Billionaires are now building vessels fit for Arctic expeditions

Rise of the super-rich ‘explorers’: Billionaires are now building yachts fit for Arctic expeditions and round-the-world cruises rather than just sunning themselves in Monaco

  • New generation of luxury boats being geared towards meeting adventurous side of their super-rich owners
  • Latest models being kitted out with larger fuel tanks and reinforced hulls capable of ‘breaking’ through ice
  • The past five years has seen large increase in billionaires opting for yachts with helicopters and submarines
  • London-based broker Edmiston selling a yacht that can sail through uncharted waters for 30 days for £55m

Once upon a time, the grandness of superyachts was determined by the number of on-board cinemas, swimming pools and rooms in which to entertain multiple exclusive guests.

However the new generation of luxury boats are now being geared towards meeting the adventurous side of their super-rich owners, with an onus on ‘explorer’ vessels that can take them around the globe without frequent stops.

The latest models are being kitted out with larger fuel tanks and reinforced hulls capable of ‘breaking’ through ice, allowing those on-board to undertake Arctic expeditions in comfort and style.

Industry watchers say the past five years has seen an increase in younger billionaires opting for yachts boasting helicopters and submarines, an image very much in contrast to lazy afternoons spent moored to Monaco’s docks.

The craze is thought to have started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who unveiled his Octopus explorer, which is kitted out with two helicopters and seven boats.

Unsurprisingly, the adventure-inspired mod-cons do not come cheap, with London-based broker Edmiston selling an 82m-long Kilkea yacht, which can sail through uncharted waters for 30 days without stopping, for £55million. 

US design studio Strand Craft recently revealed a new superyacht concept called Aurora Borealis. The 122m superyacht was inspired by nature and the stormy weather conditions that are common to the northern regions of Norway

The 90m-long Taboo is Gill Schmid Design’s new ‘Ice-class’ explorer, which is a purpose-built expedition superyacht built for extreme polar conditions as well as tropical heat

As well as boasting explorer mod-cons such as a reinforced hull and a submarine, the Taboo has all the interior opulence expected from a superyacht

Gill Schmid Design describes the Taboo as a ‘high-volume purpose built expedition yacht, with the performativity of a commercial vessel, whilst offering the highest levels of luxury in the most remote places on earth’

Sir Ian Collett, director at Ward & McKenzie Yacht Consultancy, told The Times: ‘There is a character of owners who don’t just want to be seen in Saint-Tropez or Portofino.

‘[They] wish to do round-the-world trips, go to the Arctic or Antarctic, travel up the Amazon or go down the African coast.’

It takes a certain type of wealth to purchase a superyacht and the official term for this fortunate minority is an Ultra High Net Worth Individual.


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Typically this person is worth more than £25million in net assets and as of last year, there are just 200,000 of them in the world.

A study found that the costs associated with having a massive boat on the water is approximately 10 per cent of the purchase price each year.

For example, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, owns a 533-foot vessel with a missile defense system that cost the billionaire an astronomical £400million, meaning £40million a year in running costs.

Unsurprisingly, the adventure-inspired mod-cons do not come cheap, with London-based broker Edmiston selling an 82m-long Kilkea yacht (stock image), which can sail through uncharted waters for 30 days without stopping, for £55million

The latest models are being kitted out with larger fuel tanks and reinforced hulls capable of ‘breaking’ through ice, allowing those on-board to undertake Arctic expeditions in comfort and style

The craze is thought to have started by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who unveiled his Octopus explorer (pictured), which is kitted out with two helicopters and seven boats

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