Yachts vs. Cruise Ships: Day-to-Day Differences
Because each yacht charter is a personalized vacation onboard a unique boat with a specific crew, it's impossible to describe a "typical" day onboard the same way you might for a cruise ship. However, there are certain areas where private yachts and cruise ships definitely differ.
Here's a look at five key areas that are important for you to understand.
Onboard a cruise ship, shore excursions are organized in advance with no changes possible in departure or return times. Each excursion usually includes at least a dozen people, with other passengers who are strangers to you.
Onboard a charter yacht, shore excursions occur whenever you wish, with total flexibility on departure and return times. You go ashore in your yacht's private dinghy, with only your family and friends.
Onboard many cruise ships, meals are served at predetermined times. Other ships let you eat at your leisure. You are typically seated inside a large dining hall, or, for an extra fee, you can reserve a table at a smaller restaurant. Menus are designed to suit the masses.
Onboard a charter yacht, meals are served whenever you like, either aboard the boat or at the restaurant of your choice ashore. Chefs aboard crewed charter yachts speak with you in advance of your vacation to plan a menu specifically to your tastes. If you want eggs for dinner and lasagne for breakfast, that's what the chef will prepare.
Onboard cruise ships, water sports are an extra expense except for swimming pools. Their timing is determined in advance, as with shore excursions, so you can't adjust your Wave Runner or snorkeling time to suit the weather or your mood.
Onboard a charter yacht, most water sports (except scuba diving) are typically included in the weekly base rate. You can snorkel six times a day, if you want to, and you can use the yacht's water sports equipment whenever the mood strikes.
Shows and Activities
Onboard cruise ships there are free shows and interactive productions that you see alongside hundreds of other people. These shows are predetermined by the cruise ships, and they are your only options once the ship sets sail.
Onboard a charter yacht, you have your choice of onshore theaters at your leisure. You also can enjoy onboard movies and entertainment, including costumed theme nights that some crew organize.
Onboard a cruise ship, the crew are like hotel staff. They are paid hourly to take care of countless families and couples simultaneously.
Onboard a charter yacht, the crew are the yacht owner's personal staff attending exclusively to your group. Aboard some charter yachts, the crew-to-guest ratio is 1-to-1, or even 2-to-1 or 3-to-1.
There's an entire chapter about what you can expect aboard crewed yachts in the book Dream Cruises: The Insider's Guide to Private Yacht Charter Vacations, from which this information is adapted.