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The cost of owing a superyacht

Buying a superyacht is not cheap. A superyacht is the most expensive item  on the consumer market. There is no logical reason to buy one as they are loss-making ventures from day one. Real estate appreciates in value, superyachts depreciate. There are the additional expenses, like yacht crew, dockage, fuel, and maintenance, that are often underestimated at purchase. These have to be factored into the five-year budget.


Owning a superyacht is more than an emotional attraction to a life on the waves. It is more than indulgence. It is the aggrandizement of ego on an epic scale. Superyachts are the equivalent of medieval castles. They are there to be noticed. The costs of this are never-ending – the accepted standard is at least 10% of the purchase cost.  Yacht crew, dockage, fuel, and maintenance are just the start.

How much does it cost to run a superyacht –  a yacht that exceeds 100 feet in length is the usual benchmark for a yacht to be classed as ‘super’. ? The purchase cost is about $1 million per 3.3 feet . Some older yacht models around 80 feet may sell for six figures, but a superyacht will most likely cost several million. An 89-foot yacht can cost $1.5million, while a 295-foot yacht can cost $45 million.

Then come the running costs—  say $1 million a year for a $10 million superyacht, although this varies from year to year according to use, maintenance, refit and if the yacht is chartered commercial.

The bigger the boat, the more crew you need. A 130-foot boat with five crew members can cost $32,500 a month. Let us reckon on deckhands earning an average of $3,083 to $3,574 a month, depending on the boat size. The captains get paid more, earning an average of $7,750 to $19,961 a month. Then there are the first officer, the stewards, the engineer, perhaps an ETO and a purser.  A 100-foot boat with five crew members can cost $32,500 a month, and hat is barely reaching superyacht level. Most yachts in the mega category employ 15 – to 20 crew. The really larger ones up to 50 and rising. On a quick extraction from the lists of the top 500 yachts. we are talking of a collection wage bill in the billions globally.

In addition to the regularly employed crew, there are the  day workers, who are hired temporarily for onboard services. It is not unusual to spend $5000 a month on casual labour. Medical and liability insurance, training, and uniforms have to be added into the equation. And crew have to be fed – which requires a chef. Crew fares to and from the boat have to be considered. And many of the crew are on rotation.

A yacht consumes fuel and electricity even when it is not cruising. These costs can add an extra half a million a year quite easily. And in addition, there is the cost of fueling the tenders and jet skis.

Docking when not iat sea is never cheap. A superyacht can expect to pay 2 to 3 thousand a day – and that is in the quiet season. In the top locations, docking comes at a premium, if you can get it at peak season.

Regular maintenance and repairs can cost roughly 2% of the boat value after the yacht’s first year, and around 7.5% of the boat’s value when the yacht has reached 10 years old. This does not cover the periodic refits which can add another few million to that year’s expenditure, depending on the scale of the work. And then there is insurance which can be as little as 50 thousand up to half a million for hull insurance and indemnity.


Communications (like navigation and Satellite TV) and administration (mail and office supplies, to name a few)  come at a premium while cruising. The cost of data at equivalent speeds to terrestrial broadband is at least twenty times and can come to the tens of thousands of dollars per month.

All of this is just to operate the boat. For the fun stuff, there the extras: the food,  alcohol, a DJ, and décor. One owner flew over to the Caribbean for a Xmas party a lemon tree that had to be cut in half  and crated to fit into the aircraft hold, with each lemon wrapped and protected against the cold air in the cargo bay.

Owners can always recoup some of these expenses by chartering their yacht. Jay Z and Beyonce paid $ 1.4 million for a week on the Kismet – plus fuel, additional expenses and the expected tip to the crew. But they can walk away from the yacht, leaving the owner with the running costs for the other 51 weeks of the year


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