Choosing a charter yacht

Anticipating your sailing vacation is great fun, yet choosing the right charter yacht might almost be as difficult as finding a reliable charter company or selecting that ideal sailing area in Greece or in Turkey.

To select that perfect boat you will need to look at the following criteria:

  • The number of cabins or berths needed, including the hostess or skipper. Some yachts come in different designs: an owners version which usually combines two cabins into one large stateroom or a holiday version / cruiser version which holds as many cabins as possible You should also consider the number of heads and showers.
  • 6 cabins; Only a few monohull types offer 5 cabins for guests plus 1 cabin for skipper crew, notably:
    • Beneteau Oceanis 50
    • Beneteau Cyclades 50.5
    • Beneteau Oceanis 51.1
    • Jeanneau 53
    • Bavaria Cruiser 56
    • Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 509
    • Elan 494 or 50
    Since these can also be chartered as bareboats these could allocate 12 guests !
    If you party is larger than 10 guests consider also a larger catamaran, a gulet motor sailer or – more fun – two yachts or catamarans.  
  • The standing height or head room below deck can be quite a limiting factor. If you or one of your crew is taller than 1.85 m (6' 1") my advice would be to choose a yacht that has a standing room of at least 1.90 m (6' 3"). Note that this standing height is often the maximum height below deck, and especially in yachts smaller than 37 feet this means that most of the saloon will be much lower Below you will find some example maximum standing heights.
Yacht / catamaran type Metres Feet
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 40 1.95 6' 5"
Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45 1.90 6' 3"
Beneteau Oceanis 393 2.00 6' 7"
Beneteau Oceanis 461 2.00 6' 7"
Bavaria 44 1.95 6' 5"
Bavaria 47 2.00 6' 7"
Lagoon 38 1.90 6' 3"
Lagoon 420 2.00 6' 7"
  • The longest/largest monohulls you can sail bareboat and have excellent reviews are e.g.:
    • Jeanneau 57
    • Beneteau 57 and 54
    • Jeanneau 54
    • Sun Odyssey 519
    • Hanse 575 (often only 9 guests)
    • SENSE 50 (often 7 guests)
  • There is a minimum yacht size of 35 feet due to the Aegean winds and waves, so it is no luxury to charter at least a 40 feet yacht in the (southern) Cyclades and Dodecanese. Yet, in the Ionian and the Argolic and Saronic Gulfs – which are less demanding areas – respectively a 33 feet and 37 feet yacht should be sufficient.

Symi (pix)

  • The age of the yacht: The consensus is that all yachts built 5 yrs ago or more recent are usually new enough, but older yachts should preferably only be chartered through reliable charter businesses. Yachts build 10 yrs ago are often considered very old and even outdated, depending on the company. Yet, good and professional maintenance is the key here: A three year old yacht could well be in better shape than a one year old sister ship.
  • A longer yacht has a larger maximum speed. For instance a 50 foot yacht has 30% more speed than its 30 feet version, which allows you to travel greater distances, adding more freedom to your itinerary. Below you will find maximum speeds vs lengths of yacht.
Yacht length in Feet – LWL LWL in Metres Knots
30 9.14 7.34
35 10.67 7.93
40 12.19 8.47
45 13.71 8.99
50 15.24 9.48
55 16.76 9.94
60 18.29 10.38
65 19.81 10.80
70 21.34 11.21
  • The average size of charter yachts has increased substantially over the last decade and cruising has become more luxurious with more space, more holding tanks, better toilets, generators, airconditioning, solar panels, on board WIFI, strong bow thrusters, better cockpit GPS Plotters, etc, etc, becoming the standard.
  • The sailing capabilities of you and your crew. A 45 foot yacht is more difficult to manoeuvre in ports or anchorages than a 37 foot yacht
  • The luxury to performance ratio. For relatively the same budget you could either charter a yacht with good sailing characteristics and boat speeds or a heavier luxury yacht. Typical performance yachts are Beneteau Oceanis, Beneteau Cyclades, First and Jeanneau Sun Odyssey, whereas for instance the Bavaria yachts offer less sailing performance.
    Monohulls: Beneteau and Jeanneau yachts combine superior comfort and performance.
  • Last but not least: your budget. Note that a 50 foot charter yacht is just 1.4 times longer than a 35 foot yacht. Yet, a typical 50 footer will often be about 2.1 times more expensive to charter. A rule of thumb is to use 1.4² = 1.96, which indeed makes sense since the 50 footer will be about 2 times as spacious.

Read more articles in my yachting guide.