By now you’ve probably seen at least one episode of the television reality show, Below Deck. The series premiered on July 1, 2013 and followed the life of the crew and captain aboard a luxury mega-yacht during charter season the in the Caribbean.
Anyone interested in going on a crewed private yacht cruise would do well to view a couple of episodes on YouTube just to get a feel of the atmosphere, the actions of the crew and the experiences realized by the guests.
Here are four tips to follow to make your cruise a great experience:
1. Picking a Boat
Once you’ve picked the geographic area where you want cruise, picking a boat comes next. This is probably most critical decision you’ll be making. Pick the wrong boat and/or crew and you could be on the way to a watery disaster.
It’s important to do your homework. Use the internet and scope out the various charter companies that service the area where you are going. Look for ratings from past customers.
Be sure your enter all of the criteria about your party including the number of guests, the age group, the general social and background of your party and likes and dislikes. When you find several boats that look promising, Google the names to see if there are any pro or con articles about each yacht.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices to two or three yachts, contact each boat captain and talk to them in person. Often a five minute conversation can put the stamp of approval on your choice or turn you away to look further.
2. Travel Documents
If you’re traveling outside the US, make sure you’ve got the proper documents in order and ready to go. That includes passports or visas, tickets, picture I.D. like drivers’ license and several valid debit or credit cards.
Forget your passport and you could be confined to the boat while your fellow passengers enjoy a land-call at a romantic tropical port.
3. What to Bring
You’ll want to pack light. Bring comfortable, cool clothing. You’re not sailing on the Queen Mary, so leave the tuxedo and formal gown at home. You really only need bathing suits, shorts, a pair of jeans and plenty of t-shirts for the most part. But do pack one nice outfit in case the captain wants to throw a formal dinner on board or you disembark at a port of call and go for fine dining and some night-clubbing afterwards.
One word of advice- most yacht decks are made of teak wood and are subject to scrapping and scaring. Plan on going barefoot most of the time while you are on board and definitely leave the high heel shoes at home.
Other items to bring are sunscreen, books or games to keep you busy during downtime, plenty of batteries for you camera and other electronic gear. Of course, make sure you bring any medication you are on to avoid medical problems.
4. Listen Carefully to the Pre-departure Briefing
The captain will give you a briefing on the ship’s safety procedures before you leave port, according to Caribbean Yachts International. Pay close attention.
The crew will explain the various systems of the boat and how to work them. This list will include:
- Toilets: Marine toilets are flushed differently than home toilets. Follow the instructions on how to use them, and ask questions if you are in doubt.
- Electrical outlets: The electrical power on these boats are supplied by a generator or inverter. The crew will explain which outlets can be used for what.
- Lights:Locations of the lights in the cabins and heads will be pointed out by a crew person. Be conservative and always turn lights off when not in use.
- Water and Showers:Most charter yachts have ample water for cooking, drinking and daily showers. Again, use water conservatively by not letting the tap run continuously while you’re brushing your teeth or soaping up in the shower.
Bonus tip…Tipping the Crew
The standard tip range is from 5% to 15%. The accepted norm is 10%. The tip should be all cash and given to the captain in a sealed envelope when you disembark.