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A comprehensive guide to choosing the perfect luxury charter yacht

Once you have decided that a luxury yacht charter is your dream vacation, how do you choose from the overwhelming selection of yachts available in destinations all over the world? A charter experience can vary widely, so understanding the options before you book will ensure you enjoy the trip of a lifetime.

Where in the world to go?

If you don’t already have a specific location in mind, it might be worthwhile reflecting on what you enjoy doing when on vacation and what time of year you wish to travel. The Mediterranean offers the chance to visit charming harbourside towns and cities, learn about local history and culture or see and be seen in some of the chicest resorts, restaurants and nightclubs. Established Western Mediterranean locations like the South of France, the Amalfi Coast and Corsica will vary from Eastern Mediterranean hotspots such as Croatia, Albania and Turkey. The Caribbean offers the crystal-clear waters and pristine white sandy beaches many charterers dream of, plus the food, culture and watersports draw visitors to the variety of island groups scattered across the region. Further afield, intrepid travellers might want to consider expeditions to the Antarctic, Galapagos Islands or the Great Barrier Reef.

Every location will have a peak season when the weather and conditions are perfect but popular destinations will be busier. Consider the shoulder season in the Mediterranean in May and October or a destination where weather is not the most important consideration, perhaps the Norwegian Fjords or Southeast Asia where every day can be like summer.

Do your research before contacting a professional charter broker who should be well-travelled and have first-hand knowledge of the best charter regions around the world.

How much should I spend?

Work with a charter broker who will help you navigate the best value yachts in your price range. Be honest with them about your budget, so they can recommend options which meet your expectations of ‘value’ – which may differ between charter groups.

Charter prices can vary depending on the size of the yacht, the onboard amenities, destination and number of crew. If there is a popular event – for example, the Monaco Grand Prix – in your chosen destination around the time of your charter, this may also impact the price.

If you are travelling with extended family, children or groups of friends then cabin configuration will be an important consideration and splitting the cost makes for a more affordable vacation than you might think. The cost of a luxury yacht charter including expenses (APA and gratuity) compares favourably with holidays in first-class hotels or luxury villas, where dining out, excursions and other experiences can be expensive. On a crewed yacht charter, there are other unique advantages: freedom to explore a wider area at your own pace; the comfort of not packing and unpacking when you change location; the luxury of service and cuisine crafted to your own tastes; and total privacy.

There are yachts to suit all budgets, with the Caribbean and Greece offering a wide range of catamarans and Turkey being home to traditional wooden gulets – options which can be more affordable. Large yachts, which accommodate 12 or more people are worth considering for special family celebrations, corporate events or parties.

What type of yachts are available?

Motor or sailing, traditional or modern, intimate or opulent … like houses, yachts come in all shapes and sizes, so it is important to consider the style of yacht you are most comfortable with and what defines ‘luxury’ for you and your guests.

Motor yachts can be sleek and sporty with eye-watering top speeds or vast superyachts with premium al fresco lifestyle amenities, like hot tubs and water toys. They generally offer faster cruising, making them ideal for itineraries that cover a wider area and have generous accommodation with flexible cabin arrangements.

Sailing yachts are perfect for those looking to experience a unique liberating feeling and quieter cruising – you can even charter sailing yachts to enter regattas if you love the thrill of competition. Traditional sailing yachts are a thing of beauty with classic and timeless décor, while contemporary versions are more spacious than ever and are at the cutting edge of sustainable yacht design.

Motor or sailing catamarans have the added advantage of stability, affordability and manoeuvrability – with low drafts, they can navigate into shallow coves away from the crowds. If your sense of adventure lures you to wild or exotic locations, then an explorer yacht can host you in comfort and luxury as far south as the Antarctic or north to the Norwegian Fjords.

What amenities are on board?

Yachts come with all sorts of amenities on board, so the choice is yours when it comes to water toys, wine and dining, cinema and sound systems, spa and gym facilities and layout.

The opportunity to try out water sports, toys and diving is an integral part of the charter experience for many, particularly if you are travelling with children. Most yachts will carry stand-up paddle boards, kayaks and snorkelling equipment, whereas larger superyachts may have an extended list including jet skis, seabobs, water slides and this season’s favourites, e-foils and inflatable water parks. Chase boats, towable tenders or rib tenders are a great addition which can tow water skis and inflatables as well as escort guests to shore.

A private on-board chef is the ultimate luxury for food and wine connoisseurs or simply those who look forward to a break from cooking while on holiday! The crew will often be experts in the local wines and beer, so can ensure the best options are available on board. An experienced charter broker will know the captains, chefs and crew with great reputation, so will be able to recommend the best. You will be asked to complete a preference sheet before you board so your specific requirements can be catered for by the chef and crew.

With the family on board having a TV is important to keep little ones entertained while the adults enjoy dinner, or for family movie night. Most yachts are equipped with state-of-the-art TV and sound systems, with some even boasting outdoor cinemas and indoor screening rooms. Bluetooth speaker systems throughout allow guests to access their own playlists and crew may be able to arrange live music on board to accompany a special celebration.

Exercising and indulging in sauna and spa treatments are becoming more popular with charter guests, so if you have a routine you like to maintain or wish to be pampered with a massage or facial, ask your charter broker for details of the facilities and services available on your chosen yacht.

There has never been so much choice of yachts, amenities or destinations to experience so working with a professional charter broker is vital to making your dream charter vacation come to life.

Trina Howes

Trina Howes is a Director of CharterWorld America. CharterWorld America is a luxury private yacht charter company that creates outstanding vacations with excellent yachts at amazing prices – worldwide. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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