One of the most memorable launches of 2021, the 139.7 metre super explorer yacht Solaris travelled to the top of this coveted list of expedition yachts when she hit the water last year. The highly secretive project is built by Lloyd Werft, which also delivered the 115m explorer Luna in 2010, the fourth largest explorer yacht in the world. Spread across an impressive eight decks, Solaris was designed by Australian designer Marc Newson and hit the water for the first time at the German yard in February 2021. While nothing has been made public about the project, images of the superyacht show a large helipad, sun deck and spacious beach club aft.
Top 10 largest explorer yachts in the world
Helipads. Dive centres. Ice-breaking hulls. Submersibles. What makes an explorer yacht? True to their name, explorer yachts are well equipped to take on adventurous journeys to the most far-flung places in the world. Equipped with a long-range and vast storage capacity for food, fuel and water to enable weeks at sea, expedition yachts are increasingly popular with owners wanting to leave behind the popular Mediterranean and Caribbean cruising grounds for more challenging adventures. We round up the top 10 largest explorer yachts in the world, starting with a new entry from German shipyard Lürssen...
Solaris | 139.7m
Octopus | 126.18m
Originally built yacht for the late Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, Octopus is one of the most famous explorer yachts in the world. The yacht has the capacity for two helicopters at the same time, with landing pads on the aft deck and foredeck. The helipad on the aft deck also has a hangar to store the helicopter away in big seas.
Octopus also has an internal dock, which is perfect for storing the toys that every explorer yacht should have. When the dock is filled with water a 20 metre submarine and a tender of similar size are able to float in and out of their chocks. Once they are secure the water is pumped out before the yacht gets underway.
Paul Allen and the crew of Octopus used the yacht as part of an eight year search for a sunken ship. In 2015, they discovered the long-lost wreck of Japanese ship Musashi, which sunk during the Second World War.
Ulysses | 116.15m
After four years in construction, Ulysses first hit the water in summer 2018. The explorer yacht is almost 10 metres longer than her predecessor, the 107 metre Andromeda (formerly Ulysses), which was commissioned by the same owner, New Zealand's richest man Graeme Hart. Kleven finished the yacht's technical build in Norway in December 2016, after which Ulysses was sent to Bremerhaven for interior and external completion under the project management of Dörries Maritime.
Ulysses is equipped with a heli-hangar on the top deck, a Bell 429 helicopter, and a fleet of high-speed and day-cruising tenders including a 21 metre Princess 68 stowed inside the well deck. Inside, her huge 18 metre beam is able to accommodate up to 66 guests.
Luna | 115m
The yacht was later sold to Roman Abramovich's close friend, Farkhad Akhmedov in April 2014. The new owner sent her to the yard in Germany for an extensive 14-month refit costing €50 million and including around 130 jobs. Sporting exterior design by Frank Neubelt, Luna is famous for a low aft deck that sacrificed interior volume in favour of more space for sunbathing. The swimming pool takes centre stage and made headlines for being the largest ever seen on a superyacht at the time of delivery. Elsewhere, the yacht features two tender garages, a gym and an expansive beach club wrapping around a spa, with a steam bath, plunge pool and sauna. Two helipads sit on the upper deck while the entire lower deck is dedicated to the crew. Luna is ice-classed and built to the highest possible standards, allowing her to travel to the far reaches of the world's oceans.
Le Grand Bleu | 112.8m
Le Grand Bleu was built for US telecommunications tycoon John McCaw who subsequently sold the yacht to the Russian businessman Roman Abramovich who had Le Grand Bleu refitted to his own specifications. The main addition was the 4.8 metre swim platform. Le Grand Bleu is now reportedly owned by Ambramovich's friend and business associate Eugene Shvidler.
The yacht has many features that make her ideal for exploration, including a large tender garage with storage for two sports boats as well as a landing craft capable of carrying a 4x4 Land Rover for excursions ashore. Le Grand Bleu even has a 22 metre sailing yacht and a 21 metre Sunseeker motor yacht stored on the aft deck. The yacht is operated by a massive crew of 65 staff.
- Builder: Bremer Vulkan
- Country of build:Germany
- Delivery year:2000
- Length Overall: 112.8 m
- Beam:17.68 m
- Gross Tonnage5496 t
Andromeda | 107.40m
First commissioned by New Zealand businessman Graeme Hart as Ulysses, Andromeda is now reportedly owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. A capable explorer yacht ready for any conditions, Andromeda was built at Kleven Verft, a Norwegian company known for building offshore commercial vessels. Specially designed to have a long-range, Andromeda is capable of carrying 36 guests to the furthest corners of the world’s oceans and is equipped with an extensive inventory of toys and tenders, including six motorbikes, two ATVs, a helicopter, a twin-hulled 50-knot support boat, a Sealegs amphibious RIB and full-on landing craft. Guests each get very generous quarters, spread across three decks, with the choicest digs being the two VIPs on the boat deck, each with its own private superyacht balcony.
- Builder: Kleven
- Country of build:Norway
- Delivery year:2016
- Length Overall: 107.4 m
- Beam:18 m
- Gross Tonnage5937 t
Tranquility | 91.5m
The 91.5m explorer yacht Tranquility was the first yacht built to PYC standard when it was first delivered in 2014 by Dutch yard Oceanco originally called Equanimity. Since then, the yacht has enjoyed a colourful reputation, after being seized by Indonesian authorities at the request of the US Department of Justice in 2018. The yacht hit the headlines again in 2019 as the renamed Tranquility when it played host to Kylie Jenner, who celebrated her 22nd birthday on board. However, one thing has remained constant. Tranquility has remained among the top 10 largest explorer yachts in the world since being it was first delivered in 2014. Spanning five decks, Tranquility is packed with premium superyacht features, including a foredeck helipad, spa and wellness area and 20 metre swimming pool. The tender garage houses two 10.5 metre Hodgson tenders – one sport and one limousine that can carry up to 12 guests and two crew each. Tranquility is well equipped for adventure with a range of water toys including Jet Skis, Wave Runners, SeaBobs and an electric surfboard.
Voyager | 91.4m
The 91.4 metre explorer yacht Voyager is not only one of the largest explorer yachts in the world, but one of the most adventurous. The yacht travelled more than 27,000 nautical miles in 2020, exploring a selection of far-flung locations such as South Africa, Madagascar and Antarctica. The explorer entered this list in 2019, when it completed a three-year conversion from a supply ship into an explorer yacht. The yacht was first built by Swiftships in 1997 as Candy Trader with an initial length of 63 metres. It was later renamed HOS Trader in 2003 and used as an offshore supply ship. Now, the yacht features five decks and a crew of 70. Other features include multiple galleys, pantries and media rooms and a standout deep dive centre – one of the primary purposes of the yacht.
- Builder: Swiftships
- Country of build:United States of America
- Delivery year:1997
- Length Overall: 91.4 m
- Beam:14 m
- Gross Tonnage1194 t
Ice | 90.1m
One of the most iconic yachts in the world, Ice was sold to Suleiman Kerimov following delivery and is more than just imposing and stylish. Ice is also environmentally friendly, extremely quiet and free from vibration thanks to two Azipod units powered by up to eight Deutz generating sets. This provides household power and doesn't sacrifice performance, with the yacht still capable of reaching 18.6 knots.
One of the world's largest explorer yachts, Ice has an arsenal of toys and sailing dinghies as well as a helipad for the Eurocopter EC135 helicopter. A range of 6,000 nautical miles means she can travel anywhere in the world.
- Builder: Lurssen
- Country of build:Germany
- Delivery year:2005
- Length Overall: 90.1 m
- Beam:15 m
- Gross Tonnage3268 t
Olivia O | 88.5m
Like many explorers on this list, the 88m Olivia O was built by a yard better known for its commercial vessels. The yacht was delivered by Ulstein Verft in 2020 and designed by legendary superyacht designer Espen Øino. Characterised by a striking reverse bow and explorer profile, Olivia O is believed to be the first time Ulstein’s trademarked X-Bow has appeared on a yacht. The feature pierces smaller waves and reduces pitching and roll in high seas. With a reported gross tonnage of just under 5000GT, Olivia O has plenty of room down below, including accommodation spread over five decks for a total of 20 guests in eight cabins, including Pullman beds. Olivia O also carries a full-time crew of 30. The interior, which was designed by Droulers, is “orientally themed”, specifically around Japan. Other features include a gym, cinema room, large swimming pool and helipad.