Annual gatherings worldwide are home to the most popular event yacht charters each year. They include the MIPIM real-estate conference in France each March; the Cannes Film Festival and Monaco Grand Prix, both held in May; the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, held in November; and New Year’s Eve parties at the dock in Gustavia Harbour, St. Barth’s.
During some years, additional event charters take place at sporting matches such as the Super Bowl and the Olympics, depending on their proximity to marinas. While these types of event charters aren’t always quite as close to the action as the traditional annual events, they are still an excellent opportunity for a great party onboard a charter yacht at the dock.
For all event charters, yachts that are able to accommodate the largest groups tend to book early, sometimes as much as a year in advance. Charter yachts are regularly advertised for a maximum number of 12 guests, which is usually the legal limit for cruising under maritime law. For event charters at the dock, however, many of those same yachts are legally able to welcome aboard dozens or even more than a hundred guests. It’s important to ask your charter broker for both numbers if you are planning to hold large parties by day with just a handful of people sleeping onboard at night.
Also important to discuss in advance are any extra fees that will be incurred for an event charter. Marina berths, for instance, are rarely included in the yacht’s weekly base rate. At events such as the Monaco and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, a single berth can add as much as €30,000 to the yacht’s advertised base rate—and that cost is in addition to regular, extra expenses such as food, liquor, and crew gratuity.
Other extras that are likely to come up include tent rentals (if you want them on the dock or on the sundeck in case of weather); temporary, protective carpeting (which the yacht’s owner may insist upon); and food services. Charter yachts that regularly book for events may have a chef and crew who are experienced at serving larger crowds, but other yachts may require you to bring in additional catering and staff for parties.
Luxury charter yachts are almost always advertised at weekly base rates, but for event charters, shorter bookings are possible. Most clients book for three to five days surrounding an event, and some yacht owners insist upon such time periods to ensure that the crew have enough time to coordinate any large parties onboard. Don’t necessarily expect a discount on charters of less than a week, though. For prime events, rates often go up instead of down, even if guests spend less than a standard week onboard.
Motoryachts are generally the favored style of yacht for event charters, since they have greater interior volume than sailing yachts and can accommodate more people. Some smart motoryacht amenities to seek out include large sundecks, where there may be space for flexible seating as well as a band with a dancing area. Easy traffic flow is also an important amenity for an event charter. Some motoryachts have staircases in spots that make guest movement from the bottom to top decks easier than others. Great sound systems, too, can be key. Some yachts even have built-in discotheques pre-wired to disc-jockey equipment and light shows.
Beyond helping you to book the right yacht for an event, some charter brokers are also experienced at helping to plan onboard parties. They can assist with everything from transportation for party guests to red carpets that lead them down the dock. If there is a particular event for which you hope to charter, then seek out a broker who has booked charters at that same event in the past. That broker should have strong local knowledge of everything from florists to local marina regulations.