What to know before you go!
What to pack:
- Passport and Visas – Americans don’t need visas in most places, but a passport is mandatory to leave the United States
- Medications – check to make sure you bring enough for your stay, because it could be difficult to obtain lsewhere. And be sure to inform your Captain and Charter Broker if anyone in
your guest party has a medical condition to be aware of.
- Vaccinations – ask your Captain or Charter Broker if there are any recommended vaccinations
- Insect Repellant - If you are prone to mosquito bites, bring insect repellant, as it can be difficult to find elsewhere.
- Luggage - Yachts will have storage space, but not as much as you likely have in your home, so try to pack lighter, and if possible, use soft-sided collapsible luggage that will stow easily.
- Clothing - Light airy clothes, and bathing suits
- Smart-casual clothing for socializing
- A sport jacket and collared shirt for men, and casual dresses for
- A lightweight rain jacket and/or windbreaker
- Your favorite jeans and a sweater or sweatshirt
- Shoes - At least one pair of rubber soled, non-marking shoes for the deck, and sandals fobeachcombing, shelling, etc. (Please, no stiletto heels as they leave marks)
- Accessories - bring a Hat or visor, and a pair (or two) of polarized sunglasses, with a croakie/leash.
- Jewelry – there will be a safe on board, possibly even one in your cabin, so bring what you’d like to wear on board. However, we don’t recommend tempting fate wearing expensive
jewels into town.
- Travelers Checks – always safer than cash
- Camera – digital, or with lots of film, with underwater capabilities, if possible
- Music – most yachts will have a CD stereo system to play your music, some will even be iPod compatible, so bring what you like.
What you don’t necessarily need to pack:
Fishing gear – most yachts will have this on board
Snorkeling gear – most yachts will have a selection of gear on board, but you may want to ask about specifics if you have small children.
Motion Sickness – most yachts will have Dramamine (or similar) on board, or something similar, but if you are particularly prone, then bring some as well.
Toiletries – most larger yachts will offer shampoo, conditioner, hand lotion, and soap of a high quality, some even offer toothpaste, toothbrushes, etc.
Sunscreen - most yachts will have Sunscreen on board
Towels & Linens – all yachts will have these on board
It is customary to take your street shoes off when boarding, and use only clean shoes on board, or go barefoot.
When boarding someone else’s yacht, always ask permission to come aboard.
Remember that you are a visitor in another country. A smile or pleasant greeting will go a long way towards getting a positive reception.
While you are traveling in a foreign country, you are subject to the laws of that land, and the local authority will have jurisdiction over you. Therefore, practice common sense.
Some countries’ cultures are very modest, so avoid being too casually dressed when away from the beach.
Dates and times are strictly adhered to in order to allow the crew time for cleaning and preparation for
the next charter group. Should your flight arrangements leave you without accommodation after your charter is over, and before your departure, you may need to organize shore side accommodation before hand.
Your charter broker will ask you to fill out a preference sheet to be sent to the yacht’s chef prior to the charter. While your chef will create your personalized menu around your individual food preferences, please be aware that the provisions ordered are to accommodate the entire guest party. Further, there is usually only one chef aboard. Therefore, it is extremely difficult for the chef to prepare separate meals for each guest, made to order. Most meals will be the same for everyone, except a substitution for special dietary needs. Children, when at all possible, should eat what the adults eat, or agree on one kid’s meal to be served not at the same time as the adults.
Access to the Galley:
Because provisions are purchased to create the menu created for you, it is not a good idea to help yourself to items in the refrigerator, or you may leave the Chef without ingredients he/she needs. However, you are certainly welcome to ask, and they will likely accommodate you.
If the contract does not say “all inclusive,” then it is expected that on top of the charter rate, the guest will pay for food, beverages, fuel, dockage, communication costs, commercial shore excursions, commercial scuba diving, etc. The Captain can keep you apprised as to the balance of your account as you wish, and provide you with a final report at the end of the charter. Your additional amount due is payable before departure, or your balance due is remitted from the yacht, whichever is the case. Expenses are usually around 25% to 35% of the base charter rate.
Yachts, when not in port, are powered by generators, providing 220 volt electricity. Therefore, hair dryers, computers, etc. can generally be run anytime. However, high electricity items such as clothes dryers will affect your fuel consumption, and should be saved for when you are dockside.
Your Stewardess will launder your bath and bed linens regularly. If you should like your personal laundry done, please speak with your Captain to determine if this service is offered. Often there are shore side facilities available if the crew cannot accommodate you.
Because potable water is often made on board, using a reverse osmosis watermaker, it should be conserved whenever possible. Further, your shower head may be a water-saver type, which doesn’t deliver high pressure. However, you should always have plenty of hot water when you are at the dock.
Most cabins will have an en-suite head, with a marine toilet. Because a yacht is not connected to city water or septic, everything that goes into the toilet must go through a series of very small pipes to get to the holding tank. Therefore, nothing should go into the toilet that may clog it up, such as Q-tips, paper towels, tampons, etc. Should your head become clogged, it may likely be your responsibility to pay for a professional marine plumber to un-clog the system.
Check with your charter broker as to any restrictions about children on board. Some yacht owners only allow children over the age of 12, some don’t allow children at all. Either way, be aware that the crew are there in service of the vessel primarily, and in service to the guests secondarily. They have plenty of work to do behind the scenes, which cannot happen if they are required for daycare. Therefore, it is not generally offered unless pre-arranged. Most yachts will be happy to accommodate your nanny.
Your yacht is limited by law to carry a maximum number of guests away from the dock, usually crew + 6 or crew + 12. However, with permission from the Captain, it is often fine to have friends aboard dockside. Additional guests sleeping aboard must be cleared by the Captain, and may incur an additional charter fee.
While on charter, it is anticipated that you may want to have a cocktail or dinner party. Please give the Captain and Chef as much as notice as possible, as provisions will need to be ordered, flowers, beverages, etc. to accommodate your guests. Your crew will want to make you look good in front of your guests, and they will need some time to prepare.
Hours of Service:
Your will be awake before you, setting up for breakfast and drying the
dew off the cushions. Likely, someone will also stay up to make
sure that you are served drinks or food, until you tell them that you
are going to bed and that they are fine to go. While they want you
to have a wonderful time, they also need a fair amount of sleep themselves
to be able to perform their duties to the standard you deserve.
Therefore, please be aware of the time that you retire, or relieve them
of their duties before the early morning hours, when possible.
Dehydration rates are 5 times greater on the water than on land. Drinking alcohol adds to dehydration, and can make you sleepy and sluggish, as well as sea-sick. It is not advisable to operate any of the water toys under the influence of alcohol, as medical response can take longer than anticipated.
On yachts, there is a ‘Zero Tolerance Law.’ This means that there is no warning period. If the USCG (or other local authority) finds so much as a marijuana seed on board, they have authority to seize the yacht permanently and sell it at auction. Therefore, the owner, who stands to lose his yacht, and the Captain, who stands to lose his license, will not likely tolerate any illegal narcotics aboard whether they belong to the yacht owner, charter guest, or crew.
You will likely be required to sign a waiver of liability before operating the yacht’s waverunners, jetskis, tender, etc. Once signed, the crew can give you instruction as to how to use them.
Tipping is customary, and discretionary. Generally, in the US we tip 15% - 20% of the base rate. In Europe, the standard is 10%. The tip is usually left with the Captain at the end of the charter, in cash, for him/her to distribute evenly amongst his crew. If you prefer not to travel with cash, an amount can be deposited and held in escrow with your charter broker. Then, at the end of your charter, you can tell them how much to disburse to the Captain.
While the Captain will likely plan your itinerary with you, make sure to plan it loosely, as weather can make it impossible to adhere to safely. Your Captain knows how the vessel will react in different sea conditions, and will make the final call, as he is ultimately responsible for the safety of everyone aboard.
The charter guest is responsible for returning the yacht in its original condition. Any damage done to the yacht by the charter guest must be paid for by the charter guest. As yachts and yacht equipment are not inexpensive, property insurance is a good idea.
Should you have to cancel your trip for some reason, you may be able to obtain travel insurance to protect your deposit. Check with your broker for the options available.
Please review your signed charter contract for specific details.