126' (40.89m) Gulf Craft ALTAVITA yacht crew awaiting guests on the swim platform

Meet Your Crew: The Ultimate Guide to a Crewed Yacht Charter

A crewed yacht charter allows you to relax and enjoy the comfort of your boat, complete with a captain and crew. Unlike a bareboat yacht charter, where you are responsible for navigating and operating the vessel yourself, the crew onboard a yacht charter is professionally trained and appropriately certified, taking care of everything from cooking and cleaning to yacht maintenance, piloting, and navigation.

Crewed Yacht Charter with Northrop & Johnson

Who are the crew on board?

Like the yachts themselves, the crew on a yacht charter come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on the size of—and amenities on—your chosen vessel, the team can range from a minimal three-person roster to a highly specialized crew of 50+, complete with different, well-defined departments.

These crewmembers play an essential role in ensuring that their charter guests enjoy a vacation that’s as seamless and stress-free as possible. From the captain to the chef, each crewmember brings a unique set of skills and experience to the table.

Essential crew include:

In addition to the crewmembers listed below, crewed yacht charters may have other specialized roles onboard, like diving instructors, nannies, massage therapists and yoga instructors.

The captain is responsible for the overall operation of the yacht, ensuring the safety of all passengers and crew. They also navigate the vessel, make decisions on itinerary changes based on weather and tides, and manage all crewmembers—or heads of department, should the yacht be large enough.


Deckhands are responsible for maintaining the yacht’s exterior, including cleaning, polishing and varnishing, and handling dock lines, fenders and other equipment. They may also assist with setting up water toys.


Engineers ensure all onboard systems are functioning properly, including the engine, generators, air conditioning and navigation systems.

Stewards and stewardesses

Stewards and stewardesses are responsible for the yacht’s interior, including housekeeping, laundry and serving meals and drinks. They may also assist with setting up water toys and water-based activities, including snorkeling, diving or kayaking.

Restaurant food

What about the yacht chef?

Of course, one of the most important roles on board is that of the yacht chef.

A skilled chef will cater to any dietary restrictions and requirements, providing personalized menus based on the tastes of everyone on board. They may even create themed dining experiences.

In addition to preparing the meals, a yacht chef can enhance their guests’ experience in countless ways. Some are trained sommeliers, for example, and can offer wine pairings to complement meals. They will also often assist with provisioning, menu and celebration planning, and maintaining the galley’s cleanliness and dining areas.

Yacht crew certifications and qualifications

Each of these crewmembers must hold appropriate qualifications and training to ensure everyone aboard’s safety and prepare them for life at sea. Yacht captains, for example, must have a range of licenses and certificates depending on the size and type of vessel they are operating. Crewmembers may also have additional certifications in firefighting, first aid and rescue. Each role has different requirements, which can change between countries and the kind of yacht they work on.

However, there are two basic certifications all crewmembers are required to maintain, even for entry-level positions:

  1. STCW: The Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers is an international set of regulations that all crewmembers on a yacht must comply with. This certification covers basic safety training and is mandatory for all yacht crew.
  2. Seafarers Medical Certificate: This is a mandatory certification for all yacht crew and ensures that the crewmember is physically fit and can work on a yacht. The ENG1 Medical is the most popular and must be issued by a doctor approved by the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Other specialized qualifications can include:

  • RYA Yachtmaster: This certification is recognized worldwide and is essential for anyone looking to work as a captain or mate on a yacht. It covers navigation, boat handling and safety.
  • PADI Diving Certification: If a yacht offers diving as an activity, the crewmember responsible for leading the dives must have a PADI Dive Certification.
  • Culinary certifications: Chefs on board may have a variety of culinary certifications, such as a degree in culinary arts or a qualification from a culinary school.

Different sizes of yachts may require different crew compositions. A motor yacht may have more engineers, for example, while a sailing yacht will require more experienced sailors. It may also depend on the luxury and amenities offered on board.

Family enjoying the beach club on board yacht for charter

Benefits of crewed yacht charter

A crewed yacht charter offers a variety of benefits that a bareboat rental can’t. With a highly trained and experienced team managing the yacht’s daily operations, guests can sit back, relax and enjoy their time on board. It’s a luxury experience with the crew trained to deliver five-star service.

It’s also a highly personalized, completely bespoke experience. Before the charter, guests will work with the captain, their charter broker and sometimes even the onboard chef to discuss everything from their food preferences to their experiential expectations to craft an itinerary just for them and their guests. That includes everything from their shore-based excursions, water toys they like, and where the chef sources their favorite wine.

It is then up to the crew to craft an unforgettable charter vacation for their guests. Each crewmember, as experts in their fields and offering a wealth of knowledge and experiences, are there to enhance their guests’ experiences. They often know the best anchorages, secluded beaches and hidden gems in their cruising grounds, allowing you to explore the destination in a way that may not be possible without their expertise.

Crewed yachts available for charter

View More
Stewardess serving champagne for couple on board charter yacht

Which is better, a crewed yacht charter or a bareboat yacht charter?

Is a crewed yacht charter worth the extra cost compared to a bareboat charter?

Ultimately, the decision depends on your preferences and experience. However, there are some key factors to consider.

One significant advantage of a crewed yacht charter is the peace of mind that comes with having a dedicated and professional team take care of everything, from navigation to meal prep and everything in between, allowing charter guests to truly switch off and relax without worrying about the details of running a yacht. Instead, the crew is there to cater to their passengers’ every need—and every whim. The crew’s local knowledge can also add a unique dimension to the charter, allowing guests to experience and explore an area in a way that may not be possible without them.

However, a bareboat charter can be a more cost-effective option for experienced sailors comfortable handling themselves or with a small group. This means that bareboat charters typically require a higher level of sailing proficiency, knowledge of the local waters or cruising grounds, and the ability to handle any unexpected situations.

Charter Motor Yacht VERTIGO with Northrop & Johnson for 150k/week

What’s the difference between a crewed yacht charter and a private cruise ship?

While crewed yacht charters offer a personalized and flexible experience, private cruise ships offer a different kind of luxury. They tend to be much larger than private yachts and can accommodate hundreds or even thousands of passengers. They’re often equipped with various onboard amenities with multiple restaurants, swimming pools and entertainment venues.

The disadvantage of a private cruise ship is the level of intimacy and personalization. While a yacht charter is an entirely private experience with only the charterer and their chosen guests on board, a cruise ship is in a public setting and on a set itinerary with pre-planned stops. And while cruise ships have a dedicated crew—often numbering in the hundreds—the crew-to-guest ratio is much lower. Unlike a private yacht, cruise ship crew are more likely to be responsible for running planned activities around the ship than for a personalized level of attention and care to their small group of guests.

Another downside is that many destinations may be inaccessible to larger vessels due to the sheer size of cruise ships. Yachts can anchor in smaller, more secluded bays and coves, allowing guests to experience remote destinations. These locations often offer breathtaking landscapes and unique cultures that are only sometimes visited by large crowds of tourists.


How to choose the right crewed yacht charter

Choosing the right crewed yacht charter for you will depend on a variety of factors.

  • The size of your group
  • The type of yacht that suits your preferences
  • The kind of crew onboard
  • The destination that matches your interests and desired activities
  • The duration of your charter; do you want to visit multiple destinations or just one spot?
  • Your budget

Speak to your Northrop & Johnson charter broker about all of your needs and they will help find the perfect yacht for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Explore crewed yacht charters

How much does a crewed yacht charter cost?

The costs of a yacht charter can vary greatly, depending on the size of the yacht, the location and the length of your charter, and the level of service you require. Generally, smaller boats can range from a few thousand dollars per week to over a million per week for opulent megayachts. Other factors affecting the charter rate include the time of year, the number of guests, and any special requests.

How long can you charter?

Crewed yacht charters are usually available for a minimum of seven days. The length of your charter can be tailored to your specific needs and preferences. You can discuss this with your charter broker before booking.

What's included in the charter fee?

The exact inclusions in a charter fee vary depending on the yacht and your chosen charter broker’s charter agreement. However, the charter fee generally includes using the yacht and equipment, including tenders and water toys, the crew’s salaries, meals and accommodation.

Additional expenses not included in the charter fee include provisioning and marina fees, cruising permits, excursions, local taxes and fuel.

Where do the crew sleep?

Most crewed yachts have designated living quarters for the crew separate from the guest areas, typically located on the lower deck.

Is the captain in charge of the yacht?

The captain is ultimately in charge of and responsible for the yacht, and the safety of all those on board.

Who is responsible for the yacht when the captain is asleep?

When the captain is off duty, the first mate or most senior deckhand will take over navigation and watch duties.

Do the crew have a break?

Yes, the crew work in shifts and typically have scheduled breaks throughout the day. However, timing and duration will vary depending on the day’s schedule and the crew on duty.

Who will take us to land when we get there?

Most crewed yachts have a tender, smaller boat that can transport guests to and from the boat. This is usually operated by a crewmember, such as a deckhand or a dedicated tender driver.

Have the crew been vetted?

Yes, most yacht crew often undergo a rigorous vetting and interview process to ensure they are qualified and fit in with the existing team.

Should we tip the crew?

While tipping it not mandatory, it is customary to show appreciation for their hard work. The amount is usually 10-20% of the total cost of the charter, and it’s usually given directly to the captain to distribute. Often, it is taken from the remaining funds from the APA.