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Too Many Passengers Can Make Your Luxury Yacht Charter Illegal

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On August 19, US Coast Guard officers in Miami boarded 147 foot M/Y Golden Touch II, and terminated the luxury yacht day charter for multiple safety violations. The owner and captain of the yacht face civil penalties up to $41,456 for the violations.

Aerial photograph of motoryacht Golden Touch II. Red hull and white superstructure with red satellites on top of yacht.

Upon boarding, the officers counted 47 passengers, and cited the captain for carrying more paying passengers than the vessel is certified to have (12). Other violations included the lack of a valid certificate of inspection, failure to have a drug and alcohol program for the crew, and the lack of a valid stability letter.

“Tragically, people have lost their lives on illegal charters, as was seen in the case of the vessel Jaguar in the Tampa Bay area and in the case of the Miami Vice yacht in Miami,” said USCG Capt. Ladonn Allen, of the 7th District prevention department. “The unsafe atmospheres that these types of companies and unlicensed captains, who knowingly engage in illegal activity, create on their boats show a complete disregard for passenger safety and have been responsible for multiple deaths in Florida alone.  We cannot stress enough to anyone looking to charter a boat to verify the captain’s license and safety of the vessel.”

Photo of US Coast Guard boat on Biscayne Bay with Miami Florida skyline in background. Sunny day.


164ft Yacht Amarula Sun – Loaded with Watertoys for Active Travelers

So how many passengers can a yacht legally carry?  In reality, the answer can vary, and depends upon many variables (e.g. the type of certification the yacht holds; the type of license the captain possesses; etc.).

As a general rule, most yachts for hire are restricted to 12 passengers, and require special certification to transport more than 12 guests.  

What can you do, to make sure the boat you hire is operating legally?  Retain the services of a professional yacht charter broker – someone who knows the rules, has experience, and can determine which yacht and crew is right for you.  We realize it can be tempting to “go direct” and cut out the charter broker (who is essentially a middle-man/woman earning a commission for arranging the charter, like Hertz or Avis, in renting a car).  However, the possible savings of going direct are not what you might expect.  Many yacht owners set a rate that does not change – even if a broker is involved.  Most yacht charters pay commissions to the brokers from the rate paid on the boat — the charter fee is NOT “marked up” by ethical and reputable brokers, unlike going direct.

Protect yourself and go with professionals who know and obey the rules of chartering. Your safety, satisfaction, and memorable experience are of utmost importance to us.  To book your private luxury yacht charter vacation now, contact the professionals at 1-800 Yacht Charters at

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