What destinations appeal to me?
If you can’t imagine a vacation without beautiful remote beaches, your ideal destination may be different from that of someone who wants to dine ashore and shop every day. Once you have an idea about what you’d like to do, a broker can discuss destinations where that type of activity is in season—and the boats available in those places.
Do not set your heart on a specific yacht in a specific place. First, figure out where you might like to go, then look at what yachts are in those areas. This is especially true if you are considering an emerging location such as the South Pacific, Indian Ocean or Southeast Asia, where international-caliber yachts tend to visit instead of base permanently.
What shipyard built the yacht, and how is it outfitted?
Pedigree (“it’s the Rolls-Royce of yachts”) is not as important for charter as it is for yacht purchase, especially if you’re new to the vacation experience. Nor is being aboard a new yacht. Brand-new launches are exciting to be aboard, but you will pay plenty for “name” yachts when you could experience a similar vacation at a better price. If you’re new to charter, you might do better to focus on design features instead of brand name or yacht age.
For instance, some charter yachts have sundeck hot tubs, while others do not. Some have staterooms ideal for children, while others are more comfortable for adults. Some charter yachts have at-anchor stabilizers, which help to keep the yacht steady at anchor. Some have VSAT systems, which make it more likely that you will be able to access Wi-Fi.
Also think about what amenities you will use. Many people believe more is better in terms of water toys, water slides, tenders, gymnasium equipment and the like. While those things can be great, you will pay for them. Consider whether you will really get on that treadmill every day, or if you might instead exercise with a swim.
How are the staterooms laid out?
The makeup of your charter party will affect the kind of sleeping accommodations you need. If you are traveling with children, you might want a different stateroom configuration than if you are looking for a luscious, private retreat.
Different yachts offer different cabin configurations and levels of luxury. Some yachts have grand master staterooms separated from the others. Boats of this nature tend to be best-suited for a couple, or “principal charterer” who is footing the entire bill and inviting friends to come along.
Other charter yachts have equal-size staterooms, which make those yachts ideal for couples looking to split the weekly rate.
Still other charter yachts have convertible staterooms, which can be arranged as doubles or twins, depending on how you want to use them.
What are the crew like?
Crew come in all personalities and experience levels, and every charter client has different crew requirements.
Some crew speak only when spoken to. They hover in the background wearing epaulets. Other crew are just as attentive, but more apt to wear polo shirts and engage you in conversation.
One type is not better than another; they simply complement different types of guest personalities.
Aboard any yacht, the captain sets the tone. Captains aboard the largest motoryachts tend to run them like small corporations, with interior and exterior “departments” headed by stewardesses and deckhands who see to guests’ needs. On yachts in the 80- to 150-foot range, the atmosphere can be lighter.
What are the chef’s specialties?
Anyone who has ever been on a charter yacht will tell you that the food smells, looks and tastes phenomenal. The best chef can make rainy days a distant memory the same way the best crew can turn a less-than-stellar boat into a gem.
Still, not every charter yacht chef can do everything, and some do specific things better than others. If there’s a type of cooking you want or need, ask your broker about it. Many charter yacht chefs are experts at vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, diabetic, kosher and other types of specialty diets, along with styles of cooking such as Thai, Mediterranean, Asian-Fusion, French and more.
Before your charter begins, you will be asked to fill out a preference sheet. The chef will use your answers to stock the galley and create a starting menu (that can be changed later at your request). Be honest in providing your answers. You will be helping the crew to personalize your meals as much as possible.