How much does it really cost to charter a superyacht?
Written by Luke Wheeler
Last updated: 04/07/2017
With the cost of superyacht ownership soaring beyond the wallets of even the very wealthy, it’s no surprise that chartering is by far the most popular way to experience the superyacht lifestyle. It also provides a great way for the owner to help recoup costs during periods when they are not on board themselves.
That said, chartering is still far from low-cost, and you certainly won’t see groups of booze-fuelled students suddenly chartering 120m superyachts for their summer holidays. But is chartering still only a possibility limited to those on celebrity salaries?
Base price of charter yachts and what affects it
The base price of a charter—often what you’ll see listed when looking for your ideal vessel—is how much it will cost you to charter a particular yacht, normally for a period of seven days. This cost will not include a varying array of additional expenditure, so it’s important to consider everything else you may have to pay on top of this base fee. The base price will also be affected by a number of conditions, including:
Dates you wish to charter
Basic charter rates are often heavily influenced by the dates you wish to charter, normally based around whether it’s the high or low season. Charter outside of peak times of year to find the best rates, though be aware that if you wish to then travel further afield to find perfect weather, there will be costs associated with this.
It’s also wise to be aware of events that may affect prices during certain dates. Trying to charter in Monaco during the Grand Prix can prove an expensive affair.
Choosing dates carefully is important, as depending on where you go to find your ideal charter, you may find huge variances in price over a difference often as small as a few days, despite the weather being largely the same.
Size, status and features of the yacht
Of course, the yacht itself is the biggest factor in how much you pay to charter, but it’s far from just about the size of the vessel. Within a single size range there are dozens of factors on price, such as how recently the yacht was renovated or the location in which it is based, alongside lesser-known factors such as reputation of the build. However, how experienced and numerous the crew is, whether the yacht has a history of celebrity ownership or is known to be owned by a celebrity, unique features and amenities on the yacht, and even a yacht’s previous guests, if well-known, can influence the price substantially.
Variances in price to charter yachts that appear very similar on the surface can and should be explained to you by your broker. There’s always a reason something costs more—or less—so make sure to find out exactly what that is.
The yacht charter contract
The base price can be summarised as a bare-bones cost, to which all additional expenditure is added. Though depending on the type of contract—often decided by the location of the charter—you will get various levels of expenditure already included in that base price. This can all vary from yacht-to-yacht too, as the owner of the yacht will have had a say on various terms of the charter agreement as well. For example, an owner could decide to include unlimited internet access in the charter price, whilst another owner could charge for it.
MYBA charter contracts
Under Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) charter contracts—arguably the most common—the charterer is charged for food and beverage consumption (guest only, the charterer does not pay for crew meals), harbour and dockage fees, fuel consumption, and most other expenses.
Under this contract, it’s typical to pay an additional 30-40% of the charter fee to cover all costs during your charter. This of course is dependant on how lavish you wish to be when it comes to food, drink and entertainment.
The Caribbean Terms Inclusive (CTI), sometimes called Standard Caribbean Terms (SCT), is more akin to an all-inclusive holiday package. Under a CTI charter contract, you will find three meals a day and four hours of cruising per day included in the base price. In some CTI contracts, you may find basic drinks also included.
It’s important to keep fuel in mind with this one; whilst the fuel for four hours of cruising a day is included, that will not include fuel used for water toys and Jetskis, requesting the yacht goes above cruising speed, or fuel used for electricity whilst at anchor.
Other contract types
Whilst MYBA and CTI contracts are the most common, others do exist. For example, an SEMT (Standard Eastern Mediterranean Terms) contract includes only breakfast and lunch, on the presumption guests will be eating ashore most evenings, but in contrast to MYBA and CTI contracts, includes all harbour and berthing fees. Meanwhile a GT (Greek Terms) contract includes dockage in Greek waters.
Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA)
Regardless of contract, all charterers should be aware of the Advance Provisioning Allowance (APA). This is a cash lump sum that is paid in addition to the base charter fee, and is intended to cover any and all additional expenses outside of that included in the base price. On a typical ‘plus all expenses’ contract like the MYBA, you can expect this to be around 20-30% of the charter fee, while for ‘all inclusive’ contracts like the CTI, it’s around 5%. A charter broker will be able to provide APA cost estimates based on your on-board expectations.
Typically, you will pay the APA around one month prior to boarding the yacht and is paid directly to the captain. You can think of it as a private fund for your charter, and the captain will use it to prepare for your arrival (purchasing your selected provisions, for example) and during your charter, whilst logging all expenditures.
Should the APA be exceeded during charter, the captain will request that additional funds are paid in. For this purpose, you can either store further funds with your yacht broker for release at the charterer’s command, or the captain can simply be paid in cash.
Any money remaining in the APA at the end of charter is returned to the charterer.
Taxes and insurance
Cancellation and curtailment insurance is the travel insurance of the charter world and will cover the charterer against forced cancellation or shortening of the charter. This insurance can be arranged with your broker and is generally considered a smart investment.
Other charter expenses to be aware of
It isn’t just cruising that incurs fuel usage; sitting at anchor requires fuel to power the generators, and you’ll need to pay for the fuel used in tenders and water toys too, if you make use of those.
Sat comms / internet fees
You will often be charged to cover communications expenses, such as satellite TV and high-speed WiFi.
Most charter yachts are based in one location, with most of its guests arriving and leaving from the home port. Choosing to board the yacht in a different location that requires the yacht to travel will incur additional fees, if the option is available.
The yacht’s own laundry (towels, linens etc.) is covered in the base charter price, but whether it includes guest laundry varies on a yacht-by-yacht basis. Most yachts will offer to include small amounts of personal laundry as a service to the guests, but complex washes / delicate items may need to be laundered ashore.