Chartering a luxury yacht for the first time should be a great experience and working with an experienced charter broker is certainly the best step that you can take to find the right yacht and destination for the most magical vacation. Yacht charters should be magical so you should not be shy to set your expectations high.
The charter broker needs to know your expectations from the yacht and destination. Be prepared to answer questions about your past vacations and why you enjoyed them and if relevant why you did not enjoy them. The more information given to our charter specialists the better vacation they can plan for you.
Booking a yacht charter is nothing like any other vacation. Yachts are chartered on contracts that will seem somewhat severe to the first time charterer. Many of the contracts used today are, like the real estate industry, standardized on internationally accepted standards. If you would like to have your attorney review the contract please ask for a copy from your charter broker.
Once you have selected a yacht for your trip your charter specialist will send you contracts and request a 50% deposit to secure the vessel for the dates that you requested. The yacht will not be held for you until the signed contracts and funds have been received so it is essential once a charter decision has been made to move swiftly. The balance of the charter fee, taxes and advance provisioning allowance (APA) will be required 30 days before the start of your vacation.
Once the APA has been sent to the captain your charter specialist will review your preferences in detail with the yacht crew and the yacht provisioned for your charter. Getting this correct is absolutely essential for a great vacation as many cruising destinations have limited re-provisioning locations.
For a sample preference sheet click here
During your trip the captain will act as concierge and is available to make plans for all of your activities from the yacht. Luxury Yacht Group recommends talking to the captain every morning to get an update on the day's plans and outline any changes that you may have.
Key charter terms:
Most yachts quote their pricing on a weekly "plus all" basis. This generally means that you are paying for the hire of the yacht, the cost of her crew and the fixed operating expenses that occur during your trip. If you are taking the yacht for less than a full week then most yachts get a daily rate by dividing the weekly rate by six.
At some times of the year yacht owners request a minimum charter period. For example, most yachts request a ten day charter minimum over the New Year holiday.
In a standard "plus all" contract the charter client will be responsible for all operating expenses associated with the charter. These include all fuel, dockage, food, drinks and electricity. Depending upon the value of the charter you should budget from 15 to 30% more for expenses.
A few, generally smaller, charter yachts offer "all inclusive" rates. The terms of these contracts vary on a case by case basis but may include "normal" food and fuel expenses plus a couple of nights dockage during a week long charter. Speak with your charter specialist for more details and seasonal "all inclusive" specials.
Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA)
The APA is the contractual amount held by the captain to cover expenses during your trip. The captain will account for every dollar spent and provide you updates on expenditure during the charter upon request and a full accounting at the end of the charter.
Yachts are subject to sales tax whenever claimed by the country in which the yacht is chartering. Check with your charter broker if this applies to your charter. Rates vary from 4% in the Bahamas to almost 20% in the Med.
Occasionally it is not possible to find a yacht in the port that you require and a yacht may charge a repositioning fee. This fee will be agreed before the signing of any contracts and shown on the contract as a delivery fee. If chargeable, it is normally calculated as 50% of the time plus the fuel costs. For example, Yacht A took two days to get to your pickup port and will take another two days to return to her home port at the end of your charter for a total of four days at sea. A normal delivery fee in this case would be two days of charter plus fuel costs.
MCA / Megayacht code
The UK Marine and Coastguard Agency introduced a code of practice for luxury charter yachts which has been adapted to varying degrees by most international registries. The yacht that you charter should be suitably certified for the carriage of paying guests. The Megayacht code covers the carriage of safety equipment, training of crew and yacht construction.
Yacht schedules are set a great deal in advance and cancellation is something that everyone wants to avoid however should a trip need to be cancelled please speak with your charter specialist for your options. In a best case scenario the yacht owner will allow you to move your dates to a more convenient time with no penalty.
You will receive a refund for your charter if there was a major failure onboard that resulted in the yacht not being available for the contracted dates. If the failure occurred during your vacation you will receive a prorated refund. In the unlikely event that the yacht does not exceed your expectations for any reason then it is essential that you notify your charter specialist immediately so that corrective action can be taken to resolve any issue and a formal complaint raised with the yacht's owner.