1: What information do I need to send through in order to get the best result from my enquiry?
First of all, let us know where you would like to cruise! If you are as yet unsure, please ask us for a suggestion based on your interests, your available dates, your past experiences aboard or your group's size and composition.
If you are able to offer a choice of ports for your "pick-up" (where to board) and "drop-off" (where to disembark) it is helpful, but this is not always necessary.
Let us know the size of your group, as well as how many couples and how many singles will be traveling. Include the dates that are preferable for your trip, and note that we always like to know how flexible your dates are, and whether you prefer to sail, motor or do a bit of both. If you have a price range in mind, then please let us know your what you intend to spend, all up, so that we can compile a short list of possibilities. Finally, letting us know what style of accommodation your party requires is always a good idea — especially as there are those would only ever consider a super-luxurious style of yacht with a stewardess who doubles as a masseuse and a small army of crew schooled in the art of silver service.
2: How does the booking procedure work?
It's time to make a choice based on what is available for your dates and for the itinerary you require. Please let us know of your decision to charter, indicating which yacht you've chosen. Written confirmation will be sent, along with a contract, which will require the Lead Charterer’s name and address.
You will receive a Yacht Charter Agreement, with additional instructions as to how to sign and to which bank account a deposit is to be sent. Contact Yachts uses standard industry contracts, such as the MYBA Charter Agreement, which clearly set out everyone’s duties and responsibilities. This contact will require your signature, the signature of the owner and the signature of the yacht’s agent. Contracts are initially forwarded to all parties via pdf, and then hard copies are forwarded to you via airmail for your signature and return. When all parties have signed the contract, and a downpayment or deposit has been made, the contract becomes binding.
Depending on how far in advance you book, you will be required to make a downpayment of between 25% and 50% in order to secure the charter. A 25% deposit is paid if the contract is signed more than 6 months prior to boarding, and a 50% deposit is paid if the contract is signed within 6 months of the boarding date. This is the most important step in the booking procedure as once you have paid, your dates become locked in … and no other party can attempt to charter the yacht for the same dates.
Supplying the yacht's agency with your full names and passport details will expedite the paper work when the time comes. The agency will also require details as to your food and beverage preferences, dietary requirements, allergy information and applicable conditions which may or may not require attention during the course of the charter. For purposes of co-ordination, it will be necessary to have all arrival and departure information for the party. If transfers or land tours are required to transport the group from A to B, or to make the most of a two-day window of time ahead of the cruise, then the yacht’s agency can assist in arranging these.
Lastly, it is important that you keep in touch with ourselves, the yacht's agents, as we are responsible for all liason work. In the weeks and months leading up to your charter, we will be working to ensure that the necessary paperwork is in order! Having completed contracts, we'll soon ask for your assistance in compiling lists of food and beverage preferences for the members of your party, and lists of all details relevant to your cruise, including arrival times, special arrangements for celebrations and any other requirements such as land tours, flights and accommodation. It's important that we keep abreast of any changes or alterations as they occur.
3: Is my money safe ? Who holds my money, and where?
Your money is held in a secure 'escrow' account, under an escrow agreement. Once you have signed the charter contract, the deposit funds are forwarded to an escrow account with UBS in Switzerland, to be held there on your behalf. The funds are released to the yacht’s owner upon the commencement of the charter. To read more about an escrow agreement, please take a look at the following definition from Business Dictionary and Escrow.
4: What is the APA?
An APA is also known as an Advance Provisioning Allowance, and this is generally 30% of the total charter fee — allocated to the yacht ahead of the charter for the purpose of provisioning the yacht with the exact items required for the preparation of your meals and snacks during your charter. Should the 30% APA exceed the amount required to provision the yacht prior to the charter, and procure any additional items during the course of the charter, the excess amount is always refunded to the charterer at the end of their charter. Of course, the opposite may also apply, where an additional amount of APA is requested so as to cover expenses.
5: What is the minimum period for which I can charter a yacht?
It is common for charterers to want to spend a week on their yacht exploring, but of course, this can be as many as 4 weeks - or as short as just a few days — depending on the time of year. Kindly note that you are more likely to be able to successfully negotiate a 3 or 4-day charter during the quieter times during the season, as most yachts will have very little opportunity to accept them during the height of the summer season.
6: What is the appropriate amount of gratuity to gift to the crew?
10 - 15% is the general guide we use — and we always remind our clients that tipping is discretionary.
7: What does “Delivery Fee" mean? Why do I have to pay a delivery fee?
A delivery fee is an amount equivalent to the cost involved in getting a yacht from its home port to the location where you intend to board. If the yacht is finishing a charter in a port which is a distance from the port where you intend to board, there may or may not be a delivery fee to pay. Much depends on the distance and time involved in positioning the yacht. Generally speaking, a delivery fee for a distance of up to 12 hours' cruising from the yacht's location is likely to be a "fuel-only charge". Thereafter, there may be some variations as to the charge, especially as there really is no standard delivery fee which applies -- it is all relative to the yacht, how much fuel it burns and how many crew members are on board.
8: Does my cruise have to follow a set itinerary?
Not at all. There is no need for you to follow any set itinerary, unless time is very short and you must plan everything down to the minute.
Where time is not an issue, there is a fair amount of flexibility built into any charter, although cruise logistics require that you allow sufficient time to get from your "pick-up port" to your "drop-off port." Experience has taught that it is much better to choose a less ambitious style of itinerary, and actually slow down and see the coastline, rather than rush to see all of the sites, and miss that leisurely pace, where you are able to start relaxing and taking in your surroundings just a little better.
You captain is always the best person to approach for a run-down of the day ahead. He is keeping an eye on weather around the clock, and will give an acurate estimate of cruising time - or sailing time as the case may be -- which will enable your cruise itinerary to flow in the manner you require.
9: What choices of meals and drinks are available to us?
Local produce is always fresh and delicious: vegetables are full-flavoured and summer-fruits are ripe, juicy and sweet. The food on board can be a variety of flavours from your home country, or from the local area. It is up to you completely! If you would like fish every day for lunch and seafood every night for dinner, this can be arranged!
Part and parcel of the trip preparation is your supplying details of your food and beverage preferences. Much of what is served on board is based on your individual tastes and dietary requirements -- from vegetarian menus through to meals for children and those with allergies, all is prepared well in advance.
10: What is a "meal supplement”?
A meal supplement is a nominal fee that covers the cost of either breakfast and lunch — or, breakfast, lunch and dinner on board, as the case may be. What "meal supplement" you require depends on your day-to-day requirements.
The cost of meal supplements is given in a "per person, per day” format, with breakfast and lunch being referred to as “half board” and breakfast, lunch and dinner being referred to as "full board".
The cost of half board and full board varies from yacht to yacht, but as a guideline, you can expect to pay around €35 per person, per day for half board and €60 per person, per day for full board.
11: Can we smoke on board?
There are certain yachts that don't allow smoking on board. However, most of them won't be against it, if you smoke cigarettes and cigars on the deck with open space. In most cases there are signs on board each charter yacht that state where you're allowed to smoke.
12: Is scuba diving allowed?
Depending on where you travel, you may require a local permit and the services of a licensed dive guide in order to go diving. Rendezvous diving - with a fully-equipped yacht and dive crew -- is a good option where your yacht does not carry scuba diving gear. Rendezvous dives also mean that you are diving in the company of a means that licensed dive guide who will show you all the best sights in the area.
13: How long can we cruise each day?
The ideal amount of cruising per day is between 3 and 4 hours. Some days may require more cruising, and some days less cruising... and as your contract will stipulate how much daily motoring is included in the price, the entire week's motoring will be factored into the final calculation. The beauty of sailing means that you will not incur fuel costs for the time you are under sail!
If you are hiring a yacht and the contract for that yacht is based on Western Mediterranean Terms, do note that you will be required to cover the costs of all fuel - and this amount will be included in the APA (see note above: "Advance Provisioning Allowance").