet?
A preference sheet is a form you fill out to outline your preferences. It’s your opportunity to let the crew know about any special requirements you might have for your charter. From the sleeping arrangements for your party to your favourite dessert, the preference sheet will help the crew create an unforgettable holiday.
When do I have to fill it out the preference sheet?
You’ll get the preference sheet in advance of your charter. Please fill it in as soon as you can, and return it to your charter broker a month before you embark.
FAQs Advance Provisioning Allowance
Where and when do I need to pay the APA?
The APA is due at the same time as your final charter payment, so roughly one month before you set sail. The transfer is made directly to the yacht captain. Your broker will provide all the necessary bank details ahead of time.
Who will handle the purchasing for the charter?
The captain will oversee all the purchases made before and during your charter. He will be responsible for ensuring the crew stay within budget and will provide receipts and expense accounts upon request. All expenses will be charged at cost and at the end of your charter you’ll receive an itemised breakdown of all expenditures.
What happens if the APA doesn’t cover all expenses?
Charter cost estimation is fairly accurate, but there’s always a chance that you might decide to blow the budget while at sea. Should your outgoings exceed the initial payment, you can top up the APA in cash while you’re on board, or by wire transfer to the yacht’s account. The captain will keep you updated throughout the trip, and if there are any outstanding costs, you’ll need to settle up before disembarking.
What if we don’t use the full APA?
If there’s any credit remaining on the APA account at the end of the charter, the captain will issue a refund. You will receive the outstanding balance in cash before you leave the yacht, or by wire transfer within five working days after the charter.
Finally, does the APA apply to all charters?
When it comes to luxury yacht charter, the APA is usually applied as standard. Simple and straightforward, the APA is the easiest way to keep track of your outgoings while at sea.
FAQs: Chartering with children
Can I charter with my children?
A superyacht charter is a dream come true for most kids, thanks to the toys and tenders galore. An increasing number of charters are family-friendly with children’s activities, itineraries, menus and more on offer.
What should I look out for?
Ask about safety features for kids. Many yachts have safety equipment including locks, gates and safety nets to create safe play spaces for younger guests. Just ask your broker to check with the captain and crew before reserving your yacht.
How do we plan for a child-friendly charter?
Ask your broker for a child-friendly itinerary. From sandy beaches to water parks, zoos and museums, many charter destinations offer a whole host of family activities.
Are there child-friendly activities?
Yachts are full of everything from books and board games to games consoles and movie theatres, so there’s no time to be bored on a superyacht. Additionally, many crews will be happy to organise treasure hunts and theme nights during the trip. We guarantee younger guests will have the time of their lives while you’re on charter.
What if my child is a fussy eater?
Just like any 5-star restaurant, yacht chefs are very good at providing delicious meals for the whole family to enjoy. And many chefs will be happy to create kid-friendly dishes to tempt even the pickiest eater. From picking out their own menu to trying local delicacies, your little ones will love mealtime onboard their very own superyacht.
Can the crew babysit?
If you need someone to babysit, it’s advised that you bring a nanny on board with you. While the crew are willing to go the extra mile to entertain younger charter guests, they will be too busy to babysit during your charter.
FAQs: Water toys
Can I use every water toy?
The water toys are there for you to enjoy, but some may need special training or a licence to use. It’s best to check with the Captain first if you’re unsure.
Are the water toys easy to use?
Most of the yacht toys are straightforward and self-explanatory. But if you’ve never used a Sea Bob or Jet Ski, for example, ask the crew to show you how it works before you head out to sea. They’ll be more than happy to assist.
Do I need a lifejacket?
You should always wear a lifejacket when using the toys. As tempting as it might be to jump straight onto the nearest Jet Ski, safety first is definitely key. The crew will be happy to provide life jackets in a range of sizes to keep everyone safe and sound out on the water.
How do I tip the charter crew?
Give the tip to the captain. He will take care of dividing it between the crew members including those who work behind the scenes. If you feel that any member of the crew has gone above and beyond the call of duty, just let him know.
What are the tipping guidelines?
The Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association’s tipping policy guidelines have been accepted as standard by most yachts. The guidelines say a tip should be around 5-15% of your charter fee, depending on the yacht and the location. To check whether your charter yacht follows MYBA guidelines just ask your broker.