Super Yacht Charter Etiquette

A Guide to on Board Do’s and Don’ts

We have prepared a list of unwritten etiquette rules on board a superyacht that are very useful to know, regardless whether it’s your first time chartering a superyacht, or you’ve been invited on board one. Ranging from why you should walk barefoot to tipping the crew, these guidelines will help you have a pleasant stay and a good time.

Superyacht Do’s

Captain is the ultimate authority

Among all the rules regarding sailing and superyacht charter, this is one of the most important rules. Your captain has enough experience to deal with any problem appropriately, so do address your Captain should any issues occur. Pay attention to the advice you receive, whether it’s concerning the change in the sailing route due to weather conditions or safety advice to anchor elsewhere to avoid a strong wind.

Respect the crew

Treat them as you would treat valued employees. The crew has an extremely important job; each one is there to make sure your holiday exceeds all your expectations.

Pay attention at safety meetings

The captain and the crew are chiefly responsible for the safety of everyone on board, so take seriously all the rules and advice. There will be a safety briefing - required by both insurance and maritime laws - about life jackets, rafts and safety behavior in general, so make sure you understand all the information.

 Treat the yacht as your own home

Your crew wants you to feel at home, and the boat owner will value the care taken with his valuables.

 Keep the crew informed

Chartering a super yacht gives you the opportunity to entertain in style, and it’s best to plan ahead. When inviting people over, notify the captain and the chef so that the entire crew can be ready for the event, and also to avoid shortage of food or beverage. Please notify the crew in case of breakage or change of plans.

Ask about pets

Please talk to your charter broker if you intend to travel with your pet, so they can find you a pet friendly yacht. If you are bringing your pet as a guest, make sure to discuss it with the boat owner or head of the charter party. It is better to make sure you have an adequate space for your furry friend.

Follow the ‘bare-foot’ rule

Heels are not acceptable footwear as they leave scuff marks and dent the teak. Most of the yachts have the ‘bare feet’ rule and you will be given a basket either outside the salon door or at the end of the gangway to put away your shoes. If shoes are allowed on deck, wear soft-soled shoes.

Allow time for housekeeping

Provide the crew with enough time to tidy up your cabins while you’re sightseeing. If you don’t intend to leave the yacht, please try to give your crew the time to do their job while you swim and sunbathe.

Pre-assign cabins

To avoid tensions upon arrival and boarding, the main charterer should inform you about cabin allocation for all guests in advance.

Bring suitable luggage

Considering storage is always a big issue, try to pack light, avoid hard-sided luggage instead of which try to pack in soft, foldable bags that are easier to stow.

Be prepared to tip

As in any hospitality industry, crew gratuity is customary, but it is entirely up to you. It is a common practice to reward the crew for their effort, job well done and the tip is based on the level of satisfaction of the whole charter experience. Brokers suggest tipping between five and 20 percent of the charter rate. You can place your tip in an envelope and hand it to the captain, who will distribute it evenly among the crew.

Manage the cost responsibly

Charter holiday is considered among the most luxurious ones and with that in mind, it costs accordingly. Consider every cost. The cost of the crew will be included, and when it comes to fuel, your charter broker will add a charge of around 25 percent – known as the Advance Provisioning Allowance, or APA – which covers covers the cost of fuel, food, wines and liquors, dockage, communications, etc. Any APA not used will be returned to you at the end of the charter as you leave. On the other hand, if expenses exceed the APA (maybe excessive cruising so high fuel costs, requests of rare liquors, etc.) you will be expected to reimburse the yacht as you leave the charter.


Superyacht Don'ts

Don’t expect the crew to be your childcare

Please be aware of the fact that crew members are not babysitters. While it’s encouraged to bring children of all ages on board, plan to take care of them yourself or consider bringing a nanny (often accommodated in a spare cabin).

Don’t do anything illegal

Illegal or illicit activities on board are strictly forbidden and tolerance level for them is absolutely zero. The captain and crew will turn you over to the authorities as the penalty for such behaviour is lost license and yacht seizure. Also keep in mind that the sanction for such activities in many countries is jail. If a charter guest harasses any crew member, or does something illegal, they are off the yacht.

Don’t take matters into your own hands

If problems occur the correct way to approach them is via the captain, as they have the authority to sort it out. After all, that is why the captain is there.

Don’t disrespect boundaries

Respect the ‘upstairs/downstairs’ concept. Don’t go to the private crew areas, unless you are invited. Keep in mind that the galley (kitchen) is a sacred area, and you should respect the chef´s work zone.

Don't violate the smoking policy

Smoking inside the cabin is prohibited on most yachts and usually there are specific smoking areas set aside on the deck for smokers. If it is allowed to smoke on the deck, the thoughtful thing to do would be to smoke on the stern or downwind where the smoke won’t bother other guests.

Don’t expect the crew to join while sightseeing

Formality is one of the key differences between American and European yacht charters. The relationship between the crew and the clients is less formal on the American yachts, while the European standard is to maintain a distance between the crew and the clients.

Either way, keep in mind that the crew has its tasks, so don’t be offended if your invitation that they join you ashore is declined. It’s possible that there are assignments that need to be performed in your absence, or they simply prefer to keep a certain distance from their clients.