A Guide to Luxury Yacht Charters

Sirocco Yacht photographed by drone

Why Charter a Yacht?

To put it simply, there really is no better way to take a holiday. The perfect destination, a fabulous yacht and great professional crew will offer you the most amazing holiday experience you’ve ever had. Whether you’re looking to spend some quiet time with the family in peaceful anchorages or an action packed holiday with friends, visiting all the hotspots of the French Riviera, anything is possible on a yacht charter. Imagine the best hotel in the world with only your favourite food and drinks, great staff and best of all, it moves each day to where you want to be. And all of it is just for you and your guests! Breakfast in Portofino, lunch in Monte-Carlo, dinner in Cannes, this is reality on a crewed luxury yacht charter!

Which Yacht to choose?

There are more than 2,000 superyachts, motor yachts and sailing yachts available to charter worldwide in sizes from 20-100+ metres. In order to decide which sort of yacht is going to work best for your specific needs, it is important to consider various factors.

Sailing Yacht or Motor Yacht?

If you’re looking for the ultimate in luxury, a floating 5 star hotel with jacuzzis, a spa and mind-blowing cuisine, then a motor yacht or superyacht is probably the yacht for you. Most motor yachts over 100ft will have stabilisers making the experience comfortable at sea, both when underway and at anchor. On the largest of motor yachts, it would be fair to say that often one could forget one was even at sea. Sailing yachts tend to appeal to the more adventurous person who really enjoys being at sea, rather than just looking for a way to get from Cannes to St Tropez and to show off! That’s not to say that sailing yachts are any less luxurious than motor yachts. Modern sailing yachts of 40m and up offer a level of luxury that is very similar to a motor yacht, though interior volume and hence cabin sizes tend to be smaller. Catamarans appeal to many as they provide the volume of a motor yacht with the sailing experience.


Don’t choose a great yacht, choose a great crew! A yacht’s crew are the single most important factor in ensuring an amazing yacht charter experience. An older yacht with an fabulous crew will make for a far more enjoyable experience than the latest flashy vessel with a so-so crew onboard that don’t really like working together. Your broker will be able to match you to the yacht and crew that are perfect for you. Tell them about your favourite cuisine for example, and they’ll find the yacht with just the right Chef! Fancy learning to wakeboard? Your yacht charter broker will find you a yacht with a professional wakeboard instructor onboard! The most important thing is to find a yacht where the crew are a “team” that love the yacht and most importantly love working together! Your broker will be able to send you references and testimonials from previous happy charterers.

Where to go?

Following the international jet-set, large yachts tend to charter in the Mediterranean in the summer months and move to the Caribbean for the winter season. Less mainstream yachting destinations like the South Pacific and the Far East are becoming more and more popular though. Traditionally the vast majority of Mediterranean yacht charters consisted of a week or two of back and forth between St Tropez and Monaco. Charterers are now wanting to do much more than this and many yacht charters on the French Riviera will also take in Corsica and Sardinia and perhaps Portofino in Italy. Charters in the Croatia and Turkey are now every bit as popular as the traditionally well known destinations in the south of France. Some people know exactly where they want to go? If you don’t, then your broker will have lots of suggestions that might really inspire you!

When to go?

The Mediterranean charter season is split into three distinct seasons, High Season being July and August, Low Season being June and September and the other months would be considered Off Season. There are exceptions to this of course, most notably the Monaco Grand Prix and Cannes Film Festival in May each year. The period around these two events on the Côte d’Azur is very much considered high season. The same goes for the MIPIM real estate event in Cannes every March where yacht charters are incredibly popular. Yachts have the highest charter rates in High Season, reducing somewhat for Low Season and further still for the Off Season. In order to decide which season works best for you, it is important to consider what you are looking to get from the experience. If you’re looking to experience the buzz and nightlife of St Tropez, then it really has to be done in July or August. If however, you are looking to spend quality time on a yacht with friends and family, enjoying great food and weather, then June and September are great times in all Mediterranean destinations especially the south of France. To those in the know, September is the best month of all to charter. Rates are lower than July/August, the sea is at its warmest, the ports less crowded, though still with enough people around to ensure a great atmosphere!


When deciding what you would like to pay for your charter, it is important to factor in the costs you will need to consider in addition to the charter fee. VAT – The amount of VAT charged will vary depending on where you charter, but you need to add 5-20% tax to the charter fee in most European destinations. Montenegro is unique in Europe in that VAT is not applied to yacht charters.

APA – The Advance Provisioning Allowance is a cash float given to the Captain in advance of the charter to provision the yacht as per your exact needs and to cover all the costs incurred during the charter. These include, but are not limited to; Fuel, Food, Drinks and Port Charges. The amount requested as APA is typically 25-30% in addition to the charter fee. Your Captain will keep full accounts with supporting receipts for the entire charter. This will be presented to you for approval prior to disembarkation. Once agreed, you will either be refunded monies not used or asked to pay for any excess.

Gratuities – A yacht’s crew works incredibly hard to ensure that a luxury yacht charter remains the ultimate holiday experience! Two to three hours sleep a night is not uncommon! It is customary but completely at your discretion to leave a gratuity for the yacht’s crew at the end of the charter. This should be given to the Captain, who will distribute it equally amongst all crew members. Your broker will advise you on what is customary in the part of the world you’re chartering in, but as a guide 10% is considered a good tip in the Mediterranean if you feel that you have received exceptional service.

This very brief introduction to the world of luxury yacht charter was written by Alex Coles – Alex is a charter broker at Bespoke Yacht Charter, a London and Côte d’Azur based company offering superyacht charters on the French Riviera and throughout the Mediterranean. The charter brokers at Bespoke Yacht Charter have over 13 years experience arranging luxury yacht charters on the finest crewed yachts in the world. They would be delighted to introduce you to best holiday imaginable and to guide you every step of the way!


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