Well-traveled families come to Ciao Bambino in search of a trip that’s truly unique. Top priorities might include pure relaxation, cultural immersion and a glimpse into a way of life entirely different from their own, not to mention fantastic food that they don’t have to prepare themselves. If this is your wish list for your next family vacation, consider a private yacht or barge charter.

The appeal of yachting or barging around the world is that the lodging and transportation are all rolled into one. It’s as if your family has a private floating hotel from which to explore multiple destinations without ever re-packing a suitcase. Ship sizes vary; the smallest can accommodate a family of four while the largest have space for a group of 20. Given that, a yacht or barge charter can work well for multigenerational groups, family reunions or several families traveling together. These private experiences are ideal for milestone events like birthdays or anniversaries.

One amazing benefit of chartering a yacht or barge is the flexibility. If a traditional cruise has always felt too stifling for your family, know that private yachts and barges have very few limitations. The ships feel more like houseboats, and they can make impromptu stops at interesting locations that a larger ship could never reach. Additionally, barges in Europe focus their routes primarily on smaller, narrower canals, meaning your family will get deep into compact villages instead of only stopping at large ports where hundreds or thousands of tourists disembark each day. Cultural immersion is effortless; it’s as easy as waving at villagers as they walk their dogs or birdwatching on uninhabited tropical islands. Yachts and barges are a logistics-free way to get off the beaten path and explore authentic, local communities as well as bigger attractions.

The universal feedback we get from clients after a trip like this is that they felt pampered by staff. These highly trained crew members not only do all the heavy lifting as far as navigation and ship maintenance, but they ensure everyone on board is happy. Squabbles over which restaurant to choose for dinner or safety concerns about food allergies need not be a point of stress on a yacht or barge. Private chefs can accommodate most requests, and they make all the dining arrangements, meaning your group merely needs to congregate around the table, raise a glass to another amazing day and dig in.

We can suggest the best vendors for yacht and barge charters, particularly those who really do cater to kids and families. Boats with top-deck hot tubs, bikes for exploring while docked and prearranged sightseeing activities, like private guides and vans to take you farther afield, combine for just the right amount of activity each day. A few of our favorite destinations for a yacht or barge charter include:


Name the region of France you’ve always dreamed of visiting, and chances are, there’s a barge cruise experience that will take you right into its heart. And unlike the typical whirlwind trip to France, your vacation will move at a pace that allows you to really savor the experience.


Families who crave freedom while on vacation are sometimes deterred from visiting the Caribbean. Limiting yourself to one island (or worse, one resort) just feels too restrictive for adventurous families. A private yacht charter is an ideal option for its combo of relaxation and exploration. Children and parents alike love deep sea-fishing experiences and exploring uninhabited islands.

Galapagos Islands

No question, exploring these fascinating islands by boat is the way to go. Arranging your tour via a private yacht means you control who your shipmates will be, which is quite appealing to families who tend not to gravitate toward group travel. Three or four families can join in together to charter a ship for about the same cost as a group tour.


Sailing on a yacht around the Greek Islands is dreamy enough to appear on countless covers of travel magazines. But do be mindful of the seasons and weather when planning a trip. In May and June, the water is comfortably swimmable and the islands are colorful with flowers and greenery. By July and August, the crowds will be thick and the land becomes more barren and dry. Often the wind dictates where you’ll stop each day. Some suppliers will arrange a flotilla for families traveling together, meaning each family gets their own private yacht but everyone tours together on land. Families sailing around Greece are rewarded with stunning views and amazing experiences, no matter which way the winds blow you.

Elsewhere in Europe

The British Isles (specifically England, Scotland and Ireland), Italy, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands all have private barge charters available for their inner canals and small rivers. It’s easy to incorporate castle visits, farm experiences or historical walking tours so that you can enjoy views of the gorgeous countryside from your comfortable boats plus the incredible culture and attractions these countries offer. Navigating the locks gives kids a hands-on introduction to the incredible engineering that goes into the waterways.

Not quite ready to jump in with both feet for a yacht or barge charter? One of our favorite pro tips is for clients to do a half- or full-day private boat experience as a taste of what a fuller trip could be. We’ve arranged these shorter experiences in places like Capri, Paris, Turks & Caicos, London, Portugal and Amsterdam.

We’re in the business of designing trips that provide families with unforgettable travel experiences. Yacht and barge charters certainly top our list of the most memorable vacations due to the unparalleled combination of privacy, flexibility, relaxation and adventure that these amazing vessels offer.

Travel Planning

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Sainte-Maxime, France
Great for ages: 6-12, 13-18
Montagnac, France
Great for ages: 0-2, 6-12
Canet-en-Roussillon, France
Great for ages: 0-12
Paris, France
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Maillane, France
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Paris, France
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Gassin, France
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Paris, France
Great for ages: 0-2, 6-18
Octon, France
Great for ages: 0-12
Cangey, France
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Paradou, France
Great for ages: 0-5
Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
Great for ages: 0-12
Paris, France
Great for ages: 0-5, 13-18
Megève, France
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Paris, France
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Rottach-Egern, Germany
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Munich, Germany
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Krün, Germany
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Chippenham, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
London, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Abergavenny, Wales
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Coleford, England
Great for ages: 0-12
North Bovey, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
London, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
London, England
Great for ages: 6-18
Rye, England
Great for ages: 0-2, 6-12
London, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Saint Austell, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
West Sussex, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
London, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Watford, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
London, England
Great for ages: 0-2, 6-18
London, England
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Skiathos Island, Greece
Great for ages: Multi-Generational
Alyki, Greece
Great for ages: 0-12
Megalokhórion, Greece
Great for ages: Multi-Generational

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Coronavirus Update

This is a challenging time for our clients given the uncertainty around the spread of coronavirus, particularly for those with near-term travel plans in impacted areas. We’re working with our suppliers on being flexible with their booking conditions, and enabling families to postpone travel to a later date without a penalty, when possible. Likewise, given the unpredictability around destinations that may be impacted in the future, we’re helping clients planning new trips and understand ways that they can protect themselves until the situation improves. We are ready to help our clients work through questions and concerns.

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