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Chartering a Ship of Your Own offers many exciting and enticing advantages (detailed in Advantages of a Ship Charter), but also includes some considerations that we recommend you explore before booking your ship:
Chartering is a Major Commitment:
Unlike a group cruise (or hotel) contract, full ship charter agreements require that you guarantee payment in full and in advance. There is no attrition clause for a reduction in guest rooms, no negotiations about selling unused cabins back to the cruise line- from the moment your contract is signed, you literally take on the ownership of the sailing you have purchased. Most cruise lines require all charterers to sign an irrevocable letter of credit. You should also expect that should you decide to cancel, you will be billed for the full amount of your contract. This is because once you’ve signed your agreement, the cruise line will remove your cruise segment from their selling inventory.
Select Your Ship Carefully!
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when deciding which ship makes the most sense for your charter:
- Selecting the appropriate ship for your group size is crucial for maximum cost effectiveness but be aware that this will probably mean utilizing all or most of the guest rooms, including some with no windows.
- Be sure that if your program requires functions that include all of the attendees, your ship has a public room that can accommodate everyone at one time.
- Pay close attention to the dining room capabilities on board. It may not be possible for everyone to dine at one time for example so if dining together is a major criterion for your event, you may need to explore other options or consider alternatives. Would an outside event (deck party or reception) be suitable instead for one of the nights? What about taking over a venue while in port? The cruise line may be able to offer you some suggestions which may not be exactly what you have done in previous programs, but often times a slight compromise is well worth the many rewards of a full ship charter!
Charter Rates are based on the entire capacity of the Vessel:
Although you may not wind up filling the ship to capacity, your price for a charter is based on a high percentage of the ship being filled at double occupancy.
- Surcharges may apply for on-board revenue loss (casino, beverages, shore excursions, etc.) should your numbers fall below capacity levels.
Booking Your Ship - The Earlier the Better:
Generally speaking, cruise lines finalize their itineraries a year or so in advance (sometimes longer) to enable them to print their brochures and start selling those cabins to the public. If you are interested in a full ship charter and especially if you have a specific itinerary in mind (or specific ports that you want to start and end your charter from), it is in your best interest to make your decision as early as possible. In some cases, the cruise line will then create the rest of their itineraries around your charter schedule.
Last minute Opportunities
There are times however, when last minute opportunities do arise- such as if a line has to move a ship to a new location (repositioning) which results in some additional available sailing days that may not have been an option previously. Occasionally a charterer cancels their contract, and the cruise lines (or their travel provider) work to find another client to take over the contract. Seasite is a place where these types of opportunities will be showcased.
Passenger “Buy Offs”
This is a common term that relates to what happens when a charterer wants a specific date but there are already passengers booked on that sailing. The cruise line will then have to inspire those passengers to move to a different date (often with special pricing incentives) and the cost for these “buy offs” are then included in the charter contract.
Consider seeking Legal Advice before Signing Your Charter Agreement
Most corporations require that their legal teams review all major contracts and in this case, especially since chances are this is a new and different experience for you, we suggest that you seek their advice prior to signing your contract agreement.