What kinds of groups charter ships?
Companies and associations of all sizes. Companies charter ships for meetings at sea, while clubs and associations usually charter for locations. Birders might charter to go up the Amazon, a wine club might charter a river boat for a week to visit vineyards in France. Many families are booking charters for wedding, birthday or anniversary celebrations. Non-profit organizations are booking charters for fund-raising.
Whatever the purpose, you can tailor programs for any interest, combining retreats and meetings with wine seminars, golf excursions, scuba diving, or other special interests.
In the U. S. most popular charters are to see wildlife in Alaska, to meander on the Mississippi on a paddlewheeler, do wine cruises along the California coast, cruise the Great Lakes, or cruise along the East Coast between Maine and Florida. The Caribbean, Greek Islands and barges in Europe are the other top charter destinations.
Is chartering a boat right for you?
When you charter the ship, you have complete control over activities, and usually can choose port stops. The boat is yours, without any other passengers. You have no distractions, just bonding with group companions, being inspired by the sea, and being able to think with a clear head. You get out of a sterile hotel atmosphere onto the deck of a ship.
Even though you may not fill the ship to its full capacity, the price will be based on the entire capacity of the vessel.
Tips: Try to charter a ship that already will be in the area that you want and has an itinerary that you like. Otherwise there may be additional delivery or port charges. Charters require a substantial deposit up front so be certain of your intent before you sign a contract. Make arrangements as early as possible, preferably a year or more ahead.
Shirley Linde is editor of SmallShipCruises.com the popular website on small ships, and writes Shirley Linde's Cruise Letter. She is author of three cruise guides and 25 medical books. She also has a Medical Information Center at ShirleyLinde.com with links to information on various medical conditions. Linde lives in St Petersburg, Florida.
SmallShipCruises.com is also getting requests to charter ships for housing at special events such as the Cannes Film Festival, Monaco Grand Prix, or Mardi Gras.