If you’ve never chartered a boat before, you probably have a lot of questions about how charters work. One of most popular concerns people have is boat etiquette. 

How do crewed charters work, what restrictions do you have, what are the general rules for being onboard 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.

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. This will eat into your charter time and could affect your planned occasion, so always be on time.

Don’t ask for spontaneous drop offs or pick ups

The captain has to book drop offs and pick-ups with the wharf, and they’ll normally 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 organise 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 which 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 it’s important you listen to the crew if they tell you to remove your shoes.  You can usually check this beforehand with your charter broker.

Manners

Manners go a long way and that’s true both onboard and off. Thankyous will go a long way and if somethings’ not right, talk to the crew politely and they will help you to sort it out. The crew are paid for their service, so 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.

Tipping

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 but 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 in advance. Sort out menus and dietary requirements, discover whether you need to bring anything, ask your broker to help with decorations, etc. 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 with 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 very expensive 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 in relation to cleaning up the boat. It is sensible to assume however you should put your own rubbish in the bins provided and take any food or alcohol, that you brought onboard, 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 but they will always put safety first. If things have to change, they will suggest alternatives and do their best to accommodate your needs.

Don’t waste water

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 great 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 a 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 and check the rest of your party knows what to expect.

How to treat the crew

Respect the crew and treat them as you would a colleague. The crew are extremely busy ensuring your charter goes as planned so don’t be overdemanding, 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 and 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 possible. If they say it’s a no-go, listen to them and move on. They have to adhere to safety regulations and a timeframe.

Good communication however between yourself and the crew will ensure you have a fantastic time onboard. If you are respectful and something isn’t possible, they will suggest alternatives.