Explorer yachts have been steadily gaining popularity over the last five years, allowing adventure-hungry vacationers to travel further than ever before. Built with longer cruising distances and unique features, such as heated indoor gardens for those times when the weather prevents sitting outside for prolonged periods of time, these boats are far removed from your standard Med cruiser. And as this type of vessel has become more commonplace, four destinations have become hotly requested for expedition yacht charters: Antarctica, The North Pole, Papua New Guinea and Patagonia. Let’s find out what makes them so popular.
Arrive into King George Island, the typical point of entry for expedition yacht charters here. With an abundance of cold-weather wildlife including penguins, sea lions, whales and sea elephants, you’ll be enchanted from the off. Visit the Holy Trinity Church, a small Russian Orthodox church manned year-round by a couple of priests, where Antarctica’s first church wedding was officiated in 2007.
Head to the volcanic Deception Island, where black sand beaches and ice-blue natural hot springs make this one of the world’s most breathtaking yacht charter destinations. Brave the cold and take a dip – you won’t regret it.
This region also offers some of the world’s best off-piste skiing, perfect for a ski and sail vacation. Fresh powder awaits on the ground, while for true adrenaline-junkies, ice climbing excursions will see you traversing icy rock to reach new and unimaginable heights.
Top it all off with a drink at the bar in Vernadsky Research Base in Galindez Island. Built by the British to resemble a local pub, the base is now under Russian patronage and serves impeccable vodka distilled on site. The perfect end to an unexpected but mind blowing superyacht charter.
This remote yacht charter destination offers almost limitless opportunities for exploration. Climb icebergs and glaciers, kayak on fjords, see unique wildlife, ski through virgin snow, or dogsled through peaceful snowy surroundings. Tour the Svalbard archipelago, home to a few thousand polar bears and a few thousand people, embracing the stark and eerie beauty of this rugged landscape.
Of course, this area is most famous for the Northern Lights, which you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of if you book your expedition yacht charter between October and March. You will be awestruck by the celestial green, blue, pink, and violet natural light dancing across the sky.
In Greenland snowsports fans will delight, ice skating one day and renting a snowmobile the next. Stop over in Kangaamiut, a charming, friendly village with colourful houses perched in the hills, on your way to Sisimiut, the second-largest settlement and a feast for the eyes in the otherwise sparse landmass.
Your expedition yacht charter will cross the Arctic Circle on this journey, so it’s tradition to plunge into the icy waters in a ‘polar baptism’; only the very brave need apply. Try the area’s only Chinese restaurant for a unique cross-cultural experience.
Known for its cultural and biological diversity, Papua New Guinea is one of the world’s most intriguing yacht charter destinations. Head to Port Moresby, its capital and gastronomic hub, to enjoy fine dining at the exclusive Royal Papua Yacht Club or exquisite teppanyaki at the Daikoku Japanese Steak House.
Then, enter paradise revisited as you cruise to Kimbe Bay, a marine reserve home to more than 860 species of fish. Experienced divers will also be able to explore the remains of WWII Japanese fighter plane the Mitsubishi Zero.
If you prefer taking in sights on foot, New Hanover Island is the place for you: a wild and remote island where you can hike the volcano, trek in the luscious rainforest, and splash about in the waterfalls. Go in monsoon season to catch some serious waves, but be warned – these conditions are not for beginners.
For those wishing to cruise for longer on your expedition yacht charter, don’t miss the Federated States of Micronesia, where you can walk among ruins on the Nan Madol archaeological site on Pohnpei Island or soak up Insta-worthy scenery on Chuuk Island.
Referred to as ‘the end of the world’, here you’ll find a mixture of fjords, glaciers, desertic landscapes and coastal cliffs that will take your breath away. Torres del Paine National Park is arguably the Eighth Wonder of the World, offering a beautiful and diverse combination of turquoise lakes, icebergs, and forest. Look out for native llamas, or Guanaco.
For sealife lovers, cruise off the coast of Puerto Piramides from July through to September, to see if you can spot whales, orcas, seals and dolphins bobbing playfully above the water.
Cruise into the magical Seo Pia bay, with Pia Glacier towering above majestically at its head, glittering white and deep blue. Kayak around this area and enjoy the silence of your surroundings or head ashore for a short hike promising panoramic views of this stunning landscape.
You can’t go to Patagonia without a trip to the world’s southernmost city Puerto Williams, founded in the 1950s as a Chilean naval base. Visit the fascinating Martin Gusinde museum, offering insight into the anthropology of the local Yahgan people, as well as European settlers since the 19th century. Stroll around the city and drink in the quaint buildings, imagining how much this landscape has changed in the last hundred years. An expedition yacht charter here takes you to places you never would have dreamt of.