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43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

Yachting World

  • January 5, 2022

How do you choose the right yacht for you? We highlight the very best bluewater sailboat designs for every type of cruising

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Which yacht is the best for bluewater boating? This question generates even more debate among sailors than questions about what’s the coolest yacht , or the best for racing. Whereas racing designs are measured against each other, cruising sailors get very limited opportunities to experience different yachts in real oceangoing conditions, so what is the best bluewater sailboat?

Here, we bring you our top choices from decades of designs and launches. Over the years, the Yachting World team has sailed these boats, tested them or judged them for European Yacht of the Year awards, and we have sifted through the many to curate a selection that we believe should be on your wishlist.

Making the right choice may come down to how you foresee your yacht being used after it has crossed an ocean or completed a passage: will you be living at anchor or cruising along the coast? If so, your guiding requirements will be space, cabin size, ease of launching a tender and anchoring closer to shore, and whether it can comfortably accommodate non-expert-sailor guests.

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expedition sailing yachts

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All of these considerations have generated the inexorable rise of the bluewater catamaran – monohulls can’t easily compete on these points. We have a full separate feature on the best bluewater multihulls of all time and here we mostly focus on monohulls. The only exceptions to that rule are two multihulls which made it into our best bluewater sailboats of 2022 list.

As so much of making the right choice is selecting the right boat for the venture in mind, we have separated out our edit into categories: best for comfort; for families; for performance; and for expedition or high latitudes sailing .

Best bluewater sailboats of 2022

The new flagship Allures 51.9, for example, is a no-nonsense adventure cruising design built and finished to a high standard. It retains Allures’ niche of using aluminium hulls with glassfibre decks and superstructures, which, the yard maintains, gives the optimum combination of least maintenance and less weight higher up. Priorities for this design were a full beam aft cabin and a spacious, long cockpit. Both are excellent, with the latter, at 6m long, offering formidable social, sailing and aft deck zones.

It likes some breeze to come to life on the wheel, but I appreciate that it’s designed to take up to five tonnes payload. And I like the ease with which you can change gears using the furling headsails and the positioning of the powerful Andersen winches inboard. The arch is standard and comes with a textile sprayhood or hard bimini.

Below decks you’ll find abundant headroom and natural light, a deep U-shape galley and cavernous stowage. For those who like the layout of the Amel 50 but would prefer aluminium or shoal draught, look no further.

Allures 51.9 price: €766,000

The Ovni 370 is another cunning new aluminum centreboard offering, a true deck saloon cruiser for two. The designers say the biggest challenge was to create a Category A ocean going yacht at this size with a lifting keel, hence the hull had to be very stable.

Enjoyable to helm, it has a practical, deep cockpit behind a large sprayhood, which can link to the bimini on the arch. Many of its most appealing features lie in the bright, light, contemporary, clever, voluminous interior, which has good stowage and tankage allocation. There’s also a practical navstation, a large workroom and a vast separate shower. I particularly like the convertible saloom, which can double as a large secure daybed or pilot berth.

Potentially the least expensive Category A lift keel boat available, the Ovni will get you dreaming of remote places again.

Ovni 370 price: €282,080

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There’s no shortage of spirit in the Windelo 50. We gave this a sustainability award after it’s founders spent two years researching environmentally-friendly composite materials, developing an eco-composite of basalt fibre and recycled PET foam so it could build boats that halve the environmental impact of standard glassfibre yachts.

The Windelo 50 is an intriguing package – from the styling, modular interior and novel layout to the solar field on the roof and the standard electric propulsion, it is completely fresh.

Windelo 50 price: €795,000

Best bluewater sailboat of 2022 – Outremer 55

I would argue that this is the most successful new production yacht on the market. Well over 50 have already sold (an equipped model typically costs €1.6m) – and I can understand why. After all, were money no object, I had this design earmarked as the new yacht I would most likely choose for a world trip.

Indeed 55 number one Sanya, was fully equipped for a family’s world cruise, and left during our stay for the Grand Large Odyssey tour. Whereas we sailed Magic Kili, which was tricked up with performance options, including foam-cored deckheads and supports, carbon crossbeam and bulkheads, and synthetic rigging.

At rest, these are enticing space ships. Taking one out to sea is another matter though. These are speed machines with the size, scale and loads to be rightly weary of. Last month Nikki Henderson wrote a feature for us about how to manage a new breed of performance cruising cats just like this and how she coaches new owners. I could not think of wiser money spent for those who do not have ample multihull sailing experience.

Under sail, the most fun was obviously reserved for the reaching leg under asymmetric, where we clocked between 11-16 knots in 15-16 knots wind. But it was the stability and of those sustained low teen speeds which really hit home  – passagemaking where you really cover miles.

Key features include the swing helms, which give you views from outboard, over the coachroof or from a protected position in the cockpit through the coachroof windows, and the vast island in the galley, which is key to an open plan main living area. It helps provide cavernous stowage and acts as the heart of the entertaining space as it would in a modern home. As Danish judge Morten Brandt-Rasmussen comments: “Apart from being the TGV of ocean passages the boat offers the most spacious, open and best integration of the cockpit and salon areas in the market.”

Outremer has done a top job in packing in the creature comforts, stowage space and payload capacity, while keeping it light enough to eat miles. Although a lot to absorb and handle, the 55 offers a formidable blend of speed and luxury cruising.

Outremer 55 price: €1.35m

Best bluewater sailboats for comfort

This is the successor to the legendary Super Maramu, a ketch design that for several decades defined easy downwind handling and fostered a cult following for the French yard. Nearly a decade old, the Amel 55 is the bridge between those world-girdling stalwarts and Amel’s more recent and totally re-imagined sloop designs, the Amel 50 and 60.

The 55 boasts all the serious features Amel aficionados loved and valued: a skeg-hung rudder, solidly built hull, watertight bulkheads, solid guardrails and rampart bulwarks. And, most noticeable, the solid doghouse in which the helmsman sits in perfect shelter at the wheel.

This is a design to live on comfortably for long periods and the list of standard features just goes on and on: passarelle; proper sea berths with lee cloths; electric furling main and genoa; and a multitude of practical items that go right down to a dishwasher and crockery.

There’s no getting around the fact these designs do look rather dated now, and through the development of easier sail handling systems the ketch rig has fallen out of fashion, but the Amel is nothing short of a phenomenon, and if you’ve never even peeked on board one, you really have missed a treat.

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Photo: Sander van der Borch

Contest 50CS

A centre cockpit cruiser with true longevity, the Contest 50CS was launched by Conyplex back in 2003 and is still being built by the family-owned Dutch company, now in updated and restyled form.

With a fully balanced rudder, large wheel and modern underwater sections, the Contest 50CS is a surprisingly good performer for a boat that has a dry weight of 17.5 tonnes. Many were fitted with in-mast furling, which clearly curtails that performance, but even without, this boat is set up for a small crew.

Electric winches and mainsheet traveller are all easy to reach from the helm. On our test of the Contest 50CS, we saw for ourselves how two people can gybe downwind under spinnaker without undue drama. Upwind, a 105% genoa is so easy to tack it flatters even the weediest crewmember.

Down below, the finish level of the joinery work is up there among the best and the interior is full of clever touches, again updated and modernised since the early models. Never the cheapest bluewater sailing yacht around, the Contest 50CS has remained in demand as a brokerage buy. She is a reassuringly sure-footed, easily handled, very well built yacht that for all those reasons has stood the test of time.

This is a yacht that would be well capable of helping you extend your cruising grounds, almost without realising it.

Read more about the Contest 50CS and the new Contest 49CS

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Photo: Rick Tomlinson

Hallberg-Rassy 48 Mk II

For many, the Swedish Hallberg-Rassy yard makes the quintessential bluewater cruiser for couples. With their distinctive blue cove line, these designs are famous for their seakindly behaviour, solid-as-a-rock build and beautifully finished, traditional interiors.

To some eyes, Hallberg-Rassys aren’t quite cool enough, but it’s been company owner Magnus Rassy’s confidence in the formula and belief in incremental ‘step-by-step’ evolution that has been such an exceptional guarantor of reliable quality, reputation and resale value.

The centre cockpit Hallberg-Rassy 48 epitomises the concept of comfort at sea and, like all the Frers-designed Hallberg-Rassys since the 1990s, is surprisingly fleet upwind as well as steady downwind. The 48 is perfectly able to be handled by a couple (as we found a few years back in the Pacific), and could with no great effort crack out 200-mile days.

The Hallberg-Rassy 48 was launched nearly a decade ago, but the Mk II from 2014 is our pick, updated with a more modern profile, larger windows and hull portlights that flood the saloon and aft cabin with light. With a large chart table, secure linear galley, heaps of stowage and space for bluewater extras such as machinery and gear, this yacht pretty much ticks all the boxes.

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Discovery 55

First launched in 2000, the Discovery 55 has stood the test of time. Designed by Ron Holland, it hit a sweet spot in size that appealed to couples and families with world girdling plans.

Elegantly styled and well balanced, the 55 is also a practical design, with a deep and secure cockpit, comfortable seating, a self-tacking jib, dedicated stowage for the liferaft , a decent sugar scoop transom that’s useful for swimming or dinghy access, and very comfortable accommodation below. In short, it is a design that has been well thought out by those who’ve been there, got the bruises, stubbed their toes and vowed to change things in the future if they ever got the chance.

Throughout the accommodation there are plenty of examples of good detailing, from the proliferation of handholds and grabrails, to deep sinks in the galley offering immediate stowage when under way and the stand up/sit down showers. Stowage is good, too, with plenty of sensibly sized lockers in easily accessible positions.

The Discovery 55 has practical ideas and nifty details aplenty. She’s not, and never was, a breakthrough in modern luxury cruising but she is pretty, comfortable to sail and live on, and well mannered.

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Photo: Latitudes Picture Library

You can’t get much more Cornish than a Rustler. The hulls of this Stephen Jones design are hand-moulded and fitted out in Falmouth – and few are more ruggedly built than this traditional, up-for-anything offshore cruiser.

She boasts an encapsulated lead keel, eliminating keel bolts and creating a sump for generous fuel and water tankage, while a chunky skeg protects the rudder. She is designed for good directional stability and load carrying ability. These are all features that lend this yacht confidence as it shoulders aside the rough stuff.

Most of those built have had a cutter rig, a flexible arrangement that makes sense for long passages in all sea and weather conditions. Down below, the galley and saloon berths are comfortable and sensible for living in port and at sea, with joinery that Rustler’s builders are rightly proud of.

As modern yachts have got wider, higher and fatter, the Rustler 42 is an exception. This is an exceptionally well-mannered seagoing yacht in the traditional vein, with elegant lines and pleasing overhangs, yet also surprisingly powerful. And although now over 20 years old, timeless looks and qualities mean this design makes her look ever more like a perennial, a modern classic.

The definitive crossover size, the point at which a yacht can be handled by a couple but is just large enough to have a professional skipper and be chartered, sits at around the 60ft mark. At 58ft 8in, the Oyster 575 fitted perfectly into this growing market when launched in 2010. It went on to be one of the most popular models from the yard, and is only now being superseded by the newer Rob Humphreys-designed Oyster 565 (just launched this spring).

Built in various configurations with either a deep keel, shoal draught keel or centreboard with twin rudders, owners could trade off better performance against easy access to shallower coves and anchorages. The deep-bodied hull, also by Rob Humphreys, is known for its easy motion at sea.

Some of the Oyster 575’s best features include its hallmark coachroof windows style and centre cockpit – almost everyone will know at first glance this is an Oyster – and superb interior finish. If she has a flaw, it is arguably the high cockpit, but the flip side is the galley headroom and passageway berth to the large aft stateroom.

This design also has a host of practical features for long-distance cruising, such as high guardrails, dedicated liferaft stowage, a vast lazarette for swallowing sails, tender, fenders etc, and a penthouse engine room.

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Privilege Serie 5

A true luxury catamaran which, fully fitted out, will top €1m, this deserves to be seen alongside the likes of the Oyster 575, Gunfleet 58 and Hallberg-Rassy 55. It boasts a large cockpit and living area, and a light and spacious saloon with an emphasis on indoor-outdoor living, masses of refrigeration and a big galley.

Standout features are finish quality and solid build in a yacht designed to take a high payload, a secure walkaround deck and all-round views from the helm station. The new Privilege 510 that will replace this launches in February 2020.

Gunfleet 43

It was with this Tony Castro design that Richard Matthews, founder of Oyster Yachts, launched a brand new rival brand in 2012, the smallest of a range stretching to the flagship Gunfleet 74. The combination of short overhangs and centre cockpit at this size do make the Gunfleet 43 look modern if a little boxy, but time and subsequent design trends have been kind to her lines, and the build quality is excellent. The saloon, galley and aft cabin space is exceptional on a yacht of this size.

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Photo: David Harding

Conceived as a belt-and-braces cruiser, the Kraken 50 launched last year. Its unique points lie underwater in the guise of a full skeg-hung rudder and so-called ‘Zero Keel’, an encapsulated long keel with lead ballast.

Kraken Yachts is the brainchild of British businessman and highly experienced cruiser Dick Beaumont, who is adamant that safety should be foremost in cruising yacht design and build. “There is no such thing as ‘one yacht for all purposes’… You cannot have the best of all worlds, whatever the salesman tells you,” he says.

Read our full review of the Kraken 50 .

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Wauquiez Centurion 57

Few yachts can claim to be both an exciting Med-style design and a serious and practical northern European offshore cruiser, but the Wauquiez Centurion 57 tries to blend both. She slightly misses if you judge solely by either criterion, but is pretty and practical enough to suit her purpose.

A very pleasant, well-considered yacht, she is impressively built and finished with a warm and comfortable interior. More versatile than radical, she could be used for sailing across the Atlantic in comfort and raced with equal enjoyment at Antigua Sailing Week .

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A modern classic if ever there was one. A medium to heavy displacement yacht, stiff and easily capable of standing up to her canvas. Pretty, traditional lines and layout below.

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Photo: Voyage of Swell

Well-proven US legacy design dating back to the mid-1960s that once conquered the Transpac Race . Still admired as pretty, with slight spoon bow and overhanging transom.

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Capable medium displacement cruiser, ideal size and good accommodation for couples or family cruising, and much less costly than similar luxury brands.

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Photo: Peter Szamer

Swedish-built aft cockpit cruiser, smaller than many here, but a well-built and finished, super-durable pocket ocean cruiser.

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Tartan 3700

Designed as a performance cruiser there are nimbler alternatives now, but this is still an extremely pretty yacht.

Broker ’ s choice

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Discovery 55 Brizo

This yacht has already circumnavigated the globe and is ‘prepared for her next adventure,’ says broker Berthon. Price: £535,000 + VAT

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Oyster 575 Ayesha

‘Stunning, and perfectly equipped for bluewater cruising,’ says broker Ancasta International. Price: £845,000 (tax not paid)

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Oyster 575 Pearls of Nautilus

Nearly new and with a high spec, this Oyster Brokerage yacht features American white oak joinery and white leather upholstery and has a shoal draught keel. Price: $1.49m

Best bluewater yachts for performance

The Frers-designed Swan 54 may not be the newest hull shape but heralded Swan’s latest generation of displacement bluewater cruisers when launched four years ago. With raked stem, deep V hull form, lower freeboard and slight curve to the topsides she has a more timeless aesthetic than many modern slab-sided high volume yachts, and with that a seakindly motion in waves. If you plan to cover many miles to weather, this is probably the yacht you want to be on.

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Photo: Carlo Borlenghi

Besides Swan’s superlative build quality, the 54 brings many true bluewater features, including a dedicated sail locker. There’s also a cockpit locker that functions as a utility cabin, with potential to hold your generator and washing machine, or be a workshop space.

The sloping transom opens out to reveal a 2.5m bathing platform, and although the cabins are not huge there is copious stowage space. Down below the top-notch oak joinery is well thought through with deep fiddles, and there is a substantial nav station. But the Swan 54 wins for handling above all, with well laid-out sail controls that can be easily managed between a couple, while offering real sailing enjoyment to the helmsman.

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Photo: Graham Snook

The Performance Cruiser winner at the 2019 European Yacht of the Year awards, the Arcona 435 is all about the sailing experience. She has genuine potential as a cruiser-racer, but her strengths are as an enjoyable cruiser rather than a full-blown liveaboard bluewater boat.

Build quality is excellent, there is the option of a carbon hull and deck, and elegant lines and a plumb bow give the Arcona 435 good looks as well as excellent performance in light airs. Besides slick sail handling systems, there are well thought-out features for cruising, such as ample built-in rope bins and an optional semi-closed stern with stowage and swim platform.

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Outremer 51

If you want the space and stability of a cat but still prioritise sailing performance, Outremer has built a reputation on building catamarans with true bluewater characteristics that have cruised the planet for the past 30 years.

Lighter and slimmer-hulled than most cruising cats, the Outremer 51 is all about sailing at faster speeds, more easily. The lower volume hulls and higher bridgedeck make for a better motion in waves, while owners report that being able to maintain a decent pace even under reduced canvas makes for stress-free passages. Deep daggerboards also give good upwind performance.

With bucket seats and tiller steering options, the Outremer 51 rewards sailors who want to spend time steering, while they’re famously well set up for handling with one person on deck. The compromise comes with the interior space – even with a relatively minimalist style, there is less cabin space and stowage volume than on the bulkier cats, but the Outremer 51 still packs in plenty of practical features.

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The Xc45 was the first cruising yacht X-Yachts ever built, and designed to give the same X-Yachts sailing experience for sailors who’d spent years racing 30/40-footer X- and IMX designs, but in a cruising package.

Launched over 10 years ago, the Xc45 has been revisited a few times to increase the stowage and modernise some of the styling, but the key features remain the same, including substantial tanks set low for a low centre of gravity, and X-Yachts’ trademark steel keel grid structure. She has fairly traditional styling and layout, matched with solid build quality.

A soft bilge and V-shaped hull gives a kindly motion in waves, and the cockpit is secure, if narrow by modern standards.

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A three or four cabin catamaran that’s fleet of foot with high bridgedeck clearance for comfortable motion at sea. With tall daggerboards and carbon construction in some high load areas, Catana cats are light and quick to accelerate.

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Sweden Yachts 45

An established bluewater design that also features in plenty of offshore races. Some examples are specced with carbon rig and retractable bowsprits. All have a self-tacking jib for ease. Expect sweeping areas of teak above decks and a traditionally wooded interior with hanging wet locker.

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A vintage performer, first launched in 1981, the 51 was the first Frers-designed Swan and marked a new era of iconic cruiser-racers. Some 36 of the Swan 51 were built, many still actively racing and cruising nearly 40 years on. Classic lines and a split cockpit make this a boat for helming, not sunbathing.

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Photo: Julien Girardot / EYOTY

The JPK 45 comes from a French racing stable, combining race-winning design heritage with cruising amenities. What you see is what you get – there are no superfluous headliners or floorboards, but there are plenty of ocean sailing details, like inboard winches for safe trimming. The JPK 45 also has a brilliantly designed cockpit with an optional doghouse creating all-weather shelter, twin wheels and superb clutch and rope bin arrangement.

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Photo: Andreas Lindlahr

For sailors who don’t mind exchanging a few creature comforts for downwind planing performance, the Pogo 50 offers double-digit surfing speeds for exhilarating tradewind sailing. There’s an open transom, tiller steering and no backstay or runners. The Pogo 50 also has a swing keel, to nose into shallow anchorages.

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Seawind 1600

Seawinds are relatively unknown in Europe, but these bluewater cats are very popular in Australia. As would be expected from a Reichel-Pugh design, this 52-footer combines striking good looks and high performance, with fine entry bows and comparatively low freeboard. Rudders are foam cored lifting designs in cassettes, which offer straightforward access in case of repairs, while daggerboards are housed under the deck.

Best bluewater sailboats for families

It’s unsurprising that, for many families, it’s a catamaran that meets their requirements best of increased space – both living space and separate cabins for privacy-seeking teenagers, additional crew or visiting family – as well as stable and predictable handling.

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Photo: Nicholas Claris

Undoubtedly one of the biggest success stories has been the Lagoon 450, which, together with boats like the Fountaine Pajot 44, helped drive up the popularity of catamaran cruising by making it affordable and accessible. They have sold in huge numbers – over 1,000 Lagoon 450s have been built since its launch in 2010.

The VPLP-designed 450 was originally launched with a flybridge with a near central helming position and upper level lounging areas (450F). The later ‘sport top’ option (450S) offered a starboard helm station and lower boom (and hence lower centre of gravity for reduced pitching). The 450S also gained a hull chine to create additional volume above the waterline. The Lagoon features forward lounging and aft cockpit areas for additional outdoor living space.

Besides being a big hit among charter operators, Lagoons have proven themselves over thousands of bluewater miles – there were seven Lagoon 450s in last year’s ARC alone. In what remains a competitive sector of the market, Lagoon has recently launched a new 46, with a larger self-tacking jib and mast moved aft, and more lounging areas.

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Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Fountaine Pajot Helia 44

The FP Helia 44 is lighter, lower volume, and has a lower freeboard than the Lagoon, weighing in at 10.8 tonnes unloaded (compared to 15 for the 450). The helm station is on a mezzanine level two steps up from the bridgedeck, with a bench seat behind. A later ‘Evolution’ version was designed for liveaboard cruisers, featuring beefed up dinghy davits and an improved saloon space.

Available in three or four cabin layouts, the Helia 44 was also popular with charter owners as well as families. The new 45 promises additional volume, and an optional hydraulically lowered ‘beach club’ swim platform.

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Photo: Arnaud De Buyzer / graphikup.com

The French RM 1370 might be less well known than the big brand names, but offers something a little bit different for anyone who wants a relatively voluminous cruising yacht. Designed by Marc Lombard, and beautifully built from plywood/epoxy, the RM is stiff and responsive, and sails superbly.

The RM yachts have a more individual look – in part down to the painted finish, which encourages many owners to personalise their yachts, but also thanks to their distinctive lines with reverse sheer and dreadnought bow. The cockpit is well laid out with the primary winches inboard for a secure trimming position. The interior is light, airy and modern, although the open transom won’t appeal to everyone.

For those wanting a monohull, the Hanse 575 hits a similar sweet spot to the popular multis, maximising accommodation for a realistic price, yet with responsive performance.

The Hanse offers a vast amount of living space thanks to the ‘loft design’ concept of having all the living areas on a single level, which gives a real feeling of spaciousness with no raised saloon or steps to accommodation. The trade-off for such lofty head height is a substantial freeboard – it towers above the pontoon, while, below, a stepladder is provided to reach some hatches.

Galley options include drawer fridge-freezers, microwave and coffee machine, and the full size nav station can double up as an office or study space.

But while the Hanse 575 is a seriously large boat, its popularity is also down to the fact that it is genuinely able to be handled by a couple. It was innovative in its deck layout: with a self-tacking jib and mainsheet winches immediately to hand next to the helm, one person could both steer and trim.

Direct steering gives a feeling of control and some tangible sailing fun, while the waterline length makes for rapid passage times. In 2016 the German yard launched the newer Hanse 588 model, having already sold 175 of the 575s in just four years.

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Photo: Bertel Kolthof

Jeanneau 54

Jeanneau leads the way among production builders for versatile all-rounder yachts that balance sail performance and handling, ergonomics, liveaboard functionality and good looks. The Jeanneau 54 , part of the range designed by Philippe Briand with interior by Andrew Winch, melds the best of the larger and smaller models and is available in a vast array of layout options from two cabins/two heads right up to five cabins and three heads.

We’ve tested the Jeanneau 54 in a gale and very light winds, and it acquitted itself handsomely in both extremes. The primary and mainsheet winches are to hand next to the wheel, and the cockpit is spacious, protected and child-friendly. An electric folding swim and sun deck makes for quick fun in the water.

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Nautitech Open 46

This was the first Nautitech catamaran to be built under the ownership of Bavaria, designed with an open-plan bridgedeck and cockpit for free-flowing living space. But with good pace for eating up bluewater miles, and aft twin helms rather than a flybridge, the Nautitech Open 46 also appeals to monohull sailors who prefer a more direct sailing experience.

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Made by Robertson and Caine, who produce catamarans under a dual identity as both Leopard and the Sunsail/Moorings charter cats, the Leopard 45 is set to be another big seller. Reflecting its charter DNA, the Leopard 45 is voluminous, with stepped hulls for reduced waterline, and a separate forward cockpit.

Built in South Africa, they are robustly tested off the Cape and constructed ruggedly enough to handle heavy weather sailing as well as the demands of chartering.

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Photo: Olivier Blanchet

If space is king then three hulls might be even better than two. The Neel 51 is rare as a cruising trimaran with enough space for proper liveaboard sailing. The galley and saloon are in the large central hull, together with an owner’s cabin on one level for a unique sensation of living above the water. Guest or family cabins lie in the outer hulls for privacy and there is a cavernous full height engine room under the cabin sole.

Performance is notably higher than an equivalent cruising cat, particularly in light winds, with a single rudder giving a truly direct feel in the helm, although manoeuvring a 50ft trimaran may daunt many sailors.

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Beneteau Oceanis 46.1

A brilliant new model from Beneteau, this Finot Conq design has a modern stepped hull, which offers exhilarating and confidence-inspiring handling in big breezes, and slippery performance in lighter winds.

The Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 was the standout performer at this year’s European Yacht of the Year awards, and, in replacing the popular Oceanis 45, looks set to be another bestseller. Interior space is well used with a double island berth in the forepeak. An additional inboard unit creates a secure galley area, but tank capacity is moderate for long periods aboard.

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Beneteau-Oceanis-473-credit-David-Harding

Beneteau Oceanis 473

A popular model that offers beam and height in a functional layout, although, as with many boats of this age (she was launched in 2002), the mainsheet is not within reach of the helmsman.

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Jeanneau-Sun-Odyssey-49

Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 49

The Philippe Briand-designed Sun Odyssey range has a solid reputation as family production cruisers. Like the 473, the Sun Odyssey 49 was popular for charter so there are plenty of four-cabin models on the market.

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-nautitech-441

Nautitech 441

The hull design dates back to 1995, but was relaunched in 2012. Though the saloon interior has dated, the 441 has solid practical features, such as a rainwater run-off collection gutter around the coachroof.

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Atlantic-42

Atlantic 42

Chris White-designed cats feature a pilothouse and forward waist-high working cockpit with helm position, as well as an inside wheel at the nav station. The Atlantic 42 offers limited accommodation by modern cat standards but a very different sailing experience.

Best bluewater sailing yachts for expeditions

Bestevaer 56.

All of the yachts in our ‘expedition’ category are aluminium-hulled designs suitable for high latitude sailing, and all are exceptional yachts. But the Bestevaer 56 is a spectacular amount of boat to take on a true adventure. Each Bestevaer is a near-custom build with plenty of bespoke options for owners to customise the layout and where they fall on the scale of rugged off-grid adventurer to 4×4-style luxury fit out.

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Bestevaer-56-ST-Tranquilo

The Bestevaer range began when renowned naval architect Gerard Dijkstra chose to design his own personal yacht for liveaboard adventure cruising, a 53-footer. The concept drew plenty of interest from bluewater sailors wanting to make longer expeditions and Bestevaers are now available in a range of sizes, with the 56-footer proving a popular mid-range length.

The well-known Bestevaer 56 Tranquilo  (pictured above) has a deep, secure cockpit, voluminous tanks (700lt water and over 1,100lt fuel) and a lifting keel plus water ballast, with classically styled teak clad decks and pilot house. Other owners have opted for functional bare aluminium hull and deck, some choose a doghouse and others a pilothouse.

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Boreal-52-credit-Jean-Marie-Liot

Photo: Jean-Marie Liot

The Boreal 52 also offers Land Rover-esque practicality, with utilitarian bare aluminium hulls and a distinctive double-level doghouse/coachroof arrangement for added protection in all weathers. The cockpit is clean and uncluttered, thanks to the mainsheet position on top of the doghouse, although for visibility in close manoeuvring the helmsman will want to step up onto the aft deck.

Twin daggerboards, a lifting centreboard and long skeg on which she can settle make this a true go-anywhere expedition yacht. The metres of chain required for adventurous anchoring is stowed in a special locker by the mast to keep the weight central. Down below has been thought through with equally practical touches, including plenty of bracing points and lighting that switches on to red light first to protect your night vision.

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Garcia-Exploration-45-credit-morris-adant

Photo: Morris Adant / Garcia Yachts

Garcia Exploration 45

The Garcia Exploration 45 comes with real experience behind her – she was created in association with Jimmy Cornell, based on his many hundreds of thousands of miles of bluewater cruising, to go anywhere from high latitudes to the tropics.

Arguably less of a looker than the Bestevaer, the Garcia Exploration 45 features a rounded aluminium hull, centreboard with deep skeg and twin daggerboards. The considerable anchor chain weight has again been brought aft, this time via a special conduit to a watertight locker in front of the centreboard.

This is a yacht designed to be lived on for extended periods with ample storage, and panoramic portlights to give a near 360° view of whichever extraordinary landscape you are exploring. Safety features include a watertight companionway door to keep extreme weather out and through-hull fittings placed above the waterline. When former Vendée Globe skipper Pete Goss went cruising , this was the boat he chose to do it in.

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Ovni-43-credit-svnaimadotcom

Photo: svnaima.com

A truly well-proven expedition design, some 1,500 Ovnis have been built and many sailed to some of the most far-flung corners of the world. (Jimmy Cornell sailed his Aventura some 30,000 miles, including two Drake Passage crossings, one in 50 knots of wind).

best-ever-bluewater-yachts-Futuna-Explorer-54

Futuna Exploration 54

Another aluminium design with a swinging centreboard and a solid enclosed pilothouse with protected cockpit area. There’s a chunky bowsprit and substantial transom arch to house all manner of electronics and power generation.

Previous boats have been spec’d for North West Passage crossings with additional heating and engine power, although there’s a carbon rig option for those that want a touch of the black stuff. The tanks are capacious, with 1,000lt capability for both fresh water and fuel.

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expedition sailing yachts

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Expedition Yachts for Sale

expedition yachts for sale

For anyone looking for expedition yachts for sale, these are a quickly-growing market in the yachting world, as increasing numbers of yacht owners choose to get off the beaten track and indulge in some remote cruising! Here is the full current selection of all expedition yachts for sale worldwide with photos and full specifications for each.

Expedition yachts, often called explorer yachts, are extremely versatile. As much at home in the wilds of Alaska as sitting pretty in the glamorous port of Monaco, expedition yachts are built to cross the world’s oceans while offering the extraordinary comfort of a luxury yacht.

The explorer vessel featured above, LEGEND Expedition Yacht For Sale, is a 254-foot or 77m Icon Expedition yacht available for sale. She is the only ice breaking mega yacht in the world. The proven world cruiser features a panorama Jacuzzi on the main deck, large sales throughout, welcoming cocktail bars, Movie theaters, Exclusive Balinese Spa (pictured below) and a gym.

expedition sailing yachts

AKULA Expedition Yacht For Sale – for full specifications and photos, click on the link.

Expedition yachts for sale are also becoming increasingly common options for new-build construction projects, but there are also many existing expedition yachts that have been converted from commercial vessels. As such, often expedition yachts for sale have wonderful histories as research ships, hospital ships, ice-breakers, trawlers and military vessels, and are now enjoying their latest incarnation as impressive luxury yachts.

Often sporting a more functional exterior, the interior of explorer vessels are as palatial and luxurious as their traditional superyacht counterparts. Expedition-style yachts tend to have a wider beam, thereby offering more volume for larger cabins and interior spaces. The yacht’s generous interior spaces are designed for live-aboard comfort for extended periods, and many of these yachts will have living quarters or suites for the owners, rather than smaller cabins.

expedition yacht for sale STAMPEDE

STAMPEDE Expedition Yacht For Sale – for full specifications and photos, click on the link.

Outside you’ll find generous open decks with elegant dining and entertaining spaces, with all the luxuries you’d expect on a superyacht.  Jacuzzis, helipads and observation decks are common features found on expedition yachts for sale.

Expedition yachts are sometimes nicknamed ‘toy carriers’, as they have plenty of space to carry the tenders and water sports equipment you’ll want as you cruise exotic places. Explorer yachts for sale often carry crew who are trained as instructors, so you might learn diving, jetski, kitesurfing or even photography while cruising the South Pacific or the Galapagos.

Because they’re built as sturdy ocean-going vessels, expedition yachts are built with a strong focus on safety, self-sufficiency and comfort underway. Some expedition yachts have reinforced ice-breaker hulls for exciting Arctic expeditions, and all have modern stabilization technology and state-of-the-art safety systems. Expedition yachts are built with large fuel tanks giving them exceptional range, while onboard water-makers and excellent cold and dry storage allows them to make long sea voyages without needing to stop for supplies. Because they are built to be away from port for long periods, expedition yachts normally carry the best in communication, entertainment and Wi-Fi capabilities.

expedition yacht for sale THE BIG BLUE

THE BIG BLUE Expedition Yacht For Sale – for full specifications and photos, click on the link.

Expedition yachts allow the yacht owner to get to all corners of the world, opening up beautiful destinations otherwise difficult to reach. From the snowy landscapes and penguins of Antarctica to the coral reefs and jungles of Micronesia, an expedition yacht opens up the world for exploration.

There are a multitude of options available for expedition vessels. Above are examples of existing brokerage vessels. Other options to consider include Full Custom Builds and Semi Custom Builds. A Fully Custom Expedition yacht build is a ground up design and specification package, which will include tank testing of hull forms, 3D modeling, etc. A Semi Custom Expedition Build includes an existing hull form and common engineering package, already being used and then customizing the house styling, layout and décor.

expedition sailing yachts

The 80m Explorer Yacht, unnamed, is an example of a Fully Custom Explorer Build. The vessel includes float in float out wet dock that will be able to hold a 65-70 foot sport fisherman in the stern, when the sport fish is removed the tender well becomes a deep swimming pool.  She is diesel electric with Azipod drives.   The vessel has the capability of landing two helicopters and can house both helicopters in a single hangar.  The vessel also has a large tender garage that could hold multiple smaller vessels including a RIB, flats boat, jets skis and two submarines.  The vessel has accommodations for 18 guests and crew of 36.  The vessel would be commercial fit and finish on the exterior and the interior are envisioned to be built to high end cruise ship standards.

expedition sailing yachts

The 75m Explorer, by Admiral Shipyards is an example of a Semi Custom Build. The yacht’s exterior design, which remains unnamed, is a display of an elegant yet robust platform with generous exterior deck spaces. The expansive aft deck is designed to accommodate an Agusta Grande helicopter, complete with a storage and refueling hangar below deck.

expedition sailing yachts

The interior is spread across four decks and will be finished in a timeless nautical style that is finished with contemporary elements, which will be built and installed by German interio specialists, Fitz Interior. The owner, who is expected to spend prolonged period onboard, will be treated to an exclusive main deck area covering over 300 square metres with five additional guest suites on the lower deck.

expedition sailing yachts

Explorer yachts look a little bit different and offer extraordinary cruising potential, marking an exciting difference in the luxury yacht market for those who love an adventure on the open ocean. If you are be interested in viewing our full portfolio of exhibition yachts for sale, reach out to the sales team by email , by this sales inquiry form or by calling one of our yacht brokerage offices worldwide.

expedition sailing yachts

64′ Expedition Sailing Yacht

Heyman Yachts

Nothing ordinary

Beyond the Horizon

This is one of the most interesting yachts I know: She is unusually comfortable at sea, in any climate. She is one of the safest pleasure yachts of her size, designed to be as simple and reliable as possible. And she sails just fine, despite not having a ‘proper’ deep keel.

64' Expedition yacht, waiting at the dock

64′ Expedition yacht, waiting at the dock

An unusually well-protected cockpit

An unusually well-protected cockpit

Access to deck via a door

Access to deck via a door

An unusual set of properties like these obviously do not happen by themselves. In the case of the ATOA, they are in part the result of some extremely careful planning and engineering. But, to some extent they are also the result of coincidence. How did this happen?

The Atoa 64 was conceived as a competent expedition yacht – ATOA refers to Arctic to Antarctic. With a visit to the Amazon river on the way so we could perhaps have called her Atoama . The requirements were very specific:

Design Parameters

  • A fast passagemaker, at least 8 knots average offshore under engine or sail – off the wind or to windward!
  • Draft limited to 1,60 m and able to dry out, self-supported, in tidal waters.
  • Protected propeller, good for all sorts of conditions
  • Completely self-reliant.
  • Foolproof keel , rudder and rig . As long as the keel, rudder and rig stays on a boat, the boat will usually be fine
  • Immensely strong construction, capable of handling any weather without damage and able to go through thin ice.
  • A double-ended stern was desirable, if it did not detract from the basic qualities
  • A walk-in engine room, possible to do maintenance and repairs on site
  • A completely enclosed pilot house from which the yacht could be handled for long periods in adverse weather.
  • Cockpit as sheltered as ever possible.
  • Easily handled by one or two persons
  • Three cabins, one of which could be used as a crew cabin, with en-suite layout

During the project phase, all sorts of different concepts were evaluated. Our client suggested twin keels – these were ruled out for their inherently lacklustre performance. A ballasted swing keel was deemed too vulnerable, and handling it was thought too sensitive. A lifting keel was regarded not fit for the south Atlantic. Even an ordinary fixed fin keel was ruled out as being, on one hand, too deep for inland waters, and on the other hand too vulnerable for ice or grounding.

Same with a spade rudder; for an expedition yacht such a rudder would be too sensitive and would not offer any realistic back-up solution in the event of a failure.

Please note that all these concepts are fine for almost any boat and we use most of them all the time. Only, this particular yacht was supposed to be able to be fine and safe in the most remote parts of the world, on her own, and under any conditions. 

Efficiency to windward

Shoal draft keel, protected balanded rudder, daggerboards

Shoal draft keel, protected balanded rudder, daggerboards

Finally, a somewhat unique concept grew on the drawing board:  The boat would be built with a long, very shallow keel, extending all the way aft to protect the propeller and support the rudder. This would be the backbone of the yacht and allow a reasonable position for approx. 12 tons of lead ballast. 

The rudder would of course be balanced in order not to strain the helm or autopilot too much. It would be at the same time be fully supported by the keel with a lower bearing, and fully protected by the same keel. This also meant that the controllable pitch propeller would be fully protected, and the propeller would be very close to the rudder for superior handling in port.

On the outside of the engine room each side, through the side decks, there would be asymmetric daggerboards. These would provide a lift to windward equivalent to a modern fin-keel yacht with 2,8 m draft. If one of the daggerboards got damaged in the Antarctic, the yacht would still be able to keep sailing. She would lose that last edge to windward, but that would be all.

Add stability

Bunker diesel to windward, daggeboard down to leeward

Bunker diesel to windward, daggeboard down to leeward

Outside of the dagger boards, towards the hull sides and under the side decks, this would leave an empty space each side. Unless we put ballast tanks there. But the boat wouldn’t be happy in freezing conditions with freezing water ballast, no matter if it was fresh or salt, so we decided to use this space for spare diesel bunker tanks. 2000 litres, to be half in each tank, or all on the windward side during a passage.

Again, with the combined stability gained by the filled windward tank together with the lead keel, this would provide the equivalent kind of righting moment that one would expect from a modern fin-keel yacht with 2,8 m draft. Voilà!

If the spare diesel had to be used she would lose some 10% of her sail-carrying ability but apart from this slight loss of performance, her safety or comfort would not be compromised.  So, essentially, we were creating a totally safe yacht with 1,6 m draft that would behave like it had a modern cruiser-racer fin keel 2,8 m deep. 

As dry as possible 

Maybe the real beauty of this concept is the ability to dry out. The dagger boards serve as perfect legs. And the yacht would in such case rest on its keel bottom, not on the hull itself. In  contrast, drying out with a lifting-keel boat could be a nightmare if you discover that the hull plating is sitting on a boulder. With the thick sole of this long ballast keel resting onto the sea bed, one will still be safe.  T aking all aspects in account, we knew this design was as safe and amphibious and fast and simple we could come up with for a 40-ton, world cruising 64-foot sailing yacht. 

It never turns out the way you expect 

The ATOA was built beautifully in Enkhuizen, Holland. During the build, however, a decision was made not to build the daggerboards. We were very concerned, fearing that she would become a mediocre ‘motorsailer’ kind of yacht.

The 64' as she turned out, with bunker ballast tanks

The 64′ as she turned out, with bunker ballast tanks

As it happened, the test sails with ATOA proved us all wrong.

In blustery, freezing conditions on the Ijselmeer she reached out of Enkhuizen at good speed, 9,4 knots, under reefed main and 106% jib. This was all expected, because even if she is on the medium to heavy displacement side of the scale, she is a slippery boat with a long waterline and a very fine entry.  She was easy on the helm and felt nimble to handle. Everybody perched in the forward sheltered part of the cockpit or inside the pilot house. 

As we headed up close-hauled, the speed dropped to 8,2 – 8,5 knots.The yacht made approx. 98 degrees between the tacks, counting leeway. Thus, she wasn’t very close winded, but she compensated more than well in speed. We didn’t even try to sheet harder and head up more – she had the potential, but speed seemed to be ATOA’s thing more than close-windedness.

Still, looking at the polar, with such speeds ATOA’s ability to windward would definitely take her anywhere, with panache.

64' close-hauled at 8,3 knots

64′ close-hauled at 8,3 knots

64' Expedition Yacht, easily driven hull

64′ Expedition Yacht, easily driven hull

The wind was a steady 24 knots, occasionally topping 28. Still with a reef in the main, we hoisted the mizzen. The speed  increased by perhaps two tenths, she needed a little more helm and if the mizzen was sheeted hard the pressure on the wheel increased but still not enough to make steering heavy. 

A little later, the diesel ballast was tested. It took around 4 minutes to pump the 2000 litres to windward, during which she righted herself from 18 to 14 degrees. She certainly felt powerful bearing away, again increasing to 10 knots, with little heel.

General Arrangement

The pilot house and the cockpit are closely connected, via a low staircase and big windows. The forward part of the cockpit is well protected under the overhanging roof and there is a huge dining space in the open or under the fixed bimini. Inside the pilot house are two sofas, with a coffee table and side tables. Visibility is excellent and under engine the yacht can be handled with ease from here.

Well protected cockpit for cold and wet conditions

Well protected cockpit for cold and wet conditions

64' Pilot House with proper pilot chair

64′ Pilot House with proper pilot chair

Down the staircase forward, the emphasis is very clearly on the generous living room with its four areas – kitchen, dining, a lounging area and navigation. Forward is the owner’s cabin and bathroom. Facing aft, under the pilot house and between two watertight bulkheads, is the engine room which houses all major installations. There is good floor space and access to all installations and 1,57 m standing headroom.

64' Galley, aft to port side

64′ Galley, aft to port side

64' dining, forward to port

64′ dining, forward to port

64' office, starboard aft

64′ office, starboard aft

64' entrance to engine room from navigation / office

64′ entrance to engine room from navigation / office

64' full width engine room

64′ full width engine room

Down a staircase aft from the pilot house are two smaller cabins, one en-suite guest double and a guest twin cabin. This makes use of the third bathroom which also serves as the yacht’s daytime w.c.

Forward and aft, accessible from deck, are two walk-in stow rooms.

Understanding a fast shoal-draft full keel yacht

The ATOA’s performance on the wind was unexpected and of course tickled our curiosity. Somewhat later we had the opportunity to discuss our experience with Professor Lars Larsson at Chalmers University of Technology, in Göteborg, Sweden, and later to start a study on shoal draft keel concepts. The study was conducted by Andre Sauer under Professor Larsson and Michal Orych, comparing a thoroughly modern cruiser / racer with a deep keel and the same boat with a very shallow keel. 

The two keel concepts were tested on two different hulls, one 20m long, one 10m. This time, the keel was given a slightly more sophisticated shape, with a bulb gradually turning into an beaver tail kind of end-plate back at the rudder.

The results, in short, are that the boat with the shallow keel still sails rather well. Even to windward.

Study of deep fin vs. shoal, full keel

Study of deep fin vs. shoal, full keel

As expected, the shoal-draft VMG (windward ability) is certainly inferior to the deep-draft boat.  Still, I am not convinced that such extremely shoal draft would work as well for any boat: Our hypothesis is that it only works well for relatively large and slippery yachts. That the efficiency of this inefficient keel is very speed-dependent. There is room for further research on this.

I am not advocating anything here. Personally, I have a very soft spot for fast and responsive boats. On the other hand, giving away half a knot may perhaps be acceptable if you are going at around 8 or 9 knots anyway – especially taking into account the way most boats are used, very shoal draft keels could perhaps be a serious option for some.  There are lovely cruising grounds with limited water… being able to enter more or less any harbour may be worth a lot more than losing that half knot.

It is interesting to contemplate this as you take a look at the market: More or less every boat has a kind of deep draft fin keel – be it fixed, lifting or swinging. If you set out to search the Internet for data on a thousand different sailing boats, chances are that you will not find a single one equipped with a fixed keel of such shoal draft that there is almost no keel there at all. Still, I think the ATOA shows that this may be a sensible option.

You can read more about the shoal-draft research here

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Explorer Yachts For Sale

Adventurous yacht owners eventually tire of the popular Mediterranean and Caribbean cruising grounds and start looking for more challenging cruising areas. This explains the growing popularity of long-range expedition yachts with vast storage capacity for food, fuel and water, enabling them to roam the world’s oceans for weeks at a time. Here we present examples of world-girdling explorer yachts currently for sale.

Yacht Features

Propulsion System

expedition sailing yachts

Nordhavn Open House

NORDHAVN 80-03 LADY DI

NOR 2024 breaks records en Route to smashing success

expedition sailing yachts

NOR 2024 organizer Jill Bernard interviewed on KOMO News

expedition sailing yachts

NOR 2024 breaks records en route to smashing success

expedition sailing yachts

SUPERYACHT TIMES: First look onboard 25m Nordhavn motor yacht Lady Di

expedition sailing yachts

Awanui NZ Ep 52 – The Saronic Gulf – Something petrifies Mark

expedition sailing yachts

N4125 Delivery in Greece

expedition sailing yachts

Awanui NZ Ep 51 4K Video upload for those big TV’s! Limping to Athens on 1 engine

expedition sailing yachts

POWERBOAT WORLD: Owners Rendezvous expected to break Nordhavn attendance record

expedition sailing yachts

PASSSAGEMAKER: Pacific passage

expedition sailing yachts

2025 ‘Nordhavns Around The World’ photos wanted

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN OWNERS RENDEZVOUS 2024

Owners rendezvous set to break nordhavn attendance record.

expedition sailing yachts

Nordhavn 7102 arrives in Dana Point for commissioning

expedition sailing yachts

Cast your vote for the beautiful Nordhavn 80#3 LADY DI

expedition sailing yachts

Awanui NZ Ep 50 – Santorini here we come – major stabiliser failure!

expedition sailing yachts

N40 MV SKOOKUM: Our Gorgeous Salty Playground

expedition sailing yachts

A boat load of Nordhavns

expedition sailing yachts

PAE’s Dan Streech featured in SuperyachtsTimes.com’s story on state of boat building in China

expedition sailing yachts

Awanui NZ Ep 49 Goodbye Turkey – Hello Greece. The adventure begins

expedition sailing yachts

Awanui NZ Ep 48 – Departing on our global adventure – “Just the two of us”

expedition sailing yachts

N5101 DELIVERY: Tuzla, Turkey – Rhodes, Greece – Göcek, Turkey

expedition sailing yachts

2024 NORDHAVN OPEN HOUSE

expedition sailing yachts

Awanui NZ – Ep.47 Maiden Voyage aftermath and Mark gets to drive!

expedition sailing yachts

A tribute to our friend Bruce Kessler 1936-2024

expedition sailing yachts

SUPERYACHTS.COM: The First Nordhavn 51 Successfully Delivered To Owners

expedition sailing yachts

NEWLY DELIVERED

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 8003

Model: Nordhavn 60

Hull no: 84

Sales office: Nordhavn Southeast

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 4122

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 6084

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 4118

Model: Nordhavn 41

Hull no: 18

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 62501

Model: Nordhavn 625

Hull no: 01

Sales office: Nordhavn Southwest

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 47547

Model: Nordhavn 475

Hull no: 47

Sales office: Nordhavn Northwest

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 47546

Hull no: 46

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 9618

Model: Nordhavn 96

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 6843

Model: Nordhavn 68

Hull no: 43

Sales office: Nordhavn Europe Ltd.

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 6842

Hull no: 42

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 4120

Hull no: 20

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 4114

Hull no: 14

expedition sailing yachts

NORDHAVN 4115

Hull no: 15

jill-bernard

New Nordhavn 51 comes out of the gate with flying colors

E-newsletter.

expedition sailing yachts

FEATURED IN...

N80-03 LADY DI II interiors-ph-1

CRUISING ODYSSEY: First Nordhavn 51 Cruises to Greece

Ocean navigator: into the storm no. 288, ocean navigator: cruising power, upcoming events.

Anacortes Boat Show 2024-2

Anacortes Boat & Yacht Show Featuring Trawlerfest 2024

Sanctuary International Boat Show 2024

Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show 2024

running

Nordhavn 59 “THE DOGHOUSE”: https://nordhavn.com/brokerage/nordhavn-trawlers-for-sale/n59-the-doghouse/ See her this Saturday May 18 at the Nordhavn Open House in Dana Point: https://nordhavn.com/nordhavn-yachts-knowledge/nordhavn-open-house-dana-point-may-2024/ #nordhavn59 #n0rdhavn #nordhavn_yachts #nordhavnopenhouse

NOR 2024 – Day 3 https://nordhavn.com/nordhavn-owners-rendezvous-2024/ #nordhavnownersrendezvous #nordhavn #nordhavn_yachts

NOR 2024 – Day 2 https://nordhavn.com/nordhavn-owners-rendezvous-2024/ #nordhavnownersrendezvous #nordhavn #nordhavn_yachts

NOR 2024 – Day 1 https://nordhavn.com/nordhavn-owners-rendezvous-2024/ #nordhavnownersrendezvous #nordhavn #nordhavn_yachts

Nordhavn Owners Rendezvous 2024 is taking shape. Starts tomorrow! https://nordhavn.com/nordhavn-owners-rendezvous-2024/ #nordhavn #nordhavnownersrendezvous #nordhavnownersrendezvous

Welcome to Nordhavn Trawler Yachts

Nordhavn is the world’s most celebrated expedition trawler yachts for adventure boaters of all levels. With models ranging from 41 to 120 feet, there is a Nordhavn perfectly suited to you, no matter what your experience or ambition. Nordhavn trawler yachts provide the safety and comfort necessary for expeditions to the highest latitudes of the globe and coastal day-cruises down the eastern seaboard. Known for robust construction, forward-thinking engineering, luxurious interiors, clever space planning, millions of successful ocean miles traveled and hundreds of happy, dream-fulfilled owners, Nordhavn is the number one name in trawler yachts.

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expedition sailing yachts

expedition sailing yachts

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.css-2dkvzr{--animation-delay:100ms;}@media (prefers-reduced-motion: no-preference){.css-2dkvzr{opacity:0;will-change:opacity;-webkit-transform:translatey( 1em );-moz-transform:translatey( 1em );-ms-transform:translatey( 1em );transform:translatey( 1em );}.css-2dkvzr:not(.hidden .css-2dkvzr){-webkit-animation:animation-1mi33xo;animation:animation-1mi33xo;-webkit-animation-duration:800ms;animation-duration:800ms;-webkit-animation-timing-function:ease-in-out;animation-timing-function:ease-in-out;-webkit-animation-fill-mode:forwards;animation-fill-mode:forwards;-webkit-animation-delay:var(--animation-delay);animation-delay:var(--animation-delay);}}@-webkit-keyframes animation-1mi33xo{from{opacity:0;-webkit-transform:translatey(1em);-moz-transform:translatey(1em);-ms-transform:translatey(1em);transform:translatey(1em);}to{opacity:1;-webkit-transform:translatey(0%);-moz-transform:translatey(0%);-ms-transform:translatey(0%);transform:translatey(0%);}}@keyframes animation-1mi33xo{from{opacity:0;-webkit-transform:translatey(1em);-moz-transform:translatey(1em);-ms-transform:translatey(1em);transform:translatey(1em);}to{opacity:1;-webkit-transform:translatey(0%);-moz-transform:translatey(0%);-ms-transform:translatey(0%);transform:translatey(0%);}} dare to be different.

Welcome to the world of Xplorer. A world of infinite adventures where superyachts and expedition yachts combine. A unique crossover of unlimited luxury and boundless exploration. For innovators. For people who forge their own path, with a clear goal in mind. Avoiding the ordinary, exploring the remote and experiencing the new. Enjoying the limitless beauty of what life has to offer. Choose from one of the three models in the portfolio to get started on your Xplorer adventure.

Infinite Adventures -

expedition sailing yachts

With her bold exterior lines inspired by the natural world she has been built to adventure in, the Xplorer 60 brings together everything you need to venture far and wide with superyacht luxury. Featuring an Ice Class hull, interiors by H2 Yacht Design and award-winning DNA, this innovative hybrid Xplorer could be yours in just a matter of months. The first of this 60-metre Xplorer series is available for delivery in Spring 2025.

expedition sailing yachts

The Xplorer 80 has proved to be the design that has it all. Bringing extensive capability, unrivalled autonomy and above all luxury space and lifestyle to the most extreme corners of the globe. At the same time, she has looked right at home amongst the world's most prestigious superyachts around the Med and Caribbean whilst still standing out from the crowd. With multiple configurations possible and room to carry everything you could ever need, your dream of exploring the world just got a lot closer.

expedition sailing yachts

Xplorer 105

Right at the top of our Xplorer range, this yacht represents what has instigated our status as the market leader in luxury expedition yachts. This concept design incorporates decades of shipbuilding and superyacht building as well as expedition know-how, practicalities and developments. A future facing Xplorer geared up to become the master of the seas and adventures alike.

expedition sailing yachts

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expedition sailing yachts

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Sail in the World's Most Inaccessible Places

Itinerary planning.

Specializing only in the polar regions and returning year after year, we have unsurpassed knowledge of knowledge of these remote destinations. We’ll work with you to design the itinerary best suited to your interests, timeframe and boat’s capabilities.

Permits & Environmental Assessments

We’ll work with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office to manage the lengthy permit process and environmental impact assessments from start to finish. As a testament to our expertise, the FCO even asked us to write the Antarctic Yachting Guidelines .

Expedition Staff & Ice Pilots

Our staff will accompany you on your expedition, sharing their knowledge and insights while serving in the role as ice pilot and expedition leader. They’ll work to ensure your safety while simultaneously guiding you on an unimaginable adventure.

Polar Survey

Before setting sail, we’ll come onboard and prepare a detailed survey of your vessel on its suitability for polar waters. We’ll issue recommendations and discuss ways that will improve your boat’s performance and your comfort when on expedition.

Yacht Design & Modification

For those looking to spend extensive time in the polar regions, we’ll work with you from the very first stages of a newbuild or refit project to ensure your boat is fully capable of truly exploring in the ice and reaching areas others can't.

We can assist with all the necessary, behind the scenes logistics of polar travel. We’ll arrange required medevac insurance, produce chart lists and cruising guides, procure specialist clothing and equipment and advise on bunkering and provisions.

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Used Expedition Yachts For Sale

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Are you up for an adventure? Many euro-built yacht owners and sailboat enthusiasts are now turning to expedition yachts to satisfy their need for long-distance cruising. Whether spending weeks exploring the Caribbean or cruising the countless islands of the Pacific Northwest, most expedition yacht builders focus on comfort and seaworthiness first and foremost. These are not boats that will exceed 30 knots, but rather are meant to cruise in the 8-12 knot range while burning very little fuel. Cutting-edge construction techniques like infusion with high-quality resin, have allowed these explorer boats to become lighter without losing durability. United Yacht Sales has expert brokers on staff that have sold many expedition yachts and would be happy to represent you in the purchase or sale of your next boat.

PRE-OWNED Expedition Yachts

expedition sailing yachts

126' Inace Explorer 2024

Fortaleza, Brazil

expedition sailing yachts

120' Inace Overing 2024

expedition sailing yachts

100' Custom Tri-Deck Explorer Yacht 2026

Unknown, Florida, United States

expedition sailing yachts

86' Trawler 26,5M Trawler 2024

Mugla, Turkey

expedition sailing yachts

85' Terranova Yachts T85 2018

Unknown, United States

expedition sailing yachts

84' Custom Mural Yachts 85 Semi Displacement Trawler 2022

expedition sailing yachts

80' Northern Marine Expedition Motor Yacht 2017

Queenstown, Maryland, United States

expedition sailing yachts

80' Northern Marine 2003

Anacortes, Washington, United States

expedition sailing yachts

78' Commercial Trawler 1980

Eleuthera, Bahamas

expedition sailing yachts

75' Northern Marine 1998

expedition sailing yachts

ELIZABETH RUTH

74' Custom Robinson Modified Monk 1991

Poulsbo, Washington, United States

expedition sailing yachts

THREE OF A KIND

70' Hampton Endurance 700 Skylounge 2009

Solomons, Maryland, United States

expedition sailing yachts

70' Delta Marine Pilothouse 1988

Seattle, Washington, United States

expedition sailing yachts

70' Marlow 70E 2003

Fort Lauderdale, Florida, United States

expedition sailing yachts

68' Cheoy Lee 2009

Miami, Florida, United States

  • Page 1 of 14

SEARCH ALL YACHTS

Expedition Yachts vary in materials just like they do in design. Do you want full displacement or semi-displacement? Would you rather have a steel, composite, or aluminum hull? And most importantly, what type of range do you require for your anticipated cruising plans? These are all questions that a professional United Yacht broker can assist you with.

Below are some of the prominent expedition yacht brands available today :

  • Hampton Yachts
  • Hampton Endurance Yachts
  • Lurssen Yachts
  • Marlow Yachts
  • Nordhavn Yachts
  • President Yachts

While some explorer yacht builders use steel for their hull, some believe aluminum may be thebetter choice in the case of weight reduction, higher performance speed, better fuel consumption and seaworthiness.

The expedition yacht requires lots of crew space. Expert crew members are typically needed for long-range expeditions. An excellent example - the 26 meter Octopus, is well-known as the world’s largest explorer yacht and boasts an enormous crew of 50! However most owner/operators and couples wanting to cruise tend to buy a yacht that is easily managed. Now with many yachts having joystick controls and bow thrusters, the ease of handling has improved substantially.

The expedition will be taking its owners and guests to remote and exotic destinations so a full line-up of tenders and toys is a must. Look for seaplanes, helicopters, and sportfish yachts! The whole gamut. Ulysses, the 107.4 meter line-up is beyond awesome, with six motorbikes, a landing craft, an amphibious tender in its garage, not to mention a 21-metre, 50-knot catamaran support boat that can be hoisted off the foredeck by a pair of custom-designed cranes!!!

Many boating enthusiasts feel that explorer yachts are at their best measuring in at least at 40 meters long to carry all the essentials. Cantiere Delle Marche has been highly successful in building compact expeditions. This Italian builder has manufactured these ‘minis’ in the size range of 25 meters to its 33.4 meter Narvalo, created and born to cruise with the narwhals she was named after.

Want to test if a yacht is, indeed, an expedition yacht, then just zero in on the details of her maximum cruising range which translates to the distance it can travel without making a fuel stop. The majority of the yachts 40 meters and up usually have a transatlantic cruising range of around 3,000 nautical miles, but there are some exceptional expedition builds are set up to have an even longer range. And her long distance speed ranks in between 10 to 12 knots.” Ice, the extraordinary 90 meter Lürssen yacht is a prime example being able to cruise up to 6,000 nautical miles at 15 knots and never needing to make a fuel stop!

The best shoppers will also want to consider the expeditions in questions emissions control, deep storage, and extreme maneuverability.

The mission profile for building an expedition yacht can be for any (or a combination) of the following…entire family reunion exploration, worldwide big game or fly fishing, remote dive expedition, the urge to check out unique and different cruising areas, a feeling of freedom while cruising, or several other reasons.

Since they were built to handle the roughest voyage conditions, safety and comfort of the owners, guests and crew must be the focus of the engineering and buying criteria . An expedition yacht needs possess an extremely efficient and sea-kindly hull. To meet this, the vessel should be a full displacement hull combined with excellent fuel capacity to reach at least a 4000nm range at 10 knots. Of course, the latest in high efficiency propulsion and energy systems, ensuring there are new batteries, chargers and converters, is necessary.

The entire exterior and interior of the vessel you decide on must be a piece of cake to maintain. This makes a key difference between many long range yachts and trawlers being built and one that you can call your own. Another idea when choosing the best expedition yacht is to know you can give it a new look, such as a white yacht, by replacing teak rails or decking with stainless or the latest in deck systems (i.e. Stone Decking). Since these yachts make thousands of miles a year, the up keep and standard of materials and systems is most important to help with all upkeep.

Finally, the engine room is another factor of crucial importance. Ensure that proven high wear equipment is used throughout and that it is a large, well laid out engine room designed to be easy for the crew to tend to. The goal is for any engineer hired will walk in and add a smile to his face!

Follow these tips and a smile will be eternally on yours too as the proud owner of a quality expedition yacht!

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Expedition Yachts for Sale

51 explorer yachts for sale.

Northrop & Johnson is proud to offer an extensive and all-encompassing selection of explorer yachts available for sale on the global market. Explorer yachts are ideally suited for those who want to cruise farther afield and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. We hope you find your dream yacht below. When you do, please contact a Northrop & Johnson sales broker to begin the buying process.

With an expedition yacht, you can discover new locales luxuriously and safely. Our experienced team will have you cruising the seas in style.

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Reach Remote Destinations in Your New Expedition Yacht

Almost all expedition yachts are custom built and designed to offer the highest level of luxury, stability, and comfort as you explore faraway horizons. Their ability to cruise to unique world areas allows you to experience these remote destinations through an extraordinary lens.

Your expedition yacht is designed for longer trips at sea, equipped with the safety and power of a motor yacht with robust hulls shaped to move effortlessly through any weather, and built with long-range capabilities. With these features, there will be no limits to your exploration. Venture through icy waters, to remote islands, and into bustling cities.

Purchasing an expedition yacht is not for the faint of heart, and if you’re choosing this extraordinary lifestyle, you’ll want a team of experienced brokers behind you.

Finding your dream expedition yacht for sale is easier than ever with Northrop & Johnson

Our brokers have a comprehensive knowledge of the yachting industry, so you can rest assured you’re in the best hands in the business. Contact Northrop & Johnson’s team of expert brokers to get started.

expedition sailing yachts

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© 2024 Northrop & Johnson

SYS Yacht Sales - New and Used Boats and Yachts or Sale

Used Expedition Yachts for Sale

Expedition or Explorer yachts are self-sustaining vessels that are built for long range cruising in the most remote regions of the world. They feature a robust hull, large crew capacity, long cruising range, and vary in their level of comfort and luxury. These types of vessels are growing in popularity as a great number of owners are seeking more remote locales. SYS Yacht Sales offers a wide range of used expedition yachts for sale worldwide. Don't see the vessel you're looking for here? Contact our experienced yacht brokers for assistance, we look forward to helping you find the yacht that's right for you.

2024 126' Inace Yachts-Explorer Fortaleza, BR

Inace Yachts Explorer

Mail

Van der Valk Explorer 37M

2024 120' Inace Yachts-Overing Fortaleza, BR

Inace Yachts Overing

2023 112' 11'' Benetti-34M OASIS Miami, FL, US

Benetti 34M OASIS

2024 107' 1'' Lynx-Adventure 32 Nijkerk, NL

Lynx Adventure 32

Adventure 32 #1.

2025 100' All Ocean Yachts-Tri-Deck Explorer Yacht US

All Ocean Yachts Tri-Deck Explorer Yacht

All ocean yachts 100' steel or fiberglass.

2021 98' 5'' Blaundus-V30 Bodrum, TR

Blaundus V30

2023 90' Carboyacht-90 Istanbul, TR

Carboyacht 90

2021 87' 3'' Explorer-LOYD 27 Yacht Support Istanbul, TR

Explorer LOYD 27 Yacht Support

2024 86' 11'' Custom-27m Trawler Muğla, TR

Custom 27m Trawler

2022 84' 4'' Mural Yachts-85 Semi Displacement Trawler Muğla, TR

Mural Yachts 85 Semi Displacement Trawler

2018 80' Azimut-80 Flybridge Pompano Beach, FL, US

Azimut 80 Flybridge

2022 78' 9'' Custom-Classical istanbul, TR

Custom Classical

Magnolia one.

2023 78' 7'' Soyaslan-Custom istanbul, TR

Soyaslan Custom

2024 78' Selene-78 Ocean Explorer Hong Kong, HK

Selene 78 Ocean Explorer

2022 78' Hampton-Endurance 750 LRC Seattle, WA, US

Hampton Endurance 750 LRC

2017 78' Fleming-78 Stuart, FL, US

Selene 72 Ocean Explorer

2020 72' Outer Reef Yachts-720 DBMY Hilton Head Island, SC, US

Outer Reef Yachts 720 DBMY

2023 68' Absolute-Navetta 68 CANNES, 06, FR

Absolute Navetta 68

2016 67' 10'' Hampton-648 Endurance Nanaimo, BC, CA

Hampton 648 Endurance

Mama mia (name reserved).

2025 65' Bering-65 Antalya, TR

Bering 65 Explorer Yacht

2018 64' Sirena-64 Aventura, FL, US

Regency P63

  • Event Details

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Breaking the ice for expedition sailors

OUR MISSION

   Arctic Yachts is an expedition sailing & documentary film production company founded by Peter Madej - a captain, ice pilot and expedition leader with very deep knowledge of Greenland, Arctic Canada, Svalbard, Arctic Norway and Iceland. Peter sailed approx 250.000 Nm over the past 20 years, and assembled a small team of very experienced expedition sailors driven by genuine passion for the Arctic.

  Each year we take part in remarkable expeditions, with main focus on providing safe, reliable and efficient platform to film production, wildlife photography, science, as well adventure & sports projects, that combine sailing with mountaineering, skiing and exploring some of the most beautiful and remote parts of the Arctic.

   We also produce expedition video content for our YouTube channel  and recently created a short documentary film " Jojo ".

   When back on land, we offer expert advise to the interesting people and projects that share our passion and core values. If you are up for an amazing expedition, film shoot, or even a mission impossible, and need to find the most suitable yacht, get a professional advise or connect to our network of trusted expedition sailors and guides, we can assist in making your dream come true! 

2017LEDOUX_030_002_020.jpg

Photo by  Florian Ledoux

OUR AREAS OF EXPERTISE

ice navigation

navigating uncharted waters

finding the most suitable expedition yacht to buy or charter

preparations to the expedition ​

itinerary planning

film production onboard a yacht

approaching Arctic wildlife ​

location scouting for films

   Documentary film is our big passion. Most recently we've supported the production of amazing feature documentaries “Aquarela” (Victor Kossakovsky), “Polaris” (Ainara Vera) and natural history series “America”, as well produced our own short documentary – “ Jojo ” which premiered in the Cinema Galeries in Brussels in October 2022.

When the pandemic closed the borders and shut down most of the expedition projects, we came up with the idea to create Expedition Sailing Virtual Boat Show - a virtual event that would promote some of the nicest projects and people operating in the Arctic. During the strict lockdown, we produced a series of video interviews with expedition sailors, guides, and artists in order to connect them with the audience via a dedicated website and YouTube channel .

  Our long-term goal is to create a large (2000+ minutes) documentary series that will follow an expedition circumnavigating each continent. The primary aim of this project is to study noise pollution in the oceans and develop effective solutions to significantly reduce the human impact on marine mammals that rely on echolocation and vocalization for communication, navigation, sourcing food, and detecting predators. This expedition project is in an advanced stage of development and offers unique opportunities for partners who wish to join us. We are currently engaging with various investors, business partners, artists, expedition sailors, and PR specialists to bring this beautiful project to life.

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S/Y Polski Hak,  photo by  Florian Ledoux

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Expedition cruises: The ultimate guide to cruising to remote, hard-to-reach places

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One of the fastest-growing segments of cruising in recent years has been “expedition cruising,” a type of cruising that involves traveling to remote, hard-to-reach places such as Antarctica on small, hardy vessels.

This is a type of cruising so different from what the big mass-market lines offer that it might as well be considered an entirely different form of travel.

With traditional cruising, the experience often revolves heavily around shipboard activities, dining, drinking and entertainment. Yes, a traditional cruise is partly about getting you to (mostly mainstream) destinations for brief visits. But at its core, it’s a resort experience.

For more cruise news, guides and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter .

An expedition cruise, by contrast, isn’t designed to be a resort experience. It’s a cruise that is all about getting you to an off-the-beaten-path place that, in many cases, has little or no land-based infrastructure and can be reached no other way but by ship. You are “cruising” in the sense that you are traveling by ship. But the trip isn’t about the ship. It’s about where the ship can get you.

As I’ve been lucky enough to experience many times over nearly three decades of writing about cruising, expedition cruises can get you to some of the least visited and most wondrous places in the world — including parts of the Arctic and Antarctica that as recently as a century ago had never been seen by humans.

Here is a guide to everything you need to know about expedition cruises and cruising.

What is an expedition cruise?

Expedition cruises are ship-based trips designed to get you to remote and hard-to-reach places that most people never get to see.

It is travel by ship to places so far off the beaten path, such as Antarctica, that the journey itself is a bit of an adventure. Adding to the adventure is that, in some cases, you don’t know what you’re going to do from day to day once you reach your destination. Your expedition leader will make the call depending on the movement of wildlife, changing ice conditions (if you’re in a polar region) and the waves and the weather around possible landing sites.

Should whales pop up off your bow on an expedition cruise to Antarctica, for instance, your expedition leader might decide to scrap morning plans for a landing near a penguin colony in favor of whale watching. Then you’ll visit penguins in the afternoon. Or not.

Maybe changing ice conditions will make it possible to do a landing on floating ice for a hike. Eventually, you’ll probably make multiple landings at penguin colonies, maybe hike across floating ice and hopefully see whales and other wildlife. But how it all happens will be at the whims of nature.

In that sense, being on an expedition cruise is a bit like being part of a team of explorers on an “expedition” — hence the name.

As vacations go, expedition cruises have more in common with safari vacations in Africa or trekking trips in the Peruvian Andes than traditional cruises.

On an expedition cruise, the focus is on remote wilderness areas and the wildlife that inhabits them. This could be Antarctica’s rocky, ice-lined shoreline, with its massive penguin colonies, or the uninhabited islands of the Galapagos, with their giant tortoises and Darwin’s finches.

What is an expedition cruise ship like?

The typical expedition cruise vessel is custom-built for these remote and rugged areas. Expedition ships typically are small and agile, so they can tuck into remote bays and waterways that big ships can’t reach.

And they’re inordinately tough. Expedition ships are typically built with strengthened hulls to allow them to bump through ice in polar regions and with unusually large fuel tanks and food storage areas to allow them to operate long periods in remote areas without re-provisioning (in some cases, as long as 40 days).

In addition, expedition cruise ships travel with their own landing craft — typically small rubber Zodiac boats —  to get passengers ashore in remote areas. Expedition ships also often carry other adventure gear for exploring in remote areas, including kayaks, paddleboards, snowshoes, snorkeling equipment, wetsuits and sometimes diving equipment.

A handful of expedition cruise ships even travel with submarines for underwater exploration and helicopters.

Expedition ships also will have “mud rooms” where you will find cubbies to store your outdoor clothing and gear. Many expedition cruise ships will have waterproof rubber boots for you to borrow — either for free or for an extra charge — that you will need for “wet landings” on beaches by Zodiac boats. They’ll be stored in the mud room, as well.

Instead of a cruise director and the other entertainment staff found on traditional cruise ships, you’ll typically be accompanied on expedition cruises by an “expedition team.” The group is made up of expedition leaders with deep knowledge of the destination along with scientific experts such as biologists, geologists and ornithologists, and often a historian, who will lead landings and lecture on board.

Many expedition ships also sail with a photography expert. One well-known expedition cruise company, Lindblad Expeditions, staffs many of its ships with National Geographic photographers who will teach you how to use your own cameras to capture the scenery and wildlife you’re experiencing.

In short, expedition cruises are designed for exploring and learning. Unlike most traditional cruises, an expedition cruise is not meant to be a resort experience, though an increasing number of expedition ships are being outfitted with more upscale amenities than in the past.

These luxury touches include a greater variety of dining venues, including high-end restaurants, as well as elegant bars and onboard spas. However, these amenities will play second fiddle to the off-the-ship adventures at the core of the experience.

How small are expedition cruise ships?

Historically, expedition ships have carried no more than 200 passengers — a manageable number for an exploration-focused vessel operating in a remote location such as Antarctica. But a growing number of expedition ships carry more. Viking designed its new expedition ships to carry 378 passengers. Some new Hurtigruten expedition vessels are designed for around 500 people.

Even these bigger vessels are far smaller than traditional, resortlike cruise ships, which often can carry 3,000 passengers or more (with some capable of carrying nearly 7,000 passengers).

Note that by international agreement, some remote places that expedition ships visit, including Antarctica and parts of the Arctic, have limits on how many passengers can land from an expedition cruise vessel at any given time — an agreement designed to protect wildlife and historical structures from the impacts of large group visits.

In some places, such as Antarctica, the limit is broadly set at 100 people, with some sensitive landing spots having even tighter restrictions. As a result, expedition ships that carry more than 100 people only can land a portion of their passengers in a destination such as Antarctica at once.

If you’re on such a vessel, you’ll have to wait your turn to go ashore and might miss out if changing weather forces the ship to reposition. This is one reason travelers who want the most in-depth expedition cruise experience should choose a small ship with relatively few passengers.

I prefer expedition ships that carry in the vicinity of 100 people for this reason. I also look for vessels that are built for toughness, as they can access more remote and hard-to-reach places than less-tough-built vessels.

How tough are expedition ships?

When sailing in polar regions, you’ll want to look at a ship’s polar-class rating to gauge its toughness. There are seven polar classes, from PC1 (which stands for polar class 1) to PC7 (polar class 7). PC1 is the highest polar-class rating, meaning the ship can go anywhere in polar regions year-round. At this level, the ship is a true icebreaker that can crunch through all sorts of floating ice (and, as you’ll learn on an expedition cruise to a polar region, there are many types of floating ice).

There currently are no passenger vessels with a PC1 rating, though a new Ponant icebreaker called Le Commandant Charcot has an almost-as-high PC2 rating. With such a rating, the 245-passenger ship is cleared to crunch through ice all the way to the North Pole, which it sometimes does .

Most expedition cruise ships are rated PC5 or PC6, which means they can operate in medium first-year ice (ice that is only a year old and not outrageously thick) with some older ice inclusions. But they’re not designed to go to a place like the North Pole.

A ship rated PC7 is only designed to sail through thin first-year ice, and ships without polar-class ratings should steer clear of icy areas. This is one reason you don’t see a lot of big, mass-market cruise ships heading down to Antarctica or up to the Arctic — at least not in particularly icy areas. These ships generally don’t have polar-class ratings.

Where can I go on an expedition cruise?

You’ll find expedition cruises to remote places all over the world. But two destinations account for a disproportionately large portion of all expedition cruises: Antarctica and the Arctic.

This is not by coincidence. Antarctica and large portions of the Arctic are tough to reach any other way than by expedition ship. They are the last two places in the world with large uninhabited areas without infrastructure for tourism.

Many expedition cruise ships will spend nearly all their time in either Antarctica or the Arctic, oscillating between the two destinations based on the changing seasons. They will explore the Arctic from June to September, when the weather is warmest in the region, before repositioning to Antarctica for the months of November to March, when the weather there is warmest.

Related: The best cruise destinations for every type of traveler

That leaves just a few months when the ships move between the Arctic and Antarctica. Sometimes, they’ll sail empty between the two regions. Other times, they’ll offer a handful of one-off voyages while in transit.

Other destinations known for expedition cruising include the Galapagos, the Amazon River, the coasts of Costa Rica and Panama, Mexico’s Sea of Cortez and Alaska.

Take a look at some of the key expedition cruise destinations:

In many ways, Antarctica is the ultimate expedition cruise destination. It’s a place that is almost impossible to reach other than by expedition cruise ship, and getting to it by expedition ship is a true adventure that merits being called an expedition.

It’s also one of the most spectacularly scenic places you will ever see, with wildlife found nowhere else. Getting to experience Antarctica on an expedition cruise — something I’ve done several times and hope to do again — is a true trip of a lifetime.

Antarctica trips typically start in Ushuaia, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile — the southernmost settlements in South America. From there, your ship will make a two-day crossing of the Drake Passage — the notoriously rough waterway between South America and Antarctica — before spending five or six days exploring the icy coast of the continent. A return trip across the Drake comes at the end.

Some longer Antarctica itineraries add in visits to South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands on the way to or from Antarctica.

Alternatively, a handful of tour companies operate so-called fly-cruise trips to Antarctica that use hardy airplanes to fly tourists directly to the continent from Punta Arenas — no sailing across the Drake required. On such trips, travelers still explore the coast of Antarctica by cruise vessel. But they don’t board the vessel that will take them exploring until after they land on the continent.

As I’ve written about before, there are pros and cons of both types of Antarctica trips .

Related: Skip the Drake: What it’s like flying to Antarctica on a chartered plane

A few cruise vessels sail to Antarctica from Australia and New Zealand, though this is less common.

Once in Antarctica, you’ll land by Zodiac boats to visit penguin colonies and hike through the snow to the remnants of early explorer huts, sail through ice-filled fjords, and (if you’re lucky) watch whales during Zodiac boat outings. All around you will be soaring mountains, glaciers and floating icebergs.

TPG has a broad array of guides to cruising to Antarctica, all written by in-house writers who have firsthand experience traveling to Antarctica, including:

  • How to get to Antarctica: The pros and cons of flying vs. cruising
  • 6 ways to travel to Antarctica in luxury and style
  • The 11 best Antarctica cruise ships
  • These are the best times to visit Antarctica
  • Antarctica gear guide: What you need to pack 
  • An untamed world: Discovering the wild dreamscape of Antarctica
  • I just spent the night in an igloo in Antarctica — here’s how you can, too
  • Why kayaking in Antarctica should be on your bucket list
  • Antarctica reading list: These 8 books are must-reads before a trip

The Arctic is the second great destination for expedition cruising — and, for me, it’s a toss-up as to which polar region I find more mesmerizing.

Like Antarctica, it’s a land of ice and icebergs and snow, and often spectacular wildlife on display, as well as historical sites related to early explorers. It also has a cultural element that you won’t find in Antarctica, as some land areas in the Arctic are home to Indigenous peoples such as the Inuit, who have occupied the areas for hundreds of years, if not longer.

On some Canadian Arctic itineraries, for instance, expedition ships will stop at one or more of the Inuit settlements that dot the region. Sometimes an Inuit guide will be along for the voyage to talk about Inuit culture and life.

The Arctic offers a far more diverse array of expedition cruise itineraries than Antarctica. You’ll find sailings that typically focus on just one but occasionally more of the following Arctic destinations:

  • The Canadian Arctic, including the Northwest Passage
  • The North Pole

Until recently, a handful of expedition cruise companies also operated sailings to remote parts of the Russian Arctic, including the ice-covered islands of Franz Josef Land and polar bear hot spot Wrangel Island. A few expedition cruise vessels even have made a complete crossing of the so-called Northeast Passage — the 4,000-mile-long, ice-clogged route across the Russian Arctic that connects Western Europe to the Americas.

Related: 8 things to know about cruising to the Arctic

The latter trips have included stops in remote places that had never been seen by humans until the 20th century, and such voyages have been relatively rare. In 2018, I took part in just the fourth expedition cruise across the Northeast Passage by a Western cruise vessel — a monthlong trip that included many days where we never saw signs of civilization. Additional vessels operated by Russian companies also have made the journey with travelers over the years.

All such trips in the Russian Arctic have been canceled since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and it’s unclear if and when they might resume.

While there are commonalities to the expedition cruises offered in all the Arctic regions (you’ll see ice, for instance, and probably a polar bear, no matter which one you choose), each region of the Arctic is a little different.

If I had to choose just one Arctic cruise (and this is a question I get a lot from would-be Arctic cruisers), I probably would pick a sailing around Svalbard. Located between the top of mainland Norway and the North Pole, it’s a relatively compact archipelago where you can get a taste of many of the Arctic’s allures in a relatively short time. You’ll see ice-carved mountains and glaciers, as well as polar bears, reindeer, Arctic foxes and massive bird colonies.

Related: I didn’t think I’d like an Arctic cruise — here’s why I was wrong

That said, an expedition cruise down the west coast of Greenland would be a close contender. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anything as stunning as the Ilulissat Icefjord and the huge icebergs that spill out of it into Disko Bay. Put that place on your bucket list. You will not regret it.

The Galapagos

The wildlife-filled Galapagos, where most islands are uninhabited, is another classic expedition cruise market — one with an expedition vessel ecosystem all its own, thanks to unusual local regulations.

By law, only vessels based year-round in the Galapagos can offer expedition sailings in the islands. As a result, expedition ships that sail in other parts of the world can’t operate in the Galapagos, and the ships that do operate there are unique to the destination.

In addition, vessels that operate in the Galapagos can’t hold more than 100 passengers. That means that most Galapagos-based expedition vessels are small. Many hold just 16 to 48 passengers.

Cruise companies that have expedition vessels based in the Galapagos include Hurtigruten Expeditions, Lindblad Expeditions, Silversea Cruises and Celebrity Cruises . The latter is a big-ship line that, a bit incongruously, also owns a Galapagos cruise operation using vessels a small fraction of the size of the rest of its ships.

Other cruise companies and tour operators that offer expedition cruises in the Galapagos, typically using chartered vessels, include Avalon Waterways and Abercrombie & Kent. Note that it’s not uncommon for more than one travel company or cruise brand to sell sailings on the same ship in the Galapagos.

The Galapagos comprises 19 larger islands, all but four uninhabited, and the typical weeklong Galapagos cruise includes stops at just five or six of them. That said, many lines offer back-to-back itineraries that include stops at different islands, allowing you to create a longer sailing that is more diverse in its stops.

Cruise lines will generally break the islands into north, south, east and west loops. However, some lines offer inner, outer and central loops. Others feature a combination. The best way to choose among them is to decide which islands you’d most like to visit.

Related: TPG’s ultimate guide to cruising the Galapagos

Several expedition cruise companies and adventure tour companies offer expedition-style sailings up the Amazon River, particularly in the portion located in Peru. These trips are generally operated by tiny vessels that remain on the river year-round.

Among the companies known for Amazon sailings is Aqua Expeditions, which operates two small vessels on the Amazon out of Iquitos, Peru — the 32-passenger Aria Amazon and the 40-passenger Aqua Nera.

The vessels travel along the Maranon River, the Amazon’s largest tributary, as well as other neighboring rivers (the Yarapa and Yanayacu-Pucate) in search of such local wildlife as three-toed sloths, toucans, macaws, taricaya turtles and the Amazon’s elusive pink dolphins.

Most Amazon voyages also include stops at small villages along the riverways, though the focus is on wildlife watching from the river.

Other companies offering similar trips include Exodus Travels, Lindblad Expeditions, Pandaw and Delfin Amazon Cruises.

When imagining an Alaska cruise, most people think of the many sailings offered by big-ship lines such as Princess Cruises and Holland America — traditional cruise voyages that focus on Southeast Alaska’s main tourist towns of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan. But Alaska also is the stomping ground of a handful of expedition cruise operators — most notably UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions — that offer expedition cruises into the wilderness areas of Southeast Alaska. On these trips, the focus is not on the region’s towns but on its scenic wild lands and wildlife.

Both UnCruise and Lindblad operate small expedition ships in Alaska that mostly carry fewer than 100 passengers (even the biggest UnCruise vessel in Alaska carries just 82 people) and have Zodiac boats for landings as well as kayaks, paddleboards and other adventure equipment.

The ships essentially serve as a floating adventure platform to get you into the most remote areas.

A typical seven-night Alaska expedition cruise might include whale watching in Frederick Sound; a visit to Dawes Glacier and ice-filled Endicott Arm; landings in Tongass National Forest for hiking as well as kayaking, paddleboarding and Zodiac boat touring; and boat-based searching for bears, Sitka deer, sea lions, eagles, mink, porpoises and mountain goats.

The trips often begin and end in one of Southeast Alaska’s small towns, such as Juneau or Sitka.

One other small cruise company, American Queen Voyages, operates a 186-passenger expedition ship in Southeast Alaska that combines wilderness experiences with more traditional cruise-type stops at the area’s towns. Every sailing includes a visit to Ketchikan, Petersburg and Wrangell, as well as outdoorsy pursuits, making it a hybrid of a traditional sailing and an expedition cruise.

Related: The pros and cons of small-ship cruising in Alaska

Alaskan-owned Alaskan Dream Cruises offers small-ship, expedition-style voyages that combine wilderness experiences with at least one and sometimes several stops at small Southeast Alaska settlements such as Pelican, Kasaan, Wrangell, Petersburg and Kake.

Which cruise companies offer expedition cruises?

Most of the big cruise brands that offer traditional cruises (think Royal Caribbean or Norwegian Cruise Line ) don’t own expedition ships or offer expedition cruises. Instead, for the most part, specialized expedition cruise companies have emerged over the past few decades that do nothing but expedition cruises.

That’s not always the case. Traditional luxury cruise operator Silversea Cruises , for instance, in 2008 began building up a separate expedition cruise division that has become a major player in expedition cruises. In just the last two years, traditional cruise brands Viking and Seabourn also have gotten into expedition cruising with new, specialized expedition ships.

In addition, luxury river cruise specialist Scenic Luxury Cruises & Tours recently unveiled its first two expedition ships.

Indeed, a move by traditional cruise operators to add expedition cruises to their offerings is one of the big trends in cruising right now.

Still, many of the best-known brands in expedition cruises aren’t companies you would know if all you know is traditional cruising.

The biggest and most notable players in the expedition cruising space as of 2023 include:

  • Antarctica21 (only in Antarctica)
  • Aqua Expeditions
  • Atlas Ocean Voyages
  • Aurora Expeditions
  • Celebrity Cruises (only in the Galapagos)
  • Lindblad Expeditions
  • Hurtigruten Expeditions 
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
  • Heritage Expeditions
  • Ponant Cruises
  • Quark Expeditions
  • Scenic Luxury Cruises
  • Silversea Cruises 
  • Swan Hellenic
  • Oceanwide Expeditions
  • Poseidon Expeditions
  • UnCruise Adventures

In addition, many well-known tour companies such as Abercrombie & Kent and Overseas Adventure Travel market expedition trips on vessels chartered in whole or in part from other companies. Abercrombie & Kent, for instance, operates trips to polar regions on vessels chartered from Ponant.

Among the companies with the longest track records in offering expedition cruises to remote places are Lindblad Expeditions and Hurtigruten Expeditions.

Lindblad Expeditions was founded in 1979 by Sven-Olof Lindblad, whose father, Lars-Eric Lindblad, led the first expedition trips to Antarctica (in 1966) and the Galapagos (in 1967). Lindblad Expeditions later pioneered expedition cruise voyages to places like Baja California and parts of the Arctic.

Lindblad Expeditions currently offers more than 100 expedition cruise itineraries across all seven continents.

In recent years, Lindblad Expeditions has partnered with National Geographic and has renamed its ships to include National Geographic in their monikers. For instance, one of Lindblad’s premier vessels sailing in polar regions is called National Geographic Resolution. If you hear someone say they did an expedition cruise with National Geographic, they probably mean Lindblad Expeditions.

Related: Why Lindblad’s new ship may be the ultimate polar exploration vessel  

Hurtigruten Expeditions, a Norway-based company that caters to an international clientele, traces its roots to a cruise service from Norway to Svalbard in the Arctic that started in 1896. The company likes to say this early entry into cruising to a remote place makes it the founder of expedition cruising. It also bills itself as the world’s largest expedition cruise line.

Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, a German company that caters heavily to Germans but draws some English speakers, also was a pioneer in expedition cruising, operating some of the first voyages in parts of the Arctic. The first four voyages by a Western cruise vessel through the Northeast Passage, including the one that I did in 2018, for instance, were on Hapag-Lloyd Cruises expedition ships. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises also did some of the first sailings across the Northwest Passage — the fabled routing across the Canadian Arctic.

Some of the brands mentioned above, including Lindblad, Silversea and Ponant, offer expedition cruises in a wide range of destinations. Others are more focused.

UnCruise Adventures, for instance, is a specialist in adventurous, outdoorsy, ship-based trips in remote parts of Alaska, although it also offers expedition cruises in the Sea of Cortez and other parts of Central America. It also offers Hawaii cruises that combine outdoorsy pursuits with a cultural-focused visit to the island of Molokai and a day in the town of Lahaina on the island of Maui.

Expedition cruise operator Antarctica21 only operates voyages in and around — you guessed it — Antarctica.

How long are expedition cruises?

As with traditional cruises, there is a wide range of lengths for expedition cruises. For trips to remote places such as Antarctica and parts of the Arctic, even the shortest trips available can be 10 days. Some itineraries extend to two weeks or more.

If you’re planning a trip to Antarctica, note that just getting to the starting points for such trips in Ushuaia, Argentina, or Punta Arenas, Chile, from the United States (assuming that’s your home) can take two full days — longer if, like many Antarctica-bound travelers, you add in a stop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, or Santiago, Chile, on the way. (Pro tip: You may want to do just that to break up a grueling transit.)

As a result, even the shortest vacations to Antarctica from the United States are usually two-week-long affairs. If you pick a sailing that includes a stop at South Georgia Island and the Falkland Islands, you’re looking at a minimum of three weeks away from home.

Related: The ultimate guide to picking the right cruise line for you

Expedition cruises in the Arctic also can stretch into multiple weeks. If you’re short on time, as noted above, your best bet is a sailing around Svalbard, which can be done in a week plus travel time to reach the archipelago.

You can find some expedition cruises in the Galapagos that are shorter than a week. But as with Antarctica, it’s a destination that takes a long time to reach. The typical U.S. traveler heading to the Galapagos will fly first to Quito, Ecuador, and spend at least a night there, maybe several, before continuing to the Galapagos. After all that travel, you might want to make the most of it and stay in the islands longer.

Expedition cruises in the Peruvian Amazon typically are short — sometimes just three days long. But they’re often paired with other touring to create longer South America trips.

How much do expedition cruises cost?

Expedition cruises can be expensive, with pricing on par with traditional luxury cruises. It’s not unusual to see expedition cruises to Antarctica and the Arctic priced at $1,000 per person per day — or more. Add in flights to reach the starting points for such trips, pre- and post-cruise hotel stays and other extra costs, and you could pay $15,000 or more per person for such trips.

If that seems high, remember that expedition ships are specialized vessels that are expensive to build on a per-berth basis (particularly those with polar-class ratings). They also require a relatively high ratio of staff to passengers to operate compared with mass-market cruise ships.

In short, expedition cruise companies face a high cost on a per-berth basis to operate their vessels — and those costs will be reflected in the cruise fares.

Related: These expedition cruises are $30,000 and have no set itinerary

Can anyone do an expedition cruise?

Travelers with mobility issues may find it difficult to get the most out of expedition cruises, as the trips are relatively active.

By definition, expedition cruises involve visiting remote places with little or no infrastructure for tourists, and the lack of infrastructure extends to a lack of docks and tender boat services that would allow a passenger with mobility issues to get on and off the vessel. In addition, once you land at an expedition cruise destination, you will often be moving over uneven terrain.

In many cases, touring from an expedition ship starts with stepping off the side of the vessel onto a small, open-to-the-air rubber Zodiac boat bobbing in the waves and then being driven by a guide in that small vessel a considerable distance to the shore, sometimes in choppy seas. Once at the shore, passengers often must climb over the side of the boat into ankle-deep or deeper water and wade ashore in what is known as a “wet landing.”

Touring from there can involve hiking over rocky areas, snowfields and ice in search of wildlife.

If all of the above sounds like something you wouldn’t enjoy doing, you might want to skip an expedition cruise and focus on more traditional cruises instead.

That said, I’ve seen many travelers with mobility issues on expedition cruises enjoying the experience, even if the landings part of the trip came with some difficulty.

One line that has designed its expeditions vessels specifically to be more widely accessible for passengers with mobility issues is Viking, a line that traditionally has catered to travelers ages 55 to 75 years old.

Viking’s two expedition ships, which debuted in 2022, were built with an unusual enclosed marina that allows passengers to easily transfer into 12-seat “special operations boats” while still in the protected interior of the ship. It’s a first for an expedition cruise ship, and it makes it easier for passengers with mobility issues to get on and off the ship and see wildlife and scenery up close.

Bottom line

Expedition cruising is nothing like traditional cruising. It’s all about getting to off-the-beaten-path destinations, including places with no infrastructure for tourism, such as Antarctica and parts of the Arctic, Galapagos and Amazon River basin. If you’re hoping to see scenic wonders and wildlife, and you’re up for an adventure, then an expedition cruise may be right for you. If so, you’ll find a wide range of both destinations to visit by expedition cruise ship and companies that offer them.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

  • The 5 most desirable cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • The 8 worst cabin locations on any cruise ship
  • A quick guide to the most popular cruise lines
  • 21 tips and tricks that will make your cruise go smoothly
  • 15 ways cruisers waste money
  • 15 best cruises for people who never want to grow up
  • What to pack for your 1st cruise

SPONSORED:  With states reopening, enjoying a meal from a restaurant no longer just means curbside pickup.

And when you do spend on dining, you should use a credit card that will maximize your rewards and potentially even score special discounts. Thanks to temporary card bonuses and changes due to coronavirus, you may even be able to score a meal at your favorite restaurant for free. 

These are the best credit cards for dining out, taking out, and ordering in to maximize every meal purchase.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Expedition cruises: The ultimate guide to cruising to remote, hard-to-reach places

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Below Deck Sailing Yacht, two cast members talking to each other in a cabin.

Is There a Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5 Release Date?

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Between Below Deck, Below Deck Down Under and Below Deck Sailing Yacht , Bravo’s nautical reality TV franchise is ruling the ocean waves. But is there a Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5 release date? Here’s the answer.

Does Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5 Have a Release Date?

There is no confirmed release date or even a release window for Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5. Bravo confirmed a new season back at BravoCon in 2023, though Bravo’s website calls it Season 6 for some reason.

Season 5 seems to have finished filming (via ScreenRant ) and the general consensus is that it was filmed in and around Ibiza, finishing around March. However, the four previous seasons of Below Deck Sailing Yacht had all begun airing by this time of year. So what’s going on?

It could be down to unexpected production delays and a host of other issues that crop up when you’re filming a reality TV show, especially in an environment other than a studio. But, as reported by Dexerto , Reddit has a theory. And they could be right.

Why Has Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5 Been Delayed?

Reddit thinks that Season 5 of Below Deck Sailing Yacht has been delayed due to the sexual misconduct allegations against First Mate Gary King.

“Do we think the delay in season 5 is because they’re potentially not going to air it at all given that Gary was a main cast member?” asks Redditor PowerfulHorror987 . It’s possible, certainly, but it seems unlikely that Bravo would simply ditch an entire wrapped season.

However, it could be that they’re trying to minimize King’s involvement or edit him out completely, which could be a difficult task. As First Mate, he’d have a pretty significant role and a lot of on-screen time so if that’s indeed what’s happening, they may end up excising whole scenes.

Even though the Below Decks franchise is reality TV, there’s often an argument/issue of the week which is threaded throughout each episode. If any of those threads heavily involve Gary, and Bravo has chosen to dial his appearances back, they could find themselves having to assemble new ‘storylines’.

“I have a very strong feeling it’s going to be one of the weirdest seasons to watch because they’ve never had to edit out a HoD before. It’s probably going to feel very disjointed and like it’s missing huge chunks,” another Redditor adds .

But that’s just a theory, Reddit could be barking up entirely the wrong tree. So, the answer to is there a Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5 release date is no.

Andrew Tate in Season 17 of Big Brother

The best small ship cruises

Try a boutique cruise holiday on a ship designed for an intimate experience

best small ship cruises

As much as the mega liners of the world are tempting for the all-singing, all-dancing, resort-at-sea type of holidays, the best small ship cruises, which typically carry fewer than 500 passengers, are all about exclusivity, individuality, and personal service.

We think the best small ship cruises are those that are a little out of the ordinary. Perhaps it’s a cruise that follows an unusual itinerary around tiny, lesser-explored islands, like Scotland's Western Isles . Or maybe the ship itself is extraordinary because it is more akin to a sailing boat, such as the stylish MS Galileo . We love small ship cruises when something special happens onboard too, such as a celebrity guest appearance .

When searching for the best small ship cruises, you'll want to make sure they match the experiences you're after. For a friendly atmosphere where guests get to know each other over dinner, a European river cruise along the Douro or Danube can offer plenty of shared experiences and opportunities to meet new people. For something that will give you plenty to talk about when you get home, expedition cruises to far-flung places like Antarctica are thrilling and intrepid without sacrificing comfort.

For more ideas, we’ve rounded up the best small ship cruises to help you pick the perfect nautical holiday.

A regal voyage around Scottish islands

best small ship cruises

Exploring a region by cruise often means you can cover more ground in less time. On a small ship, there’s the opportunity to tuck into ports and waterways that big cruise liners can’t. The elegant Lord of the Glens, hosting just 54 guests, investigates the inland waters of the Caledonian Canal and hidden Scottish sea lochs. Unlike some ocean cruises where you enjoy endless views of the horizon, on a Scottish cruise, there are landmarks and landscapes to admire from the deck almost all the time, including Urquhart Castle, the waterway of Laggan Avenue that’s lined with Scots pines, and the looming Ben Nevis.

Lord of the Glens is a one-of-a-kind ship with a design inspired by the Royal Family's former floating palace, The Royal Yacht Britannia. There’s a feeling of warmth and comfort throughout the ship, where dinner is created from locally sourced ingredients, and drinks are served in crystal glasses by attentive staff as you look out at the Scottish scenery through enormous picture windows.

You can join a very special departure on Lord of the Glens in May 2023 hosted by TV weather presenter, Carol Kirkwood.

You'll hear Carol reminisce about her life growing up in Morar and more about her grandfather’s role in building the incredible Glenfinnan Viaduct — which you'll also have a chance to cross on a journey on the West Highland Railway included in the trip.

A taste of Venice on a foodie cruise

small ship cruises

Take an oh-so-stylish cruise on S.S LA Venezia, an opulent river ship swathed in fine fabrics and finished with gilded accents and plenty of iconic Murano glass (she’s sailing to and from Venice, after all).

While the ship alone is enough to tempt, an October 2024 voyage from Venice to Burano, Mazzorbo and Torcello includes a talk, Q&A and book-signing session with celebrity chef James Martin . In addition, the much-loved Saturday Morning host will cook a delectable gala dinner one evening onboard, too.

You’ll be in the company of just 125 other guests, so attentive service is assured. But just because it’s a small ship, that doesn’t mean it’s light on choices: S.S La Venezia has three dining venues, including an Italian kitchen on the upper deck.

This cruise offers exclusive access to some of the city's most treasured buildings, like St Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace — perfect if you're keen to learn more about Venice's art and architecture.

FIND OUT MORE

An unforgettable Antartica expedition

best small ship cruises

A cruise to Antarctica really is nothing short of extraordinary. And to do it right, you need to join an accomplished crew who know how this wonderland works. In 2020, expedition cruise experts Hurtigruten introduced MS Fridtjof Nansen to its fleet and it fast became one of our favourite small vessels to explore Antarctic waters.

Hosting just 500 guests, it's not the smallest ship exploring the region. But in this instance, being a little larger means you get some extra facilities including a choice of restaurants (a definite plus on an 11-night cruise), a large science centre, and a fabulous outdoor swimming pool (which, yes, is heated so you can take a dip in as you gaze across the monochromatic landscape).

A wine-themed sailing on the Douro River

best small ship cruises

River cruises are ideal for seeing the diversity of a region, and there’s plenty to see hopping from place to place along the Douro River in Portugal. A-ROSA ALVA is a small river boat that promises plenty of variety on an itinerary that starts in the colourful city of Porto before sailing into the wine-growing valleys.

Guests have the chance to disembark and take part in the traditional grape harvest, but that’s not the only reason it’s the perfect cruise for wine lovers. There are also plenty of opportunities to taste the local port wine at the Quinta da Roseda estate near Pinhão and sip from the ship’s selection as you look out at the passing scenery from ALVA’s Panorama Lounge.

A breath-taking tour of Croatia's Dalmatian coast

best small ship cruises

Croatia's Dalmatian Coast is home to some of the country's most spectacular locations, like the charming city of Spilt, historic Dubrovnik and the sleek island resort of Hvar. Set sail with us on a boutique, Supreme category ship for a voyage that takes you through these wonderful waters.

Highlights of the itinerary include stop offs in Mljet, home to verdant Mljet National Park, the peaceful and picturesque island of Brac, the stylish resort island of Hvar, and the popular city of Dubrovnik, with its stunning Old Town.

For this idyllic Croatia cruise, you'll be sailing on board a Supreme category ship, which has a maximum of 41 passengers. You'll get to enjoy spectacular coastal views while lounging on the sun deck, wine and dine in the elegant restaurant and bar, and relax in the onboard jacuzzi, too.

A sailing around the stunning Cyclades

the best small ship cruises, cruise around greece

Set sail around Greece's Cyclades islands on Star Clipper, a four-masted ship that carries just 166 guests. A reconstruction of a 19th century four-masted Barquentine, Star Clipper has 81 spacious staterooms, all with traditional, elegant decor, and open-air bar hosting live music, two saltwater splash pools, an inviting sun deck with loungers, a peaceful library, and an enticing restaurant.

You'll board Star Clipper in Athens before heading to Kusadasi in Turkey. After that, the ship will call at the islands of Patmos, home to the ancient Monastery of the Apocalypse; Amorgos, with it's rugged landscape and great hiking spots; Spetses, with white-washed villas and an abundance of pretty coves; and the ever-popular island of Mykonos, which is packed with happening bars, boutique shops, sandy beaches, and its traditional windmills.

A scenic route along the Danube River

the best small ship cruises, danube river cruises

Enjoy an eight-day sailing along the Danube River, the second-longest river in Europe, with Good Housekeeping in 2024.

Departing in July and October, you'll have the choice of seeing Europe's most picturesque cities in either summer and autumn, but can enjoy the luxury, intimacy and grandeur of S.S Maria Theresa whatever time of year you sail. Accommodating no more than 150 guests, S.S Maria Theresa is a small cruise ship that boasts a opulent staterooms, lounges and bars, a Viennese café, a spa, peaceful sun deck, swimming pool and cinema room.

As part of your sailing, you'll visit Budapest; Vienna, where you'll attend a private classical music concert as part of your fare; the quaint town of Dürnstein in Austria; and the beautiful German city of Passau. You'll also have the chance to soak up views of Austria's glorious Wachau Valley as you cruise through it, too.

A luxurious cruise around the best of Bordeaux

vineyards in the village of saint emilion in the nouvelle aquitaine region of france

Combine fantastic French food and wine with pure luxury on this cruise around Bordeaux in July 2024.

On this exclusive, eight-day Good Housekeeping sailing, travel on France's newest and most luxurious river cruise ship, S.S Bon Voyage. Accommodating up to 124 guests, S.S Bon Voyage is designed to fully immerse guests in French culture, art, and wine. Onboard, you'll find a choice of five-star restaurants, an infinity pool and relaxing sun deck, a fitness centre and the Serenity River Spa.

Departing from Bordeaux, you'll discover the wine culture and fascinating history of this romantic French region by visiting the UNESCO-listed citadel in Blaye, with its magnificent historic fortress, as well as the vineyards and châteaux of Cussac Fort Médoc, Cadillac, and Saint-Émilion.

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IMAGES

  1. Discover our Explorer Sailing Yachts for Sale

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  2. 43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

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  3. 56M CLASSIC EXPEDITION YACHT Yacht Charter Details, Auroux/Diverse

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  4. ONE OFF "Polar" Expedition Sailing Yacht for sale in Netherlands for €

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  5. ZEEPAARD 121ft JFA Expedition Yacht

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  6. First look: Owen Clarke 15m expedition yacht

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  2. Canoe Sailing Ferry Meadows Peterborough April 2011

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COMMENTS

  1. Top 10 largest explorer yachts in the world

    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 ...

  2. 43 of the best bluewater sailboat designs of all time

    All of the yachts in our 'expedition' category are aluminium-hulled designs suitable for high latitude sailing, and all are exceptional yachts. But the Bestevaer 56 is a spectacular amount of ...

  3. Expedition Yachts for Sale

    Contact our team for further information on LEGEND Expedition Yacht For Sale. ... After sailing on yachts in the Mediterranean and Caribbean he landed in Fort Lauderdale in 1985, where he has been actively involved in all facets of the Yacht Brokerage community. Articles. Worth While Yacht Deals April 11, 2024;

  4. 64' Expedition Sailing Yacht

    The Atoa 64 was conceived as a competent expedition yacht - ATOA refers to Arctic to Antarctic. With a visit to the Amazon river on the way so we could perhaps have called her Atoama. The requirements were very specific: Design Parameters. A fast passagemaker, at least 8 knots average offshore under engine or sail - off the wind or to windward!

  5. Explorer Yachts For Sale

    Explorer Yachts For Sale. Adventurous yacht owners eventually tire of the popular Mediterranean and Caribbean cruising grounds and start looking for more challenging cruising areas. This explains the growing popularity of long-range expedition yachts with vast storage capacity for food, fuel and water, enabling them to roam the world's oceans ...

  6. Explorer and Expedition Yachts for Sale

    An increasing number of yacht owners are looking for a more exciting sailing experience, prompting an increased demand for explorer or expedition yachts, which are engineered to take on longer trips and expeditions across the ocean.. Those who seek adventure can benefit from expedition yachts, which provide a blend of features found in motor yachts, as well as stability, performance, luxury ...

  7. Nordhavn Trawler Yachts

    Welcome to Nordhavn Trawler Yachts. Nordhavn is the world's most celebrated expedition trawler yachts for adventure boaters of all levels. With models ranging from 41 to 120 feet, there is a Nordhavn perfectly suited to you, no matter what your experience or ambition. Nordhavn trawler yachts provide the safety and comfort necessary for ...

  8. Hawk Yachts

    The first true luxury expedition yachts. ICE-BREAKERS. Adapted for the Poles and capable of travelling through sea-ice. AMAZON CRUISERS. Equally capable in hot and silty tropical waters. LUXURY HOMES. Superyacht comfort, designed for the journey not just the destination. OCEAN EXPLORERS. Extensive range enables flexible itineraries and global ...

  9. Explorer Yachts for Sale

    Explorer yachts, also called expedition yachts, generally offer oversized fuel and water tanks, as well as impressive cold and dry storage capacity for remote destinations where it's harder to provision with all the yachting luxuries. For divers, fishing enthusiasts, lovers of wildlife, and those who want to get off the beaten track, explorer ...

  10. Exploration 45

    Exploration 45 The Exploration 45 is an aluminium centreboarder capable of taking on any adventure, from polar exploration to tropical sailing. She was voted 'Best Boat' and 'Boat of the Year' in 2015. Leaflet Request information Wallpapers The number one

  11. Sailing Expedition and Explorer Yacht Sales : Owen Clarke Design

    Expedition & Explorer Yacht Sales. Owen Clarke Design have a history of high latitude polar and adventure sailing reaching as far back as 2003. Our most recent design is a 25m motor sailer for polar research, a project for which we were selected as designers based on the experienced gained during the development of the aluminium explorer yacht ...

  12. Xplorer

    Xplorer 105. Right at the top of our Xplorer range, this yacht represents what has instigated our status as the market leader in luxury expedition yachts. This concept design incorporates decades of shipbuilding and superyacht building as well as expedition know-how, practicalities and developments. A future facing Xplorer geared up to become ...

  13. Expedition Sailing & Yachting, Yacht Design and Polar Charters

    Sail in the World's Most Inaccessible Places. At High Latitudes, we work with adventurous yacht owners and charterers who wish to experience the ultimate in sailing. Our expert team, veterans of hundreds of polar expeditions, prepare you and your boat to safely navigate well outside tradition cruising grounds. Backed by our hard-won knowledge ...

  14. What makes a sailing boat an expedition one

    What makes a sailing boat an expedition one - Garcia Yachts. What makes a sailyacht a blue water exploration boat? Pete Goss offers a deep analysis of the practicalities for liveaboard world cruising.

  15. Expedition Yachts For Sale

    An expedition yacht needs possess an extremely efficient and sea-kindly hull. To meet this, the vessel should be a full displacement hull combined with excellent fuel capacity to reach at least a 4000nm range at 10 knots. Of course, the latest in high efficiency propulsion and energy systems, ensuring there are new batteries, chargers and ...

  16. Explorer and Expedition Yachts for Sale

    An expedition yacht - also known as an explorer yacht or adventure yacht; the names are interchangeable - is built for long-range cruising. These vessels must have the technical capabilities to travel long distances at sea in more remote places, facing potentially rough seas. Access to provisions and repairs may be minimal or nonexistent ...

  17. Explorer Yachts for Sale

    Explorer yachts are ideally suited for those who want to cruise farther afield and explore off-the-beaten-path destinations. We hope you find your dream yacht below. When you do, please contact a Northrop & Johnson sales broker to begin the buying process. With an expedition yacht, you can discover new locales luxuriously and safely.

  18. Used Expedition Yachts for Sale

    Search used Expedition Yachts for sale. These self-sustaining vessels are built for long range cruising in the most remote parts of the world. SYS Yacht Sales offers a wide range of used expedition yachts for sale worldwide. Search now!

  19. Expedition boats for sale

    Expedition boats for sale on YachtWorld are available for a swath of prices from $103,486 on the moderate end of the spectrum, with costs up to $1,732,033 for the most advanced and biggest yachts. What Expedition model is the best? Some of the best-known Expedition models presently listed include: 43M Long Range MotorYacht, FAVARO Explorer 76 ...

  20. This 64' EXPEDITION SHIP Can Take You ANYWHERE [Full Tour ...

    This Sundeer 64 yacht has a lot to love. In a nutshell she's pretty, performance-oriented, and has plenty of accommodation. In addition she's designed and ou...

  21. Arctic Yachts

    Arctic Yachts is an expedition sailing & documentary film production company founded by Peter Madej - a captain, ice pilot and expedition leader with very deep knowledge of Greenland, Arctic Canada, Svalbard, Arctic Norway and Iceland. Peter sailed approx 250.000 Nm over the past 20 years, and assembled a small team of very experienced ...

  22. Worldwide Adventure Sailing Expeditions

    Today, those same qualities make her an exceptional platform for long-distance, remote expedition sailing. With a crew capacity of 13, and a cruising speed of up to 10 knots, she is a genuine ocean explorer. #adventuresailing #sailing #sailinglife #yacht #sailor #sailingyacht #travelawesome #sailor #offshoreracing #globalchallenge #offshore

  23. Expedition

    The best navigation and sailing software available. Expedition has been used in multiple Volvo Ocean Race, America's Cup and Grand Prix events and is the most advanced and usable software available. Official supplier to The Volvo Ocean Race, Americas Cup, Sail GP and many other events. ... Polar functions to output, analyse and create or modify ...

  24. Ocean Sailing Expeditions

    Upcoming sailing adventures. Whether your next step is an ocean race or offshore passage, we have a growing calendar of exciting events on our 62 - 72 foot racing and expedition yachts, Silver Fern, Te Kaihōpara, Salt Lines and Magic Miles; Crew positions available;

  25. Expedition Zero

    The Expedition Zero team is built from experts in the field of commercial, marketing, sustainable yacht design and adventure sailing operations. Having set up and run an award winning adventure sailing business themselves, they fully understand the needs of operators and their clients. This is coupled with a deep desire to create positive ...

  26. Expedition cruises: The ultimate guide to cruising to remote ...

    Viking's two expedition ships, which debuted in 2022, were built with an unusual enclosed marina that allows passengers to easily transfer into 12-seat "special operations boats" while still ...

  27. Is There a Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5 Release Date?

    There is no confirmed release date or even a release window for Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 5. Bravo confirmed a new season back at BravoCon in 2023, though Bravo's website calls it Season 6 ...

  28. The best small ship cruises for 2024

    Star Clippers. Royal Clipper is an extra-special ship and one that turns heads wherever she roams. Dressed to the nines with a complement of 42 white sails, she really is a beauty. You can explore ...