Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
Booking a yacht charter can be difficult. Even those of us who have chartered many times in the past won’t be fully familiar with the ins and outs of the industry. Here we’ve pooled the answers to some frequently asked questions to assist. Please click the headings below to jump to their corresponding questions and answers:
Yacht Charter Types
- What is a bareboat Charter?
- What qualifications do I need to skipper a yacht?
- What is a skippered charter?
- What is a crewed charter?
- Can I order provisions in advance of my Bareboat holiday?
- Can I specify the food and drink to be served on-board a crewed yacht?
- What is an APA?
Securing a Yacht Charter
- Whats included in the ‘Charter rate’?
- Whats does the payment structure look like?
- What do I need to do to secure my chosen yacht?
- How can I pay for a charter I reserve?
- Is VAT included in the charter pricing?
- What kind of quality control do you do on the yachts offered?
- What happens if I need to cancel my booking?
- Am I covered by insurance?
- What is the minimum length for a charter?
- Do all yachts accept children onboard?
- Why are only 12 people allowed on most yachts?
- Do I need to tip the crew? How much?
- Can I use all of the equipment on-board a charter yacht?
Yacht Charter Types
What is a bareboat Charter?
Bareboat charters are for those looking to charter a yacht independent of any crew. The charter operator provides a yacht with all the on-board amenities you’re expecting. They check you in and make sure you’re comfortable with how the yacht operates and then you take it from there! You’ll be fully responsible for the yacht while its in your care and have the freedom to decide exactly what you want to do for each day of the charter. You’ll need to be qualified and have the right certification relative to the country you’re in. (Check this with us if you’re unsure!) Don’t worry you’ll never be entirely without support. You’ll always have a point of contact with the operator. If you need advice on where to go or what the weather is up-to there's always someone to call. Likewise if something breaks and needs fixing the operator can facilitate an engineer to come and handle that repair.
What qualifications do I need to skipper a yacht?
This is dependent on the country you are chartering in, as it differs from place to place. Generally speaking, if you are chartering a bare-boat you will need at least a day skipper/ICC or ASA 104 or equivalent. If you have the correct certification in your own country then normally its easy enough to fill out an ICC application, and send it in through your licensing body (the RYA for instance) to receive the often necessary ICC. If you’re a member of a yacht club, they also should be able to help you with courses and licensing. If in doubt always check with us - we will review all of your documentation and qualifications prior to the charter to make sure that you’re all set. If you don’t qualify to charter bare-boat, we highly recommend you still charter but hire a skipper. Most skippers are excellent and really add to the trip, they remove any stress from the equation.
What is a skippered charter?
Take on a skipper as preferred! Almost all operators have a pool of professional skippers ready to come and join their customers on a charter. The skipper will not only help you sail the yacht but act as a local tour guide. They’ll recommend restaurants, bay stops and assist you with tailoring the holiday to your exact needs. A good skipper will make your holiday extra special. Skipper fees vary depending on location and the type of yacht you’ve opted to charter. Some larger yachts will need skippers with more experience than others. You’ll usually be required to provide food for your skipper. The extent of this will vary depending on the individual, sometimes they’ll ask for a small amount to cover their meal if you’re in town for an evening but many won’t. Feel free to invite your skipper when eating ashore but its by no means a requirement! The skipper will assume responsibility for any damages sustained while actively sailing the vessel. You’ll still be liable for any damage that occurs on the charter as a result of your direct involvement, but this is usually limited to interior spaces or loss of water-sports equipment. Many operators will reduce your security deposit if you’re taking on one of their skippers.
What is a crewed charter?
Take on both skipper and host for a fully catered experience. In addition to the skipper described above you’ll have a host to prepare meals, keep the yacht in good order and assist the skipper with sailing and mooring the boat. With a host on-board you won’t have to worry about shopping and meal prep, giving every member of your group the freedom to relax and enjoy themselves. The exact terms for meal provision vary from company to company. At Solis our hosts will mostly offer a half-board service - giving you the choice between either a lunch or dinner on-board each day. We’ve found that this works well for groups who would like to go ashore and enjoy the local restaurants at regular intervals. If you’d prefer three meals on-board each day then many operators allow for the upgrade to a ‘chef.’ Taking on a chef will be more expensive but you’ll have the option to eat entirely on-board if desired. Pricing for hosts/ chefs will vary from company to company. Its important to remember that your payment for a host won’t usually include the cost of provisioning. You’ll be provided with a preference form where you can detail your dietary preferences & allergies. The host will then shop for suitable provisions on your behalf but you’ll be required to cover the cost of those purchases separately.
Can I order provisions in advance of my Bareboat holiday?
Yes, in most circumstances you’ll be able to place a provision order ahead of your arrival and subsequent check-in. The exact means will vary from company to company and in most cases you’ll need to pay a small fee for this service. Its something well worth doing, it saves you a lot of time and effort at the start of your trip.
Can I specify the food and drink to be served on-board a crewed yacht?
Assuming you’ve booked a crewed charter we will ask you to complete a detailed questionnaire describing the preferences and special needs of all the members of your party. We usually send this over a month ahead of the charter start and ask that you return the completed document to us at least one week before the charter start. The preference form will allow you to detail dietary or medical requirements, details of any allergies, and your sporting or entertainment requests. We’ll shared the completed form with your crew ahead of your arrival thereby making sure that everything is in place for a bespoke trip!
What is an APA?
This is the Advance Provisioning Allowance. The APA is an amount that you pay upfront that is then used by your crew to cover the cost of key provisioning. The APA will be used to cover the cost of: fuel, food, drinks, port fees, transfers and anything else you might require while on-board. Normally a percentage will be added on to the base charter fee. For sailing yachts you can expect 20 to 25% to be added on. You will generally pay the APA along with your final charter payment - usually a month before the charter start. The Crew are obligated to keep all receipts and balance the account for you, and you can check the expenditure at any time during the charter. At the end of the charter, the Captain will give you a full account of expenditures, and any amounts not used will be refunded to you. There are no mark-ups on the APA - all of the funds go directly to buying fuel, food, etc. The APA is a simple and efficient way of getting the boat provisioned properly, with minimal hassle on your part.
Securing a Charter
What’s included in the ‘Charter Rate’?
Most charter rates we provide are based on the same terms. The yacht will be provided to the charterer in full commission, with all necessary equipment and properly insured for charter. Operating expenses are usually the responsibility of the charterer and can include: fuel, local taxes, harbour fees, any necessary customs clearance fees, water, electricity as well as the cost of any provisions consumed. Occasionally, a yacht may offer a variation on the standard terms. Our agents will always provide the full details of any charter terms that vary from the norm when presenting a charter opportunity.
What does the payment structure look like?
We will always provide a base charter rate with any proposed charter on top of which you’ll usually have a few obligatory extras to consider. These usually include: Comfort packs & cleaning fees, Any crew fees associated with the charter, Local tourist taxes & Refunded security Deposits. Most of the time you’ll only need to pay the charter rate ahead of the holiday and obligatory extras will be taken at check-in. Though crew fees are occasionally an exception to this rule! The charter rate is usually separated into instalments. The size of which will vary from one operator to the next but a 50:50 split is most common. The customer paying 50% at the time of reservation and then the remaining 50% coming due a month ahead of the charter start.
What do I need to do to secure my chosen yacht?
After a bit of time reviewing options you’ll settle on a yacht and want to proceed in securing the holiday. Let our agent know which boat you’re interested in and they’ll place an option on the charter. The option is a temporary reservation that holds the yacht for you for a short period (usually around 5 days.) Once the option is in place our agent will provide you with a contract, a copy of our terms and a copy of the operators terms (assuming that you’re not booking a charter on the Solis fleet.) Its important that you review these documents paying particular attention to things like the payment structure & cancellation terms. Provided you’re happy with the contract and terms you can sign and return these documents and our agent will reserve the charter for you. You’ll usually then have a few days to send the first payment over to our accounts. On signing the contract you’ve agreed to the charter and your yacht will be secured.
How can I pay for a charter I reserve?
The most commonly used method is bank transfer in Euro, seeing as this avoids any fees. We can also accept transfers in GBP or USD but we will apply a conversion fee that’s usually around 2%. Transfers can take a few days to enter our accounts. We will always look to inform you of our receipt as soon as we see your payment has arrived. You can also pay using a credit card via the third party payment platform ‘Stripe.’ We will need to apply a transaction charge of 2-3% in these instances. If you are making a booking with us for a charter that’s not on our own fleet then rest assured that we don’t bank your payment or sit on it for any period of time. The funds will be forwarded to your charter operator as soon as possible.
Is VAT included in the charter pricing?
Yes, VAT (Value Added Tax) is usually charged on the Charter Fee. Exact rates can vary according to the place of embarkation and the chosen itinerary. In most circumstances VAT will be included in the charter rate. If you’re booking a yacht where it isn’t our agents will make it very clear in the charter proposal and all subsequent documentation that you receive.
What kind of quality control do you do on the yachts offered?
All charter operators must adhere to local maritime laws and regulations. This is your primary protection, and in most cases, the rules are quite strict. Local authorities regularly inspect charter fleets and show a keen interest in ensuring that equipment is up to date and that all the necessary paperwork is in place. Charter is a big business in the areas we holiday and local authorities are very keen to keep safety standards at a good standard. All operators also must carry insurance by law. You have every right to see these papers prior to embarkation. Beyond this, we work only with reliable operators, who have a track record for providing quality charters. We always do our due diligence before working with any company. They must meet our high standards and provide boats that are clean and in good condition for their age. The general rule is that the newer the boat, the better the condition. This is something that every charterer will have to balance against associated costs. If you are particularly interested in getting a newer yacht then let our agents know and they can provide aligned options.
What happens if I need to cancel my booking?
If circumstances change in the run up to your charter and you need to cancel for whatever reason then the operators terms will apply. You will be provided with a copy of the operators terms when you receive the contract to reserve the yacht. We are very diligent about making the cancellation terms as obvious as possible and its important to review them before making any reservation. Generally speaking you will be charged different amounts depending on the date of cancellation. In extenuating circumstances (the exact details of which will be described in the operator terms) you can often forgo having to pay cancellation fees and re-schedule your charter for a different week, though this will always be subject to availability.
Am I covered by insurance?
We recommend that charterers take out Cancellation and Curtailment Insurance to protect their investment if unforeseen circumstances should affect their charter. Additionally, all members of the charter party should be covered by Personal Accident and Medical Insurance, and their personal effects should be insured against theft, loss or damage. Other forms of insurance, such as Charterer’s Liability may also be a good idea.
What is the minimum length for a charter?
It really depends on the location and time of year. The vast majority of the companies we work with in the Mediterranean (Greece, Croatia, Italy, Turkey, Balearic etc...) prefer to stick to week long charters usually running Sat - Sat. This is particularly true in the peak season. In shoulder months (particularly May & October) exceptions can often be negotiated. In the Caribbean things are usually more flexible, particularly if you’re on-board a crewed yacht.
Do all yachts accept children on-board?
Most yacht operators are very welcoming to children, though some are better equipped for them than others. If you have particularly young children then you might want to consider getting a catamaran instead of a mono-hull. Their greater stability makes things a bit easier! You may also want to consider making sure that Safety Netting can be installed around the guard rails to minimise the chances of any incident. Many operators will install the netting for you for a small additional charge. You should always make us aware that your party will include children from the outset. Our agents will proceed to recommend yachts well suited.
Why are only 12 people allowed on most yachts?
International Marine regulation generally states that once a vessel carries more than 12 passengers, it is considered to be a passenger ship and has to comply with the SOLAS convention (Safety of Life at Sea) set out by the IMO (International Maritime Organization). SOLAS involves adhering to a comprehensive list of safety restrictions that are expensive to implement. The costs of which are reflected in the chartering cost increase seen on yachts licensed for more than 12 passengers. For many charter operators, the additional cost of adherence simply doesn’t make economic sense.
Do I need to tip the crew? How much?
Tipping is always voluntary and you shouldn’t feel obliged to tip if you don’t want to. That said if you’ve enjoyed the charter and your crew have been professional, helpful, gracious etc.. Then a tip is a nice way to show your appreciation for their services. We usually recommend tipping 5% to 10% for charters in the Mediterranean and 10% to 15% in the Caribbean. If there are multiple crew on-board its customary to give the tip to the captain and make it clear that you would like him to allocate it between the crew for you.
Can I use all of the equipment on-board a charter yacht?
Usually yes. Bare-boats will only be supplied with equipment that you’re covered to use but pay attention to the person checking you in and ask about any restrictions on use. If you have a powerful outboard in particular and would like to use it for water-sports make sure that you’re doing so respectfully and away from swimming areas or close in to public beaches. If you injure yourself or others you’ll be the one liable. On crewed yachts it can be different. You may have equipment and outboards that only your skipper is qualified to use. Note that circumstances are a bit different when you have a skipper on-board. If you were to injure yourself or others while a skipper was present than they may assume some liability. If they say you cannot use a piece of equipment without their direct supervision then please respect their decision.