Luxury Motor Yachts: Livin’ The Life of Riley

There is arguably no experience in the world that is quite comparable to chartering a fully crewed luxury motor yacht. Gourmet (yes, I mean real gourmet) meals, fine wines purchased to your taste, a professional crew to cater to your every need, and the incomparable experience of waking up every day in a different little port or bay or harbor or COUNTRY.

No wonder this is the vacation lifestyle of the rich and famous. It offers privacy, luxury and flexibility. It allows you to spend a few days in that special location that you simply love, or simply wake up in a different destination every day. Your choice. On the larger mega-yachts, it is not uncommon for the owners to employ professional and even celebrity chefs that have been trained in some of the best restaurants in the world.

The Mediterranean is home to some of the largest, best designed, technically advanced and luxurious motor yachts and mega-yachts in the world. Many are designed and built in Italy which is home to a whole bunch of people who know all about mechanical excellence and luxurious design e.g Ferrari, Maserati, Gucci, Prada, need we say more? In the Marine Industry we have our Lazzara, Benetti, CRN, Ferretti, Perini Navi and many others.

Here is some insider knowledge about motor yacht charters that’s important to know:

  • There is an annual “pilgrimage” of the large charter vessels that starts in the Mediterranean Sea. The yachts will remain in the Med from late May, June, July, August and September. The yachts usually use a base of operations that could be the French Riviera or Monaco, for example, or Italy’s Amalfi Coast or Sicily or Greece. From these locations, the yachts can travel to your charter pick-up destination (yes, you will be charged a fee for this re-positioning since there is fuel consumption involved as well as possible charter days lost to the owner).
  • In the winter months of November, December, January, February and March many of the large motor yachts migrate to the Caribbean and “take up residence” in the most popular destinations like Antigua, St. Martin and the Virgin Islands where there are larger deep water marinas or protected and easily accessible harbors that can accommodate large boats.
  • Of course, some yacht owners do not necessarily move their vessels according to this schedule. For example, some large yachts are based in the Caribbean Islands and stay there all winter and then move to the Bahamas or the mainland USA in summer. Typical summer locations include the Bahamas, Fort Lauderdale, Florida and New England which is a popular summer destination for charterers.

It’s best to book your motor yacht charter several months in advance. Many owners like to spend time on their own yacht too and of course they get the first pick. Also, the “best” and most reputable charter yachts are always booked first so it’s usually a case of the early bird catching the worm. Many of our clients book a year ahead.

Rates, Contracts & The Pricing Structure

The Mediterranean motor yacht pricing structure is as follows:

  • There is a base rate for the use of the boat and the crew. This is usually quoted for a WEEK on the yacht unless otherwise indicated. If you wish to charter for less than a week, the weekly rate is divided by 6 and multiplied by the number of days you will be needing the vessel.
  • You need to add what is called the “APA” or Advance Provisioning Allowance which is basically an advance that you are making to the captain so that he can provision the boat with fuel, food and beverages, according to your anticipated itinerary and preferences. We usually calculate 35% of the base rate as a reasonable APA. At the end of the charter, the captain will reconcile the APA with the actual expenditures and the charterer may get money back or may be asked to pay the overage.
  • The European VAT (Value Added Tax) varies according to the country but will probably average out to about 15% of the base charter rate. We can provide you with a more accurate number when your itinerary is known.
  • Re-positioning fee if applicable. Say you want to be picked up in Sicily, cruise around Sicily and be dropped off in Sicily. If the yacht is already in Sicily, no fee applies. If the yacht however happens to be in the Amalfi, for example, there will be a re-positioning fee for her to travel empty to Sicily for your pick-up. There are also re-positioning fees that are usually charged when there is a “one-way” charter. Say you have a pick-up in the Amalfi Coast and want to be dropped off in the French Riviera. There would be a fee associated with bringing the boat back to where it is based.
  • Tip for the crew. Usually around 5% to 15% of the charter fee depending on service.
  • The preferred legal charter contracts are almost always within the parameters of the standard Mediterranean Yacht Brokers Association. (MYBA) This is an industry-wide charter contract that is almost universally used for charter yachts in the Med and motor yachts in general.


Everything considered, motor yachts are not for the faint-hearted when it comes to cost. However, the comfort, the flexibility and the speed at which they cruise, provides a unique opportunity to see a whole bunch of places on the same trip. Assuming you want the speed and the luxury, (not always the case since many guests prefer a more leisurely experience) a motor yacht is certainly for you.