Throughout the season boats leave Alum Bay beach on short cruises for close-up views of the Needles rocks and lighthouse, plus panoramic views of the coloured sands of Alum Bay.
The trip includes a detailed live commentary, which can be adapted to suit your age group or topic of interest if you are on an exclusive charter, which will mention coastal erosion and the shaping of the caves and stacks, and the connection 8000 years ago to Old Harry Rocks over in Dorset before the flooding of the Solent ria cut off the Isle of Wight from the mainland. There's also plenty of bird life to observe, and occasionally seals or pods of dolphins or porpoise.
Needles Pleasure Cruises is ideal for all ages
Here's some of the most frequently-asked questions about school visits to Needles Pleasure Cruises, posed by teachers and other group leaders
The standard trip takes 20-25 minutes. Once per day a longer trip is possible which returns to Yarmouth Harbour, passing Hurst Castle, Forts Victoria and Albert, before docking for the night. This trip takes around an hour.
A couple of times per year the weather decides to interrupt play. Usually we can tell from the forecast and so have plenty of time to arrange an alternative activity and perhaps reschedule your boat trip if it's earlier in the week. But ultimately it's the skipper's decision whether or not to sail and on occasion this has been made at very short notice. It really doesn't happen very often though so you'd need to be very unlucky.
Accessibility is unfortunately an issue with this activity. Access to the vessel is across a shingle beach from either the bottom of a very long and steep flight of wooden steps OR from a chairlift which operates during the summer months. So whilst a person with limited mobility might be able to make it to the boat, someone confined to a wheelchair or mobility scooter will unfortunately not be able to participate.
Both vessels used are licenced by the MCA and carry full safety gear including lifejackets, liferafts, buoyancy aids, ship-to-shore radio, flares, recovery strops, liferings and pretty much everything else you can think of.
The chairlift is operated by The Needles Attraction and runs during the summer months. It is chargeable, and has height restrictions which is why we don't tend to recommend it to groups of KS1 or KS2 students. It's also quite scary for some of a nervous disposition - usually the same ones that are fretting about getting on a boat! The alternative is two flights of wooden steps down to the beach - quite long and steep but with regular landing stages to catch a breath. It really is worth the effort though!
The two vessels used for school trips are around 15m long and carry 87 or 94 passengers plus 2-3 crew. We can usually arrange exclusive charter use for groups over around 60 persons.
KS2 Teacher with a group of 25 Upper KS2 students
KS2 Teacher with a group of 80 Lower KS2 students
Head of Travel & Tourism with a group of 17 KS4 students