Everything you need to know about The Yacht Week

Seeing as how I escaped this year’s The Yacht Week Croatia unscathed, I feel like I’m in a slightly better position than last year to give you the low-down on all things TYW. It’s a miracle, really. The land sickness only lasted a day, and my bruises were minimal kind of sort of.

My decision to join The Yacht Week this time around was pretty spontaneous. My friend Shaun said he wanted to do a sailing trip around Croatia, and I recommended TYW. I did such a good job of convincing him to sail that I convinced myself in the process. (Hey The Yacht Week – you hiring?) A quick look at my bank account confirmed that yes, I could do it! (If only I had the foresight to see the financial shitstorm ahead of me.) Therefore I jumped on a random catamaran with some random people and had a random, roaring good time.

Here’s my exclusive guide, because I am now a veteran. Sort of kind of.

WHAT IS THE YACHT WEEK?

The Yacht Week is a yachting trip taking place at various weeklong intervals throughout the year. You sign up for a boat – either by booking with friends, booking a cabin, or using The Crew Finder – and then sail in a flotilla with dozens of other yachts. Throughout the day you do all kinds of fun activities, whether it’s touring around islands, swimming, or checking out hidden caves. In the evenings, you party like you’ve never partied before.

That’s my first disclaimer. If you’re not into partying, this is NOT the trip for you. Your week will be filled with ridiculous costumes, loud techno music, and half-naked men and women. To be fair, even if this isn’t your usual sort of scene, TYW is NOTHING like the real world. I’d rarely hang out with 20-something frat boys but TYW seems to be the exception with everything. Everyone is open-minded, fun loving, and just downright wonderful. I cannot rave about TYW enough.

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WHERE DO I SAIL

You’ve got all kinds of options! I’ve done Croatia twice now (there are two different routes), and both trips were spectacular. There are also British Virgin Islands, Thailand, Greece, Italy, and Turkey. TYW in Croatia and Greece takes place all summer long. Italy and Turkey have limited weeks (for now). Thailand and BVI take place during North America’s coldest months, making for a good mid-winter escape. Both destinations do epic New Year’s sails.

Something I noticed this year: I sailed on the second last week of the season, Week 35, at the end of August. The age range for participants was MUCH higher than last year’s when I joined TYW for the very first sailing week. I don’t know why that is, but my friend Laura and I speculated it was because perhaps the younger college kids were preparing to go back to college by the end of August. Either way, everyone partied just as hard as they did last year, but I preferred this year’s mishmash of people.

HOW DO I FIND A CREW TO SAIL WITH?

Last year five of my friends and I booked a small racing yacht. We were trying to be budget minded. Filling a boat with friends only can be sometimes complicated, as TYW has a strict guy-to-girl ratio quota, assumedly because they don’t want dudes broing out all over the place. So you might be able to fill your boat with your entire group of friends, but you might also be lacking a girl or dude.

If you don’t have a large group of friends to sail with, you can rent an individual berth on a yacht with other randoms renting individual berths. Keep in mind it’s still a two person room, though, and if you don’t have a friend to share with you’ll have to pay the price for two people.

Random crew members sometimes make the best crew members. Martina and I, for example! You can also use The Yacht Week’s Crew Finder, which is what I did for this year’s trip. Often people will drop out of a trip, or a crew will have to add a girl to balance the ratio, and so they’ll advertise here. You email the leader to learn more info. If you’re REALLY flexible with dates, chances are you can find a heavily reduced price to hop on with a crew last minute.

I highly advise Skyping or setting up a chat with your crew leader, or potential individual crew members. If you’re good at reading people, you’ll know pretty quick whether or not you’ll click with the other crew. I had several offers to join various yachts, but went with my Starfish gang because my Skype chat went so well, and because everyone was in their late twenties/early thirties, and was all working professionals. I figured I’d mesh best with them. On the other hand I met a girl who sailed with a bunch of Brits who spent most of the time doing drugs, which isn’t really my scene at all.

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WHAT KIND OF YACHTS ARE AVAILABLE?

Everything! From tiny racing yachts, to large mono-hulls, to full-sized catamarans. I’ve gotta say though, the difference between splurging on a large and comfy catamaran instead of being budget-minded and opting for a smaller yacht is just all kinds of crazy. I will NEVER do a small yacht ever again! Having all that extra space and comfort on a catamaran is so unbelievably valuable. Plus NOTHING beats lounging in a hammock over the Adriatic as you’re sailing.

You can also splurge on a hostess to join your boat. She or he will take care of two meals a day, plus will always ensure that the cabin area stays clean and tidy. Unless you have a really hands-on, responsible crew, a hostess is SO worth the money.

PREPARING TO SAIL

I’m going to do a complete The Yacht Week packing list on a separate blog post because I believe it’s a crazy valuable asset to have. Half of my crew that packed massive suitcases barely used half their stuff.

The same goes with stocking up on provisions before you sail. In some cases (BVI and maybe Thailand), you plan beforehand and the provisions are delivered to you on the day that you sail. In Europe, however, this is something you must do yourself. It’s important to sit down and think about everything you’ll need…while considering how much fridge space and storage space is available on the yacht (not a lot). Pro tip: You can literally never have enough booze, especially if you’re hosting boat parties, and the best place for stocking up is at a supermarket near the marina before you sail. This part sucks, not gonna lie. But once all your stuff is tidily packed away and loaded, you’re FREE to enjoy vacation!

Prepare a massive music list before you arrive. I mean 100+ hours of music. You’ll mostly want to listen to techno, house, and pop…but some alternative stuff does help when you’re chilling. It helps to bring a back-up battery pack as well, for charging iPhones, etc. Our USB port didn’t work, and if you’re not connected to shore power, you’re not able to charge your goods.

Figure out what events are happening before you leave your home country! For example, before sailing in Croatia this year, my crew knew that we had to have outfits for the White Party, costumes for the regatta, etc. Showing up at the White Party not wearing white is a big NO NO. It’s pretty much the most fun event all week. Also, don’t forget your country flags! My crew was divided between Americans, Swedes, and Canadians. We Canadians forgot our flag, of course. Bummer. When it comes to inflatables and fun water equipment, pack anything that you especially want along for the ride (i.e. goofy giant inflatables, massive water guns, etc.). The rest you can pick up around the marina or in the port town. Pack as light as possible.

A lesson I also learned from last year: everyone has to pool his or her money in a kitty. Honestly, there is no easier way to manage your money than to do it this way. Fortunately one of our crew members, Brian, is the kind of person who’s responsible as fuck, so we let him handle it and he handled it perfectly. That money can be dipped into when it’s time to pay for group meals, stocking up on provisions, paying for dock fees, etc. If you have one reliable, trustworthy crew member willing to take this on, let them.

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BUDGETING

Do not be tight with your money on The Yacht Week. If there’s one week a year where you let yourself go, forget about spending, and absolutely, 100% live in the moment…make it The Yacht Week. I fell into the budget trap a little again this year and stressed out quite a bit by the end of the week. If you want to do it RIGHT (big boat, hostess, big spending), I recommend saving somewhere between $2500 – $3500 CAD for the week in Europe.

We had some really memorable meals on our trip! Also take into account that you’ll be feeding your skip and tipping him at the end of the trip.

WHILE SAILING

One of the most important rules of The Yacht Week: Take good care of your skipper! He or she is responsible for everything, and likely knows all the best places to book reservations for dinners, drinks, etc. It’s not an easy job, and it’s the responsibility of the crew to make sure he or she is well fed, hydrated, and content. Skippers also tend to get their own rooms on the yacht, so keep that in mind as well.

If you don’t have a hostess, plan your meals in advance. Generally, the easiest meals to put together are pasta dishes, salads, hamburgers/hotdogs, sandwiches, etc. Fortunately my crew was REALLY well balanced – I don’t like cooking, but I don’t mind cleaning up afterwards. Often two of the girls would prepare food for the crew and then the others and myself would help clean up afterwards. We worked really well together! And you MUST ensure a tidy cabin, because sooner or later flies start becoming a problem and you will want to murder everything.

Take good care of your boat. I can’t stress this one enough. Any damages could mean a WHOPPING fine, and who has time for that?

Appreciate your surroundings. Take it all in. You’ll see some unbelievably beautiful sights…unless you’re blind drunk the whole time.

Make friends. Don’t be shy; hop from boat to boat. I’ve never come across a boat that wasn’t welcoming. We had an epic catamaran party one evening and we kept some liquor out to share with guests. We earned quite a favourable reputation for ourselves (we kept running into a group of Spaniards who told us repeatedly we were their favourite crew!).

And, take good care of YOURSELF. Getting blackout drunk is not a fantastic idea when you’re on a yacht. There are too many risks involved. Look out for your other crew members as well.

AFTER SAILING

The final night’s party is usually an epic party that goes on until the last person leaves the dance floor, but then you have to be off the yacht at 9 AM with all your stuff ready to go. It sucks. There’s no way around it – it SUCKS.

Consider you’ll maybe have three hours of sleep, and how sucky that is if you’re flying out of the port city that afternoon or night. I ended up being in the airport for close to six hours before I could leave Split, and it was a nightmare. I’ve never been so tired in my life. Plus Split’s airport is nowhere near capable of handling large crowds, and I couldn’t even find a place to sit down. If I had my time back, I would have stayed at the Airbnb with the rest of my crew for the night, just to catch up a little on sleep.

Also, don’t forget to tip your skip and hostess! For some reason, my crew didn’t do this last year. We were completely ignorant about it, although or skip was incredible. Our skipper this year, Anders, was also amazing and totally deserved every penny he earned. Skippers don’t generally make a lot of money sailing, so let them know how much you value their time and effort. (Same goes for hostesses.)

Eventually The Yacht Week becomes a sort of cult. Many people are repeat customers, and there are a whole slew of FB groups dedicated to keeping TYW vibes fresh year-round. TYW Withdrawals is a fun one, and typically there will be private groups per your week number so that you can connect with people you met while sailing.

What did I miss? Do you have anything to add? Any questions? Leave a comment!

  • September 12 2015
    TXcc

    Hey Candice – great article! It is so much fun to read about this adventure. I’ve been researching TYW and would love your perspective. I have a group from the U.S. – we would be a mixed crew with 4 guys and 4 or 5 girls. The guys are all mid-late 30’s and girls are all late 20’s – early 30’s – we are all single, in goodshape, and can party with the best of them and are looking for an epic trip to celebrate some milestones – are we too old for TYW demographic? Thanks!

    • September 13 2015

      You’re definitely not too old! Last year I felt a bit old, but not this year…most people seemed to be in that age range, and even if they weren’t, nobody cares in the slightest! I don’t think the age topic ever comes up, haha. You’ll have the best time ever!

      • September 14 2015
        TXcc

        Thanks a ton for your response Candice!

  • June 17 2016
    Danny Smith

    Hey There

    Love the blog for sure. You seemed to have an epic adventure. I actually just heard about this trip yesterday while talking to somebody about Ultra Miami. Realized that Croatia also hosts an Ultra Music festival which in short led me to this blog. How much did you spent total on your second trip to TYW? I’m trying to figure a reasonable budget to work with. I read your blog and figured you would be the perfect individual to talk to. We are planning on getting some people together for the summer of 2018. I would be going much sooner but prior engagements force my hand. I’ll be 33 also. Hope that’s not to old.
    Thanks,
    Daniel

    • June 17 2016
      Candice

      Hey there! 33 is definitely not too old. Most of my crew last year were in that age range. It really depends on how you want to do it. My first year, me and my friends were on tighter budgets so we booked the smallest boat without a hostess or anything. Last year, my crew booked a massive luxurious catamaran, and I think it was just under $1000 each for the week. You can pay more for a hostess as well, if you don’t want to cook and clean up. She’s probably worth the money. Last year I spent about $1500, but if you wanna go ALL OUT then $2000 is probably a safer bet.

      • June 19 2016
        Daniel

        Hey Hey,
        Thanks for the response. I got it all figured out. All said and done this trip will be upwards of $9000 for flight, couple days in hotel in Split plus yacht and spending money. It’s something that I have to experience tho, we took a trip to Ibiza last year and it was almost as much. You only live once. Since reading your blog I see your from Newfoundland. I took a trip on the island a few years ago. Stayed in St. John and did the East Coast Trail. Beautiful land. It’s a place I will return to again one day.

        • June 22 2016
          Candice

          You definitely won’t regret going, I can promise you that! I’m hoping to maybe do BVI this year, but we shall see.

          And I’m so glad you loved NFLD! People rarely take the time to visit! Haha. If you’re ever back again, hit me up.

  • June 17 2016
    Daniel

    Not sure if my comments are posting. Hmmm

  • January 13 2017
    George

    Hello Candice. I loved both of your blog posts about your TYW adventures in Croatia. Some really great information in there. Makes me super excited for my trip. I am attending TYW Croatia route this summer. I just had a question about the “extra fees kitty” that you talk about. I understand that these extra fees such as water, fuel, port fees, etc are to be paid as you go. Also food is purchased by us before we embark. I agree that making a kitty to pool all of our money is way easier than trying to divide everything up. I’m assuming that these fees and costs are paid in the local currency (Croatian Kuna)? It was a little confusing because many people refer to these fees by speculating in their home currency. Also how much did you guys each give to the kitty to cover these costs? Thanks so much for any tips you have. Are there any other “hidden” costs that you may think of that we should be aware of?

    • January 16 2017
      Candice

      George, you’re going to LOVE it! Seriously. It’s the best.

      Yeah, it’s best to sort the kitty out in Croatian Kuna if you’re travelling with different nationalities. I can’t remember what we put in — maybe $100 each, to start. And then I think we replenished once or twice, and whatever was leftover, we added to the tip for our skipper. (That’s a hidden cost you might not know about.) There weren’t really any other surprise fees, but I will say…whatever your budget is, add at least an extra $500 to it.

  • March 06 2017
    Vivian Murray

    Hey, great blog! I’m also from NFLD! I’m doing TYW this summer in Greece. I splurged and I’m going on a nice catamaran with a hostess but I’m wondering how much you recommend just for spending money? After everything else I’ve got 1000 budgeted for spending, do you think that’s enough?

    • March 14 2017
      Candice

      That’s totally enough! You’re well set with a catamaran and hostess! Totally jealous right now

  • March 21 2017

    How much would you recommend planning to tip for the hostess and then the skipper?

    • March 29 2017
      Candice

      I THINK we each tipped about $100US after the trip was over. But I can’t entirely remember, honestly.

  • April 24 2017
    Dalice Amoré

    Hi! Did you create the second blog for what to back for yacht week? I’m going in August I’m very excited! Thanks for the great read!

  • April 24 2017
    Natasha Keith

    Hi,

    How would i go about getting a big room? I want a giant boat and big room ha

    xx going with 1 girlfriend and want to be relaxed

    • May 09 2017
      Candice

      You can book cabin rooms on other boats!

  • May 03 2017
    Harry Cowles

    Hi there, nice review! I am off to yacht week on week 24 in Croatia. Obviously pretty excited, cost are obviously something I’m thinking about but I am planning to spend approx £150 per day?! My wife and I (don’t worry we know what tyw is about but have to do it!) have booked cabin only and as you have done this by the look of it?! When did tyw let you know what group of people you were with? Thanks again for the blog!

    • May 09 2017
      Candice

      Hi Harry, I ended up going with the Crewfinder to find some people rather than booking an individual cabin! But I think booking individually is just as fine.

  • June 24 2017
    Luis Harper

    Hi Candice, great blog!Thanks for sharing this info! I’m going to TYW this summer but I have some doubts about how much money should I be taking on my budget.
    We will have a skipper and a hostess, so after their tips, do you think that 500-600 euros would be enough for the kitty, dinners and parties? Or how much would you recommend?

    • July 08 2017
      Candice

      I think that’s a good amount, really! But it depends on how crazy you wanna go, haha. It can pretty much be as expensive as you want it to be

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