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Luxury Yacht Charters vs Cruise Ships



For most people, chartering a private yacht seems an unattainable dream- something that only the super-rich could ever afford. Most of us who dream of adventure and luxury at sea therefore settle for taking a cruise on one of the fancier liners. When we come into port we might look a little wistfully at the private yachts, but conclude that they would be too expensive to charter, too out of reach- even on our good incomes.

Todd Beechey founded OceanScape Yachts after having exactly that experience. While in Nassau on a cruise vacation, Todd and his wife wandered around the superyacht marina and dreamt of chartering a yacht one day- they even joked about winning the lotto. They concluded that it would be far too expensive, and thought it would remain just that- a dream, a fun conversation to pass the time on a sunny Bahamian afternoon. But the idea of chartering a yacht just wouldn’t let go.

Yacht out on the water

So rather than leaving it at that, Todd decided to actually find out: How much is it to charter a yacht- and can luxury cruise ship passengers really make the switch to private yachts?

What he discovered-the secret that very few realize-is that if a group of you are paying for the luxury experience on a cruise ship you could have actually all pitched together and chartered a private yacht instead.

And with more yachts flooding the market as the industry grows, the luxury yachting experience is becoming more affordable with each passing year.


Not only did Todd start chartering stunning yachts with his family and friends year after year, but the idea for OceanScape Yachts was born: the idea of making the extraordinary yachting experience attainable for people who had never imagined it was possible.

So, how expensive is chartering a yacht, really?

The luxury end of the cruise ship industry is undergoing a massive boom. We know that a great many of you are already spending at least $6,000+ per person on all-inclusive cruise vacations, which equates to $12,000 per cabin. We also know that lots of you are spending more than that again- in fact 34% of luxury cruise ship passengers are spending more than $7,000 per person. That’s a very good start towards a yacht charter vacation if you’ve got some friends who’d like to make the step up to luxury yachting.

oversized cruise ship

It’s worth noting here that if you do travel as a couple and have no interest in travelling with friends or family, then the cruise ship option is a better option financially as you would have to absorb the entire cost of yacht charter on your own. (We’re not in the business of pulling the wool over your eyes.)

It’s when you travel with groups that things start to get very interesting on cost comparisons.

A private yacht has a license to sleep up to 12 guests, but at the smaller end 8 guests is more common, so let’s start with that to keep the comparisons realistic. If each person is spending $6,000 on a cruise ship vacation, you and your partner could raise $ 48,000 for a yacht charter by pooling your money together with just three other couples. (Of course, if you were to get a yacht with ten beds you could raise $60,000, and twelve beds you could raise $72,000 towards the cost of charter.)

Remember though, that while cruise ships tend to be all-inclusive or mostly so, on a private yacht you need to pay for food and beverage, fuel, berthing fees and tips on top of your base rate. That’s why OceanScape Yachts have an all-inclusive model available to keep costs transparent.

So let’s assume that using the eight-person model raising a total of $48,000 you can charter a yacht with a base rate of $32,000-with some money left over to pay for the extras.

What kind of yacht will we get for $32,000 a week?

Several yachts docked at the harbor

I’m afraid you’re not going to get one of the ones you see on TV with a helipad and huge lap pool, but you will get a fantastic luxury yacht in the 80-100 foot range for that kind of money. As mentioned, it will probably have cabins for eight people, although the rare few will sleep up to 12.

In this size range the yacht will normally have two decks, a deeply comfortable main salon, dining areas and a larger master cabin. The yacht will carry a range of watertoys, AV equipment and will almost certainly have WIFI and flat screen TVs in all cabins. And of course, you’ll have a team of crew dedicated to you for the entire vacation- including the captain, stewardess and private chef.

If you put in a couple of thousand extra per person you can charter a yacht with a base rate of around $40-$45,000, at which point you can expect to get a larger, more luxurious yacht nearing the 100-120 foot mark, particularly on the older models. At this size of a yacht you will often get a Jacuzzi, a main deck master suite, larger deck spaces and an upper salon. You’ll also have a bigger crew, and potentially an extra cabin or two to bring the number of guests up and costs down. However, remember that berthing fees, fuel and tips will also go up with larger yachts, so take that into account when budgeting.

Motor yacht cruising and leaving a wake behind

The total cost of your vacation on this size yacht will be in the range of $60-70,000 for the group- still quite comparable to the cost for that same group on a luxury cruise ship.

Why should I make the swap? What’s so great about private yachts?

We don’t mean to criticize cruise ships, but private yachts are another level of luxury entirely. The freedom is exquisite. You’ll speak to your captain each day about the itinerary, you can change your mind whenever you like, and above all, there are none of those awful orange boats bringing you back from a shore excursion when you’re simply not ready to leave. Don’t forget that the private yachts can get into the shallow anchorages and pretty marinas that cruise ships can’t hope to.

On a private yacht, the chef cooks just for you and your friends or family. They’re informed about your food preferences and any allergies, and the yacht is stocked with all your favourite things before you arrive. Each meal is served at a beautifully decorated table on deck and there are no buffet queues or complete strangers making small talk over dinner.

A yacht is an extremely private place to spend time with family and friends where the crew respect your personal space but are always discreetly on hand if you need anything. On a luxury cruise ship, much is made of the butler service, but that is restricted to your room, and when you’re roaming the ship you are just one of many hundreds of guests.

dozens of deck chairs on a cruise ship

On a luxury yacht, the crew are dedicated just to you and no-one else, whether it’s the deckhand giving you another wakeboarding lesson, the chef grilling the fish you just caught for lunch, or the captain driving you to that nearby reef for a snorkel before breakfast. The stewardess or steward makes sure your cabin is always kept immaculate and keeps you constantly refreshed with food and drink. A yacht charter is all about freedom, privacy, superb food and wonderfully personalized service that cruise ships simply can’t match.

On a cruise ship, you’re just another number in the crowd. On a luxury yacht, you are the star.

Woman enjoying her yachting vacation

Put it this way. You’ll never imagine making the switch back. Just ask Todd Beechey.

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