The sea may be open and the possibilities endless, but seafaring decorum not so much.
The expectations are high, and the rules are unwritten… 

With insights from Robert Riva, esteemed yacht broker for Sunreef Yachts and CEO of Paramount Yachts, we put together this list to help guests navigate the social graces expected of them onboard.

Pre-Boarding Primer

Preference Sheet Protocol: An essential step in tailoring your onboard experience. Dive into these details as soon as they arrive or risk mealtime mishaps and bidding farewell to your host…forever.

Gift with Gusto: When bringing a gift aboard a yacht, choose wisely. A well- intended present can easily be more of a burden than a bounty in this setting.

Tip with Tact: On a private charter, present the gratuity to the crew by handing it over to the captain. On an owner’s charter, any cash gifts should be given to the yacht owner to distribute.

Luggage Logistics: We all know to pack lightly, but often overlooked is consideration of the case we choose to bring on board. Opt for soft-sided luggage for easy storage. Nothing says, “I’ve never done this before” like a hard-shell carry-all, no matter how minimal the contents.

Tech on Deck:  WiFi on board is not like WiFi on land. Don’t count on pulling off a scheduled Zoom call that your career depends on during your sejour-at-sea. 

Be Ready to Change Course: Prepare for unexpected adventures, including those needing customs clearance. Make sure your documents are up to date and on your packing list. Avoid becoming the cautionary tale that your yacht host references in every future invitation. 

Anchor your Aroma: When it comes to scent, less is more luxurious aboard a yacht. Close quarters call for a light or minimal fragrance factor. 

On-Board Etiquette


Resepct a Full-Service Situation: Help-yourself hospitality has no place onboard a yacht. Tune into your welcome tour and note subtle references to the few areas onboard where it may be deemed acceptable to take matters into your own hands. Not sure? Don’t do it.

Respect the Roles: Know your crew. At the very least, know (and respect) their roles; DON’T ask the deckhand to serve you a drink. DO ask him (politely) to summon a member of the interior for service.

On Board & Off-Limits: The Captain’s Quarters and the galley are never suited for guest appearances— enter only if invited (word to the wise- just stay out of the designated crew quarters all-together). As for the bridge, access hinges on the captain’s specific protocol for the ship—it’s generally invite-only and presumed off-limits unless explicitly stated otherwise.


Punctuality is Paramount: This should be obvious.

Seating Ceremony: Wait to be summoned to the table and never be the first to take your seat.

Dinner has a Dress code: Leave the flip-flops and swimwear for the sun deck.


Permission to Post: Always ask before sharing snapshots or sea tales online. When in doubt, keep it private.

Tag Tactfully: #1 Get permission #2 Leave out locations

Enjoy the Present: Post less, experience more.


Turn Down the Volume: Sound doesn’t just travel on water; it amplifies.

Put it Away: Common areas should be free of all guest personal items from dusk until dawn.


Don’t throw anything overboard.

Don’t flush anything then what’s provided.

Don’t question a captain’s order…ever.

Don’t leave personal items in shared spaces overnight.

Don’t drink more than you can handle.

and a piece of advice for the women – this happens way too often..

Don’t ever revolve the outfit around a pair of shoes.



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