Many of my clients have not chartered before and some wind up with a lesser vacation experience than originally envisioned. This is basically a tragedy since chartering a yacht or catamaran is not inexpensive and I simply hate for people to NOT get their money’s worth.
With this in mind, I have put together a first timer’s guide with some easy steps to the perfect charter. i.e the right boat in the right place at the right time, and at the right price.
1. Find a knowledgeable charter broker or booking agent that you trust. Find someone who is a member of of one of the major industry associations like CYBA, MYBA, FYBA or AYCA. These organizations tend to screen the applicants pretty thoroughly before allowing them to become members and also require annual attendance at charter yacht shows.
Be as detailed and frank as possible with your broker as far as your expectations, preferred activities, food and beverage preferences, special guest requirements and anything else that will have an impact on your vacation. Your broker should have access to ALL the charter yachts in a specific destination; using more than one broker creates a lot of confusion. Best idea is to develop a relationship with your charter broker that hopefully can continue over the years. Be honest about your vacation budget, we can assist you better if we know what we’re working with.
2. Book early, between 6 months or even a year ahead of your vacation. This way you’ll get first pick on the best yachts and catamarans. The early bird catches the worm.
3. Pick the right time of year for your destination of choice. DON’T book the Med in Winter or early spring; best Mediterranean months are late May, June and September; July and August are nice and warm but crowded with European holidaymakers and the prices of everything go through the roof. The Caribbean is good any time of year.
4. Look carefully at the crew profile. The crew is arguably the most important factor for an excellent charter. A boat can be a very small place to spend a week with strangers (this goes for the guests you bring with you as well..!!) with whom you have nothing in common.
Granted, most crews are trained professionals who can adapt to most situations, but your charter broker has a MAJOR role to play in this decision – he /she should know the crews and should be able do a reasonable job of matching up guests with the right crew. Now, we are not infallible, but we can cut down the odds….. I generally do not offer boats and crews that I have not inspected personally and if I do NOT know the crew or the boat, I will always tell my clients.
Sometimes it is inevitable however, especially for late bookings on popular holiday weeks to provide the clients with all theavailable boats. Not all unbooked boats and less-popular boats are under par. If the boat is new to charter, it may not be as well known as others that are booked regularly, OR maybe there has been a cancellation.
5. Check the age of the yacht and look at the “re-fits” she has had. A good re-fit can bring an older boat back to almost new. Although boats have a MUCH LONGER life span than, say automobiles, after 20 years or so they can develop unpleasant odors from the bilges. Check the boat’s water-toy inventory and if you are an avid SCUBA diver make sure the boat offers on-board diving services.
6. Inquire about Trip Cancellation Insurance. After you’ve paid your deposit and signed the charter contract, deposits and generally all funds paid are non refundable. Trip cancellation insurance is usually available to protect you against these eventualities. Ask your charter broker.
Please contact us if you have a charter requirement, we love giving our clients and guests the best vacation in the world.