Yachting: it’s a family affair
Two owners explain why a superyachting holiday is perfect with kids in tow.
Privacy. Luxury. An oasis at sea. These are the qualities that superyachts are often associated with when seen dropping anchor off the coast of St Tropez. Offering a level of opulence unrivalled by any other scenario in the world, can it really go hand-in-hand with young children?
“Superyachts are perfect for family holidays on so many levels,” says Jim Evans, founder of boutique brokerage firm SuperYachtsMonaco. “Owning or chartering a superyacht allows a busy family to come together when the trend is for families to fragment. It offers something for everyone across the generations.”
One Northern European owner of a 60m motor yacht has spent time on board his yacht with his three children since they were infants. Having experienced a sailing holiday as a child himself, the adventure of discovering new destinations is something that has remained with him into adulthood. Now as a father, it’s the close-knit nature of yachting that is the key.
Photo: Richard Hadida
Photo: Richard Hadida
“In a certain sense the audience is ‘captive’ in that you live together on the boat,” he says. “The family group needs to stick together and cannot wander off on individual missions as they might on other types of holiday. And there is an excitement derived from moving locations each day and to planning upcoming adventures that is shared across the generations.”
It’s a pleasant dichotomy that it’s on board this confined space that all parties can enjoy a level of independence that is unobtainable elsewhere, he says: “They [the children] are free to do so many things on their own initiative that it is liberating – that might be a shore excursion by themselves or together with the crew, or using the tenders to go and explore remote bays.”
Experiential travel is a growing phenomenon within yachting, and having the opportunity to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef, or partake in immersive cultural experiences in Fiji, or simply relax at anchor under the Mediterranean sun are all clearly life-affirming experiences for any teenager.
“As they get older a yacht is a wonderland for them on so many levels. The travel adventures and the activities grip children in a way that is incomparable,” says the owner, who undertook a six-month world tour with his children. Highlights included seeing incredible animal and marine life, witnessing an active volcano in Indonesia, and experiencing pristine coral reefs in Polynesia.
“Most of all it was the shared adventure of travelling as a team,” he says. “Kids without exception love to swim and play in the water so anywhere with safe swimming and a nice beach is ideal. Beyond that, we enjoyed going ashore in places like Papua New Guinea where the locals are just amazed by small blonde-haired children with pale skin!”
It’s easy to comprehend why such opportunities appeal to teenagers. But, when it comes to younger children, for whom the perils of being at sea or the confined space of a yacht may prove to be more challenging, is it just as rewarding?
Photo: Angela Audretsch
Photo: Angela Audretsch
Travel company Pelorus works directly with owners to create yacht expeditions that work for all ages. The level of service, ease of movement and ability to operate in more remote environments, but still with a team of key personnel on board, makes a yacht “the perfect platform from which to explore the globe as a family,” says co-founder, Jimmy Carroll.
“If owners are travelling with very young children we can arrange for highly-experienced childcare to join the crew so that adults can have a break whilst knowing that their children are in the greatest care,” he says. “For older children, experts can help inspire learning to swim, or spending time with an environmentalist or marine biologist to understand more about the world they are travelling in.”
For Valerie Montecalvo, owner of yacht Nicole Evelyn (named after her daughter), spending time on board all together is second nature. “We live on the water in New Jersey. Our family has grown up enjoying boats, we’re big conservationists, and we love all waterways. Being able to be out on the ocean instead of in a resort, and going to places like the Bahamas that are beautiful and preserved is just so fulfilling to us as a family. It makes for quite a different type of vacation.”
The yacht, which was purchased for its family-orientated qualities (five staterooms, two king suites that easily accommodate a portable cot, and large sky lounge for extra baby toys), is moored in their “backyard” for six months. They spend the entire summer on board travelling up to Newport, Cape Cod, The Hamptons and Port Jefferson. During winter, when it resides in West Palm Beach, the family spend a few weeks each year in the privacy and quiet of the Exumas.
“Whether snorkelling, scuba diving, kayaking or jet skiing, for us to have that kind of quiet is priceless,” says Montecalvo. “It just brings us back to nature and puts us in a different mindset to the hustle and bustle of the city. And children as young as newborn babies get involved. Like our children, our grand-daughter has been on the water since she was born. She was in the Bahamas at six-months-old, and our nieces and nephews range in age from two to 16 – these are family vacations, so really enjoyable family time.”
Both owners also cite the importance of having a crew that are “like family” on board. “They are so wonderful, they just jump right in,” says Montecalvo. “They help with babysitting, holding the baby, giving us a couple of minutes here and there if my daughter and I want to go on the jet skis together. And our chef is so accommodating in being able to create tasty, organic food for the baby and kids, wherever we are.”
“The crew have always been magnificent in helping with the kids and yet, in a sense, they are childcare providers to our eternal gratitude,” adds the owner of the 60m. “It is the perfect holiday for the whole family, and we are very lucky indeed.”