You are planning a charter cruise as a skipper? This question might come up: Which is the "right" charter yacht for my crew and destination? In the following article we provide you some advices that could help making your decision. Especially if you start your research in the internet there are some topics that should influence your choice.
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Not every yacht fits to every charter party. Just try to estimate your members need regarding space and comfort. Some student youngsters might be happily sailing with 8 persons on a 32 feet, 3 cabin boat. They can accept that two guys will be sleeping in the salon (and the skipper in the cockpit). If you plan to sail with couples, definitely each of them want to be accommodated in a double berth cabin. Therefore better avoid squeezing one of them in a bunk bed cabin. To be sure not running into such a problem, check the yacht layout of the available boats before placing the reservation. Also a demand for a second bathroom often comes up because sharing a single toilet with 6 or 8 people can create some stress on board. Most comfort you could probably achieve by chartering a catamaran with four double cabins each with an ensuite bathroom. On such a boat 6 guests plus skipper can be easily accommodated. A catamaran should be also your first choice if your crew values a bigger salon and some deck space for sunbathing. Another benefit of a catamaran is that does not bounce as much as a monohull when there is some swell. The people that tend to become easily seasick will appreciate the extra stability of a catamaran very much. If you should have a charter crew that is very ambitious about sportive sailing, making many sea miles, enjoy tough tacking against the wind, than a catamaran is not the right choice. A monohull than is the right boat to satisfy your crew members hunger for sailing performance.
There is a wide range of prices if you search for a charter boat in the internet. You might have luck, but experience shows that the lower the price, the more likely something might be wrong with the deal (as long as it is not last-minute or an older boat). Instead of sorting by the cheapest price better calculate a reasonable budget for your charter cruise. With that budget look for a boat in the right size with good customer reviews and check quality certifications. A published boat name or a detailed custom equipment list deserves some trust. Professionally maintained boats with good services often have their availability calendar published. Some bookings before and after ensure that the boat really operates. Great deals can often be made for transfer charters (one-ways), bringing the boat from one port to another. Those occasions are offered after a previously booked one-way or because the charter boat changes its homeport seasonally. In between Eastern and Pentecost there are often good charter deals because the fleets are not booked out. If your desired yacht model is not within your budget simply consider also chartering in another destination. Generally the highest charter prices are paid in the Western Mediterranean (Italy, Balearics, Côte d'Azur). The same boat in Holland or at the German Baltic Sea tends to be cheaper. The charter week prices in Croatia, Greece and Turkey can be considered as moderate.
If you have enough time in advance to plan your charter vacation, you are in a lucky position. There is still the whole range of yachts available for your selection. But be aware: The favourite boats that had fully satisfied customers, get booked first for the next season. Of course also new yachts not older than two years find their customers quickly. "Dream Yachts" with exceptional sailing performance or perfect equipment are quickly promoted by word of mouth and get booked out earlier. Therefore try get as soon as possible a commitment from your charter party members, collect the money for the advance payment and grab an early booking discount. Clever charterers just book half a year or more in advance to be sure to get exactly what they want. The companies will be prepared to offer you a decent early bird discount!
A good strategy for selecting a decent charter yacht with a lower budget is focusing on older boats that are well maintained. We know charter boats operating since 20 years for more than 15 weeks a year but still have repeating and satisfied customers. Of course those "classic bareboats" will not look like a shiny modern yacht. They will have their little scratches here and there, they will not have such spacious after cabins as their brand-new sisters. But those older boats can still have excellent sailing performance, naval cosiness and are often lacking some "modern inventions" that could be considered not really crucial for a sailing vacation. If you cannot rely on recommendations from friends, check out the older boats in the charter listings that have at least 6 good to very good charter reviews per season. Also read customer remarks if provided in the review. Those comments like "The yacht fulfilled all our expectations and we will definitely come back the next year" often reveal more about the condition of the boat that a pure rating of "good" or even "very good".
Being the skipper means you take over quite some responsibility for the boat and the crew. Besides that you are in any case the person that everybody addresses to if he has a question about the cruise, the anchor spots about the weather conditions etc. etc. This is real work and might not feel like real holidays! Even you organise the charter cruise - put someone else in your position to be the skipper. Nice idea, or? In every destination there are quite some experienced sailors working as charter skippers, either professionally fulltime or just during summer months to make earn money and enjoy the life at sea. Make sure that you hire a local skipper and you can be sure that he knows all the highlights of your charter destination better than anybody else. Often they speak the local language and have a valuable personal network that helps to reserve the best restaurant tables and get cheaper fares on landside excursions or other extra services.
You can read yacht magazines, performance tests published by experts and check sailor's blog entries but you will hardly get as much reliable info about a specific yacht as reading its latest customer reviews. The condition of a yacht and its charter base services can vary a lot even within one season. There might be changes in the service staff team, the maintenance schedule or simply a delivery problem of spare aggregates that has noticeable influence on the appearance and condition of a yacht. Many ratings give notice about the condition of specific yacht details, the cleanliness, the sails, engine, anchor etc. Additional comments complete the satisfaction report of the customer that was sailing this boat. The younger the review is, the more likely you can expect the same conditions when starting your charter cruise. Btw: Clever, service orientated charter operators are keen to collect as many customer reviews as possible to complete a full log of the charter season. They consider this not only as additional workload but as a precious contribution to market their fleet and allow internal quality controlling. This means this company pays its contribution to customer satisfaction and cares about their opinion. Therefore look out for charter yachts that have many fresh customer reviews!
On many yacht charter web sites you can read in the "About us" section that this company has many years of experince and offers the best thinkable service quality. Unfortunately often the charterer misses to read what exactly is this company doing to guarantee their customers this high promises. Some companies even promote their services with well recognized quality signals like star icons, medals, crowns, anchors or something similar. Independently what those icons look like, important is that behind that "quality promise" there is a reference list with quality criteria. That quality criteria should be clearly promoted and not be hidden. If the charter company committed itself to certain quality criteria, every customer can check the fulfillment himself when arriving at the charter base and checking in the yacht.
Gas BBQ, air condition, radar, electric winches, inverter, generator, rolling main sail, hydraulic bathing platform, bow thruster... Those special equipment items make a yacht very attractive because they promise comfort and extra value included in the charter price! Some of this extra equipment makes sense to have a more secure mooring manoeuvre or allows setting easier a huge battened main sail. If you are in the lucky position being the skipper of a experienced crew, maybe you even had multiple cruises with them, than the add-on value of special equipment is not that high anymore. Everybody is familiar with his role on board, able to do his "job" without fancy tools. A well organized and prepared crew performs tricky manoeuvres in the marina smoothly even without a sail-drive system and support of a bow-thruster. Less technical equipment also means less sources for potential defects and less trouble. Consider this when selecting the charter yacht. The more experienced sailors you have on board, the less important special equipment items are. Sometimes less is more.
Why make your life on board extra hard? You are not having a focus on sailing performance and your crew members neither? You are sailing with your family? You anyway will spend more time on anchor laying in the sun than tacking against the wind doing 40+ miles per day? Than take it easy and try to charter a yacht with roller-reef main sail. It might also be a security aspect, because you can often reef the main sail from the cockpit without sending someone on deck from where he could fall outboards when there are big waves.
Some issues regarding the selection of the "right charter yacht" are better discussed personally. It might be even necessary to place a request directly to the charter fleet manager. For such cases feel free to contact us under +49-89-716 774 381 or send us an email to [email protected]
Download this article as PDF Document: "10 Tips how to select the right charter yacht"
- Focus on your charter crew member's needs when selecting the boat type!
- Don't hunt the cheapest price! Set a decent budget and evaluate the "best deal" within!
- "Dream Yachts" are booked out early - do not rely on Last Minute!
- If your budget is tight, check older yachts having good customer ratings!
- If you want a relaxed cruise, just consider to hire a local skipper!
- A boat is best known by its latest sailors. Read their reviews!
- Only rely on quality certifications that perform regular checks of their requirements!
- The more experienced your crew is, the less important a fully equipped boat is!
- If you are lazy or new to sailing, take it easy and chose a roller-reef main sail!
- In case you are still having doubts, just call us under +49-89-716 774 381
Felix Wolf is co-founder and owner of YachtBooker. He is a charter skipper himself and enjoys discovering new sailing areas.