Gone are the days when you had to choose between a luxury superyacht and an intrepid expedition ship.
Nansen Polar Expeditions and EYOS, a company that provides luxury expedition yacht charters, recently launched journeys on the new MV Nansen Explorer, an expedition “yacht” with the ability to travel through icy regions.
“The MV Nansen is definitely trying to fill a new niche in the industry,” said Ben Lyons, CEO of EYOS.
Thanks to a multi-million dollar renovation last year, the Nansen Explorer is built to 1A ice classification and can cruise around polar regions like Greenland and Antarctica with ease — places few other boats can go.
“She’s really able to poke around in ice,” Lyons said. “Her hull has battle scars from years of bashing around. That’s part of her story.”
While she may have the bones of an ice-breaker, she has the interior of a mega-yacht — the type you’d expect to find floating in the Mediterranean, perhaps filled with a cluster of Kardashians, champagne in hand.
Albeit that the MV Nansen is a lot larger than the super-yachts we’ve come to know through paparazzi images of Leo DiCaprio on vacation.
What once accommodated 60 people now accommodates 12 in seven slick cabins that can be booked by private charter or individually.
For the more intrepid traveler, the MV Nansen is truly an explorer’s nirvana.
Scandinavian-inspired cabins are elegantly appointed with natural materials and sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the sea.
There is a fully equipped gym and a dining room where a rotating menu of Michelin-star level cuisine is served courtesy of the onboard culinary team.
There are also myriad amenities and activities like dry suits, kayaks and stand-up paddle-boards. Most impressively, there’s a private helicopter that shuttles guests to glaciers and mountaintops on journeys guided by experts. There are also photography trips.
The ship’s heli-ski themed expedition, which travels to the region Maniitsoq in Greenland (April 24 to May 1) offers guests daily runs on remote slopes that trail down to the water’s edge — a first of its kind in this region.
Its second itinerary (June 19 to 26) will explore the northern coast, traveling 150 miles beyond the Arctic Circle to Disko Bay.
The UNESCO World Heritage site is home to some of the largest icebergs in the world – with some reaching up to 300 feet.
“Greenland has an incredible sense of escaping — going somewhere totally foreign and different with icebergs and fantastic wildlife,” said Lyons. “There’s an incredible feeling of privilege when you’re the only people there.”
Prefer not to ski down remote slopes and instead, like many super-yacht goers, enjoy sitting below deck drinking champagne? no problem. On the boat there are bubbles in abundance, as well as plenty of other things to do, including wildlife spotting (you may even see some of the 15 species of whales that inhabit Greenland waters) and making friends.
“One of the biggest surprises to us, as well as to the people who joined, is the social element,” said Lyons, adding that there are many mutual connections as well as a common ‘expedition-forward’ mindset among guests, who often stay up late into the evening sharing drinks.
“There’s a shared mentality,” he said. “People bonded much more than we expected. It’s a different atmosphere than other super yachts.
Expeditions are all about camaraderie and experiencing something together.”
Lyons added that, in the past, their clients may have chartered private yachts for this kind of adventure. However, nowadays, many don’t want the hassle of organizing a mega-yacht’s worth of friends for an epic journey — often a logistical nightmare.
†[It’s for] people who want to move up to the next level of experience,” said Lyons. “Like the couple who says, ‘Let’s just do it ourselves.’ †
From $22,808 per person; EYOS-Expeditions.com