First-Time Yacht Charterers’ Frequently Asked Questions

Posted June 26, 2018 in Charter by Morgan Crowe

Q: How large can my party be?
This dictates the size of the yacht you will want to charter. Be sure to specify if there are any children in your party, along with their ages. Keep in mind, due to international regulations, even the largest yachts only allow up to 12 guests. However, we also are able to assist with small passenger vessels for larger groups, and can look at booking more than one yacht in a “tandem charter” arrangement.

Q: Where can I charter?
A: There are charter yachts available worldwide, although you will find the highest concentration of yachts in the Mediterranean during the summer and Caribbean and The Bahamas for the winter. There also are a variety of yachts in more “off-the-beaten-path” destinations, including Alaska, Southeast Asia, Australia, the Galapagos and the South Pacific.

Q: What type of charter will it be?
A: Each yacht crew has its own personality. Some provide a more formal level of service while others are known to excel with families and young children, providing a more family oriented, home-like vibe. Your broker knows the captains and crews and will guide you to the yacht that matches the style of charter you envisage.

Q: What kind of amenities are available?
A: Amenities aboard yachts vary widely — from pools and Jacuzzis to water sports and gym equipment, beach clubs and movie theatres. There are yachts with golf tees, outdoor cinemas and even luxury spa facilities. Speak to your broker and let them know your wish list. Chances are they can find a yacht that checks all the boxes.

Q: What will we eat on board?
Guests aboard a luxury charter yacht have the luxury of setting their own menu. Prior to the charter, you will receive a preference sheet on which you will note your favorite foods, foods you do not like, any dietary needs or restrictions, etc. You also can make requests for certain types of meals and cuisines or you can choose to let the chef surprise you based on your preferences. Your charter broker knows the yacht chefs and their specialties. If you would enjoy fine dining during your charter, your broker can suggest a yacht with a Michelin-trained chef; if you prefer a more casual style of dining, the broker will advise on chefs who will create that experience for you. Many yacht chefs are well versed in both fine dining and casual, ensuring you have plenty of options while you charter.

Q: What will we do and see while on charter?
You have the ability to set the itinerary and the day-to-day events of the charter. This also is something to note in your preference sheet. With the help of the yacht broker, captain and crew, sightseeing, shopping, dining ashore, beach picnics and an array of other options are available to you based on where you will be cruising. This all is determined by having conversations with the yacht broker and captain to decide on the right schedule for your needs.

Q: Does my itinerary make sense?
A: During a luxury yacht charter, you’ll want to do and see it all, but you are bound by time and travel constraints. Working with a charter broker, you’ll be able to decipher if your chosen itinerary will indeed work within a week or if three days or even an extra week should be added to the schedule. Your broker also will work with the captain to ensure transit times between ports of call are feasible, etc.

Q: Can I bring my dog?
A: While many yachts decline having pets on board, some owners will allow you to bring your dog. If this is important to you, it’s worth the chat with your broker.

Q: What if there’s a breakdown or the weather interferes?
A: All incidental issues, such as mechanical issues or weather issues, will be covered in your charter contract. This is why working with a charter broker is paramount as those working without a broker may be left high and dry if unforeseen circumstances arise. Your broker will be able to advise you on these sorts of issues.

Q: How far in advance should I contact my broker?
A: Many brokers recommend that clients contact them at least three to six months prior to the requested date of the charter. Inventory changes happen quickly and, as no two yachts are the same, the yacht you’ve been dreaming of may book up before you know it. The most popular charter yachts often have bookings up to a year in advance, so reaching out to a broker sooner is definitely better to ensure your holiday is exactly as you dream.

Q: What is covered in the charter price?
A: The charter price covers just the hire of the yacht and crew. Taxes and running expenses such as food and beverages, fuel, marina fees and gratuities to the crew are extra. While these additional expenses can vary based on your preferences and itinerary, it’s pertinent to budget between 25 and 50 percent of your charter cost for these additional expenses. Your broker will set up an onboard expense account with the captain (known as an Advance Provisioning Allowance or APA) and you will need to wire money to fund this account in advance of your charter. You will get an itemized statement and updates as the captain uses money in the account for provisions, fuel and other expenses. Anything left in the account at the end of the trip will be returned to you.

Q: Where should my charter begin and end?
A: Your broker will work with you to find the most advantageous ports to start and end based on where you want to go and where the yacht is sailing before and after your cruise.

Q: How will I stay in touch while at sea?
These days, most yachts are set up with Wi-Fi and satellite communications. Your cellular device likely will work when cruising near shore, but if you are traveling abroad, you should speak with your service provider about using your devices internationally.

Q: How do payments work?
A: Upon signing the charter agreement, typically you will be asked to pay 50 percent of the charter amount as a deposit. The balance is generally due one month before your charter starts, along with the APA funds mentioned above.

Q: What’s the standard gratuity for the crew?
Gratuities vary, but typically start at 10 percent with many customers tipping 15 percent or more for excellent service.

Q: Who’s in charge?
While you chartered the yacht, keep in mind that your captain is responsible for your safety as well as adhering to international maritime law and local regulations of the places you will visit.

Q: Can I visit a yacht before booking it?
A: Many charter clients will meet up with their charter brokers at various boat shows around the world to review inventory prior to booking their next charter. This allows the clients to get a first-hand look and feel of the yacht, meet the crew, etc. Check out Northrop & Johnson’s online event calendar to check the upcoming show lists if you’re interested in attending.

If you have any further questions on charter, Northrop & Johnson’s excellent, experienced charter brokers would be happy to assist you with any of your luxury yachting needs. For more information, please email

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