Char­ter by the Num­bers

The ad­ver­tised rate is usu­ally a base­line. an­swer­ing th­ese 6 ques­tions will help you cal­cu­late the ac­tual cost of a char­ter va­ca­tion.

Yachts International - - Private Yacht Vacations - By KIm KavIn

$ $A base rate is the weekly cost for the yacht and crew—noth­ing else. Plan to add 25 per­cent to 35 per­cent for food, drinks, fuel, dock­age, taxes and other ex­tras.

An in­clu­sive rate is the weekly cost for the yacht, crew, food, ship’s bar, fuel, dock­age, cruis­ing per­mits and taxes. Crew gra­tu­ity is still ex­tra.

Char­ter yachts with in­clu­sive rates are most of­ten found in des­ti­na­tions such as the Bri­tish Vir­gin Is­lands, where itin­er­ar­ies are pre­dictable. It’s rare to find in­clu­siver­ate char­ters in the Mediter­ranean, South Pa­cific or be­yond, where itin­er­ar­ies can be far more per­son­al­ized and ex­pan­sive. Rates typ­i­cally change with the sea­sons, by about 10 per­cent to 20 per­cent. High sea­son means high-de­mand cruis­ing dates, such as Christ­mas and New Year’s in the Caribbean and the months of July and Au­gust in the Mediter­ranean. Dur­ing the Christ­mas hol­i­days, in ad­di­tion to pay­ing a high-sea­son rate, you may be re­quired to book for 10 to 14 days. Low sea­son means lower-de­mand cruis­ing dates, such as Fe­bru­ary in the Caribbean and Septem­ber in the Mediter­ranean. Low sea­son is when you’ll find the best deals on most char­ter yachts.

Event char­ters, such as those at the Monaco Grand Prix or Cannes Film Fes­ti­val, of­ten have a sur­charge in ad­di­tion to high-sea­son rates. That sur­charge can in­clude ev­ery­thing from an ex­tra de­posit against dam­age to a re­quire­ment that you rent tents, pro­tec­tive car­pet­ing or other ne­ces­si­ties for large cock­tail par­ties aboard at the dock. Most of­ten, yacht char­ter pay­ments are made in stages. There’s a down pay­ment and a bal­ance due date, plus, per­haps, an­other date when the 25 per­cent to 35 per­cent pay­ment is sched­uled for ex­tras like food, fuel and dock­age. That ex­tra pay­ment is called an APA, or ad­vance pro­vi­sion­ing al­lowance. The crew uses the money to visit the gro­cery store, wine store and any­where else needed to stock the yacht ex­actly the way you want it.

The crew knows what you want on board be­cause your bro­ker helps you fill out a pro­vi­sion­ing form. It will ask you about ev­ery­thing from your fa­vorite break­fast bev­er­age to your wish list for chef ’s spe­cialty snacks. The MYBA In­ter­na­tional guide­lines sug­gest a gra­tu­ity range of 5 per­cent to 15 per­cent of the yacht’s weekly rate, de­pend­ing on the ser­vice you re­ceive. Some char­ter guests tip 20 per­cent for out­stand­ing crew per­for­mance. The eas­i­est way to leave the crew gra­tu­ity is to have it in your bank ac­count be­fore your char­ter be­gins. If you are happy with the ser­vice, then you can in­struct your char­ter bro­ker to re­lease what­ever per­cent­age of the funds you deem fit. You’ll have no need to carry cash, and the wire trans­fer can hap­pen the minute you leave the yacht. The char­ter bro­ker works for you, but the yacht owner pays her com­mis­sion as thanks for the busi­ness. The bro­ker com­mis­sion should not cost you a sin­gle cent out of pocket.

For Ben Di­neen, a day at the mar­ket is the stuff of wild-eyed fas­ci­na­tion. I re­call him telling me, when I met him in 2010, how he’d left his Ir­ish home­land to work on 95-foot (29-me­ter) Sun­seeker Molly Malone— and how the yacht wasn’t ul­ti­mately what im­pressed him about the char­ter life­style.

“More than the boat,” he said, “I re­mem­ber the first time I walked into the mar­ket in An­tibes. I’d never seen pro­duce like that in my life. I wanted to cook real food, and I wanted peo­ple to en­joy real food. I wanted to serve toma­toes that have never once been re­frig­er­ated.”

Di­neen has ex­pe­ri­enced a lot in the years since we had that con­ver­sa­tion, and his en­thu­si­asm is, if any­thing, stronger. In 2011, he took over the Ex­uma Palms Ho­tel in the Ba­hamas, bring­ing it back to life. Then he trav­eled to Bangkok, Thai­land, for train­ing at the famed Blue Ele­phant restau­rant.

“I worked one-on-one with the chef, and we went to the mar­ket there to­gether,” he said. “It was a lot of in­gre­di­ents I’ve never seen be­fore. It was the coolest thing ever. Ev­ery­thing I’d ever cooked be­fore, that I’d thought was good, I’d been do­ing to­tally wrong.”

As he re­counted this story in late 2015, he had the same child­like en­ergy he’d shown five years ear­lier. His pas­sion was still ev­i­dent for find­ing and pre­par­ing the best foods, which he’s now serv­ing in award-win­ning style to char­ter guests aboard 142-foot (43.2-me­ter) Palmer John­son Lady J. The same week we re­con­nected, he earned first prize in the An­tigua Char­ter Yacht Show culi­nary com­pe­ti­tion—and he couldn’t wait to see what he might find in the mar­kets come morn­ing.

“I think you can get re­ally stale as a chef,” he said. “Some chefs get com­pla­cent. Here, with char­ter, you have to read your guests. It’s ex­cit­ing.”

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