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magnusmurphy 07-02-2011 06:08 PM

Successful cruise with our two teenagers
Hi everyone.

We just returned from an eight month cruise with our two teenage daughters. One is 15 and the other turned 18 two days ago. They respectively completed grades 10 and 12 on our cruise. The oldest has been accepted at the two universities she applied for entry into a science degree program.

The reason I post this is just to reassure those who think you can only go cruising with younger children. Yes, it is more complicated and you have to do some very careful planning. Yes your itinerary might be more affected than if they were much younger. Yes there are special stressful situations and issues. BUT here's the rub: It can be done. We've done it now - twice. The previous time they completed grades 8 and 10 respectively. Both times were wonderful and none of use would exchange our adventures for anything.

The only thing we missed was meeting other children roughly in that age category. With most cruisers being in their late fifties and sixties, it is a real problem to find teenage children. There are more young kids out there but we saw only the occasional teenager.

We believe this is one of the best things we could have done as a family; at a stage where many parents and their children drift apart, the exact opposite happened for us. It can for you too, BUT, the kids have to buy into the adventure wholeheartedly. If you force them, it'll be a disaster. Thus don't spring it on them, you've got to have a multi year strategy, JUST like getting the 'reluctant partner' to love sailing. It will take a number of years of careful and clever planning - but it can be done too.

If it is your dream to go cruising with your family but you waited too long and now find your children are teenagers, don't panic. Plan it right and this could be the BEST experience your family has ever had and likely to have.

Magnus Murphy

magnusmurphy 07-02-2011 06:09 PM

Sorry for the typo in the title.

Edit: Better??;)

tomperanteau 07-03-2011 12:15 AM

Great post, and thanks for the insight. I also home-schooled my daughter, and after living 50/50 on our boat, can understand how beneficial that it could be for kids on a boat.

sck5 07-03-2011 09:06 AM

My son (now 18) would have loved to meet some Canadian teenage girls. He is obsessed with sailing but smiling girls will grab his attention every time.

WDS123 07-03-2011 10:19 AM

Magnus - they don't know it now, but being away from teenagers at that age, might have been the best maturing exercise possible.

magnusmurphy 07-03-2011 11:48 AM

WDSchock - you may be right. They did get used to relate to adults on a more mature level. They had no choice really!
I think there are a few critical components of cruising with this age group:
1) Making sure the education is covered, which leads to-
2) Keep the geographic area manageable, for instance our kids required internet connectivity on a regular basis (not all the time - we went for a month or so without a few times, but then they definitely needed it) so you cannot chance taking off into an area where that is not going to be possible (unless you can pay thousands for satellite uploads).
3) Find activities they want to buy into but prepare them before; we spent three weeks scuba diving in Bonaire every single day after schoolwork. We bought a second hand windsurfer so in Curacao they windsurfed every single day after school for two weeks. In Colombia we went on a six day jungle hike into the mountains - that sort of thing. In Panama after the isolation of SAn Blas, we spent a few days just hanging out in Allbrook Mall so they could get their "Mall fix".
4) Give them responsibilities
5) Give them a full vote in activities and cruising destinations. Explain changes without forcing it on them.
6) Learn to live with little privacy
7) Be very very tolerant of the inevitable irritations resulting from personal habits.
8) Get off the boat enough.


kr3728 07-19-2011 02:21 AM

I would extend this to more than long-term cruising. My three daughters and I reconnected over several years of charters. They live thousands of miles away with their mother, with all that implies. A week aboard, sans computers, sans cellphones, and I actually (gasp) got to talk to them.

StephenP 09-05-2011 04:44 PM

Thanks Magnus!

I can add .02 as a university admissions professional: if you are doing the schooling through an accredited jurisdiction (preferably the same as the universities you are applying to), then this is very possible. As someone who has read hundreds of scholarship essays, the uniqueness of someone who has learned through a sailing adventure would definitely make me pay more attention. They still need to be exceptional in what they do, but it would definitely get more attention than the typical basket of experiences enjoyed by high-achieving students in the traditional school programs.

I may be biased, though...I am a sailor :)

Faster 09-05-2011 05:11 PM


Very glad to read of your successful trip, I'm sure your children will thank you for that over and over again.

(btw, fixed your title, of you want something else PM me!)

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