Here are some of our most frequently asked questions about yacht chartering. If you don’t see your particular question answered, we’re always happy to help so please get in touch.
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What do I need to pack for a yacht charter vacation?
- Passport and visas – If you are a US citizen, you don’t need a visas for most places, but a passport is mandatory to leave the United States
- Medications – Please make sure you bring enough for your stay, because it could be difficult to obtain your particular medication elsewhere. In addition, ensure you inform your Captain and Charter Broker if anyone in your guest party has a medical condition to be aware of.
- Vaccinations – ask your Captain or Charter Broker if there are any recommended vaccinations for the area you’ll be cruising.
- Luggage - Yachts will have storage space, but not as much as you likely have in your home, so try to pack lighter. If possible, use soft-sided collapsible luggage that will stow easily.
- Clothing - Light airy clothes, and don’t forget your bathing suits!
- Smart-casual clothing for socializing
- A sport jacket and collared shirt for men, and casual dresses for women
- A lightweight rain jacket and/or windbreaker
- Your favorite jeans and a sweater or sweatshirt
- Shoes - At least one pair of rubber soled, non-marking shoes for the deck, and sandals for beachcombing, shelling, etc. Note, shoes are typically not worn on board the yacht, to protect the fine wool and silk carpets, as well as the exotic hardwood floors.
- Accessories - Bring a hat or visor, and a pair (or two) of polarized sunglasses, with a croakie/leash.
- Jewelry – There will be a safe on board, possibly even one in your cabin, so bring what you’d like to wear on board. However, we don’t recommend tempting fate wearing expensive jewels into town.
- Camera – Digital, with underwater capabilities, if possible
- Music – Yachts will have a stereo system to play the music you bring, whether on CD or via your iPod/iPhone.
What don’t I need to bring with me?
- Fishing gear – Most yachts will have this on board
- Snorkeling gear – Most yachts will have a selection of gear on board, but you may want to ask about specifics if you have small children.
- Motion sickness tablets – Most yachts will have Dramamine (or similar) on board, but if you are particularly prone, then bring some as well.
- Toiletries – Many larger yachts will offer shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, and soap of a high quality, some even offer toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.
- Sunscreen - All yachts will have Sunscreen on board
- Towels & Linens – all yachts will have these on board
What is the etiquette on board a yacht?
- It is customary to take your shoes off when boarding, and use only clean shoes on board, or to go barefoot.
- When boarding someone else’s yacht, always ask permission to come aboard.
- Remember that while you are a visitor in another country, a smile or pleasant greeting will go a long way towards getting a positive reception.
- While you are traveling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that land, and the local authority will have jurisdiction over you. Therefore, please practice common sense!
- Some countries’ cultures are very modest, so avoid being too casually (or immodestly) dressed when away from the beach.
What are the arrival and departure times for the yacht vacation?
The dates and times for arrival and departures on your contract are strictly adhered to in order to allow the crew time for cleaning and preparation for their next charter guests. Should your flight arrangements leave you without accommodation after your charter is over, but before your flight, you may need to organize shore side accommodation beforehand.
Do you accommodate different diets and menu preferences?
You will fill out a preference sheet for yourself and your guests, to be sent to the yacht’s Chef prior to the charter. While your chef will create your personalized menu around your individual food preferences, please be aware that the provisions ordered are to accommodate the entire guest party. Furthermore, there is usually only one chef aboard. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for the Chef to prepare separate meals for each guest, made to order. Most meals will be the same for everyone, unless there is a substitution required to meet special dietary needs such as an allergy. Children, when at all possible, should eat what the adults eat, or agree on one kid’s meal to be served prior to the adults.
Will we have access to the yacht’s galley/kitchen?
As provisions are purchased to create the menu to accommodate your tastes and preferences, it is not a good idea to help yourself to items in the refrigerator. This may then leave the Chef without key ingredients he/she needs. However, you are certainly welcome to ask, and they will very likely accommodate you.
Are there any additional expenses we should expect?
If the contract does not say “all inclusive,” then it is expected that on top of the charter rate, the guest will pay for food, beverages, fuel, dockage, communication costs, commercial shore excursions, commercial scuba diving, etc. The Captain will keep you apprised as to the balance of your account as you wish, and provide you with a final report at the end of the charter. Your additional amount due is payable before departure, or your balance due is remitted from the yacht, whichever is the case. Expenses are usually around 25% to 35% of the base charter rate.
Can we use electrical items on board?
Yachts, when not dockside, are powered by generators, so hair dryers, computers, etc. can be run anytime. However, high electricity items such as clothes dryers should be saved for when you are dockside.
Is there a laundry facility on board?
Your Stewardess will launder your bath and bed linens regularly. If you should like your personal laundry done, please speak with your Captain to determine if this service is offered. Often there are shore side facilities available if the crew cannot accommodate your requests on board.
Do we need to be aware of our water consumption during sailing?
If your yacht has a reverse osmosis watermaker to generate potable water on board, then there is no need to conserve water. However, if the yacht doesn’t, then likely the showerhead in your bathroom will be a water-saver type, and showers should be limited to only a few minutes to ensure that you have enough water for your trip.
Most cabins will have an en-suite head, with a marine toilet. Because a yacht is not connected to city water or septic, everything that goes into the toilet must go through a series of very small pipes to get to the holding tank. Therefore, nothing should go into the toilet that may clog it up, such as Q-tips, paper towels, tampons, etc. Should your head become clogged, it may likely be your responsibility to pay for a professional marine plumber to un-clog the system.
Do you welcome children on board?
Each yacht will have its own rules regarding children, so please check with us prior to booking. Some yacht owners only allow children over the age of 12, and some don’t allow children at all. Either way, it’s important to note that the crew are there in service of the vessel, and have lots of work to do behind the scenes, which cannot happen if they are providing daycare. Therefore, it is not generally offered. Most yachts will be happy to accommodate your nanny, however.
Can guests join us on board during the vacation?
Depending on the country your yacht is registered in, and the area you are cruising, your yacht will be limited by law to carry a maximum number of guests away from the dock, usually crew + 6 or crew + 12. However, with permission from the Captain, it is often fine to have friends aboard dockside. Additional guests sleeping aboard must be cleared by the Captain, and may incur an additional charter fee.
Can we have parties on board?
While on charter, if you would like to have a cocktail or dinner party, please ask the Captain, and give the Captain and Chef as much as notice as possible, as provisions will need to be ordered such as flowers, beverages, etc. to accommodate your guests. Your crew will want to make you look good in front of your guests, and they will need some time to prepare. Naturally, any extra costs incurred such as the rental of extra glass ware or china or service staff, would be at your expense.
During what hours of the day are the crew in service?
Your crew will be awake before you, setting up for breakfast and drying the dew off the cushions. It is also likely that someone will stay up to make sure that you are served drinks or food, until you tell them that you are going to bed and that they are fine to go. While they want you to have a wonderful time, they also need a fair amount of sleep themselves to be able to perform their duties to the standard you deserve. Therefore, please be aware of the time that you retire, or relieve them of their duties before the early morning hours, when possible.
Will there be alcohol served on board?
Certainly, as you wish. However, it’s important to note that dehydration rates are 5 times greater on the water than on land, and drinking alcohol adds to dehydration, which can make you sleepy and sluggish, as well as sea-sick. It is never appropriate to operate any of the water toys under the influence of alcohol, as medical response can take far longer than anticipated.
What’s your policy on drugs?
On yachts, there is a ‘Zero Tolerance Law.’ This means that there is no warning period, and no room for negotiation. If the USCG (or other local authority) finds so much as a marijuana seed on board, they have authority to seize the yacht permanently and sell it at auction. Therefore, the owner, who stands to lose his yacht, and the Captain, who stands to lose his license, will not likely tolerate any illegal narcotics aboard whether they belong to the yacht owner, charter guest, or crew.
Can we use the yacht’s water toys?
You will likely be required to sign a waiver of liability before operating the yacht’s waverunners, jetskis, tender, etc. Once signed, the crew can give you instruction as to how to use them.
What’s the best way of tipping the crew?
Tipping is customary, and discretionary. Generally, in the US we tip 15% - 20% of the base charter rate. In Europe, the standard is 10%. The tip is usually paid from the balance of the APA, and left with the Captain at the end of the charter, in cash, for him/her to distribute evenly amongst his crew. If you prefer not to travel with cash, an amount can be deposited and held in escrow with your charter broker. Then, at the end of your charter, you can tell them how much to disburse to the Captain.
How do we plan our travel itinerary?
While the Captain will likely plan your itinerary with you, make sure to plan it loosely, as weather can make it impossible to adhere to safely. Your Captain knows how the vessel will react in different sea conditions, and will make the final call, as he is ultimately responsible for the safety of everyone aboard.
Take a look at some of our wonderful itineraries here for inspiration.
Should I take out property insurance?
The charter guest is responsible for returning the yacht in its original condition. Any damage done to the yacht by the charter guest must be paid for by the charter guest. As yachts and yacht equipment are not inexpensive, taking out property insurance is always good idea.
Should I take out travel insurance?
Charter contracts are weighted in favor of the owner of the yacht, so cancelling the agreement or changing the dates can be very expensive. To ensure against any unforeseen circumstances that leave you having to cancel your trip, we highly recommend obtaining travel insurance, and recommend Travelex. You can get a quote here.