Imagine witnessing a whale breaching across the bow? Or, heli-skiing down your own private mountainside? Perhaps you are keen to get involved with marine conservation? Explorer yachts allow you to enjoy a whole range of fascinating experiences, opening up the possibilities for once-in-a-lifetime adventures where the world really is your oyster.
In recent years, the charter scene has witnessed an increase in demand for go-anywhere explorer yachts, with naval architects pushing the envelope with a raft of innovative concepts in response to discerning yacht travellers seeking ever-more thrilling adventures.
Thomas O'Nial, sales manager at Campers & Nicholsons, confirms he's seen a marked increase in requests for explorer yachts in both the sales and charter sectors over the last few years, with the pandemic acting to accelerate this demand: "Clients are tired of the usual yacht charter circuit, and are expressing a desire to explore new territories and discover new things."
Damen's SeaXplorer Design Manager Enrique Tintore agrees, adding "SeaXplorer clients come from all manner of backgrounds and nationalities, but all share a passion for pushing the envelope and a love for fun and adventure. From tropical diving to heliskiing, they want the highest level of capability for fun."
Expedition yachts not only boast impressive cruising ranges and autonomy, but also come equipped with the latest toys, gadgets and state-of-the-art technology, offering a synergy of impeccably-styled interiors and luxury amenities – proving you can have your cake and eat it too.
However, there are some important distinctions between a superyacht and a true explorer yacht;
First and foremost, while aesthetically rugged and robust, an explorer yacht must be seaworthy. This means safe enough to withstand the roughest sea conditions, and do so comfortably for its passengers onboard.
A number of yachts also comply with IMO’s Polar Code, with hulls built to ice-class, such as Damen's SeaXplorer yacht LA DATCHA (pictured), designed to venture to extreme polar regions.
Although not mandatory, it certainly opens up greater opportunities for extreme exploration.
All our clients share a passion for pushing the envelope and a love for fun and adventure
Explorer yachts should also have the fuel tank capacity and efficiency to cruise for longer distances, offering unlimited potential to access remote areas of the globe.
And they don’t need to be behemoths either, British shipbuilder Arksen’s flagship explorer model is a fairly diminutive 26m (85ft) with an impressive 7,000 nm oceangoing range.
Likewise, Italian shipyard Cantiere Delle Marche's latest explorer yachts, AURELIA and RJ are both under 500GT, yet still bear all the hallmarks of a true explorer: robust, seaworthy and designed for world cruising, with both offering a 5,500 nm range without compromising on comfort and luxury, illustrating just how diverse the growing market for explorer vessels can be.
Another important attribute of a true explorer yacht is autonomy, basically the ability to remain at sea for long periods while remaining totally self-sufficient.
To achieve this, as well as ample fuel capacity, the yacht needs sufficient storage space to carry adequate food supplies and other necessities to maintain crew and guests, including specialists such as local guides, helicopter pilots and ski instructors.
The vessel should also be able to generate fresh water and manage waste effectively. This last point is often something that gets overlooked, however is one of the most fundamentally important aspects of an expedition yacht charter, not only because the vessel will undoubtedly be exploring remote locations without convenient refuse services, but also because effective waste management is a crucial environmental issue for ocean going yachts given their autonomy at sea and global range.
With a clearer understanding of what makes an explorer yacht, the next question you might ask is: why should you charter one?
Below are some pretty compelling reasons why explorer yachts are a cut above the rest;
The best thing about an expedition yacht is the freedom to explore the world’s oceans, from the poles to the tropics, with the capacity and range to remain at sea for longer periods of time between stops.
Clients are tired of the usual yacht charter circuit, and are expressing a desire to explore new territories and discover new things
Space is another great feature common on ocean going yachts. From storage to outdoor living, everything about an explorer yacht is supersized, designed for your ultimate comfort and safety whilst at sea.
Tintore explains the major reason for such large volume on explorer yachts like SeaXplorer La Datcha "is so that we can combine the capability you need to explore the world with the luxury space you want when you are there. Our SeaXplorers offers the best of both without compromise."
Having plenty of onboard space also means there’s more room for toys for use on land and at sea. O'Nial confirms one of the major bonuses in having plenty of space is that "there's much more room for jumbo toys, such as landing craft, especially for remote destinations without any convenient harbours or pontoons, as well as all-terrain vehicles, seaplanes and helicopters."
Some of the larger explorer yachts also come equipped with their own mini medical hospitals complete with trained staff, as well as research laboratories, ski lockers, hyperbaric dive chambers and much more.
Explorer yachts by their very nature offer the kind of unique experiences that many standard yachts cannot, such as the opportunity to partake in scientific research, explore remote destinations and offer greater opportunities for adrenaline-fuelled adventures as part of the whole package; such as 4x4 off-road touring, heli-skiing and submarine exploration à la Jules Verne.
Tintore underpins this point: “Explorer yachting offers the opportunity to experience the world with genuine adventure and rare experiences that are truly priceless."
there's much more room for jumbo toys
And there’s no need to compromise on luxury as most explorer yachts nowadays also offer an array of luxurious extras, such as wellness facilities, swimming pools, entertainment systems and movie theatres.
With unlimited cruising potential coupled with superyacht standard luxury, it's clear to see why explorer yachts have become so popular.
For some of the coolest places on the planet to visit by explorer yacht, read our article: Best explorer yacht destinations for off-the-beaten-track adventures.
If you are interested in chartering an explorer yacht, or simply want some more information, please reach out to your preferred yacht charter broker who will be able to help you further.
For some more inspiration, please read our yacht charter destination guides, which offer lots of helpful tips and advice covering a wide range of destinations, as well as a sample of expert hand-picked itineraries.
You can also view the entire fleet of expedition yachts available for charter.
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