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Live the yacht life for just €99 a day

Want to cruise the Mediterranean? A new rental app makes it an affordable holiday activity

Luxury yachts at the port of St Tropez in southern France. Photo: Alamy
Luxury yachts at the port of St Tropez in southern France. Photo: Alamy

Yachting 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 bare-minimum price of $10,000 (around Rs6.5 lakh) per week.

Until now, those without five- and six-figure budgets have had a hard time living the yacht life. But now you can live out your booze-fuelled seafaring dreams for a mere €99 (around Rs7,500) per day.

That’s the promise behind Float, a disruptor that launched this past June in Monaco and St Tropez—and that is quickly expanding to other major seafaring markets. Think of it as a bit like Airbnb. The accommodation site lets you rent a room in an apartment or the full apartment, depending on how much you would like to splurge or save. So too does Float: It lets you book just one “seat" if you don’t have seven friends to defray the cost of a yacht charter, or you can gather a group of friends and buy out a sleek little cruiser.

How It Works

“We’re more like NetJets than a water taxi," says Float co-founder Jean-Jacques Boude, drawing a comparison between his start-up and the Berkshire Hathaway Inc.-owned pioneer for fractional private jet ownership, which took a hit during the recession but is stable and growing after 53 years of operation. Airbnb and Uber, he says, have also inspired his approach. “We sell day charters by the seat or by the cabins for a few days on board, all through a fully digital app," he says.

Indeed, the service is more experiential than a water taxi. 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 Point B. You sail, you clink glasses, you swim in the Mediterranean, maybe even go fishing or take out some jet skis. Eventually, you make your way to the destination port for a few hours before returning to where you started.

Booking takes 2-3 minutes, tops: You sign up on the app or website, pick your origin and destination, select the number of seats you want, and input your credit card. Moments later a boarding pass is sent to your Apple Wallet. No contracts, no surcharges, and no hidden costs.

Float is built on the principle of dynamic pricing: If demand is high, the €99 rates might climb (Boude expects the prices to max out at €199).

The Experience

Despite the slimmed-down cost—which mostly cuts out overhead—you don’t get a particularly slimmed-down service. Ruinart Champagne and canapés are included, as well as a full crew. A concierge service will also book you dinner at the hot new restaurant of your choice, or help you bring a DJ on board for private dance parties.

The price point does imply certain limitations. The food is pre-prepared and then heated by a basic on-board crew—you’re not splurging on a private chef. If you want to add an experience like jet skiing or fishing, that’s an extra cost.

Float is still a small company, and its fleet follows suit. These aren’t mega yachts in the vein of Azzam, the record-setting 591-footer owned by the emir of Abu Dhabi. Currently, Float’s two vessels are of much humbler proportions—one clocks in at 15m; the other at 18m—but the company is investing in larger motor yachts as it prepares to launch in other global destinations. If all goes according to plan, Boude says, Float will be operating three ships in Miami by November; next year, he’ll launch in Ibiza, Mykonos and Corfu. Bloomberg

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