The range and technical capabilities of modern superyachts are constantly increasing. However, reaching the most remote areas of the world still requires boats to be particularly robust, as well as having an enormous range. Explorer yachts can go beyond the limits nature imposes on traditional yachts, and are gaining in popularity.
In the past, Pantaenius has helped a number of boat owners successfully circumnavigate the globe and complete voyages of discovery. Whether it's around Cape Horn, the glacial landscape of Patagonia, exotic Papua New Guinea or across the Bering Sea, our worldwide insurance cover enables owners to enjoy the full potential of their yacht. Owning a yacht has always been synonymous with freedom and wanderlust, and yet, year after year, many owners continue to follow relatively predetermined routes, with the season usually starting in the Caribbean and moving to the Mediterranean in the summer months. Here, the scene is firmly established, with a wide range of regattas, trade fairs and a consistently mild climate attracting visitors. The yachting hotspots also offer plenty of moorings and a maritime infrastructure capable of accommodating boats that have been increasing in size since the 1990s.
More recently however, owners and charter clients have wanted to experience exotic locations and unspoilt nature far removed from civilization as Ben Lyons from EYOS Expeditions, a company specialised in expedition yachting, knows: “There is no doubt that the development of the explorer market is real and here to stay. We’ve seen it in just the last five to ten years – whereas five years ago there may have just been one yacht in Antarctica, now there are usually three yachts or more visiting each season, with a few charter yachts fully booked, and in the Northwest Passage – which less than 250 vessels have ever successfully sailed – we will be working with three yachts there this summer. And this trend is not limited to just polar regions. We see both charter and private yacht clients expressing interest in going off the beaten track in culturally rich tropical locations. It makes sense- for many of these destinations, visiting by water is the best way to see them, and a yacht, of course, is the ultimate way to reach there, providing flexibility and privacy.” In order to satisfy this demand, the market now offers a range of different boats, all of which are referred to, some more accurately than others, as explorer or expedition yachts. The earliest models in this class generally came from commercial shipping and were subsequently converted into private yachts. Owners today have particularly ambitious plans for refitted expedition vessels or icebreakers, like the impressive Arctic P. This boat, originally designed in 1969 as a salvage vessel, is now used for Antarctic expeditions, having undergone several extensive refits for its private owner. Over the years, an increasing number of shipyards have also entered into the specialist superyacht business, with its yearning for exploration and the wilderness. Sara Gioanola from Heesen Yachts reports: “The first really radical explorer Heesen built was Alumerica. She was launched in 2000 and, since then, has travelled all over the world. We recently sold Project Nova, the first fast displacement yacht with hybrid propulsion, and the buyer is also thinking about taking a round-the-world cruise. More and more of our clients are exploring exotic destinations. Alaska, in particular, is pretty popular these days.”
According to the global order book from Show Boat International Magazine, there were a total of 55 expedition yachts on order or under construction in 2015. This is almost 17 per cent more than the previous year, but remains a niche market.
Pack ice, fjords and the tropics harbour many different risks and place a variety of demands on a yacht
However, for the majority of ventures in remote regions, the most crucial of these has to be the range in terms of fuel capacity, food supplies and, last but not least, waste disposal facilities. The captain and owner must not overestimate the yacht's limits, says Victor Aminada of Damen Shipyard. Just as not every SUV is an off-road vehicle, not every yacht sold as an explorer can necessarily cope with the Northwest Passage. “Many yachts currently on the market are not explorers as such, but rather superyachts with some of the features of an explorer.” The Damen Shipyard group is currently working on their own explorer design in partnership with the charter agency EYOS, who specialise in expeditions in remote regions. The first superyacht will be built under the name SeaXplorer and will comply with the new Polar Code Standards due to be introduced for commercial shipping in 2017.“ Above all, our clients commercial boats that offer this, however, always involves compromising on the amenities on board.
The SeaXplorer, on the other hand, has been designed as a genuine luxury, go-anywhere yacht,” says Victor Aminada.
Pantaenius clients benefit from worldwide insurance cover for owners, the boat and crew. They always have the best possible protection in the event of loss or illness, even off the beaten track. Our in-house loss department also has a global network of 35,000 contacts in the maritime industry, guaranteeing rapid assistance if anything goes wrong. However, owners who are planning trips into exotic regions, outside of their usual cruising area, must contact us in advance. This generally results in an agreed additional premium and increase in the deductible. In particularly remote and inhospitable areas like the Antarctic, special safety restrictions are applied, which the policyholder must comply with in order to keep their insurance cover. This includes, for example, providing evidence of the vessel's ice class, as well as having at least one pilot on board in case of emergency. Our superyacht team is happy to answer any questions you might have on cruising around the world.
Please, do not hesitate to contact us in order to discuss your personal superyacht adventure. Have fun exploring!