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Malta Eases Restrictions On Private Yachts That Carry Over 12 Passengers

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Yacht marina in Malta with superyacht in foreground and Maltese flag flying above marina



One of the biggest hurdles for large families and groups seeking to enjoy a private yacht charter vacation has been partially lifted by the yachting registration authorities in Malta.


In late December, 2016, Transport Malta, the administrative authority that oversees regulations for yachts flying the flag of Malta, introduced new guidelines for private yachts that carry more than 12 guests.

Long a stumbling block to the charter industry, most private charter vessels, no matter the size, were restricted to carrying no more than 12 passengers, even if enough cabins were available to accommodate more than 12 guests.  Yacht owners who wanted to bypass this restriction were forced to build their vessels to standards established for commercial ships and cruise liners – adding enormous costs to the project.  Most yacht owners elected to avoid the extra costs and burdensome regulations – and built luxury charter vessels for 12 or fewer guests.

Maltese authorities saw an opportunity to reduce restrictions on private yachts built to high safety standards, and to allow these safe, well-built and professionally-operated vessels to carry more than 12 passengers.  Ivan Sammut, registrar general for the Maltese flag, explain how Malta saw a gap in the market. “You have to evolve to stay relevant in this marketplace,” states Sammut. “Malta hopes to be more than just a European flagging alternative; we have a holistic view of the superyacht market and want to become a turnkey destination for private and commercial superyachts alike.”

The new certification, summarized in the “Guidelines for Pleasure Yachts Carriage Capacities,” is part of an ongoing Maltese initiative to introduce contemporary standards in the area of private yachting.  To qualify, a superyacht seeking to register in Malta and fly the Maltese flag:

  • Must be over 24 meters.
  • Not navigate beyond 150nm (nautical miles) from safe haven.
  • Be in class and in possession of the necessary stability booklet.
  • Comply with the Maltese Commercial Yacht Code.
  • Comply with all applicable international conventions.
  • Carry requisite safety equipment based on the number of persons on board.
  • Maintain a crew compliment in line with the commercial yacht code.

Jana Sheeder, President of 1-800 Yacht Charters, views the new regulations as long overdue. “It’s discouraging to turn away a large, extended families of 13 or more from their dream of enjoying the superyacht experience together on one yacht.  We anticipate many superyacht owners with vessels that feature cabins and capacity for more than 12 guests to register their yachts in Malta.  This is one more contemporary component in the growth of our private luxury yacht charter industry, and we hope other flagging authorities will follow Malta’s lead.”

Interested in a luxury yachting experience for your large family?  Text “MORE THAN 12” to 305-720-7245 for more information or fill out our convenient online booking form, and our team will be in touch with you right away.

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World’s Largest Yacht Charter Vessel Spotted In Malta

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The Palumbo superyacht facility is currently playing host to one of the most famous, and certainly the largest yacht charter vessel in the world – the 133 meter yacht SERENE, with exterior design and engineering by Espen Oeino and interior styling by Reymond Langton Design.

largest yacht charter vessel Serene in Malta - blue hull - white superstructure - rocky background - dock in foreground

After extensive renovations in the past two years, the Palumbo refit and repair yard offers a 160 meter graving dock, a covered 140 meter dock, and more than 400 meters of quay for alongside repairs.  Visiting yacht crews can enjoy various on-site amenities, including an on-site gym and game room. The Malta airport is also just a short drive away and offers direct flights to most major cities in Europe.

As the charter season draws to a close, the Palumbo yard is seeing an increase in activity, with Fincantieri yacht SERENE just one of several superyachts to have confirmed bookings at the refit and service center.

Have you spotted any of our charter yachts in your area?  If you see one of the Superyachts listed on our website, snap a photo and email it to us at  We’ll send you a complimentary eco-friendly tote bag for your efforts!

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