Frequently Asked Questions About Chartering Yachts
Why should I use a broker?
A qualified, recognized broker has privileged access to the pricing structure and booking calendars for the yachts they represent, and as is in our case, as many as several hundred yachts. A broker has access to detailed information about each yacht and the crew. An experienced broker will get to know the yachts and the crew personally.
Few charter yachts have the time or resources to market themselves as efficiently as charter brokers do, and as a result, almost all crewed yacht bookings are done through brokers. A knowledgeable broker can match up a client with the right boat and the right crew.
OK you convinced me, how much are the broker's services going to cost me? A broker's service is done at no cost to the client - the charter yacht pays the broker commission. So no matter how much a client shops around, he will always be quoted the same price for the same yacht from all brokers he contacts with.
What is a clearinghouse?
A clearinghouse is a service business that acts as a liaison between its member yachts and recognized brokers. A clearinghouse holds the calendars for all the yachts they represent and publishes and verifies rates and fees on behalf of charter brokers. A clearing house utilizes an escrow account to hold deposits on behalf of charter clients and releases the funds to the yacht only prior to the start of the charter.
Recognized brokers have access to and work closely with clearinghouses. Charter bookings are confirmed through the clearinghouse and the broker forwards charter deposits to the clearinghouse for safekeeping in an escrow account.
What is the difference between a crewed yacht and a bareboat yacht?
Most crewed yachts operate with two crew; a Captain and Chef/Hostess. Larger yachts have more crew. Some crewed yachts are owner operated meaning the crew actually own the yacht. Other crewed yachts are owned by absentee owners who hire crew to operate the yacht for them.
Most crewed yacht vacations are "all inclusive" meaning food and domestic beverages including beer, wine and alcohol are included. Many crewed yacht chefs are culinary trained and some have owned restaurants. Crewed yachts include a variety of water toys and snorkeling gear for guest use.
A bareboat is exactly as the name implies. When renting a bareboat, you get a boat without crew, food, beverages or alcohol. You must be qualified to sail or drive the boat on your own and are responsible for stocking your own food and beverages. In the Virgin Islands, many bareboaters choose to utilize the many fine restaurants around the islands. Bareboaters have the option to hire a freelance Captain and/or Chef for the duration of their trip.
How big are the boats?
Crewed yachts range in size from an average of 45 to 60 feet in length on up to 62 feet and well over 100 feet in length. Bareboats range in length from 32 feet up to around 56 feet. There are many more sailing yachts than power yachts available for charter with sailing catamarans outnumbering monohull sailing yachts.
What if I have a special diet or food allergy?
Not a problem. Yacht chefs are used to dealing with special food needs. Once a deposit is paid and the contract is signed, a preference sheet is sent out for charter guests to indicate any food, alcohol and beverage preferences including likes, dislikes and allergies.
What if we would like to eat a meal or two off the crewed yacht?
There are many very good Caribbean flavor restaurants and beach bars around the islands, some made famous by recording artists. Some restaurants specialize in serving lobster, in season. Certain charter yachts offer a choice of number of dinners on board in their pricing structure. However, if you choose a spontaneous dinner ashore while on charter, the expense will be your responsibility.
What should we bring?
If you haven’t chartered a yacht before, you are in for a vacation like no other. The Caribbean is very laid back and informal so we suggest keeping your packing to a minimum. Following are suggestions based on experience. We find you may need less than one might think! Please use soft-sided fold-able luggage that can easily be stowed.
- T-shirts and shorts are the norm
- A polo shirt may be useful
- Swim wear
- Sun hat
- Rash Guard or T-Shirt for snorkeling
- Flip flops or Tivas for time ashore
- Shoes for walking, hiking or running
- Sun glasses
- Sun screen high factor, non staining. Some yachts do not allow spray sunscreens as they may stain the yacht's finish
- Chargers for phones, iPods, iPads, laptop computers, etc.
- Mask, snorkel & fins if you prefer to use your own or have a mask with prescription lenses
- Dive certification card if you wish to SCUBA dive
- Books, magazines, e-readers
- iPod, laptop computer, smart phone or iPad if you wish to use the internet
- Insect repellent
- Medicines if required
- Sea sickness remedies if needed
- Credit cards and cash
Do we need a passport or special visa?
A valid passport is required for entry into any country or territory in the Caribbean with the exception of travel wholly within and between the United States, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.
Citizens of the United States, Canada and most European countries do not require visas for travel to the Caribbean*. However, citizens of certain countries do require visas to enter certain Caribbean islands, depending on the nationality of the individual and the regulations of the particular island. To avoid disappointment, it is wise to check beforehand with the appropriate authority in one's country and acquire any required visas or documents prior to traveling.
*Citizens traveling on the "Visa Waiver Program" may not enter a US territory by charter yacht unless they have a US visa appropriate for the type of entry intended. Citizens traveling on the Visa Waiver Program may enter a US territory without a visa if traveling by a recognized carrier IE: airline or authorized ferry company.
What currencies are used in the islands?
A few countries in the region have adopted the US dollar as official currency, for example, Turks & Caicos and British Virgin Islands. Other islands have their own currency. However the US dollar is widely accepted throughout the islands and can easily be exchanged for local currency at most local banking institutions.
Credit cards are generally accepted throughout the islands, but it is best to check before making purchases. Some credit card companies are now charging cardholders foreign transaction fees on purchases made in the islands.
Are children allowed?
Yes, children are allowed and many families charter yachts for seasonal holidays, special occasions and family events. Some crewed charter yachts do however, have a minimum age that varies by the yacht. We can determine that for you.
What if we have a large group?
Not a problem. There are a few yachts available for charter that can accommodate larger groups - up to 20 people or more. It is also possible to charter more than one yacht that would travel in tandem.
Are there any crewed yachts that rent by the room?
There is one company that specializes in just that! They operate 44 foot sailing catamarans. Three individual double rooms are available on each yacht. Contact us for details.
What if I would like to learn how to sail?
A few of the crewed charter yachts do indeed offer sailing instruction and there are dedicated sailing schools located in the islands as well. You have the choice of informal sailing instruction or enrolling in a certification sailing course taught by a qualified ASA (American Sailing Association) instructor.
It is possible to rent a bareboat and hire a training skipper to teach you how to sail the boat or drive a motor yacht.
What if we would like to scuba dive?
Many crewed charter yachts offer guided scuba diving right from the yacht, mostly at an additional cost. One of the crew will be a certified Dive Master or Scuba Instructor. Otherwise, rendezvous diving can easily be organized with a local dive operator and is quite a popular option, especially in the Virgin Islands. Be sure to bring your certification card.
Diving instruction in the form of a Resort Course or course completion can easily be organized with local dive operators.
Is the cruising itinerary fixed?
The cruising itinerary is not fixed for reasons that everyone has different priorities and interests and daily weather patterns can affect itineraries. The Captain will usually communicate with the charterer, sometimes before the start of the trip, and always during the trip as to the cruising itinerary. There are many sailing options, beaches and activities to choose from. Your trip will be totally custom and personalized for you.
How far in advance should we book a yacht?
Although there are many different charter yachts to choose from, some yachts are extremely popular and as a result their schedules fill fairly fast. Once you have decided on experiencing a crewed yachting vacation and have chosen a particular yacht, it is best to reserve the yacht and put down a deposit sooner rather than later. Given that, we can usually accommodate last-minute bookings without major issue.
Can we pay with a credit card?
Some crewed charter yachts are now accepting credit cards, either VISA or MasterCard. There may be a credit card fee charged, depending on the yacht or the bareboat company.
In the Virgin Islands, even though the official currency is the US dollar and banks are mostly US banks, some credit card companies are charging a "foreign transaction fee" for charges originating from the Virgin Islands. Best to check with your credit card company beforehand.
Should we buy trip cancellation insurance?
Trip cancellation insurance is highly recommended. In the event of an unplanned event or mishap at home, it would be comforting to know you are covered.
Should we tip the crew?
We strongly believe so. Crewed chartering is a service oriented business and as in any service oriented business, a gratuity is considered appropriate and is very much appreciated.
Your crew are your hosts, tour guides, cook, dishwasher, maid, bartender, waitress, snorkeling guide, dinghy driver, story teller and much much more!
Gratuity is not included in the cost of the charter. The norm is 15% - 20% of the charter cost, at your discretion, and may be placed in an envelope and given to the Captain at the end of the charter.