by Kim Kavin
It’s understood that crewed yacht charter usually includes a private chef. The chef is part of the crew, prepares all menus to your personal preferences, and cooks three meals a day in addition to canapés at cocktail hour and whatever midnight snacks you might want to enjoy.
All of that is fabulous, of course, but it does generally preclude the possibility of sampling local restaurants. There’s only so much room in the belly, and when the food on the boat is great, guests tend to eat every single meal onboard. Local restaurants are just more pieces of scenery that you cruise past en route to the next harbor.
That’s what makes the idea of a half-board charter so great. In a half-board booking, you have a personal chef onboard but you agree in advance to eat a certain number of meals off the boat at local restaurants. It’s usually a few lunches and a couple of dinners during a one-week charter, which means you get to enjoy a number of meals on the boat as well as a bit more of the local scene ashore.
In return, the charter rate is reduced so you save money overall on the vacation (as long as you don’t go crazy ordering caviar on land). The 58-foot sailing catamaran Ocean Jedi, for instance, recently offered half-board savings of as much as $2,000 during a one-week charter in the Virgin Islands through Regency Yacht Vacations. Since the yacht’s regular weekly base rate is $18,000, the savings is more than 10 percent. Clients still receive seven breakfasts, two lunches, and five dinners onboard. And of course you are welcome to bring snacks to tide you over if you don’t want to pay for lunch on land.
The 44-foot sailing catamaran Catalyst also offers half-board rates in the Virgin Islands through the same management company. In that yacht’s program, you receive breakfast and lunch every day and agree to have all dinners ashore.
Other charter yachts have their own versions of half-board rates, and often you can negotiate a schedule that fits your personal dining preferences. The Virgin Islands are the yacht charter location where half-board rates are typically available. Some crewed river barges in France also offer half-board bookings.
Any charter broker should be able to help you suss out your options, depending on where you want to charter and how you want to organize your meals. In the end, you almost always save money—and still have a fantastic vacation.