In the movie Arthur, Liza Minelli, playing a snappish waitress, asks drunken playboy millionaire, Dudley Moore, playing Arthur, "is it wonderful to be on a yacht?" Arthur pauses for a moment and considers. "It doesn't suck," he says simply. Truer words might never have been spoken. A yachting getaway tops many a vacation wish list for people all over the world.
One wonders if Liza might have then asked, "Arthur, how much does it cost to charter a yacht?" The answer depends on a range of factors, including the charter destination, the type of yacht, taxes where the cruise occurs, level of pampering on board, and more.
In general, a yacht charter can run from $3,000 for a day charter in Miami to $150,000 plus for a week-long charter in the Mediterranean. Smaller sailboat yachts, often catamarans, can be found for $10,000 per week in the Bahamas, and larger, gas-fueled motor yachts can fetch several hundred thousand dollars for a week in French Polynesia.
Clarifying what constitutes a "yacht" can be challenging. Some folks will say a boat larger than 33' is a yacht. Others, primarily those in the day-to-day yachting world, believe that a yacht should exceed 24 meters (78 feet).
In addition to the base price of the charter, other costs can impact the total expense. Tipping of the crew, fuel costs, and provisioning contribute to the overall impact to your wallet. Beyond the base rate, one can expect to add another 25% - 50% in expenses. In this article we'll cover the specific add-on costs of yacht chartering.
What is the Average Cost To Charter A Yacht?
What Are The Factors That Affect Yacht Charter Prices?
Charter prices jump around all the time, so it's hard to say for sure how much it is to charter a yacht at any given time. However, you can always estimate. Below are some of the factors that affect the price.
As with any resort destination, there is a high and low season for yacht charters. Prices will rise and fall seasonally like hotel rates rise and fall. That means that you can expect to pay top dollar in the Caribbean during the winter.
If the Mediterranean speaks to you, summer is going to be the priciest time of year. Off-season, possibly with overcast days, cooler waters, and more wind, you can still charter a boat and will certainly save money over high-season pricing. Know too that lower costs don't necessarily translate to a lower-quality experience.
Before high season hits or as the high season fades, you'll find that it's easier to charter a yacht in some of the more desirable locations. These more tranquil times of year appeal to those who aren't looking for the action-packed, party-hard crowds that may flock to prime berths and moorings in conjunction with major social and sporting events around the world.
Major events aside, there's no lack for other things to do in these locales. The reduced costs from steering clear of crowds affects other activities too during these slower times.
Shoulder seasons offer less intense weather than high season. In the Med, high season means higher temperatures. Milder weather can be just as appealing to individuals less inclined to bake themselves in the hottest sun during July and August.
The earlier or later in the season, expect charter costs to decrease proportionally relative to how far early or late you're able to cruise. Expect to save somewhere in the 15% - 20% range. In some instances you can snag a deal with savings of 50% or more.
So, you've watched every season of Below Deck and have your heart set on chartering the Below Deck yacht? Well, be prepared to pay a premium for a boat with any notoriety or celebrity association.
From yachts sailed on by Kourtney Kardashian (Sealyon) and Beyonce (Halo) to yachts used on reality shows like The Bachelor (Leight Star), the celebrity stamp of approval means even bigger bucks are needed to charter these boats.
Aside from celebrity significance, the type of yacht is also a pricing factor. Smaller yachts and yachts that are wind-powered (catamarans) are going to be cheaper than larger boats with big fuel tanks for getting from Point A to Point B.
For enthusiasts seeking yachting experiences, exploring the cost to charter a yacht is an essential step towards planning a memorable journey, especially if you're looking at a destination like British Virgin Islands. One of the best providers that can assist in the process is BVI yachting.
Supply and demand, as with all things economic, affect a yacht charter fee. In destinations with an ample supply of yachts (places like the British Virgin Islands, the Bahamans, or the Med), the availability makes prices more competitive.
In more remote charter locations, like Indonesia, French Polynesia, and Costa Rica, a more limited supply of yachts drives fees up.
Advanced Provisioning Allowance
APA (advanced provisioning allowance) is money in addition to the base cost of the charter. APA is used for paying expenses on board such as food and beverage, berthing fees, customs, and fuel. Like a bank account, the captain and chef are able to access the APA to cover expenses while on board the yacht.
The amount needed for APA is dependent on the cost of fuel and berthing locally. Foodies wanting the best of everything for every meal will have higher APA costs than clients with less discriminating palates.
Generally speaking, plan to pay 30% to 40% of the base charter fee for APA. Spending more time underway and cruising from spot to spot as opposed to laying at anchor and saving fuel costs affects APA.
Tipping your captain and crew is a standard industry practice. That expense should be looked at closely when considering how much it costs to charter a yacht. Because gratuity starts at 5% and goes up to 20%, it has a sizable impact on overall cost for your charter experience.
Tips are generally provided to the captain in cash. In some instances, rather than carry extra cash, clients can wire their tip in advance to be held in escrow.
What is the Standard Gratuity for a Crewed Yacht Charter?
Because gratuity starts at 5% and goes up to 20%, it has a sizable impact on the overall cost of your charter experience. In the Med, based on input from the Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA), most tips are in the 10% - 15% zone.
Some background on Mediterranean gratuity: At one point several years ago, certain clients were tipping exorbitant amounts which led to increased expectations of yacht crews. When other clients weren't as generous, crews were less than enthusiastic, sullying the service image of yacht charters. The MYBA stepped in to level the playing field for a consistent amount and practice in the industry.
When there are extra funds left in the APA at the end of the charter, the funds can be used toward the gratuity or refunded to the client. Some clients will opt to tally 15% of the base cost to add to the APA as a means of being efficient and safe with the gratuity expense.
When you need it and have it, insurance can be the eighth wonder of the world. But it does come at a cost. As with other travel and vacation plans, purchasing travel insurance at the same time as you book your charter can save you money and headaches. It also buys peace of mind.
As compared to other costs (i.e. APA, gratuity), travel insurance for your yacht charter runs in the 3% to 10% of the base fee range. Consider comprehensive travel insurance which lumps together coverage for the trip itself, medical/health situations, and the personal property you have with you on the trip.
How Much is a Yacht Per Day?
During the low season, chartering a yacht can cost from $1,500 per day to $10,000+ per week. When it's high season, size of the yacht dependent, in the US, one could plan to pay $3,000 per day or $15,000 per week. Charter per-day prices tend to be higher than per week charges.
Average yacht charters are a weeklong (seven days). Some charter companies have a five-day minimum. In larger cities, it's possible to charter a yacht for a day or two but expect to pay a -higher average per day than you would for a five to seven-day charter.
How Much Does it Cost to Charter a Yacht for 3 Days?
Pricing factors aside, a three-day charter can run from $2,500 to $10,000 depending mostly on the size of the boat and number of guests.
In the Bahamas, three-day yacht charters are not unheard of. The Bahamas is likely the most popular place to do a three-day charter. If one were to charter for three days in the Bahamas. This compares interestingly to the going rate for the Below Deck yacht for a three-day charter is $45,000 (plus gratuity and more).
How Much Does it Cost to Charter a Yacht For 7 Days?
Pretty much the standard yacht charter length, most pricing that you'll see listed on yacht charter websites focuses on the seven-day charter.
Driven by location-location-location and size-size-size, a seven day charter will run from $15,000 to several hundred thousand dollars.
Cost Per State to Charter a Yacht
Some states are better known for their yacht chartering options. Many states, even those on the coast in reasonably-sized or well-known cities (Charleston, Washington DC, Philadelphia) don't offer a robust yacht charter industry.
Major charter boat hubs in the US include Florida, New York, and small pockets of New England on the eastern seaboard. On the west coast, Seattle, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, and San Diego are locales known for yacht charter options as well as large-scale sailing events such as the America's Cup Challenger Series and the Louis Vuitton Cup. Such high-visibility events are certain to attract a yachting crowd.
While not as active as the east or west coast, a nominal amount of yacht charter activity occurs in the Gulf Coast, primarily because of Florida's western side and plenty of money in the state of Texas.
On average, a catamaran charter in the Sunshine State will run between $1,000 and $3,500 per day. For a luxury yacht option, count on paying from $4,000 to $15,000 daily. As noted previously, additional costs may be incurred on top of the base fee.
A quick search on a luxury yacht charter website for California shows yacht charters starting at $11,500 (five guests, two crew, 47'). From this low end, prices rise steeply to a high end of $170,000 for a 140' yacht (that sleeps five and has a crew of nine) per week.
Charter a 40' Swan sailboat without a captain for less than $3,000 per week in New York. Or go big time and splurge on a 180' superyacht with room for 12 guests and 12 crew for the price of a cool $1.2/M per week – or $170K per day.
Luxury yacht charters in Seattle range from $4,500/day to $6,100/day with a captain.
If JR Ewing from the TV show, Dallas, was going to charter a yacht, he could expect to spend anywhere from $1,200 to $5,000 plus per day. High-end, luxury yachts in Texas can easily cost $4,000 a day or more.
In comparison, the cost for a yacht character in Puerto Rico is around just $1,100 per day, which is much more inexpensive.
How Much is it to Charter a Luxury Sailing Yacht?
Luxury sailing yachts are typically more cost-friendly than motor yachts. That's no surprise given the price of fuel. Chartering a sailing yacht will typically run anywhere from $1,000 per day to $25,000 per day.
Obviously, the bigger the sailboat, the bigger the charter fee. A cost-savings option is to bareback charter – which means there is no captain or crew. This option should only be considered by experienced sailors.
Itemizing the costs of a luxury sailboat charter versus costs of booking at a hotel or resort in the same destination quickly brings the yacht-charter savings difference to light.
Excursions, food, beverage, and other amenities add up quickly and expensively at a resort. With a luxury charter, meals and drinks are included as are water sports and jaunts to unique, hidden getaways.
Wrapping It Up
The thought of chartering a yacht and getting away from it all conjures lovely visions. Breakfast service by uniformed crew members featuring exotic fresh fruit and mimosas. Dancing on the deck bathed in the moonlight dappling the calm seas. Slipping down a three-story slide into warm Mediterranean waters. A dinner table piled high with fresh seafood plucked from the sea only hours before.
Visions like these have created a growing interest in private yacht charters. With increased demand, a variety of companies have sprung up to provide first-class experiences to people ready to step off the dock and onto a luxurious salt-air encounter.
If chartering a yacht is on your bucket list, start by googling "yacht charter + your dream destination." This will give you a quick idea of specific pricing for a specific scenario. Knowing the number of guests that would be on the yacht is key information to share with google to better narrow down the pricing range.
Lastly, keep in mind the other big factor shared earlier – timing. If budget is a consideration (and when isn't it…), don't forget that off-season charters may offer substantial savings without much compromise on a quality experience.