“As a species, we’ve always been discoverers and adventurers, and space and the deep ocean are some of the last frontiers,” said Paul Allen. The late Allen’s 126.2-metre Octopus is one of the most recognisable and well known superyachts in the world, by many opinions setting the standard for true 'explorer' superyachts and the yacht which until last year, was the largest in the current fleet. An explorer superyacht is a robust yacht, built with the intention of covering long distances, uncovering remote corners of the world and often with the additional point of acting as a research vessel.
In the spirit of discovery and exploration, SuperYacht Times has compiled a list of some of the largest explorer yachts currently in operation, as well as a number which are currently under construction.
REV Ocean | VARD Group AS | 182.9m | 2024Photo: Espen Gjelsten / FuglefjelletThe in-build VARD yacht REV Ocean was scheduled for delivery in 2021 though delays to the build of the vessel and issues with her construction have postponed her launch date until at least 2024. Upon completion she will be the largest explorer yacht in the world measuring over 40 metres longer than the current frontrunner. REV Ocean shows off an exterior design by Espen Øino and interiors by H2 Yacht Design. The yacht will have a volume of 17,440 GT, accommodation for up to 55 scientists and 35 crew in research mode, or 36 guests and 54 crew when being used for a luxury expedition.
Read: 183m superyacht project Rev Ocean delayed until at least 2024Solaris | Lloyd Werft | 138.96m | 2021Photo: Tom van OossanenThe Lloyd Werft-built steel and aluminium yacht Solaris was launched in February 2021. Designed by Marc Newson, the 11,247 GT superyacht can accommodate as many as 36 guests between 18 staterooms, alongside 60 crew. Since her launch, the shipyard Lloyd Werft has gone bankrupt, making her the last superyacht to have been built at the German yard. Octopus | Lürssen | 126.2m | 2003Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen owned the 126-metre Lürssen yacht Octopus until his untimely passing at the end of 2018. The 9,932 GT superyacht built in 2003 is powered with diesel-electric propulsion and in 2021 she sold with a last known asking price of €235,000,000, making her one of the most expensive used superyachts in history. Octopus has two helipads as well as two helicopters which have their own garages on deck, as seen in recently released images of the yacht shared by her central sales agents Fraser and Burgess. Norwegian designer Espen Øino designed the exterior for the yacht and Jonathan Quinn Barnett is responsible for the interior design, which includes a spa, library, cinema, gym and a basketball court.Since her sale, the yacht has undergone an extensive interior refit to prepare her for charter, and earlier this year the first shots of her interior were unveiled to much amazement within the industry. Guests can now book a suite aboard the yacht as she undergoes a circumnavigation.
Read: Onboard Octopus: Interior of Paul Allen's legendary 126m superyacht unveiledJ7Explorer | Bahtera Bahari Shipyard | 120m | 2022Photo: Facebook / La Juanda JuandaLaunched earlier this year from a shipyard in Indonesia, J7Explorer is a little know vessel built on the beach and launched by being rolled on inflatable balloons into the water. While she is called J7Explorer, we do not know exactly what her purpose will be and so we add her to this list tentatively. Photo: Andy Shaputra / YouTubeLittle is currently known about the vessel, which features military-style lines and a large, open aft deck befitting of the current trend in explorer superyachts. Reviewing the video of her launch, it looks like she has an opening at her bow, in the design of commercial landing craft.
Watch: Radical 100m+ J7Explorer superyacht launched in IndonesiaUlysses | Kleven | 116m | 2018Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesAlso sporting partial Norwegian design is the 116-metre Ulysses, which was created in collaboration with designers Marin Teknikk AS and the Auckland-based design firm Oscar Mike Limited. Delivered to her owner in the summer of 2018, Ulysses has a vast selection of toys and tenders including a 20.7-metre Princess yacht secured to her foredeck. Luna | Lloyd Werft | 115m | 2010Photo: Guillaume PlissonDelivered to her owner in 2010, the 115-metre Lloyd Werft-built superyacht features in-house naval architecture, exterior lines by Newcruise and an interior design by London-based Donald Starkey. Luna has one of the widest selections of amenities among the fleet today, including two helipads, an array of tenders and a generously-sized beach club. The 5,655 GT superyacht can accommodate up to 50 guests, who are taken care of by up to 18 crew.Photo: Guillaume PlissonThe superyacht made headlines in late 2021 when she left Dubai for the first time in many years, after having been caught within a contentious divorce settlement. Le Grand Bleu | Bremer Vulkan | 112.8m | 2000Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesThe Bremer Vulkan yacht Le Grand Bleu, delivered to her owner in 2000 by the German shipyard, has naval architecture and an exterior design by Kusch Yachts and interiors by Bannenberg & Rowell. Le Grand Bleu’s superstructure is made up of a combination of steel and aluminium and is powered by twin Deutz engines allowing her to reach a top speed of 17 knots. She has benefited from several refits throughout the years, with the most recent taking place in 2016 at Blohm & Voss in Germany.Freire 112m Explorer | Freire | 111.85m | 2022Photo: Javier Alonso CastroFrom Freire Shipyard in Spain comes the 112-metre Project 724 an explorer superyacht that features exterior design by Marin Teknikk alongside British studio Bannenberg & Rowell Design. The yacht's interior has also been designed by Bannenberg & Rowell Design, a studio that is well known for its work on explorer superyachts. The yacht which is believed to have a volume just under 7,000 GT, was first launched in July 2021 and has since been undergoing outfitting.Andromeda | Kleven | 107m | 2016Photo: Léandre Loyseau / SuperYacht TimesThe six-deck Kleven-built yacht Andromeda, previously known as Ulysses, was delivered to her owner in 2016. With her 107-metre length and her volume of 5,937 GT, yacht Andromeda is able to host up to 30 guests. The yacht received a significant refit, which included a new paint job, in 2017.Icecap | Lürssen | 107m | 2023Due to be delivered in 2023 and designed by Norwegian firm Salt Ship Design, Icecap will be among the largest explorer superyachts on the water. The yacht is designed for exploring off the beaten track and is being built to ice class specifications. With her helipad and sunken helicopter hangar, the yacht’s occupants will have easy access to any shore. She was recently seen for the first time after her wrapping was removed earlier this year. She is being constructed at the Peene-Werft shipyard in Wolgast, Germany, which belongs to Lürssen's naval division NVL Group, and has been kept tightly under wraps until now.
Read: First look: Lürssen’s secretive 107m superyacht Icecap in GermanyVoyager | Swiftships | 91.4m | 1997Photo: Voyager Maritime Alliance GroupVoyager, which has also sailed under the names Candy Trader, HOS Trader and Danah Voyager, took to the seas in 1997 as an offshore supply vessel built by Swiftships and was converted to an explorer superyacht at the Louisiana-based Leevac shipyard. This conversion included a 12-metre extension of the hull and the addition of a raised helicopter platform.Olivia O | Ulstein Verft | 88.51m | 2020 Photo: Rob Pritchard - Words & Actions Ltd The 88.5-metre X-bow yacht Olivia O was officially handed over to her owner in May 2020 and headed straight out for a summer season in the Med. Over four years in the making at the Norwegian yard Ulstein, she has a hefty beam of 16.3 metres and a high freeboard created by the ship’s unique X-Bow hull shape, developed to withstand all weather conditions. With in-house naval architecture by Ulstein Verft, the shipyard collaborated with Espen Øino on the exterior design to form a layout that includes a helicopter pad, a 10-metre pool and a full-beam tender garage.
Watch: Video: The X-Bow explorer yacht Olivia OArctic P | Schichau Unterweser | 87.6m | 1969Photo: Tim McKennaBuilt in 1969 by Schichau Unterweser as a deep sea salvage tug, she roamed the high seas as one of the mightiest deep sea ice-breaking tug vessels for over two decades. In 1993, she was sold to Magenta Investment, renamed Arctic Research and converted into a superyacht at Malta Shipyards. Arctic P features exterior design by Kusch Yachts while her builder Schichau Unterweser completed her naval architecture. Photo: Tim McKennaDuring her conversion, Oliver Design took the reins on the interior of this fully-steel superyacht. Her most recent refit took place between 2019 to 2020. The 2,610 GT explorer yacht can accommodate as many as 12 guests across seven staterooms, including an impressive 90 square-metre master suite.
Read: Unveiled for the first time: Onboard the 88m conversion superyacht Arctic POceanXplorer 1 | Freire Shipyard | 87.1m | 2010Photo: Taj HoweThe 87.1-metre OceanXplorer 1 was built in 2010 and is the world’s most advanced research vessel. With more than 80% of the world’s oceans unmapped, “The ship OceanXplorer 1 will take ocean explorers to never-before-seen undersea worlds and allow them to beam back what they encounter via social media, digital experiences, and a TV show,” said Ray Dalio, co-Founder of OceanX and President of Dalio Philanthropies. This will be made possible through the vessel’s two custom Triton manned submarines with the capability to dive over 1,000 metres. She also features an ROV and Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) that can be operated at 6,000 metres below sea level.
Read: OceanXplorer: Inside the world’s most advanced research vesselBold | SilverYachts | 85.3m | 2019Photo: Charl van Rooy / SuperYacht TimesBuilt by Silver Yachts and delivered in 2019, the yacht's distinct exterior is by renowned designer Espen Øino who created a unique glass-enclosed loft on the upper deck that covers over 300 square-metres of interior space. The modern interior, designed as a New York-style loft by Vain Interiors, is built to accommodate up-to 16 overnight guests in eight luxurious staterooms on the main deck and can carry up to 96 passengers while cruising thanks to Bold’s PYC build specifications. Featuring some of the most eye-catching naval architecture in the fleet, Bold is complete with two helicopter landing pads, two 9.5-metre Rupert Marine tenders and an autonomous range of 5,500 nautical miles.