Charter yachts are unlike cruise ships in that their pricing structures are more variable. The way you choose to use your yacht—and it is your yacht for the duration of your cruise vacation—will determine the total amount of money you spend.
A graphic that shows the typical differences between charter yacht and cruise ship costs is available here. Keep reading for a detailed explanation of how charter prices are organized differently from cruise-ship prices.
The size and style of your yacht are among the biggest factors in its weekly base rate, which does not include expenses such as food, fuel, and crew tip. As a general rule when looking at base rates, the following three axioms apply:
• Bareboats are less expensive than crewed yachts;
• Smaller yachts are less expensive than bigger yachts;
• Sailing yachts are less expensive than power-driven yachts.
A small bareboat sailboat is typically going to be your best bet for an inexpensive charter vacation, while a large fully crewed megayacht is likely to cost you the most. The spectrum is wide, to be sure—from less than $2,500 a week for a yacht at one end to well more than $250,000 a week for a yacht at the other—but for the most part, you can count on price ranges being about the same for yachts of similar size and style.
There are other factors, too, that will affect the cost of your charter yacht cruise vacation.
If only the biggest, newest, fanciest, brand-name, fully crewed yacht will suit your tastes, then you’re going to pay for the privilege of chartering it, no matter what part of the world it’s in. Sometimes, you can get a far better deal on an older yacht that’s in great shape, even if it, too, has a full crew at the ready.
The number of crew--particularly a low crew-to-guest ratio—will also affect the base price for your charter yacht, as will any unique features or water toys the yacht offers that are unusual. Some yachts have different rates during different seasons (Christmastime in the Caribbean is quite expensive), while other yachts have owners who are willing to bargain with you a bit in terms of price all year round.
All of this adds up to the fact that when you compare the price of one 65-foot yacht with the price of another 65-foot yacht, you need to consider exactly what is included in that price. Crew-to-guest ratios, special amenities and features, location, time of year—all of it will affect the vacation that you end up getting for your money.
Even given all the variables involved, you can put a general dollar figure on prices for different sizes and styles of charter yachts. For the most part, yachts are marketed with base rates—which include only the yacht and crew (unless there is none, such as with a bareboat). Extra fees will apply to any base rate, including food, alcohol, fuel, marina dockage, and crew tip, all of which can add one-quarter or even one-half again to the total cost of a charter.
A handful of yachts are beginning to offer inclusive rates, which factor in some or all of the variable fees that you’re likely to encounter, especially in popular destinations such as the Virgin Islands.
For the most part, though, when figuring out what a charter costs, you will need to work with a charter broker to fit your budget with a yacht’s typical base rate and customary expenses. Then, you can divide that total-cost figure by the number of people in your charter party, and you will be able to see the per-person rate—which often ends up being lower than the all-expenses-included per-person rate onboard cruise ships, even if the cruise ship cabins themselves are really cheap.
You can learn more about how to compare charter yacht prices on an apples-to-apples basis against cruise ship expenses by checking out this graphic from Dream Cruises: The Insider’s Guide to Private Yacht Charter Vacations.