Family yacht charters have evolved over the years, deviating from the tried-and-trusted beach vacation to the hottest travel trend for families at the moment: Edventures (which stands for “education adventure”). Combining the classic ingredients of travel and adventure with education that enriches all of the guests on board, a superyacht provides a platform where children can be inspired and learn all while having fun.
Travel can be one of the best forms of education and those lucky enough to be waterborne will find a superyacht can be the perfect setting for an outdoor classroom where children can learn while having fun in paradise. Navigator seeks out the best winter cruising grounds for family Edventures.
Learning while at sea
Many charter yachts have introduced a broad range of onboard activities that are not only fun for kids but also will educate them about the cruising grounds they are visiting. From cooking classes with the chef to learning about the environment – both on land and beneath the surface – lessons that take place in the real world will always have more of an impact on your child than the ephemeral nature of the knowledge gained in a normal classroom. While cruising aboard the 86-foot (26m) MAXXX in Southeast Asia, for example, guests of all ages can learn how to cook local cuisine, including tasty Thai dishes, with MAXXX’s chef Kalaya Suksala, while chef Nina Wilson aboard the 180.5-foot (55m) REVELRY loves to teach guests of all ages about Caribbean cuisine, using fresh, locally-sourced produce.
For those looking to experience the sea, the exotic waters of the majestic Raja Ampat archipelago provide ample opportunities for underwater exploration. Whether snorkeling or learning to dive, the waters lying off the northwestern coast of New Guinea are home to Indonesia’s largest marine national park and Captain Luc Heymans aboard the 85-foot (28m) catamaran LONESTAR is a qualified scuba diving instructor who can teach all ages.
Marine experiences like snorkeling with manta rays and witnessing hatching baby sea turtles are par for the course while cruising the Maldives. The UNESCO-listed Hanifaru Bay is one of the best places in the world for seeing manta rays, while most of the Maldivian atolls welcome manta rays at different points of the year. An environmental project presented to children at the beginning of the charter could involve counting the manta rays, for example, and working out their habits. These types of activities give children a vital perspective of the fragile environment around them. Crew can also organize visits to local communities and schools to broaden their knowledge of the Maldivian culture further.
You don’t need to be on land for larger-than-life wildlife experiences. Many children have grown up enthralled by wildlife programs by the likes of Sir David Attenborough and being out on the ocean might just be their idea of paradise. The world’s oceans harbor some of the greatest marine encounters you can experience on the planet, from breaching whales to bioluminescence. All you have to do is peek beneath the surface to gain a better understanding of the local flora, fauna and sea life that lurks below. Don a snorkel and mask and jump in to discover a whole new world. Reefs are like a fantasia of color where the iridescent coral looks like a paint palette while fish are blessed with hues and patterns that will leave the children in awe.
The beauty of these underwater ecosystems is that they are all unique. In the waters lapping the Caribbean island of Grenada, for example, children will be rubbing their eyes in disbelief at the installations in the Underwater Sculpture Park that rest in the shallows of Molinere Bay – not only for the bizarre sculptures but also for the colorful tropical fish that have been drawn to these artificial reefs.
Those cruising the Turks and Caicos archipelago will find the islands’ reefs cumulatively make up one of the largest barrier reef systems in the world. Rainbow-colored coral is in abundance and a magical array of life, including nurse sharks, triggerfish, barracudas and eagle rays call this marine metropolis home. Hiring a local marine guide to come on board elevates your child’s immersion to a new level, or just donning a snorkel and mask and following the yacht crew’s advice will lead you to discover gorgeous marine creatures both big and small. Many yachts in the Northrop & Johnson charter fleet have policies to eliminate single-use plastics on board, while some go a step further and are making waves on the sustainability front. One such yacht is the 130-foot (39.62m) LIONSHARE. While on board the crew can educate the younger guests on some of the yacht’s best practices, including eliminating single-use plastics and using only refillable water bottles and locally sourced products and produce.
Step back in time
The Caribbean islands offer myriad opportunities for exciting journeys of discovery. Steeped in maritime history and historical acclaim, Antigua is a cultural hot spot anchored by the historic Nelson’s Dockyard, while the neighboring islands of St. Kitts and Bequia boast forts and colonial buildings ideal for real-life history lessons. Imaginations will come to life in the British Virgin Islands on the actual Treasure Island that is said to have inspired Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel. This fairytale destination of hidden coves, deserted beaches and mysterious waters will transport all who visit to a land of myths and legends. While the novel is one of fiction, history dictates that this was a popular spot for pirates to hide their treasures, and the crew aboard the 164-foot (50m) CHASING DAYLIGHT love to organize treasure hunts ashore, along with mini Olympics and other fun games. Children may be even more excited at the prospect of a treasure hunt in the Tobago Cays in the Grenadines. This idyllic cluster of uninhabited islands serves as the backdrop for many of the scenes in the 2003 film, Pirates of the Caribbean, the Curse of the Black Pearl. The crew aboard REVELRY can set an orienteering course for buried treasure, where participants can walk, swim or snorkel in search of chests brimming with gold, silver, or perhaps a token shell keepsake.