say we should spend quality time with our children
and grandchildren. I agree with the experts. Furthermore,
I cannot think of any time that has more built-in
quality than the time you can spend with a child
on a boat cruise.
I don't mean the kind of
cruise you take on a cruise ship. I mean a cruise
on a vessel with two, maybe three cabins and a
small galley. Almost by definition a cruise on
this vessel will mean you will spend quality time
with the young ones onboard. (Nobody can escape
to the casino or to the game room.) We tell our
charter customers that a cruise with young ones
is a memory-building opportunity as well as a
character-building opportunity for them and for
When a pod of dolphins
selects your bow wave to ride, and your young
charges get to watch this magnificent animal from
just a few feet away, the thrilling memory will
stay with them (and you) a very long time.
Multiply this thrill by
all of the close-to-nature things they will see
and do. Then, imagine how much better this vacation
can be compared to previous vacations that always
seemed to involve an expensive attraction with
high-priced junk food and mechanical and stage
drop imitations of nature's magnificence.
Vic and I have some experience
here -- with the boats and with the kids. Every
year we cruise for a week or more with a brother,
a sister-in-law, a dog, and three precious nieces,
ages 8, 10, and 12.
We have learned that the
best cruises are those with "to do" lists that
follow a pretty regular schedule every day. This
heads off all manner of unpleasantness. "Are we
there yet," is one of the milder complaints.
We're fortunate, because
cruising through our tropical island paradise
offers so much, as you'll infer from the items
on the list we use to keep young ones happy, occupied
and, by the end of the day, pleasantly exhausted.
Here are the activities we draw on for our daily
schedules: * Dolphin watching. We set up
"watches' on the bow.
* Exploring. We launch the dinghy and motor
or paddle in to a deserted beach so everyone can
look for special shells and other treasures.
* Swimming. A swim in the surf is terrific
fun but we also try to arrange a swim in the pool
at a marina where, conveniently, all aboard can
shower afterwards with plenty of fresh water.
* Fishing. A piece of shrimp on a little
hook does the job almost every time in our area.
Fishing is a great activity to schedule before
dinner. The young anglers might catch something
fresh for the grill. By the way, bring lots of
good food and interesting snacks but avoid the
kinds that produce a sugar-rush, if you catch
* Reading. We encourage this after lunch
and, if a nap should happen, that's just fine.
When you're underway, the rumble of the engine
almost guarantees sleep. After dinner, we often
read pirate stories.
* Star gazing. Away from the city lights,
the stars put on a show better than any planetarium.
Bone up on some astronomical factoids so you can
help the young ones understand what they're looking
at. Or, challenge each of them to teach the rest
about a star, planet or constellation. A cruise
planned around a full moon is a special treat.
* Letter writing. In this era of cell phones
and email, a personal letter home or to a friend
becomes something really special for the recipient.
Encourage this before it becomes a lost art. On
Useppa Island, one of our favorite stops, kids
can visit "Mister T the Tortoise" and drop off
a letter in his mailbox. The best part is, he
* Story writing. Do teachers still ask
for a what-I-did-on-my-summer-vacation essay?
Even if they do not, bring paper and pens and
assign it anyway, allowing a little time for this
toward the end of each day. Be sure to have them
include drawings to accompany their stories.
Cruising with kids makes
for a special cruise. It brings out the "kid'
in all of us.