• Cars, Jets & Yachts

Top 10 Explorer Yachts in the World

Exploring the seven seas on an explorer yacht is one of the most life-affirming experiences out there.

By Ellie Brade

top expedition yachts

Over the past decade, the popularity of luxury explorer yachts has soared. And with good reason — is there a better way to see the world than from the deck of your own superyacht? Exploring the seven seas while authentically connecting with their natural beauty, is undoubtedly one of the most desirable and life-affirming experiences out there. Here, Ellie Brade presents 10 of the finest explorer yachts currently available for the intrepid travelers among you.

[See more: What are Explorer Yachts?]

Builder : McConaghy Year of build : 2012 LOA : 139.7 ft Number of guests: 9 Crew : 6

There is no mistaking Adastra (pictured above) thanks to her distinctive futuristic design and trimaran hull. Adastra has more than demonstrated her explorer credentials and has traveled the world, turning heads wherever she goes. Highly fuel efficient, she has a very small eco footprint, and her stable hull ensures a comfortable ride. With a trans-Pacific range of 10,000 nm she can cross the Atlantic twice before needing to refuel. An impressively shallow draft of just four feet allows her access to cruising grounds that other explorer yachts cannot visit, meaning very few places are off limits. Her 52-ft beam provides generously proportioned spaces, including the main saloon and a shaded outdoor deck. A light-filled, modern interior ensures an inviting base to conduct adventures from and accommodations include a full-beam master cabin. Adastra’s garage door folds out to create a platform for diving, and she carries plenty of toys and tenders for getting out and enjoying the water.

[See more: Step Inside the Adastra Trimaran Yacht]

Itinerary: Raja Ampat, Indonesia

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Adastra explorer yacht interior

A light-filled, modern interior ensures an inviting base to conduct adventures

Originally built for use in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, Adastra is at home in Indonesia’s warm waters. The archipelago of Raja Ampat — meaning Four Kings — straddles the Equator and has over 1,500 islands and islets, which surround the four main islands of Waigeo, Salawati, Batanta and Misool. Very few explorer yachts visit here due to strict regulations, and the area is largely uninhabited, meaning you will often feel as if you have the ocean all to yourself. Crystal-clear waters, endless beaches, and a variety of dive sites and reefs are all waiting to be sampled. Adastra’s draft works to her advantage here, allowing the yacht to move easily between even the shallowest of anchorages.

Start your cruise with a visit to the paradisiacal rain forest-covered island of Kri before cruising towards Gam Island, which offers incredible diving — step straight into the water from Adastra’s dive platform. Move on to Wayag Island, where you can take kayaks into the Wayag lagoon, which is mesmerizingly blue. If you’re feeling energetic, hike inland and upwards to enjoy long views across the water. Cruise through Dampier Strait and spot hundreds of manta rays before visiting Pulau Gam to try and spot the rarely sighted red bird of paradise. Diving fans won’t want to miss traveling south and visiting Misool, which is renowned for its myriad of underwater sites. Venture into the Gua Sacral ancestral caves, which were once an indigenous burial site. Kayaking through Misool’s Blue Water Mangroves, which are peppered with reefs, will have you in awe of the natural beauty.

For sale $10m. Contact Ian Sherwood, sales broker, [email protected] , +44 207 766 4300, burgessyachts.com

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Exterior of Octopus explorer yacht

A helicopter takes off from the Octopus landing pad

Builder: Lürssen Year of build: 2003 LOA: 414 ft Number of guests: 26 Crew: 63

One of the world’s most traveled yachts, Octopus is a groundbreaking expedition vessel that set the tone for the many explorer yachts that have followed in her impressive wake. With eight decks and at a gargantuan 414 ft, it’s no surprise that Octopus is packed with feature after feature, from a full basketball court to the entertainment-focused bridge deck. Her glass-bottomed underwater observation lounge means you can watch fish and sea creatures in their natural habitat. Huge storage capacity lets her carry no less than seven tenders, two helicopters, a submersible for eight guests and two crewmembers that’s capable of diving for up to eight hours, and even a large SUV for onshore adventures. Octopus has undertaken some truly special adventures, including recovering the ship’s bell from the wreck of the HMS Hood, cruising the coast of Antarctica and discovering the wreck of the WWII battleship IJN Musashi off the Philippines. Now, her legacy can continue with a new owner, as she’s currently for sale.

[See more: The Most Expensive Yachts for Charter]

Itinerary: Patagonia

Deck of the Octopus explorer yacht

At a gargantuan 414 ft, it’s no surprise that Octopus is packed with features

Octopus explorer yacht deck

The sun sets over the horizon on one of Octopus’s many decks

Often a gateway to Antarctica, Patagonia possesses an unspoilt beauty. Ripe for adventure, it offers an incredible mix of landscapes with glaciers, hot springs, mountains, remote islands, beaches and a wide variety of wildlife. Begin your journey at Puerto Montt, which ushers you into the company of the Patagonian Fjords and Andes Mountains. Make for the Corcovado Volcano and take in the awe-inspiring National Park. Explore by tender, or even take in the landscape from above in one of Octopus’s helicopters.

The waters boast a diverse ecosystem, and you are sure to spot whales as you cruise — there are many whale research programs around these waters, and the explorer yacht’s glass-bottomed lounge provides an unrivaled view into the kingdom of these giants of the sea. Make your way to the Piti Palena Fjord, located in the delta of the Palena River — this is an excellent spot for fishing. Continue onwards to the Guaitecas Archipelago, which has eight main islands and waters famed for being home to yet more whales and dolphins. North of the archipelago is one of the world’s largest nursing and feeding grounds for blue whales — a sight not to be missed.

For sale €235m (approx. $285m). Contact Matt Emerson, senior partner-director, Americas, [email protected], +1 212 223 0410, burgessyachts.com

[See also: The Best Luxury Yacht Builders in the World]

Exterior of The Beast explorer yacht

The Beast delivers adventure with a side of luxurious living / ©Aaron March

Builder: Profab Engineering Year of build: 2019 LOA: 128.7 ft Number of guests: 12 Crew : 9

With the  yacht’s camouflage exterior, The Beast’s owner describes her as “a little different.” What an understatement! Built to explore, and incredibly stable (no need for sickness pills on this one), this catamaran explorer-style yacht can tackle just about any cruising ground except Antarctica and has a long range of 5,000 nm. Thanks to her 39.4-ft beam, she has an incredible 4,000 sq ft of living space, elegantly fitted out with a modern interior. The Beast is packed with all the equipment needed for enjoying remote itineraries, not the least of which is a 42-ft custom composite fishing boat adorably dubbed The Baby Beast . An industrial-style, 49-ft aft deck is packed with water equipment that includes a custom amphibious tender for driving straight from water to land. A favorite spot is the upper deck with its teppanyaki grill and bar.

Itinerary: New Zealand

Deck of The Beast yacht

The Beast’s sunlit bridge / ©Aaron March

Often described as ‘the whole world in one country’ New Zealand packs a punch as a destination, delivering 9,300 miles of coastline, snow, rain forest, white-sand beaches and a rich local culture. As a relatively young country, New Zealand is a blend of cosmopolitan cities and wild, remote beauty that begs to be explored by superyacht.

Join The Beast in Auckland and soak up the skyline as you head for Great Barrier Island, where you can visit the Glenfern Sanctuary and learn about the country’s native birdlife. The island is a Dark Sky Sanctuary with incredible stars — learn about the significance of the stars to the local culture as you gaze up at the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds.

Head for the Poor Knights Islands, an incredible marine reserve, where you can make the most of The Beast’s diving setup, using The Baby Beast as a base for daily adventures. Continue north to the Bay of Islands, home to a cornucopia of marine life and more than 100 different islands; come ashore and explore the island of your choice on board The Beast’ s amphibious tender. Northland has great spiritual importance, so take the opportunity to learn about the local culture and experience an authentic cultural performance.

Cruise onwards towards Cape Reinga, the very tip of New Zealand where the Maori people believe that souls depart this life for the next, and watch the meeting of the Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea, which is an unusual and powerful sight. On the west coast, Ninety Mile Beach is a seemingly endless stretch of golden sand dunes. Away from the marine reserves, make sure to take advantage of The Beast’ s extensive fishing gear Below and right The Beast ; her sunlit bridge and land some fresh seafood to cook on her teppanyaki grill for lunch. Make your way back down the east coast, calling in at Auckland’s Waiheke Island on the way to enjoy a long vineyard lunch before reluctantly returning to civilization.

Charter from $185,000 per week. Contact Fleur Tomlinson, charter director, [email protected] , +64 930 201 78, 37, southyachts.com

[See also: How Much Does it Actually Cost to Charter a Yacht?]

Exterior of Ragnar explorer yacht

Ragnar has been designed to look like an explorer yacht

Builder: Royal Niestern Sander Year of build: 2012 (rebuilt 2020) LOA: 223.8 ft Number of guests: 12 Crew: 17

There is nowhere on earth that Ragnar can’t take you, from glistening ice to remote desert islands. Named for the Norse King of the Vikings, Ragnar is a powerful and luxurious explorer yacht, with full ice-breaking functionality and an impressive 6,000 nm range. Ragnar is able to tackle all conditions, so make the most of your surroundings by taking your pick from her abundant toy and tender collection, with something to suit every type of cruising ground. These include an Airbus EC145 helicopter for heliskiing, a three-passenger submarine, snowmobiles, quad bikes, a 30-ft Marelli ice condition tender and more. Expansive onboard spaces include a top deck hot tub and pool, an observation deck, fully equipped gym and tranquil spa center for soaking away the day’s activities.

[See more: Explorer Yachts with Their Own Land-roving Vehicles]

Itinerary: The Philippines

Deck of Ragnar

Enjoy sunsets in far-flung locations

Guest in hammock onboard Ragnar

High-stakes hammocks aboard Ragnar

Helipad onboard Ragnar

The heli-landing zone on Ragnar

Although well-equipped for colder climates, Ragnar has plenty of warm destinations in her cruising plans, and 2022 will see her visit the Philippines, which is fast gaining popularity as a desirable charter location. Why? With more than 7,000 islands it is an ideal spot for exploring by yacht. Beautiful beaches and clear waters are a given, but each different island group — Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao — has its own character.

Board the yacht in bustling capital city Manila before heading for quieter cruising grounds. As you cruise towards Palawan, the largest province in the Philippines with over 1,700 islands, stop off at the hidden gem island of Busuanga and climb the 700 steps to the top of Mount Tapyas, which delivers incredible views across the region. Busuanga offers unparalleled cruising and plenty to do on land and on the water; hike through rain forests and dive the crystal waters, which are home to several wrecks. Nearby Coron has sacred freshwater lakes that are carefully maintained by the indigenous population — take a swim beneath impressive limestone cliffs that overlook the lakes.

A must-do is a visit to Palawan’s underground river, as is a stop at Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park, a Unesco World Heritage Site where you’ll be able to sample what is arguably the country’s best diving. Make your way back to Manila, island-hopping as you go, and relax on board as you admire the landscape.

Charter from $525,000 per week. Contact James Clark, head of retail charter, [email protected] , +44 207 766 4300, burgessyachts.com

Planet Nine

Helicopter taking off from Planet Nine

A helicopter takes off from Planet Nine / ©Studio_M

Builder: Admiral Year of build: 2018 LOA: 240 ft Number of guests: 12 (plus 4 staff) Crew: 20

A world-class explorer yacht, Planet Nine has a guest-centric design with edgy naval-inspired styling. She is ice-classed, allowing her to tackle polar waters, and has an MD-600N Explorer helicopter, hangar and commercial landing pad for arriving and departing in style. Abundant spaces across her five decks, which are all connected by elevator, include social areas such as the cinema room, Jacuzzi, numerous dining spaces, beach club, sea terrace and an entire owner’s deck for ultimate privacy. Three Rupert Marine RIBs are tailored for use in extreme conditions — so you can explore secluded coves or glide past ice floes while spotting local wildlife. Back on board, the observatory delivers stunning 180° views.

Itinerary: Saudi Arabia

Interiors onboard Planet Nine

Ample lounge space for lounging inside / ©Studio_M

Dining area onboard Planet Nine

Al fresco dining aboard Planet Nine / ©Studio_M

As the spiritual home and birthplace of Islam, Saudi Arabia is rich with history and cultural significance, and has long been a center for pilgrims. Follow in their footsteps on your own journey of discovery. Explore the exquisitely blue waters of the Red Sea, seek endless sand dunes, and immerse yourself in the bustling towns and markets. Fans of diving will delight in all the Red Sea has to offer and can make the most of Planet Nine’s extensive dive gear.

Tabuk, just 62 miles off the border with Jordan, is the start of the Saudi coast and bears Egyptian and Ottoman influences — check out some of the area’s wild beauty spots and walk in the footsteps of the prophet Moses, who lived east of the city for many years. Cruise south towards the town of Al Wajh, which has over 60 miles of untouched beaches on either side. Continuing down the coast, Umluj (called the ‘Maldives of Saudi Arabia’) has 104 islands to its north. Jump on board one of Planet Nine’s RIBs and pick out your own private island. An hour inland of Umluj takes you to Harrat Lunayyir, a black lava field filled with cones and craters.

Visit Yanbu, an ancient spice trading post that was once home to TE Lawrence. A huge desert sits north of the town and gives way to the stunning ocean — a helicopter ride over the dunes will provide an unbeatable view before you touch down back on board for an aperitif as the sun sets. Round off your charter with a visit to historic Jeddah, the gateway to Mecca and crossroad of traders and pilgrims. Marvel at the beautiful architecture, visit the local souk (maamoul, anyone?) and revel in the city’s blend of old and new.

Charter from €650,000 (approx. $791,000) per week, for sale €85m (approx. $103m). Contact Charlie Carveles, sales and charter broker, [email protected] , +377 933 054 44, edmiston.com

Exterior of Latitude

Latitude was built in 1973 and refitted in 2020

Builder: Hitzler Schiffswerft Year of build: 1973 (refitted 2020) LOA: 179.4 ft Number of guests: 12 Crew: 16

In beautiful condition following a mammoth two-year refit completed in June 2020, Latitude will suit outdoor enthusiasts. An expansive lineup of water toys and vast deck spaces — bigger even than yachts twice her size — will keep you outside and busy all day long. This is truly an explorer yacht for connecting with nature and discovering new and remote destinations away from the stresses of everyday life. For those looking to wind down and disconnect, she has a strong focus on wellness and relaxation with a two-tier yoga deck, private masseuse/yoga instructor and a fully equipped open-air gym. Fishing fans will particularly enjoy Latitude — her explorer qualities and hardy design can take you to remote fishing grounds where you can take your pick from her comprehensive lineup of all the latest fishing gear.

Itinerary: French Polynesia

Outdoor deck onboard Latitude yacht

Latitude has a strong focus on wellness and relaxation

Set in the heart of the South Pacific, French Polynesia is a picture-perfect destination that combines a friendly welcome with incredible diving, idyllic beaches and unspoilt beauty. Plus, there’s a string of islands for yacht-hopping. With Latitude planning to spend two years in the region, the explorer yacht and her crew will know all the best secret spots. Join the yacht in Moorea, which pairs volcanic mountains with sandy beaches.

Dive off the coast, where you’ll be in the company of Tahitian stingrays — this will be just the first encounter with impressive sea life during your time on Latitude . Cruise onwards to Huahine, which presents a beautiful backdrop for a morning yoga session. Come ashore and meet the locals, who will be only too happy to tell you stories of French Polynesia’s history.

Next you’ll visit Taha’a, a white-sand island dotted with thatched villas. There is colorful coral off the island’s shores — dive and explore before heading ashore by tender for a picnic and a walk in the lush jungle. Raiatea is well worth a visit; it is regarded as a central point in French Polynesia and is believed to be the source of many ancient migrations to countries such as New Zealand and Hawaii. Finish your visit in Bora Bora, an extinct volcano set amidst an achingly serene lagoon.

Bora Bora is known as one of the world’s most beautiful islands, and with good reason. The vibrant shoreline contrasts with the blue waters, which are teeming with fish, and vibrant hibiscus flowers carpet the side of Mount Otemanu. Make the most of Latitude’s water toys and spend the day in the warm water before a final wind down back on board.

Charter from $161,000 per week. Contact James Clark, head of retail charter, [email protected] , +44 207 766 4300, burgessyachts.com

Exterior of Yersin

Yersin is 95% recyclable

Builder: Piriou Year of build: 2015 LOA: 251.4 ft Number of guests: 18 Crew: 24

One of the world’s most sustainable and green yachts, Yersin ensures guilt-free cruising with an incredibly low cruising footprint — she is even 95% recyclable. This spectacular explorer yacht was built with science and discovery at the forefront of her design. She offers an unmatched opportunity to cruise the world and learn about its oceans firsthand. Able to travel from the Poles to the Equator, Yersin is a true explorer. There has been no compromise on comfort, and her many features include a gym, hammam, spa, cinema, dining spaces, an owner’s suite and eight guest staterooms. Thanks to her history as a luxury research vessel, her setup also includes classrooms (hello, homeschooling), laboratories, a hospital, media room and multifunction tenders. This is a unique yacht that is fully equipped to visit the most remote destinations.

[See more: Yersin: The Eco Superyacht for Sustainable Explorers]

Itinerary: Arctic Circle

Interiors onboard Yersin yacht

The elegant interiors aboard Yersin

Impressive green credentials make Yersin the perfect vessel for exploring the pristine wilderness of the Arctic Circle. A charter aboard this luxurious yet intrepid explorer yacht showcases the region, from epic icebergs and polar bear sightings, to fjord landscapes and fine dining beneath the shimmering Northern Lights. With Greenland acting as your gateway to the Arctic Circle, step on board Yersin in the quaint settlement of Nuuk before raising anchor and cruising towards the vast Jakobshavn Glacier in Ilulissat. One of the highlights of Greenland is the ice itself, with its pure, imposing beauty, and the town of Ilulissat, meaning ‘iceberg,’ is the obvious spot for enjoying this natural wonder.

Travel further to the impressive Eqi Glacier. From here, take Yersin’s tender to enjoy a ringside seat to witness ice calving, where new icebergs are formed as fragments of the glaciers fall into the sea. Having hiked through icy landscapes, sampled the extreme sports of glacier skiing and ice diving, or immersed yourself in the rural communities of this unique region, it’s time to depart Greenland. Watch Uummannaq Mountain recede into the distance as you take the passage to Canada’s Baffin Island. It is full of marine life, so look out for whales and seals as you cruise — they swim undisturbed by the near-silent Yersin. The coastline of Baffin Island is an excellent place to spot the most iconic creature of the Arctic region, the polar bear.

Cruise up the fjords and observe these majestic animals from the comfort of the vessel’s deck or, for a closer encounter, take a private wildlife tour with a local expert. Enjoy a lunch of fish caught fresh by the crew, and after a day in the crisp polar air, warm up by enjoying a sauna in the opulent spa.

For sale from €72m (approx. $87.6m, VAT paid). Contact David Legrand, [email protected] , +377 931 004 50, and Antoine X. Larricq, [email protected] , +377 931 004 50, fraseryachts.com

Exterior of Bold yacht seen from above

Bold’s striking profile from the air / ©Guillaume Plisson

Builder: Silveryachts Year of build: 2019 LOA: 279.8 ft Number of guests: 16 Crew: 20

Designed by fabled aesthetic powerhouse Espen Øino, Bold has a naval-inspired design and is the biggest yacht built by Silveryachts to date. Described by her builders as “a fast, world explorer vessel with a genuine, fully-fledged superyacht finish,” Bold is the world’s fastest explorer yacht with an extraordinary top speed of 23 knots. Her low draft, unparalleled in other yachts of her size and length, also affords access to shallow waters. Accommodation is for 16 guests and includes the master suite with a private salon. Social spaces inside and out include large entertaining decks and a huge open plan ‘loft style’ main salon, with floor-to-ceiling windows that lead directly out to a large wintergarden. An outdoor cinema on the sundeck calls for family movie nights under the stars. Ready for adventure, Bold has a large inventory of water equipment including three different Rupert tenders. A heli-hangar and heli-landing deck allow the use of helicopters if desired.

Itinerary: The Whitsundays, Australia

Bold is set to return home to Australia this year for the first time since her launch — she is the largest Australian-built yacht in the world, and she will be available for charter all around her country of origin. Venturing around Australia’s expansive coastlines requires a yacht with serious muscle, and Bold more than fits the bill. Begin your cruise by heading to Hook Island where you can snorkel before traveling to Blue Pearl Bay for more world-class snorkeling off the back of Bold’s tender. Nearby Langford Island, home to reefs and coral, is another inviting dive spot. Spend some time relaxing on the island’s sandy beach before departing for Chance Bay, where you can hike along the Ngaro Sea Trail towards Whitehaven.

Cruise south to Lindeman Island, which has some beautiful national park walking tracks. Escape even further towards the seclusion of the southern anchorages off Thomas and Shaw islands. Here, you can take your pick from Bold’s toy garage and explore the anchorage. The explorer yacht will then make its way back towards Whitehaven Beach, which some claim is Australia’s finest. Take a walk inland through the rain forest and drink in the views across Hill Inlet before being collected by tender and whisked back to your floating home.

A visit to the Whitsundays wouldn’t be complete without a glimpse of the Great Barrier Reef, the world’s largest coral reef system — a helicopter ride will guarantee the best views.

Charter from €985,000 per week (approx. $1.2m). Contact Romina Rastelli, EU charter manager, [email protected] , +377 931 029 29, hillrobinson.com

Exterior of Legend yacht with snow covered mountains

Legend is packed with every tender and toy you can possibly imagine / ©Chistopher Scholey

Builder: Icon Yachts Year of build: 1974 (refitted 2015) LOA: 254 ft Number of guests: 22 Crew: 28

Legend is packed with every tender and toy you can possibly imagine. Carrying submersibles, dive gear, snowmobiles, tenders, diving apparatus and more, she has something to suit every climate. Legend has extensively traveled the world, visiting Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, Northern Europe and the Baltics, moving effortlessly from sun to ice. Transformed from a Soviet icebreaker in a no-expenses-spared refit, Legend offers high luxury on board with unique features such as a waterfall-fed 16-seater Jacuzzi, 14-person cinema, Balinese spa, modern gym, piano and whisky bars. Her sheer size and impressive internal volume mean that even the longest trips at sea won’t feel claustrophobic — there’s plenty of space to both gather and retreat. For serious expeditions, there is accommodation flexibility on board for up to 10 extra expedition staff. A commercial helideck and two helicopters mean it is easy to join the explorer yacht even in remote anchorages.

Itinerary: Antarctica

The main deck onboard Legend

Legend’s main deck comes complete with Jacuzzi / ©Quinn Bisset

Journey on board Legend to Antarctica, where you’ll become one of the lucky few to have ventured 66-degrees south. Make the most of your mobile nature and get out on the water, whether kayaking through icy waters or gliding across the snow on Legend’s snowmobiles. As a Class 1 icebreaker, she can venture into pack ice sheets.

Join Legend at her anchorage off King George Island in nearby Maxwell Bay. Sail into the Bransfield Strait, passing penguins and icebergs as you go. On your first morning, a mandatory International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) briefing will outline the environmental responsibilities of visitors to Antarctica. Head for mainland Antarctica via the Gerlache Strait, spotting humpback whales along the way. The next morning, travel through the Neumayer Channel and watch calving Weddell, leopard and crabeater seals — an unforgettable sight. Legend’s crew will launch the Zodiac tender so you can cruise through brash ice for up-close encounters with local wildlife. Visit Andvord Bay to spot humpback whales and killer whale pods. Hop into the Zodiac again to visit Cuverville Island and its huge colony of Gentoo penguins. Later, drop anchor at Foyn Harbor and kayak around the wreck of the Governoren — keep an eye out for fur seals.

Cruise to Deception Island, where you can sail into the crater of a live volcano. Atmospheric whale factory ruins and the old bones of Whalers Bay hark back to the area’s past as a whaling center. Enjoy a hike up ‘The Nipple’ with views across steaming lava fields, then round off your charter with a visit to the chinstrap penguin colony on Baily Head, spotting plenty of other wildlife as you go. Disembark at Frei Station and visit the Russian Orthodox Trinity Church, where you can reflect in peace on this once-in-a-lifetime trip.

Charter from €490,000 (approx. $597,000) per week. Contact [email protected] , y.co

Exterior of La Datcha

La Datcha can let charter guests “set out on the journey of a lifetime to places others can’t reach”

Builder: Damen Year of build: 2020 LOA: 252 ft Number of guests: 12 Crew: 25

One of the newest explorer yachts to hit the water, La Datcha, was designed to fulfill the owner’s brief for a yacht that could let charter guests “set out on the journey of a lifetime to places others can’t reach.” The resulting yacht delivers luxury in spades and is the ultimate crossover between comfort and performance. From her head-turning profile, care of Azure Yacht Design, to countless tenders and toys including two helicopters, snow scooters and a submersible, it is near impossible to narrow down her best features. La Datcha’s six decks boast a modern interior, and when hanging out on board you’ll have plenty of options — head to the luxury spa to unwind or relax after a day of exploring in the observation lounge. Two master cabins make her ideal for two families to share her unforgettable experiences. Able to operate autonomously at sea for up to 40 days, the world is her oyster.

Itinerary: Kamchatka, Russia

Profile of La Datcha from above

La Datcha’s striking profile from above

Dramatically dubbed Russia’s ‘Land of Ice and Fire,’ the Kamchatka Peninsula lies in eastern Russia and stretches over 740 miles. With glaciers, geysers, snow and over 300 volcanoes, Kamchatka’s landscape is like nowhere else on earth. There is plenty of wildlife to spot, including the Kamchatka brown bear. Start your charter in the peninsula’s capital city, Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, which is surrounded by three snow-capped volcanoes. Settle in on board, then fly to a nearby mountain top to ski a run or two. Cruise the fjords to reach Vilyuchinskaya Bay and fish abundant waters, whale watch or heli-ski. Enjoy incredible views from the top of the Vilyuchinsky Volcano before heading south towards Russkaya Bay. Take a helicopter flight over the Mutnovsky and Goreliy volcanoes; the brave can ski into the crater of the Mutnovsky volcano, which is home to a hidden glacier.

Back on board, your crew will take you by tender to spot Steller sea lions and sea otters. Cruise north to Cape Shipunsky and Bechevinskaya Bay, once a top-secret submarine base, and enjoy heli-skiing en route. Visit the ‘Valley of Geysers’ in the heart of Kamachatka — this spectacular Unesco World Heritage Site is home to a number of volcanoes including Karymsky, one of the most active in the world. Next, visit Klyuchevskaya Sopka and Morzhovaya Bay, home to yet more spectacular volcanoes. Round off your visit by heli-skiing on Zhupanovsky Volcano before relaxing at the Nalychevo Nature Park. Here, you can bathe in wild springs and hot thermal pools with a chilled glass of champagne in hand.

Charter from€740,000 (approx. $900,500) per week. Contact Stefano Feltrin, managing director, [email protected] , +39 349 858 2600, ladatcha.com

[See more: Luxury Yacht Itineraries to Suit Any Occasion]

Ellie Brade

Latest in luxury, the explorer.

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The Best New Expedition Yachts to Charter to the Ends of the Earth

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Following last year’s blowout season and a sustained demand for seclusion in the Covid era, the charter industry is looking beyond the Med to a new destination: the ends of the Earth.

Take the expedition yacht Ragnar (pictured above), which will explore sections of Iceland and Greenland with a focus on adventure. Converted from a supply vessel in 2020, the 224-footer comes with Jet Skis, Seabobs and a BigBo amphibious ATV you can use to land on pristine tundra. Available from Burgess Yachts from $525,000 per week, Ragnar has a wood-clad interior—featuring a double master suite, fireplaces, a spa and an observation lounge—that is pure, elegant warmth, while her top-deck Jacuzzi is ideal for soaking beneath the stars as you cruise Iceland’s fjords. Want to heli-ski Greenland’s untouched early-summer slopes? A helipad gives you the option.

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Lady E

Lady E.  Pendennis

Also from Burgess , following a 2020 refit, Lady E will cruise the Galápagos Islands, from $595,000 per week. The 244-footer’s list of toys includes a flyboard, eFoils and sailing dinghies, meaning guests can kayak with dolphins or snorkel with seals; for divers, the famous Gordon Rocks site offers encounters with multiple species of shark. As a bonus, the yacht’s newly extended beach club and wellness area are ideal for a post-adventure sauna and massage.

Dunia Baru

Dunia Baru.  Y.CO

Meanwhile, the 167-foot, two-masted sailing vessel Dunia Baru will spend her summer in Indonesia. Expert-led trips range from observing Komodo dragons in their natural habitats to snorkeling the coral reefs of Raja Ampat. The beautiful hull of Dunia Baru , available from Y.CO from $120,000 per week, is crafted from traditional Bornean ironwood and teak, while her newly redesigned interior includes a master suite with a private deck and open-air salon.

Flying Fox

Flying Fox.  Guillaume Plisson

For a more traditional route, the head-turning, 446-foot Flying Fox will roam the Côte d’Azur, the Italian Riviera, Sardinia, Corsica and Turkey. The world’s largest charter vessel, offered by Imperial from about $4 million per week, has 11 staterooms for up to 25 guests and was designed around the owner’s twin passions for wellness and water sports. Her two-level spa, with heated limestone floors, is equipped with a Cryosauna, beauty salon and hammam, plus a Jacuzzi pool that changes from warm to icy-cold in mere minutes. A dedicated scuba center means wreck-diving in Sardinia is an option, while nine tenders and the option of a helicopter put Corsican mountains and ancient Turkish ruins within reach.

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20 Largest Explorer Yachts in the World

By Alex Holmes

Updated on January 3, 2023

Largest Explorer Yachts

Humans have always been curious to find out what’s behind that mountain range, how’s the view from the top, what new and exciting places lie beyond that next forest, that next road, that open sea. Beyond the horizon.

We’ve always been discoverers longing to go onto our next adventure. And since our planet is mostly explored on land and space is a little bit too far away, the only thing with plenty of mysteries left to uncover is the ocean.

And to explore oceans, nothing is more suited than an explorer yacht.

Fully equipped to take on adventures to some of the most remote places on Earth, and large enough to house an impressive range of toys and plenty of storage space for all that’s needed for a few weeks away at sea, these yachts will tickle that desire to leave everything behind and go chasing that blue horizon.

For those for whom cruises are a waste of time, these 20 largest explorer yachts in the world will make a lot more sense:

  • 20. Sea Ranger – 255’1″ (77.73m)

Sea Ranger yacht

The 255 feet Sea Ranger was built in 1973 in Germany as an ice class tug and converted in 1994 by Malta Drydock Company into a luxury yacht for Jackie Setton, a French entrepreneur.

It received its current name in 2013 when it was auctioned and changed ownership. The vessel has an unbelievable range of 31,000 nautical miles, and has already seen most of the world, including both the Arctic and the Antarctic.

  • 19. Bart Roberts – 265′ (80.77m)

Bart Roberts yacht

An ice class vessel built in 1963 by Canadian Vickers for the Canadian Coastguard, Bart Roberts was formerly called Narwhal. It got its new name – one belonging to a notorious pirate – back in 2002, when it was sold to a Florida businessman Arnie Gemino, who converted the ship into a charter yacht through his company, Tradepower International.

The refitted ship now comes with a new and luxurious interior with a pirate theme, plus all sorts of water toys, but it has a new owner, who keeps it for private use.

  • 18. Pacific – 279’6″ (85.2m)

Pacific Yacht

Launched in 2010 by Lürssen, the Pacific, formerly named Project Josi, is an 85.2 meter explorer yacht with an intriguing exterior designed by German Frers, an iconic Argentinian naval architect well known for projecting some of the largest sailing yachts in the world. The interior was made by Bannenberg & Rowell Design.

The yacht is large enough for carrying two helicopters, and apparently it has been already spotted navigating all over the world.

  • 17. Bold – 279’8″ (85.3m)

Bold Yacht

A 2019 creation of Silver Yachts, Bold was a collaboration between exterior designer Espen Øino and interior designer firm Vain Interiors. The result is a 279 feet, or 85.3 meter long explorer yacht with no less than 300 square meter of usable surface inside, plus an impressive and luxurious interior that resembles more a New York loft than a yacht.

Bold can accommodate up to 16 guests in its eight staterooms situated on the main deck. In total it can carry up to 96 passengers while cruising. It also features two helipads, two Rupert Marine tenders, and comes with a total range of 5,500 nautical miles before needing to resupply.

  • 16. OceanXplorer 1 – 285’7″ (87.1m)

OceanXplorer 1

OceanXplorer 1 is one of, if not the most advanced research vessel in the world right now. The 285 feet, or 87 meter, ship was built in 2010 by Freire Shipyard and equipped to both be able to explore the underwater world and also transmit its findings through various digital outlets, including social media and a TV show.

The research part of the vessel will benefit from two custom made Triton manned submarines able to dive down to 1,000 meters, plus an ROV and an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) that has the capability to dive as deep as 6,000 meters below sea level.

  • 15. Arctic P – 287’4″ (87.6m)

Arctic P yacht

Built by Schichau Unterweser in 1969, the 87.6 meter Arctic P is a deep sea ice-breaking salvage tug that fulfilled its purpose until 1993, when she was sold to a company called Magenta Investment. From then on, it was taken to Malta Shipyards and converted into a superyacht, now called Arctic Research.

The exterior was designed by Kusch Yachts, and Schichau Unterweser, the original builder, remade the naval architecture. The interior was refitted between 2019 and 2020, now able to accommodate 12 guests in seven staterooms, one of which is an astonishing 90 square meter master suite.

  • 14. Olivia O – 290’3″ (88.5m)

Olivia O yacht

The grandiose 290’3″ feet (88.5m) Olivia O was put to sea in 2020 and she already started a cruise in the Mediterranean. The ship was built by the Norwegian yard Ulstein Verft, and uses an X-Bow hull shape that gives it the ability to withstand any kind of weather conditions.

Espen Øino was the exterior designer, and he included a helipad, a 10 meter pool, and a full beam tender garage among the vessel’s most important features.

  • 13. Ice – 295’6″ (90.1m)

ICE yacht

Belonging to Suleiman Kerimov, Ice is one of the most iconic and impressive yachts that roams the planet’s oceans. Amazingly stylish and with an imposing construction, the 90.1 meter explorer yacht was built in 2005 by German yard Lürssen.

The performance of this yacht is no less than impressive, since it’s incredibly quiet and vibration free, a feat achieved through the use of two Azipod units powered by eight Deutz engines. Top speed is 18.6 knots and range reaches 6,000 nautical miles.

Among the features, it counts various water toys and sailing dinghies, plus a helicopter landing pad made specifically for the Eurocopter EC 135 helicopter.

  • 12. Voyager – 299’8″ (91.4m)

Voyager yacht

The 91.4 meter long Voyager was built back in 1997 by the Swiftships yard in the United States, and by 2020 it had already travelled over 27,000 nautical miles, exploring some of the most far-flung places on Earth, including Antarctica, South Africa, and Madagascar.

But Voyager wasn’t always an explorer yacht. It was converted into one in 2019, and was a supply ship before starting the three year conversion. It was initially named Candy Trader and had a length of only 63 meters, was renamed in 2003 as HOS Trader, and now is the beauty called Voyager, with five luxurious decks and a crew of 70.

  • 11. Tranquility – 300’2″ (91.5m)

Tranquility yacht

Originally called Equanimity, the 91.5 meter explorer yacht was the first ever to be built to PYC standard. It was launched in 2014 by the Dutch yard Oceanco.

On board, it features five decks with premium accommodation, spa and wellness area, swimming pool, tender garage with two 10.5 meter Hodgson tenders, and also a foredeck helicopter landing pad. Among the water toys, there’s Jet skis, Wave Runners, SeaBobs and an electric surfboard. How’s that for a fun yacht?

  • 10. Icecap – 351′ (107m)

Icecap yacht

The 107 meter, or 351 feet, Icecap explorer superyacht will be launched next year, in 2023. Designed by Norwegians at Salt Ship Design and built to ice class spec, the vessel will be well fit to do some off the beaten path exploring, able to reach some of the most remote corners of our world.

Among the features, there’s a sunken helicopter hangar, and a helipad. So far, not much is known, and she was first seen earlier this year when she was uncovered.

  • 9. Andromeda – 352’3″ (107.4m)

Andromeda yacht

Formerly known as Ulysses, the 107 meter Andromeda was built in 2016 in Norway, by Kleven Verft, for Graeme Hart, New Zealand’s richest man. The new owner of the ship is apparently Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook.

Andromeda is built to withstand all weather conditions, and comes equipped with all sorts of toys for exploring distant lands. Among them, there’s six motorcycles, two ATVs, a Sealegs amphibious RIB, a twin hull support boat capable of a max speed of 50 knots, helicopter, and a full-on landing craft.

  • 8. Freire 112m Explorer – 366’9″ (111.8m)

Freire 112m Explorer

The Freire 112m Explorer, built by Spain’s Freire Shipyard, is an explorer superyacht that boasts amazing interiors, and a tough looking exterior. The ship’s exterior was designed by Marin Teknikk and British studio Bannenberg & Rowell Design.

The interior of the yacht was designed by the British studio alone. The vessel was launched in the summer of 2021, and spent the time getting ready for its delivery in 2022.

  • 7. Le Grand Bleu – 370′ (112.8m)

Le Grand Bleu yacht

Le Grand Bleu was launched in 2000, after being built by the German shipyard Bremer Vulkan. Powered by two Deutz engines, it’s capable of reaching a top speed of 17 knots.

It was initially owned by John McCaw, a US telecommunications tycoon, and was then sold to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who had it refitted to his own desires. The ship changed ownership again, and is now reportedly owned by Eugene Shvidler, a friend and business associate of Abramovich.

  • 6. Luna – 377’3″ (115m)

Luna yacht

Delivered in 2010 by German yard Lloyd Werft, the 115 meter ice class yacht Luna was built for the Russian businessman Roman Abramovich. The vessel boasted the largest swimming pool ever installed on a yacht at launch.

In 2014, Luna was purchased by Farkhad Akhmedov from Abramovich, and followed a 14 month and €50 million refit in Germany. The modernized yacht features two helipads on the upper deck, two tender garages, gym, beach club, spa, steam bath, plunge pool, and sauna.

  • 5. Ulysses – 380’9″ (116.1m)

Ulysses Yacht

Following its predecessor, the 107 meter Andromeda (formerly called Ulysses), the current Ulysses was launched in 2018, and measures 116.1 meters, 10 meters longer than its precursor.

It was built by Norwegian yard Kleven for the same owner who commissioned the first Ulysses, and brings on board a Bell 429 helicopter, and several high speed tenders. Its 18 meter beam can house up to 66 guests.

  • 4. J7 Explorer – 393’7″ (120m)

J7 Explorer

The J7 Explorer was launched this year in Indonesia, by the PT Bahtera Bahari Shipyard. The 120 meter (393’7″) ship boasts a military style exterior, with a large, open aft deck that characterizes most explorer superyachts today.

There’s little else known about the vessel, so the owner or the purpose are both unknown. What is clear is that it’s the first ever superyacht built by the shipyard, which so far only built tankers, diving vessels, tug boats, commercial vessels, and landing crafts.

  • 3. Octopus – 414′ (126.2m)

Octopus yacht

The 414 feet Octopus was built in 2003 by Lürssen in Germany for one of Microsoft’s founders, Paul Allen. The vessel is already famous worldwide, sitting among the top 3 largest explore yachts, with a capacity for two helicopters, and plenty of water toys, including a 20 meter submarine and a similar size tender.

One of the missions Octopus was involved in was an eight year search for a sunken ship, the Japanese ship Musashi, which was sunk during the Second World War. The wreck was discovered in 2015 by Paul Allen and Octopus’s crew.

Octopus was reportedly sold for an unbelievable €235,000,000 in 2021.

  • 2. Solaris – 458’3″ (139.7m)

Solaris yacht

Launched in 2021, the 139 meter Solaris made world fame for its incredible length. The vessel was built by the same German yard Lloyd Werft who built the 115 meter Luna.

Solaris boasts no less than eight decks, with an interior designed by Australian Marc Newson. When it comes to features, not much is known, but existing pictures show at least a large helicopter landing pad, sun deck and a huge beach club aft.

The Solaris is currently the largest explorer yacht in the world.

  • 1. REV Ocean – 600′ (182.9m)

REV Ocean yacht

The REV Ocean is a project by VARD Group AS that was supposed to leave for its first research voyage last year, in 2021. The 182.9 meter (600′) long ship would have dethroned Solaris by 40 meters if it wasn’t for a delay of its launch.

The next launch date was scheduled sometime in 2024. The yacht will provide accommodation for up to 55 scientists and 35 crew for a research and exploration trip, or 36 passengers and 54 crew for a luxury voyage.

The delay seems to be related to technical issues relating to the ship’s weight.

It’s said that the difference between boys and men is only the size of their toys, and explorer yachts seem to prove that.

These are some of the best vessels for exploring our oceans and seas, able to reach the farthest and most remote corners of our planet, and providing an impressive array of options for exploring the world under the surface.

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About Alex Holmes

With over 10 years of experience in media and publishing, Alex is Luxatic's director of content, overlooking everything related to reviews, special features, buying guides, news briefs and pretty much all the other content that can be found on our website. Learn more about Luxatic's Editorial Process .

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The New Class of Expedition Yachts

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  • Updated: September 17, 2021

Damen SeaXplorer 105

Here’s a fun fact for anyone considering a bucket-list expedition cruise to Antarctica: Regulations there require you to have two helicopters when flying beyond rescue-service range or when landing in the mountains for skiing.

So says Damen Yachting in the Netherlands, which designed its SeaXplorer 105 to have not just a twin helideck but also a weathertight double hangar below it, with a hydraulic lift to get the choppers in and out. Once guests are all safely back on board, the helideck becomes a 3,229-square-foot space that can welcome as many as 200 guests for parties, or be used as a full-size doubles tennis court or a basketball half-court.

The idea behind this icebreaking expedition yacht is not only to be able to cruise anywhere but also to take along whatever and whomever the owner chooses as part of the fun. This concept of going everywhere with everything is permeating the latest expedition-yacht designs.

A more midrange example is the 138-foot Cantiere delle Marche Crowbridge designed by Tommaso Spadolini. The owner requested tender stowage on the upper deck aft so he could use the tender garage as a hold for Optimist and Laser sailing dinghies, along with other toys.

Damen SeaXplorer 105 storage

Yet another yacht embracing this trend is the newest RMK 120 designed by Vripack. It can carry two 24-foot tenders in addition to a smaller RIB and water toys that are stowed in the lazarette.

All of these designs offer the extra carrying space in addition to creature comforts that owners already expect. The RMK 120 has a top-deck hot tub and alfresco dining; Crowbridge has an oversize main-deck galley for family gatherings; and the SeaXplorer 105 has a 3,229-square-foot spa with an indoor swimming pool, gymnasium, steam room, massage room, sauna and beauty salon.

Really, at the SeaXplorer’s size range, owners can not only bring along anything they want, but they can also request anything they fancy. As Enrique Tintore of Damen Yachting says, “The scope for client customization is massive. That’s a key part of our proposition throughout the design process.”

Vripack RMK 120

Another company encouraging would-be expedition-yacht owners to dream big is Ocean Independence, which is the central agent for the sale of Project Phoenix. It’s a 187-foot former cable-laying vessel built in 1968, now stripped back to bare steel and awaiting an owner’s vision for transformation into a go-anywhere superyacht at the ICT Shipyard in Turkey. The finished yacht’s range, according to Ocean Independence, will be 11,000 nautical miles, allowing for “untold potential,” depending on how the owner ultimately decides to cruise the world.

Some yacht designers are betting that these types of expedition vessels will be far more than a current trend; they say that for owners who really do want to cruise far and wide, today’s styling and features should have appeal for many years to come.

“If you look at the exterior lines and proportions, the rhythms and angles, these are typical of the Vripack heritage explorer,” Bart M. Bouwhuis, co-creative director at Vripack, says of the RMK 120. “It gives a quiet, harmonious-looking profile that will be everlasting, without compromising on the internal layout. Like a Jaguar SUV, this boat will become an evergreen.”

Continental GT V8 Convertible coupe

Contest 59CS: Interior by Bentley Design Services

For his 60th birthday, Russian musician Garik Sukachev had an idea: build the interior of a Contest Yachts 59CS to match the Bentley

Continental GT V8 Convertible coupe. That idea is now a showcase of hotspur red leather, linen beige hide and diamond-in-diamond stitching. The project’s timing made it not just a birthday treat but also an anniversary event, with Contest Yachts celebrating 60 years in business

and Bentley Motors marking its centennial. “We are well-known for our thorough approach to customization,” said Arjen Conijn, CEO of Contest Yachts. “This project is the ultimate example of this approach, working with Mr. Garik and Bentley to turn a customer’s dream into reality.”

  • More: August 2021 , Cantiere Delle Marche , Expedition Yachts , Explorer Yachts , Ocean Independence , Superyachts , Vripack , Yachts
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Expeditions Yachts: the Best Way to Voyage to the World’s Most Remote and Rewarding Destinations

The world feels a little smaller in the 21 st century than it did in the Age of Discovery in the 15 th through 18 th centuries, when European explorers sailed beyond the borders of their charts to discover new lands they weren’t even sure existed. But despite all the fast, convenient travel options we enjoy today, there are still many places around the globe that are truly “ off the beaten path ”. Yes, you can fly to Greenland, Alaska, Patagonia or Papua New Guinea, but to truly see and appreciate the natural and cultural wonders these remote destinations have to offer, you need a well-built long-range expedition yacht .  

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Vessels like the Cheoy Lee Explorer Series yachts , which are designed, built and equipped for long-range bluewater voyaging, are the best means of transportation to challenging cruising destinations such as the ones detailed in this blog. These rugged, reliable s teel expedition yachts feature a larger fuel capacity than a traditional motor yacht, enabling them to cross oceans and cruise to locations with few or no fuel bunkering options. Their layout incorporates enough storage to hold supplies and provisions for weeks at sea. They are equipped for self-sufficient comfort at anchor in places where no marinas or shore power are available. And what’s more, expedition yachts let owners and guests explore the ends of the Earth while enjoying customized, luxurious accommodations and amenities.

Before you set your sights on one of these far-flung destinations, however, we urge you to consult a yacht agent or logistics coordinator who specializes in the region and can help you and your captain pre-plan your route, acquire the necessary permits, arrange for guides, pilots, fuel bunkering, and provisions, and also for security in areas where it’s recommended (such as polar bear county).

“ The further out you go, the more help you need ,” said Rob McCallum, founding partner of EYOS Expeditions Ltd. , which provides logistical and guide services for remote cruising destinations around the world.  

Here is a list of some of the world’s most unique, uncrowded and spectacular cruising grounds. A voyage by expedition yacht to any of these destinations truly makes for the adventure of a lifetime.


The world’s largest island, and part of the Realm of Denmark, Greenland is a remote Arctic destination that is best explored by expedition yacht . “ You can only visit most of it by boat or aircraft; there are no roads ,” McCallum said, adding, “ It’s a place of scenic grandeur .”

top expedition yachts

Greenland offers spectacular polar vistas, including icebergs, glaciers and soaring snowclad mountain ranges. Seventy-nine percent of the island is covered by the Greenland Ice Sheet, and it also has a spectacular system of iceberg-studded fjords. Heliskiing is a popular pastime that an expedition company can organize for you. Dogsledding is another unique way to experience Greenland as the natives have done for hundreds of years, and there also are geothermic springs for bathing.

“ You can only visit most of  it by boat or aircraft; there are no roads ”

In summer, the island and its surrounding waters come alive with wildlife, including polar bears, walrus and whales. Deploying kayaks from your yacht puts you right in the middle of Greenland’s natural wonders. The midnight sun will let you experience more each day.

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You also can enjoy cultural exchanges with the Inuit peoples whose ancestors came to Greenland by crossing the Bering Strait. A local guide can arrange for educational opportunities with the Inuit. “ To me, it’s always better to go with someone who can communicate effectively with the local people. It opens doors ,” McCallum said.

Summer is the most popular time to visit Greenland, when the temperatures rise above freezing, allowing parts of the island to live up to its name. The midnight sun typically lasts from late May through late July. Unfortunately, these “white nights” hide another spectacular northern phenomenon, the Northern Lights, which can be seen starting in September.

Permits Required

No special permits are needed beyond clearing customs and immigration.

Fuel Bunkering

Fuel is available in Greenland’s southern towns and fishing ports, where most of the island’s population can be found.  

Since it is a popular destination for cruise ships, it’s natural to assume Alaska is “ on the beaten path ” for yachts as well. But the cruise ships have set itineraries that are easy to identify and avoid, and these expansive northern cruising grounds offer hundreds of nautical miles of remote, spectacular coastline to explore. “ It goes on forever. You could cruise there for four months and not see the same thing twice ,” McCallum said.

top expedition yachts

The scenery is varied but majestic, including craggy coastlines, fir-clad islets, glaciers and fjords. Colorful fishing villages provide both a scenic backdrop and an opportunity to hire a guide and fish for fresh, wild salmon. You can also watch bears catch their own salmon dinner!

Alaska is a great destination for whale-watching in the summer months, from majestic humpbacks to orcas with their distinctive black-and-white coloration. Birdwatching is also outstanding in Alaska, which is home to roughly 30,000 wild bald eagles. Your yacht’s kayaks and tender offer the opportunity get closer to nature.

Alaska_©JustinHofman EYOS

Everywhere you cruise in Alaska, you will find rich Native American culture, with more than 200 recognized tribes in the state today. Be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to view totem poles and to experience native drumming, singing, and storytelling.

It goes on forever. You could cruise there for four months and not see the same thing twice

top expedition yachts

Late May through mid-September; with the peak months being June through August. Depending on where you cruise, you will experience the midnight sun lighting up your nights during most of this season.  

Alaska requires cruising permits and depending on the size of your vessel, pilotage in some ports. McCallum advises applying for permits at least four months in advance of your cruise, using a yacht logistics company to streamline the process. “ By getting a permit, you can get to places other people can’t access ,” he said.

There is fuel and even a few marinas in the larger towns, but, McCallum cautions, “ The main towns are few and far between. ”


Located off the northeastern coast of Australia in Oceania, Papua New Guinea comprises the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, along with a double handful of lush tropical islets. The world’s third largest island nation, it attained independence in 1975.

top expedition yachts

A true melting pot, Papua New Guinea is one of the most diverse nations on Earth, with more than 850 known languages spoken in the country. It also reportedly is home to numerous “ uncontacted tribes ”, living in total isolation. Cannibalism is thought to have been practiced by some until quite recently. Guides with knowledge of local tribes and customs can arrange memorable cultural experiences for cruisers here. One of the most amazing is to witness a Baining Fire Dance – a rite of passage for young men.

Papua New Guinea is also a world-class scuba diving destination. It offers miles of pristine coral reefs teeming with life, Pacific atolls and walls, along with the opportunity to dive on wrecks from World War II.

Papua New Guinea_©ReeveJolliffeEYOS©_{SuRi}

The long cruising season lasts from late April through December. “ There is a chance of cyclones, but they are rare these days ,” said McCallum.

Yachts must provide their intended cruising itinerary and secure a cruising permit for Papua New Guinea, in addition to complying with customs and immigration regulations.

Fuel is available in various provincial ports throughout the country.

An archipelago of 88 islands in a remote corner of Melanesia, over 1,100 nautical miles from Australia’s eastern coast, Vanuatu is well worth the voyage to get there. “ Every day is wonderful ,” McCallum said.


The islands are mountainous, formed by ancient volcanoes. In fact, there are still active volcanoes here you visit with a guide, including Mount Yasur on Tanna Island where, if you are lucky, you can peer into the volcano’s red, smoky heart.

The beaches are beautiful throughout the islands, and the diving is even more spectacular. Vibrant coral reefs, blue holes, and caverns are just a few of the natural splendors that await beneath the surface of the neon-blue ocean. If you are a diver, don’t miss the SS President Coolidge, sunk off the island of Espiritu Santo by a mine during World War II. At 656 feet in length, it is considered to be one of the largest wrecks in the world.  

Volcan Vanuatu

With the help of a guide well versed in the native language and customs, you can have memorable interactions with the local people, known as the Ni-Vanuatu, or “Ni-Van” for short. One of the world’s most unique native rituals, called “Nagol” or land diving, takes places every Saturday from April to June on Pentecost Island. Local men and boys climb to the top of a 98-foot wooden tower, wrap vines around their ankles and jump off. Land diving is said to have inspired the modern sport of bungee jumping.

Cruising season is during the winter months, April through October, when both the temperatures and the chance of rainfall decline.  

Vanuatu strictly enforces its customs and immigration policies for visiting yachts.

You can find fuel and a marina in Port Vila, the capital of Vanuatu, located on the island of Efate. But that’s it for the entire region.


Over 185 years since Charles Darwin first set eyes on the Galápagos, this isolated South American island chain, located about 600 miles off the Pacific coast of Ecuador, is still home to some of the most diverse and unique plant and animal species found anywhere in the world. Galápagos National Park, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, covers about 97 percent of the island chain and offers incredible opportunities for hiking and diving.  

Galapagos Islands

Many visitors come simply to see and photograph species that can only be found in these islands, such as the Galápagos Giant Tortoise and the Blue-Footed Booby. Sport fishing is also popular in the fertile waters around the Galápagos, and it is a world-class scuba diving destination.

There are no marinas in Galápagos National Park, so you will spend all of your time at anchor. However, there are many spectacular anchorages scattered throughout these rugged, mostly volcanic islands.  

SEa Lions Galapagos

The Galapagos Islands are a year-round cruising destination. Ocean currents and winds interact to define two seasons: the hot season, generally from January to May, and the cool season, usually from June to December.  

Galápagos National Park has very strict rules and regulations designed to protect the islands’ native diversity and prevent any foreign species from invading them.  

“ All vessels with the intention to enter Galápagos must apply for an entry permit called ‘Autografo’ in advance. Once we have obtained the entry permit, we have to apply for an authorization called ‘cruising permit’, which allows you to visit the protected areas of the Galápagos Islands with a specific itinerary assigned. By law, we have to hire a local naturalist guide and provide food and lodging aboard, ” said Javier Plúa Rizzo of Yacht Agents Galápagos , which facilitates yacht travel to the islands. He recommends starting the application process at least two months prior to your planned arrival.

Fuel is limited in the Galápagos, and is managed by an Ecuadorian state-run company. “’ Fuel code authorization’ is required for a prices amount of fuel requested. There are barges also available for deliveries if needed, ” Rizzo said.  

“ Ever since Patagonia was discovered 500 years ago, it has been described as untouched, vast, exotic, wild and infinite in its beauty ,” said Carlos Miquel, regional director, South American Super Yacht Support (SASYSS ), which specializes in organizing yacht travel to Patagonia, Chile and Antarctica.

top expedition yachts

Extending approximately 1,000 nautical miles from Puerto Montt to Cape Horn, Patagonia offers a wide range of different climate zones and ecosystems. There are a seemingly limitless number of activities to choose from, including flyfishing, kayaking, trekking, and heliskiing. The spectacular scenery ranges from   snowcapped mountain peaks, to volcanoes, fjords and cold jungles. “ We divide the itineraries in Northern, Central and Southern Patagonia ,” Miquel said.  

One of the most humbling feelings is to land on a beach at an anchorage and perhaps be the first human being that has ever set foot there

The region is mostly uninhabited, and you can often cruise for miles without seeing another yacht. In fact, more than half of Patagonia is protected by national parks. “ One of the most humbling feelings is to land on a beach at an anchorage and perhaps be the first human being that has ever set foot there ,” he said.

top expedition yachts


When to Go Cruising season is from mid-October and until late April. While daily temperatures vary depending on which part of the county you are visiting, they never dip below freezing. Since Patagonia is considered the gateway to Antarctica for yachts, Miquel points out, “This offers a large window of time to squeeze a trip to Antarctica in between.”  

Permits Required No cruising permits are needed to cruise through Patagonia, but port pilotage is required at major ports. Depending on the vessel’s gross registered tonnage (GRT), a yacht may need to have a Fjord Pilot on board to navigate the Patagonian channels.

There is fuel available at all major ports in Patagonia. Miquel recommends yachts work with their agent or SASYSS to determine the best locations for bunkering based on the yacht’s range and itinerary.  

“ Antarctica was last continent to be discovered, and it is often called the last frontier. Visiting Antarctica is a life-changing experience as visitors will immerse in landscapes and wildlife rarely seen in other parts of the planet, ” said Miquel.

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Due to Antartica’s extreme climate and terrain, it has never had an indigenous population. So, voyaging there by yacht will put you on the relatively short list of people who have visited the continent since John Davis was the first man to set foot there in 1821.  

Antarctica was last continent to be discovered, and it is often called the last frontier. Visiting Antarctica is a life-changing experience as visitors will immerse in landscapes and wildlife rarely seen in other parts of the planet. 

The few expedition yachts and sailing yachts that visit Antarctica each year typically cruise from Chile to the Antarctic Peninsula, the continent’s northernmost tip. Its towering icebergs and vast, silent landscape are completely awe-inspiring. Nature-lovers also will revel in encounters with huge colonies of penguins, which have no fear of humans, and the huge whales that inhabit these frigid waters. Kayaking here is an otherworldly experience not to be missed.

“ Once in Antarctica, there is no local support infrastructure, besides the help you can get from nearby vessels in case of an emergency. Therefore, any trip to Antarctica needs to be planned well ahead of time and with a team of experts, ” Miquel said.  

The summer months, from late November through mid-February, is the best time to visit Antarctica. “ Wildlife will be going through different stages in their reproduction cycles, so if visitors go early, they will see the building of nests and mating period, to then see the hatching and growing of the babies ,” Miquel said, adding, “ From a navigational point of view, the ice will be more packed early in the season and yachts will be able to cruise and explore further south if they go later during the year. ”  

Yachts need an Antarctic Permit to travel to Antarctica which is issued by the International Association of Antarctic Tour Operators (IAATO) . “ These permits are best obtained with the help of an agent or SASYSS or through an authorized and experienced expedition company, ” he said, adding that obtaining Polar Code Certification for your yacht in advance can save time.

“There are no ports in Antarctica and no bunkering available, unless it is pre-planned and pre-paid to come from Chile. To avoid this unlikely and expensive affair, yachts that go to Antarctica need to have a range of 3,000 nautical miles or more, as bunkering is best done before leaving to and after returning from Antarctica,” said Miquel.

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Expedition Yachts for Sale

48 explorer yachts for sale.

Northrop & Johnson is proud to offer an extensive and all-encompassing selection of explorer yachts available for sale on the global market. Explorer yachts are ideally suited for those who want to cruise farther afield and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. We hope you find your dream yacht below. When you do, please contact a Northrop & Johnson sales broker to begin the buying process.

With an expedition yacht, you can discover new locales luxuriously and safely. Our experienced team will have you cruising the seas in style.

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Reach Remote Destinations in Your New Expedition Yacht

Almost all expedition yachts are custom built and designed to offer the highest level of luxury, stability, and comfort as you explore faraway horizons. Their ability to cruise to unique world areas allows you to experience these remote destinations through an extraordinary lens.

Your expedition yacht is designed for longer trips at sea, equipped with the safety and power of a motor yacht with robust hulls shaped to move effortlessly through any weather, and built with long-range capabilities. With these features, there will be no limits to your exploration. Venture through icy waters, to remote islands, and into bustling cities.

Purchasing an expedition yacht is not for the faint of heart, and if you’re choosing this extraordinary lifestyle, you’ll want a team of experienced brokers behind you.

Finding your dream expedition yacht for sale is easier than ever with Northrop & Johnson

Our brokers have a comprehensive knowledge of the yachting industry, so you can rest assured you’re in the best hands in the business. Contact Northrop & Johnson’s team of expert brokers to get started.

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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

How do you choose the right yacht for you? We highlight the very best bluewater sailboat designs for every type of cruising

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Which yacht is the best for bluewater boating? This question generates even more debate among sailors than questions about what’s the coolest yacht , or the best for racing. Whereas racing designs are measured against each other, cruising sailors get very limited opportunities to experience different yachts in real oceangoing conditions, so what is the best bluewater sailboat?

Here, we bring you our top choices from decades of designs and launches. Over the years, the Yachting World team has sailed these boats, tested them or judged them for European Yacht of the Year awards, and we have sifted through the many to curate a selection that we believe should be on your wishlist.

Making the right choice may come down to how you foresee your yacht being used after it has crossed an ocean or completed a passage: will you be living at anchor or cruising along the coast? If so, your guiding requirements will be space, cabin size, ease of launching a tender and anchoring closer to shore, and whether it can comfortably accommodate non-expert-sailor guests.

Article continues below…

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The perfect boat: what makes an ideal offshore cruising yacht?

Choosing a boat for offshore cruising is not a decision to be taken lightly. I have researched this topic on…


European Yacht of the Year 2019: Best luxury cruisers

Before the sea trials began, I would have put money on a Hallberg-Rassy or the Wauquiez winning an award. The…

All of these considerations have generated the inexorable rise of the bluewater catamaran – monohulls can’t easily compete on these points. We have a full separate feature on the best bluewater multihulls of all time and here we mostly focus on monohulls. The only exceptions to that rule are two multihulls which made it into our best bluewater sailboats of 2022 list.

As so much of making the right choice is selecting the right boat for the venture in mind, we have separated out our edit into categories: best for comfort; for families; for performance; and for expedition or high latitudes sailing .

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

The new flagship Allures 51.9, for example, is a no-nonsense adventure cruising design built and finished to a high standard. It retains Allures’ niche of using aluminium hulls with glassfibre decks and superstructures, which, the yard maintains, gives the optimum combination of least maintenance and less weight higher up. Priorities for this design were a full beam aft cabin and a spacious, long cockpit. Both are excellent, with the latter, at 6m long, offering formidable social, sailing and aft deck zones.

It likes some breeze to come to life on the wheel, but I appreciate that it’s designed to take up to five tonnes payload. And I like the ease with which you can change gears using the furling headsails and the positioning of the powerful Andersen winches inboard. The arch is standard and comes with a textile sprayhood or hard bimini.

Below decks you’ll find abundant headroom and natural light, a deep U-shape galley and cavernous stowage. For those who like the layout of the Amel 50 but would prefer aluminium or shoal draught, look no further.

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a Category A ocean going yacht at this size with a lifting keel, hence the hull had to be very stable.

Enjoyable to helm, it has a practical, deep cockpit behind a large sprayhood, which can link to the bimini on the arch. Many of its most appealing features lie in the bright, light, contemporary, clever, voluminous interior, which has good stowage and tankage allocation. There’s also a practical navstation, a large workroom and a vast separate shower. I particularly like the convertible saloom, which can double as a large secure daybed or pilot berth.

Potentially the least expensive Category A lift keel boat available, the Ovni will get you dreaming of remote places again.

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

top expedition yachts

There’s no shortage of spirit in the Windelo 50. We gave this a sustainability award after it’s founders spent two years researching environmentally-friendly composite materials, developing an eco-composite of basalt fibre and recycled PET foam so it could build boats that halve the environmental impact of standard glassfibre yachts.

The Windelo 50 is an intriguing package – from the styling, modular interior and novel layout to the solar field on the roof and the standard electric propulsion, it is completely fresh.

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

I would argue that this is the most successful new production yacht on the market. Well over 50 have already sold (an equipped model typically costs €1.6m) – and I can understand why. After all, were money no object, I had this design earmarked as the new yacht I would most likely choose for a world trip.

Indeed 55 number one Sanya, was fully equipped for a family’s world cruise, and left during our stay for the Grand Large Odyssey tour. Whereas we sailed Magic Kili, which was tricked up with performance options, including foam-cored deckheads and supports, carbon crossbeam and bulkheads, and synthetic rigging.

At rest, these are enticing space ships. Taking one out to sea is another matter though. These are speed machines with the size, scale and loads to be rightly weary of. Last month Nikki Henderson wrote a feature for us about how to manage a new breed of performance cruising cats just like this and how she coaches new owners. I could not think of wiser money spent for those who do not have ample multihull sailing experience.

Under sail, the most fun was obviously reserved for the reaching leg under asymmetric, where we clocked between 11-16 knots in 15-16 knots wind. But it was the stability and of those sustained low teen speeds which really hit home  – passagemaking where you really cover miles.

Key features include the swing helms, which give you views from outboard, over the coachroof or from a protected position in the cockpit through the coachroof windows, and the vast island in the galley, which is key to an open plan main living area. It helps provide cavernous stowage and acts as the heart of the entertaining space as it would in a modern home. As Danish judge Morten Brandt-Rasmussen comments: “Apart from being the TGV of ocean passages the boat offers the most spacious, open and best integration of the cockpit and salon areas in the market.”

Outremer has done a top job in packing in the creature comforts, stowage space and payload capacity, while keeping it light enough to eat miles. Although a lot to absorb and handle, the 55 offers a formidable blend of speed and luxury cruising.

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

This is the successor to the legendary Super Maramu, a ketch design that for several decades defined easy downwind handling and fostered a cult following for the French yard. Nearly a decade old, the Amel 55 is the bridge between those world-girdling stalwarts and Amel’s more recent and totally re-imagined sloop designs, the Amel 50 and 60.

The 55 boasts all the serious features Amel aficionados loved and valued: a skeg-hung rudder, solidly built hull, watertight bulkheads, solid guardrails and rampart bulwarks. And, most noticeable, the solid doghouse in which the helmsman sits in perfect shelter at the wheel.

This is a design to live on comfortably for long periods and the list of standard features just goes on and on: passarelle; proper sea berths with lee cloths; electric furling main and genoa; and a multitude of practical items that go right down to a dishwasher and crockery.

There’s no getting around the fact these designs do look rather dated now, and through the development of easier sail handling systems the ketch rig has fallen out of fashion, but the Amel is nothing short of a phenomenon, and if you’ve never even peeked on board one, you really have missed a treat.


Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

A centre cockpit cruiser with true longevity, the Contest 50CS was launched by Conyplex back in 2003 and is still being built by the family-owned Dutch company, now in updated and restyled form.

With a fully balanced rudder, large wheel and modern underwater sections, the Contest 50CS is a surprisingly good performer for a boat that has a dry weight of 17.5 tonnes. Many were fitted with in-mast furling, which clearly curtails that performance, but even without, this boat is set up for a small crew.

Electric winches and mainsheet traveller are all easy to reach from the helm. On our test of the Contest 50CS, we saw for ourselves how two people can gybe downwind under spinnaker without undue drama. Upwind, a 105% genoa is so easy to tack it flatters even the weediest crewmember.

Down below, the finish level of the joinery work is up there among the best and the interior is full of clever touches, again updated and modernised since the early models. Never the cheapest bluewater sailing yacht around, the Contest 50CS has remained in demand as a brokerage buy. She is a reassuringly sure-footed, easily handled, very well built yacht that for all those reasons has stood the test of time.

This is a yacht that would be well capable of helping you extend your cruising grounds, almost without realising it.

Read more about the Contest 50CS and the new Contest 49CS


Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

For many, the Swedish Hallberg-Rassy yard makes the quintessential bluewater cruiser for couples. With their distinctive blue cove line, these designs are famous for their seakindly behaviour, solid-as-a-rock build and beautifully finished, traditional interiors.

To some eyes, Hallberg-Rassys aren’t quite cool enough, but it’s been company owner Magnus Rassy’s confidence in the formula and belief in incremental ‘step-by-step’ evolution that has been such an exceptional guarantor of reliable quality, reputation and resale value.

The centre cockpit Hallberg-Rassy 48 epitomises the concept of comfort at sea and, like all the Frers-designed Hallberg-Rassys since the 1990s, is surprisingly fleet upwind as well as steady downwind. The 48 is perfectly able to be handled by a couple (as we found a few years back in the Pacific), and could with no great effort crack out 200-mile days.

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 was launched nearly a decade ago, but the Mk II from 2014 is our pick, updated with a more modern profile, larger windows and hull portlights that flood the saloon and aft cabin with light. With a large chart table, secure linear galley, heaps of stowage and space for bluewater extras such as machinery and gear, this yacht pretty much ticks all the boxes.


Discovery 55

First launched in 2000, the Discovery 55 has stood the test of time. Designed by Ron Holland, it hit a sweet spot in size that appealed to couples and families with world girdling plans.

Elegantly styled and well balanced, the 55 is also a practical design, with a deep and secure cockpit, comfortable seating, a self-tacking jib, dedicated stowage for the liferaft , a decent sugar scoop transom that’s useful for swimming or dinghy access, and very comfortable accommodation below. In short, it is a design that has been well thought out by those who’ve been there, got the bruises, stubbed their toes and vowed to change things in the future if they ever got the chance.

Throughout the accommodation there are plenty of examples of good detailing, from the proliferation of handholds and grabrails, to deep sinks in the galley offering immediate stowage when under way and the stand up/sit down showers. Stowage is good, too, with plenty of sensibly sized lockers in easily accessible positions.

The Discovery 55 has practical ideas and nifty details aplenty. She’s not, and never was, a breakthrough in modern luxury cruising but she is pretty, comfortable to sail and live on, and well mannered.


Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

You can’t get much more Cornish than a Rustler. The hulls of this Stephen Jones design are hand-moulded and fitted out in Falmouth – and few are more ruggedly built than this traditional, up-for-anything offshore cruiser.

She boasts an encapsulated lead keel, eliminating keel bolts and creating a sump for generous fuel and water tankage, while a chunky skeg protects the rudder. She is designed for good directional stability and load carrying ability. These are all features that lend this yacht confidence as it shoulders aside the rough stuff.

Most of those built have had a cutter rig, a flexible arrangement that makes sense for long passages in all sea and weather conditions. Down below, the galley and saloon berths are comfortable and sensible for living in port and at sea, with joinery that Rustler’s builders are rightly proud of.

As modern yachts have got wider, higher and fatter, the Rustler 42 is an exception. This is an exceptionally well-mannered seagoing yacht in the traditional vein, with elegant lines and pleasing overhangs, yet also surprisingly powerful. And although now over 20 years old, timeless looks and qualities mean this design makes her look ever more like a perennial, a modern classic.

The definitive crossover size, the point at which a yacht can be handled by a couple but is just large enough to have a professional skipper and be chartered, sits at around the 60ft mark. At 58ft 8in, the Oyster 575 fitted perfectly into this growing market when launched in 2010. It went on to be one of the most popular models from the yard, and is only now being superseded by the newer Rob Humphreys-designed Oyster 565 (just launched this spring).

Built in various configurations with either a deep keel, shoal draught keel or centreboard with twin rudders, owners could trade off better performance against easy access to shallower coves and anchorages. The deep-bodied hull, also by Rob Humphreys, is known for its easy motion at sea.

Some of the Oyster 575’s best features include its hallmark coachroof windows style and centre cockpit – almost everyone will know at first glance this is an Oyster – and superb interior finish. If she has a flaw, it is arguably the high cockpit, but the flip side is the galley headroom and passageway berth to the large aft stateroom.

This design also has a host of practical features for long-distance cruising, such as high guardrails, dedicated liferaft stowage, a vast lazarette for swallowing sails, tender, fenders etc, and a penthouse engine room.


Privilege Serie 5

A true luxury catamaran which, fully fitted out, will top €1m, this deserves to be seen alongside the likes of the Oyster 575, Gunfleet 58 and Hallberg-Rassy 55. It boasts a large cockpit and living area, and a light and spacious saloon with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, masses of refrigeration and a big galley.

Standout features are finish quality and solid build in a yacht designed to take a high payload, a secure walkaround deck and all-round views from the helm station. The new Privilege 510 that will replace this launches in February 2020.

Gunfleet 43

It was with this Tony Castro design that Richard Matthews, founder of Oyster Yachts, launched a brand new rival brand in 2012, the smallest of a range stretching to the flagship Gunfleet 74. The combination of short overhangs and centre cockpit at this size do make the Gunfleet 43 look modern if a little boxy, but time and subsequent design trends have been kind to her lines, and the build quality is excellent. The saloon, galley and aft cabin space is exceptional on a yacht of this size.


Photo: David Harding

Conceived as a belt-and-braces cruiser, the Kraken 50 launched last year. Its unique points lie underwater in the guise of a full skeg-hung rudder and so-called ‘Zero Keel’, an encapsulated long keel with lead ballast.

Kraken Yachts is the brainchild of British businessman and highly experienced cruiser Dick Beaumont, who is adamant that safety should be foremost in cruising yacht design and build. “There is no such thing as ‘one yacht for all purposes’… You cannot have the best of all worlds, whatever the salesman tells you,” he says.

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .


Wauquiez Centurion 57

Few yachts can claim to be both an exciting Med-style design and a serious and practical northern European offshore cruiser, but the Wauquiez Centurion 57 tries to blend both. She slightly misses if you judge solely by either criterion, but is pretty and practical enough to suit her purpose.

A very pleasant, well-considered yacht, she is impressively built and finished with a warm and comfortable interior. More versatile than radical, she could be used for sailing across the Atlantic in comfort and raced with equal enjoyment at Antigua Sailing Week .


A modern classic if ever there was one. A medium to heavy displacement yacht, stiff and easily capable of standing up to her canvas. Pretty, traditional lines and layout below.


Photo: Voyage of Swell

Well-proven US legacy design dating back to the mid-1960s that once conquered the Transpac Race . Still admired as pretty, with slight spoon bow and overhanging transom.


Capable medium displacement cruiser, ideal size and good accommodation for couples or family cruising, and much less costly than similar luxury brands.


Photo: Peter Szamer

Swedish-built aft cockpit cruiser, smaller than many here, but a well-built and finished, super-durable pocket ocean cruiser.


Tartan 3700

Designed as a performance cruiser there are nimbler alternatives now, but this is still an extremely pretty yacht.

Broker ’ s choice


Discovery 55 Brizo

This yacht has already circumnavigated the globe and is ‘prepared for her next adventure,’ says broker Berthon. Price: £535,000 + VAT


Oyster 575 Ayesha

‘Stunning, and perfectly equipped for bluewater cruising,’ says broker Ancasta International. Price: £845,000 (tax not paid)


Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

Nearly new and with a high spec, this Oyster Brokerage yacht features American white oak joinery and white leather upholstery and has a shoal draught keel. Price: $1.49m

Best bluewater yachts for performance

The Frers-designed Swan 54 may not be the newest hull shape but heralded Swan’s latest generation of displacement bluewater cruisers when launched four years ago. With raked stem, deep V hull form, lower freeboard and slight curve to the topsides she has a more timeless aesthetic than many modern slab-sided high volume yachts, and with that a seakindly motion in waves. If you plan to cover many miles to weather, this is probably the yacht you want to be on.


Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Besides Swan’s superlative build quality, the 54 brings many true bluewater features, including a dedicated sail locker. There’s also a cockpit locker that functions as a utility cabin, with potential to hold your generator and washing machine, or be a workshop space.

The sloping transom opens out to reveal a 2.5m bathing platform, and although the cabins are not huge there is copious stowage space. Down below the top-notch oak joinery is well thought through with deep fiddles, and there is a substantial nav station. But the Swan 54 wins for handling above all, with well laid-out sail controls that can be easily managed between a couple, while offering real sailing enjoyment to the helmsman.


Photo: Graham Snook

The Performance Cruiser winner at the 2019 European Yacht of the Year awards, the Arcona 435 is all about the sailing experience. She has genuine potential as a cruiser-racer, but her strengths are as an enjoyable cruiser rather than a full-blown liveaboard bluewater boat.

Build quality is excellent, there is the option of a carbon hull and deck, and elegant lines and a plumb bow give the Arcona 435 good looks as well as excellent performance in light airs. Besides slick sail handling systems, there are well thought-out features for cruising, such as ample built-in rope bins and an optional semi-closed stern with stowage and swim platform.


Outremer 51

If you want the space and stability of a cat but still prioritise sailing performance, Outremer has built a reputation on building catamarans with true bluewater characteristics that have cruised the planet for the past 30 years.

Lighter and slimmer-hulled than most cruising cats, the Outremer 51 is all about sailing at faster speeds, more easily. The lower volume hulls and higher bridgedeck make for a better motion in waves, while owners report that being able to maintain a decent pace even under reduced canvas makes for stress-free passages. Deep daggerboards also give good upwind performance.

With bucket seats and tiller steering options, the Outremer 51 rewards sailors who want to spend time steering, while they’re famously well set up for handling with one person on deck. The compromise comes with the interior space – even with a relatively minimalist style, there is less cabin space and stowage volume than on the bulkier cats, but the Outremer 51 still packs in plenty of practical features.


The Xc45 was the first cruising yacht X-Yachts ever built, and designed to give the same X-Yachts sailing experience for sailors who’d spent years racing 30/40-footer X- and IMX designs, but in a cruising package.

Launched over 10 years ago, the Xc45 has been revisited a few times to increase the stowage and modernise some of the styling, but the key features remain the same, including substantial tanks set low for a low centre of gravity, and X-Yachts’ trademark steel keel grid structure. She has fairly traditional styling and layout, matched with solid build quality.

A soft bilge and V-shaped hull gives a kindly motion in waves, and the cockpit is secure, if narrow by modern standards.


A three or four cabin catamaran that’s fleet of foot with high bridgedeck clearance for comfortable motion at sea. With tall daggerboards and carbon construction in some high load areas, Catana cats are light and quick to accelerate.


Sweden Yachts 45

An established bluewater design that also features in plenty of offshore races. Some examples are specced with carbon rig and retractable bowsprits. All have a self-tacking jib for ease. Expect sweeping areas of teak above decks and a traditionally wooded interior with hanging wet locker.


A vintage performer, first launched in 1981, the 51 was the first Frers-designed Swan and marked a new era of iconic cruiser-racers. Some 36 of the Swan 51 were built, many still actively racing and cruising nearly 40 years on. Classic lines and a split cockpit make this a boat for helming, not sunbathing.


Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

The JPK 45 comes from a French racing stable, combining race-winning design heritage with cruising amenities. What you see is what you get – there are no superfluous headliners or floorboards, but there are plenty of ocean sailing details, like inboard winches for safe trimming. The JPK 45 also has a brilliantly designed cockpit with an optional doghouse creating all-weather shelter, twin wheels and superb clutch and rope bin arrangement.


Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

For sailors who don’t mind exchanging a few creature comforts for downwind planing performance, the Pogo 50 offers double-digit surfing speeds for exhilarating tradewind sailing. There’s an open transom, tiller steering and no backstay or runners. The Pogo 50 also has a swing keel, to nose into shallow anchorages.


Seawind 1600

Seawinds are relatively unknown in Europe, but these bluewater cats are very popular in Australia. As would be expected from a Reichel-Pugh design, this 52-footer combines striking good looks and high performance, with fine entry bows and comparatively low freeboard. Rudders are foam cored lifting designs in cassettes, which offer straightforward access in case of repairs, while daggerboards are housed under the deck.

Best bluewater sailboats for families

It’s unsurprising that, for many families, it’s a catamaran that meets their requirements best of increased space – both living space and separate cabins for privacy-seeking teenagers, additional crew or visiting family – as well as stable and predictable handling.


Photo: Nicholas Claris

Undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories has been the Lagoon 450, which, together with boats like the Fountaine Pajot 44, helped drive up the popularity of catamaran cruising by making it affordable and accessible. They have sold in huge numbers – over 1,000 Lagoon 450s have been built since its launch in 2010.

The VPLP-designed 450 was originally launched with a flybridge with a near central helming position and upper level lounging areas (450F). The later ‘sport top’ option (450S) offered a starboard helm station and lower boom (and hence lower centre of gravity for reduced pitching). The 450S also gained a hull chine to create additional volume above the waterline. The Lagoon features forward lounging and aft cockpit areas for additional outdoor living space.

Besides being a big hit among charter operators, Lagoons have proven themselves over thousands of bluewater miles – there were seven Lagoon 450s in last year’s ARC alone. In what remains a competitive sector of the market, Lagoon has recently launched a new 46, with a larger self-tacking jib and mast moved aft, and more lounging areas.


Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

The FP Helia 44 is lighter, lower volume, and has a lower freeboard than the Lagoon, weighing in at 10.8 tonnes unloaded (compared to 15 for the 450). The helm station is on a mezzanine level two steps up from the bridgedeck, with a bench seat behind. A later ‘Evolution’ version was designed for liveaboard cruisers, featuring beefed up dinghy davits and an improved saloon space.

Available in three or four cabin layouts, the Helia 44 was also popular with charter owners as well as families. The new 45 promises additional volume, and an optional hydraulically lowered ‘beach club’ swim platform.


Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

The French RM 1370 might be less well known than the big brand names, but offers something a little bit different for anyone who wants a relatively voluminous cruising yacht. Designed by Marc Lombard, and beautifully built from plywood/epoxy, the RM is stiff and responsive, and sails superbly.

The RM yachts have a more individual look – in part down to the painted finish, which encourages many owners to personalise their yachts, but also thanks to their distinctive lines with reverse sheer and dreadnought bow. The cockpit is well laid out with the primary winches inboard for a secure trimming position. The interior is light, airy and modern, although the open transom won’t appeal to everyone.

For those wanting a monohull, the Hanse 575 hits a similar sweet spot to the popular multis, maximising accommodation for a realistic price, yet with responsive performance.

The Hanse offers a vast amount of living space thanks to the ‘loft design’ concept of having all the living areas on a single level, which gives a real feeling of spaciousness with no raised saloon or steps to accommodation. The trade-off for such lofty head height is a substantial freeboard – it towers above the pontoon, while, below, a stepladder is provided to reach some hatches.

Galley options include drawer fridge-freezers, microwave and coffee machine, and the full size nav station can double up as an office or study space.

But while the Hanse 575 is a seriously large boat, its popularity is also down to the fact that it is genuinely able to be handled by a couple. It was innovative in its deck layout: with a self-tacking jib and mainsheet winches immediately to hand next to the helm, one person could both steer and trim.

Direct steering gives a feeling of control and some tangible sailing fun, while the waterline length makes for rapid passage times. In 2016 the German yard launched the newer Hanse 588 model, having already sold 175 of the 575s in just four years.


Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

Jeanneau leads the way among production builders for versatile all-rounder yachts that balance sail performance and handling, ergonomics, liveaboard functionality and good looks. The Jeanneau 54 , part of the range designed by Philippe Briand with interior by Andrew Winch, melds the best of the larger and smaller models and is available in a vast array of layout options from two cabins/two heads right up to five cabins and three heads.

We’ve tested the Jeanneau 54 in a gale and very light winds, and it acquitted itself handsomely in both extremes. The primary and mainsheet winches are to hand next to the wheel, and the cockpit is spacious, protected and child-friendly. An electric folding swim and sun deck makes for quick fun in the water.


Nautitech Open 46

This was the first Nautitech catamaran to be built under the ownership of Bavaria, designed with an open-plan bridgedeck and cockpit for free-flowing living space. But with good pace for eating up bluewater miles, and aft twin helms rather than a flybridge, the Nautitech Open 46 also appeals to monohull sailors who prefer a more direct sailing experience.


Made by Robertson and Caine, who produce catamarans under a dual identity as both Leopard and the Sunsail/Moorings charter cats, the Leopard 45 is set to be another big seller. Reflecting its charter DNA, the Leopard 45 is voluminous, with stepped hulls for reduced waterline, and a separate forward cockpit.

Built in South Africa, they are robustly tested off the Cape and constructed ruggedly enough to handle heavy weather sailing as well as the demands of chartering.


Photo: Olivier Blanchet

If space is king then three hulls might be even better than two. The Neel 51 is rare as a cruising trimaran with enough space for proper liveaboard sailing. The galley and saloon are in the large central hull, together with an owner’s cabin on one level for a unique sensation of living above the water. Guest or family cabins lie in the outer hulls for privacy and there is a cavernous full height engine room under the cabin sole.

Performance is notably higher than an equivalent cruising cat, particularly in light winds, with a single rudder giving a truly direct feel in the helm, although manoeuvring a 50ft trimaran may daunt many sailors.


Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

A brilliant new model from Beneteau, this Finot Conq design has a modern stepped hull, which offers exhilarating and confidence-inspiring handling in big breezes, and slippery performance in lighter winds.

The Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 was the standout performer at this year’s European Yacht of the Year awards, and, in replacing the popular Oceanis 45, looks set to be another bestseller. Interior space is well used with a double island berth in the forepeak. An additional inboard unit creates a secure galley area, but tank capacity is moderate for long periods aboard.


Beneteau Oceanis 473

A popular model that offers beam and height in a functional layout, although, as with many boats of this age (she was launched in 2002), the mainsheet is not within reach of the helmsman.


Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

The Philippe Briand-designed Sun Odyssey range has a solid reputation as family production cruisers. Like the 473, the Sun Odyssey 49 was popular for charter so there are plenty of four-cabin models on the market.


Nautitech 441

The hull design dates back to 1995, but was relaunched in 2012. Though the saloon interior has dated, the 441 has solid practical features, such as a rainwater run-off collection gutter around the coachroof.


Atlantic 42

Chris White-designed cats feature a pilothouse and forward waist-high working cockpit with helm position, as well as an inside wheel at the nav station. The Atlantic 42 offers limited accommodation by modern cat standards but a very different sailing experience.

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

All of the yachts in our ‘expedition’ category are aluminium-hulled designs suitable for high latitude sailing, and all are exceptional yachts. But the Bestevaer 56 is a spectacular amount of boat to take on a true adventure. Each Bestevaer is a near-custom build with plenty of bespoke options for owners to customise the layout and where they fall on the scale of rugged off-grid adventurer to 4×4-style luxury fit out.


The Bestevaer range began when renowned naval architect Gerard Dijkstra chose to design his own personal yacht for liveaboard adventure cruising, a 53-footer. The concept drew plenty of interest from bluewater sailors wanting to make longer expeditions and Bestevaers are now available in a range of sizes, with the 56-footer proving a popular mid-range length.

The well-known Bestevaer 56 Tranquilo  (pictured above) has a deep, secure cockpit, voluminous tanks (700lt water and over 1,100lt fuel) and a lifting keel plus water ballast, with classically styled teak clad decks and pilot house. Other owners have opted for functional bare aluminium hull and deck, some choose a doghouse and others a pilothouse.


Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

The Boreal 52 also offers Land Rover-esque practicality, with utilitarian bare aluminium hulls and a distinctive double-level doghouse/coachroof arrangement for added protection in all weathers. The cockpit is clean and uncluttered, thanks to the mainsheet position on top of the doghouse, although for visibility in close manoeuvring the helmsman will want to step up onto the aft deck.

Twin daggerboards, a lifting centreboard and long skeg on which she can settle make this a true go-anywhere expedition yacht. The metres of chain required for adventurous anchoring is stowed in a special locker by the mast to keep the weight central. Down below has been thought through with equally practical touches, including plenty of bracing points and lighting that switches on to red light first to protect your night vision.


Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

The Garcia Exploration 45 comes with real experience behind her – she was created in association with Jimmy Cornell, based on his many hundreds of thousands of miles of bluewater cruising, to go anywhere from high latitudes to the tropics.

Arguably less of a looker than the Bestevaer, the Garcia Exploration 45 features a rounded aluminium hull, centreboard with deep skeg and twin daggerboards. The considerable anchor chain weight has again been brought aft, this time via a special conduit to a watertight locker in front of the centreboard.

This is a yacht designed to be lived on for extended periods with ample storage, and panoramic portlights to give a near 360° view of whichever extraordinary landscape you are exploring. Safety features include a watertight companionway door to keep extreme weather out and through-hull fittings placed above the waterline. When former Vendée Globe skipper Pete Goss went cruising , this was the boat he chose to do it in.


Photo: svnaima.com

A truly well-proven expedition design, some 1,500 Ovnis have been built and many sailed to some of the most far-flung corners of the world. (Jimmy Cornell sailed his Aventura some 30,000 miles, including two Drake Passage crossings, one in 50 knots of wind).


Futuna Exploration 54

Another aluminium design with a swinging centreboard and a solid enclosed pilothouse with protected cockpit area. There’s a chunky bowsprit and substantial transom arch to house all manner of electronics and power generation.

Previous boats have been spec’d for North West Passage crossings with additional heating and engine power, although there’s a carbon rig option for those that want a touch of the black stuff. The tanks are capacious, with 1,000lt capability for both fresh water and fuel.

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Explorer Yachts For Sale

Adventurous yacht owners eventually tire of the popular Mediterranean and Caribbean cruising grounds and start looking for more challenging cruising areas. This explains the growing popularity of long-range expedition yachts with vast storage capacity for food, fuel and water, enabling them to roam the world’s oceans for weeks at a time. Here we present examples of world-girdling explorer yachts currently for sale.

Yacht Features

Propulsion System

top expedition yachts

The Best New Small-Ship Cruises to Book in 2024

A uthentic. It was Merriam Webster's top searched word for 2023 and one that has dominated the travel vernacular in recent years. And while many would not necessarily associate the word with ocean cruising , the growth in popularity of small-ship cruises-particularly sailings with 500 guests or fewer-indicates that in the cruising world, passengers are seeking a more intimate, less crowded, and yes, arguably more authentic sailing experience.

Take expedition cruising , for example. As the number of adventure-focused ships and yachts has exploded in recent years, these cruises are no longer just about extreme voyages in polar regions. They are also about offering a deeper look into the culture, food, history, and environmental fragility of remote wonders of the world.

Although there isn't a huge number of new small ships being introduced, there are a few notable vessels that have either recently launched or are launching this year with a focus on the idea that smaller is not just better, but more sustainable, too. These new small-ship cruises bring with them some exciting and more immersive new itineraries to destinations both warm and wintry that have us ready to pack our bags and sail away.

Sea Cloud Cruises' "Sea Cloud Spirit"

  • Suggested itinerary: Reset your mind and body on an eight-night sailing through Spain's Canary Islands and on to Morocco on a special cruise featuring experts in restorative health. Pricing starts at $4,895 per person.

What's more authentic-and sustainable-than setting sail on a tall ship where the sails are hoisted up each day by hand? Although not technically new (it was launched in 2021), the 136-passenger Sea Cloud Spirit and its two sister ships, Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II , are upping their game in a push to introduce Sea Cloud Cruises' unique product to North American travelers. The German company has traditionally catered to German and British passengers. As part of its effort to expand its reach and appeal, Sea Cloud is adding wellness programs with daily onboard yoga and guest fitness gurus, in addition to special food- and wine-focused sailings with well-known chefs making appearances. Sea Cloud Spirit , the largest of the three-ship fleet with 69 cabins, was meticulously designed to pay homage to the original Sea Cloud , which was the world's largest private sailing yacht when Wall Street broker Edward Francis Hutton had it built in 1931 for his wife, Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The Sea Cloud Spirit combines the experience of decades of traditional seamanship with the modern-day luxuries of a private yacht. Cabins range from 172-square-foot single cabins to 300-square-foot balcony suites with soaking tubs. There's a large fitness center and spa, which has a steam room, sauna, and thermal area for two; indoor and outdoor lounges; and a main dining area, plus a more casual bistro. The action, however, is out on deck, where passengers can stargaze at night or simply gaze in awe at the impressive sails blowing in the wind.

Atlas Ocean Voyages' "World Navigator"

  • Suggested itinerary: Go searching for Arctic wildlife on a 12-night cruise from Reykjavík, which sails along the eastern coast of Greenland and to Longyearbyen in the Svalbard archipelago, one of the world's northernmost inhabited areas and home to polar bears, reindeer, arctic foxes, and other Nordic wildlife. Pricing starts at $6,499 per person.

World Navigator , which sailed its maiden voyage in Antarctica this past November, is the third vessel to join the fleet of one of the newest players in small-ship expedition cruising, Atlas Ocean Voyages. The company's 100-cabin expedition yachts are almost identical and provide a hybrid of sorts between traditional expedition and luxury cruising. Cabins are spacious, almost all with balconies, desks, and seating areas. The bathrooms have glass-mosaic tiled showers with rain showerheads, wall jets, and even benches.

Everything on the ship-including the sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows-is designed to provide maximum views. The ships also have spacious pool decks with two hot tubs, a fitness center overlooking the sea, a spa, and water toys like kayaks and paddleboards. There's even extreme camping gear for those willing to brave an overnight under the stars in Antarctica. During North American winters, all three of Atlas's expedition yachts sail in Antarctica. With the addition of World Navigator , the company is launching more Arctic Circle cruises during the North American summers while also adding a host of new epicurean and cultural expeditions in South America, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, and northern Europe this year.

Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's "Ilma"

  • Suggested itinerary: Spend a little extra time in port on a 10-day sailing from Barcelona to Lisbon, which has three overnight stays, in Palma de Mallorca and Malaga in Spain, and in Lisbon, Portugal, one of Europe's oldest cities. Pricing starts at $10,600 per person.

Another newcomer to luxury small-ship cruising is the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, which debuts its second ship, the Ilma , this year. With 224 suites, the ship is larger than the original Ritz-Carlton yacht, the 149-suite Evrima , which launched in October 2022. On the Ilma , all the suites will have private terraces, including a two-story suite with soaking tub; the coveted, 1,000-square-foot owner's suite has a private outdoor whirlpool. Even the smallest suites are not all that small, at 300 square feet, and come with a personal concierge and 24-hour room service. The yacht boasts what Ritz-Carlton says is the highest ratio of space per guest at sea.

And you can expect to find the same meticulous service standards that you would find at Ritz-Carlton resorts throughout the world as the line aims to impress hotel guests seeking a luxury hotel experience at sea. Onboard are five dining venues, including S.E.A., a European tasting experience designed by chef Sven Elverfeld of Aqua, the three Michelin-starred restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton in Wolfsburg, Germany; Talaat Nam, featuring Southeast Asian cuisine and a sushi bar; and Mistral, a casual come-as-you-are alfresco grill with a Mediterranean-inspired menu. Light bites are served at the marina at the aft of the ship, where you can also hop on a borrowed paddleboard. Oh, and did we mention there are two outdoor pools, too?

Book a terrace suite on the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's newest vessel, Ilma , launching in 2024.

America’s Top 10 Beaches, New Luxury Cruise Ships And More Travel News

Plus, exotic destinations to watch the total solar eclipse, the best shoulder season deals, and a hotel with its own tattoo parlor.

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7 Great Destinations for Shoulder Season

T he travel industry considers the months following the peak winter and summer periods as “shoulder season.” (If you think of high season as the head, the months on either side are the shoulders. Just go with the metaphor.) And it has long been considered among the best times to get away as crowds are thinner and the rates are lower. From Macchu Pichu to Morocco, here are seven great destinations for shoulder season.

The Year’s Most Anticipated Cruise Ships

The editors of Forbes Travel Guide don’t just scour the world for luxury hotel openings—they also look for new ocean cruises. Among the new cruise ships launching in 2024 are the second vessel from the Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection (which can accommodate 448 passengers in 224 suites) and the Queen Anne, which will feature Cunard’s first female captain.

America’s 10 Best Beaches 2024

With spring less than a week away, it’s not too early to start thinking about summer getaways—and that often means beach vacations. TripAdvisor recently ranked the 10 best beaches in America and the top two—Ka'anapali Beach in Maui and Siesta Beach in Florida were also named among the 10 best beaches in the world.

Looking for a special place to watch the total solar eclipse on April 8? From viewing the totality among elephants (in Oklahoma) to watching aboard a solar submarine (in Arkansas), here are 10 exotic destinations where you can view next month’s eclipse.

This Boutique Hotel Has Its Own Tattoo Parlor

Why stuff a plush bathrobe into your suitcase the next time you want a hotel memento when you can have something more permanent? At New York’s Untitled at 3 Freeman Alley, guests can commemorate a stay with some new ink at the hotel’s in-house tattoo parlor . “I had not heard of another hotel with a tattoo parlor,” says Gadi Peleg, founder of GPG Hospitality, which manages the Lower East Side property, “and thought that, if ever there was a hotel that needed one, this was it.”

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