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The Best-Kept Vacation Secret  ~ You Can Charter a Yacht too!

Sailing yacht or motoryacht? Bareboat or crewed? Once you're familiar with all the different types of charters available, you can select one to suit your vacation budget.

Do you remember the last time you were sitting by a beautiful coastline and saw a sleek yacht steaming offshore to some romantic destination? You pictured yourself on board living the life of luxury, eating five-star cuisine, sipping exotic drinks, and watching a glorious sunset. Then you awoke from your daydream and realized that it was never going to happen. You thought a vacation like that was only for the rich and famous.

Well think again! Believe it or not, it is possible to live that dream although most people don't realize it. A yachting vacation is one of the best-kept vacation secrets and is less expensive than you think. In fact, it may cost less than your last vacation. On top of that, there are usually yachts for charter in a destination you would love to visit.

So how do you go about chartering a yacht? Well, first let's take a look at the type of yachts available. Yachts come in all shapes and sizes, but you would generally choose between a sailing yacht and a motoryacht. The differences between the two can be relatively minor or very significant, depending on your needs and point of view.

Sailboats are generally slower. They may have less room than motor-yachts of the same length, due to the low profile and sleek styling required. However, they are usually less expensive to charter and have an appeal not found in a motoryacht due to the motion and ambience. Sailboat charters tend to appeal to the more adventurous, with the focus on the outdoors and watersport activities. This is a perfect match for families and more budget-oriented vacations.


Motoryachts travel faster, covering a greater distance in a shorter time. They usually offer more amenities, such as an on-deck Jacuzzi or bar, because they have more space. The largest yachts for charter tend to be motoryachts due to the ability to carry the sheer volume of staterooms, crew, and equipment necessary for larger groups. The cost to charter is generally more expensive for the comparable length of the vessel, due to increased operating costs.

As to operating either type of yacht, you would choose between a crewed or bareboat charter. For those with experience on the water, it's possible to charter a bareboat, which is a boat without a crew. On some yachts up to 50 feet, "captain only" charters are possible. This option offers some privacy for the group without the added responsibility of running the boat. In either case you would buy the food and cook any meals desired on board.

Fully crewed charters are the norm for yachts over 50 feet due to the increased complexity of operating a bigger vessel. The crew customizes the itinerary based on the charter guests' desire as to where and when they prefer to travel, weather permitting of course. They cook, clean, entertain, and make it their job to ensure that the vacation is enjoyable.


Most-Popular Destinations

Charter yachts operate in most destinations around the world, but tend to be more readily available in the most-popular cruising areas. This changes with the weather and time of year.

During the winter months in the northern hemisphere, the Caribbean is the most popular destination, with an abundance of yachts available for charter. The weather is reliably pleasant with warm days spent cruising beautiful aquamarine water. The Bahamas and Florida are popular as well, but can have the occasional cold spell from the north. There are other areas in the world where yachts are available on a more-limited basis such as Australia's Great Barrier Reef, New Zealand's Bay of Islands, Tahiti, and the Seychelles.

During the summer months, the cruising grounds shift to the north. The season is short but the destinations vary in scope and appeal.

In Europe, the Mediterranean offers many chartering areas. The focus is less on watersports and more on culture and history. Turkey and Greece are popular in the east. In the west, Italy and France are very busy with a few yachts in Spain's Balearic Islands.

The United Kingdom is home to many of the world's most avid sailors. For the more adventuresome, there are plenty of breathtaking ports of call amid the islands and islets of this nation steeped in nautical history.

In North America, the summer cruising grounds open up along the entire eastern seaboard. New England is a popular cruising area from New York to Maine, with Newport, Rhode Island the center of much activity.

The Pacific presents opportunities along its sprawling coast from Costa Rica to Alaska. The chartering is limited to more-defined areas due to the nature of its often-inaccessible coastline. Yachts are available in the main ports of Mexico, the major U.S. port cities, along Canada's pristine coast, and Alaska.

Yachts are available in a few destinations year-round due to their proximity to the equator, but a watchful eye to developing hurricanes is always a must. These areas include the Bahamas, Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Tahiti.

There are many other locations where charter boats may be available, but are limited due to a number of factors such as remote location and a shortened cruising season. The charter rate would normally be higher in those areas.


'A Boat for Every Budget'

The choices of yachts and destinations are many and there is usually "a boat for every budget." Bareboats start at around $300 per person for the week. Crewed yachts run a little higher but start below $1,000 per person. This would be an all-inclusive rate, which in some charter areas includes meals, watersports, and alcoholic beverages. As you can see, the cost is comparable to a cruise ship or resort vacation.

To help make the best choice, it is important to work with an experienced charter broker or travel agent who has the knowledge to help you plan your dream vacation aboard a yacht.



Donna Salerno Travel