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The Great Edventure: The Best Educational Charter Yachts

We look at the charter yachts and experiences that you and your young adventurers will never forget.

By Miriam Cain

They say that the world is a classroom and that travel is one of the best forms of education for both children and adults. The hottest travel trend for families, ‘edventures’ (educational adventures) combine the classic ingredients of adventure with education.

In fact, the adventure travel company Pelorus says that demand for educational family trips increased by 185% between 2021 and 2022, and it expects this trend to continue over the next five years as Gen Alphas transition through the educational system.

When taken to the extreme, an edventure on a superyacht opens up the opportunity to incorporate inspiring itineraries and unique experiences that will keep your children’s eyes wide with wonder. These are charters where they can experience different cultures, broaden their horizons, expand their interests, and learn new skills — education by osmosis, if you like.

Just about any type of experience can be incorporated into a luxury yacht charter, but some destinations excel in certain areas. One thing all the examples on the following pages have in common is the classic ingredients of travel and adventure — and of course the luxury superyacht platform.

Elite Traveler looks at the charter yachts and experiences that you and your young adventurers will never forget.

[See also How Much Does it Actually Cost to Charter a Yacht?]

Wildlife Encounters

Legend

Superyacht in ice
Legend offers the chance to explore the remote corners of the world / Image courtesy of y.co

A superyacht charter almost immediately conjures up images of endless white sand beaches and days upon days of sunshine. But many of the cruising grounds visited by yachts are also fantastic destinations for discovering a vast array of wildlife. From humbling encounters with humpback whales in their migrating pods, to the sheer unbridled biological diversity of rain forests, there’s no end to the wildlife experiences both ashore and beneath the waterline.

At the top of any intrepid explorer’s bucket list, the Arctic is considered one of the last great frontiers on Earth. Why not cruise through the Svalbard archipelago, which lies just north of mainland Norway, aboard the epic explorer Legend, and observe the king of the Arctic, the polar bear, in its natural habitat. The polar bear is considered an endangered species, mainly due to climate change and the related loss of its natural habitat.

[See also: Into the Ice: Onboard Ponant’s Luxury Cruise in Antarctica]

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Children could take on an environmental project at the beginning of the charter — counting the polar bears, for example, and learning about their habits. You could even host a National Geographic filmmaker to help the children create their very own documentary and capture memories of a lifetime forever. These types of activities give children a vital perspective of the fragile environment and the tangible effects of climate change.

Pushing the boundaries of exploration and unlocking the Polar regions for luxury cruising, Legend features all the usual superyacht fixtures; additionally, because she’s ice-classed and has a strengthened hull, she can safely navigate ice-filled waters and frozen seas — perfect for adventurous charterers looking to explore further afield. The best time to travel to Norway and Svalbard to see polar bears is from June to September, when the sun literally doesn’t set below the horizon. There is less packed ice than in the winter months, so polar bears also tend to stay in more concentrated areas and are easier for the kids to find.

Alternatively, follow in Darwin’s footsteps while cruising through the enchanted Galapagos. One of, if not the, most enthralling wildlife havens in the world, this archipelago of islands straddles the equator approximately 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. This wildlife utopia inspired Darwin to write his seminal work, On the Origin of Species, and the variety of sub-species on offer here may just inspire your younger generations to think differently about the world, and perhaps venture into a scientific field themselves.

[See also: Classic Yachts with Glamorous Histories]

Charters can be accompanied by a National Geographic filmmaker to help make your own documentary / Image courtesy of y.co

Of course, you don’t need to be on land to witness wildlife wonders. The ocean itself harbors some of the greatest marine encounters you can experience. Observing majestic mammals — from breaching whales to pods of dolphins — while cruising can generate experiences young adventurers will never forget.

Cruise the rugged Alaskan coastline, perhaps escorted through the wilds of America’s 49th state by pods of whales, to Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve. This area is totally unspoiled by human hand and is a wonderful place to experience a glacial ecosystem in all its glory. Every summer, humpback whales leave their winter homes in Hawaii to return to the bay where their food is plentiful. There’s also the possibility of spotting minke whales, seals and sea otters, and even tracking pods of killer whales.

Meanwhile, the underwater realm is a fascinating place bursting with flora and fauna — all you have to do is peek beneath the surface to gain a better understanding of the life that lurks below. Coral reefs can burst with iridescent fish that will leave children babbling with enthusiasm at what they’ve seen, while marine creatures both big and small can elevate your child’s immersion to a new level.

The beauty of these ecosystems is that they are all unique. In the waters lapping the Caribbean islands, for example, children will be rubbing their eyes in disbelief at the colorful tropical fish, while the Indian Ocean atolls of the Maldives and Seychelles can also provide rainbow-colored coral in abundance and a magical but very different array of sea life. Hiring a local marine guide to come on board gives the learning a focus, or simply following the yacht crew’s lead will also lead to new discoveries.

Legend by numbers

LOA: 253.11 ft
Top speed: 17.4 knots
Cruising speed: 12 knots
Number of crew: 28
Number of guests: 22

Arctic voyage from $631,650 per week. Contact experience@y.co, +377 935 012 12, y.co

New skills

Lady E

Lady E has an array of water toys, giving the family a chance to learn new skills while on board / ©Ed Cavendish

From learning about the environment with a naturalist, to cooking classes with a chef, lessons that take place in the real world will always have more of an impact on your child than academic knowledge gained in a classroom, instilling skills that children can take back home.

While cruising along the Amalfi Coast aboard the motor yacht Lady E, for example, children can learn how to make pizzas with chefs Jake and Damo. Most superyachts have an array of water toys, adding not only a fun dimension to a family yacht charter but also the opportunity to learn a new sport.

With all the equipment you’ll need, the whole family can hit the waves while cruising aboard Lady E. The crew members really know their stuff and, equipped with a Super Air Nautique ski boat, they will ensure the children have the thrill of taking to the water in safety.

Alternatively, Lady E also has two Laser Pico sailing dinghies in her toy chest, and an enthusiastic crew with sailing knowledge who love to show guests the ropes. Who knows, the children might end up sailing like the professionals who taught them in years to come.

The older children might want to try their hand on the Fliteboard eFoil or Slingshot Foilboard (for wake foiling) or learn how to ride the Yamaha jet skis to use for the duration of the charter; Lady E is an approved RYA-accredited training center for guests’ use of personal watercraft.

The crew also know the best fishing spots and can take the kids there and teach them how to cast a line, helping them build patience and agility as they learn about wildlife and nature all at the same time.

Lady E by numbers

LOA: 244.5 ft
Top speed: 17.5 knots
Cruising speed: 15.5 knots
Number of crew: 12
Number of guests: 21

Available in the Mediterranean this summer from $665,000 per week. Contact charter@burgessyachts.com, +44 207 766 4300, burgessyachts.com

RoMa

RoMa has all the equipment and credentials for diving scuba diving adventures / ©Stuart Pearce

A number of charter yachts are outfitted with dive gear in their toy boxes, and some even operate PADI-certified dive centers with their very own dive instructors on board to safely teach scuba diving to guests of all ages.

The 203.5-ft motor yacht RoMa has all the equipment and credentials for underwater adventures, including nine sets of scuba equipment, a Bauer dive compressor, and an emergency oxygen generator.

Licensed as a PADI onboard diving school, guests are in the safest hands with fully qualified scuba instructors and dive masters among her crewmembers. For the older children it might be their first opportunity to try scuba diving, while the younger children can always don a mask and enjoy the Bubblemaker experience, snorkel, or try paddleboarding and water golf.

Meanwhile, parents can enjoy a pampering treatment with the licensed masseuse or practice their sun salutations with the yoga instructors among the crew members.

Available in the Western Mediterranean this summer from $329,500 per week. Contact +1 954 522 3344, northropandjohnson.com

Scientific research

Octopus

Octopus superyacht in the water
Octopus blends ultimate luxury with exploration / ©Breed

From diving in a submersible with a scientist, to counting marine life populations with a marine biologist, a superyacht provides the perfect base for young ones to gain an insight into our oceans. Most children have an interest in the environment, and being on board allows them to witness firsthand the effects of climate change.

Take advantage of their curious nature and encourage them to conduct their own research while exploring the ocean. There are a variety of ways in which children can participate in meaningful projects: A superyacht can even act as a research vessel, perhaps hosting an onboard scientist to conduct important field research. Or, younger guests can become citizen scientists, documenting species and collecting data to submit to an official database. From planting corals to tagging sharks, there are a number of initiatives in just about every cruising area that will, without doubt, alter their perspective on life and our planet.

[See also: Octopus: On Board the Original Explorer Superyacht]

While cruising through Alaska, children can track endangered beluga whales, for example; or, while exploring Costa Rica’s rich coastline, they can perhaps join a beach patrol in search of hatching baby leatherback turtles and help to relocate nests away from poachers and predators. For older children, the strange and curious landscapes of Antarctica are a living laboratory.

Watch them marvel at magnificent glaciers while conducting surface observations, perhaps helping scientists as they map uncharted depths aboard a submarine. The best time to head to this region is during the polar travel season (or austral summer which runs from November to March) when the temperatures are a balmy 20° F, and the sun never sets.

The Musashi Bar on board Octopus / ©Breed

Purpose-built explorer vessels like Octopus have such extraordinary built-in capabilities that the opportunities are seemingly endless. Specifically equipped to conduct deep ocean recovery missions and serious scientific research, Octopus features a fully equipped medical suite, dive center (complete with hyperbaric chamber), observation lounge, a brand-new Triton 3300/6 submarine, a remotely controlled submarine (ROV), two helipads, and a helicopter hangar for two helicopters to be stored on board.

With a range of 12,500 nautical miles and true explorer credentials, Octopus has already completed multiple circumnavigations, cruised through the Northwest Passage, the rich coast of Costa Rica, Panama and South America, and Papua New Guinea, and just recently escorted her charter guests through Antarctica.

From $2.2m per week. Contact Jacqui Lockhart, Europe head of charter, jlockhart@camperandnicholsons.com, +377 979 777 00, camperandnicholsons.com

OCTOPUS by numbers

LOA: 414.1 ft
Top speed: 19 knots
Cruising speed: 12.5 knots
Number of crew: 42
Number of guests: 12

Culture

Lamima

Guides can immerse your children in Indonesia’s rich culture on board Lamima / Courtesy of Northrop and Johnson

While cruising to some of the world’s most exotic locations, children will be engaged in diverse cultures and different ways of life. Time onshore will expose them to unique traditions that will broaden their knowledge of the world and how they themselves fit into it — something they may not have considered until such exposure.

Crew members can organize visits to local communities and schools; this contact can be hugely enriching and have a profound influence on younger generations.

The Raja Ampat archipelago in Indonesia is the perfect destination for an educational vacation in Southeast Asia. Cruising aboard the traditional Indonesian phinisi-style sailing yacht Lamima, guides can immerse your children in the culture of this spectacular nation.

Drift among islets in search of prehistoric cave paintings, and take a close look into the local life of the various tribes inhabiting the islands, each with their own set of traditions often expressed through song and dance.

For all her classic style, Lamima also boasts several luxury amenities and services, including a spa suite staffed by Balinese therapists and a certified PADI training center. However, for budding culture vultures, the 20-person crew includes a tour guide who can help to access Indonesia’s more remote areas.

LAMIMA by numbers

LOA: 213.11 ft
Top speed: 12 knots
Cruising speed: 10 knots
Number of crew: 20
Number of guests: 14

From $161,000 per week. Contact +1 954 522 3344, northropandjohnson.com

Victorious

An epicurean adventure around the Mediterranean can be tailored for children / ©Fraser Yachts

Getting a dose of culture doesn’t have to involve remote destinations thousands of miles from home. While cruising in the Caribbean, for example, why not spend some time on the exotic island of Grenada? It’s ideal for a fun-filled family adventure, where children can explore the spice plantations or even take a chocolate tour at the historic Belmont Estate. They will never look at their favorite sweet treat in quite the same way after dancing, barefoot, on trays of cocoa beans.

The Mediterranean Sea also borders 22 countries, and every one of them has a wealth of culture, ranging from its art and architecture to its cuisine and customs; your yacht charter can take you on an exciting journey of discovery that combines a little of everything.

For budding artists, the Provençal haunts of artistic legends like Van Gogh, Chagall and Picasso will both inspire the artistic and perhaps test those French linguistic skills, while over in the Eastern Mediterranean, the cultural relics left by the Ottomans, Byzantines and Romans will keep all generations enthralled with its sense of history.

Cruising the Mediterranean this summer, the featured-packed explorer yacht Victorious is fully equipped to provide the ultimate charter experience. Designed for entertainment and exploration, she is as equally suited to the Mediterranean or Caribbean as she is to exploring remote cruising grounds.

A yacht charter can take you on an exciting journey of discovery that combines a little of everything / ©Fraser Yachts

Her large beach club and wellness center on the lower deck comes complete with a large pool, lounge and bar areas and sea terraces on either side, along with a gym, treatment rooms, hammam and beauty salon. And that’s just the beginning of her superb leisure facilities. Sit-up bars, hot tub, observation lounge, wine cellar, children’s playroom, and a cinema are all on offer to her 24 guests.

Available in the Mediterranean from $851,100. Contact yachtcharter@fraseryachts.com, + 377 931 004 50, fraseryachts.com

Victorious by numbers

LOA: 278.11 ft
Top speed: 16 knots
Cruising speed: 10 knots
Number of crew: 21
Number of guests: 24

History

Resilience

Resilience gives guests the chance to cruise Eastern Europe’s ancient civilizations / Courtesy of Edminston

There are a great deal more than seven wonders in the world; wherever you cruise, there are unbelievable sights and amazing experiences to be relished. Whether cruising to Napoleon’s birthplace in Corsica, gazing at the Acropolis at sunset, or re-enacting battles at Nelson’s Dockyard in the Caribbean, kids can learn how to be mini archeologists as they seek treasures at ancient sites and learn about various empires along the way.

Those with young ones fascinated by history will love an itinerary that is designed as a dot-to-dot tour of ruins, temples and churches ravaged over thousands of years. While cruising aboard the motor yacht Resilience in Sicily, you can step ashore and discover the archeological park of eight temples at The Valley of the Temples.

Head north to the Amalfi Coast, an area so impressive and unique that it has been designated a Unesco World Heritage site. However, it is the ancient city of Pompeii located just inland that will have the youngsters gawking in amazement as they walk through the well-preserved alleyways.

At each port of call your crew can arrange for an expert guide to escort you and your children, a guide who can elaborate on their history and heritage, and answer any questions as they help to bring the past to life.

Cruising aboard Resilience, it’s easy to incorporate several Game of Thrones stops / Courtesy of Edminston

In between each visit, there will of course be plenty of gourmet refreshment stops and ample time for everyone to relax and recharge those batteries before the next intriguing discovery. For adults, this might involve a massage in the spa followed by a dip in the glass-bottomed pool, while the children spend time in the Tyrrhenian Sea with the Resilience toy collection, perhaps even diving with the yacht’s Seabobs to discover their own ancient treasures on the seabed.

Alternatively, the archeological wonders of the Eastern Mediterranean are fascinating. The east coast of Croatia, the Greek islands and the southern coast of Turkey are all steeped in ancient splendor. Boasting filming locations for much of the HBO series Game of Thrones, these stunning locations easily dovetail with popular charter itineraries through the Adriatic, perfect for the older children looking to scout sites and add some interest to the historic old towns.

Dubrovnik’s Old Town, for example, is the real-life version of the show’s King’s Landing, and many locals recommend restaurants frequented by the cast. Between Dubrovnik and Split, islands such as Korčula and Hvar offer a combination of classical architecture ashore and beautiful waters for water sports of all kinds. Cruising aboard Resilience, it’s easy to incorporate several Game of Thrones stops, along with a variety of stunning anchorages for your off days.

Resilience by numbers

LOA: 212.6 ft
Top speed: 16 knots
Cruising speed: 14 knots
Number of crew: 15
Number of guests: 12

Available in the Mediterranean from $638,700 per week. Contact Victoria Verhovskaia, charter fleet manager, cayachts@edmiston.com, +377 933 054 44, edmiston.com

This article appears in the 06 Mar 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Spring 2023

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