Why Is Chartering a Yacht Like on ‘Below Deck’ Far Less Expensive Than Owning One?

Below Deck provides viewers with a sneak peek into what it is like to travel aboard a luxury superyacht. Guests travel to the most exotic locations in style, complete with an entire staff and personal chef.

Chartering a superyacht in locations like the Mediterranean or Asia can run close to $1 million a week. In fact, NBA great, Magic Johnson and his wife recently dropped a cool $5 million to travel aboard the 281 foot Aquila for a five-week vacation. Kelly Dodd from The Real Housewives of Orange County partied with her friends aboard the 196.8 foot Elysian. Chartering the Elysian will set vacationers back about $413,500 per week.

Hannah Ferrier
Hannah Ferrier | Virginia Sherwood/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

But wouldn’t be better to just own the yacht instead of being a charter guest? Like owning a home, wouldn’t it make more sense, especially if you love and live the yachtie lifestyle? Maybe not.

The concept sounds better than it really is

Shows like Below Deck offer a pretty realistic view of what a luxury superyacht looks like. From the tastefully appointed guest cabins to the scenic aft deck, viewers get a good idea of what’s in store on one of these massive vessels.

Even though chartering a yacht for what seems to be a blip in time seems expensive, the costs to own one is far greater, according to Business Insider. Hillary Hoffower has written about yachting for three years and explains how the continuous expense could break you as an owner.

June Foster
June Foster Instagram

First of all, the cost to purchase the yacht is staggering. “Yachts over 100 feet cost $1 million per 3.3 feet — and that’s not counting costs for upkeep,” she wrote. “Some older yacht models around 80 feet may sell for six figures, but a superyacht will most likely set you back by at least a few million. An 84-foot yacht built in 2002 and refit in 2015, for example, can cost $1.45 million, while a 270-foot yacht built in 2013 can cost $132 million.”

But that’s just the beginning of the money hemorrhage

Like an owner of a luxury vehicle, your maintenance costs are going to be higher too. “Owners can expect to spend about 10% of the purchase price annually on operating and maintaining a yacht. That’s $1 million a year for a $10 million superyacht, although it varies,” according to Hoffower.

Also, you can’t maintain the boat yourself. Owners need to hire a crew. Which means, “The bigger the boat, the more crew — and salaries — you need. A 130-foot boat with five crew members can cost $32,500 a month. Deckhands earn an average of $3,083 to $3,574 a month, depending on the boat size. Captains get paid more, earning an average of $7,750 to $19,961 a month.”

Kate Chastain, Adrian Martin, Ashton Pienaar
Kate Chastain, Adrian Martin, Ashton Pienaar | Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Beyond your crew members, you’ll need to hire day workers to help support crew work. One captain aboard a 178-foot yacht said he spent $14,255 on day workers alone for a two-month stint in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Yacht owners also need to pay for the ‘fun stuff’ too

What about all that awesome food you plan to enjoy? One captain spent $50,000 on provisioning for a two month charter season. This included both food and wine.

Of course, you also want to go somewhere if you are on a yacht. “Going somewhere” costs money too. Fuel alone can set you about $400,000 a year. Plus just being able to dock your yacht also isn’t free. “An 80-foot boat can run $1,200 a month, while a bigger boat in a more coveted slip can cost as much as $6,000 monthly. A superyacht owner can expect to spend $350,000 on dockage a year,” according to Hoffower.

Sandy Yawn
Sandy Yawn |Virginia Sherwood/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Then there are other expenses such as regular maintenance for wear and tear, insurance, administrative costs and more. All these expenses likely explain why it is so expensive to just charter a yacht. “A 205-foot yacht with a $3.5 million annual operating budget can charge $425,000 a week,” Hoffower wrote. “The price can vary on season and yacht size and includes costs for food and drink, fuel, harbor fees and dockage, and delivery fees.