Live the yacht life at just $160

New yacht-booking app Float allows you to book just one "seat" on its 15m-or 18m-long vessels.
New yacht-booking app Float allows you to book just one "seat" on its 15m-or 18m-long vessels.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

MONACO • Life is a cruise for the rich and famous. Yachting in the French Riviera carries connotations of Champagne-fuelled deck parties, zipping around the turquoise sea on jet skis and having a crew to spray your sun-dappled face with Evian mist - all for the minimum price of US$10,000 (S$13,500) a week.

Until now, those without five-and six-figure budgets have had to watch all the fun and games - from land.

But you can now live out your seafaring dreams for US$117 (S$160) a day. That is the promise from Float, a disruptor that launched in June in Monaco and Saint-Tropez and is expanding to other major markets.

Float lets you book just one "seat" if you do not have seven friends to defray the cost of a yacht charter or you can gather a group of pals and book a sleek little cruiser. Take the former approach, though, and you may end up making new friends when you drop anchor for a swim.

Float co-founder Jean-Jacques Boude said: "We sell day charters by the seat or by the cabins for a few days on board, all through a fully digital app."

Booking takes two to three minutes: You sign up on the app or website, pick your origin and destination, select the number of seats you want to book and input your credit card details. Moments later, a boarding pass is sent to your Apple Wallet.

No contracts, surcharges and hidden costs. That is a distinguishing factor, said Mr Boude, noting that traditional charter companies add fuel and food charges during rounds of contract negotiations.

Ruinart champagne and canapes are included as well as a full crew.

Though Float will shuttle you to a buzzy beach club in Pampelonne or La Mala for the day, the appeal is more about being on the water than getting from point A to B.

You sail, you clink glasses, you swim in the Mediterranean; maybe you take out some jet skis. Eventually, you make your way to the destination port for a few hours before returning to the place you started.

A concierge service can book dinner at the hot new restaurant of your choice or help you bring a DJ on board for private dance parties.

But Float is still a small company and its fleet follows suit. These are not mega yachts in the vein of Azzam, the 180m-long vessel owned by the Emir of Abu Dhabi.

Currently, Float's two vessels are of much humbler proportions, one at 15m long and the other at 18m. It is investing in larger motor yachts as it readies to launch in other global destinations. If all goes according to plan, Mr Boude said, Float will be operating three ships in Miami by next month and in Ibiza, Mykonos and Corfu by next year.

He also expects to secure at least one 32m-long super yacht offering overnight trips from Miami to the Bimini islands for US$1,000 a person a night. The price point does imply certain limitations. The hot food is pre-made and heated by a basic on-board crew, not made to order by a private chef.

"Most of our clients, about 90 per cent, never eat on board anyway. They go to restaurants instead," Mr Boude said, noting that the service has been popular with Formula One drivers such as Max Verstappen. And you can wave to the celebrities on their yachts as yours sails by.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 01, 2017, with the headline 'Live the yacht life at just $160'. Print Edition | Subscribe