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How much Does it Cost to Charter a Yacht?

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Cozier than a cruise ship and more adventurous than a resort ashore, charter yacht vacations make for an exceptional holiday. This is especially true in hot spots such as the Caribbean, which is second only to the Mediterranean as the most popular region in the world to charter a yacht. The first step in the process for most, all but perhaps the 1 percenters, is how much does it cost to charter a yacht? Not one, but instead there are many answers that fit all. 

“It all depends on what size and type of yacht you would like to charter, which destination you are interested in and what time of year you’d like to go,” says Jody Krebs, marketing manager for the Americas at Sunsail, headquartered in Clearwater, FL. “That initial input will let us start to provide a broader range of pricing.  We’ll also consider number of guests for tax and fee requirements.” 

7 Day Charter Itinerary in St. Maarten / St. Martin – St. Barths – Anguilla

Consider the above points and more when calculating How Much Does it Cost to Charter a Yacht:

Chartering a Yacht creates memories across generations. Image Courtesy of Charter Caribe
Chartering a Yacht creates memories across generations. Image Courtesy of Charter Caribe

Do you want a Bareboat Vs. Crewed Charter Yacht?

Bareboats, or yachts chartered without crew, are not necessarily bare bones in price. It’s easy to move in the tens of thousands of dollars when looking at bareboat catamarans these days, according to Dick Schoonover, manager of CharterPort BVI, in Tortola. “And, bareboats aren’t exactly bare either. Gone is the day of ‘fewest moving parts’ and fewer things that can break when it comes to bareboats. Charterers want their comforts like generators, air conditioning, all the modern conveniences.”

7 Day Charter Itinerary in the U.S. Virgin Islands

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Hiring crew increases the cost of a charter.

“Charter fees for a 40- to 60-foot catamaran range from approximately US $5,000 to $15,000 for a bareboat and $15,000 to $30,000 with crew; less for a monohull either bareboat or crewed,” according to Oriel Blake, executive director of the Virgin Islands Professional Charter Association (VIPCA), in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. 

Of note is that crewed charters are all-inclusive.

“If you compare an all-inclusive crewed charter with all the add-ons for bareboats, crewed can be a better value,” says Ann McHorney, director and charter yacht specialist at Fort Lauderdale, Florida-headquartered, Select Yachts, with Caribbean offices in St. Maarten and Dominica. 

Sunsail answers, "How Much Does it Cost to Charter a Yacht"
Sunsail answers, “How Much Does it Cost to Charter a Yacht”

What Yacht Size are you thinking about Chartering and how does that affect cost?

Generally speaking, “the bigger the boat, the more expensive she will be,” says Lesley Hayes, reservations assistant for Horizon Yacht Charters, St. Vincent & the Grenadines. “However, we do have some older, larger boats which offer very good value for money.”

That said, “the bigger the vessel, the more people onboard and the cost per head then can work out to a rather good deal,” adds Hannah Allison, base manager for Dream Yacht Charter in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Magical Moments happen on the water with Sunsail. Image Courtesy of Patrick Bennett
Magical Moments happen on the water with Sunsail. Image Courtesy of Patrick Bennett

Do you want to charter a Sail or Power Yacht?

Power yachts cost more than sail to charter because of the fuel expenditure, according to Select Yachts’ McHorney. “Most power yachts are priced at ‘plus all expenses’ adding an extra 30- to 35-percent to the published charter rate. However, we are about to launch a solar-powered yacht into charter that does not require fuel or sails! It will cost less than petro-chemically powered yachts with operating costs at 20 percent.”

What Time of year would you like to Charter your Yacht and when are the deals?

Chartering in the Caribbean, like the Med, is seasonal. “Holidays are the most expensive and people will pay a premium for this time of year. Off-season, or cusp-thereof prices can reduce considerably where operations remain open,” says VIPCA’s Blake. 

Companies such as the BVI-based Conch Charters, which offers yachts for bareboat and crewed charters, operates with four pricing categories. These are, for example, High Season: December 16-March 31; Special 10 Nights for the Price of 1: April 1-30; Mid-Season: May 1-July 15 and November 8-15; and Low Season: July 16-November 7.

Destination can definitely affect the price of a yacht charter

“Charter fees do range according to location and popularity, but more so the costs involved in getting to that location namely airfare, and cost upon arrival either side of the charter for accommodations ashore, taxis and dining,” says VIPCA’s Blake.

Beyond this, and in the Caribbean region, “the Bahamas are most expensive due to taxes and a longer high season, while the BVI and Belize are least expensive,” adds Sunsail’s Krebs.

Don’t forget to Factor in Provisioning Costs into the overall Yacht Charter Costs. Image Courtesy of Charter Caribe

Factor Provisioning Costs into the Overall Charter Costs

Crewed yachts come provisioned / Bareboats require provisioning

Provisioning yourself can be cheaper than using a provisioning service. Plus, some people look forward to visiting local markets as part of their vacation,” says Horizon’s Hayes.

On the other hand, “most convenient and affordable is ordering online so once you arrive at the boat, all your provisions are stocked and put away,” adds Sunsail’s Krebs.

What Other Costs should you factor in?

Fuel, mooring fees and Customs and Immigration fees for clearing in and out are a few of the costs not included in the price of a charter.

More specifically, in the BVI, these additional costs include the following: a Cruising Permit for US $6 per person per day; National Parks weekly fee ($25 for up to 4 passengers; $35 up to 6 passengers; $45 up to 8 passengers and $55 up to 10 passengers), and contribution to VISAR (Virgin Islands Search & Rescue), $2 per person.

Most importantly, consider standard vacation costs.

“Make sure you budget not just for the boat, but so that you can enjoy your vacation: eating out ashore, sundowners on the beach and a few souvenirs really add to the charter experience,” says Horizon’s Hayes.

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Carol M. Bareuther, RD, is a St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands based marine writer and registered dietitian.

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