I find that when most people hear “family sailing adventures” they think of either a cruise on a megaship or the handful of nomadic mariners who live what seems like a very romantic life travelling the world with kids in tow. As a yacht charter owner, I am always looking for ways to share my passion for the freedom and excitement that comes with catamaran sailing. I recently compiled a list of questions people ask me when I propose a crewed yacht charter as a vacation option for their family.
What if my kids get bored?
“Are you kidding me?!” is my gut reaction, but soon I realize the concern is justified in this day and age of constant electronic entertainment. Depending on what your own kids like to do, you will want to ask questions of the boat owners or captains to discover what television, DVD, music, and even internet connectivity is available. It would be a wonderful world if an entire family could go without that for a week, but while on vacation, everyone should have what they love. But beyond placating the electronics addiction for kids and parents alike, I must point out that most yacht charters come with an array of toys and gear for action-packed activities. Here are a few that a boat might have so be sure to ask before booking if there is one of specific interest: snorkel gear, SCUBA gear (for guests already certified usually), water skis, tubes, windsurfers, kayaks, paddle boards, wakeboards, fishing gear, floats and noodles, and if you are lucky halyard flying. Catamarans provide easy stair access to the water so water sports are a comfortable and convenient entertainment throughout your vacation.
How can I keep both young children and teenagers happy?
Well, that is a chore even at home. But a family sailing vacation on a chartered yacht is actually well-equipped to cater to kids and adults of all ages. Flexibility is a huge advantage on your private charter. The fact that the boat is entirely yours means that you control the itinerary. Someone getting restless? There are plenty of diversions ashore such as hiking, sightseeing, shopping, and beach parties. Consider booking your sailing vacation when there is an event of interest going on such as a sailing regatta or local festival. With the variety of activities aboard and ashore, boredom is at bay and being able to decide on a whim to anchor or set sail, it should be less of a chore to keep everyone enjoying their holiday. Even when mom and dad need a break, most crews are very experienced at and enjoy entertaining kids of all ages with pirate stories, sailing lessons, making pizza or cookies in the galley, and all sorts of engaging diversions. Remember most yacht crews are young themselves so they are very appealing to kids of all ages. Note that the crew members have many responsibilities so entertaining your kids does not mean babysitting them, but most crews can provide parents with downtime to have a tropical drink on the deck or just sit and read a book nearby.
My kids are young, is sailing safe?
All yacht charter crews are very safety-conscious professionals. They will orient your entire family to guidelines to keep everyone safe. Catamarans are a very safe and comfortable option for families. They have very wide decks and walk areas with an abundance of railing. The spacious decks and interior areas ensure there is plenty of room for young ones to safely burn off energy. Plus the catamaran’s very stable sailing habit means less pitching and swaying.
My kids are picky eaters.
Many yacht charter guests look forward to multi-course, wine-paired gourmet cuisine, but for families that is not always enjoyable for everyone. The best thing about a private charter is that it is fully customized to you and your family member’s preferences. So if you have a kid who only eats chicken nuggets and corn, they are accommodated. Most yacht charter chefs can serve both kids’ favorites alongside more epicurean fare. Of course, be sure to ask before you book about what foods are readily available at the destination if having a specific food available is a concern.
We have never been on a sailboat before, what if we feel ill or do not enjoy it?
This is a valid concern because even on megaships, people can experience ill effects of unfamiliar motion. If your family has never been sailing, I highly recommend you research discuss your concerns with your yacht charter company. They can help you select the calmest waters and the best time of the year to avoid undesirable weather patterns. For example, in North America, the British Virgin Islands (BVI) are some of the calmest waters with constant trade winds year-round and offer many diverse islands close in proximity to each other. So if you discover your sailing adventure is a little too exciting, you can choose to spend more time ashore and anchored enjoying swimming and other water activities.
Traveling with kids is expensive.
Travelling via all-inclusive yacht charter is more affordable than people realize. Unlike megaship cruising where many costs like the shore excursions for water activities, bar bill, soft drink servings, and higher end gourmet dining can add up to a large account balance at the end of your vacation, most yacht charters are completely inclusive of anything that happens while aboard. Most will stock your favorite wine and spirits, sodas, and mixers as well as customize your meals including extravagant gourmet cuisine. All water activities, instructions, and gear required for them are included. You will find most activities you choose ashore will not be included, but the crew knows all the best spots for low-cost or free activities like hiking parks or enjoying local festivals. Many charters will make picnics to go ashore on secluded beaches for a comfortable, no-cost activity.
Knowing that your kids and you will enjoy their family sailing adventure, I hope you will consider a private yacht charter for your next holiday. The added benefits of no crowds, no hidden costs, and no schedules are really just too irresistible not to take advantage of this vacation option.
Kathy Cannon is a Caribbean yacht charter owner who enjoys sharing her passion for sailing and relaxing with family and friends.