Prior to arriving in Dubai, my experience of yachts was limited to occasionally, and rather ineptly, “crewing” my brother-in-law’s 22-foot trailer yacht. I didn’t really know that yachts could be rented – I thought you had to own them – and I had never really thought of Dubai and the Arabian Gulf as yacht country. Mega-expensive, big pleasure cruisers, yes, but yachts, no. Well, those gleaming white, diesel or gasoline powered beauties that line the marinas of the Gulf shoreline and Dubai’s Creek are yachts too, even though there isn’t a sail to be seen. And yes, you can rent them, if ownership seems a little beyond your means. And what will yacht rental cost you in Dubai? It all depends on how big your wallet is, or how deep your oil well.
Types of Yachts
There are a number of companies in Dubai that specialize in yacht-rental, but it’s not quite the same as car-rental, where you specify a number of days that you want the car for, sign on the dotted line a few times, take the keys and go. Yacht-rental in most cases assumes that in addition to you and maybe a group of family members, colleagues or friends, you also want a competent crew to actually sail the yacht, get you out into the Gulf and more importantly, bring you and the yacht back again. In fact, the yacht-rental companies don’t really like the word “rental” to describe the commercial transaction of paying money to take a ride on a small/mid-size/big yacht: they much prefer the term “charter”, which immediately vaults you into the world of luxury limos and Gulfstream jets.
SuperYacht Dubai is one of a number of companies that exist for the yacht charter market. A glance at the yachts sub-menu gives you an idea of the shape, size and cut of the world you are stepping into. Other sub-menus such as private cruises and corporate charters list the delights of these types of rentals along with professional photographs to really win your heart and soul. Expensive? Actually, there’s no mention of cost anywhere: I imagine that comes in the form of a discreet quotation, after you’ve made your enquiry via the Contact Us link.
Arabianyachting.com are not so coy when it comes to the bottom line of dollars and cents, or in this case, United Arab Emirates dirhams (AED). An hour on this beauty, just one that caught my eye, comes at an eye-watering AED 20K ($US 5.4K), but to be fair, it can take 200 day guests, so if you plan on rewarding your employees for their good work in expanding company profitability, this works out at just $27 per person per hour. Maybe you don’t have 200 employees, or maybe you’d just like to take a few friends and family members out for a half day on the Gulf, but $US 5.4K an hour, divided by 6 or 7 people is just out of the question. Have a look at another of Arabian Yachting’s options, from the lower end of their yacht menu. There are very pretty craft, to be sure, and rentable for as little as AED 1250 an hour. So a memorable half day cruise, for say, seven people works out at just $US 50 per person per hour. Expensive, yes, but not impossible.
There are many other yachting companies that offer similar services and I suspect that competition for your business will mean that their prices will be comparable with the two examples I have listed above. If you don’t like the first price quoted, it doesn’t hurt to negotiate. There’s considerable middle ground between a price that doesn’t even cover the costs of taking the yacht out of its mooring and a price that will cause your wallet to have a coronary.
Deals, Deals, Deals…
Remember the old saying “shop around”? It’s always worth having a look at a couple of sites, which might just have a special offer on a yacht charter that is exactly what you had in mind, at a substantially discounted price, especially if you are able to be flexible about your date, or are willing to book a date quite a bit in advance of when you would actually like to head out onto the waves.
Groupon.ae is worth a glance, but I have to add the warning that you get to see nothing unless you give a valid email address. However, Groupon, at the time of writing, is offering a private yacht cruise for AED 749 for two hours. That’s not per person: you can have a maximum of 22 in your party, so do the math on the per head cost. As with everything, buyers beware and read the rules and conditions carefully.
Cobone.com is currently offering a similar deal: a two-hour cruise for up to 8 people for AED 499. The same caveats regarding fine print, rules and conditions apply, but I also have to say that I do have personal experience of this company and have not had problems as a result of providing my address. Unlike Groupon, you can see the deals without providing any personal information.
Quite probably by the time you read this, the particular deals described above may have lapsed, but there will be others, so check from time to time and the yacht rental deal of your dreams may well become a reality.
Other Sailing Opportunities
So far, I have assumed that you, the reader, want to rent time, on a yacht (luxury motor-powered cruiser, or maybe a catamaran) and that the actual sailing will be left to professionals while you have a good time eating, drinking, sun-bathing or fishing. But what if you actually want to be involved in the sailing of the yacht? There are yacht clubs along Dubai’s shoreline. My personal experience is a bit limited, but I have certainly had numerous friends and colleagues who paid their annual fees to belong to the late (and lamented) Jebel Ali Yacht Club. You could do worse than to investigate the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, or DOSC as it is known locally. You can certainly get sailing lessons through the club, which has quite a lively social scene as well, but no yacht rental facilities that I am aware of.
However, you will form friendships and who knows what informal crewing arrangements can be made once you have proven your mettle on the water? If this sounds interesting, you could also check out the Dubai Marina Yacht Club and the Dubai Creek Golf and Yacht Club. This latter is a little more difficult to predict just what yacht rental advice and assistance you would get as it is really more of a Golf Resort and Restaurant Complex than either DOSC or Dubai Marina Yacht Club. It does, however, have quite an established marina on the Creekside and it is possible that several of the cruising yachts owned by the charter companies are moored there. It might be a place to make contacts and get further information though.