Booking a charter vacation can be daunting, particularly if you've never done it before or are looking to cruise in a new area or on a different type of boat. But there's no need to go it alone — a charter broker can help you through all stages of your trip. To get a better idea of what exactly charter brokers do, I asked two experts in the yacht charter field, Scott Farquharson, of Proteus Yacht Charters, and Steve McCrea, of Ed Hamilton & Co. Yacht Charter Agents, to fill in the details.

Cruising World: First off, can you explain just what a charter broker is?

“A charter broker is a company or person who has a lot of experience within the charter industry and knows the yachts, the fleets, the operators and, if a crewed yacht, the crews and their cuisine and services,” says Farquharson. “They help guide you to the best fit for your vacation, depending on your lists of parameters and criteria. The broker acts as your advocate throughout the booking and vacation process.”

“It’s much like using a realtor to find the right house when moving to a new city — you use the realtor’s knowledge and expertise to find the right home, and perhaps more importantly, avoid the wrong ones,” adds McCrea. “This is true of both bareboat charters and crewed charters, though there are different factors involved.”

CW: What are the most common misconceptions people have about charter brokers?

“The most common misconceptions are that we charge for our service, and that we’re only presenting ‘our’ boats,” McCrea says. “The cost of booking a charter through a broker is precisely the same as booking it directly. We are also not limited to what boats we can book — we don’t operate our own fleet, which is intentional to maintain our unbiased perspective.”

“Another misconception people have is that a better deal can be had by going directly to the charter company or crewed yacht,” says Farquharson. “You will always get the same deal as if you went directly, and you can also get your repeat charter discount through a broker too.”

CW: Any other points to add?

“One or two calls to a broker and they arrange the trip for you, plus they give you options you might not have thought of with companies you might not be familiar with,” says Farquharson. “They know who is doing a good job and who just has brilliant marketing! They know who is worth what they are charging and who is not. They can help guide you to a better vacation and a better value for your vacation.”

“Most clients we speak with initially don’t know what they don’t know, and we help fill in the blanks and make the process easy,” adds McCrea. “Aside from the free expertise, you have an advocate working on your side throughout the entire process, from the first inquiry to when you step aboard the yacht.”