As part of an intensive research programme, assessing commercial opportunities in ‘superyacht adventure travel’, key issues were identified as being inadequately addressed within this fledgeling sector – a sub-sector of both the more established superyacht service industry and bespoke luxury travel for UHNWIs.

While healthy revenues have been achieved in the recent past for yacht service-related companies, the superyacht travel adventure sector has seen woeful under-investment, with travel boutiques surviving contract to contract. And yet to place that much trust in a supplier taking captains and their guests on long-haul adventures, one requires deep navigational prowess, a well-established remote network of maritime logistical hubs and the financial stability to cover hundreds of suppliers and partners that are called into action for each expedition. In terms of transportation, only space exploration requires greater engineering logistics and financial bandwidth.

These days, superyacht ‘adventures’ or ‘expeditions’ involve travel between semi-remote to off-grid oceanic routes and locations. These journeys are becoming attractive alternatives, complementing the milk-runs that yacht captains are more accustomed to taking their guests on. In recent years, superyacht travel has included off-grid locations, from the Polar regions to Papa New Guinea, and semi-remote regions have included the Black Sea to the Norwegian Fjords.

According to the research, the majority of superyacht guests and owners have yet to see any significant marine biology or mammalogy activity. Nor have they ventured outside the Med or Caribbean on their yachts. Notably, one of the owner’s children spent their time on Instagram ‘liking’ whale videos, unaware they were sailing over the largest oceanic migrational route in the South Pacific. Meanwhile, that sand-shelf the yacht just passed without interest happens to be nautically the most remote real estate for two thousand miles, appearing for only three months of the year.

UHNWIs now look for ‘life-changing experiences’ from their travel journeys, rather than passive sight-seeing. However, owners and their guests find the off-grid routes to be rather uneventful, often suggesting meeting up with the yacht upon arrival at the end destination, opting out of the best part of the journey.

So appears a new breed of superyacht expeditions in 2020, for the COVID era and beyond, where space-age immersive technology, theatrical experiential adventures combine with high-engineering feats supporting ocean-wide adventures for superyachting families.

So appears a new breed of superyacht expeditions in 2020, for the COVID era and beyond, where space-age immersive technology, theatrical experiential adventures combine with high-engineering feats supporting ocean-wide adventures for superyachting families. With BWA Yachting’s progeny ‘WetTech’ venture, ‘Berkeley Rand’, who have introduced immersive experiential stagecraft for owner/users of superyachts, captains finally had a logistical partner to work with. Guests could live out their fantasies amongst captivating remote oceanic islands and waters.

The premise was to use ‘experiential’ stagecraft to bring alive the beauty and mystery of remote coastal archipelagos and their surrounding indigenous marine biology and marine mammalogy, to play-off from the remote islands experiential creations, timed to take off upon the arrival of the guests on the superyacht, one event after another, customised to each individual, carefully designed and planned together with the owners and guests. So uniquely designed, it’s never been done before and won’t ever happen again, there for the presence of the chosen few. The bandwidth of imagination to create and engineer these adventures knows no limit.

Combining a superyacht owner’s interest in modern history and warfare, with thousands of miles of Pacific oceanic waters, one can apply augmented reality technology that brings to life a full-blown fleet of battleships duelling in real time in front of you as you stand on the deck, which now turns into its very own battleship with virtual gun placements to shoot down zero fighters above you, all in super high-definition visualisations. Beyond the battle of WWII’s Midway playing out before the guests, one can take a submersible towards the very spots where the ships sank in battle, where you can relive the final moments and then view it as it is today, as a striking fluorescent artificial coral reef for the indigenous marine flora.

Immersive mobile pods are installed on superyachts that act as a centre for ‘experiences’ on board the yachts, playing out the local marine mammalogy chatter and gossip, where you can talk back through artificial intelligence natural language processing.

Making the yacht go-invisible, stealth mode around you, through technology that allows you to see down to 300m below your feet and the decks, as you experience the enormity of the migrational sperm whales, you can see all around you, while submersibles are super-charged with technology that allows you to zoom in or out on the 3,000-mile route the local marine traffic has taken to reach you and then for you to track and sail with them as part of their pod.

On land, the adventures are no less impressive. Here one can recreate the hunger games or avatar for real, on desert islands amongst the tropical forestation, using augmented reality glasses where monsters and machines pop up out of nowhere. More remotely, we use experiential creations to engineer pop-up molecular gastronomic feasts with famed Michelin-star world-top-five restaurants on that sand shelf you passed by on your previous shift. Broadway musicals recreated with 10,000 dancing drone-lights creating skyscraper-height bubbles around the yacht, or go-chic and on-fleek with floating designer fashion shows or bringing a Grammy-award-winning team to write and perform songs with the prodigal daughter on board, while we gaze through specially adapted night vision goggles at the stars above and spin the planets and watch them dance with a touch of our hands.

This technology already exists and experiential stagecraft has been around 30 years or more. For some reason it skipped the yachting industry, until now. Exploration never looked so beautiful.

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Berkeley Rand


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