Chartering a luxury yacht to some of the most exotic, most isolated spots on the planet can become the most rewarding and satisfying ways to travel, explore and experience. Yet one charter may in no way reflect the next adventure – or misadventure – even when taken to the same location. Bad experiences can happen in all areas of the tourism industry: Ensure that the gloss doesn’t come off at any point during your yacht charter experience by following these all-important tips.
1. Use a Charter Broker.
You may have heard this advice more than once before, but that’s because it’s true.
And by charter broker I mean retail charter broker. These guys represent you and you alone on your holiday quest. They represent you before your trip to get the right yacht and crew. During, to ensure things run smoothly. And, even after the charter has finished in some cases. Yes, their incentive is to get a sale, but more than that it’s to get you coming back again (and hopefully with friends). For this reason alone, they will give you the top insider advice, the best yacht and the finest service possible to achieve this. Somehow plenty of confusion remains about what a charter broker actually is and what they even do. So let’s clarify:
A charter broker is certainly not a central agent. Central agents legally represent the yacht’s owner, not you and often you won’t know by how they conduct themselves alone. This is a type of broker or brokerage company that directly markets and represents the yacht owner and his yacht and then with duplicity, act like they are helping you. Their real incentive is to sell you the boats they only directly represent and their real incentive is to make sure the owners are happy, because that’s who they work for. They may even want to really help you, in their ‘heart of hearts’, however whether they like it or not, this situation is by definition a classic conflict of interest. And it often ends in tears. Especially if anything goes wrong and you need someone in your corner. The central agents won’t help you, they will help the owner.
In other words, be aware. Make sure your broker is an impartial retail broker who has access to all the yachts and has no incentive to push one boat over the other. Make sure your broker is both in a position and has the leverage to ‘bat for your corner’ if needed. The legitimate impartial retail brokers have both the knowledge and the incentive to give you the best deal so that you come back happy and book again one day, and maybe even refer your friends.
And, while we are talking about the benefits of a retail charter broker, it goes without saying that you should never use a travel agent to book a crewed yacht charter. This is a very specialist area and travel agents do not have the first idea about how to represent you properly in this arena. They just want quick commission like with a resort (and who can blame them?). They have no expertise, experience or back up to offer you whatsoever.
2. The crew IS as important as the yacht.
Actually, to optimise your holiday experience, I would say that the calibre of the crew is actually more important than the physical yacht selection. The quality of crew on a yacht still varies wildly in this industry and even more so in various parts of the world. You don’t want to be stuck with a bad crew. You need the best crew. Your broker has access to many reviews of crew so they should be able to find you a good one. Ideally, you should be matched with a crew that will be suitable for your own character and for what type of holiday you want. If you want a family holiday with plenty of wholesome water activities, then certain crews are far better suited to this. Similarly, if you want to have friends on for a party most nights, then others crews will be better suited to your requirements.
I know that it seems counter intuitive to place crew quality alongside the size, value and newness of a yacht but it cannot be overstated how important the crew are. Just remember, when selecting a yacht for charter, you are also selecting the people on board who run the boat and who can make or break your vacation.
3. Be realistic about the season.
If you want a vacation at a certain time of the year, then study up on your weather. Summer holidays are best spent in Europe or the South Pacific. The Caribbean and Asia are best for winter holidays. The various shoulder seasons sitting between these main travel times do become a little more complicated. The weather in different locations can change quickly and it can be a bit tricky to get it right. Your broker can tell you the best places to visit at any time of the year. Or, if you know you want to see a certain area, then they can tell you when to, and when not to, consider booking.
4. Don’t be afraid to go off the beaten track.
The vast majority of luxury yacht charters take place in the Mediterranean. That’s a fact and there is very good reason for this. Plenty of cultural and natural variety lends a hand, as does proximity to population centres. There’s a reason most of the yachts are here. However, if you see the opportunity to go somewhere different you should definitely give that option a chance. Occasionally, great boats (meaning nice yachts that are complimented with great crews) cruise further afield on world trips. You can sometimes pick up a once in a lifetime experience in an exotic location with an excellent yacht.
5. Communicate your preferences.
Take a little time to consider what you really want and what will work for you and your group. Preference sheets include everything from food and wine to music and shore-based reservations. It doesn’t take long to communicate your wishes to your broker but it’s certainly it. This doesn’t need to stop once you get on board, either. Definitely keep in direct touch with your broker. Give them a call or email them if you desire changes, have questions, or even (heaven forbid) have any problems you need taken care of. The sooner you tell your broker what you want, the sooner they can make it happen.
6. Last but not least: RELAX!
By the time most people finish their charter they are in the desired state of relaxation. It’s a pity sometimes that it doesn’t happen sooner. It commonly takes a couple of, some would say wasted, days to let the relaxation wash over. If you can try to flick the switch and make the mental adjustment to relax as soon as you are aboard, then you can maximise the time you are ‘in the zone’ and having the time of your life.