Welcome Aboard

7 June 2011 By Louisa Cowan
Photo by Alexis Andrews

There is an assumption that all yacht charter guests know exactly what they are doing. Surely, they’ve chartered hundreds of times before and of course they know how to behave on a yacht; the protocol and safety procedures and how a yacht charter runs. After all, aren’t all charter guests born with Cristal running through their veins? Yacht charters should be second nature to them, right?

Although many charter guests do know the score, there is a first time for everyone. New guests should rest assured that everyone from the broker to the captain to the crew will help make the journey from rookie charterer to more experienced customer a smooth one. These are just a few useful tips to employ as you help green guests along the way.

The charter broker should let the guests know the basic rules of a yacht charter. Though the captain and crew are on board to care for the guests, there are limits to the service that can be offered. For instance, the MYBA Charter Agreement states: “It is understood that the crew are entitled to a minimum amount of rest in accordance with the vessel’s Code of Practice.”

It goes on to highlight: “The captain shall comply with all reasonable orders given to him by the charterer regarding the management, operation and movement of the vessel, wind, weather and other circumstances permitting.”

The principal guest must be made fully aware of the fact that a captain will not put the guests or crew at risk.

When first-time guests come aboard, the atmosphere encouraged by the crew often is one that is adopted by the charterers. Offer a friendly, calm environment and, most likely, this will be the tone for the remainder trip.

“As with any other charter, I would have all the crew welcome new guests on board, take all luggage to the cabins, either show [the guests] around the boat myself or have crewmembers do this,” says Capt. Angus. “Once the guests have settled and they have their first drink in hand, I would approach the principal charterer and ask for two minutes of their time to discuss one or two points about the boat.”

When asked about the most important point to make with first time charterers, Capt. Angus is clear: “Safety. If you have guests that haven’t chartered before, or some that have never been on a yacht, you have to be very clear that although this is a luxury holiday, and the [captain and crew] are there to tend to their needs 24/7, safety is paramount at all times.”

“I aim to build a rapport with first-time charter guests as quickly as possible,” says Chief Stewardess Amanda. “I make sure that they realize that I am there to help in whatever way I can, answer questions and make their holiday as pleasant and comfortable as possible.”

A nudge in the right direction at certain stages of the chartering process is often very helpful. “I always hope that the broker has encouraged the principal to be as precise as possible in their preference sheet,” Amanda continues. “Should there be anything on there that needs discussing with a guest, I will talk to them either before arrival or when they are settled.”

Behavioral issues tend to make things a big more difficult, however. “With regard to how you teach someone how to behave on a first-time charter, this is somewhat trickier,” says Capt. Angus. “After all, they pay the big bucks. They can do what the hell they want! As a master, you have ultimate authority over the boat and all on it. For me personally, it would have to be something illegal or behavior that risked the safety of crew, guests or the yacht before I stepped in with any great steam.”

So whilst allowing the guests the freedom to make their charter their own, some gentle guidance here and there can make the trip safer and a lot more pleasant for everyone – including the crew.

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