The Private Yacht Charter: 5 Tips You Need to Know to Book Your Next Trip

Traveling by private yacht charter is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to reach off-the-beaten path destinations. Charters also make it possible to cover a lot of ground in areas that are hard to navigate by car or train. Ideal for a memorable family vacation, a romantic retreat or an escape from the everyday, they can be specifically tailored to meet your needs and offer experiences that can’t be found anywhere else, including exclusive access to otherwise crowded hotspots like the South of France and the Italian Riviera. Whether you’re looking to cruise the Mediterranean in style or have an adventure in the Indonesian archipelago, these are the five essential guidelines that you need to know to ensure smooth sailing.

Contact Indagare to start planning a private yacht charter trip. Our travel specialists can arrange everything from sailboats or catamarans to luxurious staffed yachts, as well as plan land touring, adventure activities and meals on board or at top restaurants.

1.  Plan your dates well in advance…

Yachts operate on a seven-day schedule that usually runs from Saturday to Saturday. This seven-night minimum is rarely negotiable (and it can go up to 10 nights during the winter holidays), so you should plan to allocate this much time for your trip. Additionally, sailing schedules are sometimes set up to a year in advance, so it is important to talk to your trip designer as soon as you start thinking about a charter in order to plan around where the boats will be docked.

Related: Best Destinations for Summer Yacht Charters

2.  …But be flexible with your itinerary

Yacht charters allow you to visit lots of destinations with ease in a shorter period of time and can include touring on land as well as activities on the water. This offers wonderful freedom and creativity to craft robust itineraries; however, travelers must always remember that everything is dependent on the weather. Routing is never guaranteed and can change at any moment, depending on the conditions, so avoid booking non-refundable hotel and restaurant reservations or activities. No matter how well an itinerary is put together by your trip designer, it is more likely than not that it will change at some point. Your captain and crew are equipped to adjust and will discuss the day’s plan with you each morning, based on the weather and your group’s desires.

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3.  Know your numbers

The vast majority of yachts have a non-negotiable capacity of 12 guests maximum on board, although there are a few that can accommodate a larger party of up to 30 guests. It is important to confirm the number of travelers on your charter at the beginning of the planning process, as the size of the yacht you’ll need to book will determine how much the boat rocks (important for those who struggle with seasickness), the types of special amenities offered (like jet skis, diving boards, water slides and inflatables) and your budget.

No matter the size, the total price of booking a charter is composed of the following: the charter fee, which is determined by the yacht’s owners; the APA (Advance Provisioning Allowance), an onboard account amounting to approximately 30% of the charter fee, which you must pay in advance in order to cover expenses for fuel, food and beverages, transportation on shore and dockage fees; the VAT (Value Added Tax) incurred when disembarking from European and some Caribbean ports; and the crew’s gratuity (which is often covered in part by any remainder from the APA). Your Indagare trip designer can help you determine which yacht is right for your needs and plot an itinerary that maximizes your budget—for instance, by selecting a port of embarkation that will lower the tax on the charter.

Related: Fun Ideas for a Multigenerational Vacation

4.  Ask for what you want

Your private yacht should feel like your “home away from home,” and a great connection to the captain and crew can transform your charter into a once-in-a-lifetime trip. In order to prepare the best selection of meals, activities and amenities for your group, your trip designer will ask you to fill out a detailed “Preference Sheet” to share with the captain and chef several months prior to your departure. Don’t be shy in sharing your tastes and hopes for the trip (as well as your dislikes, fears and pet peeves)—the more your trip designer and captain know, the better they can cater to them. The options are endless: yachts can be child-friendly or equipped for mobility issues; they can have high-speed Internet, or no Internet at all; they can include a health spa and a masseuse, a water ski instructor or a DJ. You can spend every evening dining out on shore, or you can stay on the boat to enjoy laid-back meals (or extravagant tastings set to fireworks). Just ask.

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5.  Follow proper yacht etiquette

Just like any foreign country, yachts encompass a unique social environment with certain behavioral rules that should be followed. In addition to treating the yacht and its crew with full respect, you should always remember these Do’s and Dont’s:

  • Do use soft-sided luggage for packing, as storage space can be limited.
  • Don’t wear high- or hard-heeled shoes; they are prohibited by crews because they can damage decks. While on board, you’ll have to stick to soft-soled shoes or bare feet.
  • Do talk to your captain about any questions, concerns or complaints as soon as they arise. The crew is there to make the charter as seamless as possible.
  • Don’t bring unexpected guests aboard. The yacht is equipped with a specific stock of food and beverages that is calculated for your group alone. If you’re planning to pick up friends or family for a visit during the trip, let the captain know in advance.
  • Do expect to pay a crew gratuity amounting to 10-15% of the charter fee. All charter payments must be made in advance by wire, so there is no need to have credit cards or cash on hand while you’re on board. On the last day of your journey, you will review the invoice and gratuity with the captain. Upon your return home, you can wire any outstanding payments.

Related: Dispelling Myths: The Cruise

Contact Indagare to start planning a private yacht charter trip. Our travel specialists can arrange everything from sailboats or catamarans to luxurious staffed yachts, as well as plan land touring, adventure activities and festive meals on board or at top restaurants.

– Elizabeth Harvey on June 20, 2018


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