Yacht Charter Process [Complete Guide]

January 22, 2020 11:59 am

A superyacht charter is the most glamorous method of vacationing. Whether you choose to cruise to the Amalfi Coast, snorkel the blue waters of the Caribbean, or enjoying the best lobster rolls Maine has to offer, a charter will always provide a unique luxury experience catered to you, with a full crew to wait on you day and night as you enjoy fine foods and libations.  Where do you start, what are the costs and what should you expect?

This is the third in a series of papers produced by the Denison Superyacht Team about large yachts and their ownership and operation. The focus of this paper is the large yacht charter market, yachts greater than 24m in length and with a full-time crew, and we will look at the process from the perspectives of both the yacht owner and the yacht charterer.   

White Paper Charter Process

Charter Yacht Owner

When buying a yacht, the possibility to recover some of the operating costs by offering it for charter may be a consideration for many yacht owners. A yacht owner may choose to charter his or her yacht for the following reasons:

Qualifying A Yacht For Charter – Once a yacht owner decides to list his yacht for charter, the yacht must first be accepted as viable for charter by the Flag State.  To qualify, the yacht must meet standards of construction, maintenance and operation that are required by the Flag State Safety Codes and include not only the physical elements of the yacht but, depending on the tonnage and requirements of specific flags, softer items such as crew employment terms, security plans and more.  Furthermore, the approval of the yacht’s insurer should be sought. Only after these initial steps are complete can the yacht owner take the next steps to listing the yacht as available to the charter market.

Listing The Yacht On The Charter Market – The yacht owner will contract a service provider to represent the yacht in the wholesale charter market. Here we run into some of the jargon that can be a distraction in this world, the “wholesale” charter service, also known as “charter management” or sometimes “charter marketing” is the service that the owner needs here.

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White Paper Charter Process

Yacht Charter Client

Not everybody wants to own a yacht for themselves, but some still will choose to enjoy the benefits of the yachting environment on an occasional basis. What better way to have an unforgettable getaway without the capital investment on the platform itself?  How do these clients find a suitable yacht, ensure themselves that the service, location and facilities of the yacht will meet their expectations?

Finding A Charter Broker – These clients enter the “retail charter” market and will need to find a Charter Broker to represent them. The Charter Brokers represent the chartering clientele and it is their business to know the market, be familiar with the yacht locations and the crew.  Armed with this knowledge, the broker will be able to identify a suitable yacht (or candidate yachts) for any client’s needs.  

Charter Broker Finds A Charter Yacht – When discussing the market with their broker, the charter client should have in mind certain preferences such as the size of boat, budget, the number of people in their charter party, where and when.  The charter broker will then advise on suitable yachts. Clients should remember that in the majority of cases for charters on “foreign flag” yachts (Cayman Islands, Marshall Islands etc.), there is often a statutory limit of 12 guests.

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White Paper Charter Process

Charter Contracts

Signing The Contract – After the charter broker and their client have identified a suitable yacht, the broker will communicate with the charter management agent to confirm the yacht’s availability, amenities, location and other matters.  This exchange may also include the Captain or crew of the yacht. Once price is agreed, a contract will be put in place, signed by stakeholders on both sides.

Preparing For Charter – With the contract in place and the monies being transferred as required by the contract, the preparation process for the crew will begin.  The Captain, Chef and Charter Management Agent will likely prepare a preference sheet to be sent through the charter broker to the client.  This sheet allows the luxury process to be refined to include any food allergies, preferences for wine, maybe details on guided shore excursions and more. 

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White Paper Charter Process

Charter Delivery

The charter will start on the date and time and at the location identified in the charter contract.   The client should expect their broker to check in with them to ensure that all has gone smoothly with boarding, and the Captain and crew will look after them through the charter.  There are too many different types of activity on the water, at the coast on all continents to try to expand on how a charter will go, other than to say that the client should expect that they will receive better than 5-star service throughout. 

White Paper Charter Process

Tipping + After The Charter

Tipping – Surely it is not necessary to have a whole paragraph on this topic, but it can be controversial and the amounts concerned can be significant.  Some yacht owners will, in discussion with their Captain and wholesale charter management agent, establish a tipping policy which, while perhaps not part of the contract, will be communicated through the charter broker to the client.

After The Charter – The charter will end at the date and time and in the location defined in the contract, and the crew will assist the client with their onward transfers.  At that point the remaining balance of the charter fee will be transferred to the owner. The client should expect to be asked for feedback on elements of the charter, was the service and experience what they expected etc.?  This information will be used to improve and develop the yacht’s next charter offering.

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Looking for more details?

Receive the complete Yacht Charter Process including:

  • • Charter Preference Sheet + Itinerary
  • • Charter Contract Details
  • • Maritime Labour Regulations
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This should be not considered as a complete guide. For a better understanding of the Yacht Charter Process, contact Ben Farnborough.1

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