Yacht charters for families

Chartering a yacht doesn't have to be an adult-only holiday

A charter is the perfect way to spend some quality time with family
A charter is the perfect way to spend some quality time with family
© Marc Paris / Dana Jinkins
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.
Fun for all the family on the water
© Bugsy Gedlek
A common starting point for a family yacht is the crew, and these captains make a point of hiring crew members who like children. Many yacht crews are in their twenties so they are thinking about families of their own, and they have a natural character set to stimulate kids and do the extra to motivate them. One captain says his first question in a crew interview is, “Do you like kids?”

The outfitting of the yacht is important as well. 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 that guests don’t feel they’re in a nursery.

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.

Toys are an essential component of a family charter
Toys are an essential component of a family charter | © Marc Paris / Dana Jinkins
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.

Family lunch on the beach
Family lunch on the beach
© Marc Paris / Dana Jinkins
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.

These crews also 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’s 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”.
Children on a yacht
Chartering can provide the chance for kids to explore independently
© Marc Paris / Dana Jinkins
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