If you’ve ever dreamed of cruising into posh ports of call with your family, but just can’t reconcile the image of your wild brood mixing with trays of Champagne and fingerprint-free brass onboard a superyacht, a new vessel cruising off the coast of Croatia this summer might be the answer to your Brady Bunch-meets-Below Deck fantasies.
Goolets, a global luxury yacht charter company founded nearly two decades ago, has completely refurbished its 160-foot-long Ohana (originally built in 2020), bringing a family-friendly face to the superyacht experience for the first time this season. “We believe there is a growing trend in the market for family-oriented luxury and we aim to fulfill that desire by creating a safe and enjoyable environment for all ages,” said Ohana’s owner and captain Josep Šerka. “Ultimately, our decision to pivot to a family-friendly superyacht model was driven by our passion for the sea, our dedication to providing exceptional experiences and our desire to create lasting memories for the discerning clientele and families who choose to sail with us.”
The Ohana’s original 18 cabins have been reduced to 14 to make room for two larger staterooms with pullout sofas so younger children can sleep accompanied by their parents. Each is equipped with plush cotton bed linens, air-conditioning and ensuite bathrooms with good-size showers and towels. Railings are high, and they’ve increased the crew count to 12, which means more hands (and eyes) inside and out.
Additionally, two former cabins have been transformed into a cinema, where kids and teens can watch age-appropriate movies, and a playroom with a drawing table and rock-climbing wall. The yacht has a slim selection of books, toys, and games, so bring a few favorites from home.
The Ohana is equipped with paddleboards, seabobs, Jet Skis and snorkeling gear. The crew can also set up the slide, inviting guests to step on at the top deck and splash down in the emerald water below.
The ability to make requests on the fly is de rigueur when it comes to luxury travel, and the Ohana’s crew of 12 has it covered, whether it’s organizing daily yoga sessions, booking massages in the shade, or securing guides or restaurant reservations on shore. Onboard babysitting can also be arranged so parents can get in a workout at the outdoor gym, soak in the whirlpool tub or just read for a few peaceful hours on the 160-square-meter sundeck.
If a movie with cousins and friends is on the agenda, have the crew bring bowls of popcorn to the cozy (and soundproof) cinema for a movie night.
The Ohana sails from Split, Croatia, in one-week increments from May to October. The best part? There is no pre-planned itinerary, except for arrival and departure from Split. Where you go and what you see and do in between is up to you. Croatia’s medieval ports and towns, such as Korčula, Brač, Hvar, Vis and Dubrovnik, are popular, but the country is also home to hundreds of uninhabited islands and smaller towns surrounded by quiet turquoise bays. Daily tender rides are available for shore excursions to local beaches, lunch in town, picnics, shopping, sightseeing or whatever else is on your wish list. Captain Josip Šerka hails from a seafaring family on the island of Brač, so he knows exactly where to go to add that wow factor to each day.
Eat What You Want, How You Want
There are plenty of indoor and alfresco dining areas for meals, snacks and evening Aperol spritzes. There’s also a barbecue on the top deck and a bright and airy formal dining room that seats 30 people at four separate tables. Once they’ve booked, guests work with a Goolets contact to design daily menus that consider dietary restrictions, special occasions and requests, kid-friendly nibbles, and more. Whether you want burgers in your bathing suit, need a birthday cake surprise or prefer to dress up each night and tuck into a three-course dinner, the Ohana’s chef and crew make it happen.
Recent sit-down dinner menus included:
Starters — chilled avocado soup, prawns with saffron rice and cherry tomatoes in a mascarpone sauce, and traditional Croatian pasta with black truffle sauce
Mains — sesame-crusted salmon, sea bass with cauliflower cream, roasted octopus and potatoes, and lamb chops in blackberry wine sauce
Desserts — tiramisu, souffle in white sauce with ice cream, and chocolate cake
Pull together 28 members of your extended family, families from school or a cohort of best buddies, and Ohana becomes surprisingly affordable. Rates for 2023 (May to October) run between $80,000 and $100,000 a week, or around $3,000* per person. Considering the luxury yacht experience, dedicated crew, custom-designed itinerary and a guarantee that you won’t be elbowing through thousands in the buffet line or sitting next to a Speedo-clad stranger on the sundeck, it feels like a bargain. The price includes the following:
Make sure to factor in a tip. The crew works tirelessly to clean, cook, serve, organize and keep smiling. A good rule of thumb for a satisfied guest experience is 10 percent of the charter fee, which is equally distributed among all crew members.
(*Ask your Ciao Bambino! Family Travel Advisor about food and beverage costs and mandatory port fees/taxes/charges, etc.)
Founded almost 20 years ago, the company takes its name from gulets, the traditional Turkish wooden sailing boats. The initial vision was to become the largest gulet-specialized charter agency globally; today, Goolets boasts a fleet of 300-plus gulets in Turkey, Croatia, Italy, Greece, Spain and the Maldives. More recently, Goolets moved into the luxury yachting segment and introduced DS Yachts, a brand aimed at revolutionizing the industry by bringing more affordable and family-friendly holidays to the market, with a staff of 25 dedicated professionals who work directly with guests to create tailor-made yacht vacations.
Editor’s Note: Goolets hosted Kimberley for three nights in order to review the Ohana for families. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos courtesy of Goolets.
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