The only option for travelers seeking oceanfront privacy for an island getaway is an overwater bungalow, right? Try again. Even if you’ve never sailed, yachting could be for you — especially if you opt for a fully crewed charter where a captain and chef come standard. Here are our top reasons to consider chartering a yacht for your next tropical getaway.
1. There’s something magical about private yachts.
Picture this: Dropping anchor off an uninhabited or undeveloped isle, such as Salt Island in the British Virgin Islands. No other people are in sight, save for the ones you boated here with. As the sun sets, your group pops in the ocean for a swim. Then you enjoy cocktails as the last light fades, followed by dinner, made by the crew. The only sounds of the evening are laughter and waves lapping against the hull — unless you turn on your own soundtrack for the night. Pure heaven.
2. There is no rush.
Unlike a cruise ship, your yacht will never leave for the next island without you. If you’re loving the snorkeling, or your kid is blissed out on the beach, then sail-away time can be postponed. It’s your boat, your schedule, your vacation.
3. Flexible itineraries allow you to be as private or as social as you like.
Some folks may prefer to take advantage of the fact that sailboats and catamarans have small drafts, meaning they can tuck into very shallow, remote, uber private coves and bays. Whereas extroverts may prefer to moor at hotspots such as White Bay in the British Virgin Islands, where the famed Soggy Dollar Bar slings Painkiller cocktails and hosts a lively beach barbecue on Sundays. Or, do a bit of both to experience it all.
4. You can learn to sail.
The captain will let you steer, and he or she will answer any questions about tacking, jibing or anything else. No question is off-limits, but keep in mind that the lessons don’t come with certification. Note that if you do prefer sailing lessons to note that in your pre-trip preferences.
5. You can opt for a motor yacht vacation.
Some companies, such as The Moorings, recognize that not everyone wants to sail. Their fleet also includes motor yachts that compete with sailing yachts in price. So, whether you simply want to cover more territory in one week, or prefer motoring to sailing, they have you covered.
6. You’re traveling with local experts.
When you book a crewed yacht charter, a captain and chef will be part of your experience. They’ll steer you to the watering holes with the best bands. Or lead you to the best photo ops for sunset, best beaches with no crowds, and more.
7. You don’t always have to book an entire yacht to enjoy a private sailing holiday.
Some companies, such as Festiva Sailing Vacations, offer weeks by the cabin. In other words, a couple can choose to book a cabin on a yacht, then fill out Festiva’s questionnaire, which helps match them with another couple based on preferences. Plus, Festiva has a guaranteed-departure policy, meaning that a yacht will still set sail even if there’s only one couple aboard.
8. Some yachts are big enough to bring all your friends or family.
Companies such as The Moorings, with bigger fleets, have more availability when booking large parties. Typically, three or four cabins are standard, whereas The Moorings offers a six-cabin sailing catamaran.
9. It’s not as expensive as you might think.
Choose to travel in low season, and at a destination that’s more affordable, and you could pay as little as $2,995 per couple, all-inclusive — or $1,497.50 per person — for a week of island-hopping off St. Maarten with Festiva Sailing Vacations.
10. Handling local regulations and customs in harbors is hassle free.
The Moorings offers fully chartered yachts in 15 countries, including Thailand, French Polynesia, Greece, Croatia and more. Each of these destinations has its own language, as well as rules and regulations. Sometimes accomplished sailors will opt for the fully crewed option in a place such as the Mediterranean, where a certificate is necessary to charter a boat; unlike in the British Virgin Islands, which is an experienced-based destination.