Beginner’s Guide to Chartering: Everything You Need to Know

Which yacht, where to go, how much to tip the crew, what is APA? WI Yachts today gives you all the keys you need to make your first yacht charter a success.

Why Charter a yacht?

Chartering a yacht offers unparalleled customization, distinguishing it from conventional cruises or vacation packages. With a yacht charter, every aspect of your journey, from the route to the onboard cuisine, is tailored to your preferences, ensuring a vacation experience uniquely crafted for you and your companions. 

Factors to Consider When Chartering a Yacht


Your budget serves as the North Star guiding your yacht charter journey. It’s a crucial factor shaping your entire experience. The cost of yacht rental varies widely depending on factors like size of the boat, age, amenities, and destination. Therefore, deciding your budget beforehand is essential. Remember, the charter fee is just one part of the total cost. Other expenses like onboard cuisine provisioning, fuel, and crew gratuities must be considered. A well-defined budget ensures smooth sailing, giving you the confidence to explore the azure expanses knowing that every financial aspect has been accounted for.

Choosing the Right Yacht Size

The yacht itself serves as the canvas for your maritime adventure, and its size shapes your experience. Yacht sizes vary widely, from intimate sailing vessels to grand superyachts. Selecting the appropriate size should align with the essence of your journey. Smaller yachts are perfect for intimate getaways, ideal for couples or small groups seeking simplicity and solitude. On the other hand, larger yachts offer opulence and ample space, catering to sizable groups or those craving a lavish experience. Just as choosing the right instrument is crucial for a symphony, picking the perfect yacht size orchestrates your yachting experience, ensuring it resonates with harmony and fulfills your maritime dreams.

If you’re seeking an unforgettable vacation with a sizable group of friends or envisioning an epic party on the open water, securing a spacious yacht capable of accommodating more than 12 guests is essential. However, many yacht charters adhere to a maximum capacity of 12 guests during cruising, this limitation persists even for larger vessels equipped with 10 cabins, each capable of comfortably hosting up to 20 guests in private settings. Nonetheless, there exists a discernible selection of charter yachts equipped and legally sanctioned to cruise with parties exceeding the 12-guest threshold, allowing for unparalleled experiences on the seas, this will size your budget up, it’s because we want to be absolutely sure you will have the perfect experience, and that the yacht is legally registered for the right amount of guests.

Extra Activities

Yacht charters offer a plethora of exhilarating water toys beyond the confines of your vessel. Whether you’re interested in water sports like snorkeling, scuba diving, or paddleboarding, or prefer onshore exploration with guided excursions, it’s wise to define the toys you really want onboard to choose the right boat.

How to Charter a Yacht?

Now that you grasp why chartering a yacht is an excellent choice and understand the essential factors, let’s explore the process of actually chartering one.

Read also: Luxury Crewed Yacht Charters – Frequently asked questions

Find the right broker

Your yacht charter broker is your intermediary, the link between you and your well-deserved fabulous holiday. 

“Your broker is your main point of contact from the moment you start planning your charter, and will ask you questions about your project, your wishes and your budget. He and the captain will design an unforgettable itinerary for you. Once your trip has begun, your captain will answer your questions and your broker will remain available if you need him at any time”.

Your personal broker does all the work for you – negotiating the best rate for your charter and guiding you through the process. They represent you and ensure your interests are protected.

With extensive knowledge and experience, brokers attend boat shows, visit yachts, and meet crew and captains to provide personalized recommendations based on firsthand experience. Trust them to offer you the best advice possible.

Read also: How To Choose The Right Yacht Broker?

The right yacht

When embarking on a family adventure at sea, selecting the right yacht becomes paramount. For those with children in tow, opting for a vessel that offers ample space and a family-friendly environment is essential. However, the process involves more than just size and amenities. It’s imperative to listen to your broker’s guidance, as they possess invaluable insights into selecting the ideal type of yacht. Whether you prioritize speed or leisurely cruising, a seasoned broker will consider your preferences to ensure a perfect match. Age shouldn’t be the sole determinant either; many older yachts undergo extensive refurbishments, emerging from the shipyard as good as new. Ultimately, making a wise choice ensures a seamless and enjoyable voyage for the whole family.

Check the charter agreement

Before finalizing your yacht charter, it’s crucial to thoroughly review the charter agreement. This document serves as the foundation of your charter, outlining important terms and conditions. Take the time to examine details such as payment schedules, cancellation policies, and other essential provisions. If you have any questions or uncertainties, don’t hesitate to seek clarification from the charter company. A comprehensive understanding of the charter agreement ensures you embark on your journey with confidence, fully equipped for the adventure ahead.

Prepare in advance: Plan the details

Don’t be afraid to appear very demanding, providing accurate details before your departure and throughout the process will allow your broker and crew to provide you with the ideal experience.

“The more details you provide, the better the broker can respond to your exact needs”. 

What you need to do: Before boarding, your broker will ask you for a preference sheet. This will cover all aspects of your charter: arrival details, needs for transfer, diet, culinary or beverage preferences, flowers, special equipment, medical problems, allergies or any other special requests. The better the preference sheet is filled, the better your charter can be prepared.

Creating an itinerary 

The ideal itinerary depends on the chosen boat and what the client expect of his trip. “Want to sail around a private island or in the hustle and bustle of Cannes or Saint Tropez. It may be tempting to fill your location with activities but we remember to allow some downtime to enjoy the boat.” An itinerary is flexible, it ‘s one of the most interesting aspects of a yacht charter, so you have to take advantage of it!

One of the most common mistakes made by new charterers is to never book meals ashore. Even though the chefs on board are better than the best on shore, your time off permit your crew to order the yacht to its best shape. On small yachts, it gives the crew some time off well deserved.
Read also: 5 Price Levels for Yacht Charters : Which Experience Can you Afford?

“Charter during the shoulder season rather than the high season – you’ll get better conditions, the crew is less stressed and the marinas are less busy,” advises Lisa Salleron, charter Manager.

Respect the rules on board

Navigating the waters of yachting etiquette may initially appear intricate, but at its core, it’s guided by common sense. Once aboard, the rules become straightforward: slip off your shoes, extend courtesy to the crew, and relish your holiday with loved ones. Smoking is typically prohibited onboard, while the acceptance of pets varies among yachts. By adhering to these simple guidelines, passengers ensure a harmonious and enjoyable journey on the open seas.

Read also: The guide to onboard Do’s and Dont’s

Tipping Protocol: “Crew gratuity is customary, as in any hospitality industry. This should be seen as a gift for a job well done and is based on the level of satisfaction with the entire experience.”

The basics of your charter

Charter rate: The charter rate encompasses the rental of the yacht along with its crew. It is usually presented as “price from,” indicating potential variations based on season and location. Additionally, you’ll notice “plus expenses” alongside the rate, which accounts for all other costs, APA, VAT, delivery fees.

APA: The “plus expenses” element pertains to the Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA), typically constituting 30-35% of the total charter fee. This allocation covers expenses such as food, beverages, fuel, docking fees, and more.

Charter Agreement: This document is crafted to safeguard the interests of both the charterer and the yacht owner. It delineates the terms of the yacht charter comprehensively, covering aspects ranging from dates and locations to cancellation policies and insurance provisions.

MYBA:  short for the Worldwide Yachting Association, sets out the terms of the agreement, covering yacht rental, crew salaries, insurance matters, provisions for water toys, and maintenance of the engine room.

The Perfect Yacht for a First Yacht Charter

The perfect yacht for a first yacht charter often depends on personal preferences, budget, and the size of your party. However, a great option for beginners could be a medium-sized yacht with a professional crew.

  1. Size: Opt for a yacht that comfortably accommodates your group without being overwhelmingly large. A medium-sized yacht, typically ranging from 40 to 60 feet, strikes a balance between space and manageability.
  2. Crewed: For a worry-free experience, choose a yacht with a professional crew, including a captain, chef, and steward(ess). They’ll handle navigation, meal preparation, and cleaning, allowing you to relax and enjoy your charter fully.
  3. Comfort: Seek a yacht with comfortable cabins, spacious living areas, and amenities such as air conditioning, Wi-Fi, and entertainment systems. Comfortable outdoor spaces like a sun deck or a shaded cockpit are also essential for lounging and dining.
  4. Versatility: Consider a yacht with various water toys and equipment for activities like snorkeling, paddleboarding, or kayaking. These extras enhance your charter experience and provide opportunities for adventure.
  5. Itinerary: Choose a yacht charter company that offers flexible itineraries tailored to your preferences. Whether you prefer secluded anchorages, vibrant coastal towns, or lively nightlife, ensure your chosen yacht can accommodate your desired route.

Frequently Asked Questions

When should I make a reservation?

Due to the paucity of boats available for charter in some region and the fact that yachts tend to leave an area quickly, some destinations must be reserved sooner than usual. These places include, for instance, French Polynesia and Fiji, for which we advise making reservations at least 24 to 36 months in advance.
It can be necessary to make reservations 10 to 12 months in advance in order to find the right boat in the right location during busy times like Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Easter in the Caribbean. Especially if your broker must check whether it is possible to deliver the boat to the desired port of embarkation.
In general, we advise making reservations at least 10 to 6 months in advance for the Mediterranean season so that you have a choice and have enough time to plan and settle your entire group.
Be ready to be flexible if you’re searching for a good bargain opportunity! Some popular yachts quickly sell out!

Am I covered by insurance?

We strongly recommend that charterers take out cancellation insurance to protect their investment if unforeseen circumstances prevent or reduce their charter. Our brokers will be pleased to assist you in taking out any policy not covered by the basic cruise agreement. You are however insured while aboard your chartered yachts during the time of your rental.

Is there a minimum age for taking children on a yacht?

There is no minimum age for charter clients. Yachts are an excellent option for a family vacation with children. They offer a wide range of activities and a variety of safe and comfortable water games. Some yachts are more suitable for children than others. Ask your charter broker for advice regarding the age of the children and your charter plans. However, the kids must always be watched over, and your staff won’t do that for you (unless a nanny is hired).

What are the most popular places for yachting?

The most popular boating destinations vary according to the season.
In the summertime, the Mediterranean is the most popular Northern Hemisphere destination, including the French Riviera, Corsica, the Balearic Islands, Sardinia, the Greek islands, and Croatia.
During the winter, the Bahamas and the Caribbean are the first charter spots.

Is there WiFi on board the yacht and network for cell phones?

Almost all yachts offer WiFi, but this is a point to be discussed with your advisor and confirmed with the captain of the boat. As far as the cell phone service is concerned, your service provider will have to confirm if it covers the destination of the cruise.

What types of emergency medical supplies are available?

The crew is trained in first aid and CPR, with the captain having advanced medical training. The boats can carry a wide range of lifesaving equipment and many have telemedicine contracts linking them to doctors ashore.