Chartering a yacht is the ultimate in custom vacationing, a travel trend that gained traction during COVID and shows no signs of stopping. It offers travelers an opportunity to reach their dream destinations in comfort, style, and exclusivity. The best part: Very often, this bespoke experience can be cheaper than a cruise on a higher-end line you’d have to share with a lot of strangers!
Here are six tips for choosing the best yacht charter experience to suit your style, tastes, and holiday goals!
1. Work Within Your Budget
For most travelers, money is indeed an object, or at least a big consideration. A great charter company has a fleet of vessels at its fingertips, from smaller options such as a catamaran or sailing yacht all the way up to a super yacht with ultra amenities. Their team will work with you to assess your travel budget and offer appropriate options. Keep in mind: There’s all sorts of costs — such as fuel, docking fees, and other extras — that factor into a vacation like this. Some companies roll most of those items into a blanket price, others will calculate them separately or in an overage fee called an “advance provisioning allowance.”
Quick Example: Last year, I sailed on the super yacht Ohana in Croatia. It was part of the Goolets charter group based in Slovenia, which charges a flat weekly accommodation cost; an advance provisioning fee is assessed for food, beverages, and any other extras. The lovely ship slept up to 30 guests quite comfortably and all-in at high season (with APF included) was about $143,000 a week. Steep? Sure, at first glance. But broken down per person, the cost comes out to about $4,300 for each friend or family member. That’s food, drinks, excursions, everything. So, it turns out this kind of travel can indeed be budget-friendly and a good charter will work with you to maximize your money.
2. Location, Location, Location
When considering a private yacht vacation, location is everything. The good news is that charter companies operate all over the world, from the aforementioned Croatia to Australia, the Caribbean, Indonesia, and everywhere there’s sea in between.
If you’ve got a dream destination on your bucket list, a private yacht vacation will help get you there. Choose a charter company that has deep bench strength in the region you want to visit. They’ll have a wide range of yachts and corresponding itineraries for you to consider, ensuring the perfect experience for you and your party. Whether you crave the party scene of Greece, Italy, or the Riviera, or prefer something more far-flung and secluded such as the Seychelles or Maldives, a yacht charter experience will have you covered.
3. Consider Your Entire Party’s Needs
Another big perk of a great charter company: They will handle all the onboard logistics during your cruise, considering your entire party’s interests, must-dos, mobility levels, and even special occasions in an easy, effortless manner. They will interview you ahead of time to assess your interests, then craft an itinerary that suits everyone from start to finish. Keep in mind, they know the local area, plus have access to the best guides and onshore experiences. They will pull out all the stops to make sure everyone in your group has a terrific time.
Culture vultures to party animals will have the perfect vacation planned for them by the yacht charter. From city walking tours led by historians to exclusive access to the best clubs and other hotspots, the charter company and your yacht’s onboard staff are there to make sure it’s all picture-perfect. And if you feel like scrapping your schedule for the day and choosing to stay on the water? That’s just fine, too. The crew will roll with your wishes and honor them.
4. Food And Beverages = Big Deals On Board
No question about it, fabulous food and hand-crafted beverages are central to a terrific private yacht experience. Again, this is where that thorough pre-interview really comes into play. A charter company will consider not just preferences, but any allergies, dietary considerations, or religious restrictions to make sure the chef is prepped accordingly. Expect special snacks and other surprise touches to shine through as well; during my charter, a special birthday cake was procured and presented to a young guest after dinner on his big day.
While the yacht’s team will make sure your food tastes just as spectacular as it looks, they’ll also likely lean into the regional culinary scene with locally sourced fruits, vegetables, meats, and of course, seafood! Keep in mind your yacht’s stewards are responsible for keeping bar service running smoothly; by the second day, they knew which mid-afternoon cocktail I fancied (Croatian sparkling wine) and which wines I preferred at dinner. My glass was never empty, until I signaled I was done for the evening.
Bottom Line: Your culinary service should be seamless and impeccable during your time on board.
5. Don’t Forget The Water Toys
Water toys are a big part of a private yacht experience — you’re on the water after all and want to make sure you can get out there and enjoy it. Look for a vessel that has a robust fleet of options that align with your party’s fitness level and recreation (or adrenaline!) goals. Kayaks, rafts, and jet skis are all fairly standard; some yachts also include seabobs, massive water slides, and even inflatable water playgrounds to ensure multi-gen fun on the water.
Pro Tip: Depending on the destination, divers will also want to inquire about scuba or snorkel equipment.
6. Find A “Your Wish Is Their Command” Crew
One of the best parts of a private yacht vacation is the bespoke service you’ll experience every step of the way; the goal is to make sure you want for nothing during your time on board. Craving a cucumber water while you’re lounging on deck? They’ll have it. Want to make sure there are snacks waiting for you after you return from kayaking? Of course! And want to take your dinner to another level? Crews take great pride in creating over-the-top table masterpieces and theme nights that will dazzle everyone in your party.
Of course, crews can and do accommodate more outrageous requests, but don’t be that Below Deck nightmare and ask them for something that’s illegal. It puts them in a terrible position where they could be held liable, and it’s just not cool.
Keep In Mind: A crew that provides excellent service deserves excellent recognition. Be kind and make sure you factor an appropriate tip into your budget. It’s very often not included in the price of the charter or advance provisioning fee.
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