Vacation Charter FAQs

How do I choose a yacht?

The best type of yacht really depends on your needs, the number of guests aboard, the amount of space you require, budget, the area you are cruising, whether power or sailing yacht, manufacturer of preference along with any particular conveniences like a generator or air conditioning. The bigger yachts have more cabins and more toilets, while catamarans in general have more room inside and out, require less draft, but if you prefer the heeling of a sailboat, stick with a monohull. If you require a skipper, they will need their own cabin. Catamarans and newer boats also tend to be more expensive.

Skippered vs Bareboat?

Skippered Charters have a captain of the yacht, who is a licensed mariner in ultimate command of a yacht or pleasure boat. The skipper is responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including navigation, maneuvering and ensuring that the vessel complies with local and international laws.

All persons on board, including passengers and guests are under his/her authority, as he/she is responsible for the crew, passengers and the yacht itself.

The skipper ensures the seaworthiness of the yacht (fuel, freshwater, and sometimes the provisions), recommends the best course of the sailing trip and follows the itinerary, if weather conditions allow it.

If they are the only crew on the yacht, they are responsible for the cleanliness of the deck and below deck, but do not cook. If he/she has a cook or hostess, this staff cleans the yacht and prepares meals for the passengers.

The skipper can be provided by the charter company and the costs may or may not be included. If you engage your own licensed skipper, you should pay him/her (the usual rate is $185 – $250 per day), provide the catering and his/her travel to and from the yacht. The skipper also usually requires their own cabin.

Crewed Charter yachts have their own professional crew. Sometimes the crew is just a captain and hostess, but on bigger yachts there are other crew members like a cook, steward or stewardess and deckhand(s). You can fully charter a crewed yacht or if you are single or a couple, you can book a cabin charter where you sail with other passengers. Remember, however, that the captain is the one in charge of both your and the yacht’s safety during your travel. You will decide on the itinerary, but the captain may need to alter the route for safety purposes should weather or other obstacles come in the way.

The Bareboat Charter means the customer rents the yacht itself without skipper or crew. In this case the charterer provides their own skipper (if him/herself is not able to sail) or steer the yacht, if he/she has the experience and credentials.

What is a Flotilla?

Flotilla sailing is an option that exists for large groups of people that enjoy sailing together, but want to take more than one boat. In flotilla sailing, multiple boats are bareboat chartered, and the lead boat is captained by a hired sailor; someone who knows the region, and is very experienced in leading groups of boats. The rest of the boats are skippered by members of the group. Flotilla sailing is wonderful for large groups, who are competent sailors, but lack experience sailing in international waters, or do not want to be completely in charge of the course.

What additional costs are there?

Besides the charter fee the charterer has some obligatory and optional extra fees to be paid. It’s good to review and be aware of the terms and conditions of the charter when booking. The most important additional expense is the Security Deposit and Yacht Damage Waiver.

The Security Deposit is not a real charge, as this cost is refundable. The sum of the deposit depends on the type and value of the boat. The bigger yacht the bigger the sum you should pay, from $1500 up to $5,000. This is the part of the insurance deductible if something goes wrong. If the boat returned without any damage, the charterer gets back this money. If damage occurs to the value lower than the security deposit you will be refunded your payment less the cost of repair. If the damage incurred exceeds the security deposit value, your payment will not be refunded and you will not be required to pay any additional costs. The security deposit can be paid in cash or by credit card depending on the charter contract and conditions outlined.

Yacht Damage Waiver is not a refundable fee. This payment is required to cover the possibility of damage to the yacht, or damage to or loss of ancillary equipment or damage caused by a third party. This insurance (usually $259 -$600) is typically paid with the charter invoice or upon arrival at the charter base.

Obligatory Fees (typical):

Local cruising or sailing permits, in order to sail this region including customs fees and tourist taxes. At the end of the charter a cleaning fee is sometimes imposed so that the boat is cleaned thoroughly when you left the yacht.

Optional Services (typical):

  • One-way charter: disembarkation is in a different place then where you embarked
  • Skipper has a daily fee, their catering, a separate cabin; see section Skippered vs Bareboat
  • Cook / hostess are daily fees, their food and own cabin; see section Skippered vs Bareboat
  • Regatta or racing fee
  • Pets on board fee if allowed
  • Transfers from and to airport
  • Provisions are the food, drinks, supplies for the duration of the trip

Optional Equipment:

  • Outboard motor for the dinghy may be extra or the cost of an extra dinghy
  • Spinnaker or Gennaker sail (an extra deposit is usually required if available)
  • Extra bed linens and/or towels
  • Safety netting (placed on rails for children)
  • Snorkeling gear is usually included
  • Scuba gear, kayak, windsurf, SUP and other water sport equipment
  • Fishing gear and licenses

Once you book the yacht charter, there are some other costs to consider for your sailing holiday. Travel to and from the marina. You will need to book flights and / or taxi, ferry transfers from airports and ferry docks to get you to the marina. Or if you are traveling by car, you have to calculate rental if applicable, fuel charges and sometimes for parking while you are out at sea.

Provisions

During your sailing holiday you will need provisions, whether shopped online or at a local market. YACHT Solutions can provide some tips here as we have extensive experience doing this. Most charter operators also offer the option of having them provide food for your journey.

This can be more expensive than buying the food yourself, but is more convenient. Don’t forget, you’re in charge of feeding everyone on board including the skipper and any crew.

Fuel, Dockage and other Costs

In the case of the motor yacht charter, you have to refuel it before or upon your return. Sailboat fuel consumption is less and may be incorporated into the charter rate or prepaid. When you visit ports and marinas during your sailing trip, you may incur marina fees, mooring rentals, water and ice costs if required. This docking fee is based on the size (length) of the boat. Catamarans may pay 40-50% more in dockage than monohull yachts. The daily fees vary according to the services of the marina such as toilets, showers, laundry, freshwater and/or electricity consumption, etc. Some marinas charge for freshwater and/or electricity. If you do not want to stay at a marina, the other options are mooring buoys or to drop anchor. Please note that some anchorages charge an anchorage fee.

When you cross country borders, yachts have to check-in at the immigration and custom office where you may require to pay an administration fee (typical in the Caribbean islands).

How do I choose a destination?

With over 100 sailing holiday destinations spread across the globe, charter bases can be found in almost every corner of the world, where the sun shines, the winds blows and the living is easy. The most popular locations are in the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and South Pacific. Ease or difficulty of sailing, things to do, the experience, facilities, itinerary, costs of air travel as well as the charter costs are all considerations. Perhaps a land and sea holiday appeals to you… a Surf and Turf. We recommend perusing one of our destination catalogs for ideas and general information on the area.

How about a sample itinerary?

Yes we can recommend and publish sample itineraries for many destinations. However we welcome discussing with you your perfect route based on what experiences you would like. We will provide you with an up to date Cruising Guide well before your trip starts for the specific area you are traveling which will give you much insight and information on places to go and things to do.

What about cancellation policies?

There are cancellation policies with all operators but typically a booking can be rescheduled more than 90 days out with no penalty. If cancelled outside of 90 days a modest fee will apply. Under 90 days cancellation and your monies paid are forfeited.

Is trip cancellation insurance available?

As travel advisors, talk to us about our various plans as Canadian and US clients require different insurance providers and coverage.

Does my charter have to be a week long?

No. Many operators will ask you to charter for a week, usually Saturday to Saturday, but this is most rigid during high season in the Mediterranean for “sleep aboard” charters.  The Caribbean is much more flexible, and generally start as 5 days as the minimum duration.  In addition, there are thousands of day charter yachts worldwide that provide no accommodations but specialize in giving you a great day out on the water.

Do I have to tip the captain/crew, and if so what’s the normal amount?

Tipping is purely voluntary and the source of endless debate. If you do decide that you want to tip the captain – if they’ve been professional, helpful, gracious, etc – then it’s customary to pay 5% to 15% of the total charter amount before you leave the boat on the last day. We normally recommend 5% to 10% in the Mediterranean, and 10% to 15% in the Caribbean. If there are multiple crew members – just give the tip to the captain and he’ll allocate it to the crew for you. Otherwise, it can create disharmony amongst the crew.

What about getting some familiarization on the boat / area when bareboat chartering?

If you are lack the experience we recommend travel with a skipper for at least the first day or two of your journey. When this happens it’s still as though you charter the skippered bareboat yourself – the skipper will lend his knowledge and skill to your journey, and you are responsible for paying him a daily rate.

Do I need certification if I charter bareboat?

Many operators will allow you submit your sailing resume and apply online and get an approval for a certain area and size of boat. Your submission depends on the country as it differs everywhere so contact us directly for a better answer based on your destination and experience.

Generally speaking if you’re chartering a power boat, you’ll need a day skipper license (theory and practice). The accepted license is the ICC (International Certificate of Competence). If you have a license from your country, normally you can fill out an ICC application, and send it in through your licensing body (for instance the RYA) and you’ll receive it. If you belong to a yacht club, they also should be able to help you with courses and licensing. If you’re Canadian, you might want to check out the Canadian Yachting Association (CYA) courses in your area and if you are in the USA check out the American Sailing Association (ASA). Contact us if you need help finding a course – there are lots of courses in holiday areas so you can get your certification while you are on vacation.

If you’re renting a sailboat, the answer to this question is more varied. You will definitely need a day skipper license in Spain. In France and the BVI it’s best to have a license, but often you will be able to take the boat if you can show experience and competence. Any documentation of previous charters you may have will be helpful. Do not leave it to risk however – we will review all of your documentation and qualifications prior to the charter to make sure you can get the boat!

If you do not qualify to charter bareboat, we highly recommend you still do the charter but hire a skipper. Most skippers are wonderful and add to the holiday, while also letting you relax when you want to!

How does YACHT Solutions the charter broker get paid – could I get a better price if I went directly to the boat owner or operator?

As a broker, the boat owner or their agent pays us a commission out of the charter fee for finding the customer and taking care of all questions, paperwork, and payments. Our prices are the same or lower than the prices that the charter operator offers to the general public, and they normally will not reduce these prices for individuals. So the price that we propose to you is normally the best price you’ll receive. If you are looking for a discount, ask us and we’ll see what we can do – we have a lot more leverage with the suppliers than an individual would because we do a lot of charters with them and know each operator on a first name basis.

The most important aspect of booking a crewed charter is your compatibility with the crew, and brokers are often the most convenient way to find a compatible crew. Brokers can also help travellers find rates on bareboat charters. Like travel agents, brokers can provide quotes from different companies, but the boat operator pays for the services, not you the charterer.

What kind of quality control do you do on your boats – how do I know they will be in good condition?

First and foremost, all charter companies must adhere to the local maritime laws and regulations. This is your primary protection, and in most cases the rules are quite strict and all operators also must carry insurance by law. You have every right to see these papers prior to embarkation. Beyond this, we work only with proven operators, who have a track record of success and happy customers. Before we work with an operator, they must agree to meet our high standard of customer satisfaction, and agree to provide boats that are clean and in excellent condition for their age. Finally, of course, the general rule is that the newer the boat, the better the condition. We access mostly newer boats, please let us know if you would like a model that is as new as possible.

In addition, our Brokers go to many charter shows and visiting days to inspect the boats and meet the crew. So they can give you personal feedback on the boats that are right for you. Finally, many of our charter yachts have reviews and star ratings from actual clients who have chartered the yachts.

Why are only 12 people maximum allowed on most boats?

International Marine regulation generally states that once a vessel carries more than 12 passengers, even if it is being used as a private yacht, it is considered to be a passenger ship and has to comply with the SOLAS convention (Safety of Life at Sea) set out by the IMO (International Maritime Organization). This is obviously to promote passenger safety. SOLAS involves adhering to a comprehensive list of stringent safety restrictions that are expensive to implement and this is reflected in the chartering cost increase between boats licensed for up to 12 passengers and boats licensed for more than 12 passengers. For many charter yacht owners, the additional cost does not make economical sense because all of the boat’s charterers who would have to pay the extra regardless of their party’s number.

What is the “APA”?

This is the Advance Provisioning Allowance. The APA essentially creates a bank account for the Captain of the boat to provision on your behalf. Key provisioning are fuel, food, drinks and port fees. Normally a percentage will be added on to the base charter fee – depending on the type of boat and therefore fuel consumption. For sailing yachts expect 20 to 25% to be added on and for motor yachts 30 to 35%. You will pay this with your final charter payment. The Captain is obligated to keep all receipts and balance the account for you, and you can check the expenditure level at any time during the charter. Typical expenditures include:

  • fuel for the yacht, tenders and water toys
  • berthing fees
  • customs charges
  • harbour and pilot fees
  • divers’ fees where required
  • shore-side water and electricity when applicable
  • food and beverages
  • communication charges
  • agent fees and other miscellaneous costs.

At the end of the charter, the Captain will give you a full account of your expenditures, and any amounts not used will be refunded to you. There are no mark-ups on the APA – all of the funds go directly to buying fuel, food, etc. The APA is a simple and efficient way of getting the boat provisioned properly, with minimal hassle and straightforward record keeping.

Once I book a charter, how do I pay?

The two most common means of paying are by bank transfer or credit card. An initial deposit is required of 25 to 30% to secure your reservation and an invoice and contract number is generated with all the details. Review this for any discrepancies as soon as you receive it. The balance of payment is usually due 60 days prior to your cruise start date. In most cases your payment is made directly to the charter operator which we handle for you.


We take pride in providing a high quality charter service. We have strong partnerships with the operators in the business and work closely with them to ensure you have a pleasant experience. We book several group and individual charters regularly and have put processes in place to track and identify potential issues before they become problems. We appreciate your business and earn your trust.

Map Location