Top tips for explorer yacht design from the expedition experts

25 June 2021

After having helped to design and build some of the industry’s most recognisable explorer yachts, those at EYOS Expeditions are a sought-after bunch. The team’s passion for going above and beyond was certified further by the company CEO Ben Lyons, who, speaking to BOAT International from snowy Montana, offered a few free tokens of advice for those interested in knowing how to go about starting a superb explorer yacht project.

Share and benefit from experiences

One of the best things about EYOS is that each individual in the team comes with a history of leading and operating vessels around the world, with members of the team having different backgrounds and skillsets. For instance, Ben began his career as an officer on some of the largest vessels at sea, before becoming Captain and Ice Officer on small expedition ships operating under the National Geographic brand in the polar regions. “Navigating in the Arctic or Antarctic gives you a specialised skillset, for sure, along with a true passion and appreciation for these pristine environments,” he says. 

“After decades managing expeditions, our entire team has seen a wide variety of vessel designs and features. As such, we’ve experienced first-hand what works and what doesn’t work, and we take that practical experience and incorporate it into a yacht’s GA to ensure it is functional and fit for purpose, from both a technical and guest experience perspective. We want to save owners from costly mistakes and refits that may occur because they are not familiar with the unique requirements of expedition yachting.”

Set an intention

“An expedition yacht has so much potential,” explains Ben. “The first thing we will ask our clients is, ‘How do you intend to use the yacht?’ This ultimately dictates what the priorities are for the final design. Are they looking to spend several months each year in the ice, or just one trip over the yacht’s lifetime? How do the clients like to spend their time on board? What experiences do they want to have? All of this factors into the final yacht specifications – and often, owners want to have a better understanding of the experiences and challenges of each destination, so they know where to make compromises or where to keep certain elements.”

Learn about and push the possibilities of design

Perhaps the greatest example of EYOS’ collaboration is their strategic partnership with Damen Yachting. When Damen set out to design the ultimate expedition yacht – what would become the SeaXplorer range – they reached out to EYOS as design partners. Together, they incorporated over 150 criteria specified by EYOS into the final SeaXplorer design, with details ranging from Zodiac boarding arrangements that help guests get on and off the yacht in a wide range of weather conditions, to visibility from the bridge down the ship’s side, to having an open bow for guests to watch whales or bears from. “So much of what we can do is also help create spaces on a yacht for experiences that we know an owner will have on expeditions. It is important that the yacht not only be technically proficient, but also deliver amazing memories for the owner,” Ben adds.

See the beauty in exploring

According to BOAT Pro data, 32 explorer yachts 40 metres and above are currently in build, on order or launched and scheduled to be delivered this year, while 2022 is so far set to see 28 deliveries. By seeing how many yacht owners and clients are invested in this sector, statistics such as EYOS’ reported 300% rise in activity and interest in bookings to Antarctica are unsurprising. “In general, a growing number of owners and charterers want experiential travel – they want to use the yachts as platforms to explore and see new things,” comments Ben. 

“We see time and time again the impact that visiting a destination like Antarctica has on people. It truly changes them, and a new generation of owners wants to have those life-altering moments with their family. Hopefully, our experience and input make that dream both more achievable and more memorable.”

Interested in explorer yachts? Check out the upcoming 2021 Explorer Yachts Summit to be held in Monaco on 11 November here