The days when superyachts were the reserve of ultra-wealthy Oligarchs is passed. “Charters with families are up 10 per cent from two years ago [for us],” says Cameron Bray of Bray Management. “Across the board, the number of family charters is rising. The concentration of wealth today is not just centred on the more mature businessman. The younger wealth still want to enjoy the finer things in life and enjoy it with their family.” LeAnn Pilske, a charter agent with International Yacht Collection (IYC), estimates that about 85 per cent of the charters that she books are for families with children.
Choosing the most family-friendly yacht comes down to doing some research. One of the first things to look at is the itinerary. While places like St Tropez may have cemented their position as sophisticated hubs for the international jetset, more understated destinations such as Croatia, Turkey and the Bahamas are matchless when it comes to family time.
For the more adventurous family, heading off the beaten track can also be extremely rewarding. Destinations like Thailand, New Zealand and Australia are extremely family-friendly and can be once-in-a-lifetime trips. “We have a 70ft yacht called Aroona based out on the Great Barrier Reef at the moment,” says Bray. “We recently had a family of seven from Chicago chartering for a week through the Ribbon Reefs and Lizard Island. Activities included kite surfing, diving, snorkelling, spear fishing, island trekking and plenty more.”
Selecting the right yacht as the base for your adventure is as important as choosing a cruising destination. Pilske stresses that all charter yachts can accommodate families, but only some yachts specialise in families. A family-friendly yacht will have flexible spaces, with queen beds that split into twin beds or accommodation for support staff like a nanny. It will also be equipped to ensure the children’s safety at all times.
On any charter, it is the crew who make it memorable and keep guests coming back. This applies more than ever to family charters. “The crew are almost the most important factor on any charter, but especially with a family charter,” says Pilske.
In Pilske’s experience, the best crews are creative when it comes to entertaining young guests, be it with a scavenger hunt or fireworks, Easter egg dying or pirate theme nights. She recalls one client who has been chartering since the children were young. “Their five-year-old son kept wanting to help the ‘deckies’, so one morning he had his own uniform and chamois and was called on deck to be a junior mate.” That family has chartered time and again, often repeating on the same yacht—“in part because the kids have fun and the crew help keep them entertained.”
While technically all charter agreements state that kids under the age of 13 are the sole responsibility of the charter or designated nanny, and crew aren’t on board as childminders, most family-friendly crews will make special allowances to ensure that all guests—young and old—get the holiday they deserve.
In this digital age, the first thing most young charterers ask for when they come on board is the Wifi password. Keeping connected via social media and streaming music and films will keep many kids happy, so a fast connection and a good AV system with access to an array of children-friendly movies is often a requirement. But Bray recalls one charter on Aroona where at the father’s request, the internet was switched off and all gadgets were banned. “The yacht’s captain, Ross Miller, noticed a distinct increase in family interaction and laughter over the week-long charter,” says Bray.
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