When it comes to one-of-a-kind experiences, few are more exclusive, and in my opinion, can be more meaningful than exploring some of the most remote places on earth onboard a large private yacht. Now, I know it may sound like I’m stating the obvious here. But stick with me.
I’m not talking about catching rays and hanging out by the pool onboard any number of 200-to-300-foot-long yachts that spend the summer in the Mediterranean and the winter in the Caribbean or French Polynesia. And I’m NOT saying there’s anything wrong with catching rays on a superyacht in the Med. In fact, I’m off to the Monaco Yacht Show next week to do just that!
But what I am saying is luxury yacht polar exploration represents a higher level of exclusivity simply because there aren’t that many private yachts (or yacht crews) that are capable of being fully self-sufficient and operating in the harsh and often dangerous conditions of the polar regions for any length of time.
Since even fewer private expedition yachts combine the strength and capabilities of a commercial-grade research vessel (that’s capable of punching through polar ice), with expert guides and five-star superyacht services (that will pamper 12 guests in 7 large staterooms), the 236-foot-long Nansen Explorer is built to be able to take guests to more remote destinations in the polar regions than even some ice-class yachts would avoid. And it doesn’t get better or more exclusive than being able to visit and experience areas of the globe than other people simply can’t get to, right?
And thanks to a just-completed multi-million-dollar refit that has transformed the interior of this commercial-grade ship into a luxury yacht, the Nansen Explorer is built to wrap its guests in a warm blanket of luxury too. Staterooms are modern and spacious with comfortable beds, spa-like bathrooms and floor to ceiling windows. The main saloon is a comfortable spot for guests to gather and share stories (and selfies) of their daily adventures.
Nansen Explorer also boasts an expansive heli-deck, complete with onboard refueling capabilities that make it easy for heli-skiing and inland exploration. There’s also plenty of space for the numerous kayaks, SUPs, and expedition-grade Zodiacs that make it possible to have intimate encounters with whales and other wildlife that makes polar exploration so special. Meanwhile, the ship’s talented chef offers a steady diet of Michelin star level cuisine.
But as anyone who’s spent any time in the polar regions can attest, the brute strength of the ship is only part of the equation. The Nansen Explorer’s ability to go places where other yachts can’t go is enhanced by its officers, crew, and guides that are experienced in dealing with the special challenges that come with luxury polar exploration.
And those capabilities are further enhanced by the exclusive partnership Nansen Polar Expeditions have formed to operate the ship with the exploration experts at EYOS Expeditions. As a result, guests will benefit from the decades of combined experience leading countless polar expeditions for a wide range of clients that both companies share.
Currently, the ship is just putting the finishing touches on all the work that was completed in the shipyard. But the teams from both Nansen Polar Expeditions and EYOS Expeditions did take a short break in Iceland earlier this summer to show just how special the ship is going to be.
Not only where guests treated to the genuine warmth and sincere welcome from the captain, crew and local guides. Leaders from both Nansen Polar Expeditions and EYOS Expeditions were also on hand to welcome guests, see the ship in action and most of all, to enjoy all the wonders the Northwest coast of Iceland has to offer.
One evening, guests were quickly launched in the Zodiacs and treated to a close encounter with a playfully breeching humpback whale. Another evening, the crew surprised guests with taking them to a remote natural hot spring that was made even better with the champagne they pulled out of their backpacks.
But maybe the biggest surprise of all came on the last night when the ship dropped anchor just outside Reykjavík. Guests were just finishing a superb meal when the highly experienced polar guide and EYOS Expeditions co-founder Tim Soper made a little “announcement.” This was not out of the ordinary since the group quicky became accustomed to Tim providing insight, instructions and information for the next day after dinner.
“We’ve arranged a little surprise for you,” he said with a smile. “We’ve arranged for a helicopter to pick you up and give you all an aerial tour of the area.
“We’d hoped he’d be able to fly you over the active volcano,” he added. “But unfortunately, the volcano is in the clouds tonight.”
Needless to say, guests were excited to head to the heli-deck and explore Iceland from the air. But they were more than just excited because the whole secret heli-ops plan the crew of the Hansen Explorer and EYOS Exploration pulled off was such a surprise. And as Tim Soper knows, little things like surprise helicopter rides over active volcanoes (when the weather permits) can make even the most jaded luxury traveler feel the some of the joy and wonder we once felt as kids.
And there in nothing better than that.