If you have not chartered a yacht before, here’s a handy-dandy primer, or chartering guide 101, for your first charter experience. The idea of chartering a yacht, whether it be in the Caribbean, the Mediterranean or other exotic destinations, may seem a little daunting if it’s your first time. Here’s how to make it simple.
For starters, lets’s go by the numbers – there are over 2,000 registered crewed charter yachts world-wide. If you’re looking for a bareboat, with or without a skipper, there is an even greater selection. Not all charter yachts are created equal.
The configuration of each yacht is different. The size or length and the number of cabins are all important factors and the pricing (rates) will depend on all these elements. Of course, the season and the destination will also influence the rate. Obviously, YOU NEED HELP and the best help will come from an independent charter broker or charter booking agent. This is what we do, so hopefully you will choose us.
1. Discuss your plans with your family or your group of friends and try to get a fix on a destination or cruising ground that everyone can agree on. Get a range of alternative dates that would be most suitable. Remember that the Mediterranean is a summer-only destination (May through September) and the Caribbean is fine any time of year (like the rum…!!)
Try to get a fix on whether the group would prefer a sailing experience or if they would feel more comfortable on a motor yacht. Catamarans with 2 hulls come in both flavors; some clients prefer cats because they tend to be more stable.
2. If you want to kick-back and be pampered in 5 star fashion, choose a fully crewed yacht with at least a captain and a chef. If you’re the adventurous type and there are people in your group who are experienced sailors, try a bareboat and save money. Sometimes you can also save money by using a bareboat with a skipper-only option or a crewed yacht with a “captain-only” option. This is especially relevant in the Med where guests usually only take breakfasts and lunches on board and have their evening meal ashore at one of the superb local tavernas or trattorias in each little port or village that you visit.
3. When you have a broad picture or vision of what you’d like to do, give us a call or email us with as much detail as possible. Even better, please fill out the contact form on our website that has most everything we need to know. The more information we have about your group, the better. It makes it easier for us to match you up with a yacht or several yachts and specific crews that would be the most compatible with your likes and dislikes.
4. Using the dates and the information that you provide us with, we’ll prepare a list of yachts that meet the criteria of cabins, crew, pricing and destination and email the brochures and rate sheets to you. We will always try to find the best deal – first we will look for yachts that are based in or close to the location that you would like to explore. We try to avoid moving empty yachts around the ocean. It’s expensive and inefficient.
5. Based on the pre-selected yacht brochures that we email to you, we would expect you to give us some feedback as to which ones you liked or did not like. In that way we will gradually get a better idea of exactly what you are looking for and, in the same manner your own thoughts about the charter will tend to fall into place.
6. Once WE have agreed on a yacht for a specific date and price, (please remember that we know these yachts because it’s our business to know them and to know the crews as well. If we do NOT know a yacht or crew, we will tell you), then you can instruct us to put a HOLD on the yacht for the referenced dates. This HOLD is basically a “right-of-first-refusal” that has a duration of a week or so unless challenged by another client who wants the same dates.
If the hold is challenged, we usually have about 48 hours to firm up the booking OR to release the yacht. This HOLD allows us to prepare the paperwork and make payment arrangement with you.
7. We will email you the charter agreement that corresponds to the yacht you have chosen. There are several flavors of contracts and agreements that may depend on the flag of the vessel, the location and the owners preference. It’s our job to know this stuff so we won’t get into the details here. Suffice to say that you need to review and sign the contract, initial the pages and email back to us together with a deposit.
The amount of the deposit will vary with the lead -time. Normally, all funds must be in our or the management company’s escrow account 60 days before the charter date. Bank to Bank wire transfers are a preferred payment method for moving funds around the world. We will provide you with our wiring instructions. Many times we can accept personal checks provided they are in US$ and originate from a US bank. Credit Cards can be used for the deposit as well.
8. About 30 days before the start of your charter, we will email you a PREFERENCE SHEET that you will need to fill out and return to us. This preference sheet will help the crew to provision the boat according to your wishes. It will list food and beverage preferences and also give us other valuable information about your group.
9. When the Captain and chef receive your sheet, they will want to discuss the fine details with you personally and to provide you with precise boarding instructions, so you can expect a phone call from the captain during the lat two weeks before your charter.
10. Board the yacht at the designated time and date on the contract, there is usually some flexibility that can be discussed with the captain.
Hope you have found this primer useful and interesting, don’t forget to contact AMERICAN YACHT for the best vacation or holiday in the world.