The key is to choose your times carefully. A difference of one week (from high season into low season) can make a vast difference in cost, while still providing the same weather as the more expensive period.
The yacht itself is a major factor in determining the charter cost, but it’s not just about size. A recently launched charter yacht from a famed builder with an experienced and popular charter crew is going to command top prices for its size range. Yachts with a legendary name, such as a history of celebrity ownership, can also ask higher rates just for the “fame” value. And yachts with special features, such as alfresco movie theaters or exceptional water toys (a submarine, for example) are also pricier.
Knowing the base price of your charter is just the starting point, however, depending on the location, which often governs the terms of the contract (see Contracts), more or less may be included in the base price of your charter. Bear in mind that every charter yacht, because they are privately owned and the owner sets the rules, is slightly different. One yacht may include a “standard” selection of wines with every meal and charge only to upgrade the vintages, while on another yacht the wines are a la carte.
Under Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association (MYBA) charter contracts, which are arguably the most common, the charterer is charged for food and beverage (for the charter guests only), fuel, dockage and harbor fees, and miscellaneous expenses. As a round number, which depends on how much fuel the yacht uses and how fancy the meals and drinks, you can expect to add 25% to 50% of your charter cost.
With the more inclusive Caribbean Terms Inclusive (CTI), which is sometimes called Standard Caribbean Terms (SCT), three meals per day and fuel for four hours of cruising a day are included. Some yachts under CTI terms include basic beverages (not vintage wines or champagnes), but this is mainly in the Virgin Islands.
Before you book a charter, your charter broker can provide you with a good estimate of the additional costs that will be incurred. Food is one of the largest and it is directly proportional to how exuberantly you plan to dine. If you expect several bottles of Cristal champagne with every meal, then you can assume that your costs will be higher.
Fuel can be another cost and, again, it depends on how much the yacht cruises and how fast, too. Time spent at anchor will include the fuel for the generators, while shore-side electricity when at a dock is also an extra. Don’t forget that fuel is also charged for the tenders and water toys, so you’ll pay for the fuel used while zipping around on the jetskis.
Harbor fees and dockage are a variable that can range from exorbitant (a front-row dock at the Monaco Grand Prix) to little or nothing in some areas. Communications are another cost and, with the options for satellite communications and Internet, an important one for most charterers. A delivery fee is usually charged if a charterer requests to board (or depart) a yacht at a distance from where the yacht is normally based.
All the yacht laundry, including towels, sheets and table linens, is included in the charter fee, but some yachts charge to launder personal items of the charterer. Most, however, will do small quantities of personal laundry as a service but they usually won’t be responsible for delicate items.
Last, charterers may be charged VAT, or “value added tax”, on the charter fees. Many European countries and a few Caribbean islands add VAT, but it is a complex issue that depends on where you board and debark the yacht, so rely on your charter broker for advice.
While it may seem at first glance that the extras on many charters are just a way to pad your bill, they are actually a benefit to the charterer. Food and drink, for example, is custom-ordered to meet the client’s requests, so the level of expense is entirely up to the charterer. Fuel is only charged if it is used and other fees are also at the discretion of the charterer. So you do have a way to control your costs and still savor a luxurious charter.
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