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 on a cruise ship. 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.
Here are five points you should consider and discuss with your broker when deciding on superyacht charter.
The crew’s attitude
A common starting point for a family yacht is the crew. It is recommended that you chose a yacht where a captain has made a point of hiring crew members who like children. One captain says his first question in a crew interview is, “Do you like kids?”
Choosing a yacht with a crew that is motivated to engage with children can only serve to enhance your experience.
The yacht design
The outfitting of the yacht is also important. One yacht, built for family use, has baby gates on most doors, pocket doors to protect kids from stairwells. The crew also add safety nets around the decks for protection when children are aboard. But the yacht still has a sophisticated decor, so that guests don’t feel they’re in a nursery.
You might also want to consider the layout of the yacht. If you have young children it might be important that their cabins are close by.
Modern technology vs. traditional fun
Each yacht approaches family charters differently and this is something to discuss with your charter broker. One yacht, for example, has a 300-game video arcade and an array of board and X-box games as well.
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 airliners.
As a replacement, the kids are kept fully engaged with snorkeling, shelling, and riding jetskis or water toys.
Another captain turns the yacht charter into an educational opportunity, sharing details about islands and sea life that become the key to evening trivia contests at dinnertime.
Youngsters on another yacht might discover a bottle on a beach, complete with an “ancient” treasure map. Miraculously, the map seems to match a nearby island, sending the excited kids on a five-steps-north-of-the-bent-palm-tree hunt that ends with a treasure chest filled with doubloons of chocolate.
The crews on kid-friendly yachts also go the extra mile when it comes to food. Even a special baby food or formula can be 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.
Child-friendly crews understand that the parents may like to have some private time of their own, whether it’s to walk on a beach by themselves, curl up with a book, or disappear behind, ahem, closed doors.
Aboard one yacht, that is when some of the crew takes the youngsters on an adventure to leave the adults alone. “ We aren’t babysitters”, says the captain, “but we also understand that it’s important to give the parents an afternoon off, so we plan kid-specific diversions”.
On other charter yachts it is suggested that you consider bringing childcare with you.