All About Chartering a Super Yacht

Super Yachts, generally defined as luxury yachts over 80 feet in length, are the equivalent of floating private five star hotels, with no expense spared. Today's Super Yachts offer high speed Internet connections, Plasma Screen TVs with satellite video on demand, superb chefs that cook to your exact specifications, all the water "toys" such as jet skis, water skiing, scuba gear and wind surfers. Their interiors are often created by name designers, and offer rooms for every need - offices, kids rooms (with Nanny's quarters, of course), glorious master suites, separate decks for sunning, hot tubbing, and dining, and lavishly appointed salons and dining rooms. Crew members often outnumber guests and offer unending hospitality. Some Super Yachts even have their own beauticians, masseuses and SCUBA diving instructors.

All this luxury usually floats in one of the world's paradises, be it the Caribbean Islands, the French or Italian Riviera, Sardinia, Greece, Spain or lesser known but equally enchanting areas of Asia, Australia, South America or Africa. It is common for a Super Yacht to spend the summer in Mediterranean hot spots and then cross the Atlantic to the Caribbean for the winter, to hop between St Barts, St Lucia, St Martin, Martinique and/or the Grenadines.

All of this luxury can also be yours. The Super Yacht charter market is growing fast, with more and more gorgeous yachts being launched every year. You don't have to be named Onassis or Armani to be on their boats! And the costs need not be only for the super rich. If you divide the price of a Super Yacht by two or three couples, often the prices work out the equivalent to what you would spend at a Five Star Resort.

Chartering a Super Yacht

Many people are a bit intimidated about chartering a Super Yacht - there are lots of terms and customs that they don't understand. But there is no need to be! Chartering a Super Yacht is really no different than booking a luxury hotel, in fact it's easier because your broker will do the work for you (for no charge)! Here are some tips about chartering a Super Yacht:

Plan your holiday or event.

The most important thing you can do for us is to give your broker as much firm detail as possible for what you are looking for. The "W"s come to mind:

Who will be going (how many cabins required, children, etc.)

Where do you want to charter (where will you be flying into, sites you want to see),

What type of yacht do you want - Motor, Sail, Classic, Modern

What is your general budget;

Why are you chartering - Holiday, Event, Family Gathering, Business Meeting.

The more of the above questions you can answer, the better the broker will be able to find you the perfect boat.

Book Early.

The best Yachts are booked 6 months or more in advance. If you want a summer holiday charter in the Mediterranean you should start thinking about it in November and try to book by the end of January. If you're looking for a winter holiday in the Caribbean it's best to plan it during the summer.

Look at Several Alternatives and Ask Questions.

This is the fun part! First, familiarize yourself with the types of yachts available by surfing some of the more popular yacht charter web sites. You'll soon spot the types of yachts that appeal to you (sailing vs motor, classic vs chic, etc.) and the costs that are associated with these choices. Then look for a broker who you like working with (you should get GREAT service from an online broker, or switch to someone else). The broker will normally provide you with online brochures of 4-5 yachts that meet your criteria. This is the time to dream, ask questions, and make sure you are getting the yacht you desire. Your broker can often visit the yacht and speak with the crew, and help you plan your itinerary or assure that the crew understands your specific needs. No question is too small - you are making a substantial purchase so make sure you get exactly what you want!

The Crew makes the Charter.

Even if you find the perfect yacht, it's the crew that makes for the most spectacular charters. Some crews are traditional and formal, some more relaxed and fun loving. Your charter broker will be able to provide you with a crew profile, and in many cases will have already met them in person and can tell you if the crew is a good fit for your needs.

Charter costs.

The general charter fee you pay rents you the boat and the services of the crew for your stated charter period. Unless stated otherwise, Food, drink, and fuel will be extra. There will normally be mooring fees and possibly fees for scuba, water toys and communications. To facilitate this process and build trust, the industry has developed the Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA) system. The Charter Operator estimates the expenses that will be incurred, depending on your itinerary (usually 20% to 30% of the charter fee) which is paid by you up front. This provides a bank account for the Captain, who makes expenditures on your behalf and keeps accurate records. At the end of the charter, they will refund you the difference, or ask you to pay more to cover any shortfall.

Tipping is not obligatory, but common practice on Super Yachts - normally 5% - 20% of the charter price on a sliding scale depending on how great you thought the crew was.