Not Just for the Rich: How to Take a Yacht Vacation Like a Celebrity
Have you watched Below Deck and dreamed of setting sail on your very own yacht charter vacation? Although it may look like a luxury reserved for the rich and famous, it’s now easier than ever to book your next vacation aboard a yacht.
Rent a yacht for a dayYachting isn't just for Leonardo DiCaprio and his famous friends — this experience is accessible to anyone if you know how to do it.
Here’s everything we learned about chartering a yacht from Katja Kukovic, Yacht Charter Director at Worldwide Boat, a boutique brokerage house located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
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How do you choose the right yacht for your group?There are so many charter yachts available that it can be a daunting task trying to figure out which one would be best suited for your group or family. I recommend booking through a reputable charter broker who knows the yachts and crews, and can match you to the best one for your group. For example, if you have an active group, the broker will recommend yachts with a large selection of water toys and an energetic crew. Or, if you are foodies, the broker will show you boats that specialize in silver service and fine dining.
Once you’ve selected a yacht, your broker personalizes the on-board experience, helping you select an itinerary, plan menus, choose destinations and more. Best of all, this service is completely free of charge to charter guests. The broker’s fees are paid by the yacht owners.
Where should I book my yacht trip?Most yacht charters take place abroad. The Bahamas and the Caribbean are popular winter destinations, and the Mediterranean is the most popular summer destination. Some more exotic locales such as Papua New Guinea, Tahiti or Komodo Islands also have charter options. The majority of charter yachts are managed by U.S. and European companies, so contracts are in English and prices are quoted in either U.S. Dollars or Euro.
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What is the cost for a seven-day trip? And are shorter trips available?Weekly charters are the norm, but it is possible to charter a yacht for less than a week. Most will ask for a 3-day minimum. The rates depend on the size and type of boat as well as the charter location. You can charter a 50-foot crewed catamaran for $15,000 USD, or, you can select a 150-foot motor yacht for $200,000 USD. There really is a yacht for every budget.
What kind of food is available on a yacht?Charter cuisine is often the guests’ favourite experience because it’s so personalized. Every meal item – whether you’d like contemporary American fare or an Italian-inspired wine pairing menu – is up to you. Your chef will work to accommodate everything that you want, from hearty breakfasts to Gatsby-esque soirees.
Guests are asked to complete a preference sheet during the planning stages of the charter, and the Chef prepares a customized menu based on those preferences. Charter chefs have the culinary know-how and experience to accommodate different diets including gluten-free, low-carb, and vegan.
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Do charter yachts make frequent stops? And what do guests do when they’re not on their yacht?In contrast to cruise ships — where most of the onboard vacation is spent cruising — charter yachts make frequent stops. They can stop at one island so guests can enjoy water sports after breakfast, then head to another island for a picnic lunch on the beach, and make another stop in the evening for the guests to experience local nightlife. On-land experiences depend on the destination. In the Bahamas or the Caribbean, a lot of the activities revolve around watersports and beach bars, whereas in the Mediterranean, the activities typically involve city tours and visiting historic sites.
What is a good route for those who are yachting for the first time?For first time charterers, we recommend the Bahamas and the Virgin Islands. The weather there is perfect most of the year (except for a few late summer and early fall weeks), the waters are calm, and distances between the islands are short. Both destinations are great for water sports and there are many yachts to choose from.
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What should I pack for my charter vacation?Needless to say, you’ll need a swimsuit ... or five. Remember that your yacht is your private paradise, so there’s no dress code. Your bathing suit will likely be the first thing you throw on in the morning and the last thing you take off at night.
How does charter etiquette differ from a resort vacation?The etiquette on a yacht is similar to that of a resort, but there are a couple of extra things to remember. Your captain and crew take safety very seriously, and that’s why all charters begin with a brief safety talk. Be sure to give them your undivided attention as the information you’ll learn can be very helpful in the case of rough seas or an issue onboard.
As soon as you step onboard, you’ll notice a basket for shoes by the gangway. Street shoes track in dirt, dust and other contaminants that can ruin a vessel’s custom carpets and other exotic floor coverings, while dark-soled footwear leaves dents, dings or marks in wood decks and floors, no matter how carefully you tread. It’s not unusual for owners and captains to request that guests leave their shoes at the door.
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What type of information do I need to provide the crew with in advance of my charter?The more you tell the crew about your group, the better they will be able to personalize the charter experience for you. You’ll be asked to fill out a questionnaire about the activities you enjoy and the sights you hope to see, which will help the captain plan the itinerary and activities during your charter. The chef will ask you to fill out a food preference form where you can mention allergies and special diets, allowing them to create a customized menu.
Are there eco-friendly charter options?More and more guests ask about eco-friendly charters and many boats are striving to be as “green” as possible. Most charter boats now make their own drinking water, eliminating the need for water in plastic bottles. In fact, the charter industry has made huge strides in that aspect over the past few years, and the Charter Yacht Broker Association holds a water competition at every yacht show where boats compete with their own produced flavoured water recipe. Yachts also try to provision locally, which adds to the freshness of the produce and reduces the carbon footprint.
Chartering a catamaran or a sailing boat is the most eco-friendly charter option because the use of fuel is minimal.
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Check out Below Deck for an inside look at a yachting experience!