Booking your first charter can be a tricky stretch of water to navigate, especially when you're confronted with provisioning allowances and price variations before even stepping on board. To make things a little easier, we have put together the ultimate guide to all the costs you might encounter when booking your dream yacht charter vacation...
If you want to charter a luxury superyacht, understanding the costs involved can seem a little daunting first time around. The two important things to understand are your base price, referred to as a "charter fee" or "charter rate", together with what you will be expected to pay on top of it. All-inclusive charter rates are not industry practice, so guests should expect to be paying more than just the basic fees listed on broker’s websites or in their brochures.
The best analogy for determining the cost of your charter is with buying a car. It’s never quite as easy as just walking into a showroom and saying, “I’ll take the blue one.” Immediately the salesman will whip out his order pad and start asking questions. “Do you want a radio?” “How about the fancy wheels?” “Did you want the two-tone paint?”
Yacht brokers will be able to provide you with an accurate estimation of all the costs involved in advance, but here is a breakdown of what to expect.
What is a yacht “charter”?
At a basic level, chartering a yacht means paying a fee to rent out an owner’s superyacht for an agreed period of time with a pre-arranged itinerary of where you will be cruising on board. During a charter vacation you will have access to all of the superyacht’s amenities which could include a swimming pool, beach club or cinema, as well as the toybox, which often provides equipment for water sports like wakeboarding, snorkelling or water skiing. During charters, guests will be looked after by the yacht’s crew, who will take care of your every need, including ferrying you to and from shore, washing laundry and providing meals cooked by the yacht’s chef.
How much does it cost to charter a superyacht?
Across BOAT International's listings, a charter vacation can range from a minimum of €14,000 per week (20 metre yacht George V) to a maximum of €3,000,000 per week (136 metre Flying Fox). Generally speaking, the bigger the yacht the bigger the cost of the charter, but this isn't always the case. There are actually many more factors that can influence the basic charter fee – not to mention the add-on expenses that are involved.
According to averages taken from BOAT International’s listings, smaller superyachts measuring under 30 metres LOA will have a weekly charter rate somewhere around €40,000 while yachts between 30 and 40 metres will weigh in at an average of €70,895 per week.
Over 40 metres is when the charter rate will move into the €100,000 per week range, with yachts between 50 and 60 metres costing on average €219,826 per week while yachts in the 60 to 70 metre range average €444,521. Mega yachts measuring 80 metres and over will, on average, set charterers back by around €1.7 million a week. This is just an average price, however, and each yacht’s charter rate will be affected by a number of aspects from how many cabins and amenities there are on board to the dates and locations of where the charter takes place.
What factors can influence the base price of a yacht charter?
High season vs. low season
In general, you’ll find two basic rates: high season and low season, usually with specific dates set for each. In addition, you’ll find chartering around special events that are more expensive: New Year’s Eve, Monaco during the Grand Prix, Cannes during the Film Festival, an Olympic destination or on the sidelines of the America’s Cup.
The key is to choose your times carefully. A difference of one week (from high season into low season) can significantly alter the cost, while still providing the same weather as the more expensive period. For yachts measuring between 30 and 40 metres, the high season price could result in an increased cost of around €6,000 per week. The highest increase in an average charter rate between low and high seasons can be seen in BOAT's listings of yachts measuring between 60 and 80 metres, with high season rates potentially costing around €33,000 extra.
The yacht itself
The yacht itself is a major factor in determining the charter cost, but it’s not just about size. A recently launched charter yacht from a famed builder with an experienced and popular charter crew is going to command top prices for its size range. Yachts with a legendary name or a history of celebrity ownership (for example Malcolm Forbes's iconic charter yacht Highlander, which has hosted everyone from Elizabeth Taylor to HRH Prince Charles) can also ask higher rates just for the “fame” value. And yachts with special features, such as cinemas or exceptional water toys like a submarine are also pricier.
Three different 30 metre charter yachts may vary in cost by as much as €75,000. Ask your broker to explain the differences. One yacht may have a larger and more experienced crew or a big-name chef, another yacht may be a little tired, another may not be in a prime location. It’s important to understand why the prices are higher or lower.
If a yacht has a gap in its charter calendar to fill, for example following an unexpected cancellation, some brokers will occasionally offer a time-limited charter fee discount offer.
What is included in a charter contract?
Knowing the base price of your charter is just the starting point. Depending on the location, which often governs the terms of the contract, more or less may be included in the inital fee, such as insurance or cancellation policies. Bear in mind that every charter yacht, because they are privately owned and the owner sets the rules, is slightly different. One yacht may include a “standard” selection of wines with every meal and charge only to upgrade the vintages, while on another yacht the wines are a la carte. Below we look at the different types of charter contracts you may come across when booking your yacht.
Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA)
Under Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) charter contracts, which are arguably the most common, the charterer is charged for the hire of the yacht, fuel, marina fees, crew wages, guests' personal laundry, insurance, water toys, food and drink as well as engine room maintenance and miscellaneous expenses. As a round number, which depends on how much fuel the yacht uses and how fancy the meals and drinks, you can expect to add 25% to 50% of your charter cost.
Caribbean Terms Inclusive (CTI)
The Caribbean Terms Inclusive (CTI), which is sometimes called Standard Caribbean Terms (SCT), is another type of charter contract which is more inclusive. It accounts for three meals per day and fuel for four hours of cruising a day. Some yachts under CTI terms include basic beverages (not vintage wines or champagnes), but this is mainly in the Virgin Islands.
Greek Terms (GT)
For yachts being chartered around the Greek Islands and mainland, another common phrase you may come across is "Greek Terms" or a GT contract. This will similarly include the cost of the yacht and its equipment, crew wages and laundry as well as any specific berthing fees required for Greek waters.
What is an Advance Provisioning Allowance?
Part of your yacht charter contract will include an Advance Provisioning Allowance or APA. This is an amount of about 30-35 per cent of the charter fee for a “plus all expenses” charter and about five per cent for an “all-inclusive” charter. It is sent to the yacht before the charter to provision the yacht according to your preferences.
During the charter, the captain will provide a running account of the usage of the funds and, at the end of the charter, will present a detailed accounting along with any unused funds in cash. If the APA balance runs low during the charter, the client is expected to provide the captain with a sufficient amount in cash to cover the needs for the remainder of their stay. Since many charterers prefer not to carry quantities of cash, the charter broker can hold an amount and release it to the captain as needed. Here is what is covered by an APA...
Food and drink
Before you book a charter, your charter broker can provide you with a good estimate of the additional costs that will be incurred. Food is one of the largest and it is directly proportional to how exuberantly you plan to dine. If you expect several bottles of Champagne with every meal, then you can assume that your costs will be higher.
Fuel can be another cost and, again, it depends on how much the yacht cruises and how fast, too. Time spent at anchor will include the fuel for the generators, while shore-side electricity when at a dock is also an extra. Don’t forget that fuel is also charged for the tenders and water toys, so you’ll pay for the fuel used while zipping around on the jetskis.
Harbour fees and dockage
Harbour fees and dockage are a variable that can range from exorbitant (a front-row dock at the Monaco Grand Prix) to little or nothing in some areas.
Communications are another cost and, with the options for satellite communications and Internet, an important one for most charterers.
A delivery fee is usually charged if a charterer requests to board (or depart) a yacht at a distance from where the yacht is normally based.
All the yacht laundry, including towels, sheets and table linens, is included in the charter fee, but some yachts charge to launder personal items of the charterer. Most, however, will do small quantities of personal laundry as a service but they usually won’t be responsible for delicate items.
At the end of each yacht charter, a cash tip is given by the primary guest to the captain to divide amongst the crew. Standards for a crew tip can range from five to 20 per cent of the base charter rate. This is not a cost included in the APA but some brokers will advise that any APA funds leftover at the end of the charter can be used to make up part for the tip. To learn more, read our handy charter tipping guide.
One cost not directly related to the operation of the charter yacht is insurance for the charterer. Cancellation and curtailment insurance is the charter version of travel insurance on airlines and cruise ships: It covers the charterer for the costs if unforeseen circumstances force a cancellation or shortening of the charter. Your charter broker can provide this insurance, which is a wise investment.
Charterers may be charged VAT, or “value added tax”, on the charter fees. Many European countries and a few Caribbean islands add VAT, but it is a complex issue that depends on where you board and debark the yacht, so rely on your charter broker for advice.
Made to measure
While it may seem at first glance that the extras or "hidden costs" on many charters are just a way to pad your bill, they are actually a benefit to the charterer. Food and drink, for example, is custom-ordered to meet the client’s requests, so the level of expense is entirely up to the charterer. Fuel is only charged if it is used and other fees are also at the discretion of the charterer. So you do have a way to control your costs and still savour a luxurious charter. What is important to remember is that each charter is unique depending on the needs and desires of the guests, and brokers and crew will always work to satisfy those demands. Ready to get started? Browse our charter listings to pick the perfect charter yacht for your next vacation.Read More/The world's most expensive superyachts for charterRead More/The top new superyachts for charter in 2022Read More/The best yacht charter deals available right now