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SHOULD THE STANDARD CREWED CHARTER BE 6 OR 7 NIGHTS? Hear the pros and cons, then give us your vote.

by Ed
February 2007

Traditionally, the charter fee for a crewed charter has always been quoted for 7 nights, 8 days, starting and finishing at mid-day and this is how most charters are booked.

There is however, talk of shortening this to 6 nights, 7 days, still beginning and ending the charter at noon. You can tell us what you think by voting at the end of this article!

There are some definite pros and cons. On one side, it would enable boats to book more weekend to weekend charters, which is what most charterers request, without leaving 4 and 5 day gaps in their calendar. A crewed charter generally needs 24 hours to turn-around between charters. Some ask for 48 hours and some will do a 'zero' turnaround (ie. the previous guests get off early and the new party boards late - not a satisfactory solution unless both guests agree before hand. We would also worry about how fresh the crew would be with no down-time, particularly with several charters back to back).

Running a crewed yacht is a stressful business. Normally the crew is a couple. They live and work in very close quarters, in the company of guests 24/7. They work hard to provide good service, cook fabulous meals and entertain their charterers. Of course, these crews enjoy entertaining charter guests on their yacht. They are generally people that enjoy meeting new faces and get a genuine pleasure in seeing guests enjoying themselves (they wouldn't be in the business otherwise) but any couple knows it is important to have down time together.

Many of the most successful crews block out time after a series of back to back bookings, both for maintenance and for themselves. Some boats even run with summer and winter crews.

It is ironic that we have some crews pushing for weekend to weekend bookings, and some that are insisting on 48 hour turnarounds!

With a bareboat charter, a 6 night week is perfectly possible, as these companies have huge back-up staff and are dealing with a boat that simply needs to be cleaned and problems fixed - not a crew that needs down time. Even so, when Sunsail switched to the shorter week many years ago, we received all kinds of complaints and in fact we still see comments about this in follow-up letters. When guests arrive in the early afternoon, they are ready to get going. Being forced to stay at the dock for the night and go through a check out, often the next morning, they realize they really do lose a day compared with other companies. Of course, they forget the fact that the charter fee is adjusted to reflect that.

This would not apply in quite the same way to a crewed boat if the charter still runs noon to noon, which hopefully would be the case. Guests would set sail after settling in, enjoying a nice lunch and listening to a short briefing.

Shortening the length to six nights would help sell a charter, by making the cost appear less and enabling more people to afford a yacht vacation. Most similar vacations, including cruise ships, use the six nights concept, so it would be easier to compare prices. No one knows the reason crewed and bareboat charters were always quoted for 7 nights. There would however be a great temptation for boats to increase their daily rate slightly and still look competitive.

It's important to note that though the price is quoted for 7 nights, crewed charterers can almost always charter for any number of days and start any day of the week (this is not always true in The Med). It is therefore uncertain how much a 6 day week will reduce those lay days. We already book a lot of 6 day charters - we also book 5, 8, 9 and 10 day charters, all of which will produce down time!

CLICK HERE TO CAST YOUR VOTE (yes or no - add comments if you wish)!

View the results for this and past Newsletter Polls

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  Ed Hamilton & Company
24B US Route 1, Edgecomb, ME 04556

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