Of course, a luxury yacht charter is great for a romantic getaway, or the ultimate honeymoon. But if you think chartering a yacht is only for couples, or upscale singles, think again! Luxury yacht charters are becoming increasingly popular for family vacations, and you can increase your charter bookings, and your charter income, by making your yacht more “Family Friendly.”
If you want to make your charter yacht appealing to families, there are two main considerations: you need to make sure you have taken every safety precaution for babies and toddlers on board, and also have the water toys and activities available that will keep older kids, and teens entertained.
It also helps to work with a charter broker that is well familiar with family friendly destinations.
Many of these safety tips apply to children of all ages, and following them will not only make the kids of your charter guests safer, but help them to develop a lifelong respect for the water and love for boating! What a way to create long-term clients!
- Life Jackets – It should go without saying that children onboard your yacht, whether they are guests or your own, should wear an appropriate PFD or life vest at all times. But it is very important that they wear one that is meant for a child. An ill-fitting life jacket, like trying to put one made for an adult on a child, can actually do more harm than good! Not only could the child slip out, but in many areas, it is illegal for a child to wear an adult vest, and you could face a fine. Also, make sure any PFD worn by children is a very bright color, so in the event they should slip overboard, they are much easier to spot.
- Sun Protection – Good sun protection is important for anyone while out on the water, but it is even more important for kids. You must use at least 15 SPF, this is the minimum to provide actual sun protection. Look for sunscreens that are marked as waterproof or sweat-proof, these are better to use out on a boat. And, of course, don’t forget the hats and sunglasses!
- Safe Zones – When boating with toddlers or small children, it’s a good idea to create a “safe zone,” an area that you can screen off with toddler gates, and provide some soft-pillows, etc., to be sure they will not wander, and can be safe from injury from the motion of the boat.
- First Aid – Of course your yacht should be equipped with a First Aid Kit, but if you know you will be voyaging often with kids on board, be sure it is stocked with things to take care of the more common childhood problems, such as plenty of Band-Aids, a thermometer, tweezers for removal of splinters, bug bite and sting preparations, and syrup of ipecac. Be sure your kit is accessible, but out of the reach of children. The same goes for any of your other safety gear such as flares or signaling devices.
Special Consideration for Babies on Board
Infants have some special safety concerns to be aware of.
- In the case of newborns, or very young infants, the bobbing motion of the boat can cause injury to the neck and/or head, so you really should never take a baby on the water before they’re able to hold their head up.
- Newborn and very young babies cannot sweat, because their sweat glands have not yet fully developed. That means that it’s very difficult for them to regulate body temperature, and they can overheat very easily.
- Exposure to the sun can be particularly hard on an infant’s skin and eyes, so adequate sunscreen, and a hat that provides some eye protection is a must!
Tips for a Fun Family Yacht Charter
After attending to the safety considerations, here are some other things to keep in mind if you want client to feel comfortable taking their kids on their yacht charter vacation.
Choose Your Yacht Wisely – While a yacht charter can be ideal for a family vacation, not all yachts are ideal for families. Choose your yacht wisely, make sure it is “family friendly,” and that she has enough cabins to accommodate all comfortably.
Get the Kids Involved – Before booking your charter itinerary, get your kids involved. Have them take a look at the boats available for charter, and the destinations, and let them tell you which seem exciting to them. This will save a lot of whining and complaining once you are underway!
On Board Entertainment – Part of looking for a family friendly yacht charter is making sure that the yacht you choose has state-of-the-art onboard entertainment systems, video games, computers, etc., as well as the latest water toys that kids would love, such as water skis, jet skis or water slides. If there is scuba or snorkeling gear on board, be sure they have them in kid sizes.
How to Enhance the Charter Experience for Your Kids by Age
While the above tips are general ways on how to make any given yacht charter a little more “kid friendly,” kids of different ages, have not only different physical capabilities, but also very different likes and dislikes. Here are some specific things you can do to enhance the yachting experience for kids of particular ages.
Children from 8-12
This is probably one of the best ages for kids to enjoy all that a yacht charter has to offer. At this age, kids are full of energy and enthusiasm to try new things. They are also pretty much physically capable to swim, fish, snorkel and enjoy most water sports on their own with minimal adult help or supervision. Some specific activities to think about include:
- Birding and watching for other marine life – Invest in bird and nature guides, and a good pair of binoculars. Especially for charters that take you out to the open oceans, have them be on the lookout for dolphin, whales, orcas, seals, and the other marine animals from the surface. The same binoculars can be used for stargazing at night, which is also a great activity for kids, and a way to introduce them to celestial navigation.
- The Pirate Adventure – If you are going to be overnight near shore, while the kids are asleep, bury some “treasure, create a map to it, place it in a bottle that can just “accidently” wash up the next day – open and let the adventure begin!
- Kayaking – Kayaking is great fun for kids at this age because they will enjoy the “grown up” responsibility of having “their own boat!” But, safety first! Before sending them off on their own, make sure they can climb back into the kayak. It takes practice, and is best done in a controlled environment where the children can’t touch bottom, because that’s most likely what they’ll encounter on their own. A floating waterproof VHF radio is great for them to take along, and you can keep it on a designated channel that you’ll both monitor.
Just as on land, entertaining teens, who think anything other than taking selfies or checking Instagram on their phones is “boring,” can be challenging. Beyond water toys, such as wakeboards, paddleboards and jet skis that most teens love, here are some ideas:
- Let them drive the boat – If your charter vessel is not so complex, where even you wouldn’t drive it yourself, give teens a turn at the wheel, and let them pick their music while they are driving.
- An onshore camp out – If your charter affords the opportunity for an overnight stay anchored at a beach, pack a portable grill and pop-up tent so older teens can sleep ashore. In the evening, get a beachside bonfire going with s’mores or just plain old roasted marshmallows.
- Scuba – Snorkeling is good for kids of all ages, but teens can be PADI scuba diving certified. Of course, if they are interested, they would have to take the course before you head out, or if you are on an extended yacht charter, your kids could possibly take a class and be certified at your charter destination.
Of course, you may not want families and kids on your yacht at all, and that is just fine. However, if you want to expand your charter earning possibilities by appealing to, or maybe even specializing in family charters, a little knowhow about what kids and families want and need, can go a long way to maximizing your potential.
Operating a motor yacht can be costly. You can reduce your expenses, and avoid costly repairs by keeping her well maintained. On Demand yachting from FYM can help. If you would like to learn more, or if you have any questions or comments about this blog post, do not hesitate to contact our Yacht Management specialists, or call us at (954) 900-9968.