Travel the high seas in style


The 73-meter Planet Nine yacht features a helicopter, ice-class hull and, inside, a spa and sauna.

Courtesy of Burgess

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After more than a year of lockdown, some adventurous, very high net worth individuals have taken to the high seas. No longer content with lounging on a sunny terrace in the Mediterranean, they seek out more distant destinations where they can spot a narwhal or discover a sunken battleship. To do this, they need an expedition-worthy ship that can travel to the icy waters of the Arctic or to the depths of the ocean via on-board submersibles.

Although expedition yachts represent only 10% of all superyachts, it is a growing market. More than 30 exploration and expedition vessels are expected to be delivered this year, up from 10 to 20 delivered each year between 2011 and 2018, according to a July report from London-based Boat Pro, which is part of the company. Boat International Media edition.

Sales of all yachts have exploded since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. In the first half of this year, 344 superyachts were sold through brokers with an average asking price of $ 10.55 million, the data showed. Compare that with 414 sales during 2020 and 406 in 2019.

London-based naval architect and designer Philippe Briand of Vitruvius Yachts says the increased interest is coming from a new generation of sailors who want to see the whole world, not just a fragment of it. Today boaters typically only visit about 3% of international coasts, he says, and he works closely with his clients to create efficient vessels that will take them to more distant coasts.

“The design process is all about defining the owner’s appetite and assessing the needs of the trip so that the right tools are on board,” Briand explains.

For example, the Shinkai is a 55-meter expedition yacht that will include a three-person submersible, as well as a crane to move it; a sealed garage for a Toyota Land Cruiser; two tenders, or small boats, to navigate smaller waterways; and a gyro stabilization system to help navigate both the ship and the submarine. At the same time, the four-level Shinkai will have a large owner’s suite and four additional suites, as well as a dining room, two offices and a room for 12 crew members.

The ship is currently under construction and should be delivered by the end of the year. The owners plan to travel the Northwest Passage across the Arctic Ocean, where they might encounter narwhals and beluga whales on a tour in the submersible.

One of the most famous expedition yachts is the 126-meter Octopus, which is owned by the estate of the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. The ship can accommodate 26 people in 13 cabins; space for two helicopters; an eight-seater submarine; a glass bottom submarine observation lounge; a basketball court; and a diving center. Additionally, the Octopus also serves as a floating research vessel with equipment to search for lost ships and artifacts. It is offered for 235 million euros (US $ 278 million) by the boat brokerage firm Burgess.

For those looking for less engagement, Burgess also offers charters. From € 650,000, up to 12 people can spend a week on the 73-meter Planet Nine, which includes an ice-class helicopter and hull to navigate freezing waters. The yacht has five decks, an elevator, spa and sauna, as well as a chef and masseuse on the crew.

Briand maintains that interest in these bloated superyachts will continue to grow.

He asks, “After a year of this crisis, don’t you think it’s time to explore the world?

This article appeared in the September 2021 issue of Penta magazine.

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