27 March 2014

Castaway Children - Superyacht Holidays With Kids

Snorkels, jet skis, paddleboards and water slides. Peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches on the menu. These are a few of the essential elements for a successful superyacht holiday with kids. “A yacht charter is a great way to bring families together and for them all to share a unique experience,” explains Robert Wilhelm, captain aboard M/Y Harmony III, a 43.6m Benetti based out of the Western Mediterranean, and frequent host to charter guests’ children and the owners’ grandchildren.
“It can be difficult to bring a family together while staying at a large resort. A superyacht charter holds much more promise.” IDOL_Kids_Lifestyle-(6) Parents who are planning to cruise with their children over the school holidays should do a bit of research before booking. Firstly, look for yachts with kid-friendly itineraries and layouts. Secondly, make sure there are plenty of age-appropriate amenities on board. Third, inquire as to whether crew have an ‘inner child’ that’s always ready to make the kids smile. IDOL_Kids_Lifestyle-(4) Some of the nicest destinations for charters with children are those that are simple: Croatia, Turkey, Greece and, of course, the Caribbean and the Bahamas. Other locations are best chosen based on what a family enjoys, explains Philippe Cathala, captain aboard 41.5m M/Y Calisto. The yacht is a 1944-built YMS-1 class mine sweeper based in South-East Asia that was luxuriously refitted in 2008 for the current owner, his wife and four daughters who often bring their friends. “If a family likes to dive and snorkel, I will propose the Similan Islands,” says Cathala. “I would recommend a different program for a family that would rather see popular sites, make land discoveries, visit beaches and maybe go out for a night ashore. Then I would suggest cruising south Thailand’s Phi Phi Islands, Lanta Islands and Krabi and Phang Nga bays.”
Look for a yacht with a cabin layout and safety features that suits children’s needs. Harmony III, for example, has two cabins that are ready for children at any time. These have two twin beds plus a Pullman bunk and the entertainment center in these cabins not only includes a PS3, but also access to several children’s movies. On Calisto, the gangway rail is fitted with canvas and netting that prevents young children from sliding and falling overboard. Also, the open upper decks aboard Calisto can be closed and secured when cruising at night. IDOL_Kids_Lifestyle-(5) Keeping a connection with friends is as indispensable to kids as a well-stocked bar and 800 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets may be to their parents. “The first question we now get asked from our young guests is ‘what is the PIN code for the internet access?’ shares Harmony III’s Wilhelm. A music system is another ‘must have’ as is a full armada of water toys. Hobie kayaks that are pedaled by legs, rather than paddled by arms, are easy for children because they have more strength in their legs. IDOL_Kids_Lifestyle-(8) Paddleboards are great for kids too, as is fishing equipment, dive scooters and anything big and inflatable that can be pulled over the waves by the yacht’s tender. Crew members can make all the difference between a pleasure cruise and a page out of ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’. Assess crew flexibility and attitudes towards children by asking in advance what is possible for young guests to do while on board. For example, a child-friendly charter crew may have a captain that is ready to entertain with a few good yarns or cautionary tales of pirates or even lets kids sit on the bridge at certain times to make believe they are steering the yacht. Mates and deckhands, as well as the obligatory water sports instructor role may also be able to make a game of their job and enlist the kids to ‘play’ at deck work or rev up the tender for a wakeboarding session. Stewardesses can show off their imagination and entertainment skills by organising treasure hunts and board games or taking the kids in hand for a beach walk to look for shells ashore. And chefs must be prepared to whip up simple meals and snacks. It might be pizza or pasta, baking a cake or cookies with the kids, or even making something special for a baby. There are hundreds of ways the crew can make a charter special for children. IDOL_Kids_Lifestyle-(1) One of Cathala’s favourites is challenging and helping the kids to catch a fish big enough for Calisto’s chef to prepare for dinner, he says. “So is preparing a last-day show to surprise the parents in complicity with the kids.” There are some things parents can do to prepare ahead to assure a good cruise. Firstly, recommends Harmony III’s Wilhelm, “For parents with infants or very young children, I highly recommend they bring a nanny. If they don’t already have one, it is easy for the yacht to organise a quick call to a crew agency. A nanny can make all of the difference for the parents, it gives them much more time to relax and enjoy their holiday.” IDOL_Kids_Lifestyle-(8) Secondly, Wilhelm adds, “Children can charter at any age. What is important is that there is more than one child in the group. This gives them someone their own age to interact with.” Thirdly, says Cathala, “Pack swim shirts to protect children from sun burn and even small jelly fish that can sting while snorkeling. Sun cream is also essential.” IDOL_Kids_Lifestyle-(3) It’s not only kids and families that come away from a superyacht holiday with fond memories. It’s the crew too. “I remember once giving very clear instructions to a young boy that too much paper thrown down the toilet could cause a blockage and that this could create a big problem on board,” remembers Harmony III’s Wilhelm. “He was later overheard cautioning his little sister that ‘too much paper down the toilet could cause it to explode and sink the ship’!” For more information about any of our charter option please visit the Fraser Yachts website Article first published in the Fraser Yachting Magazine, words by Carol Bareuther, Photography by Luxury Vision Photography