I'm trying to book a yacht charter next summer for a big group of us - 16 in total - but I cannot find a yacht that will allow more than 12 guests at a time? Is this a universal rule and if so, why is it enforced?
Charter Broker, Edmiston
According to International Marine regulation, once a vessel carries more than 12 passengers, even if it is being used as a private yacht, it is considered to be a passenger ship and therefore must comply with the SOLAS convention (Safety of Life at Sea) which is set out by the IMO (International Maritime Organization).
This has been introduced so that passenger safety can be more specifically assured. SOLAS involves complying with a detailed list of safety regulations and restrictions that are expensive to implement - the cost of which are naturally going to be reflected in the overall charter cost.
There are plenty of boats to charter that permit more guests, but the cost is likely to alter more dramatically than you might imagine, purely as a consequence of the more stringent rules.