These Companies Are Turning Superyacht Charters Into Memorable Adventures – Robb Report
Patrick had previously chartered boats in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Adriatic and set foot on all seven continents. Yet he had never seen anything like it. “Twenty humpback whales circling our Zodiac, a krill feeding frenzy,” he says. “Diving, boiling water, ascending a few meters – it was a lifetime experience to see these mammoth mammals having the best time of their lives.”
Such was a typical afternoon last October aboard the Nansen Explorer, a 236-foot ice-class vessel converted into a 12-guest explorer yacht laden with amenities. Patrick, who requested an alias, was sailing with his family for two weeks in northern Iceland. His go-to company, Fischer Travel in New York, planned the trip through EYOS Expeditions, a superyacht remote destination specialist.
The Caribbean and Mediterranean tend to be milk races, itineraries with few surprises for even the largest and most exquisite charter yachts. But going off-grid is an entirely different business. EYOS and competitors such as Pelorus and Cookson Adventures work with clients to create personalized charters down to the last detail; eight months of paperwork, including communicating with local authorities, applying for permits and inspecting yachts, is routine. “There is no infrastructure where we are going – remote and wild places where having the right guides and planning is important for the experience and safety,” says Ben Lyons, CEO of EYOS. At the same time, he says, “these customers want a next-level experience, seeing the fjords from a helicopter or the sea life from a submersible. They want to kayak among the ice floes and return to a Michelin-caliber meal.
North Iceland isn’t quite Antarctica, but luxury superyachts are still rare along its rugged coastline. In addition to whale watching, Patrick and his family have visited small fishing villages like Grundarfjörður, spotted rare arctic foxes near Hornvík, and explored Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, accessible only by boat. They also bathed in the hot springs of Reykjafjarðarlaug, flew over the Fagradalsfjall volcano in a helicopter and discovered Dynjandi, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland.
Immersing yourself in your surroundings defines an off-the-grid journey. Fraser Yachts charter broker Liz Howard has organized expeditions to Antarctica and the Raja Ampat archipelago in southern Indonesia. “Raja Ampat is one of the most remote destinations in the world, which is what makes it so amazing,” she says. “It has some of the best diving in the world, but no marinas.”
This means that finding the appropriate operators is paramount. “It’s not enough to see a boat in a pretty picture,” says Howard. “You have to make sure the captain and crew are ultra-qualified, usually with a native crew member to deal with local authorities.” As for help off the boat, she adds, “it’s my job to anticipate all the logistics – and it’s complicated – so that my customers are in no way inconvenienced”.
Lyons agrees that coordinating a myriad of details, from acquiring permits to assembling “stranding kits” for emergencies in polar regions, is mission critical. It’s the luxury, he says, that’s never a problem. “It’s a no-brainer for us,” he explains. “What’s unique about yachting expeditions are the intimate experiences these small groups have, alone in some of the most beautiful and remote places on earth. It’s something you can’t replicate.
Patrick was so delighted with his adventure in Iceland that he plans to return to the Nansen Explorer for Antarctica in 2023. “There are only a few places I’ve been to twice, but I would go back to Antarctica and do Iceland again,” he says. “It’s completely different. It challenges you.