The family that plays together, stays together, or so the saying goes. A yacht vacation abounds with family bonding opportunities and ways to create memories to last a lifetime.
For some it is about celestial luxury, for others it’s champagne-soaked parties – but most superyacht vacations are all about lovely family occasions. For many charterers, it is families that make the scene more than any big soiree. Charter yachts are often viewed as adult playgrounds, and that image is supported by brochures showing couples sipping champagne or dressed elegantly for dinner. But that’s only one side of the charter coin. The flip side is that a yacht charter
is a wonderful family vacation, and one that is far more fun than a week at Disney World or a ski trip. Granted, not every yacht is “child-friendly” but growing numbers have gone to great lengths to develop reputations for being “pro-child” and your charter broker can advise you on the ones your family will love.
Board and beach games, films and video are essential – as are water toys, so good water access from a stern platform is important, or on a traditional sailing yacht, consider steps and a platform that can be set up on the side of the hull. On some larger yachts, owners and designers have the opportunity to take children’s entertainment to sumptuous heights with full cinemas and video game rooms.
A common starting point for a family yacht is the crew, and these captains make a point of hiring crew members who like children. Yacht crew are in the hospitality trade, after all, and many are excellent with children. One captain says his first question in a crew interview is: “Do you like kids?” Some superyacht crew are known for being extra-amazing with children, but all crew will have some tricks up their sleeves to keep kids entertained, whether it’s a pirate treasure hunt on shore or amazing theme nights on board. Youngsters might discover a bottle on a beach, complete with an “ancient” treasure map, sending the excited kids on a hunt that leads to a treasure chest filled with chocolate coins.
“There is no better way to connect family than having fun on the water”
EQUIPPED FOR SAFETY
One yacht, built for family use, has baby gates on most doors, pocket doors to protect kids from stairwells, and the crew adds safety nets around the decks for protection when children are aboard. But the yacht still has a sophisticated decor, so guests don’t feel they’re in a nursery.
Kid-friendly yachts also go the extra mile when it comes to food. Even a special baby food or formula can be provisioned aboard. On one charter yacht, the chef knows that kids enjoy galleys, so she dresses them up in sous chef outfits and has them help prepare meals for which they can take credit. For the children who enjoy fishing, there is nothing like catching then cooking and presenting the culinary masterpiece.
A LITTLE RESPITE FOR THE PARENTS
Crews understand that parents may like to have some private time, whether it’s to walk on a beach by themselves, curl up with a book, or disappear behind, ahem, closed doors. “We aren’t babysitters,” says the captain of one yacht, “but we also understand that it’s important to give the parents an afternoon off, so we plan kid-specific diversions or time on the water toys.” For very small or rambunctious children (or parents bent on sleeping in) nannies are strongly suggested. Many yachts have supernumerary cabins so you can bring your nanny along for the charter.
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While one yacht has a 300-game video arcade and an array of board games and video games, another captain takes the opposite approach, “confiscating” the ubiquitous electronic games that children bring aboard under the ruse that they interfere with the navigational equipment just like on an airplane. The kids are kept fully engaged with snorkeling, shelling, and water toys – and family time, of course. Another captain turns the yacht charter into an educational opportunity, teaching about islands and sea life. With a little planning, your broker and captain can even provision a teacher or lecturer upon arriving at a destination to give a lesson on your destination’s history. After an afternoon of exploration on land, the gained knowledge can become the key to evening trivia contests or conversation at dinner time. There is no better way to connect with the family than spending time visiting new places, experiencing amazing things and having fun on the water together.