Large Group Yacht Charters: Creative Solutions To Chartering With ‘Too Many’ Friends

If you have already planned a yacht charter with extended family, a large group of friends, or for corporate charter events, you may have been challenged by the fact that most superyachts have a maximum overnight guest capacity of 12 due to licensing restrictions… In the superyacht world, there are always solutions to any obstacles you may encounter, and in this article, the Bluewater charter team offer some creative solutions for organising hugely successful big group yacht charters.

By Lizzie Ross • 16 January 2023

Here are 3 ways to have the large group yacht charter of your dreams, plus a couple of trade tips you might not have thought about.


Option 1. Charter Yachts that Accommodate more than 12 guests

Within the global superyacht fleet, there is an exclusive sub-fleet of charter yachts with large passenger licenses that permit them to sleep more than 12 guests.

These large-group charter vessels range from luxuriously converted icebreakers and cruise ships to new-build superyachts. Some spectacular examples include explorer yachts SHERAKHAN (26 guests) and LEGEND (22 guests), converted cruise ship LAUREN L (36 guests) and superyachts ELEMENTS (22 guests) and MOONLIGHT II (36 guests). Increasingly, the accommodation layout on large charter vessels is designed to keep all parties happy, with multiple primary suites, convertible staterooms, and similarly sized staterooms.

These large-capacity superyachts don’t just have extra staterooms — far from it! These magnificent vessels offer extraordinary amenities, such as health spas and hairdressers, helicopter hangars and cinemas. They often feature beach clubs, swimming pools, dance floors, dive rooms, and palatial communal spaces.

Chartering a large passenger license yacht is a superb option if you’re looking to charter with a large group of friends or family, host a superyacht wedding, or host a corporate yacht charter event.

Top tip for large-group charters: Because yachts that accommodate more than 12 guests are relatively rare, it’s important to speak to your charter agent well in advance, particularly if you are planning to charter around a major event such as the Cannes Film Festival, New Year’s Eve, or the Monaco Grand Prix.


Option 2. Charter a Fleet of Yachts

If you have a charter group of more than 12 people, chartering a fleet of smaller yachts is a fabulous way to charter with large groups. The fleet can either travel together each day, or each yacht can go its own way each morning before meeting up in the afternoon, where they can ‘raft up’ (tie up together) for an evening of shared dining and fun.

For some groups, chartering a fleet of yachts rather than one big one may suit your purposes better, particularly if you have different families chartering together. Chartering multiple vessels doesn’t just give each group their own space, but it also gives each group a degree of control over their spending. Remember that you cover food, berthing and fuel on top of your charter fee, so if you’re on one large yacht and your friends only eat lobster washed down with Cristal, you will be paying your share of that.

Ultimately, chartering a fleet gives everyone a lot of freedom. It’s also a good way for a charter to be able to please all tastes when it comes to the itinerary — the group can split up across the yachts according to their plans for the day — one yacht to a diving location, another into port for lunch and shopping, another to an anchorage to pass the day. You can also choose the vessel that suits you and your smaller group, and each vessel has its own master and VIP accommodation.

Who doesn’t want to say, “I’m chartering a fleet of yachts on the French Riviera this summer”?

Top tip when chartering a fleet: It’s vitally important that there’s good collaboration between the captains and charter brokers of all vessels. We strongly recommend using the same charter broker for the whole fleet to coordinate with success.


Option 3: Charter a Chase Boat to Accompany You

A chase boat is a smaller yacht that provides some additional accommodation (normally 1-2 cabins max), and which generally travels with the yacht and ties up next to it at night. The overwhelming majority of charter activities happen on the ‘mothership’, but a chase boat is also generally used as a day boat for activities, whether going ashore, out fishing or diving or anchoring off an island. Just like having a fleet above, it allows the charter group to split across two vessels for different activities.

Some charter yachts have their own chase boats, but in most cases, you will charter the chase boat separately. In the latter case, choose a chase boat that offers different capabilities than your mothership, such as a sportfishing vessel, a high-speed yacht for fast island-hopping, or a shallow draft to get in close to beaches. The chase boat can also be a nice option for shared family charters or a couple who likes their own space away from the main yacht.

You get to say things like “mothership”, and “which yacht shall we take today?”

Top tip: When choosing a chase boat, choose something with really nice accommodation, so that the people who stay there don’t feel like an add-on to the charter.

What Happens if You Can’t Find the Right Yacht/s?

Time is of the essence when booking big charters. Whether you’re seeking one of the rare large-passenger yachts, a fleet of yachts, or a yacht with a chase boat, you’ll have more limited options, particularly in peak season. If your plan for your large group charter doesn’t work out, there are a couple of things to consider:

Day Cruises and Parties in Port

Just because yachts only have licenses to sleep 12 guests overnight, doesn’t mean you can’t host larger numbers on board for meals and parties. Licensing restrictions like these vary by country, so contact your Bluewater broker about whether you can still have a day cruise offshore with extra guests or throw a big party while on the dock.

The Supernumerary Secret

Some superyachts have additional accommodation for staff or extra staterooms, so if you are travelling with private staff like a nanny, PA, or beautician, speak to your charter broker about listing these members of your party as supernumeraries rather than guests. You can then have the full complement of 12 invited guests in addition to your personal staff.

There’s nothing worse than planning a dream charter, only to realise you can’t invite everyone you want. The key to big number charters is organising as early as possible. Plan in advance with Bluewater to have the fleet of your dreams ready to take care of your yacht charter.