Yacht Charter Etiquette - Dos and Don'ts
September 4, 2018
This handy guide is essential reading before you embark on a yacht charter experience.
If you're new to luxury yacht charter, you might be wondering how things work on board. To help you get the most from this unique experience, we've put together a guide to yacht charter etiquette.
Read on for some of the dos and don’ts to remember while you’re on board a superyacht.
Interacting with Crew
During your charter, the crew will be on hand to take care of your every requirement. Hardworking and usually extremely busy, their job is to make sure your charter is an unforgettable experience. If you’re wondering how best to interact with them:
- Do: Treat them with all the respect they deserve. Think of them as your most valued employees, after all, they are responsible for making sure you have a wonderful time on board.
- Do: Let them know if you’re thinking about inviting friends over. On board entertaining is definitely encouraged but a little bit of advance planning goes a long way. A quick chat with the crew beforehand will enable them to order extra provisions to make sure your party goes with a bang.
- Do: Give them the time and space they need for the daily housekeeping routine. Keeping everything shipshape is an important part of their job but they’ll need a little time to get it all done. Why not pop up to the sundeck for a coffee while they make sure your stateroom is made up and ready each morning.
- Do: Speak to them if you have a query or a problem. The captain is always your first port of call whilst on charter. If you have any issues or there’s anything you need to clear up, he’s definitely the right man for the job.
- Don’t: Enter the crew areas without permission. Certain spaces on the yacht are reserved for crew members only. So please do respect their privacy and avoid entering crew quarters unless invited to do so.
- Don’t: Help yourself to snacks from the kitchen. Much like a restaurant kitchen, a yacht galley is a workspace and entry is by invitation of the chef. If you do fancy a late-night nibble, a crew member will be more than happy to provide it for you.
Relaxed and laid back, yacht charters are obviously meant to be fun, but there are still some simple rules which need to be followed whilst you’re onboard. Here are a few dos and don’ts to help make your charter experience your best holiday yet:
- Do: Listen carefully to the security briefings. Security is taken very seriously onboard superyachts and for good reason, the ocean can be a dangerous place. For your own safety, do take the time to familiarise yourself with all the information provided about lifejackets and the lifeboat drill.
- Do: Remember the barefoot rule. 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 heels safe. The barefoot rule is the perfect opportunity to show off your summer manicure while you’re onboard.
- Do: Check out the smoking policy. As a general rule, most superyachts don’t allow smoking inside the cabins anymore. But there is often a designated smoking area on deck for those who fancy an after-dinner cigar. If you’re planning on lighting up, it’s best to check with your broker whether your chosen yacht has onboard smoking facilities.
- Don’t: Forget to fill out your preference sheet. Before stepping onboard, your broker will send you a preference sheet. This is 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.
- Don’t: Bring your hardshell luggage with you. Guest staterooms are beautifully designed, but storage is always an issue onboard a yacht. Hardshell luggage is difficult to store at the best of times so it’s best to leave the steamer trunk at home. Soft luggage which can be easily folded up and stowed away is a much better option.
- Don’t: Do anything illegal. Superyachts follow the same rules as everyone else and illegal behaviour is not just frowned upon, it’s completely banned. With a zero-tolerance policy, any illegal behaviour onboard will result in guests being turned in to the appropriate authorities. It may also result in the yacht being seized and the captain losing his licence so it’s best not to take the risk.
Tipping Yacht Crew
Tipping your crew for their service at the end of a charter is a given. But knowing how much to tip and who to give it to can be a bit of a mystery. So, to make it easier, here’s our quick rundown of tipping etiquette onboard:
- Do: 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.
- Do: Follow MYBA tipping guidelines. Tipping crew at the end of a charter used to be a bit of a minefield. But then the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association stepped in and issued tipping policy guidelines which have been accepted as standard by most yachts. So, according to MYBA, the 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.
Obviously, if you feel the crew has exceeded your expectations, it's up to you if you'd like to tip more than 15%.
- Don’t: Tip too early. Just like in your favourite restaurant, the tip is usually given at the end of the charter to thank the crew for their service.
Although it sounds mysterious, the APA or Advance Provisioning Allowance is really very simple. An onboard petty cash account, the APA is an easy way of tracking and paying for charter expenses. Here’s a quick breakdown of what to do if you have too much or not enough left in your account:
- Do: Remember that the APA might not cover all your expenses. Charter cost estimation tends to be fairly accurate but it is only an estimation. So, if you go over-budget while you’re onboard you will need to top up the APA in cash. And similarly, any outstanding costs will need to be paid in full to the captain before you leave the yacht.
- Don’t: Worry if you don’t use the entire amount set aside for the APA. This is perfectly normal and happens regularly. Any APA credit will simply be paid back to you in cash (or via bank transfer) by the captain at the end of your charter. You can also decide to put this towards the tip if you wish.
Watersports and Toys
One of the most exciting things about a yacht charter is the incredible range of water sports on offer. Toys and tenders are a huge part of the superyacht lifestyle and just the thing for getting the party started. But there are also a few guidelines to follow to make sure everyone stays safe out on the water:
- Do: Check whether you will need any special training or a licence to use the water toys. Depending on your yacht and location, the crew may need to organise additional paperwork or training sessions for certain toys. If you’re unsure, always check with your captain first.
- Do: Ask the crew to demonstrate how toys work. 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: Remember to treat water toys with care. Powerful and high-performance, superyacht toys are great fun but need to be handled with care. Remember to follow the guidelines outlined by the crew to avoid an accident spoiling the fun.
- Don’t: Forget the lifejackets. 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.
- Don’t: Head straight to your cabin with your wet swimsuit and towel. After a ride on the inflatables or a dip in the sea pool, remember to dry off before getting back onboard. Salt water can damage the teak decks so it’s best to hand your wet towel to a crew member before heading to your cabin.
- Don't: Go too far away from the yacht. Now we're teaching you to suck eggs, but it's important that you stay relatively close to the yacht when out on the water. Or if you would like to go further afield, let the crew know beforehand.
With toys and tenders galore, a superyacht charter is a dream come true for most kids. And these days more and more yachts are family-friendly with children's activities, itineraries, menus and more on offer. To make sure everyone has the time of their lives, here are a few things to consider while on charter with the family:
- Do: Look for a yacht with a family-friendly layout. If you’re planning on taking the whole family onboard this summer, you’ll want to consider a yacht with a family-friendly layout. Many charter yachts have guest accommodation which includes double or triple staterooms for family groups. Additionally, some yachts also have staff accommodation for nannies and babysitters on the same deck, the perfect choice for younger children.
- Do: Ask about safety features for kids. Chartering a superyacht might be luxurious, but with kids onboard you’ll want it to be as safe as possible. 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.
- Do: Request a child-friendly itinerary. From sandy beaches to water parks, zoos and museums, many charter destinations offer a whole host of family activities. To keep your children entertained both on and offshore, your broker will be happy to create a custom itinerary for your family.
- Don’t: Worry about onboard entertainment. With everything from books and board games to games consoles and movie theatres, 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.
- Don’t: Panic about picky eaters. 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.
- Don’t: Expect the crew to provide a babysitting service. Fun-loving and friendly, yacht crews are often willing to go the extra mile to entertain younger charter guests. But while they’re on hand to make sure everyone’s having a good time, crew members don’t have time to babysit. So, if you’re looking forward to relaxing while the children play, it’s best to bring a nanny on board with you.