Luxury Yachting: Spending time aboard a luxury yacht is many

people's fantasy, but what's it really like? It may be only a metre or

so to walk down the passerelle, but it's the gateway to another world.

Even in a five-star hotel, anyone can wander in, walk past your table

and overhear your conversation. On a cruise ship the crew have lots of

other passengers to attend to, not just you. Welcome instead to a world

of privacy, privilege and exclusivity; a world of attention to detail,

presentation and service where the primary consideration is to ensure

that you have the holiday of your dreams. Let's take a peep at what the

diary of a guest might be like.

08.00 Opened my eyes to see blue sky through my cabin window. No

sound of anyone else so I thought I'd take a quiet morning dip. Someone

was up though - a comforting smell of fresh coffee and croissants

baking was wafting from the galley, and as I crossed the saloon I could

hear the soft chink of china cups and saucers as the table was being

laid for breakfast on deck. The water was perfectly calm and so clear I

could see plenty of fish swimming about as I dived in. As I swam across

the bay the only sound was the occasional seagull calling. Climbing

back on board I was handed a shower with hot water and then an enormous

beach towel by one of our crew - their thoughtfulness is quite

extraordinary and they seem to appear from nowhere just when you want

them. How nice it was to sit in the early morning sun sipping fresh

coffee before the rest of the family stirred.

08.30 Spoke too soon - the kids burst on deck already in their

swimming kit and waving water sports jackets that they were pestering

to be put into. Much squealing and jumping around before one of the

crew swept them off out of earshot in the tender to be bounced around

on the inflatable ringo. Having someone else to get rid of some of

their energy before breakfast is such a boon!

10.00 Lay in the sun and read my book, casting the occasional

glace at the sails and the passing scenery to judge our progress

towards another spectacular lunch stop. How nice it was to be so lazy

with no feelings of guilt whatsoever - it seems all part of travelling

by wind power just to let nature take its course. Chilled drinks

materialised by simply thinking about them - must be a paranormal

yachting phenomenon (they say strange things happen at sea).

12.30 We circled a small bay as our crew chose exactly the

perfect spot to drop anchor. This was the immediate call for a swim and

within seconds the children were equipped with snorkelling gear before

being dispatched off the bathing platform. After a few minutes I left

them to it and climbed back aboard to be presented with a glass of

chilled rosé. Lorna could only be persuaded to move from her sunbathing

mattress when everyone was seated at the table for lunch - lobster and

giant prawns, followed by home-made ice cream and fresh fruit. When and

how these fabulous meals are produced is another mystery, as they are

always timed and served so exquisitely.

15.30 How quickly an afternoon flies when you're doing nothing

in particular. Our crew nudged us back into action by lifting the

anchor and hoisting the mainsail (I'm pretty conversant with the

terminology now!). A large sack had appeared on deck and its contents

were now revealed as a great colourful kite of a sail (known as a

cruising chute) filled with the afternoon breeze. We were now speeding

along and yet it felt incredibly calm - no engine noise so we could

listen to some great music and enjoy the ride. I even took a turn at

the helm before the kids insisted on having a go as well; our Captain

was so patient and kept us on course despite best family efforts to the


17.30 Arrived in port to a small audience gathered on the

quayside. It must be pretty nerve-wracking to park one of these things

with everyone watching: they're just waiting to see if you hit anything

and assessing whether there's anyone famous on board. Much to their

disappointment it was all done and dusted very smoothly and only us on

board. Even so, we still attracted a lot of admiring looks - there's

obviously something deeply fascinating about looking at the back of

yachts whilst you're licking your ice cream! We decided to join them

and explore ashore as soon as the passerelle went out.

19.30 Just as well we bought the wardrobe with us as Lorna

decided to make the most of the boutiques! How she loved it when our

Captain carried her bags aboard for her - I'm sure I wouldn't have had

the same effect. Must go, Champagne and canapés now being served on

deck before we stroll off to one of those nice little restaurants on

the quayside.

23.30 Had a super meal with a great view of the harbour. When we

eventually returned our hostess was ready with coffees and I have to

admit I enjoyed a rather generous brandy (normal ship's measures you

understand). Time for bed - relaxing is such hard work it wears you out!