It may still technically be winter, but the promise of summer is enough to have us already planning our next holiday. But when you feel like you’ve stayed in all the private villas you could want to, frequented the finest 5-Stars and done enough city breaks to last a lifetime, what’s next? Well of course, there’s the seemingly-exclusive world of yachting. Private yacht charter can seem intimidating to those who haven’t done it before, but we promise you it will be the best vacation you’ve ever been on. After all, what could be more enjoyable than hopping from destination to destination on a luxury on-the-water home, having your every desire catered to by attentive crew. Nevertheless, there remains the million dollar question: how much does it cost to charter a yacht?
If you’re looking to charter a yacht, the price depends on many different factors, including but not limited to the yacht you choose, length and dates of charter, destination, local taxes, insurance, food and drink consumption, fuel, dockage, crew gratuity, internet fees, delivery fees and laundry. Many of the supplementary costs – such as food and drink – are grouped together in something called the Advance Provisioning Allowance, but some are not.
As part one of two in a series of articles dedicated to explaining the cost to charter a yacht, this piece will look at what is included in the base cost of charter and a few extras you might not consider, following up with everything included in the Advance Provisioning Allowance in the next article.
For the purpose of this series we will focus on the West Mediterranean – one of the world’s favourite and most glamorous yacht cruising grounds. With most first time charterers looking for yachts between 30 and 40 metres, ranging from 8-12 guests, these are the specs we will assess for cost.
How much does it cost to charter a yacht? Behind the base charter fee
The first thing to know is that the price of charter advertised generally only refers to the base price of a yacht at its cheapest possible charter time. This takes into account the features and amenities of the vessel, the size, the number of guests the yacht is equipped for, when it was last renovated, its base location, the reputation of the build and even factors like celebrity owners or previous celebrity charters.
What it doesn’t take into account is… well, everything else! Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) charter contracts are standard in the West Med, and under these the charterer is charged additionally for guest food and drink, dockage, fuel and other items that we will cover in more detail later on. When all these extra costs are added together, you typically end up paying around 30% more than the base price.
For yachts of 30-40 metres, this base price can be anything from €50,000 to €140,000 for a week’s charter. You may think that those at the lower end of the price spectrum would be less nice than the more expensive vessels, but this is not necessarily true. As mentioned above, the base cost for charter yachts can sometimes be raised by niche factors that you may not care about, leaving you free to explore the cheaper options. Don’t be disheartened if €50,000 is at the top of your budget.
In this size range, expect to find 4-6 spacious cabins sleeping 8-12 guests. Anything from 4-7 crew will also live onboard, ready to wait on you hand and foot. There should be a good selection of water toys available, and the yachts will often feature a sizable sundeck on which to relax.
Estimated base cost: €80,000
Your charter dates
Your base yacht charter rate will be affected by when you want to take your vacation. Those who want to charter in high season (the busiest weeks of the year, which in the West Med typically occur from May to September) may find that prices are around 30-40% higher compared to low season charter dates.
You will benefit from being flexible about your charter dates, however you might not have to go too far out of your desired time – sometimes just a week or two can make a big difference to price.
Be aware of big events that will make your charter region more popular and thus more expensive; in the West Med, these include the Monte-Carlo Masters (13–21 Apr), the Cannes Film Festival (13 –25 May) and the Monaco Grand Prix (23–26 May).
Estimated base cost in high season: €108,000
Where you’re going
The West Med is an extremely popular charter destination, but it’s worth bearing in mind that if you wanted to go to a more remote spot this would raise the price. If you called up a yacht broker and asked ‘how much does it cost to charter a yacht in Vanuatu’, the answer will be a lot different to ‘how much does it cost to charter a yacht in French Riviera’, as price shoots up where fewer boats are available. Luckily, this is not a problem you will have in this region.
Base cost not affected
Extra costs not included in the Advance Provisioning Allowance
The last thing you want as a first-time charterer is having to have your trip cancelled or curtailed by bad weather, but this is always a possibility. That’s why it’s important to cover yourself with cancellation and curtailment insurance. Rates for this vary between insurers, but cancellation is typically charged at around 4% of the base cost of the charter yacht.
Yacht charter insurance packages may also include cover for deposit insurance, accident insurance, foreign travel health insurance and more. It’s up to you what you want to be insured for, but your broker will always recommend you at least get covered for charter cancellation and the potential shortening of your holiday.
Estimated insurance cost: €3,200 in low season, €4,320 in high season
Your crew will be looking after your every whim while onboard, so while tipping them isn’t mandatory it is strongly suggested that you do so. The recommended amount is around 15-20% of your base charter rate.
Estimated gratuity cost: €14,000 in low season, €18,900 in high season
The costs so far…
As you can see, charter costs can quickly jump up from the original base price. This is not to put you off of chartering, which can be the experience of a lifetime, but simply to put a real-world price on an invaluable experience. Stay tuned for a breakdown of the Advance Provisioning Allowance costs associated with yacht charter, where we’ll also provide an estimate of the total cost of a 30-40m yacht charter in the West Mediterranean.
Running total for part one: €97,200 in low season, €131,220 in high season
Read Part 2 here