Boat Charter Costs and Ensuring Best Value
Your charter with friends or family is guaranteed to leave you with fond memories of a wonderful holiday experience. Planning your itinerary is half the fun, and what you do before leaving home can be key to a successful adventure. There is much to consider as you set out to realise your dream of a sailing vacation in faraway places. Here is some guidance on how to get best value for your money and your valuable leisure time.
What you pay to charter a yacht depends on many variables, including:
- Size, type and age of boat
- Time of year you plan to sail
- Your chosen sailing destination
- Early booking and/or last-minute discounts
- Long-term charter discounts
- Promotional discounts in advance of season
- Discounts during season for fleets with surplus capacity
- Repeat client discounts
- Cancellation fees
- Exchange rates
- Marketing strategy of the charter operator in a particular destination at a particular time
- Volume of business Sail Connections places with charter operator
As well as the charter itself, you also need to consider:
- Cost of travel to your destination
- Living expenses while cruising
- Mooring fees, not included in your charter
Getting all the charter boat information you need
There are a number of charter boat website databases with real-time quoting systems that indicate what you might pay for a boat charter in the destination you are looking at. But be aware, these are subscriber-based listings and only represent charter operators who pay to use the services concerned. When it comes to planning a charter boat sailing holiday, there are many more options than what you will find on-line.
With all the possible discounts and other variables, let us investigate further for you. At Sail Connections we have access to just about every boat available for bareboat and skippered charter in the classes we promote. Our industry networks enable us to present all the choices of boat you could wish for, in the widest range of destinations on the best terms possible for the dates you are considering.
Our service is a direct and personal one. We give top value by doing our job and tailoring our service to your needs - with the best boats in the best places to sail.
Boat type, size and age
First-up in planning your charter holiday - think about the amount of space and accommodation required for you and your crew. Space, layout and privacy levels all affect price, and certainly have a bearing on how much you will enjoy your charter experience.
Catamarans offer the larger platform. The cockpit and main saloon are on the same level, with more private cabins and conveniently-located ensuites. For any given living area on a catamaran you need to charter a considerably longer monohull yacht. The way it works out you pay more for a catamaran on a per foot of length basis, but pay less by volume. The information you convey to us on your crew and desired comfort levels is key to determining the boat(s) we should short-list and recommend, so you get maximum value from your budget.
As for boat year, newer craft generally book out first, and there are obvious reasons for this. Production yachts are not as expensive as they once were, and that helps keep charter costs down. The cost of chartering a new boat is not necessarily more than that of an older example of the same design. There is an anomaly in the market whereby new boats in some fleets are cheaper to charter than comparable older boats in other fleets. This happens when charter operators have fixed contracts on their older boats, which forces them to charge a premium for new boats even where the capital cost is lower.
Destination and season
Naturally, charter companies base their prices on demand, which is normally highest in peak holiday periods. An important point to note however is that traditional holiday periods do not necessarily coincide with the best times to sail. In shoulder seasons the conditions can be just as favourable, with some great deals saving you money. The bays are less crowded too of course, all adding up to a more enjoyable holiday.
Local competition and the length of season can result in the charter price of comparable boats varying significantly by destination. In the Caribbean for instance, boats can be chartered in the low season at very attractive prices because the conditions allow sailing year-round. Invariably however, when the high season arrives in the Caribbean prices increase in accordance with demand in this highly desirable location.
In the Eastern Mediterranean the season is just six months long, making llist prices there generally higher, but subject to attractive discounts when operators find they have surplus capacity.
In the Pacific, Tahiti became highly competitive when a new operator entered the market. And while there remains a shortage of smaller monohull charter boats in Tahitian waters, this destination has become good value for catamaran charter due to greater capacity.
There have also been issues in the Pacific around flight access. Accommodation availability has at times exceeded the local airlines' capacity to fly people to the outer islands. In response, operators have encouraged early bookings with attractive advance discounts, enabling clients to secure seats on available flights.
South-east Asia is a relatively new sailing territory and charter prices tend to middle-of-the-road. But with travel to this destination and costs of living considerably cheaper than elsewhere, the overall cost of a South-east Asian charter can be relatively low, especially if you sail in the low season, which many do.
The cost of chartering a boat in the Indian Ocean is all about getting there. If you live in Europe, South Africa or Perth you are fortunate in having these pristine areas within easy reach. For the same reason of distance to travel, New Zealand and Australia are attractively priced if you live on that side of the world.
Charter boat price discounts
There is a wide range of discounts on offer for all sorts of different reasons. If one's available, you want to be able to take advantage of it. Discounts we stay informed about to ensure you benefit include:
Early booking discounts: Getting a discount for booking your charter yacht early depends on the operator and the destination - up to 15% in the Mediterranean. Charter operators like to fill their books very early, so they can assess demand and organise all the necessary resources accordingly. A potential early-booking discount provides a big incentive to plan your holiday well in advance, especially given that you want to be on the best boat possible for the money and newer boats book out first. To get the best boat at the best price with the best operator, the most valuable piece of advice we can give is - book early! For bookings committed well in advance, we can often arrange favourable cancellation terms.
Long-term discounts: Again these vary between operator companies. As a general rule a two-week charter attracts an extra 5%, a three-week charter 10%. Bookings of more than three weeks are open to negotiation.
Last-minute discounts: These are published monthly, and we keep a file on surplus short-term charter capacity. If you find yourself in an exotic part of the world and stuck on the beach for a little too long, you may be surprised at what we have available. Charter operators do not want their valuable assets tied up idle and costing marina fees!
Promotional discounts in advance of season: As charter companies like to see their boats booked well in advance, they often issue promotional discounts for bookings made before a given date. We keep ourselves continually informed of current specials, and experience enables us to often anticipate when deals will be released. That can create some real savings, which we pass on to you.
Promotional discounts during season: Once the season is underway, operators who find themselves with surplus capacity are bound to make a special offer. Even if a deal is not publicised, we know who is short on bookings and has boats not booked at any given time. And we are not backward in asking for a discount on your behalf.
Repeat-client discounts: At Sail Connections we maintain a comprehensive database of operators. If you are an existing client we know who you have previously sailed with. If they are in the destination you are considering this time, we will look at their offerings first. If they have a suitable boats in their fleet and there's a repeat-client discount on the cards, we will secure it for you. Some operators have a practice of building in extra margin to accommodate their discounts, and occasionally we find a boat with loyalty discount attached that is in fact more expensive. That is an old trick and we are onto it. We provide comparisons so you are aware of all the options.
Discount on a cancellation: Occasionally a cancellation releases a good boat that the operator is keen to re-book quickly, creating the opportunity for an attractive discount.
Other factors in your charter boat price
Exchange rate: Charter company rate sheets are generally fixed annually, and currency movements can change the price you pay in your home currency. We are often able to quote in multiple currencies to your advantage. Sometimes a quote in a foreign currency can be lower than in the sovereign currency of the charter operator.
Operator marketing strategy in a particular destination: Prevailing business dynamics in a particular market can at times artificially lower prices. We keep ourselves informed of such issues. We will work proactively to book boats being offered at a lower price, provided we consider the operator concerned to be professional in all respects. A lower charter price should never be at the cost of poor service.
Volume of trade Sail Connections places with charter operator: We have been arranging charters worldwide for over 25 years now, and do a considerable number of bookings per year. Naturally we have developed strong relationships with our preferred charter operators. That loyalty works all ways, helping our competitiveness in quoting on their boats and giving you the best deal possible.
Costs of living while cruising: The price of your bareboat or skippered charter is only part of the overall holiday cost. The big cost benefit of chartering is that your boat is your hotel and transport rolled into one. More than that, on your charter boat you can live like a local and self cater. And there are fewer opportunities to spend money while on a boat!
The cost of a sailing vacation in some destinations, eg. South-east Asia, is lower due to cheaper costs of living, low or no marina fees, and accessibility to major hubs for discount airfares. In the Mediterranean, as a rule of thumb the further east you go the cheaper the cost of living and marina fees. In the Caribbean, use of the US dollar is attractive to some, but as a general rule you will spend more money ashore. In the Pacific the cost of being a tourist can be expensive, but local produce bought at the markets and the absence of marina fees help keep the overall cost of a charter holiday low.
At Sail Connections we have a good understanding of the onshore costs you can expect in your chosen destination. We are pleased to discuss this aspect of your travels at any point in the planning stages of your charter holiday.
Talk to us for the real sailboat holiday deal
We could list a range of indicative prices in popular destinations. But there are so many variables that we feel a static price schedule with all the disclaimers needed is just not that helpful. The best way to find out about charter costs? Send us an enquiry and let's start a conversation: we normally respond within 24 hours of hearing from you.
Contact us for a personalised proposal that includes current prices for your chosen travel dates and destination. It costs no more to book your charter holiday through Sail Connections, sometimes less because of the charter market knowledge we have.
We are at your service. Let's talk about your charter boat plans, for a sailing holiday that is more fun and more affordable!