Image: Rm Elegant
SAPO Club International
The Rm Elegant has 15 cabins that can accommodate 30 guests and a 32 member crew. Costs run around $618,800 a week. Sip a Manhattan in one of her saloons, boasting a grand piano and live entertainment.
updated 10/2/2007 4:13:51 PM ET 2007-10-02T20:13:51

If the pitfalls of a cruise ship ruin the experience for you, there's a way to sail in style and avoid the crowded sunbathing deck, salty buffet meals and tourist trap ports-of-call: Rent a mega-yacht.

The days of compromising are over — so grab a nautical map, your deck shoes, and wallet. It’s time to sail anywhere you want on a floating palace. These boats might be the priciest up for charter today, but with them come many luxuries: spas, steam rooms and pools, sea toys such as Zodiacs and Whalers, top-notch security and privacy, helicopters, and, of course, the glamour of sailing open waters in a million-dollar vessel.

Like hiring a real estate broker to scout help you scout new apartments, the best way to charter a yacht is through a yacht broker. “Brokers spend considerable time and resources inspecting yachts and meeting crews around the world, so their recommendations are dependably based on firsthand knowledge,” explains Alev Karagulle, Director of Marketing & Communications, Nigel Burgess Group. “A broker provides contractual and financial safeguards that are essential.” And with the amount these mega-yachts cost, there is a lot of money at stake.

One of the most sophisticated ships you can call your own for a few weeks is the Christina O., named after the tragically deceased Christina Onassis by her father and previous owner Aristotle Onassis. Such legendary figures as J. Paul Getty, Greta Garbo, Jacqueline Kennedy, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe have all strutted this ship's decks. You can charter the Christina O. for $422,000 a week and sit at Ari's bar, where JFK met Winston Churchill, or head to the deck where Grace Kelly was wed.

If reliving a bit of history is not a priority, then consider chartering your own yacht. "We give guests the average speed and they can chart out their own course," says Robert Armon, Owner's Representative of the Christina O. "You can get off at any port." All personal yachts come with a crew of usually 20 people or more, so sailing skills are not required. Typically, the guests and captain map their course out before setting sail, but once at sea the guests are free to change their minds.

Don’t assume the size of these mega-yachts will compromise accessibility to intimate ports. Even if there isn't docking space at a certain port, the yacht can be moored off-shore and guests ferried by tender into town for the evening. "The mobility aspect of a yacht cannot be rivaled by any resort," says Karagulle. O'Mega, around $446,080 a week, stores two luxury 26-foot tenders and two 15-foot sports tenders. Lubecker Flender 40, around $868,644 a week, keeps two Sunseeker powerboats, a 30-foot Serenella, a Novamarine, Glastron, Boston Whaler and a 15-foot Zodiac.

Image: Indian Empress
The Indian Empress is a 312-foot yacht holding 12 guests and a 27-member crew. Cost runs around $700,000 a week. She houses a baby grand piano and an elevator from the main deck to the bridge deck for lazy evenings.
While exotic destinations in the Mediterranean like Monte Carlo or Capri have their draws, don’t forget to spend quality time on board. "The ideal of yachting is to sail three to four hours a day, anchor, and enjoy water sports, swim, relax," suggests Armon. The Rm Elegant, around $618,800 a week, has a 12-person spa/pool. Sea Dream 1, around $570,000 a week, hosts an Asian spa and three steam rooms. And Leander, around $571,200 a week, is equipped with fishing and scuba diving gear on board.

If too much fun in the sun begins to wear on your health, fear not — most of these ships, like Turama, around $868,644 a week, and Indian Empress, around $700,000 a week, have on-board hospitals. Or, in case of emergencies, many like the Princess Mariana, around $824,840 a week, keep a helicopter on board.

Image: Princess Mariana
Camper Nicholson
At 257 feet, you’ll find yourself spoiled on the Princess Mariana — she just got a $12 million face lift. For $824,840 a week, ride the wave on this six-deck yacht built to hold only 12 guests (and a 26-member crew).
Just as every other aspect of chartering a yacht is customized, so is the menu. “This is not just a butler allocated to your suite [as in a hotel], but an entire crew of anywhere from ten to 30 members and more, including a professional chef,” says Karagulle. All the yachts, including Alysia, around $912,079 a week, have professional chefs on board who will prepare a three- to five-course meal every night. To pay for yacht supplies such as food and drinks, Karagull explains that typically the charterer provides a 25-30 percent advance of the charter fee a month beforehand that the captain uses towards supplies.

Since all charters are completely customized, Nigel Burgess asks clients to be as specific as possible about the expectations they have and the kinds of experiences they are seeking. "In this way, the broker can make qualified evaluations on the suitability of a yacht and her crew, which dramatically increases the prospect of the charter being perfect," says Karagull.


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