Delivering Your Superyacht Experience Since 1976
local and international
toll-free north america

Tag Archives: Questions to ask

How to Avoid a Yacht Charter “Vacation From Hell”

Posted on


Recently, fitness expert Jillian Michaels took to social media to recount what she described as a disastrous Italy private luxury yacht charter vacation.  Michaels recounted arriving to find the yacht, “…not only filthy, but it had no hot water, no air con when not docked, no wifi, partial electricity, it was clearly in total disrepair.”  Via Facebook, the fitness guru warned her social media followers to beware of online scams. “These scams are becoming extremely prevalent…so be careful when you are dealing with rentals of any kind,” she wrote.

Michaels’ online posts were picked up by mainstream media and even profiled on Television’s syndicated newsmagazine, “Inside Edition.”

Collage of photos of crew members on a yacht, Jillian Michaels, and a private Italian charteryacht


Michaels’ comments lead us to two points:

*Was this a scam?  In our opinion – NO.

*Could more have been done to avoid what the press has coined as a “Vacation from Hell?”   ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!



“I’m confident this is not scam,” states yacht charter maven Jana Sheeder, President of 1-800 Yacht Charters, a company that specializes in discreet private luxury yacht charter vacations for celebrities and UHNWI’s. “While we were not involved in this charter, the client did use a professional charter broker from a well-known company – a competitor of ours with lots of experience and a solid standing in our industry.”   

In fact, that charter broker’s actions were scrutinized by the Ethics Committee of the Charter Yacht Brokers Association.  The Committee unanimously found the broker acted in good faith and did not commit any ethics violations.

Clearly, however, something went awry for the charter to end after just 4 days of an expected 12 day  trip.  Exactly what happened is still not clear, as both sides are pointing the finger at each other. Michaels feels she was duped, while the charter brokerage asserts Michaels was in violation of her charter agreement.



If the yacht was, as Michaels asserts, “…in disrepair,” the question that must be asked is: What more can a prospective yacht charter customer do to ensure the yacht is fully operational and what we refer to in the industry as, “charter ready?”

Sheeder suggests two easy steps:


  • ASK FOR A CHECKLIST – Attesting all electrical and mechanical components required for a successful charter are fully-operational.  “We have a simple checklist similar to a pre-flight checklist used by a pilot to make sure a plane is safe and ready for takeoff,” says Sheeder.  “In essence, we are directly asking the Captain of the yacht prior to the execution of the charter agreement to confirm the yacht is in Bristol  (clean) condition, that the watertoys  (waverunners, tender, etc.) are fully-operational, the yacht’s generators and central air conditioning system are working correctly, etc.  We even directly ask if there are any foul odors emanating from the toilets and bilges, or fumes from the engine room.”


Sheeder then reviews the checklist results and informs the client of any issues, and the timeframe required to make the necessary repairs. “If we, together with the client, are not completely                 comfortable with the situation or the crew’s ability to guarantee an exceptional private yacht charter experience, we move on and look for another yacht.”

Sheeder revisits the checklist with the captain three or four days prior to the charter to see if any last minute problems have occurred. “Yachts are complex, mechanical vessels with many moving parts that can develop problems  – just like an automobile.  Many problems are eliminated or minimized by ongoing maintenance, but sometimes, things break unexpectedly.  By checking prior to the charter, we can inform the client of the situation as well as estimate the time it will take to make the needed repairs.  Most situations are minor and the charter can proceed with no unexpected ‘surprises’ for the client and their guests.”



Many charter brochures feature beautiful photos or videos of the charter yacht.  But how do you know when the photos were taken or when the video was shot?

Sheeder suggests using current technology apps to make certain what you see is what you get.  “We try to personally inspect the yachts we recommend to our clients, but a lot can change from the time we saw the yacht at a boat show or a private viewing, and the time the client charters the vessel,” says Sheeder.  “We have our online charter brochures date coded in our computer. If the images are old, we reach out to the yacht owner and his management team and request current photos.  Even casual videos shot on cellphones can capture the overall condition of the boat, and most crews are eager to show their vessel in the best possible light.”  

Sheeder also recommends apps like Apple’s FaceTime for iPhones, and Facebook Messenger and Google Duo for Android phones. “Short of the client’s inspecting the yacht themselves, there’s nothing better than a live video feed, with a real-time conversation with the crew, as they walk through and film the yacht and the client watches live.”    


If you’re considering a private luxury yacht charter for your next vacation, remember to probe beyond the tantalizing online yacht brochure.  Ask your broker if they use a pre-charter checklist and can provide current photos or real-time streaming video of the yacht in its current condition.  If they do not or cannot, consider hiring a broker who can go the extra step to protect your vacation investment.  By taking these simple steps prior to arriving for your charter, you can greatly minimize the chances of anything less than a memorable holiday at sea…

Winter is just around the corner.  Take advantage of pre-season specials on yachts based in the sunny Bahamas, South Florida, and the Caribbean.  Your private yacht charter holiday is only a phone call away.

Call  1-800 YACHT CHARTERS [toll-free north America +1.800.922.4824 or international +1.305.253.7245] for more information, or email:  We are eager to plan The Superyacht Experience for you.

This entry was posted in Yacht Charter Frequently Asked Questions Educational and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Posted on