Demand for private yacht and barge charters is up as Americans look for a perfectly socially distanced and highly luxurious getaway.
Ian Pedersen, senior marketing manager for the Moorings and Sunsail, two private charter companies, told Travel Weekly that as of January, they were trading nearly 40% ahead of 2019 pre-pandemic numbers. Jack Ezon, founder of Embark Beyond, told Travel Weekly that its yacht business soared 235% in 2022 versus 2019.
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Who are the people chartering private yachts and could you be one of them? Well, that depends on your bank account and a big question: What is the cost of a yachting vacation?
The Pricing Range Is Wide — but It’s at Least Thousands a Day
“Prices for a yacht that can accommodate 8 to 10 people will start at about $2,000/day on the lower end and can go well over $10,000/day,” said Val Streif, marketing manager at GetMyBoat. “This price would include a captain and likely at least one crew member to cater to the group’s needs. These boats would have multiple cabins for sleeping, a kitchen, lounge area and indoor/outdoor deck spaces. For all-inclusive, with a captain and chef to prepare all meals, I would expect to pay at least $15,000 for the week of yachting.”
Note that this is the rough average cost estimate for yachting in the Mediterranean or Caribbean, and Streif highlighted that pricing “varies dramatically.”
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What Goes Into Pricing
Emily Nancolas, who lives on a sailboat and is the author of Two Get Lost, explained what goes into the costs of chartering a boat:
- The type of boat: “Catamarans tend to be more expensive than monohulls. Specialist charter companies will also have different kinds of sailboats, so you can charter a high end performance sailboat for more money.”
- The size of the boat: “Obviously the bigger the boat the more you can expect to pay.”
- Whether you need a skipper: “If you hire a skipper because you don’t have the required sailing qualifications then you will need to pay their wage, their food and drink while onboard and a tip.”
- Diesel for the engine and petrol costs for the dinghy outboard
- Marinas: “You have the option to anchor out which is free in most countries, but if you have adverse weather and need shelter then you will want to factor in marina fees. These can be steep in the summer months.”
- Fees for any water and electricity you use while in marinas
- Insurance: “You will need travel insurance that covers the kind of sailing you intend to do (coastal or offshore) and you should check with the charter company to make sure boat insurance is included. Sometimes this is an extra (but necessary) cost.”
- Where you charter the sailboat: “Consider your preferred sailing grounds as you may find even neighboring countries are cheaper to charter from.”
Graham Carter, founder of Cruise Croatia, said that the bareboat cost alone is around 65% of the total cost of one’s yachting vacation, while the remaining 35% of costs go to cover fuel, docking cost, port taxes and skipper fees.
Also, it is very important to tip the skipper.
“The customary guideline is 15 to 20% of the cost of your holiday,” Carter said.
Consider the Season
“Consider the time of year you want to go on your yachting vacation,” said Sachi Maekawa, operations manager at World Sea Explorers. “The peak season for yachting is typically July and August, so expect prices to be higher during these months. If you can travel during the off-season, you may be able to get a better deal, unless you’re in the arctic! Arctic weather means more propane and diesel is needed for heating and cooking as well as ‘winter’ is peak season because of northern lights.”
Hire a Yacht Broker
A yacht vacation isn’t a simple endeavor, so this is not a trip you want to plan by yourself if you’re a newbie.
“Going at it alone isn’t the best option when choosing a charter to book,” said Steve Doyle, a yacht sales and charter broker. “An experienced yacht broker will know how to ask questions, hear your requests, and help connect you to a crewed yacht charter experience that matches your wants and needs. They’ll help you search available yachts for charter, decide what size, model, and yacht type most interests you, and figure out what charter locations match your interests.
“They’ll also help match you to a vessel that fits your budget,” Doyle said. “Since everything from fuel costs, locations and seasons can affect the base fee of your charter, working with someone who has decades of experience in the industry can set your mind at ease and set you aboard yacht charters that will offer an unrivaled vacation.”
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