Are you searching for the best vacation ever? Look no further than a yacht charter trip with family and friends. Yacht charters allow you to discover beautiful destinations around the world in style, while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of your own yacht.
As tourist destinations become busier and busier, there is no better way to escape from it all and find your own private paradise. Leave the crowds behind and explore remote and secluded islands that are only accessible by boat.
While I spend most of my time on bareboat charters, there are three other types of yacht charters. Something for everyone and every type of budget! In addition to bareboat charters, you can go sailing on a crewed yacht charter, bareboat with a hired skipper, or as part of a by-the-cabin trip.
Each yacht charter type has its pros/cons, but it ultimately comes down to your budget, type of crew, and sailing experience level.
Let’s take a closer look at each type of yacht charter to help you plan your next sailing adventure.
Fully crewed yacht charters: the luxury, all-inclusive option
Image above: Chaos Interrupted a top-rated crewed yacht charter available in the Virgin Islands.
Crewed yacht charters are sometimes considered the all-inclusive option and range from 45 foot catamarans all the way up to large mega yachts.
For sailing catamarans, you can expect it to be crewed by a captain and a hostess. As a team they will work together to take care of all your needs while you sit back and relax. They will:
Handle all of the yacht maneuvers, anchoring, and sailing
Provision for food and drinks
Cook you spectacular meals (and clean-up!)
Mix you up your favorite island cocktail
Provide water sport activities such as stand up paddleboards
Take you to secret snorkel spots
Drop you off on the beach for some bar-hopping
Help you catch a mahi
You book for the crew just as much as you book for the yacht – the right crew can offer an unforgettable experience.
This is the ultimate, luxury option. As such, expect to pay up for a crewed yacht charter. Depending on the type, size, and age of the sailing catamaran, this can range anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000+ (before tip).
For families with small children, this might be the best option so you can focus on keeping a watchful eye on the kiddos, especially when the boat is moving.
To book crewed yacht charters, you typically must work directly with an independent yacht broker, such as the Yacht Warriors.
Where to go on a crewed yacht charter?
The largest fleet of crewed sailing catamarans in the Caribbean is in the British Virgin Islands and USVIs. Antigua is also another popular Caribbean destination for crewed charters. You can also find a handful of options in the Bahamas (technically not the Caribbean, but close enough!).
Globally, you have plenty of options such as French Polynesia, the Mediterranean (Croatia, Greece), and Hawaii.
Why you might like a crewed yacht charter
Enjoy a stress-free vacation with a professional crew taking care of all the details
Access to included amenities and services such as gourmet meals and water sports activities
You don’t want to do any of the cooking or clean-up
Customize your itinerary, with unique insights from the knowledge of your captain and host
Experience spacious cabins and common areas, and top-quality furnishings
You are celebrating a special occasion or don’t yet have the experience to take out your own sailing yacht
Bareboat charters: the freedom to explore all on your own
On a bareboat charter you serve as the captain, supply the crew, make provisioning arrangements, and decide where you want to go. A bareboat charter simply means that you rent a boat from a charter company for a defined period of time. The charter company will qualify your sailing experience to make sure you have a safe and fun trip.
Read more about what it takes to become qualified and go on your first bareboat charter.
On your bareboat charter, you have the freedom to do whatever you’d like (within reason or course) during your trip – sailing, snorkeling, fishing, beach bar hopping etc.
Bareboat charter pricing can range anywhere from $5,000 for a smaller monohull all the way up to $20,000 for a larger sailing catamaran. Learn more about how they are priced in this post.
Where to go on a bareboat charter?
Whereas with a crewed yacht charter, you are restricted to destinations with a crewed charter industry, on a bareboat charter you have much more flexibility on where to sail. These are a few of my favorite Caribbean bareboat charter destinations.
The British Virgin Islands remains the best place for beginners: idyllic Caribbean surroundings, settled weather conditions, easy navigation, and plenty of mooring balls are a few reasons to start there.
Other places to go? Check-out Belize, the Grenadines, French Polynesia, the Mediterranean, Thailand, or Key West.
Why you might like a bareboat charter
Bareboat chartering is my favorite way to vacation for several reasons. Here are a few of them:
We enjoy the privacy of sailing without a skipper or hostess
Our crew doesn’t mind cooking or cleaning
It’s more affordable as the DIY option!
We enjoy developing new sailing skills and building confidence from getting out there and doing it
You can explore previously off-limits destinations, and venture farther as you build more experience
Bareboat with a hired skipper: sailing with a professional
This option is similar – you book a bareboat charter from a charter company, but you add a skipper option. This usually costs $200-300/day in addition to the rest of your bareboat charter pricing.
In addition, you’ll need to save a cabin for them and provide food for them during the trip. Another variation is to also add a hostess option, in a similar fashion.
Well that sounds like a crewed charter option, right? Well sort of, but not really. You don’t know exactly who you getting as a skipper/hostess (usually not a team that works together), and you still pay for provisions and extras such as water sports.
Where to go on a bareboat charter with a skipper?
You can charter in most bareboat charter destinations with an added skipper. In some destinations, such as Florida, you are required to contract directly with the captain, but they can provide a list of recommendations for you. These are my favorite destinations to charter.
Why you might like a bareboat charter with skipper option?
You don’t mind handling the cooking/cleaning, but you don’t yet have the experience to sail
It’s a good way to see if bareboat charter trips are for you and the crew – test those waters out
If you have some sailing experience, you’ll get to practice hands-on with a professional captain
By-the-cabin charters: a more affordable way to sail
By the cabin yacht charters are a great option for those who want to experience the luxury of a fully crewed charter, but don’t have the budget for a private yacht.
With this type of yacht charter, you’ll book a cabin on a larger vessel, which will be shared with other guests (some of which you might not know). You’ll still have access to a skipper/hostess and all the amenities of a private yacht but at a fraction of the cost.
This is also a good option if it’s just the two of you and you’d like to be social and meet some new travelers during your trip.
Where to go on a by-the-cabin charter?
Your options here are probably the most limited of all four types of yacht charters. You also have to be flexible on your travel dates, as these trips are scheduled well in advance.
I’ve found your best options for by-the-cabin charter charters are first, the BVIs, and second the Exuma, Bahamas.
Why you might like a by-the-cabin charter?
Enjoy the luxury and comfort of a fully crewed yacht, at a fraction of the cost of a private charter
Meet new people and make new friends, as you share the vessel with other like-minded travelers
Benefit from the expertise and local knowledge of a professional crew
That’s it! Whether you prefer the all-inclusive crewed yacht charter or the freedom to explore on your own bareboat charter, there a type of yacht charter for everyone. If you have any questions about going on a sailing trip, please reach out by web chat, phone, or email!