Boating holiday or your first yacht charter – what to pack and what to expect

03.09.2019 Natalya Walker

You booked your yacht charter holiday, you discussed the itinerary and noted down the experiences you will be including in your boating holiday. If this is your first time (or even if it is not), here are a few things to help you get ready for the holidays. What to pack for the yacht charter and things to remember whilst on board.

What to pack for your boating holiday


To start with, there is no major difference as to how to pack for a yacht charter holiday vs a traditional stay. You can plan your clothing according to the season, your planned activities and comfort. Packing for a Caribbean winter sun getaway aboard a luxury catamaran or motor yacht rental in Ibiza in the summer would be, of course, different to packing for a sailing boat cruise in Norway in autumn or a stay on a narrowboat on one of the inland canals in the UK. However, here are a few things to consider in addition to the normal packing.

Here is my sample packing list for a week-long yacht charter holiday aboard a Catamaran in the summer.

  • Shorts x 2
  • Tshirts x 4 or 5
  • Casual dresses x 2 or 3
  • Going out outfits (no more than 2)
  • Bikinis and beachwear
  • Flip flops
  • Trainers
  • One pair of dressy shoes (heels or glamorous wedges)
  • Shell jacket
  • Hoody top
  • Pair of leggings
  • Camera
  • Make up bag (with simplified items, no more than 10, don’t forget waterproof mascara and eye liner)
  • Toiletries (do not bring full-sized bottles, they will not be convenient, think travel size)
  • Earplugs. Even if you are not a light sleeper it may be busy and noisy at the marina. Some people also not used to the sound of the waves, so earplugs will come handy
  • Medical kit. Just take what you usually pack like painkillers, plasters etc and add some anti-nausea pills. Even if you do not normally get seasick, the first day may be a good idea to take them if the sea is a little choppy
  • Protective waterproof case for my camera or phone to take pics in the water
  • Cables/adaptors needed depending on the country
  • Favourite playlist updated and ready!

All of this I pack into a soft bag and love the freedom of travelling light! Read on for more tips and advice from Natalya Walker.


Tip 1: Pack light


Remember there is limited storage space aboard a yacht charter

If your charter boat is under 55 ft chances are that no matter how spacious it is for the boat, you will still need to be conscious of space. So, a massive suitcase, for example, would not only be too big but also think where you going to store it on the boat. You don’t want to occupy cabin space with a large chunky suitcase. So if possible, stick to duffel bags or something soft you can fold away easily.

Of course, the type of charter boat, size of boat and the size of your group matter. If you are packing, say for Lagoon 450 and its 8 or even 10 of you (all cabins will be occupied) so no extra storage space, then you need to be conscious of space. If you are a couple however and you will have empty cabins on board you can take more as you will have storage.

Sailing yachts (monohull) are narrower than Catamarans and offer less space overall, so you want to be even more conscious of space. 

You can read here about differences between catamaran, a sailing yacht or a motor yacht

Overall, unless you anticipate ample space on board (you are going on a mega yacht or its just a two of you plus crew aboard a large Catamaran) the general rule is to be space-conscious. Avoid bulky items (large, hard-cased suitcases) and you will feel a lot more comfortable. Plus – its easier to carry. Once aboard – you will realise that you do not necessarily need that much, a bathing suit, a towel and a pair of shorts and you have all you need!


Tip 2: Pack clever


If you are going on a boat charter holiday, think about your itinerary. Of course, you will have stopovers on land to visit some restaurants and you may wish to have a few dressier items. You do not need too much, however. Life at sea is thrilling, freeing and so serene. Chances are very high you would just want to relax and be comfortable. So shorts, light dresses or light tops, comfortable shoes. If you are on a monohull sailing yacht you would want to have light shoes with good sole grips but no flip flops while sailing. Bare feet can also get easily injured on a sailing yacht.

Aboard a catamaran or motor yacht, this is not an issue so everything goes. You may still want to avoid high heels.


Tip 3: Must-haves


A shell jacket, a hoody top and a pair of comfortable non-slippery shoes. No matter what the season or the weather is – you will be in the open water and it can get windy. So it’s always a good idea to pack a shell jacket – it does not take much space at all but can protect from the wind and water! Hoody top is for warmth – if it gets slightly chilly you would want something cosy and warm under the shell jacket. Finally, the shoes – a comfortable pair of trainers with non-slippery soles – will always come handy.

I am not going to mention the obvious things such as bathing suits, cameras, etc – See the list at the start of this blog for all the things I would personally pack for a week long getaway on the boat (summer holiday list) – so you have a bit of a checklist for inspiration.


On the boat – who is who and what to expect from the skipper, hostess, and chef on board


Crew, captain, hostess, chef, steward – all of the names for various roles on board may sound unfamiliar. Therefore, I wanted to briefly explain “who is who” on board and what their responsibilities are. Therefore, you know what to expect and who to ask for what.



Let’s start with the definition of the crew. Generally, the crew means every single person on board. That is why, before the start of your charter you are asked to fill out a “crew list” – which normally then needs to get submitted to the relevant port authority. You will be asked for the information such as Full name (spelled exactly as per your passport), date of birth, passport number, passport issuing authority and perhaps a direct contact detail for a contact person in your party. In addition to you and your party (unless one or many of you have valid sailing/yachting licenses), you are likely to have a crew. If you do have a license you most probably know everything that is listed in this blog, so I will only focus on a crewed charter assuming that what guests will have.


Your skipper

As a minimum, you will have your charter skippered. Meaning, a seasoned professional skipper will sail/navigate the boat for the whole duration of your trip. A skipper is a source of beautiful knowledge – after all, he must have sailed/cruised the area numerous times, knows all the hidden stunning spots, best restaurants and beaches.

So even before you start – make sure you have a chat with a skipper, discuss what you and your group are after and ask questions, tell about your preferences and tastes! The skipper will be able to adjust the itinerary accordingly. One important thing to remember, however, is that skippers’ top priority is guests’ safety. So if you request a route that the skipper will deem dangerous (perhaps the weather has changed and you can no longer safely do the route) – it is his call and guests have to listen and oblige.



If you also have a hostess on board, his or her responsibility will include to cook simple light meals, serve your food and drinks and clear up after the guests. A hostess will wash the dishes and keep the boat tidy. A hostess is also responsible for keeping stock of supplies on board, so if any of the supplies running low it will be restocked accordingly at the next stop.



As opposed to the hostess, Chef on board is expected to cook more complex, gourmet or speciality meals. You would normally discuss with the chef well in advance about your groups’ needs and wants. Chef will source and stock groceries - so if you are after some fresh fish & seafood, it will be purchased in the local harbour and cooked extra fresh immediately.

Important to remember, that chef is not responsible for washing dishes after the guests or tidying up. So, if your crewed yacht charter or skippered catamaran charter has a chef but no hostess, it will be courteously of guests to do the washing up and pitch in with keeping the boat tidy.


Overall, as a general rule being on a boat is a lot about teamwork and sometimes offering a hand. Unless, of course, you are on a massive yacht with 20 strong crew – but then it’s a whole different ball game.


Put away your phone, be mindful, and enjoy your boat charter holiday


Finally, one of my strongest tips will be to encourage you to leave technology behind. Do not use the Wifi on board, put your phone away. Leave your emails unchecked at least during the day (if you must, do have 30 minutes of dedicated time a day to check and respond to anything urgent).


Use a traditional camera instead of the one on your phone – so you are not tempted. Swim, relax, ask your skipper to teach you to sail a bit (if you are on a sailing catamaran or a sailing yacht) as nothing teaches mindfulness more than being at sea, sailing a boat and working as a team, watching stunning sunrises on a free anchor with not another soul around. It’s truly precious to get away from all the noise. To feel the breeze, to jump off the boat into the crystal water, to dine al fresco, to sleep under the stars in the open sea. It’s a revitalising, a replenishing experience.

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