Here are the yachting etiquette tips you must know

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Being immersed into the deep luxury that comes with boarding a superyacht can feel like a fantasy to all but the most wealthy. 

If like us, you’re holding out for an invite onto one of the world’s top-end ocean liners, the experts at luxury yacht brokerage firm SuperYachtsMonaco have put together a set of yachting etiquette tips for when the day comes. Wondering what you might need to know before you hop on board a superyacht? Step right this way.

Chris Craven, a Broker at SuperYachtsMonaco comments on some of the most important etiquette rules when it comes to visiting or chartering a yacht, and some may surprise you:

What are the rules around smoking or vaping on a yacht?

“In principle smoking and vaping is never allowed in the interior of the yacht and guests are generally requested to smoke outside on the decks. If you do smoke, then ensure the doors are closed to the interior.”

The no shoe rule applies, and heels are an absolute no go! 

“Almost all yachts have a NO SHOES policy. During events where carpets and protection are laid to protect the teak and interior carpets, shoes are sometimes approved, but heels and teak are not the best of friends, so guests are strongly guided away from such footwear.”

Can a pet come on board with you? 

“Yes, but you should always check the owner’s policy on pets. There are plenty of owners that bring their own dogs onboard but for charters, the usual process is to ask for permission. You must detail the breed and weight of your dog for example, and more often than not, be prepared to pay a refundable security deposit of anything from 20,000-50,000 euros.

“Crew are not expected to walk dogs, but they are often keen to get off the yacht for a stroll, so they might very well offer, but in most cases the owner of the dog takes them ashore.”

Be prepared to tip big 

“Tips and their size is a complicated topic, as it varies so much based on personal preference. The general rule within the yachting community is to provide a tip of 10% of the charter fee (not the total cost including VAT and APA) to the crew. The tip can come from the excess APA left at the end of the charter or is often sent directly to the yacht crew by wire transfer the week following the charter if the client wishes to leave more than what remains in the APA. Cash is seen far less now and so these two methods are the general norm.”

Guests are expected to take safety protocols very seriously 

“Surrounded by stunning interiors or seated on the aft deck of the yacht, at a calm anchorage with a glass of champagne in your hand, one can easily underestimate the importance of the safety brief on ‘Hour One’ of the charter at embarkation. However, when things go wrong at sea, they generally go wrong very quickly and with very serious consequences, normally at night for some reason! Whilst the general feel onboard a yacht is that the crew are there to look after you, and they certainly always make you feel special, they are principally there for your safety. The safety training provided and the strict guidelines followed by the flag state under which you are sailing, mean that you have exceptionally competent and well-trained crew there to guide you to safety, and to respect this is paramount of any yacht charterer. Despite how young and inexperienced they might appear to be in some cases, they know their way around the yacht in all circumstances and you must take what they say when it comes to safety seriously.“Guests love to jump off yachts from different levels, or hop in for a swim off the back of the yacht. Letting a crew member know about your activity is vital, so they will radio the whole crew to let them know that guests are in the water.

“Guests often think that as the yacht comes with toys, you can use them all, but be aware that licences are required for jet skis and some other toys, so ask well in advance. Training can either be arranged onboard by the crew, or through a short course pre-charter to allow you full access to everything onboard ( apart from the tenders).”

Are there any rules on bringing uninvited guests?

“Generally yacht captains are very flexible with who comes onto the yacht as long as they have prior permission from their owner, the charterer, or there is a scheduled meeting.  All yachts have their limitation of how many passengers they can have at sea, so as long as this is respected, all is well. Superyachts attract all sorts of attention and so dockside security, passerelle watch and other such lines of ‘defense’ are all taken very seriously. Tight communication with the captain and/or chief stewardess as to any new guests is very important.”

Are there any other general interior rules that should be followed? 

“The bottom line is to have basic respect for someone else’s property. Walking through the yacht with wet swimming trunks, bringing red wine into the salon where there is a white carpet, children ‘handling’ chocolate, are all no-nos! The list goes on, but it all comes back to respect and understanding. I know of yachts that indeed do not allow red wine inside the main salon, do not allow clients to sit on certain sofas with suncream on, and some where jean studs are frowned upon, due to the amount of varnished wood. As a backup, owners can often request a security deposit to cover accidental damage and charterers can take out liability insurance so all bases can be covered on both sides.”

What type of luggage should you bring on board?

“When chartering a smaller sailing yacht or production boat, foldable/squashable soft luggage is always better for the crew, especially if you have a full yacht of guests as storage is often not very good.”

Freebies, on a yacht?

“If you like the products the owner has offered in the bathrooms or any sun creams that have been supplied on your trip, you can always ask the chief stewardess if you can take some extras with you at the end of the charter. Do not simply presume you can sweep them all up like you might in a hotel. Sometimes, the crew will even give you branded gifts, such as towels to remember the stay, but it is always better to ask first.

“The crew will also provide themed nights when requested at no additional cost, they are used to doing this for adults and children. Although the crew are not trained nannies, with a sensible conversation, some crews are also delighted to entertain children for a ‘movie night’ for example, while parents go for dinner ashore.”

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