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What is Boat Etiquette

What Is the Correct Boat Etiquette When on a Cruise

If you've never chartered a boat before, you probably have a lot of questions about how charters work. One of the most prevalent concerns people have is boat charter etiquette. How do crewed charters work, what restrictions do you have, what are the general rules for being on board a luxury yacht? We've put together a guide on everything you know about the etiquette for boat charters, so you can get in the know, stop worrying and look forward to your occasion.

How A Cruise Works

Ask permission to board

You may have paid for a charter, but when you meet and greet the crew, it's polite to ask for permission before jumping on deck. They will likely want to go over a few ground rules and safety procedures first. It's easier for them to do this while they have your attention and all your guests are together. Have a little patience when you get there, while they dock up and get sorted.

Be on time

Boat owners only get a certain amount of time to do their drop off or pick up, so make sure you and your party are on time. If you are late, the captain may have to drive off and arrange another pick up time later on. So this will eat into your charter time and could affect your planned occasion, so always be on time.

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Don't ask for spontaneous drop-offs or pickups

The captain has to book drop-offs and pick-ups with the wharf, and they'll typically do this ahead of your charter to ensure there are no issues. During busy times, wharves can be booked up quickly -there is only a certain amount of time slots per day. Don't ask for lots of drop-offs or pick-ups once you're onboard. Try and organize this beforehand. Note that additional pick-ups and drop-offs will come at an additional cost.

Clothing & Footwear

There are not any clothing rules as such when it comes to boat charters. However, footwear is a topic that requires your attention. Heels and dark soled shoes are not appropriate for luxury yachts as they can damage the decks and leave them marked. You may be allowed to wear boat shoes or canvas pumps onboard, but most decks have a barefoot policy. Decks on luxury yachts are quite expensive, so you must listen to the crew if they tell you to remove your shoes. You can usually check this beforehand with your charter broker.


Manners go a long way, and that's true both onboard and off. Thank you will go a long way and if something not right, talk to the crew politely and they will help you to sort it out. The team is paid for their service so that they will carry out their duties regardless, but if you display manners and be polite, they will often go above and beyond to make your occasion extra special.


One of the main things you should know about Australia, as it will affect your boat charter, is that they don't tend to tip. People tend to receive higher salaries, so tipping is not the norm as it is in other countries.

Chances are if you left some money behind after your meal, the restaurateur would tell you as they'd think you'd done this by accident. In some more formal establishments, tipping might be welcomed. For boat charters, you wouldn't be expected to tip the crew or bar staff. If you did want to leave a tip, do so at the end of the charter, and a good tip would be around 5-15% of your charter cost.

Be safe

You can have as much fun as you like but bear in mind you're on a yacht, surrounded by a body of water. Don't jump from the boat while it's moving, don't lean too far over the edge, and overall, be careful. Listen to the safety briefings also. The crew should go over the regulations at the beginning, so make sure you listen to what they say and respect the rules. The rules are there to protect you and your guests.

Plan in advance

If you are booking a boat charter for a party, make sure you plan. Sort out menus and dietary requirements, discover whether you need to bring anything, ask your broker to help with decorations, etc. So this will ensure your charter runs smoothly and the crew can prepare for any specific requirements.

Respect the laws

Don't do anything illegal while onboard. The crew will have to report it, and the yacht will probably get seized by the authorities. Just because you are off-land, the laws still apply. Likewise, ensure all guests adhere to the alcohol age limit and smoke only where permitted. Ask the crew about smoking as there will often be specific areas where this is allowed.

Take care of the toilet systems

Toilet systems onboard boats are more delicate and need to be treated with caution. There should be signs or instructions but generally, make sure you don't flush anything other than toilet paper down the toilet. You don't want the toilet situation to ruin your charter or the accommodation. Plus, it's a costly problem to fix, and you will more than likely receive the bill.

Clean up after yourself

You will need to check with your broker or crew about where you stand about cleaning up the boat. It is sensible to assume. However, you should put your rubbish in the bins provided. Also, take any food or alcohol, that you brought on board, with you when you leave. Clarify this, however before your charter and inform all your guests, so they know whether or not they need to clean up after themselves.

Be flexible with your itinerary

On occasion, things won't go to plan. Whether that's because the weather takes a turn for the worse or whether one of your guests turns up late. If the itinerary has to change, then it does. There's nothing you can do about it. Your captain will do everything they can to make things go ahead as planned. They will always put safety first. If things have to change, they will suggest alternatives and do their best to accommodate your needs.

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Don't wastewater

If you're staying on the boat overnight or have a large party accompanying you, don't waste the water. Don't have extra-long showers or leave the water running while you brush your teeth. Yachts are self-sufficient, and while larger boats will be able to carry a vast amount of water, it doesn't mean it all has to be used. Respect general water usage policies.

So, there you go. Most of the boat charter etiquette is common sense. For example, being polite and cleaning up after yourself. Make sure you do take note however of the footwear policy and plan as much as you can in advance. If you or your guests haven't chartered a boat before, have a quick read of our guidelines. Also, check the rest of your party knows what to expect.

Hens party cruise in the harbour

How to treat the crew

Respect the crew and treat them as you would a colleague. The team is working hard, ensuring your charter goes as planned so don't be overdemanding. So you don't waste their time and don't ask them to babysit your pets or children.

Feel free to talk to them about the itinerary. So, to get their recommendations of hotspots to see while you're on the boat. Use the crew's knowledge, by all means, to improve your trip but make sure you listen to their advice. If you want to go somewhere, you've read about online or want to swim. The crew will advise on whether that's a possibility. If they say it's a no-go, listen to them and move on. They have to adhere to safety regulations and a timeframe.

Excellent communication, however, between yourself and the crew will ensure you have a fantastic time on board. If you are respectful and something isn't possible, they will suggest alternatives.

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