A First-Timer’s Guide to Yacht Charters
A First-Timer's Guide to Chartering a Yacht
On the quest for smart pandemic travel options that accommodate small groups, more Americans than ever before are choosing to charter yachts. After a total shutdown from mid-March through mid-May, YachtLife, a Miami-based charter company with an app that enables mobile booking, enjoyed its highest-grossing June to date. “The demand here in the U.S. has been through the roof,” explains co-founder and CEO Patrick Curley. “We literally are getting more requests than we can satisfy in a lot of markets because there’s just not enough inventory. We have not had a summer with this much demand in the U.S. ever.”
Because international travel is complicated by constantly shifting virus policies, most of YachtLife’s clients are choosing to travel domestically. New Yorkers, for example, are sailing up the East Coast, while Miamians are venturing down to the Florida Keys. Imagine your quarantine pod climbs aboard a sparkling clean, multi-bedroom yacht at your closest harbor, lifts anchor, and sets sail to explore gorgeous coastal destinations. Onboard jet skis and paddle boards allow you to access coves that are unreachable by road, making it easy to avoid crowded areas, and your own private chef serves you personalized meals on deck, away from busy restaurants. It’s easy, relaxing, and low-risk – exactly what most of us want from travel right now.
Curley estimates that 85% of YachtLife’s summer charters were booked by first-timers. “When they get back they always say, ‘Next time, I want to charter a bigger boat, and I want to charter for longer,’” he says. “It’s a completely out-of-this-world experience and people go head over heels.”
If the idea of putting a literal ocean between your pod and the rest of the world sounds pretty great right now, here’s what you need to know:
Always trust your captain and crew
All yachts come staffed with a captain and crew (think first mate, chef, etc.), who were hired by the owner of the yacht and may have worked on the vessel for years. The number of crew members varies depending on the size of the yacht, but they all report to the captain, whose job is to plot the course and ensure everyone onboard is safe. Follow their lead and pay attention – especially during the welcome safety briefing – and you can’t go wrong.
You can co-create your itinerary
Yacht charters are either single day or “term” (multi-day) bookings. Whichever you choose, it will entail a pre-planned itinerary. You’ll work with a broker, like YachtLife, and your captain to plan the route and stops to your specifications.
The entire onboard experience is bespoke
Before you depart, you’ll be asked to provide a list of your preferences and requirements. This will help the broker and captain book restaurant reservations and activities (should you want to), and ensure the vessel is adequately provisioned for all guests, covering everything from dietary restrictions to excursions to medical supplies.
Yachts are disinfected between each booking
As with a home rental service like Airbnb, the cleaning of each yacht is down to the individual owner. However, as most owners frequently use their own vessels, it’s safe to assume each one is thoroughly cleaned between guests. “Our crews are undergoing testing on a regular basis, and the yachts are fully disinfected,” says Curley. “Some of them are being fogged with antiviral sprays, but at a bare minimum all the high-touch surfaces are getting bleached down with Clorox.”
The crew stays onboard with you
Generally, the guest cabins are located towards the bow side (front of the yacht), whereas the crew quarters are typically located towards the stern (back of the yacht). Respect the crew’s private space and don’t enter without explicit permission. Same goes for the galley (kitchen). The rest of the space is yours to enjoy.
The cost is similar to a luxury hotel
Curley puts the average price of renting a four-bedroom yacht, sleeping 8 people at around $37,000, including fuel, taxes, provisioning, and staff. That works out at around $660 per night, per person – similar to a high-end hotel.