HOW TO GET MORE OUT OF YOUR CREWED YACHT CHARTER
Ed - January 2009
Sure we can book a charter with virtually no lead time, but we can do much more for our clients with more warning. A charterer that contacts us early has a much better selection of yachts to choose from and we can really take the time to discuss all the pros and cons of all suitable boats and crews, often making a better match.
So, given the extra time, what should you look for and what questions should you ask?
The first decision is generally the cruising ground. Many people pick an area they have heard people talk about - (St. Barts is the place for New Years Eve, The Virgin Islands are a children's paradise, etc.). In The Caribbean, The Virgins are popular for a reason, as the trade winds provide wonderful sailing without the ocean swells. There are also an incredible number of bays, beaches, reefs, villages, hikes and beach bars to explore, all within 1-3 hour sails. They are however, not the only choice available and are certainly not for everyone. Then there is The Mediterranean, which offers a wonderful way to explore many different countries and cultures, or the South Pacific, for dramatic isolation. Take the time to talk to us about your group. Describe what everyone enjoys and what they feel they want to get out of the charter (ie relaxation, adventure, culture, participation or doing nothing). We know the popular cruising grounds well and our recommendations might surprise you, or at least open your eyes to some of the possibilities.
The same goes for choosing a boat. Remember that unless you are chartering a megayacht, the crew will have far more effect on your vacation than the boat. Take the time to talk to us about your interests and we will make suggestions on which crews you are likely to enjoy. Family charters have very different requirements to couples. We spend hours visiting these yachts and talking with these crews. Our brokers all write their comments and impressions in our database, so when we are talking with you, we are working from an enormous pool of information and years of experience. We cannot stress enough that communication is key and that it is important to consider the expectations of the whole group, not just the lead party.
Once the boat is booked, we will send you a preference booklet, with separate food preferences for each party member. This doesn't mean everyone has to fill out their own page (though it's often a good idea) or that each guest will have their own individual entree, but more information gives the chef a better chance of creating menus that will appeal to everyone.
The booklet contains a lot more than meal requests. There are sections on interests, check lists for what you enjoy, scuba requirements and experience, flight arrangements, tastes in liquor and fine wines. Like every other part of the booking process, this can all be done on-line, using the secure section of our website, but whichever method you choose, be sure to think carefully about what everyone prefers. You will get so much more out of your charter and will give the crew more of a chance to provide a vacation customized exactly the way you imagined it.
It's a good idea to have some contact with the crew before you arrive and we always ask for the best time for them to contact you - it's one of the questions in the preferences. This system works well as crews are busy when on charter and like to concentrate on their guests rather than take calls (you wouldn't want them constantly answering calls during your charter). They will generally wait until they have all your preferences, so they can think about the menu and ask you any questions that arise.
So don't wait until the last minute, perhaps in the hopes of a bargain. There is often a reason the established, popular boats get booked first (though if a boat is not booked, it certainly does not mean it has to be bad). We know the product well and have been booking charters since chartering began. We will tell you which boats will work for you rather than the ones that just look good in the pictures! Give us the time and you will reap the rewards.
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