Growing up in a sleepy little Florida town, my fondest childhood memories come from days spent at the beach. I will never forget encountering a horseshoe crab for the first time, what horror! A crab the size of my head with 8 spider-like pinchers and a tail like a stingray, the 5 year old me screamed in horror for any adult within earshot that could save me from this monster of the sea. My boisterous Aunt Missy rushed over and laughed, picking up the horseshoe crab and placing her fingers directly into its pinchers, “a horseshoe crab is completely harmless. It is your friend,” she said. So began my love for the ocean and all of its fascinating creatures.
Not long after, my dad took me to my first aquarium. My dad grew up a Navy brat and spent most of his childhood spearfishing in the Bahamas and living on a boat in the Florida Keys so he understood and encouraged my passion for the ocean. At the aquarium I tried to learn everything there was to know about horseshoe crabs, sharks, dolphins, starfish, barracudas, etc., if it lived in the ocean, I needed to know more. I found out what they eat, what parts of the ocean they live in, and why they are so important to the ecosystem and us, as humans, as well. They even let us pick up creatures like horseshoe crabs, sea urchins, feed sharks, and pet sting rays.
For the remainder of my childhood, every time my family and I went to the beach it was an opportunity to pretend to that I was Steve Irwin, on a mission to find animals to present on my television show. I must have looked ridiculous from the shore petting make-believe manatees and talking to a make-believe audience about the importance of protecting our endangered species and preventing others from becoming endangered. To this day, I value keeping our oceans clean and protecting our sea creatures and I think I always will. I was that girl on spring break in Panama City scolding partiers for littering the beach with beer cans and cigarette butts. Don’t they know about sea turtles?!
So, when I heard about Paul Gauguin Cruises’ new partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society for their Stewards of Nature program, my attention was all theirs. Honestly, just their amazing itinerary of cruises navigating through crystal clear Tahitian and French Polynesian oceans is enough to make my dreams come true but that’s another story.
Paul Gauguin’s Stewards of Nature program is a phenomenal, hands-on, fun educational opportunity for a family cruising together. It is available, at a nominal fee, for children ages 7-17 that can swim. Children will learn from one of the world’s leading conservation and science organizations. They will go on beach excursions at some of the most beautiful destinations in the world to learn about wildlife and their ecosystems. They will have picnics, go snorkeling, and stargazing. Even while on-board, they will be able to participate in educational, but fun, activities.
Not only will your kids be learning, but it will give parents uninterrupted free time to enjoy their vacations, kid free. Of course parents are more than welcome to stop in and check out what your future Steve Irwins are learning.
Paul Gauguin’s Stewards of Nature program sounds like exactly the type of childhood vacation I would have cherished for a lifetime (and my parents would have loved as well). If you’re a looking for the most memorable family vacation everyone can enjoy while also providing a new learning environment for your kids this could be the perfect vacation for you. I wonder if I can pass for 17 years old…