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Which is Better: Bareboat or Crewed Yacht? Using a Broker or Charter Company?

Depending if you charter with your family or friends, your interests, sailing capabilities and time to set up the sailing trip, you should understand the industry a bit and how it is presented. An informed decision can drastically improve the result of your sailing vacation no matter where in the world.

Girls waving hello on crewed yacht charter in San Blas.
Happy sailing!

Deciding wether to rent a bareboat or a crewed yacht in the Caribbean and to do so through a catamaran/sailboat owner, broker, or charter company are the first steps prior to what should be a once in a life time and memorable experience.

Here’s a quick guide to help you in your quest of the dream vacation.

Type of Service

Bareboat Yachts

Not available in San Blas due to legislation and complex reef systems that makes for complicated navigation planning only to be achieved by local captains.

Aerial view of San Blas islands. Navigation hazards and reefs are some reasons for renting a crewed catamaran.
What's the heading, captain?

With a bareboat comes significant responsibility for navigation, maintenance, and safety, requiring substantial sailing experience and potentially higher insurance costs. Without the convenience of a crew, renters must handle all aspects of the trip, including provisioning and managing resources, which can be challenging but rewarding for those seeking adventure and self-sufficiency.

Renting a bareboat in the BVIs is the thing. Heading over to Soggy Dollar bar also...

Soggy Dollar Bar. Renting a bareboat catamaran offers freedom to create custom itineraries.
Soggy dollar in the BVI

Renting a bareboat catamaran offers the freedom to create custom itineraries and enjoy privacy which for some touristic and mainstream sailing destinations is fine but not in San Blas.

Bareboat charter licenses are not permitted in the region of San Blas. Marinas are non-existent and repairing any possible damage to the boat is a painstaking task, this is another reason why we must have a local captain onboard our catamarans in San Blas. Provisioning is an impossible task in San Blas and all except seafood has to be flown in. Even fish and lobster you will not find if you are not in the right place for Gunas to pass through after their day of fishing.

Crewed Yachts

A crewed yacht vacation is where you charter a yacht or catamaran for that matter that comes fully staffed with a professional crew, including a captain, chef, and often additional crew members like a hostess or deckhand to help with the overall experience. In San Blas, some of our boats have an indigenous on board and this is extremely useful to open de doors of the deep San Blas and the extra special places.

If you were to book a bareboat and not a crewed charter you will hardly know enough from the local indigenous communities or where the best reefs for snorkeling are for example and that leaves you out of the game. We have seen plenty of sailing Youtubers visit San Blas for days and only scratch the surface. What a pity, but then again, what you can't see won't hurt you.

Albino shark in San Blas. Know the secrets of San Blas renting a crewed catamaran charter.
Albino shark somewhere in San Blas.

The crew handles all aspects of the sailing vacation, from navigating and sailing to preparing gourmet meals and ensuring your comfort.

This type of vacation allows you to relax and enjoy a personalized experience, while being pampered and catered to throughout your journey.

A bucket of fresh lobster. Know where to find it when sailing in a crewed catamaran
Spiny lobster in San Blas

Who to book with:

Catamaran owner

These come with a dedicated crew, usually a captain and a chef who live on the boat and might be a couple. These yachts are also privately owned and operate through agents or any social media. Booking a catamaran directly with a catamaran owner has its own risks since there is no company behind and no secure payment method, much less a reputation. We are not saying this is not a viable choice. Like most of the players, there are good ones and bad ones. Try to delay payments, request legal info and read reviews before committing to a catamaran charter.


A yacht charter broker is an intermediary in the form of company or sole professional who will assist you in planning and booking yacht charters. Some of these players are worth it and some aren’t, pay attention to reviews online and comments from other clients. Think of a yacht broker as an insurer of your trip and we all know how insurance companies are... The responsibilities of a broker include understanding the client's preferences and requirements, recommending suitable yachts, arranging viewings, negotiating terms and prices, and managing the booking process. Brokers tend do disappear since most charter companies are getting better at communicating and dealing with eventualities.

Charter Agency

A sailing charter agency is a business that specializes in renting out yachts to individuals, groups or families for spending their vacations aboard. These companies, depending on their location provide either bareboats or all inclusive service sailing charters. These companies offer a range of vessels, from small sailboats to large and luxurious yachts. Unlike sole operators or yacht owners, if your sailboat or catamaran breaks down, has an engine or electrical problem, which is something that can happen, you are guaranteed another vessel to prevent a cancellation, thus securing your trip and all arrangements around it. This is why we highly recommend using a charter agency that has its own fleet of boats or that has enough leverage in the market to offer solutions in case anything goes south.

Now you have the info and can book your yacht charter according to your needs.

Don’t forget we are here to help.


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