The Ultimate Luxury Yacht Charter Guide
Professional Advice for First-Time Yacht Charterers
As more travelers seek out luxury vacation options that ensure exclusivity, security and peace of mind, many are opting for a luxury yacht charter. With its ultra-hygienic and self-sustaining environment, a luxury yacht charter is a safe sanctuary and affords guests a worry-free vacation. Our charter brokers have a wealth of expertise and a wide variety of skills to assist first-time charterers every step of the way. Our charter team has compiled this comprehensive guide to provide professional advice, answer introductory and advanced questions and define commonly used charter terminology.
Yacht Charter 101
Frequently Asked Questions & Advice
An Introduction to Chartering a Private Yacht
If this is your first time considering a luxury holiday on board a private yacht, welcome! Knowing that first-timers will have many questions, Northrop & Johnson’s charter brokers have compiled a guide to help you gain a better understanding of the yacht charter process. Please peruse our charter guide, which covers some of the most important information you need to know about chartering or renting a yacht, as you prepare for a conversation with your charter broker. If you already have the ultimate yachting holiday in mind, contact our charter team and start designing your dream yacht charter experience.
What is yacht charter?
Maybe you are looking for a family vacation in the Caribbean. Perhaps you’re dreaming of an island-hopping adventure. Regardless of the type of holiday, you’ll want a safe and secure environment to enjoy time with family and friends. A superyacht charter means doing things your way with your timetable, bespoke itinerary and favorite past-times in absolute luxury. On board a superyacht charter you will experience an unsurpassed level of service and comfort in your most desired setting.
What time of year should I charter?
There are two main seasons in yachting – summer and winter. The summer season runs from May through October, with the peak summer season (and peak rates) in July and August. The winter season runs from November to April, with peak season running primarily over the holidays and into New Year.
Where are the most popular places to charter?
The most popular yachting destinations vary by season. During the northern hemisphere summer, the most popular destination is the Mediterranean. Locations such as the French Riviera, Balearic Islands, Corsica and Sardinia, Greek Isles and Croatia are favorites. During the winter months, The Bahamas and Caribbean are the top charter spots.
What type of charter experience do I want?
If you are looking to relax and unwind, a yacht with a spa and an onboard masseuse is ideal. Chartering with a family often requires a yacht with ample activities, water toys, onboard games and a dedicated movie room. Your charter broker will assist you in identifying a yacht with all the onboard amenities are important to you.
How big are the yachts and how many people can we bring?
Yachts can range in size from 80 feet to 300-plus feet and larger. Charter yachts can carry up to 12 guests maximum.
What type of yacht should I charter?
Think about the type of yacht that would best suit the size and character of your charter party. A modern motor yacht is ideal for a family charter while a sailing yacht is best for yachting enthusiasts. Browse through our portfolio of yachts for a better understanding of the most suitable vessel for you. Or, if you prefer, talk to a charter broker for an informal chat on the best yachts for your charter.
How long should I charter for and how much will it cost?
Most charters last between seven and 14 days, with rates quoted by the week. During the peaks of the seasons, July and August and Christmas and New Year, rates are usually higher. Most yachts also have low-season rates in effect during off-peak times of the year. Prices differ from yacht to yacht and reflect a variety of factors such as size, year built and amenities. Additional expenses include food, fuel, dockage and more. (See next question for more details).
Are there additional expenses beyond the charter rate?
Additional expenses depend on the type of contract used; MYBA and AYCA are the most common. The charter rate generally only covers the hire of the yacht and the crew and the owner’s insurance. Everything else is extra, including provisions and fuel. To cover expenses, an Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA) is collected upfront and forwarded to the captain who is accountable for expenditures. The captain will present a detailed summary of expenditures at the end of your charter. Any unspent APA funds are refunded to you. Depending on the destination, other expenses might include taxes, VAT and delivery/redelivery fees. Ask your charter broker to confirm the expenses that will be associated with your charter.
How do I get to my yacht charter?
Looking to avoid commercial transit and crowds? Private aviation is an ideal option for getting to your charter destination. Northrop & Johnson’s partner NetJets is the global leader in private aviation for more than 55 years. NetJets can get you to your yacht in a safe, hygienic and comfortable way.
How far in advance should I contact a charter broker?
Brokers recommend booking six to 10 months in advance if booking for Christmas/New Year or peak Mediterranean season (July/August). If you want to cruise off-peak season, brokers recommend booking three to six months out. Availability changes quickly. It’s important to contact your broker early on to ensure a broad selection of suitable yachts from which to choose. Popular charter yachts book as far as a year in advance.
Are there any specific advantages to chartering with Northrop & Johnson?
Northrop & Johnson’s charter brokers are the most professional and knowledgeable in the industry. They utilize industry-leading tools, assets and resources that allow them to assist clients with creating the holiday of a lifetime. They have access to Northrop & Johnson’s range of luxury partners, including NetJets, allowing them to enhance charters for guests. This is a benefit not available with other firms.
Advanced Yacht Charter Advice
Questions You Might Not Know to Ask
Superyacht Insider: Information to Make the Most of Your Charter Holiday
By now you have a good idea about the basics of renting a private yacht. Chartering a luxury yacht is easier than you thought, but there are some important aspects that could make or break your dream experience. Please browse this section to learn about the finer details of yacht charter. Should you have more advanced questions about how to charter a yacht, let our team of charter experts guide your way.
Do all yachts come with a crew?
All charter yachts that Northrop & Johnson handles are crewed. Bare-boat charters, as charters without crew are called, are available, however, they are only available on smaller yachts. Northrop & Johnson charter brokers do not handle these types of charters.
Who purchases the food and beverages on the yacht?
The yacht’s chef and interior team will purchase all provisions for the yacht. The charter preference sheet (guests’ likes and dislikes) provided by the guests prior to the trip advises what to buy. They also will purchase any additional items needed for meals. The food is purchased with funds from the Advanced Provisioning Allowance (APA), an advance payment that will cover things like food, beverages, fuel, dockage, etc.
I’ve heard you can’t wear shoes on the yacht. Is this true?
This is true for most yachts. Some yachts do allow boat shoes on board, provided they are brand-new are not worn ashore during the charter.
I like to enjoy a cigar after dinner. Will we be allowed to smoke?
There are very few yachts that allow smoking indoors, but some may allow smoking in designated outside areas. If this is an important point for you, please make sure to mention it to your charter broker.
Are the crew always on duty?
Depending on the size of the yacht, the crew are always available to guests throughout the charter. From preparing midnight snacks to whipping up your favorite cocktails, they are on hand. The crew can be as present or as removed (for privacy)
as you would like. They work in shifts, so different crew will be available at different times of the day and night.
Can we bring our pets on the yacht?
Some yachts do allow pets, but this will depend on the yacht. If this is an important point for you, your charter broker can help you identify yachts that accept furry friends.
Is there WiFi aboard the yacht and will my mobile phone work?
Almost all yachts offer Wi-Fi, but this is something to discuss with your charter broker and confirm with the captain. As for mobile phone service, your service provider will need to confirm if they cover the cruising destination.
Since we will be out at sea, is it legal to smoke marijuana on the yacht during my charter?
The yacht must follow the rules of its flag state and the local laws where it is cruising. Illegal drugs are prohibited on all yachts. If marijuana is legal in the flag state and destination, smoking will be up to the yacht owner and captain.
If we change our minds about the itinerary once we’re on the yacht, can we skip a place or stay longer in another place?
This situation happens fairly regularly aboard a yacht. It is subject to the captain’s discretion as well as the availability of dockage in the region. Speak to the captain about your changes and he or she will do their best to accommodate
Is there a minimum age for children on the yacht?
There is no minimum age for charter guests. Yachts are an excellent option for vacationing with Children. They offer many different activities, water toys and are extremely safe and comfortable. But some yachts are better suited for children than others. Speak to your charter broker about the ages of the children and your plans for the charter. They will help find the best yacht to suit your needs.
What are the cleaning procedures on the yacht, both before we arrive and while we are Aboard?
Each yacht has its own protocols for cleaning, disinfecting and hygiene. As a general rule, yachts are exceptionally clean and held to a rigorous standard. Your charter broker and yacht captains can share more information on the exact protocol aboard yachts you’re interested in chartering.
Will any of the crew be trained in first aid and CPR, and what type of emergency medical supplies are there?
All crew are trained in first aid and CPR and captains and Medical Persons in Charge have advanced medical training. Yachts also carry a vast array of lifesaving equipment and many have telemedicine contracts that connect them to doctors ashore.
What if there is bad weather?
The great thing about a yacht charter: it is often possible to adjust your itinerary and head for the sun. Although, a rainy day in port opens up the possibility of exploring local shops, boutiques, bars and restaurants.
What if we want to extend our charter once it is underway?
If during your charter you wish to extend, contact your charter broker. He or she will check the yacht’s schedule and availability and prepare the necessary paperwork.
Should I consider trip insurance for my charter?
While not required, a trip protection plan is highly recommended.
Should I tip the crew?
If you enjoy the service provided by your crew, you may wish to offer them a gratuity. While the level is completely at your discretion, it is customary to leave a tip of 10 to 15% of the base charter fee.
Glossary of Yacht Charter Terms
Get to know the Lingo
A Lesson in the Language of Superyacht Charter
Understanding the commonly used words and phrases in a maritime setting can help ease you into your charter process and enhance your experience aboard as well. This glossary highlights terms used both in the contracts and negotiation side of the charter process but also outlines common words and phrases used by the captains and crew of superyachts to help you assimilate to life on board.
Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA) – an advanced payment made to cover the cost of
requested food, beverages, fuel, dockage, communications, crew gratuities, and so on
Aft – the backend of the yacht (I.e. Main Deck Aft, Skylounge Aft)
Aft deck – a deck located at the backend of the yacht often found on the main and bridge
Anchorage – a location where the yacht will drop its anchor and will stay for a period of time
At anchor – when the yacht is mooring at an anchorage
Bow – the very frontend of the yacht
Beach club – an area at the yachts’ stern (back) offering access to swimming and the yacht’s water toys and spa. Some of the larger yachts have lounges, bars and gyms located in their beach clubs
Cabin – sleeping quarters for guest or crew (also called stateroom for guests)
Charter agreement – a signed agreement the specifies the particulars of the charter. Particulars include payment schedules and policies and define the rights and obligations of all
parties in contingency
Charter rate – the rate at which the yacht is chartered for. Rates vary from yacht to yacht depending on their length, destinations and amenities
Day head – a powder room usually found in communal spaces aboard the yacht
Galley – the yacht’s kitchen
Head – a bathroom
Helm – where the captain drives the yacht
Itinerary – the proposed plan for the yacht charter, complete with destinations and possible activities
Knot – the speed at which the yacht is traveling
Main salon – the primary indoor guest area on a yacht’s main deck
Marina – a place where yachts dock, and generally, where guests will meet their charter yacht
Master cabin – typically the best or largest stateroom aboard a charter yacht
Passarelle – the walkway that connects the yacht to the dock
Personal flotation device (PFD) – a safety vest or lifejacket
Port (direction) – the left side of the yacht when you are facing front toward the bow
Port (place) – a marina harbor or commercial dock
Preference sheet – a document guests fill out before the charter. It advises the crew what guests would like to eat, drink, any medical issues, personal preferences, requested activities, etc
Plus expenses – these are the added costs associated with your charter such as the food,
fuel, dockage, etc. They are paid for through your APA
Pullman berth – a twin-size bed that folds out of the wall to provide additional sleeping
RIB (rigid inflatable boat) – an inflatable dinghy or tender used to transportation or water
Skylounge – a salon located on an upper deck of the yacht
Starboard – the right side of a boat when looking forward toward the bow
Stateroom – guest sleeping quarters aboard the yacht
Swim platform – the space at the back of the yacht from which you typically can go
swimming or board a dinghy. Lately, these have become entire pool/beach areas on some of
the larger luxury yachts
Stabilizers – a feature that helps keep the yacht stable while underway and at anchor
Stern – the back of the yacht
Sundeck – the open-air top deck of a yacht
Tender – a boat that a yacht carries, or tows. Used for transfers to and from shore, short day
cruises and water sports. Also sometimes called a dinghy
Underway – when the yacht is cruising
VIP cabin – typically the second-largest or second most luxurious cabin aboard a charter yacht
Contact Our Yacht Charter Experts
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Charter Yacht Spotlight
Northrop & Johnson charter experts have access to a stunning selection of some of the world’s most glamorous yachts. From large modern motor yachts to classic sailing yachts, each one has been inspected and recommended by our charter experts. The following is just a selection of the 3,000-plus-yacht fleet available to charter.