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All You Need To Know About Chartering a Yacht

Imagine sunning on the deck of a private yacht off the coast of some impossibly beautiful island, jet skis tethered to the swimming platform, and a shuttle boat lying in wait for the quick ride to some waterfront restaurant for dinner.

Whether you are planning to charter a yacht for something adventurous, wellness-focused, glamorous or just fun, a yacht vacation can satisfy every taste and preference. Renting a private yacht for a vacation is most often referred to as a yacht charter. It’s a great way to explore a section of coastline or a set of islands. 

Chartering a yacht for a few days or a week is easier than you may think, especially if you have an experienced agent researching available boats, identifying those that have the features you want, at the price you budgeted. 

An experienced agent can customize the yacht vacation to your requirements, preferences, and wishes, and offer expert guidance. Also plan the perfect itinerary, negotiate pricing for the add-on services you want, and advise you on gratuities and any other fees that may apply.

If you are planning a yacht vacation read on, you will find answers to most questions people have in mind at this stage. 

Getting started is easy, just send an email to info@wimco.com and ask for a “Yacht Broker Referral” and tell them WIMCO Villas sent you, or use our air and yacht charter form to send us an inquiry.

Chartering a Yacht

What are the most popular destinations for a yacht charter?

The most popular destinations for week-long yacht charter vacations are the Caribbean and Mediterranean seas. The most popular areas for a yacht charter vacation in the Caribbean Sea include the British Virgin Islands, the Grenadine Islands, the Bahamas, and the Leeward Islands. 

These destinations offer a mix of off-shore beauty and on-shore attractions that combine to make a memorable vacation. St Barts as part of the Leeward Islands makes a great starting point for a yacht charter vacation or even for a day trip.

Reviewing maps of these clusters of islands is a great way to kick-off a conversation amongst your group about what you want to do on your yacht charter vacation.

Popular Yacht Charter Destinations

What makes a St Barts yacht charter vacation so popular?

Chartering a yacht in St Barts is especially popular due to the number of beaches and waterfront restaurants that are easily accessible via a yacht’s motor launch (or dingy). A day might start with breakfast onboard in the shade, then a jet ski ride. 

As lunchtime approaches, the captain can motor the yacht over to Shell beach, and bring the guests to the beach in the motor launch so they can have lunch at Shellona. 

After the meal, the yacht can motor over to a quiet place like Colombier beach (which can only be reached by boat, or by hiking trail) where your group can swim and relax on the beach. Then it’s back to your mooring outside of Gustavia for cocktails and another glorious sunset, followed by a delicious meal prepared by the yacht’s own chef. 

Another popular day trip while chartering a yacht in St Barts is motoring into the harbor in Gustavia when luxury shops like Hermes, Dolce Gabbana, and Gucci line the charming streets that ring this compact village. 

You’ll also find world-class restaurants there like I’Isola, Bonito, and Black Ginger where you can relax after a few hours of window shopping. 

Yet another option is to seek an afternoon of splendid isolation, like motoring over to nearby Ile Fourche (forked island), an uninhabited island between Saint-Barthélemy and Saint Martin with a postcard-perfect bay and quiet beach. 

St Barts yacht charter vacation

Chartering a Private Yacht in St Barts

At WIMCO Prive' you can access the ultimate in seclusion and privacy. Our experienced agents can consult with you on chartering the private yacht that best fits your needs, mapping out an exciting itinerary, and arranging everything you desire during your stay in your own floating luxury hotel. 

WIMCO’s Air department can book your commercial flights or arrange private jet charter flights (shared or exclusive) from major airports in the US and Europe directly to your final destination

Call us today at 1-888-751-7366 or email us at info@wimco.com to learn more.

When is the yacht chartering season?

Chartering a yacht is mainly associated with warmer weather when you can enjoy time in the open air out on the deck, and go snorkeling and jet ski excursions. In the Caribbean, the most popular time to charter a yacht is between November and April when the temperatures in the Caribbean are a comfortable 80 degrees, while it is cold up north. 

The peak yacht charter season In St Barths is during Christmas and New Years, when some of the world’s wealthiest and influential people gather for their own version of the Davos Summit. 

Another popular time for yacht charters in St Barts is during the regatta season in March and April. Events like the prestigious Bucket Regatta and the Les Voiles de St Barts regatta attract an exceptional group of people, many of whom choose to charter a yacht to partake in the festivities.

The most popular time to charter a yacht in the Mediterranean is between May and September, and the most popular spots include St Tropez and the French Riviera, the Amalfi Coast in Italy and the Greek islands in the Aegean Sea.

What are the most popular occasions to charter a yacht?

Yacht charters are popular for family vacations. Getting two or even three generations together on a yacht, with all meals prepared by the chefs on board, and enjoying scores of activities, while the crew cater to your every wish, makes it an ideal vacation for family members of all ages. 

Yacht charters are also popular among groups of 3-6 couples looking for a unique way to explore an area while having a shared private space to retreat to after the day’s adventures.

What types of boats are available for a yacht charter vacation?

When thinking of a yacht charter the first decision is whether you want a sailboat or a motorboat. Sailboats to charter range from 20’ long single mast monohulls to catamarans approaching 100’ in length.

Chartering Sailboats

Motor yachts are generally larger and more expensive to charter than sailboats. That’s because they can be expected to have more features, toys, bedrooms rooms, and crew. Some of the larger luxury yacht charters are virtually floating hotels, complete with swimming pools, helicopter pads, boat docks, wine cellars, media rooms, and more.

Luxury Yacht Amenities

How do I book a yacht charter? Should I charter a yacht on my own or use a Yacht Broker?

Renting a private yacht for a week-long vacation is called chartering a yacht. It is typically not a spur of the moment vacation as it involves a lot of decisions and planning, but it’s absolutely worth it. 

You’ll need to consider where you want to vacation, what yachts are available to rent in that destination, and which ones are available to rent for the week you want to travel, what features you want in a boat, what add-on services you want to order, and of course what your per-day budget is. There are a lot of decisions to make, and there are costs associated with each one. 

You will find websites that display yachts that can be rented directly from the owner. That option can be useful for a person who has experience renting private yachts, knows exactly what they want, where they want to go and is skilled at negotiating the details of the contract. 

Most people however opt to use a Yacht Broker when planning to charter a yacht. An experienced Yacht Broker will help you determine upfront what your needs, desires, timing, and budget are, and will then find the best available option for you. 

An experienced Yacht Broker will also negotiate the charter contract on your behalf to best protect your interests and to ensure you aren’t surprised by any hidden costs. 

When researching Yacht Brokers, some helpful questions to ask are:

  • How long have they been in the business?
  • How well established is their company?
  • Which destinations do they specialize in?
  • How many yachts have they actually set foot on and inspected?

You will want to select a Yacht Broker who has experience chartering yachts in the destination you want to go to, who knows the layout and features of the types of yacht you are interested in chartering.

Is there an extra cost for using a Yacht Broker when chartering a Yacht?

The good news is that there is no extra cost to use a Yacht Broker to assist you in chartering a Yacht. The Yacht Broker earns a sales commission from whatever boat you decide to charter, and they have no hidden agenda in steering you to one boat vs another as they earn a commission from whatever boat you decide to charter.

Will you find a lower price by renting directly from a boat owner?

It’s far more likely that you will end up paying more if you choose the rent directly from an owner as you will lose the advantage of having a Yacht Broker to negotiate on your behalf.

How do I find a reliable Yacht Broker?

Finding a reliable yacht broker can be difficult unless you are willing to first do a lot of online research and/or interview friends or associates who have experience using a Yacht Broker. There is no official rating system for Yacht Brokers, so relying on a referral is one way to make sure you find an experienced and qualified Yacht Broker.

WIMCO Villas can guide you to a reputable and experienced Yacht Broker. 

Take advantage of the relationships we have cultivated with industry leading yacht brokers during our 37+ years in the business. We would be happy to make an introduction. 

What do you need to do to use WIMCO’s Yacht Broker referral service? It’s easy, just send an email to info@wimco.com and mention that you are interested in learning more about chartering a yacht. 

An experienced agent will collect the information required to get started, then will connect you with one of our seasoned yacht broker partners. 

We provide this valuable referral service as a value-add to our clients. There is no cost for this referral service.

How much does it cost to Charter a Yacht?

There are a number of variables to factor in when determining how much it will cost to charter a yacht. You’ll find that there is a wide price range when chartering a yacht from $10,000 per week for smaller sailing yachts and catamarans, up to $150,000 or even $400,000 per week for the largest and most luxurious superyachts. 

The main cost factors are:

  • The size or length of the boat
  • The features included in the boat
  • The number of crew members required to operate the boat and serve you
  • The number of days you want to charter the boat
  • The number of people who will be joining you on the boat
  • The type of food and beverages you want to have stocked on the boat
  • The local taxes in the destinations you wish to visit and the fuel needed to get there
  • The size of the gratuity or tip you plan to leave at the end

Do yacht charters offer all-inclusive pricing?

When researching the cost of chartering a yacht, it’s important to understand that when you start considering larger, luxury motorboats for your yacht charter, most costs will not be included in the price.  

You will find all-inclusive pricing on smaller sailboats and catamarans. Their crew stock the boat in advance and offer simple meals, provide activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving expeditions, and motor to beaches for swimming outings. In those cases, the only costs not included are the local taxes, and the tip for the crew.

Larger motor yachts are priced on a “Plus Expenses” basis. When you charter a large yacht, the base price will not include running expenses, which must be paid separately. 

Additional expenses, i.e. food, bar, fuel, dockage, port taxes and other expenses, are charged separately. Most frequently, the running expenses are paid by an Advance Provisioning Allowance, or APA, which is typically 35% of the base price; this is an amount that’s paid prior to charter.

Examples of weekly base rate pricing for yacht charters* 

Types of Sail Boats to Charter Average weekly Sail Boat Charter Rate
Under 80 ft $10,000 - $20,000
Between 80ft - 120 ft$20,000 - $50,000
Between 120ft - 150 ft$50,000 - $100,000
Over 150 ft$100,000 - $200,000
Types of Catamarans to CharterAverage weekly Sail Boat Charter Rate
Under 50ft$10,000 - $15,000
Between 50ft - 65 ft$15,000 - $30,000
Between 65ft - 80 ft$25,000 - $50,0000
Over 80 ft$40,000 - $100,000
Types of Motor Yachts to CharterAverage weekly Sail Boat Charter Rate
Under 80ft$15,000 - $35,000
Between 80ft - 120ft$35,000 - $80,000
Between 120ft - 150ft$80,000 - $150,000
Over 150ft$150,000 - $500,000

* Note: These are yacht charter base prices only, and do not include most operating expenses and tips. The prices are estimates based on historical pricing, and are valid only as a point of reference. For up to date price quotes for a yacht charter contact WIMCO at info@wimco.com.

Once I’ve found the right yacht to charter, how much of a deposit is due to confirm it?

Once you have found the yacht you want to charter, a rental agreement is drawn up by your Yacht Broker between the charterer (you) and the boat owner. A 50% deposit is due at the time of the signing to confirm the rental. The remaining 50% is due 30-40 days before the arrival date.

How much extra does the provisioning of the boat cost?

When you charter a yacht, the rental cost only covers the use of the boat itself, referred to as the base rate. The cost of fuel, groceries, wine and spirits, dockage fees, local taxes etc., are all extra expenses for the charterer. 

The cost of outfitting the boat for your charter is referred to as provisioning the yacht. At the same time, you make the final deposit you will also need to send the boat owner an advance that is applied against the total provisioning expenses. This advance is called the APA – advance provisioning allowance.

How much should you budget for provisioning the yacht?

Of course the cost of provisioning the yacht will depend on how many people you have joined you, what you choose to eat and drink, what ports you choose to visit, and how many miles you choose to travel. 

As a starting point, you can assume the provisioning cost will equal about 35% of the charter fee. So with a yacht charter with a $100,000 a week base price, you should plan to spend an additional $35,000 to provision and operate the yacht. The APA is due in full at the time when the final deposit is paid.

It’s important to note that any local taxes due are in addition to the APA, and are paid at the same time the APA and final deposit are paid.

How does the crew know what my preferences are for meals?

When you make the final deposit, your Yacht Broker will then send you a Guest Requirement Form (GRF). This form walks you through all of the provisioning decisions you will need to make, meal by meal. 

Then your Yacht Broker will have a call with the boat captain and the boat’s chef to go over the details of the meals and any food allergies or food-related issues they need to plan for. The GRF and the meal planning call will give the Captain and Chef the information they need to shop for and provision the yacht. 

The yacht’s captain will keep all receipts relating to the provisioning and operation of the yacht and will summarize these expenses when reconciling the final provisioning costs with the APA amount paid earlier, then if anything extra is due it is paid at the end of the trip. 

Yacht Meal Preferences

How much should I tip the crew?

Gratuities or tips are expected by the crew when you charter a yacht. One source of information on how much to tip are the guidelines published by the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA). This organization issued tipping policy guidelines that suggested that 5-15% was customary. 

The tip is expected to be paid in cash. However, there are other methods for paying a tip. If there are leftover funds from the APA, which are being held by the captain, the client can ask that some or all of that be applied to the tip. Clients can also wire an estimated tip to their Yacht Broker in advance, which is held in escrow, then paid out by the Yacht Broker after the client approves the final tip amount.

The person chartering the yacht gives to the captain at the end of the trip, and the captain then divides the tip up evenly amongst all the crew members. 

The Captain will tell you not to tip individual members or to ask that one crew member get a larger tip than the others. The crew functions as a team, working together to make sure the group chartering the yacht are well taken care of. 

Some of them are “client-facing” while others who prepare meals or run the boat may never be seen by the client. By dividing up the tip equally, all crew members are equally rewarded as a team.

So what does it really cost to charter a yacht for a week?

So in summary, the best way to get an idea of the total cost of spending a week on a yacht is to take the retail price for a week and multiply it by 1.45.

For example if you want to rent a 120 foot long motor yacht that rents for $100,000 a week, you should multiply that number by 1.45 to get the all in cost. In this case,  $145,000 a week. would be a good estimate for the all-in cost of renting a 100’ feet long motor yacht for a week, with crew, fully provisioned.

Types of Sail Boats to CharterAverage weekly Sail Boat Charter RateAvg Cost of Provisioning + TipsTotal Estimated Cost
Under 80 ft$10,000 - $20,000$4,500 - $9,000$14,500 - $29,000
Between 80ft - 120 ft$20,000 - $50,000$9,000 - $22,500$29,000 - $72,500
Between 120ft - 150 ft$50,000 - $100,000$22,500 - $45,000$72,500 - $145,000
Over 150 ft$100,000 - $200,000$45,000 - $90,000$145,000 - $290,000
Types of Catamarans to CharterAverage weekly Sail Boat Charter RateAvg Cost of Provisioning + TipsTotal Estimated Cost
Under 50ft$10,000 - $15,000$4,500 - $6,750$14,500 - $21,750
Between 50ft - 65 ft$15,000 - $30,000$6,750 - $13,500$21,750 - $43,500
Between 65ft - 80 ft$25,000 - $50,0000$11,250 - $22,500436,250 - $72,500
Over 80 ft$40,000 - $100,000$18,000 - $45,000$58,000 - $145,000
Types of Motor Yachts to CharterAverage weekly Sail Boat Charter RateAvg Cost of Provisioning + TipsTotal Estimated Cost
Under 80ft$15,000 - $35,000$6,750 - $15,750$21,750 - $50,750
Between 80ft - 120ft$35,000 - $80,000$15,750 - $36,000$50,750 - $116,000
Between 120ft - 150ft$80,000 - $150,000$36,000 - $67,500$116,000 - $217,500
Over 150ft$150,000 - $500,000$67,500 - $225,000$217,500 - $725,000

Conclusion

Chartering a yacht is a great way to vacation, providing you and your friends with the highest level of pampering while discovering charming waterfront towns and exotic islands.  

WIMCO Villas is here to guide you to a reputable and experienced Yacht Broker who will help every step of the way. It’s easy to get started. Just send an email to info@wimco.com and ask for a “Yacht Broker Referral” or ask your WIMCO Villa Specialist to make an introduction. 

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