Being at the sea gives you a unique sense of freedom, a luxury to wake up in a different place every day, an opportunity to explore hidden bays and coves, and a whole different perspective of the land surrounding you. Some places are just completely different when you are entering their port and admiring them for the sea. We can all agree that spending your holiday on a yacht is a special and unique experience, different from any type of accommodation on land. Being on a yacht is a completely different social environment than anywhere else and carries with it its own set of rules. Whether it is your first time on a yacht, you are a yacht expert, or a guest aboard someone else’s yacht there are some unwritten rules you should respect when onboard and they are mainly the same despite some differences between different types of vessels.
You should always take your shoes off before boarding the yacht unless the captain or the yacht owner says otherwise. The crew will provide a basket either at the end of the gangway or outside the salon door for you to deposit shoes. If shoes are allowed on deck, keep in mind that they should be soft-soled “boat shoes”.
As a rule, most yachts do not allow smoking inside the cabins and throughout the interior. However, most yachts do designate a smoking area on an outside deck in case guests fancy an after-dinner cigar. It is always recommended to inform your charter broker from the onset if you or someone on board is a smoker so that your broker will inform the crew and you will be briefed on the designated smoking areas.
If the vessel you are chartering allows pets, make sure you have everything required to bring your pet aboard. If you wish to travel with your pet, please make sure that you have advised your charter broker so that they can find you a pet-friendly yacht.
Cabins on a yacht are beautifully designed and equipped for you and your comfort, but unfortunately not for storage. Although a lot of new-built yachts bear that in mind now when designing a vessel, storage is always a precious commodity. We discourage bringing hard-shell luggage aboard as it ends up taking valuable space. Alternatively, you can bring soft luggage that can be easily folded up.
Most yachts have an amazing selection of water toys, and there are usually certain times set aside for enjoying them. The crew will instruct you on how best to use them. Some of the yacht’s water toys are easy to use but when using a jet ski or a sea bob you should use them with caution, always wear your life jacket and listen to the crew members. Also, in many areas, you will need to have a proper license to use a jet ski and other motor-operated water toys, so keep this in mind when you are finalizing your itinerary with your charter broker. It is also important not to enter the yacht with a wet swimsuit. Always dry off carefully and leave the swimming towel outside, where it will be collected by a member of the crew.
The crew members have your comfort and well-being at heart. They strive to offer you outstanding service throughout your cruise. If there is a crew member that you believe went above and beyond, be sure to let your captain know. It is a common practice to reward the crew for their effort at the end of your trip. Generally, 15% of the charter fee is okay, but this is entirely up to you. You can put your tip in an envelope and hand it to the captain, who will distribute it evenly among the crew.
It is important to remember that the captain and crew are there for two main reasons: to make your time onboard safe and to ensure your yacht charter runs as smoothly as possible. The crew understands the yacht’s limits and your safety is always a top priority. Besides your safety, the captain and the crew want you to feel at home and to make sure you have a pleasurable experience. However, that doesn't mean that you should be disrespectful in any way. You should treat the crew as if they are your employees who work hard to your benefit. You should also treat the yacht itself as your home during your time onboard, keeping things orderly as best you can.
For a term (multi-day) charter, you will work with your broker and captain to decide on a specific itinerary well before your charter so that the captain and crew can make all the necessary arrangements and reservations. The earlier you plan, the better your chances at securing reservations to all your top choices. Keep in mind that once onboard, you may have to make slight adjustments to your itinerary, especially for weather reasons.
Safety is the main responsibility of the captain and crew, and they take it very seriously. You will have a safety briefing about life jackets and life rafts, so ensure you understand the given information. This briefing is both maritime law and an insurance requirement
POLLUTION OF THE SEA
Be careful not to harm marine life. Do not throw cigarette butts or garbage overboard. Whenever possible, use natural, organic, and/or eco-friendly detergents, shampoos, soaps, and sunscreens that are not harmful. Make sure to keep your towels hanged if using them multiple times. On most yachts, they will be taken to laundry only if you leave them on the floor.
The preference sheet is a very practical and important document. It helps to make your trip as pleasant as possible by mentioning your preferences in terms of food, sleeping arrangements, and any other special requirements. This sheet will be sent to you by your broker. Remember to fill it out at least 3 weeks before boarding and to cover all charter parties. Additionally, if you are celebrating something special such as a birthday or an anniversary, do let the crew know as they will make sure to add that final touch to really make it really special.
Entertaining on board a superyacht is certainly great fun but make sure to plan such events in advance. The simple reason behind it that this will allow the crew to order any extra provisions, and the chef will be very well-prepared to cater to you and your guests. Also, a very important note on this subject is that all commercial vessels are registered for a certain number of passengers during a paid yacht charter. Always double-check the local laws with your charter broker before finalizing your charter because the vessel is not allowed to leave the port if having extra passengers. That means that you can invite extra guests when in port or anchor but not when underway.
Another aspect of the crew’s duties is making sure that the yacht is always in impeccable shape. This may include anything from making the beds and cleaning up after meals to preparing the food, performing maintenance on the water toys, or even tending to the yacht itself. Good communication on your schedule allows the crew to organize themselves. Housekeeping normally takes place in the morning. Head up to the sunbed on your yacht’s bow or aft deck and take in some morning sun, relax in the jacuzzi, or just catch up on your reading while your crew makes up your cabins or prepares the yacht for the journey. If the yacht is offering a laundry service, the laundry will usually be taken out of your cabin in the morning and returned the same day. Dry cleaning is also something that cannot be accommodated unless being able to arrange something on land.
Do not invade the crew’s quarters without a permit as this is their private space where they sleep and stow their personal belongings. Also, on most yachts, the galley (kitchen) is considered a commercial workspace. It is polite to ask the chef if you may enter the galley as they will usually be working throughout the day. If you are hungry or simply craving a snack, you can always let someone from the crew know, and they will be happy to bring you something straight away.
While many yachts encourage charter clients to bring children of all ages and often stock a wide variety of water toys, games, and videos just for youngsters, the crew members are not babysitters. Despite the fact they like children they have to meet their duties first and then if there is maybe time they can have fun with kids but if you bring small children, plan to care for them yourself or bring a nanny. Your charter broker can also inform you about this kind of service.
All illegal or illicit activities are subject to zero tolerance on board. Any breaches of previously agreed upon charter conditions will result in the trip ending and returning to the nearest base. Never drink more than you can handle, accidents can happen on board. Don’t forget you are at the sea.
THE LAST AND MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL ABOVE…
Don’t forget the main reason why you are there, and that is to have fun, relax and enjoy your time. Don’t get caught up thinking about too many rules, the crew is always there to give you a friendly reminder.